The eve of the Fourth of July is always an adventure… We scope out where we want to sit for the annual Provo parade at noon then by 3:00pm we can run on the grass and set up camp. Claim our spot! Where tomorrow floating balloons and Star Wars characters will walk by, people will throw candy at us and all the while we are baking to a crisp since it’s 100 degrees out. But somehow it’s still one of my favorite holiday traditions since I was a little girl. Now I love seeing the same excitement in my kids. One of my girls couldn’t even sleep tonight because she said she was thinking of the parade. It’s not all cheesy floats though. There are some moving and memorable aspects of the parade… when Veterans are honored as well as military figures. When we all stand with our hands on our hearts as the flag is carried by, I always get tears in my eyes. God Bless the USA! I want to teach my children to honor the men who died to give us the freedom we are blessed with everyday and those that continue to sacrifice to protect us.
It’s no secret these kids are crazy! Or they just have a lot of spirit and energy. Collin’s sister, Emily, hooked us up with a shoot for the University Mall GAP in Utah. It was just us girls! The boys aren’t up for this sort of thing anyway. But I realized something after the shoot… my girls definitely had a crush on the photographer, Matt Clayton! He turned on the Disney Pandora station, pointed a wind machine their way, told them to scream as loud as they could, jump as high as you can and all the while he was beyond patient. No one was throwing a tantrum (thank goodness) they were all giddy and giggly. He fed them Wheat Thins too. Apparently, they love a boy with snacks.
Here are some questions they asked me to answer:
What’s a favorite Christmas tradition of yours?
It’s sad to think that my favorite tradition has been completely neglected the past two years. I mean, where is my Christmas spirit?! It all started when I was a little girl and we would bundle up and go to a Christmas tree farm strung with twinkling lights and every size tree you could imagine. We would search for THE perfect tree… which is quite the process with five very important opinions. Then my dad would tie it to the top of our maroon Aerostar. I was always amazed that it wouldn’t fall off as we drove home… with our toes defrosting and singing Christmas carols. A couple years ago I bought a white fake tree (gasp!) Seriously how Grinchy of me! Even though it is quite bright and cheerful the plan was to still get a real tree because, please tell me, what smells more like Christmas than a freshly cut tree.
What brings you joy?
Is it normal that the thing that brings me the most joy is also the same little, cute things that drive me nuts and make me completely exhausted at times and I want to pull my hair out?
Literally the amount to joy is unmeasurable that I get for being a mother. Good thing the joyous times surmount the pull-my-hair-out times.
Describe giving or getting the perfect gift. Or, what is a perfect gift? (in general)
Thoughtful gifts are the perfect gift. It’s the gift that you can tell someone really invested time thinking of and put an interest in what you like or maybe paid special attention to something you need. It’s seeing my sister give my musical brother a harmonica because it’s what my dad always played when we were growing up. Or a friend finding a vintage record from Goodwill of your favorite band. That one time my sister bought me the Punky Brewster dvds, that was pretty awesome. Not sure how my husband will top last year since he wrote a song about us and sang it for me with his ukulele. Heart melted. Now that was the perfect gift.
What is a holiday must in your family? (activity, destination, food, etc)
Our holiday-must is finding someone to do Secret Santa for. Collin and I have done this since we were first married and now that the kids are getting older it takes on a whole new meaning for everyone. Praying together to find a family who needs some extra Christmas spirit defines what this holiday season means to us. Now instead of always asking our kids, “What do you want for Christmas?” We can say, “What do you want to give for Christmas.”
On Christmas Eve we make the delivery and it’s pretty hilarious and exhilarating to watch Collin from our hide-out a few houses down as he drops the presents and runs. In the snow. Seriously once he slipped and we died laughing. When I was younger, after my dad had passed away, someone did this for my family and I will never forget it.
As much as I love seeing the Christmas lights at Temple Square, hot cocoa, sledding, and the Christmas Carol at Hale Center Theatre… playing Santa wins every year.
All photos taken and edited by: Matt Clayton
Looking through my library of photos I realized I hadn’t shared a few details of Avery’s baptism luncheon from a few months ago. And since you know I love any excuse to hang lights and crepe paper from our tree, I thought I’d better rescue these pics from the forever-forgotten-folders on my computer never to see the light of day again.
There were so many preparations for this special day. Beyond the flowers, cake, photos and programs we spent time reading and discussing what it means to be baptized in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints with Avery because it’s ultimately her choice.
I was so proud of her decision and although she’s only eight, I am grateful for the integrity, accountability and strength she is already striving to develop and learn about. Such important qualities she will need as she continues to grow older. Because clearly she’s not listening to my constant demands to stop growing up.
Since I wanted this day to be different from the many other family parties we’ve hosted in our backyard I rented tables, chairs and linens. I had a vision of us all eating together on one long table to celebrate her special day. And thank goodness family drama between parents and exes were put aside… even the weather cooperated perfectly too.
The favors were 4×6 pieces of wood that I painted the sides and adhered a photo of Avery on one side and Come Unto Christ print (from Etsy) on the other. Also, carnations and thank you tags on each plate.
Programs and floral crown I put together.
If anyone is interested you may read more about the LDS church here: lds.org Or even email me.
More of Ave… because I love these pics.
We celebrated Lola bug’s birthday yesterday. This girl is so cheerful, loves everything girlie, frilly, pink, rufflly! Loves dress up, crawling in our bed at 4 am, and dancing to Annie. And she’s got some serious sass.
Her day started with a waffle breakfast & crown then a date with mom and dad of playing at her favorite trampoline-jump place, dinner, shopping and dessert. A tradition we started last year where mom and dad get one on one time with the birthday girl/boy… it’s my new favorite thing! We went to Texas Road House and she was not shy about sitting on the saddle and yelling “Yeeeeeeehaw!!” Then she filled up my stroller with everything at the Disney store she could reach and ended up with an Aerial doll. Course.
Because if you want your daughter to look up to someone– it’s the 16 year old princess who rebels against her dad for some boy she says she loves that she’s never even talked to and then she runs away to find an evil, crazy person to help her who ends up tricking her and almost killing everyone. Haha! Love Disney movies.
Growing up my mom made sure that our birthdays were such a special day. I can remember a Strawberry Shortcake Doll cake she made and I even have an invitation in a keepsake box she sent out for my second birthday. Man these girls’ birthdays sneak up on me but I managed to make some quick fringe garlands, ombre table cloth from last birthday and ballon garland… Trying to do my best for them to feel that same love I remember.
-BALLOON BANNER: this is so easy. Just blow up a bag of balloons and then tie them about 6 inches apart, depending on how big they are. Use twine or curling ribbon. Then hang it up.
-FRINGE BANNER: I shared how to make fringe banners in a previous post. Using plastic tablecloths and a rotary cutter. I hung up the fringe as garlands and also vertically on the ends of the balloon banner.
–PAPER GARLANDS: You can find some garlands at party supply stores or online that add some dimension to the decor.
-OMBRE TABLECLOTH I used RIT dye and some fabric and dip dyed the tablecloth… I’ve been wanting to make one for ages and thanks to this pipsqueak’s birthday I had an excuse to do it.
I told my sister when she opened this dress from her that I guarantee she will sleep in it. And she did.
This morning was cake for breakfast & the after party! bwaha! xo, Lizzy
You can’t tell the story of Zuzu without starting with the strength of her momma. Who is also my little sister, Ashley
aka: blondie blonde
aka: my little sister who would sneak my finger nail polish and paint it on her lips
I shouldn’t be surprised at how Ashley rises above challenging times. When she was only 13 years old and our dad passed away she had a certain strength about her that helped all of us overcome such a trial.
Fast forward 17 years and you find the same blondie blonde all grown up living in a foreign country with her husband and daughter for Christopher’s work. This past fall they were getting acquainted with the new language, new home, new routines while living in Paris. Then she found out through the broken english of her Doctor that their growing baby in her tummy had serious complications. Serious enough that they packed up and moved from Paris back to Utah. The story continues with doctor visits every week, bed rest, scary times of almost losing their baby. But Zuzu is a fighter, just like her mommy. She held on even though the doctors said there’s 50% chance of having still born. Even when they said she won’t make it past 32 weeks. Even when they said Zuzu’s has Down Syndrom and her heart has four holes with a chance of heart failure she stayed strong. One day they went in for a routine check up and after an intense few hours she was born–February 4th at 36 weeks weighing 4 lbs 11 oz.
It was still a hard road for Ashley, Chris and Taimi. Long hours at the NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit) until she was healthy enough to go home. Then when she was home their goal was to keep her growing and eating so she could be strong enough to have open heart surgery. She still was on a heart monitor and the words heart failure echoing in their minds.
Yesterday we listened to Ashley and Chris each give a talk about the strength they receive through our Savior. And Chris also gave Zuzu a blessing. I could barely hold myself together, seeing that I was sitting in the same chapel that my dad went to when he was a boy. My sister and Chris moved to Provo to be closer to the hospital and by chance it was the same church my dad attended. The spirit was strong there.
Today, at this very moment, our sweet Zuzu is having open heart surgery. With the steady hands of brilliant, guided doctors and helpful nurses they are closing the four holes in her heart, heart problems are common for babies who are diagnosed with Downs Syndrome. As she was when she was born. She is truly truly an angel and a fighter. I am in awe of my sister and Chris’s strength… they are more brave & strong than afraid.
She’s already strengthened our faith, increased the love our hearts can hold and brought a light and peace with her to our family. I can only imagine how astounding the rest of her life story will be…
Top Photos by Heather Telford Bottom: by Me & Collin Kartchner
Read Ashley’s blog here
Despite the fact that Collin is outrageous in his humor and pseudo-personality Cleetus – He actually is a softy and wouldn’t hurt a fly. (Except a couple days ago when he literally squished a fly with my Anthropologie catalogue, what a disgrace! ; ) As a hobbie and side job he enjoys making videos and is amazing at it! Being the giving person he is, he was looking for an opportunity to share his talents with video to help someone tell their story. The Koffard family contacted him and it was the perfect fit. He cried with the family during the interview and when he was editing I would peek in on him and he would be wiping tears.
Saturday night I went with Collin to view the video with this incredible family and it was touching.
As a mother, I think it’s natural to worry about anything ever happening to our children. It’s something I try not to think about too much but it’s on my mind. I can’t even fathom the thought of holding or kissing one of my girls for the last time. I think also having lost my father, I don’t want to feel that desperate pain again. I really don’t think that I could handle it with as much grace and hope as Jana has done so. She amazes me. The whole family does.
Now about the last song in the video, a few months ago I was asked to be in a video for BYU women’s conference and the filmmaker introduced us to this song. Since then Collin learned it on the piano and it really is my favorite song he’s ever played. It’s called To Build A Home… The lyrics are moving. There’s a tree in the Koffard’s yard you’ll see in the video and after they watched it Collin mentioned how when this trial came to blow them down they held onto each other and were stronger because of it.
By the cracks of the skin I climbed to the top
I climbed the tree to see the world
When the gusts came around to blow me down
I held on as tightly as you held onto me
I held on as tightly as you held onto me
'Cause, I built a home
Until it disappeared
And now, it's time to leave and turn to dust
Click here to watch the video!
Check out CooperRun.org! Come run with us July 28th to honor this sweet boy’s memory and a good cause!
I’ve missed you all this week in blogland! ! I’m not kidding either.
We’ve had an eventful few days with family in town including my Auntie and my sister and family from Germany. After Ash flew in they came over for french toast and we stuffed our faces and laughed and it was like she never left. My Auntie Cheryl is also here from California who I’ve been so close to since I was a little girl. Every summer my sisters and I would fly out and spend a few weeks with my cousins. (Aren’t cousins the best?!) One of those summer we sat by the pool and ate cream cheese + salsa & chips. It changed my life. I’m not kidding, try it! Just pour salsa over cream cheese and then dish out a little of both with a chip. Yum!
A couple evenings ago I was driving home from a meeting at American Crafts and thinking about how the last thing I want to do right now is make dinner, my phone rings and it’s Cheryl calling because she and my mom were coming over to make my Grandma’s homemade spaghetti sauce and noodles! Sweet! When can you move in? I asked. While we cooked, or she cooked and I watched, we talked about how she wants to start a company to help people get organized in their home. I opened up one of my cupboards and our junk drawer and she seriously was salivating… literally excited to dig into all those loose paper clips, pennies and old phones! (Hey, what’s this? A discman?) I’m not a hoarder but who knows when I may need a coupon that expired in 2007 or some dead batteries. Okay, I have a problem. ; )
Later that night my 2 sisters, mom and my auntie all chatted it up the pink room. Collin walked in for a second and walked right back out. I think it has to do with the volume, topic and the fact that we all talk at the same time. Someday that we will me with my girls and I’ll wonder what happened to my babies?
It felt refreshing to have a break from the computer I might just continue that through this glorious weekend.
What are your weekend plans…?
PS I promise I haven’t forgotten and will post the giveaway winner asap.
What you don’t see in this picture: Collin and I doing anything in our power to get her to smile. Including making silly faces & noises and being obnoxious.
Stole a picture with Collin. I think all the kids were crying while we took this but I wanted one of us together before the wedding was over.
Flower girl dresses: Handmade
Dress: J Crew//Handmade sash//Blouse: Ella Moss
I can’t remember if this was before or after my new father-in-law’s mother told me that Quincey will be the President someday. Sweeeet! She even had a list of reasons that nearly had me convinced. I told Collin and his reply was… “The president of what? Crazytown.” 😉 She’s in that really darling yet sometimes defiant 3 year old stage! But we still love her… our little miss future President.
Sure, I could reminisce about the days before we had 3 munchkins… but those days don’t have nearly the same warm light or contagious laughter.
Even though there’s more laundry, more drama, more patience needed.
There’s also more purpose, more meaning, more love.
Even though I can get lost in my role as mother and, some say, I might lose a bit of elizabeth… it’s actually made me who I am and a better me.
No matter what it is in life, the difficult times always makes us stronger. Sometimes I even get scared when things are going good because I think, okay, it’s time for something horrible to happen. Like a Disney movie and their extreme movie plots, where the absolute worst thing has to happen before you can find happiness.
But slowly I am learning to trust that God has a plan for me & to not be scared. Instead treasure the light & the laughter and… just be prepared for the crap! 😉
In other news: It’s this girl’s birthday today. The birthday party will be another day which I am so glad we didn’t plan today because she had a 103.2 temperature last night and we were on the phone with her Pop Pop who’s also a Doctor making sure she’s ok. She slept like a dream & is her same silly self today.
Happy Birthday my darling girl! xoxoxoxo
I was soooo giddy about the pictures I captured last night of my girls! My grandma sent Q&A those outfits so I promised her I would take pictures.
My 12 year old self would be quite disappointed if she could see future me… because sometimes I take life much too seriously. Last year, for my twenty ninth birthday, I received the following gifts from different members of my family and I’m not joking: Punky Brewster DVDs, a purple hula hoop and a vintage Minnie Mouse t-shirt. Coincidence? I don’t think so. They were simple reminders that even though our lives are spotted with worry, stress, & lack of sleep don’t let that turn us into a living Cruella Deville.
So, one of my resolutions is to play more.
Some ideas to consider while achieving this newly proclaimed mantra:
- Walk lightly with a skip in your step, no slouching.
- Kiss someone in the rain
- Only eat mini marshmallows while throwing into air and catching them in your mouth
- Roll down the car windows and sing “Nothing Compares To You” as loud as possible
- Go bowling or roller skating
- Leave love notes for people you adore
- Never walk past a photo booth with out taking pictures
- Be the one to plan a fun date or outing with friends
- Build a fort every Friday
Okay, some of these are down-right unruly or verging on annoying but, hey, if it lifts your spirits and makes you smile then go for it.
I started off this resolution with building a fort. Once I finally got the fort figured out we had a fun time! Putting it together is definitely part of the play. First I tried hanging something from the ceiling: too heavy. Next I tried chairs: not cute. Then I found some pipe that I use for a tent: perfect.
If we are going to keep this up every Friday I definitely need to get this fort kit: Crazy forts. Just for the base pieces and use my own fabrics.
Lighting is also key to a great fort. (bulb string lights.)
Ta ta for now. Off to play.
I shared this resolution with Mandi over at her blog, and wanted to share it here too.