One of my most favorite walls in our home has been this one:
Each year, I update it with the most recent pictures taken of our four little treasures. Do you see how those pictures are layered one on top of the other? Due to a recent addition in our family (no, not a child...fish), I had to change the location of my wee ones' pictures.
Are you interested in seeing how I get that layered look?
It isn't rocket science.
It doesn't take some amazing contraption, like these super cool Frame Risers, that you can find at Pottery Barn (although, if I was super wealthy, I would really prefer these).
It takes a long screw, a light picture frame and a ruler.
Those, my friends, are 3" dry wall screws. I measured down from the ceiling where I wanted my frame to be, then measured the space on the back of the frame that I needed each screw to be at, and then drilled them into the wall, leaving 1 1/2" out so that it would allow the top frame to "pop" out on top of the other one. You can kinda see the screw in the picture below:
Here they are, the children updated and popping out in all their colorful glory.
One of the greatest couples on this earth we referred to us by our dear Ohana, Miranda. Her parents needed to make the bathroom in their 1920's bungalow more usable and create a better layout for their current lifestyle. After some time walking through the cute tiny little home, the wheels started spinning and we both went to work coming up with a more modern plan that was still true to the 20's style of the bathroom. I am so excited that Todd and I get to live out our dream of working together on a project like this!
Here are the before pictures:
The bathtub was an old clawfoot tub that had been tiled over. Notice where the towel rack is. Because in the after pictures, it is no longer there. Behind that wall is a closet that Todd tore out to create space for the new vanity.
That is it. That is all there was to this cute little bathroom. Believe it or not, that one bathroom was all that a family of five had for years!!!
A few weeks of hard labor (Todd did all of the work with intermitent help by family members...I learned how to use a tile saw and lay tile! Yeah!!!) and this is the end result:
You no longer walk into the vanity, and the old tile was chiseled out, the bathtub removed and a shower with a bench and classic white subway tile was installed.
Custom shelving, pedestal sink and pull out base cabinets with some spiffy accent lighting!
The family are HUGE Yankee fans, so we made sure that we kept some of their favorite memorabilia was tastefully displayed.
Ah! A nice place to sit after a long day at work.
As a little addition to the project, Todd took out a hall closet and plumbed, wired and ventilated it for a stackable washer and dryer. No longer needing to go up and down the stairs to do laundry! The homeowners were so grateful and excited for the finished result.
We love you Sandy & Lyle!!! Thanks for trusting UL Studios with this remodel.
Aunt Andrea's parents are currently serving a mission at Earley Park near Fielding, UT. Andrea has gone up with her family a few times and suggested that we all go up together as a Riches family for a weekend. Of course, at the time we all think it is a great idea and agree and forget about it.
Andrea followed through and reserved a time for the Riches family to go this last weekend. You could sense that very few of us involved still wanted to follow through. We had allowed our "busy lives" get in the way and the excuses started coming to me that we could give as to why we couldn't go. None of them were legitimate, though, and I knew that the right thing to do was to get away, especially after all of the work Andrea had put into getting it scheduled and purchasing all of the food.
This last week, I have developed a very tight muscle in my shoulder and it has left me uncomfortable and not being able to sleep that well. Todd has also been suffering with a terrible tooth ache. So we really weren't in the best of moods when we left the house. Not to mention, our sleeping bags were down on the farm and we were going to have to sleep on the hard floor without any padding using only blankets from our home.
The moment we got out of the city and into the country past Brigham City, we started taking notice of the beautiful surroundings and the pain in my neck started to subside. We had spent the drive down reading through Todd's lesson and discussing Moses and the Ten Commandments and the events that took place during that time and it put us in a better frame of mind to enjoy this trip.
Camp Earley is tucked back in the mountains and was so green with a small stream running through it and plenty of space for the kids to safely explore. Andrea had prepared a delicious Dutch Oven Chicken and Potatoes dinner (she is an amazing cook) and we spent some time around the fire roasting marshmallows and enjoying one another's company. After the sun set, we took a mile long journey through the mountains and read plaques that had scriptures on them that correlated with each of the planets in our solar system, reminding us once again the incredible power that God has and that he has done all of this for us to be happy here on this earth.
Dakota and Carly started climbing this hill as soon as they got out of the van.
Dallin and Kota racing towards me with their sticks.
I give a major kudos to Alicia and Tam who came sans spouses! The cousins had an amazing time together and it wouldn't have been the same without them.
The kids were up at 7am on the dot and the morning was cool and a little drizzly. But that didn't stop the kids from playing hard outside. Andrea had arranged for us to do a few service projects up there. One of them was gathering sticks that had fallen from the large trees and placing them in a large bramble pile to be burned. It was made all the more fun by using handcarts to carry the sticks around. Each of the kids got an opportunity to ride along.
Carly and Jack practicing their pioneer skills.
We would have made a silly pair as ma and pa on the pioneer trek. Not to mention the super silly kid in the back would have talked our ear off the entire trek.
Our reward was an awesome game of kickball, where no scores were kept (thankfully) and foul balls only applied to dad :) The littlest boys wanted nothing to do with the sport, and instead, found a safe area where they could play in dirt and with rocks to their hearts content without having a parent to scold them.
Here comes Carly after rounding third on her way to home base!
Grandpa's Kick Ball team was pretty good.
There's Abi at second base.
Waiting their turns to kick the ball.
When I asked Dakota what his favorite part about this trip was, he said,
"Playing in the dirt with my three boys."
With it being Easter Weekend, we HAD to do an Easter Egg Hunt. This scenery provided for the most perfect hiding places.
The kids getting their instructions on how the whole hunt was supposed to go down.
Dakota counting his loot.
Connor ventured down the hill after a successful hunt.
For lunch we had hot dogs and chips and celebrated Dad's 64th Birthday and gave him a Farm Jar, where we can donate for every single holiday whatever amount we want to help fund the many projects that dad has planned for his retirement location.
The cake decorator mistook "64" for "104"
The last thing we did was paint the kitchen and hallway as our final service project. I was dreading it and expecting it to take many hours, but with all of the hands that were available, it was finished in an hour and, of course, we all felt better afterwards knowing that we had done something to help beautify a place that has been dedicated to help with the Lord's work.
The drive home was nice and quiet (the kids crashed) and we were able to pick up on our gospel discussion and reflect on the feelings we had while we were separated from "the world" for a few hours. This earth is an amazing gift as well as time. I need place more emphasis on the time that I spend with my family. Surely the "busy" things that take up my time here in the world are not as pressing as the moments that I can have with my own children and family. We only take with us the memories we create and the knowledge we gain from experiences, not the yard that we have to maintain, the laundry that needs to be folded or the house that needs to be cleaned.
While the rest of us here saw Shave-Ice and just had to buy some!
Carly graduated preschool and was treated like a rock star.
Todd and I celebrated 15 years, he got to eat some lobster.
Abi also graduated from Kindergarten.
Dakota makes our hearts melt, even when he's rotten
We babysat a bearded dragon, we were sad when the relationship was severed.
The older kids took a week long break with cousins out in Denver
I took a trip to New Mexico, when grandma Smith passed away.
Carly took some scissors to her hair, now bangs are here to stay!
Another pet we got to tend was little tiny Rocky
The school year started up again, here's Connor looking cocky.
Abi begged to take an apple to her First Grade teacher.
Carly couldn't wait for new friends to get to meet her!
For Halloween Abi begged to be Frankenstein's Bride
While Connor wanted to let out the sorcerer inside.
Carly simply had to be a princess oh so dainty,
Dakota wanted for months and months, to be a tiger with orange painty
Our darling ballerinas had their very first dance recital.
Dakota moved up from nursery to something much more vital (sunbeams).
Grandpa Smith sold his home and moved on up to Murray.
Dakota never wants to nap, but falls asleep in places that have me worried.
The boys want to be ninjas,
The girls would like to cheer.
All in all, I'd like to say, it's been a pretty great year!
Cute rhymes aside, I can't sleep because I have been battling a stupid flu bug. I took a couple of Tylenol PMs a few hours ago, but they seem to be having the opposite effect on me.
We took so very many trips to the farm in 2013, and every time we went, we had a fabulous time. What a gift to have a place to escape to like that. Multiple times we went down with extended family and a few other times we took different ward members.
Here is a quote from a funny "Abism" I took from Facebook:
I have to write this down before I forget a funny moment from this afternoon!
Abi came down into the laundry/craft area as I was making cards. She asked me what I was doing, so I turned to her, and using air quotes said, "I'm doing laundry." To which she quickly replied, also using air quotes, "No. You're not." Then she asked, "Why do people even do that anyway?" Referring to air quotes.
She's only 6.
I quit working at Sylvan in August. The hours that they needed me to work no longer meshed with the hours that I needed to be a mom, so I made the decision that seemed best for our family. Thankfully Chris was willing to take me on at Leatherby's. That didn't last long though, as I wasn't prepared for the late nights and long hours on my feet doing such fast paced work. It takes a very special person to be able to keep up with all of that. But then the opportunity arose for me to go to Real Estate school and get my license, it felt like the right thing to do for our family, so I jumped on that wagon and crammed as hard as I could and 6 weeks later finished school and had my license.
So for now, I am simply helping Todd with Design Work for UL Studios when the need arises, teaching Zumba for 3M twice a week and 3 times a week at the church, and have yet to show anyone my Real Estate skills. I have appreciated that time I have had at home, more though. I love being able to keep the kids on a routine and being the one to help them with their homework, even if their Spanish is beyond my level (Connor and Abi are AMAZING with it).
Grandma Smith passing was a bitter-sweet trip. I was grateful for her to be past her physical pain and it was nice to take a road trip and escape the daily chores from home for a while. We missed Grandma's graveside service because we had to stop and get mom and dad some soda's...but we all laughed about it in the end.
I was so excited when Angie lined up an opportunity for me to fly out to Denver and stay with them while doing a design job for herself and a gal in their ward. I loved being able to put my creative skills to work and see some project come to completion.
Came across this Connorism that he said sometime in September shortly after school started up again:
While asking the kids to get their pajamas on for bed, and reminding them that tomorrow is school, Abi said, "Why do we have to go to school?" To which Connor replied, "Because we are on a train called Life heading to a station called Another Day" Wise words from an 8 year old.
And one from Carly:
This afternoon, Carly had a bag of CornNuts. I asked her if she could share a few with me. She happily put a few in my hand and I popped them into my mouth. She then said, "Here, mom, have some more. Those ones were dirty." "Dirty?" I asked. "Yeah, I licked them."
Modern Day Communication in the Riches' Household Me (texting from the basement to Connor who is on Todd's iPad): Dear Connor, Please come downstairs and start a load of your laundry. Love Mom
Me: Where is Connor? (too lazy to go upstairs and talk to him face to face) Connor: I'm on the ipad.I didn't want to so I ignored you
Me: Thank you for your honestyx
Connor: Why the x?
He came downstairs to do a load of laundry, then he said to me, "You know, you could have come upstairs and talked to me in person. And you never answered me when I asked, why the x."
"Imagination is the best thing to happen to this world."
Todd's business is doing well. We've been at this for almost three years!!! I am so proud of Todd. This has not been an easy journey for him. There have been months where we weren't sure if we would be able to pay all of our bills, but I know that if it weren't for our tithing and our obedience to this commandment we would not be where we are today. We have been blessed with no major health issues, no major problems with our house or our cars and have been able to keep our children fed and clothed. We get through most of the rough times with laughter, which is the main thing that attracted me to Todd when we first met. He could always make me laugh and he still does.
I am being stretched and pulled and trying to become the better person that I know I should be. Some days are easier than others. Some days I just want to pack everything up and move to the farm and become a recluse, and only worry about myself and my children, for fear of what other people might think of me and the way I am raising our family.
Not because I worry too much about these kids, because they are AMAZING. They make great choices (most of the time) and surprise me often with the depth and kindness that is within them. I want to keep these kids to myself and always have them around me. I love listening to them play with one another, laughing and talking about their days and making up stories and games. It is selfish of me, I know, to want to keep them all to myself. But they are mine and I love everything about them. No one will ever love them like I do.
2014 is in full swing and I don't look too far into the future anymore. I never know what the Lord has in store for us. I just live each day as it comes and wake up with a smile on my face, ready for the promptings to tell me which direction to go in the morning.