Thursday, May 31, 2007

Happy Birthday Mimi!

Feliz Cumpleanos Amy!

Today is Amy's birthday! She is not only my older sister, but the person that I do almost everything with and talk to about three times a day on average. I thought I would write 33 things I love about Amy for her birthday entry. Here's to you Mimi!


1. being neighbors
2. being in the same ward - so I can take Davyn to RS with me and have him just sleep in my arms -- so sweet!
3. the way you write and your way with words (just check out her blog if you don't know what I am talking about!).
4. that you have learned Spanish, Japanese and Mandarin Chinese!!!
5. the way you love my girls as if they were your own children
6. the way you can get annoyed with my girls as if they were your own children
7. that you filmed London's birth (from behind me)
8. that you stayed up at the hospital almost all night for Savy to be born even though you were dead tired (and pregnant)
9. that you are always willing and ready to serve
10. that you are always making dinner for someone or having someone over for dinner.
11. that you helped me paint my loft... whole downstairs
12. that you make AMAZING cakes
Aidan's birthday cake last summer
13. that you are such a good mom
14. that you sacrificed your husband on a more than one night to let him help Nate when we were moving into our home
15. that you are always up for going to the mall and letting our children run around like maniacs at the play place and then to hit Chick-fil-a
16. that you always have some idea for a craft or a treat or something cute to give to our visiting teachees or for us to decorate our homes with
Our Easter centerpiece that took us forever to make
last year, but were so dang cute!
17. that you are so dang intelligent
18. that you have the CUTEST hair ever - it always looks good even if you haven't fixed it. Is that your hair or Tasha's cut? Either way, it's darling and you have great highlights in your hair -- hot momma!
19. that you are a great cook and are always trying new recipes - I love your dinners!
20. that you took lots of pics at London's birth and then made me a Shutterfly album to share with friends and family
London and her favorite aunt
21. that you are my daughters' favorite aunt (since they see you the most!)
22. that you let me join your book club and are always letting me borrow your books.
Our latest book club pick - teenage vampire love story written by a Mormon...
Verdict on the book: "the best worst written book ever"
The second novel becomes better and the third will be out in August
23. that you help encourage me to do my homework
24. that I know I could ask anything of you and you would do it without hesitation if it meant helping me
25. that you did not get mad at me when we both got kicked out of Megan's delivery of Talin due to my fainting spell. Sorry, I should have eaten lunch that day.
26. that you are my number one supporter (after Nate, of course) when I decide to do something
27. that you encourage me to be more decisive and independent
28. that you were an example to me in school (getting good grades) and attending BYU -- I enjoyed following in your footsteps
29. that you were always nice to me when we were younger and played with us younger ones -- Tyler, Megan and I will never forget the great Barbie escapades that occurred in your bedroom! Red, Blue, Simon le Bon (is that how you spell his name?) . . . great times.
30. that you served a mission and never gave up even though you ended up sick and actually serving in what, 3 different missions (Taiwan, California & AZ)
31. that you actually rode a bike (wearing dresses) in Taiwan!!!!! wow!!!
32. that you are so talented . . . honestly - how many people can do this???

33. that you are my sister
I love you and Happy Birthday!
(and might I add that it was VERY difficult to find pictures of you! This is the only one I could find of us two together - maybe if I could have found pics from when we were younger, but those must still be packed away somewhere.)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Who Needs Real Toys?

This is my Savannah in her element: Princesses, dresses, art, cutting with real scissors, and playing pretend -- all wrapped up in one home-made toy. Homemade paper dolls have been the rave at our house the last two or three weeks. It all started with a lovely princess coloring book my mom bought for the girls in Disneyland last February. What started out as coloring with markers turned into - "mom, can you cut her out?" and, with newfound freedom, the princess were off on adventures. It didn't take long for me to realize I couldn't doctor them up with enough tape so out came the laminator and now they're durable for their adventures.
Here they are:

Savannah loves to draw and color and she's quite good for her age. Every day London's nap time becomes art central at our house.

She started out cutting them herself, but when Sleeping Beauty's arm was amputated, she only wanted me to do the cutting.

It makes me wonder . . . do my children need all the toys they have been collecting over the years? Heck, a homemade paper doll makes them as happy as any other toy. I think maybe more creativity should be encouraged and I will start buying books rather than toys. My girls are always up for a new book.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Today is our sixth wedding anniversary and we have been through so much together that I cannot even say how much I love my Nathan. Ups and downs have come into our lives in a variety of forms, but we always stick together and battle the storms hand in hand. Trials have made us stronger to the point that I know we can and will withstand anything else that comes our way.

I love you, Nathan!
And I appreciate all the hard work you do for our family.

and all that we've been through together:

Nate and I met at the 70th Ward. I was fresh off the mission and visiting to support my sister, Amy, who was giving a lesson. Brave and full of missionary confidence, I sat next to him and we struck up a conversation about our beloved Chile (both served missions there). He claims that when I walked into the classroom, music started playing (Dream weaver) and the wind rushed my hair and skirt as stars twirled around. . . a bit dramatic, but I love his sense of humor!

That day I went home hoping that he would call me.

He went home and told his mom that he met the girl he was going to marry. I didn't know it then, but luckily he did. I did not return to 70th Ward for a month and the next time I did, he asked me out and we had a our first date.

First date: My first since my mission and I recall my whole family waiting in the living room - and waiting, and waiting. Nate finally arrived (I gave you wrong directions, sorry, it was a new house for me). Plans for the date changed with circumstances and we ended up at Chili's where we talked non-stop the whole time and then saw "Meet the Parents."

Then I left for a month on a trip to Washington DC with Amy and then to Utah to visit JoDee and Shane.
2nd date: Megan's wedding reception at the Phx Zoo. Amy prodded me into inviting him over the phone and I was surprised and genuinely happy he actually came since we had only been on one date and not seen each other for a month since that date.
Christmas 2000. I put this picture in to remind us of our first Christmas together (not married yet). The sweater he got me, the travel book with romantic sticky notes about how we would visit all the "legendary places", the watch, and the New Year's Resolution.

The infamous New Year's Resolution.

Nate, you didn't think I'd forget that, did you? My family will remember that Nate had this great idea to make a time capsule and each of us write our resolutions for that year and seal it up in the capsule. My dad was supposed to bury it for us to look at the next year. Well, he cheated and read Nate's resolutions.

Back at BYU, I hear about how Nate had some lofty goals . . . to make me come home from BYU. . . to marry me. . . and to get busy . . . 2001 times!!! Do you think my family could read that and not tease him about it? Yeah, right. They ate it up.
Lonely Valentines Day apart. You in Arizona and me at BYU.
I remember walking in the door after a long day at school and seeing the beautiful roses and never once thinking they were mine, asking my roomie "who got those?"
To my delight and surprise, they were for me! Thanks!
I love this picture because I can tell EXACTLY
what you are thinking. . . 2001. . . 2001 . . .

HONEYMOON! I spared all you onlookers with a smaller version of this picture. Funny, though, there really aren't many honeymoon pictures . . .wonder why. . .Sedona was beautiful, but we were too busy enjoying each other's company as well as the whole "we don't have to say goodnight and part anymore" thing!


Becoming parents. Perhaps one of the first times I saw you cry. It was an amazing experience to have together and Savannah was and still is PERFECT.

Meeting London. The quickest and most peaceful birth ever.
Having babies, blessing babies, every day life...

I would not want to live my life without you. Like I always tell the girls:

if daddy's Hercules, then I'm Meg

if you are Eric, then I'm Ariel

if you are Philip, then I'm Aurora

if you are Mr. Darcy, then I'm Elizabeth

if you are Nathan, then I am Mandi

I LOVE you!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Exercise and Wal-mart


I have issues.

In our old house, I was in a routine of going to the gym everyday. I knew people. I was committed. I was starting to see results.

Then we moved.

Although I LOVE my new home and I LOVE living two streets from Amy, I DO NOT LOVE the fact that there are no gyms nearby. Not willing to drive 20+ minutes to workout, I decided to go back to at-home dvds.

Some days it works and some days it doesn't. Some days Savannah cries and whines and drives me batty and some days she jumps right in and works out with me. I never know what the day will bring.

Example: Today I had to stop a minute because London desperately needed some quick kisses -- how can I say no to kisses?
Then Savy, London and I were finishing up a boot camp dvd, I looked down at my daughters and it brought back fond memories of a Jane Fonda tape I used to do with my mom. The details are hazy, but I can still remember . . . purple striped leg warmers. . .pulling carrots (one of the moves). . . I loved exercising with mom -- maybe she instilled this love of exercise in me because I can honestly say that I LOVE it!


Something disturbing happened at Wal-mart today.

Very disturbing.

I should preface this story with the fact that Nate HATES Wal-mart. He hates the ickiness and the crowds of weird people. Today I have to give it to Nate that despite my best efforts at looking at EVERYONE as though they are a child of God, it sometimes fails me. Especially when they pick up my child. . .

So we had a lovely shopping expedition -- yes, the girls were fabulously well-behaved for which I am VERY grateful. On our way out the door the cute old man gave them a sticker and a hi-five.

The girls were thrilled.

The other greeter was a little Indian man who did not want to be left out of the fun. All of a sudden, I notice he's picked London up and tried (unsuccessfully) to put her on his shoulders!?!?

Okay, you DO NOT just pick up someones child and put them on your shoulders!!!!!

Before I could react, he either realized it was wrong to pick up someone's child or realized he was not strong enough to do so. Either way, he put her down and she quickly moved to my side, confused at having been hauled up in the air by a complete stranger.

It was very awkward.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sunday Conversations. . .


Getting ready for church today, little London comes into my room and very seriously poses the question:

"Mom, am I boo-tiful?"

Why are my girls so concerned about this and should I be worried about it? Savannah has been asking the same thing a lot lately and I've started telling her that it's not her clothes or hair, but how she acts that makes her beautiful. I'm hoping to brainwash her into being the nice little person I want my child to be who is kind and loving to everyone -- is that bad?

It's just that she's one who could change clothes and look in the mirror all day long if she could! And I'm totally not kidding (Amy would vouch for me).

London is another personality completely and so is dealt with differently.

"You are gorgeous, London" was my reply.

"Thanks mom, you're boo-tiful too."


As I'm filling out a tithing slip, the girls are crowded around me like usual and it's so tight that I can hardly write. What is it with children and mom's personal space???? I guess I won't get any until they're teenagers and don't like me anymore (which I hope NEVER happens, but right now it sometimes sounds nice). I accidentally mark Savy's arm and apologize to which she replies:

"It's okay, mom, dings happen"

Yes, Savannah, things do happen, don't they?


Nate and I ask the girlies what they learned about in church today.

London - ears.

Savy - well, she launches into a story about a man with no hands who had to eat and brush his teeth with his feet. Then she got creative and kept coming up with new scenarios for him to use his feet. She was fascinated by the whole concept. I am still wondering what the gospel principal was behind the lesson. Whatever it was, she was long gone into the world of handless people before her teacher got it through to her!

Tired of her handless-man scenarios (only to be taken up once we got home again), Savannah, in a very adult tone of voice asks:

"So, mom, what did you learn in church?"

satisfied with my answer, her attention turns to dad -

"So, dad, what did you learn today in church?"


Savannah: "So how was your day, daddy?"

Mind you, it's Sunday so we have been together as a family ALL day long and had basically the SAME day. Kids are hilarious. This girl loves her daddy. Every prayer includes the phrase "please bless that daddy will get home safely" no matter if he is right there next to her and it's the bedtime prayer or if he is at work. She is definitely daddy's little girl.

Favorite Things Party

"Brown papered packages
tied up with string,
these are a few
of my
favorite things...."
This was the theme of a brunch at Janae's house this morning (Sista #2)(actually now it has become yesterday - Saturday). We each brought six of our favorite things and then exchanged. Price limit of $5 or less forced creativity. For me, though, it was easy. I knew immediately what everyone in the world needs that's under $5.

Favorite things opened:
Me: sleep mask & Hershey's chocolates
with almonds & toffee (I always have these
in my pantry). Can't sleep and get my REM
without the mask - it's a lifesaver!!!
Had to share the secret.
Sherri: Burt's Bees Strawberry lip gloss.
Michelle: Picture of 3 dresses. She knows the artist
and has a large print of it in her home. Beautiful.

Amy: Scrub brush that holds dish soap.
This is the best one
that you get at
Cost Plus World Market.
(everyone's favorite store)
Janae: Make-up bag and Wet N Wild lip liner in 666 color.
Her story of a mad search around Mesa for

666 lip liner was hilarious. But it is a fabulous
color that she and her sistas have been wearing
for years. Guess that secret is out too.

Modeling the Favorite Things...

Amy testing the chocolate and nobody could resist the sleep mask!
(Michelle, Janae, Sherri, and Amy)

Amy trying Sherri's lip gloss

Janae with Michelle's "3 dresses" picture

Michelle doing dishes with
the new brush from Amy

and finally, me, trying out
WetNWild 666 lipliner

So, thank you, Janae, for the great get-together.
Food, fun and friends -- it was great.
Oh, and I absolutely LOVED your new home!
It's beautiful (thanks for the tour).

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Home Improvement

I've been so busy that I haven't really had time to check or write on my blog lately. Last Friday Cyndee wanted to take Savannah to a dance recital followed by a sleepover. I love that! Savannah was thrilled to spend one-on-one time with her Grandma. All day Friday when Amy and I were hanging out with my mom, Savannah willed us away at every chance "mom, when are you and Mimi and the other kids leaving?" When I met Cyndee at Target to pick Savy up on Saturday, she said Sav would make a perfect only child. Too late.

With Savannah gone, Nate and I had alone time with London which was fun. We could tell she wasn't herself -- I honestly don't know if she knows how to be "herself" without her sister -- they are very close and have hardly ever been apart. So this was good for them. We let London sleep with us in our bed and the first words out of her mouth in the morning were: "mom, I miss Nana, can we go get her?"

Friday night we searched a couple stores until we found our inspiration for our downstairs bathroom. My little sister, Megan, is coming from Iowa in a few weeks with her family to visit and so Nate & I decided to do a little home improvement before they come (you need a little motivation sometimes). Shower curtain, garbage can, towel rack, rug, and paint bought and we were ready to roll.

Saturday was full of work. Nate mowed our lawn. Oh, we bought our first lawn mower Friday also. The lawn was so tall that London would get lost in it! I should have taken a picture. My backyard looks very different and so much better now. We got the bathroom painted and put together. Lovely. I love taking one room at a time and putting it together. I am happy owning my first home (can you tell?).

Then Tuesday, Amy and I painted my loft. Amy -- thank you, thank you, thank you -- except for when you painted me, I'm not grateful for that! But you were cheap labor, so I'll not complain too much. Big project, but the results were definitely worth it! Now I have another room to work on decorating.... I amazes me how much a coat of paint can do. I love it! I do, however, think I got painting out of my system for a while (for my house at least) so the other rooms will have to wait.

Next project: Painting Amy's pantry and hanging pics in the loft.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Swim Lessons

Swim lessons are over. I am impressed with how much children can learn and achieve in six days of a one hour lesson, shared by six kids. I love our swim teacher, who happens to be my cousin, Chris's wife, Emily. So the kids learn how to swim AND get to see cousins they hardly ever see. Fun all around.

One of the first days -- before they knew what they were in for!

And then the worrying set in. . . check out Savy's face.
I seriously think she was contemplating her next turn.

Amberlee, London, Savy, and Aidan

Here's Aidan contemplating his next turn. The water was still a
bit chilly so the kids would wrap up in towels after every turn the first week.

London and Emily "negotiating"

It was funny because all the kids (that could talk) would start
their turn with Emily negotiating: "Two times and then I'm done."

but then things changed the second week -- a lot of things...

kids were happy and swimming on their own, Aidan was doing skater jumps off the side of the pool and constantly asking when it was his turn because he "loved" swim lessons, Savy was racing Amberlee, and even Davyn started kicking his legs and getting to the side!

Yes, it's survival swimming and Emily just drops them in the pool and it's up to them to get themselves to the side and then catwalk to a step and get out themselves.

Sometimes, as the mother, it's not the easiest thing to watch, but you know it's for their good, so you sit back and let them fend for themselves. Here's London getting to the side by herself.

Savannah's favorite: the back float.
Four seconds is her longest hold so far.

My little mermaid! It must be her Waller
genes that make her a good swimmer.

Camryn was so sweet! Her she is looking
after London - what a good cousin!

Here are Emily's two darling little girls - Camryn and Amberlee.
They are so cute and well -mannered.

Well, the first two days were a little hard, but after that both Savy and London were off and swimming. Savannah is a swimmer. She puts her head down and angles her body and becomes a torpedo. London gets to the side every time, but bobs her head up constantly to check out her location so we're working on keeping her head in the water and getting to the side much faster.

I am 100% impressed with my babies and I'll feel much safer around swimming pools now that I know my girlies can "get to the side" by themselves.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

How to Get Pregnant

After we dropped Amy off at her house from swim lessons today, Savannah and I had an interesting conversation spurred by a comment I made to Amy about how my car would be big enough for a baby (as it comfortably fit all four of ours).

London: "The baby can sit back here with me"

Me: "No, you and Nana can sit in the back and then the baby can sit in the middle seat and look at you."

Savannah: "Mom, to have a baby you need to be pregnant."

Me (surprised): "Oh, how do I get pregnant, Savannah?"

Savannah: "You put on a wedding dress."

I suppose that's one way. Oh, the simplicity of being four. I'm glad that she's satisfied with that answer and I don't have to come up with any more details . . . yet.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


These past few months, I have had wonderful experiences that have made me more grateful for my heritage. A few months ago I started entering my genealogy and researching names and finding a few that needed work done. Then, my mom was cleaning out her apartment and turned four boxes of "genealogy" over to me for Amy & I to go through. Lovely. Well, over the past few weeks, I've sorted through and organized and really enjoyed it. Looking at pictures of people I know are related to me and wondering what their lives were like is magical. I even found one photo of a man who is a relative of mine with the exact same jaw structure -- no doubt taken from Grandma Hendrix's home after she died.

Then, this weekend I had two more fabulous experiences.

First, for months my Grandma Jones has been planning a day trip to Cherry, AZ, to show us where she grew up. So this Saturday, we trekked to Cherry - a small town between Phoenix and Prescott. Amy and I drove together as our hubbies both had to work. We only had 3 kids (Aidan went with Grandma Scott), but it was still a little rocky in the back seat!

When we finally got to the campground where we were going to picnic, Amy & I freaked out as we saw the temperature fall before our eyes. By the time we stopped the car, it said 42 degrees and it was sleeting (hmm, is that a word?). And I had almost worn shorts! Well, thank goodness my cousin, Jenny, had a some towels in her car and my other cousin, Laura, had a sweater she loaned to me. Picnicking with family we rarely see was a treat. And then we were off to see the sights. . . with Grandma as our tour guide. . .

Evan, Davyn, London, Ethan, Savannah, Amberlee, and Camryn

This is a pump made and used by my ancestors who stopped to settle in Cherry. John Allen & Julia Sessions (my Great-Great Grandparents) met and married on the way to Arizona. It makes me wonder, what made people finally stop and say "this is where we'll settle."

Here's a picture of all of us who came -

Me holding Savannah, Amy holding London, Grandma, Mom with Davyn, Corey & Rachel with Evan, Chris & Emily with Camryn & Amberlee, Mary, Larraine, Matt & Jenny with Gabby & Mia, and finally Laura and her son, Ethan.

Next stop: Cherry Cemetery. This was perhaps the most touching place. A cemetery full of my relatives. I love the aura of reverence and calm I feel in cemeteries. I was sure to walk around by Grandma so I could hear all her comments about who was who. She was very emotional as she saw graves of relatives and even some people she grew up with. One man, she said, was so handsome that she had a crush on him and hoped that her husband would one day look like him. I don't know if Grandpa looked like him, but I've seen his younger pictures and he was a catch!

Savannah at the entrance to Cherry Cemetery.

My Great-Great-Great Grandmother who crossed the U.S.,
leaving Illinois to settle there in Cherry, AZ.

London, Savy, Davyn, Mia, Ethan, Gabby, Evan, Amberlee & Camryn.

The cousins' kids at the grave of my Grandma's father, Hugh Gibson Allen. He was a runner in WWI who would run through the trenches to deliver letters and information -- a very dangerous task. Our family still has some of his letters that he wrote home when away at war.

Next stop: The Old Schoolhouse. This is where my Grandmother attended school with less than twenty other students -- Cherry is VERY small. I was surprised at how far away it was from the Ranch. Those stories ARE true about walking a mile in the snow . . . who would have thought! Interestingly enough, people still live in the schoolhouse today.

While we were stopped out front, Larraine came by our car and told Amy and I a story about when her Grandma & Grandpa took them to a social gathering down the hill and Grandma got so drunk that Grandpa left her there and took she and Donna home and tucked them in -- the only time she remembers him putting her to bed. My Grandma's mom was a little on the wild side.

Next stop: The Ranch.
This is the place where Grandma was raised and where my mom and her siblings remember coming to stay as children. It was a little decrepit, but still intact. As we walked around the groupings of little buildings, I could just imagine the bustle of ranch life. Each building had it's own function: a chicken coop, a root cellar, a barn for tools, etc.

The front door of the Ranch, where mom kept saying she remembered running in and out, in and out as a child. Just inside that door is a tiny little kitchen that made me grateful for my own kitchen equipped with modern appliances! I ask myself: could I have survived those days????

Grandma and mom (holding a very cold London).

Once again, the Jones Clan.

In the background is the Root Cellar that mom said scared her to death. She dreaded when Grandma Allen (my great-grandma) would asked her to get something in there. I don't blame her! All Amy and I could think of was -- "I saw something nasty in the woodshed!" -- for those of you who have seen Cold Comfort Farm.

The girls and I next to the Ranch -- those very walls that were (and probably still are) the home to numerous daddy-long-legs. I remember when I was young, hearing stories from mom about the daddy-long-legs at her grandma's ranch. Well, here I am, next to the daddy-long-leg walls!

A very cold Savannah who, shortly after arriving at the Ranch, got to wear my sweater since it was mighty cold and, like I said, Amy and I were so not prepared!

So that was our trip to Cherry - a walk through memory lane for Grandma and a journey into the past for all of us. It was more than I had expected.

Then Sunday night, Nate and I attended a ward fireside where a lady in our ward talked about her experiences in Nazi Germany. Amazing. When she finished, I felt so impressed about the importance of getting the information from these older people and learning about history first-hand before it's too late. What great stories they have for us!