Thursday, July 31, 2008


Tonight we went to our gym's member appreciation night. It was a LUAU. The chef made a yummy dinner

there was a face painting...

snow cones...

a bounce house, which Brady LOVED!

Outside by the pool there was swimming and the Chick-Fil-A cow was there passing out goodies to the kids...

and the finale was a show from authentic polynesian dancers.

It was wholesome family fun for all.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

my soulmate

Happy Birthday to my "Mr. Knightley", my Prince Charming, the love of my life! I never knew what unconditional love REALLY felt like until I met/fell for/married this man. He is my best friend, my counselor, my example, the yin to my yang, the best father a mother could hope for to our children. He GETS me. I love you dearly, Beej!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I forgot to tag someone else...(duh!)

Brianne H., Bethanne., Chesney, Alexis, and Danielle.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I got tagged with "The Five"
The Five, ten years ago…

1. I had 2 kids and was so overwhelmed that I thought I would never have anymore.
2. I was living in our first home in Carrollton. It was 1700 square feet and so stinkin' cute. It was sooo easy to keep clean.
3. I was YW President and making some of the best friends of my life with the girls I had (Lynsi, Boots, Sharon, Lauralee, Molly, Amanda, Jaimee, Megan...shall I go on?).
4. I was a crossing gaurd working an hour a day and making 400 bucks a month to sit in the car and listen to the radio. Best job ever!
5. I was graduating from UNT with an education degree.

Five things on today’s “to do” list…
1. Make meal plans/grocery list for the week.
2. piano practice (for kids).
3. Some "action items" for calling.
4. Write some thank you notes.
5. schedule visiting teaching.

Five snacks I enjoy
1. anything with chocolate
2. granola bars
3. diet coke
4. popcorn
5. skinny cow dip bars (hello, only 80 calories!)

Five things I would do if I was a millionaire…
1. Save it. Sorry, I am a saver...very boring!
2. Go on a mission when we are retired (which we plan to do anyway!)
3. Hire a full time chef. Ya'll know how I feel about cookin'.
4. Invest in ikea stock. I love that place.
5. Air condition my attic to make room for more food storage.

Five places I have lived…
1. Richardson
2. Carrollton
3. Provo
4. Orem
5. Where I live now which I will not say on this blog.

So you think you can dance...

SO, Who are your favorites?
The GIRLS...




And, the GUYS





Friday, July 25, 2008

Toss the Guilt and Catch the Joy

One of my favorite LDS Self-help authors is Merrilee Boyack. I have heard her speak twice and met her and she is a WONDERFUL woman with some humorous, profound insight. She just came out with a new book that I can't wait to get - I have ordered it- but I wanted to share an excerpt beecause it speaks so much to some of the posts I hear from myself and my fellow bloggers. Read on: From "Toss the Guilt, Catch the Joy"

If I were to ask you to describe the Perfect Woman, you'd have quick ­answers:
Clearly, she is a size six. No question about that. She has been married a long time to a really important man. He's the stake president. And she's the stake Relief Society president. And they have eight ­kids--­four boys and four ­girls--­evenly spaced. And she homeschools them all. Yeah, and they all play musical instruments--­beautifully. And she's a, a, . . . a neurosurgeon, and she works out of her home, only part-­time.
She has her family history done back to the Dark Ages (and is praying for help to find the rest). She sews matching clothes for the whole family. She has a huge garden and cans most of their food. She makes a loaf of ­whole-wheat bread from her food storage every day. Her scriptures are completely marked and ­color-­coded, and she studies them for an hour every morning and every night. She is taking a class in Mandarin in order to be able to serve a ­mission.
Her house is beautifully decorated and always immaculate. Her hair and nails are perfectly done. Her clothes are beautiful. She feeds the homeless every week, and she has created a foundation to help the entire country of Bolivia. She is making a quilt with 100 blockquotes for her grandmother, who is 100. And yes, all the corners of the quilt blockquotes match ­perfectly.
Shall we go ­on?
It sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? And yet, somehow, we all believe that the Perfect Woman exists ­somewhere.
Now to be honest, those of you who don't know me may not realize that this description is very close to describing me. I was a size six when I was, well, twelve years old. I am married and have been for a long time, but my husband is not the stake president. He's a Scouter. Okay, so to most people that's not a hugely impressive job, but it is to me. While I don't have eight kids, I have thought about homeschooling, but decided that I wanted my sons to survive to ­adulthood.
I haven't done my family history, but I do think about it often. Is that close? I rarely sew anymore, but I do have a sewing machine. I also have a good supply of wheat, which I dust off regularly. I eat a lot of canned food. I try to study at least a verse a day in my ­scriptures.
My hair and nails are perfect for brief moments throughout the year, until I get in the car and mess them up. My clothes are functional. Also, I tried once to make a little quilt in Relief Society that only had nine corners but none of them matched. I sewed buttons over the corners instead. It looked pretty ­cute.
So except for a few hundred minor faults, I'm very near to perfection ­myself.

We all laugh about the Perfect Woman, but how many of us secretly compare ourselves constantly to this standard? It's like we carry around a huge backpack filled with rocks and wonder why we're tired! And every now and again, we sit down and pull out a rock to pound ourselves over the head: "I really should be canning my food. My grandma did. I only have six kids under eight. I should just get up at 4 AM and get this done!" On and on we go, heaping on the guilt!
The "Celestial Woman"
Let's pause for a moment in our ­guilt-­fest and ask this important question, "What is required to enter into the celestial kingdom?"
Do I have to be a size six to qualify? Don't think ­so.
Will the Lord ask if I had an "important" calling? Definitely ­not.
But what if I'm not married? Isn't that a deal breaker? Well, no, even the prophets have said it isn't.
Do I need to can, quilt, bake, sew, and organize to get in? Guess ­not.
So what's left? What is ­required?
Perhaps we can begin with this important goal: We should want to become a "Celestial Woman." If we have the desire, we will have the motivation to begin to seek out ways to strengthen our spirituality. As we focus on our desire to become a Celestial Woman and to live a more celestial life, we'll naturally increase our desire to have faith, repent, and try to be better every day. Our desire will draw us closer to the temple and to our family. We'll honor the covenants we have already made and strive to keep the commandments we may find challenging. We'll develop charity in our hearts and want to serve ­others.

The Lord will not rap you on the knuckles for your choices in selecting one good work over another. He will bless you for all your good works. He knows you have tons of problems and are doing the best you can. He is interested in your improvement and your progress. He does not condemn ­you.
We are condemning ourselves, and it is a total waste of time. We beat ourselves up for mistakes and choices that we've made and then we wallow in our guilt.
Do you honestly think an angel is standing at the pearly gates with a checklist?--"Hmm, let's see. A size eight, well that's acceptable . . . barely. Can you bake bread? No? Well . . . Do you know how to work with gluten? Good. Check! Okay, did you do graduate work in college? Good. Check! Now, did you learn how to quilt? No? Hmmmm. Were you a Relief Society president? Only a nursery leader? Oh, too bad. You know, I just don't think you made it. How about a nice terrestrial kingdom slot?"
Somehow I don't see that happening. And yet we run around our lives acting as if those are the requirements the Lord has asked of us!

At what point do we realize that we are not in a race! We are not competing! Whether you do something better or worse than someone else doesn't add brownie points to your scorecard nor remove them from hers.
Heavenly Father wants us to have joy in our lives. He does not want us to be miserable, drudging through the mud of trials, with no hope for happiness. The commandments and the gospel he has given us are like rocks in the river we can step on to return to him. This doesn't mean we're not going to get our feet wet, or that we won't fall in, but we have been given the path and the life preserver of repentance. And through it all, Heavenly Father has assured us that he is with us ­always.
He asks us to do one thing, "If you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God" (D&C 14:7; emphasis added).
In other words, "Please hang in there and work on keeping the commandments and you will be blessed for it." It doesn't sound like he wants us to be miserable, as though he said that phrase with teeth clenched--"enduuuure to the end"--instead, it sounds like life should be a joyful pursuit of the greatest gift God can offer ­us.

I'll post more tomorrow......

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Future Olympian 2024?

One more post about swim team - mostly for my family-because they wanted an update. Coach "T" told us at the awards ceremony tonight that Reagan was the 8th best backstroker in the city (just under 2500 total swimmers!) for her age group. WOW! Next step, the OLYMPICS 2024???
The girls with their coach, Tammy.
All 4 kids with both coaches Coach "T" and Tammy.

McKinley filled in as an alternate and won two ribbons also.

Tanner competed with his relay team and they won 7th and 15th place.

As an aside: Don't feel bad for Jensen that she wasn't a part of ALLSTARS. She was so happy to be able to sit in the stands and cheer on her siblings. She realized that she liked all the long distance running the coaches were having her do as part of the conditioning and she has decided to go out for the cross country team at Middle School. Expect some running posts in the Fall!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

toilet training in less than a day...

The Cast of Characters: (a nod to Pioneer Woman for all you PW fans) 6-8 pairs of underwear (loosely fitting), books, puzzles, snacks, a variety of drinks, "potty candy", a timer, and a potty chair. you will also need:

I say willing because there are guidelines to look for to make sure they are ready for this all important milestone. I will go into that further later....
Tie the pants up in the back and secure with a rubber band so that they are above the underwear. This way they will have easier access to pull their pants up and down. It is important that they do this part without assistance. That is part of potty training.

Here are the main points about this program:
1. Make sure they are ready. General guidelines: atleast 20 months old? Does he urinate a good deal at one time or does he dribble throughout the day? Does he often stay dry for several hours? Does he have good enough finger/hand coordination to pull pants up and down independently? Does he have body awareness? (like pointing to a body part when asked), Does he respond to commands?
2. It is suggested that training be done in the kitchen where the floors are generally accident friendly - just in case.
3. Develop a friends-who-care list. This is a list of family, friends, and imaginary characters that would be proud of the child. With each successful attempt, you can call a friend on the phone or tell them "Elmo would be so proud of you!".
4. Eliminate distractions. You have to set aside a chunk (about 4-5 hours) of time where they have your undivided attention. You will need to ask them every few minutes for the first two hours or so if their pants are dry or wet and then every fifteen minutes you have to be available to remind them to go sit on the potty to push the pee out. (Thus the need for a timer.) This is impossible to remember if you are watching tv, on the computer, attending to other children, etc. Almost every accident Brady had was my fault when I got distracted and forgot to remind him when I should have. Don't even answer the phone!
5. Dry pants inspections: Every few minutes you ask the child, "Are your pants wet or dry?" They will probably not know at first. Encourage them to feel with their hand whether or not their pants are wet or dry. After awhile they will be able to tell without feeling with their hand. Show delight and praise with every dry pant inspection that is dry!
6. Stimulate a desire to drink by offering him salty snacks. you should try to have them drink about a cup of liquid an hour. A variety of flavors is good because they are drinking so much that they may get tired of a particular flavor.
7. Every fifteen minutes or so you give the directive to sit on the potty and try to pee. At first you may have to manually help the child to understand what you mean but after a while he will catch on with just verbal cues. Use the same words each time so he can get familiar with them. With boys you might need to remind them specifically to pull their pants down past their knees because it helps them to sit properly on the chair so that they are pointing down! They also might need to be reminded to lean forward a little bit to get the correct angle. Use the puzzles and books to encourage sitting on the potty for several minutes. The book says ten minutes or so at first.
8. When he successfully goes to the bathroom on the potty he gets a reward (potty candy or snack of his choosing). He gets LOTS of praise from the friends who care list.
9. When he wets his pants (and he will so that is why you keep him in an accident friendly environment) you express your disapproval. You don't spank or yell. You just say something like, "Mommy doesn't like wet pants, Mommy likes dry pants". Have him do a "positive potty practice relay". It goes like this: have him quickly walk from the place he was caught wet to the potty, pull his pants down past his knees, sit on the potty for a second, stand up, pull his pants back up, and then repeat. The book says ten times. I didn't do that many times but it might be necessary for younger children. Then he is responsible for taking his wet pants off (AFTER the relay)and putting them in the dirty clothes hamper and then putting on a fresh pair of pants. If he got the floor wet or a chair, then he is supposed to clean that up himself. Having to complete the relay in wet pants is uncomfortable so it is important to do the relay first.
10. Bowel movements: no seperate training is needed for poop. Use the exact same system. This usually is not an issue as pee is usually the opening act before the poop.

I think that is it in a a nutshell. I have used it with pretty much all my kids but two. Those two were exceptions and figured it out at a young age by watching older siblings and just started telling me they wanted to go potty without any training. Maybe some of you will luck out and get one of those! If not, this has worked pretty well for me.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

"pee-school" for "pre-school" and playin' hookey

Tomorrow I am staying home from church. No, I am not sick. I am not in need of a "mental health" day (well, that is debatable!). I am staying home because of this book.

I have had alot of luck with the strategy/philosophy in these pages and I am putting it to the test yet again. Brady starts preschool in about 6 weeks and he has to be potty trained to go so I am under pressure.

The only hard part about this system is that you have to have an ENTIRE day to completely devote to training and that has been impossible with all my older kids home for the summer. We are way busy and he is way distracted by everything going on. So, I resort to playing hookey from church. Wish me luck ladies. I will update you on Monday as to how it went....

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A lesson in persistence...

I don't post this to brag- REALLY! But we just got some news this morning that got me thinking about what a great thing persistence and practice (and good coaching) can do. Our little Reagan had just turned 6 when they started putting the Swim team together at Cooper Fitness. Well, after a week of swim clinic we weren't sure if she was going to make it. Coach T watched her closely and had her "try out" but she could barely swim from one end of the pool to the other. Fortunately, he must have seen some potential and said that he thought she would be ok with some practice. (Honestly, though, I think it was pretty close. ). Jump forward to this morning and (7 weeks later) and we just got an email thaty says our sweet little girl has qualified for the ALL STARS meet in the 25 yard backstroke! Can you believe it? This is HUGE! This is the championships of all the swimmers in all the swim teams in the area. We are so proud of her. Everyone in our family is calling her "All Star" and she can't wipe the smile off her face. Anyway, just thought I would share. Sometimes all it takes is a little hard work and a good coach. Thanks Coach T for taking a chance. Next time I am feeling defeated I think I will look to her example and try a little harder.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Help me make this decision/Toni Elmer is the most talented photographer I know!

We got our proofs back from our photo sitting with Toni and now I am completely overwhelmed! I would love to say "I'll take one of each" and even though she is soooo reasonably priced for the quality that she puts out I can seriously not afford that! HELP FRIENDS! Click on the link below and go to "client proofing" at the top of the page (once you enter Toni's web site) enter in the password "Argyles" and then see all the amazing photos for yourself. I think it is easier if you stop the slide show by clicking on it and scroll through one by one. Leave your top ten. Thanks ladies! I value your opinions, all of you who frequent my blog.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

How to be happy without being perfect...

Be Happy Without Being Perfect: How to Break Free from the Perfection Deception Be Happy Without Being Perfect: How to Break Free from the Perfection Deception by Alice Domar

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I want to go back and get my masters degree in the next few years (When Brady starts kindergarten) and specialize in counseling for women so that is why I read this book. Maybe someday I will write a paper about it-it was THAT good. It has information in it to help women who suffer from "perfection deception" - as it is coined in this book. Honestly, I think we can ALL benefit from parts of it. Specifically she identifies several areas where we (women) typically expect too much from ourselves: our appearance (weight), our homes (Martha Stewart comparisons), our job performance, parenting, and relationships with others. She helps by offering hands on tips on how to overcome anxiety, recognize destructive thinking, relax more, use cognitive therapy to re-set expectations and let things go. If you are scared away by the term cognitive therapy - don't be- she uses layman's terms to explain it in detail so that you can understand it better. I don't know that I have ever met a woman who didn't need to be a little easier on herself in some way or another.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Urban Photo rocks!

This past saturday we went to get family photos done by a wonder ful photographer, Toni Elmer (see urban photo blog or toni's studio). She is amazing! Here is a little taste of some of the great photos she took. If any of you are interested in getting any unique family portraits done I can put you in touch with her. She is well worth it!

Friday, July 4, 2008

happy fourth of july from us!!!

"None who have always been free can understand the terrible fascinating power of the hope of freedom to those who are not free." -— Pearl S. Buck

We have a long-standing tradition of doing the matching flag shirts every year. This year I was so busy with swim team that I never made it to old navy but I had the girls with me yesterday when we were at Walmart and they found these. They talked me into it. I couldn't really argue with the shirts being $2.50 each! Brent, as always, is ABSOLUTELY THRILLED to wear the matching shirts. Do you detect the sarcasm? That is why we love him - he is such a good sport.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

pioneer woman's fourth of july cake

Pioneer woman is one of my favorite blogs and I especially lover her recipes and how she shares them via step by step photos. Check out this masterpiece and maybe give it a try for the 4th. I plan to.