Saturday, May 31, 2014

Saying Goodbye!

I'm done.  

I finally had it today.  

I deactivated my Facebook account and for the time being, I have no intention on going back.  I think my Instagram isn't too far behind.    I have no doubt that that means that this blog's stats are about to fall through the floor and that I'll probably never hear from 95% of my "friends" again, but I can't even make myself care right now. 

I am tired of feeling disappointed when I see 14 pictures and full descriptions of yet another get-together that I wasn't invited to and even worse another party that my kids weren't invited to.  I am an introvert and my social needs truly aren't very high, but I find myself surrounded more and more by very, very extroverted friends  who seem to thrive on letting everyone know play-by-play updates on their social life....where they are and who they're with and how awesome their lives are.  And though I tell myself that I don't have any desire to attend gourmet dinners or to hang out with friends practically every night of the week, having it thrown in my face at every turn makes me care more than I should.  

And don't even get me started on how unhealthy this compulsion to share all the details of our social lives is for the younger generation...especially the quiet ones (like I was).   As a teenager I would've melted in a puddle if I'd known all the fun things the people around me were doing while I was sitting at home reading a book on a Friday night.  Heck, I'm a grown adult with an established sense of who I am and I still care too much.  Imagine these young teenagers who have it thrown in their faces in the midst of still figuring out who they are.  

All of the unfiltered social garbage combined with the fact that I am becoming increasingly convinced that social media is making us, as a generation and as individuals, completely self-absorbed, I am feeling up in arms.    What is the value in taking endless selfies, posting status  updates several times a day,  fishing for compliments, hinting about things you "need," bragging endlessly about how many fun things you did that day, or constantly complaining about how hard your life is, etc?  There is no real value in any of it and  I'm as guilty as the next person in engaging myself in it full-heartedly.  No more though.

True value is found in the flesh and blood of the friends and family around us
and that's where I want to be spending more of my time.


For the  three of you who might be worried (Hi Mom, Dad, and Kristina!), don't worry....I will go on blogging.  But I will also continue, as I have for the last few years, to be conscientious about  not blogging about exclusive social events or birthday parties (either mine or the kids), so as not to cause others around me undue pain about not being invited.    And lest you think that I'm being dramatic by referring to it as "pain," it is truly painful, no matter how old you are, to feel like you're on the outside looking in.  I'd rather just not know.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Taking Notes...

I am one of those people who has to learn something new in two or more ways before my brain really processes it.  When everyone else in college said I could skip attending the physical science class because "everything on the tests came straight from the book," it took approximately one test to realize that that method would not work for me.  To get  good grades, I needed to hear the teacher teach it, take copious notes on what the teacher taught, and then still read the text.

Because of the way my brain works, I always assume that that's how everyone else's does too.   I even got binders for all the YW in my ward, so that they would have a place to take notes, draw diagrams, and answer questions from the Sunday lessons.  I make interactive and often illustrated lesson outlines whenever I teach, because even preparing it that way helps me to teach more effectively.

So when I went to the homeschooling conference, I knew that in order for me to learn what I wanted to learn (and to stay awake) that I would need to attend as many classes as possible and take as many notes as my hand muscles could handle.    Too bad that I didn't expect the distraction of the beach being in view at all times,  as well as most of my friends I was there with who spent most of their days at the beach.  It was enough for them to just read the outlines of all the classes that were included with the registration materials.    Unfortunately I knew that wouldn't work for me!

Despite the lure of the sand, waves, and sunshine, I managed to stay on task {mostly}.  I sneaked out to the beach at lunchtime and in the evenings, but mostly tried to absorb as much as I possibly could from the people who'd been down the path before me. In the end it was well worth the effort and I spent the three days feeling inspired and rejuvenated for another year with the kids at home.  

On the final day of classes, my family came to join me at Virginia Beach.

While we wrapped up the amazing three day experience with some inspiring words from John Bytheway...

my family played and frolicked on the beach.  

I never got in the water myself, but I understand that it was still a tad cold.  That fact didn't stop the kids from having a great time though. 

We were all crammed into one hotel room, so Spence and Cam opted to sleep on the balcony.   

Luckily the weather was absolutely perfect for sleeping outside! 

The next day we checked out of the hotel (only having to pay for two of the three nights) and drove to Busch Gardens.  We got season passes this year, since we knew we'd be down that way a few times and the passes only cost the same as a one day admission price anyway.  

Glen took off for the roller coasters with the three oldest  while Ellie, Adam, and I stayed on the tamer rides together.   The three of us were taking  turns choosing the rides we went on, but I still managed to pick one that freaked Ellie out and you can see her eyes are all red and puffy in the picture.  I let them choose all the rest of the rides after that.  

We ate like champions...

and even met a little cuckoo bird!

Between the conference and the mini family vacation, it turned out to be a perfect getaway.  The weather was idyllic, Glen and Spencer both only got warnings instead of traffic tickets, and we left the park by 5:00, so I could get back in time and prepare my lesson for Sunday! 

I'm already looking forward to next year


Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

O beautiful for heroes proved 
In liberating strife. 
Who more than self their country loved 
And mercy more than life! 
America! America! 
May God thy gold refine 
Till all success be nobleness 
And every gain divine!

Memorial Day 2009

Thank you to all those, past or present, who have served our country and defended our freedoms. We honor you today. 

God bless America! 

Saturday, May 24, 2014


It's a rare occasion for me to leave town without my camera in tow.    And an even rarer feat to leave without my family.

This week I've done both.  
Late Tuesday night my sister-in-law Karey, Emma, and I set off for a grand adventure to Virginia Beach for a homeschool conference.    

Together we've spent the last few days at a stately old hotel and conference center situated  right in the heart of VA Beach city and directly on sands of the Atlantic Ocean.  The hotel is far from fancy, but the location is beautiful and it's hard not to love the opportunity to dip our toes into the ocean in between classes and speakers.  

 When I signed up to come to this conference, I expected to be taught all sorts of practical advice on how to teach multiple children and how to make our homeschool better.  I did get a lot of that, but even better, I also got to have the complete privilege of learning at the feet of other mothers and fathers who have felt similar tuggings in their hearts to bring their children home.  

I eagerly listened as they told  of how they incorporated gospel teachings into their children's educations and allowed their children to blossom and to grow at their own paces.  I was comforted to hear how many of their children  have gone on to be successful students at universities all over the country.   And the best part of all, I got to see the fruits of their labors.  Hundreds of LDS homeschool youth from 32 states and provinces, including Emma, came to the youth conference portion of the event.  These youth were invariably smart, well-mannered, socially confident, and kind.   They inspired me as much as their parents and were a testimony to all that homeschooling is about.   

More to come....


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Music or Not

Most people have this innate sense about whether or not they are a good singer.  Not me, though.  There was a day when I was totally convinced that I could sing well  and if there had been an American Idol show at the time, I probably would have considered trying out.  As it was, my saintly family put up with me singing around the house at all hours and on a  regular basis even rallying my younger siblings together and directing singing performances to be recorded onto a cassette tape.  I was always the lead singer.

The first hint that I might be mistaken about my musical abilities was one day as a teen I was singing along to the radio in the car and my younger brother jumped out and walked the 2 miles to his destination, claiming that he couldn't stand to hear me sing another second.  A couple of years later, I had a roommate who stopped every one of my cheerful performances with a dirty look and a curt, "Keep your day job."  Then finally in a church choir, I became the focus of much consternation to the director with perfect pitch who couldn't decide what to do with me and my out of tune singing.  She kept shuffling my spot around and finally put me in the back corner, where I guess I wouldn't taint as many people with my off-notes.  That was when I finally realized that I was not meant to be a musician and I was crushed.

After spending 21+ years of my life thinking that I was a fabulous singer, the realization that I wasn't brought me into a sort of mourning.   I spent the next several years avoiding  singing where anyone could hear me, thinking that everyone would just be thinking that I should just "keep my day job."  Sadly I still don't sing around the house as much as I used to,  however I  have since come to a happier acceptance about my lack of ability and  do again at least love to sing with my family.  We sing a few songs together almost every day.

One day a few years ago I read a study that found that musical ability was an inheritable trait, meaning that  someone without a musical gene could become an okay, even good musician with a lot of practice, but that it would be unlikely for them to ever be skilled enough to become a professional musician.    Aha!   Reading that article comforted me immensely that not only was it not necessarily my fault that I am not a great musician, but that I was probably a much better singer than my genetics predisposed me to, because I spent so much time honing my skill as a youth.

Thankfully for my children,  Glen's  genetic lines are much more tonal than my own and our kids are, without even trying, leaps and bounds beyond where I am musically.   That combined with a couple of kids who actually love to practice their music and it's an exciting thing to see their talents developing in ways that I could only ever dream of!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Which is which?

I was going through one of our family scrapbooks the other day and came upon this gem with all three of our girls wearing the same outfit around the same age.   Can you tell which baby is which?  (see below for a hint)  


And this one won't be near as hard, but here are the boys wearing the same elephant sweater handmade by my Grandma Hepworth.  Can you who is who?

(HINTS:  Cami is the chunkster with the rosy cheeks.  Ellie is the tan one, although that's not really tan, it's her natural skin tone.  Emma is the one wearing a collared shirt.

It should be abundantly obvious for the boys, but if you still need a clue here's one.... neither of their hair color has changed much.) 

How'd you do?  

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Special Day

 Last Sunday my twin eight-year-old nieces were baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

They were baptized by my younger brother Peter, who also happens to be their Daddy!    

They were so excited to take this special step in their lives and as they stood in the baptismal waters giggling happily together, it was hard not to be enchanted by the deep bonds of friendship they share between them.

After their baptisms they dressed in the beautiful dresses homemade by their Grandma Baldwin, who sadly had just had surgery and was unable to attend. 

We were so happy to be a part of that wonderful day, along with my brother Matt and his family, my parents, my sister AnnaLisa, my Nana, and Mika's father, Lonnie.    

The boy cousins (minus Spencer and Andrew)  had a fun time running around together.

My mom and dad with 10 of their 13 grandchildren.  

Traveling was tiring for my Nana (and my parents), but it was such a joy to have them there!

More guy bonding...

and looking all GQ...

My mom's still got the moves too!

My Dad with Adam and Davin.  And Ellie having a chat with Bridgette.  

My Nana, Mom, and Dad with Lauren and McKenzie.  

Mika's dad came all the way from Washington State to be there. 

It was a privilege to spend the day with family...

and we've got a little nine-year-old girl in our family, who loves playing "big sister",  who's really hoping it won't be long before the next family gathering.  

Sunday, May 11, 2014

My Mother

My mom is the 9th of 11 children born to poor, but hardworking parents, Fay and Florize.  They lived on a small dairy farm in picturesque Grover, Wyoming, a tiny little speck on the map near the border of Idaho.    Growing up on a farm meant that my mom and her siblings learned to work hard from a very early age.  Starting in elementary school she was feeding the cows, making sure they stayed out of the haystacks, picking up the hay that had dropped from the buckrake, mowing the grass, weeding the garden, peeling fruits for canning, and helping harvest some of the vegetables.  In 8th grade she started milking the cows and making the haystacks.

Although not as common in her generation, the sea green painted, tin-roofed house she grew up in still did not have indoor plumbing.  She told stories of her and her sisters running to the outhouse in the middle of freezing Wyoming nights and meeting little critters along the way.  Other times they would painfully hold their bladders until morning, just to avoid the trek out in the dark and bitter cold.   Bathing was a treasured luxury that did not happen often enough for mom's taste.  As an adult, long, hot showers continue to be one of her guilty pleasures in life.

In that rural farming community where she grew up, women were still basically second class citizens.  Legally they could vote and attend school, but inheritances were traditionally only passed on to sons, because the daughters would one day be taken care of by their husbands and when my mom signed up for trigonometry in high school, her counselor discouraged her from it and told her that she shouldn't bother taking such high level math, because women didn't need math.   She was one of two girls in that trig class and she aced it.  She later graduated as salutatorian of her class, again an unusual feat for a girl back then.    Several years after that, with four kids in tow,  she graduated with a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University.  All of her siblings, except one, are college graduates.

My grandfather did not believe it proper for women to drive and although my grandmother  signed my mom up for driver's ed behind grandpa's back, my mom never did get her driver's license until she was married and had a few children.  I remember my mom's driving lessons--always starting in parking lots and ending with a bit of shouting from my dad.   Although she spent many years toting eight kids around to their various activities, mom still does not enjoy driving much and will always eagerly pass the steering wheel over to anyone else who might be willing to take over.  

One of the greatest lessons my mom instilled in us kids was the value of making do with what you have.  You don't need expensive containers to organize your pantry when a soda bottle or a mayonnaise jar will work just as well.  Who needs fancy end tables when you can stack up a few boxes of food storage and throw a pretty table cloth over it? And don't get her started on shoes.  She is an adamant believer that all anyone needs is one pair of tennis shoes to wear six days a week and one pair of sensible dressy flats for Sundays.  Anything more than that is frivolous.  Although most of us are anti-soda bottle pantry organizers, I do tend toward my mom in the shoe philosophy department.  I  own more than two pairs, but each pair is extremely sensible (meaning comfortable and unstylish) and worn until they fall apart.  Recently I replaced a worn-out pair of shoes and later discovered during a visit from my mom that they matched a pair of my mom's almost exactly.     In my younger years that might have embarrassed me at least a little, but fact is I don't mind anymore and I am proud to say that I even wore those shoes to church today.

My mom's legacy is one of hard-work, intelligence, frugality, and unconditional love.  Although her life has never been easy, she has always made the best of whatever it's thrown at her.  I am grateful for the way she's always risen above what was expected of her and shown by example that we can accomplish anything that we put our minds to.

Happy Mother's Day!  
I love you Mom! 

Friday, May 9, 2014

School Prom 2014

Cami hadn't planned on attending her school prom this year, but about a week ago this handsome guy asked her and she changed her mind.

She had to scramble to borrow a dress and order a corsage, but in the end she looked stunningly beautiful and was excited to go with her friend, Ruyer.  

They both seemed a tad nervous while I was taking pictures, but after some dinner and some dancing they ended up having a wonderful time! 

FCHS Prom 2014


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