Sunday, January 31, 2016


January 30--Our ward (church congregation) has an awesome young women basketball team!  Some teams get intense and negative when they play, but I love that our YW are good sports that genuinely just enjoy playing the game.  They've been undefeated for the last couple of years and Saturday's game was no different.  Everyone, including the inexperienced players, got equal playing time and still they swept the scoreboard.  

Speaking of teams, here's another picture of the BYU women's lacrosse team, of which Cami is a proud member.  Because of a previous commitment, she will have to miss their first game, which is this weekend, but the next weekend she will be off to California for their first away games.   She is excited to be playing again and especially excited to be playing for BYU!

We weren't originally planning on taking any trips to Utah this spring, but now we really hope that one of us will be able to get to at least one of her games eventually. 

We will see! 


I Love to See the Temple!

This week I'm going to try something different with my pictures-of-the-day and break them up into different posts, rather than combining them all into one post for the whole week.   

Here's our picture from Friday, January 29th:  

It's not a great picture, but it does show how we ended our day.   I was somewhat grumpy after a long day and frankly didn't really feel like going to the temple, but we had committed ourselves to go and I knew I'd regret it if we didn't.    So we went anyway and I very much was faking that smile on our way into the temple. 

It didn't take long, though,  after walking through the doors that the stress and grumpiness started to fade away.     We went and did work  for two family names that Cami and Emma had found.  It was exciting doing work for people in our family tree, but most of all it was a great feeling to be there together, without the distractions that usually weigh us down.    I'm grateful for the blessing of having a temple  close by and I am grateful for the peace I feel when I go there.      


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Lots and Lots of Snow (Jan. 22-28)

Another week's gone by and here's another glimpse of our week, which of course included the record breaking snowstorm that brought us 26.5-inches of snow!   Last week there was one day of school off for MLK day, another one off for a teacher work day, then a normal day of school on Wednesday, and then school has been cancelled ever since for the weather (only 1 day of school in 2 weeks)!   Of course, we homeschool, so the days off are most meaningful for Emma who gets early morning seminary cancelled when school is cancelled, but the kids definitely go into a more playful mode when they know their friends are home from school too.  

January 22--(Friday) Knowing that we would likely be snowed in for the next couple of days, I was quite antsy to get out of the house and  run a last few errands.   We got a few things at Barnes and Noble, braved the grocery store for some yogurt, picked up Glen's shirts from the cleaners, and headed home to hunker down.   Glen and Spence arrived home early, then we maneuvered the four cars at our house (one of them being my sister's who is out of town) to fit into driveway and garage.  It was a tight fit, but we got it done and we left the street in front of our house open to the snowplows we hope to see!

January 23- (Saturday) It snowed and the wind howled all yesterday evening and all day today, but that didn't stop the kiddos from spending a good portion of the day outside playing in it.  We topped out at 26.5 inches!

January 24-(Sunday) Church was cancelled, so we spent the day shoveling out ourselves, then a neighbor who'd recently had surgery.   Later Glen and Adam brought the sacrament to someone from our ward who lives close by.

January 25- (Monday) County schools closed today, which meant no seminary for Emma.  In previous years we would have taken snow days from homeschool too, but this year we're trying to get everything done before mid-May, so the kids are still doing their work.   The kids hurriedly did their work in the morning, so we could go  to this epic sledding hill in the afternoon with friends.   Later we went to a friend's house and roasted marshmallows over a bonfire!

January 26- (Tuesday) It's another day of staying in their pajamas, doing their work, then squeezing in as much outside play, board games, and movies as possible.   Today it was the game of Life using Monopoly money, since the Life money weirdly did not come with the game.  We probably could have contacted the store or manufacturer, but the kids just really wanted to play and Monopoly money ended up working just fine and they are mildly obsessed with playing it.

January 27- (Wednesday) They're all still in their pajamas at noon and we learned that school is cancelled the rest of the week.  Again, we're still doing work, it just means that everyone stays up later, sleeps later, and gets dressed later, if at all.    In this picture Ellie is reading "The Lightning Thief," and can barely put her book down to eat the omelet that Adam made for her lunch.

January 28- (Thursday) This post was getting reeeeeeeeeeeealllllllllllllly  boring with all the snow day pictures, so today I'm adding one of Cami.   She's following in Glen's footsteps and is playing for the BYU women's lacrosse team this semester (of course Glen  played men's {not women's} lacrosse).   We are thrilled that she made the team and is continuing the family legacy of BYU lacrosse!   Click here to see her on the team roster and here to see her game schedule.

Go BYU!!!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

This Week (January 15-21)

Ugh!  I can't decide whether I like this photo-a-day thing or not.    On the one hand, I like that it challenges me to capture more of the little moments in our lives, but on the other hand, I feel like it's going to get really boring, really fast.    Most of our days are not only not exciting, but they're often rather similar from week to week.    I'll keep it up for now and try to keep it interesting, but I'm not going to be surprised if it fizzles after a while!  In the meantime, we are hunkering down for the snowstorm of the century....literally.  They're predicting 18-30-inches of snow, which is pretty steep snowfall totals, even by my Minnesotan standards.  I'm anticipating a whole lot of nothing happening around these parts for the next several days, which, lucky for us,  will mean loads of sledding, hot chocolate,  and board games for us!      

January 15--Once I started homeschooling the kids a few years ago, I realized that for my sanity's sake, I needed a fudge day thrown into the schedule.  Not a day that we literally eat fudge, although that does sound nice too, but that we needed a day with less {or no} structure to give us a chance to go on field trips or finish up work that needed to be done.  Other years that fudge day has been Friday and I attribute our keeping this day free of obligations to one of the main reasons why I've been able to stay somewhat sane and keep homeschooling.     This year, though, our schedule has jacked up a notch and  we do not have a true fudge day anymore.   I believe that everything we have on our schedule is valuable, but I still miss our laid back Fridays.   Last Friday was even busier than a  usual one with a YW presidency meeting first thing in the morning, then straight on to our Friday coop, and on to our evening activities.  My siblings, Tim and AnnaLisa, came over at some point and were showing Ellie something humorous, which is when I finally remembered to take a picture for the first time.  

January 16--It's a little sad how long it took us to put away our Christmas decorations and then put our house back together afterward.  We hosted a family history night at our house that night, so we were motivated to get it all done, even if the project did take up most of the day!

13 youth  came to the family history night at our house, and most of them found names to take to the temple, so we're considering the night a smashing success! 

January 17-- This Sunday was much less busy (not as many meetings) than last week and I was excited to get back to my Sunday letter writing time!   Being an introvert means that sometimes I have a hard time connecting with the young women in person the way that I would like, so I try to write a couple of meaningful letters to girls every week.   We, as a presidency,  keep a list and make sure that all 33 girls gets a letter from us at least quarterly.   We also send postcards to anyone who wasn't there that day.    

January 18--After an unseasonably warm beginning to winter (it was 75º on Christmas Day), winter weather has officially arrived and everyone is starting to buzz about some snow potential later this week!

January 19--I have a minor obsession with the sunshine and natural light.  My family laughs at the fact that I keep the windows uncovered all the time and turn off all artificial lights possible if there's any natural light to be had.    I think my obsession stems from two sources--one from my childhood in Minnesota where I craved/needed more sunlight in my life and two from my interest in photography.  We've lived in this house for 14-1/2 years now and this spot in our dining room is "my spot".   The sun streams in every afternoon and I find myself drawn there to soak up the warmth and the light while I accomplish whatever task needs to be done.  

Also, right before bed the kids got out the dominos and started working together on a track.  It was cute to see their excitement and willingness to work together on it.  

January 20--Ellie and Adam got distracted right after scripture study today and started using my phone and iPad to text lots of silly things to their cousin, Davin, who was texting from his Dad's phone.

How silly were they being?    I'll let you judge.  

  Later that night we tracked down new sleds and a shovel to replace a broken one.  I was quite proud that we tracked them down two days before a monster storm and helped a couple of other people get them too!   That evening we got a mere inch of snow, which on the untreated roads led to a long slippery trip home from Emma's dinner cooking job.    There were over 1000 accidents reported in the area and Glen passed four of them on the way home from work.  I blame it all on the coming blizzard, which distracted everyone (including VDOT who should have been treating the roads) from paying attention to the inch. 

January 21--After yesterday's inch of snow shut down the capital of the free world and caused people to have 8+ hour commutes home, the school systems just all shut down today. Never mind that  everything had melted by 10:00 and that schools are already closed tomorrow for the impending blizzard and will almost certainly be closed for most of next week too.     We live in an area where an abundance of caution is given to all kinds of weather and today's cancellation caused a bit of giggling on my part.

Today Ellie got a bee in her bonnet and decided to go for a run on the treadmill.     So she put on her running shoes with her dress and went for a run.  

How far?    Only 5-miles or so, which randomly was her goal.    Why she randomly decided she needed to go for a 5-mile run today I have no idea, but she certainly was pleased with herself afterward!  

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Making Me Smile...

 I know I'm weird, but I'm sensing that blogging just once a week is sometimes going to be challenging for me.    I don't want to get sucked back in completely, so I'm going to leave my goal  to post a blogpost once-a-week with a picture from each day, but don't be surprised if you see a few extra posts pop up in some, if not most weeks!   

 Here are a glimpse of two things from this past week that are making me smile and that I wanted to make sure got added to the blog.


A little Friday night selfie fun.  I had a group text going with my mom and sisters and they would name an emotion and Ellie, Emma, and I would try to act it out for them...
What can I say?    It was cheap entertainment (for us and for the others on the group text) and I highly recommend it as a wholesome recreational activity!  


On Thursday night for our Laurel class activity we went to visit a sweet elderly woman from our ward.    The girls were excited to hear her stories and she was a complete crack-up that kept us in stitches the whole time we were there.   

Here's one of her quotes:       

"I didn't know "damn" and "yankees" were two separate words until I was about 12-years-old."

Clearly a woman after my own heart.


Friday, January 15, 2016

A Tender Mercy

Most of you know that on the evening of January 10, 2012, our world was rocked in a way we never expected when we learned that our then 16-year-old son had leukemia.   What some of you may not know, though,  is that earlier that same day I had one of the most powerful spiritual experiences of my life that, unbeknownst to me at the time, was actually preparing me for the storm that was to come later that day.     

I was reading  these words from a living apostle:      

“The most powerful Being in the universe is the Father of your spirit. He knows you. He loves you with a perfect love. God sees you not only as a mortal being on a small planet who lives for a brief season—He sees you as His child. He sees you as the being you are capable and designed to become. He wants you to know that you matter to Him.”    
President Dieter Uchtdorf,You Matter to Him, General Conference,  October 2011

And listening to this  song: 

It was during this song that I was suddenly overwhelmed with the very distinct impression that God not only knew me, but loved me, and was very aware of me and my family.   I am not normally an emotional person at all, but this message of peace struck me with a force and realness that I had never felt before in my life and it took me several minutes before I regained my composure enough to continue with my study.   

Several hours later, in the moment when I took the fateful phone call from the pediatrician, it was this message of love and peace that flooded into my heart and I knew that we would be okay.   Not that I had any premonition that Spencer would be healed or  a thought  that things would be rosy posy, but that wherever this new challenge took us, that God was in the details and in the end we would be okay.  That powerful experience on the morning of January 10th four years ago, literally carried me through the next several months of Spencer's illness.  

It's been four years now since that fateful day, but  it is still with trepidation that we approach the anniversary of Spencer's diagnosis day each year.  So many of our memories of Spencer at his sickest were in those weeks right around Christmas and I still feel my anxiety about his health rise this time  each year.  

This year, January 10th fell on Sunday and I intentionally kept myself busy in an effort to distract myself from what day it was, but still it was there niggling in the back of my mind.  Although there is not anyone at church who could have possibly known what day it was or what this particular song would mean  to me on that day, I was totally taken off guard when I heard  the bishopric member announce the intermediate hymn for the service.    

 God knew.   

It's a children's song with a simple message, but its message is powerful and far-reaching.

It brought comfort to me four-years-ago and brought comfort to me again this year.  

God is real and He loves us. 

And I am grateful for that reminder.  


Thursday, January 14, 2016

What are we up to? {January 8-14}

In continuing with my effort to take a picture a day, I'm discovering that it's not often as easy a task as I originally thought it would be.  Most of our days are rather routine and somewhat boring, and it's easy for me to forget to take any pictures until the end of the day when the lighting is poor and all of the "excitement"  (although that's a generous term for what we do around here) of the day is over.   Even still, it is fun to keep a daily record and remember what makes up the fabric of our days.    

January 8:
Ellie made her own cake today and was very, very excited about it!   It's a tropical orange cake with homemade marshmallow frosting and a mango/pineapple topping  which she made for our Mommy/Daughter book group.   And in case you're wondering, yes, it was as delicious as it looks!

January 9:   Our kids aren't doing any sports this season, so our Saturdays are actually more relaxed than they are in other parts of the year!    Today we got the kids going on their Saturday chores, then Glen and I bailed and went for an 8-mile hike on the CCT.  Our long hikes together are one of my favorite parts of the week!   Later we went to cheer on our  YW at a basketball game.     In the evening, Adam made a music video at a friend's house, Ellie had a jumping and junk food fest at her friend's house, and Emma had a friend over to watch Ant Man at our house.  Sadly this photo of Ellie and friend, Adelaide,  standing in the dark and the pouring rain is the only picture I took all day!    

January 10:  Today was the 4th year anniversary of Spencer's diagnosis with leukemia.   It could have been a hard day, but between this beautiful breakfast (a perk of having the 1:00 church schedule), the fact that Glen and I both taught lessons at church, a powerful experience I had at church, and the fact that I ended up with meetings from 11-5 and 7-9, meant we didn't have much time to dwell on the gravity of the fact.    

January 11:  A trip we've been dreaming about and saving for for years is finally in the very beginning stages of being planned!

January 12:  Adam and his friend, Andrew, are working on the Bird Study merit badge, so we decided a field trip to Mason Neck State Park was in order.   Right on Pohick Bay, eagles, ducks, geese, and swans are often plentiful there and we figured it would be a great way to see some more birds to fulfill the 20 species requirement for the badge.  It was a quiet day, but we did see a bald eagle from a distance.

January 13: You may be sensing a theme, but I love being outdoors and I pretty much need a good dose of fresh air and sunshine several times a week to maintain my mental health.  This year I was very excited to arrange Emma's voice lessons to be at the same time as Adam and Ellie's piano lessons.   I take this time that they're all occupied and  go on a walk by myself.   I treasure this solitude and built-in time in my schedule to get some exercise.  Today, Emma's voice teacher had to delay her lessons by an hour, which meant I had kids with me during my walk--first Emma while the kids were at piano, then the kids while Emma was at voice.   I actually very much enjoyed the company, although two straight hours for me out in the 29º weather meant that I was feeling  a little frosty by the end!    And I know that based on what Adam was wearing that it   looks like he must have a little of my Minnesotan blood in him, but I will tell you that he was actually shivering and was the first one to beg to go back to the car!

January 14:  Glen has perfectly straight teeth that never have needed orthodontic intervention.   I, however, was born with  a mess of crooked buck teeth that needed braces TWICE to correct.   While all five of our kids inherited Glen's beautiful brown eyes, unfortunately not a one of them inherited his teeth.  Here's kid #4 in braces, with one more to certainly follow him in a couple of years!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Project 365: January 1-7

After some self-reflection and feedback from family members, I've decided that I do not want to not document our lives at all, so I've decided to try doing a photo {or two} a day, instead of my normal blogging.   I'm hopeful that this new simplified approach to blogging will keep me from getting too distracted by it, while still providing an outlet for sharing pictures and updates on our lives.  Thanks for sticking with me and stay tuned for more day-at-a-time adventures to come!     

January 1:   This first day of the year brought  us a gorgeous sunset and fun family version of the cooking show, "Chopped"!  Glen and Cami tied for first in the cooking competition and I had great fun being the one to inflict the "fun" ingredients on everyone! 

January 2:  We enjoyed being a part of my niece Bridgette's baptism day and later we attended a performance of "Matilda the Musical" at the Kennedy Center.

January 3:  Emma chopped 12-inches off her hair, so she could donate it to Locks of Love.   We also dropped Cami off at the airport this morning.   :(

January 4:  Adam got a few cool Lego sets this Christmas and this model of the Salt Lake temple was  one that took him longer than most.  He was very proud of it when it was done!  Now he's off working on the next Lego set.

January 5:  Our  "Mommy and Me" book group is this Friday and Ellie and I are madly making our way through the delightful, "Journey to the River Sea".   We are reading every stray minute we can and enjoying every bit of it!    My book group is Wednesday night and luckily I finished  that one already, so it's not distracting us.

January 6:   For ten minutes this morning, the kids saw Glen for the first time this whole week.    He's been working absolutely insane hours (including two all-nighters where he got home at 5:30am and went back to work by 8:30am).  

January 7: My original plans for mutual tonight fell through, so I quickly had to patch together a last-minute activity for the Laurels.   It ended up being a very enjoyable night with 7 of my 8 Laurels, along with Ellie, who definitely is one of the gang.    I love these girls!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the Crain clan lived on an ice-covered, desolate planet called Minnesota (also known as "Elsa's lair" to some small tykes). This frigid wasteland is known for its periods of great coldness and frequent attacks by rebel snowflakes that hale from the evil galactic empire, known as Canada. The warm-hearted and cold-eared inhabitants of Minnesota are known to don layer after layer of turtlenecks, sweaters, long johns, doubled-up socks, and thick outerwear in an effort to ward off the sinister icy rays of the weak Minnesotan sun. However, even with their seemingly impenetrable woolen armor, it often still isn't enough to keep the death star's ice crystal rays from conquering their nose hairs in crunchy arctic mayhem.

Eventually, with the support of the Republic {of Dad's Job}, the Crain clan escaped the clutches of the evil frozen Minnesotan empire, which while actually full of very nice people, was too full of the dark side every evening starting at approximately 16:00 each day. Too bad the force of the dark side proved to be too strong and the clan's Jedi-like teaching-the-gospel-skills were needed to bring light into more frozen galactic lairs. Siberia, Ukraine, Germany, St. Petersburg, Moscow. Try as they might, the clan kept finding themselves drawn back to cold, desolate lands to lead brave resistances to the sinister {and very cold} dark side.

Today, in a very nearby galaxy, you will find the Crain clan in more restorative climes with nary a frozen nose hair to be found. Is there some long lost droid out there that contains messages to lead them to more frozen adventures? Maybe. But he'll have to find them first.

by Lara (of the Crain clan)

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