10 years

Ten years ago, Brad and I were married! 

I am still amazed at how we were brought together.  We met through the internet on a website called LDS Singles Online.  My roommates and I had joined it over the summer and had been on a lot of fun dates, but none of us met anyone that we were super excited about.  Then about a week before my "free trial" was going to end, I got an email from Brad.  He told me he was from California, but that he wanted to move up to Utah and was looking for a good place to live in Salt Lake and asked my advice.  I obliged him and even looked at the roommate board at the Institute for him...after a few back and forth emails, we decided to chat on AOL Instant Messenger.  During our conversations we both quoted a few Adam Sandler movies...and I know this is so cheesy, but that was what really hooked me and made me want to know more about him!  It was a really stupid thing that we had in common, but it worked.  :)  (Stop looking at me SWAN!)

It all began at the end of August 2001...then we spent hours (added up probably equaled DAYS) on the phone...and I flew to California to meet him at the end of September, a month after the first email.  I will never forget how nervous I felt...I was already 99% sure I wanted to marry him (even though I had NEVER met him in person)...   As I came down the escalator at the airport, I spotted him at the bottom waiting for me.  We made eye contact and as cheesy and dramatic as it sounds, the instant I saw him I knew I would marry him.  I was shaking and grinning from ear to ear and he gave me the best hug ever!  We were both elated.  Two grinning goobers so in love and so oblivious to everyone else.  That time really feels like a dream now that I look back on it...

The 2nd night I was there, I just couldn't contain myself any longer, and I told him I wanted to marry him.  I will never forget the look on his face...and how his eyes looked like they would pop out of his head!  I totally shocked him!  But then he just smiled the sweetest, most happy and contented smile...and I knew for sure that he wanted to marry me too.  :)

My brother-in-law took our engagement photos and I love how happy and YOUNG and skinny we both are...look how adorable:

This is the one we chose to send out with our announcements.
 We met online in August 2001, met in person September 2001, officially engaged October 2001 and married December 2001!  Talk about a whirlwind romance!  Some people (in fact probably MOST people) thought we were crazy...we hardly knew each other.  Well, as cliche as it sounds, we felt like we had known each other our whole lives...we just KNEW we were meant to be together. 

We were married on a drizzly, cold December morning in the Los Angeles LDS Temple.  The same temple that his parents and my parents were married in.  It was beautiful.  I remember just being so happy...I didn't even care that it was raining and that we had giant golf umbrellas in our pictures...I was married to my best friend, soul mate, partner...and that was all that mattered.

Now here we are, ten years later...  We have four handsome sons and are enjoying every minute of our crazy, chaotic life!  I am so happy I married him...he is an awesome husband and such a good daddy...  I love knowing that I can rely on him 100%...and trust that he will ALWAYS love me and take care of me and our babies the best way he can.  I love how hard he works to provide for us, and how dedicated he is to his family.  I love that he tells me I'm beautiful, changes diapers, helps with dinner, folds laundry, bathes the kiddos, tucks them in, helps with the dishes, etc, etc.  I am so lucky to have him and so proud to be his wife.  Even though sometimes I have to put up with THIS:

I wouldn't have it ANY.OTHER.WAY. 

I love you babe, Happy Anniversary! 

Here's to many, many more years of happy memories filled with lots of love and laughter!



Source: tumblr.com via Shari on Pinterest

There is a woman at church who I have recently become friends with.  This woman is a little rough around the edges...someone who on first glance most people don't give the time of day.  (sad to say, but true.  I'm sure you all know people like that...)  I sat with her at a Relief Society dinner earlier this year, and learned a little bit about her. 

Since then, I'd smile and say 'hi' but never really had another conversation with her.  Then after I had Aleks, I came to Relief Society night and chatted with her quite a bit about babies.  I found out that she had a still birth -- the baby had Trisomy 18 (I think that's what she said), and then her other son (now an adult) is autistic.  Of course hearing about her trials made me feel sad and almost guilty as I listened to her share these hard things with me all while holding my perfectly healthy new baby boy.  My heart ached even more when she went on to tell me how badly she wishes her autistic son could get married, because she knows he would be a great father.  He just loves babies and has a special way with them.  As soon as she said that, I told her that the next time I saw him at church, I would ask him if he wanted to hold my baby. 

Well, I did just that, and you should have seen her face light up when she saw how happy he was to hold my baby.  I could tell that it really meant a lot to her, and that made me so happy!  I really, genuinely wanted to show love and compassion for her and her son, and felt like that was the perfect way to start.  

Well, 2 weeks ago, as she was leaving Sunday School, I noticed she looked really down.  I asked her if she was going home, and she said yes, and I noticed she had tears welling up in her eyes.  I asked her if she was alright, and she said that she had asked her mom if she was a burden (she and her son live with her mom right now) and that her mom replied, yes, she was a burden and that she had no idea how much of a burden she was.  She told me that she tries really hard to help out and to make life easier for her mom, but it never seems to be enough, but she just can't afford to live somewhere else. 

Wow, it took a lot for me to not start bawling right then and there!!!  I just reached out and gave her a huge hug and told her how sorry I was to hear that.  I also told her to please call me anytime she needs someone to talk to...  She seemed a bit shocked when I hugged her...but then she hugged me back and then she left and I sat down and wiped my own tears away. 

Ever since then, I have had the above quote running through my head.  I have heard it before, and I have had it pinned on my pinterest board for a while now...but I really believe it is true.  Even if she hadn't shared those personal things with me, I still think I would have been her friend.

There have been others like her that I've met in my life, people who have seemed lonely and maybe didn't have many friends...and I've always been drawn to them.  I just can't stand the thought of someone thinking or feeling like no one likes/loves them or thinks they are worth being friends with.  I truly believe that Heavenly Father puts those people in my life for a reason...and I hope they feel the same way.

Knowing that we are ALL His children, is all it takes to open up my heart and give someone a chance.

I hope that my new friend from church knows how special she really is... and next time I see her, I plan on telling her...just in case she doesn't know.  
I just came across a magazine called Seeing The Every Day.   Wow, I am so intrigued!  After browsing their website, I kept coming back to the "Why" tab, because I just love this poem-like explanation of their magazine:

Why Seeing the Everyday

Our lives are the sum
Of each moment and interaction.

Each day we work, eat, laugh, teach, play, read, remember…
And work at it all again the next day.

Within seemingly small moments we find opportunity
To build relationships, develop character, find joy
For the price of our time.

Life's most essential possibilities are realized at home.

Where we share, teach, grow, learn, serve, give
Our best without praise of fanfare.

Because every effort, every moment matters
In the development of a person.

Nothing is really routine.

To all who see the everyday

I think I would like a subscription to this magazine :)  Click HERE to read more about it.


helpful tips

I was looking through an old notebook from Time Out For Women (2006), and came across some helpful tips for the home...so I thought I'd share!  (I didn't write down who this is from, so I am sorry I can't give credit where credit is due!  If any of you know who gave these tips, do tell!)

1.  No meals on wheels.  Sit down and eat at the table.  *Keep the crumbs in ONE place.

2. Stop dirt at the door. *Sweep walkway, porch and entryway.

3. Don't make 2 jobs out of one. *Use splatter guard, cover things in the microwave, etc.

4. Make the moment count:
-Clean as you go
-Wipe as you work
-Pick up as you pass
-Look back as you leave

5. Leave any area better than you found it.

6. Clutter attracts clutter.

7. Develop a system rather than conduct a search. *Short-term filing, long-term filing, everyday purge/sort/select.

8. Assign a home to everything in the house. "Pick up is part of play."

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." -- William Morris

9. Do today's work TODAY. *Mothers must be of good cheer before they can expect their family to be.

10. Skim before you scour. *Don't scrub anything before you wipe off everything. *Surface clean & then go deeper when you have the time and energy.

11. Be prepared. There is NO substitute for preparation!

12. Put the house to bed before you go to bed. *An ounce of evening is worth a pound of morning!

13. Keep house, don't clean house.

14. Revitalize your life by keeping the Sabbath.

15. Develop good habits. *It's just 3 weeks to a better me! (You know, they say it takes 21 days to develop a new habit! Don't give up!)

Friends, I found ALL of these tips to be useful back in 2006, yet what did I do with them? Not a darn thing. Closed the notebook and put it on a shelf never to be looked at again until 2011. Well, I think Heavenly Father knew that I would need them again and that's why He led me to them today. I am (and have been for a long time) completely unsatisfied with how I run my house...from laundry to dishes to meal planning/preparation to decorating it to make me happy to be in it. I know it's not January yet, but my resolution for 2012 is to start KEEPING my house. Making it a home that we are happy to be in and love to look at!

What are you planning on changing/adding to your list of goals for 2012? I'm curious to hear what y'all are going to be working on!

xoxo, Shari

give away on my photoblog

I know not all of you out there follow my photoblog, so I wanted to increase my audience for this give away that I'm doing right now.  Go check it out HERE and please, nominate someone!  Thanks!

xxoo, Shari


accepting/loving/being grateful for my body

I read this on another blog this morning, and it truly hit home with me.  I am NOT loving my body after 4 kids and lately have been feeling pretty sorry for myself and very insecure.  This short article - especially the parts I highlighted - were exactly what I needed to hear.  I am 100% sure that there are others out there who also need to be reminded to love/be thankful for our bodies.  xoxo, Shari

From Dr John De Martini

The greatest art form that exists on this planet is the human body – a magnificently structured temple of sacred architecture. Are you grateful for your body? Some people are but most people take this wonderful gift for granted. Many people complain about the shape of their body – I’m too fat, too thin, too short or too tall. They spend a great deal of time in front of the mirror focusing on what they perceive as imperfections of their body rather than focusing on its magnificently balanced perfection. Being grateful for your body and for the multitude of its powerful gifts can make the difference between experiencing wellness or illness in your life.

One of the reasons why some people beat themselves up about certain areas of their bodies is because they are comparing themselves to a fantasy of a magazine cover they think they are supposed to look like. After working with thousands of people, I am convinced that for every part of our body we don’t like there is a part we admire. If we are putting ourselves down in one area I can guarantee we are proud of another area. We may not like our thighs, but we admire our eyes. We may not like our thin hair, but we admire our skin. We may not like the shape of our body, but we like the shape of our lips and our smile and so on.

Begin to train yourself in becoming grateful for all parts of your physical body that you currently dislike. Think about your head – How can you be grateful for it? For your hair? Your scalp? Your eyes? Your skin, nose and lips? Ask yourself, ‘How does this serve me?’ When you are grateful for all parts of your head, work your way in your mind through your body from head to toe, identifying each and every part inside and outside of you. Keep asking yourself how that part of your body serves you until you are truly grateful for every part of it.  (I LOVE THIS IDEA!)

No matter what your physical body looks like, you have things you like and dislike, or even admire and despise, about yourself. Everyone practices the same math of fifty-fifty, right down the middle. Both things you like and dislike are going to serve you in your life and the wisdom is appreciating this balance and being grateful for it. When you do this and take the time to see all parts of your body are serving you in your life to appreciate it for what it is, you empower yourself. Recognize the magnificence of your physical body and find a way to look at it in a new way – with awe and gratitude.


trimming the tree

Last night, for Family Home Evening (aka "Hamily Fone Evening"), we decorated our Christmas tree.

Joshy was cracking us up as he commented on each ornament, "Oh, this brings back memories from so long ago..." in a dreamy voice. Love that kid!

Our cheap-o artificial tree looks MUCH better all dressed up...even if it isn't very organized...I love how it looks knowing that the boys pretty much did it all by themselves, and TOGETHER! :)

Here are a few cute pics from the night...

Since we are heading up to Utah for Christmas this year, I am not going all out with the decorations...to Joshy's dismay. He is the one who cares (and gets the most excited) about the decorations the most! He reminds me so much of how I was when I was little... Jakob and Drew get excited too, don't get me wrong, but Joshy seems to be SUPER into all the holiday decorating...it's fun!


2 months young

Aleks is 2 months old...here's a quick update on him as well as some pics to show you just how adorable he is :)

25.4 inches long; 15 lbs, 11 oz

Sleeps REALLY well! we've been putting him down between 8 and 9, and I end up waking up between 2 & 3 totally engorged, so I have to wake him up to feed him... then he goes back to sleep until about 6:30 or 7...

Generally happy and easy-going. His DR said she wished all of her patients were like him... :) He is a really mellow kid!

His hair seems to be getting lighter...who knows, we may end up with another blondie!

His eyes are definitely blue...and so pretty!

He has a dimple in each cheek...and he loves to give us lots of smiles!

Here he is...see for yourself how handsome he is!


automatic sprinkler

here he is...my little "automatic sprinkler" (ha ha...all you moms of boys know what i mean!) fresh from the bath (which he LOVES) and looking so cute! it was at night...so crappy lighting...high ISO...lots of grain...it called for a black and white edit. :) hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I do. and OOOH those cute little baby toes...i can hardly stand it!


drewbie-drewbie-drew turns 4 + halloween

It is hard to believe that this little sweetie is now a 4-yr-old! How did that happen?

Drew is such a sweet boy...he loves his big brothers and wants to do everything they do! He is so gentle with Aleks and fascinated with him...and still, almost daily, asks to see his belly button. :) He is a fantastic big bro. (and yes, he likes to use the word "bro" these days...)

Lately we've been playing Mario Kart together, and I must say, he is pretty good! I need to brush up on my skills!

Here are a few pictures from his birthday...we had family come over for dinner and cake and ice cream. He really wanted candy corns on his cake...so, I tried to be creative!

big brothers are great for helping you blow out the candles :)

Drew LOVES his new camera!  maybe we have another photog in the family???

he loves this new swimshirt and swimsuit - he slept in it that night and wore it for 2 days!   
he's a big BRO now :)

Halloween was fun...I am ashamed to say that we never even carved jack-o-lanterns!  BUT, I did put up decorations at home, and all the kids had a costume to wear...I even had a costume to wear!  So, we'll call it good!!! 

Pumpkin Patch
our little sweet pea!

Ash Ketchum - from Pokemon

Drewbie-Drew -- I mean Scooby Doo

i wish i had a better pic of my hair - i had a bump-it in and it looked awesome!

who let the dogs out???

Shadow the Hedgehog

Uncle Todd and baby Aleks


My little trunk-or-treaters!   



I could have (and probably should have) posted this (and mailed these out) about a month ago... HOWEVER... #1- I wasn't 100% happy with the few images I took when I attempted a photoshoot with my little one... #2- I just plain forgot about it... #3- He's completely covered with baby acne now (face/head) and I don't want to wait any longer to try another photoshoot to get this announcement finished... So...without further delay...

Some of you lucky readers will actually receive a physical copy in the mail one of these days... :)

and P.S. he looks SO different now! He will be SIX weeks old on Thursday!


4 weeks old

Am I the only one who counts months by every 4 weeks that passes?  I know a month is typically longer than 4 weeks...but it's just easier for me that way...!

So...Aleks will officially be one month on the 22nd, but today he is 4 weeks...which in my book, is the same thing!  :)

He is getting nice and plump...sleeping in 4 hour chunks at night...and is starting to be more aware of us and occasionally makes eye contact which is so wonderful!

Here is a series of cute pics I took this morning...I loved the morning light coming through the window and seriously, how can you go wrong with an adorable little baby???   I am a proud mama.  :)

We sure love this sweet little butterball! 


increasing our capacity to love one another

I browse Pinterest daily...sometimes more than once a day...ok, ok, it's my guilty pleasure...but I frequently come across REALLY great ideas...and today i came across this:

(click to see original blog post)

It intrigued me.  Not only do I crave more love and service in my life, but I crave those special experiences with my boys...  So, I am planning on talking to them about this idea tonight, and then we will brainstorm some ideas for ways to be kinder and to serve more -- to our family members, our friends and even strangers. 

I love that the challenge begins on November 1st...so that by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, we will be fully immersed in more service and kindness...which will in turn allow us to feel more love toward one another and also more gratitude for our abundant life.

What do you think?  Have you ever tried to incorporate something like this into your family life?  Any ideas of things we can do?  Do you want to join in?   The more, the MERRIER!  What a great way to bring the Spirit into our lives...and to increase our capacity to love.


I'm a Mormon too!


LOVE the part where he says "there's an extra chamber in your heart that opens up when you have a baby..." SO TRUE!

Annnnd....the fire is still burnin for me too!

Want to know more? Go to www.mormon.org!


Happy Moms

Family Volley is a blog that I've been following for a while, and really enjoy the uplifting posts and ideas on how to make family life happier and run smoother!  Here is a recent post about Happy Moms that I really enjoyed:
Being a mom is tough. Being a mom is even harder when we are miserable.

Being a Happy mom not only makes our lives better, but it makes our families happier also.

Here are 8 things that Happy Moms have in common.

1. Happy Moms Avoid Comparisons
As mothers and women we have a tendency to compare ourselves to others. If we want to be happy, we have to stop. We are usually comparing our weaknesses and shortcoming to someone else's strengths. It is not a fair comparison. And, when we compare, we foster feelings of jealousy and envy. Those feelings will make us miserable. There will always be someone skinnier, with a cleaner house and with kids that seem more behaved. Always. SO what...comparing will not make us skinner, or our house cleaner. Don't waste energy on comparing.
It is the same with our children. Don't compare our kids to others. When we do, we miss all the magic that is in each of our own children. We overlook how wonderful and unique they are. And we put unfair pressure on them.
When we find ourselves longing for someone else's life, sit down with a piece of paper and pen and start listing all the things you are thankful for. List all the blessings in your life. When you feel yourself starting to compare again, get out the paper and re-read all that you are thankful for. We will quickly realize how blessed we really are.
The other thing we can do to stop the comparing is to serve others. Serving others brings humility and helps us recognize our many blessings.
Lastly, we have to be careful with social media. It is easy to read about all the recipes and refinished furniture and beautifully sewn cloths and feel inadequate. Just because we don't do all those things, doesn't mean we are less. Nor should we compare ourselves to all the "ideal" posts we read.

2. Happy Moms Stop Worrying
I am very guilty of this. I am a worrier. It causes stress, and then I am not happy. It will take practice, but think about it this way: If you can't change it or control it, then there is no need to worry about it. Instead think about what you can control and put your efforts there. The other thing we can do to stop worrying is to turn off the news. I watch the news filled with all the negative and horrible and I worry more.

3. Happy Moms Recognize Their Worth.
There comes a time when we have to accept ourselves, as is. We need to love ourselves. Instead of wondering what we are good for, we need to know that our role is THE most important role. We are raising and influencing future generations. We are primarily responsible for nurturing little human beings. It doesn't get more important than that. Even if we don't have children of our own, there is nothing that compares to a women's loving influence.
Take a minute and write down all the things that you are good at. Don't be shy, write them down. Maybe you are a good friend, patient, a talented seamstress, or creative. Own them, find strength in your strengths and use them to help others. The sooner we can recognize our true worth, the happier we will be.

4. Happy Moms Have Faith and Pray
The act of being faithful, in and of itself raises our spirits and gives us hope. Hope is happy and healing. Couple that hope with prayer and the sun will shine happy rays. :) Even on the worst of days, having faith that we are trying our best and that tomorrow will be better, can help us feel happy today.
Prayer can help us lead happier lives also. It gives us a chance to express gratitude and ask for help. When we pray, be specific. Yesterday I prayed that I could be more creative with our 3 year old. Lately she has wanted me to play zoo, and make animal sounds. Sometimes that is hard for me, so I asked for help. Pray for more time with your family, pray for stamina to get through a long day. Sometimes my prayers are that I can get through the next 15 minutes. Happy moms have faith. For me, faith helps because I know that I am never alone.

5. Happy Moms Choose Good Friends.
We are quick to preach this to our children, but do we realize how important it is for us. We need to surround ourselves with people who lift us up, who believe in us, and who support us. Avoid relationships that are one sided and draining. We want friends who don't compare, who revel in our successes and who believe in lifting others up, not putting others down. That is also the type of friend we want to be for others.

6. Happy Moms Make Time For Themselves
As mothers and women, we tend to take care of ourselves last. I have caught myself more than once saying "when the kids are older then I will have time for....". We need to stop thinking like that. We should find some time for ourselves to cultivate our gifts and interests. Pick one or two things that you would like to learn to do that will enrich your life, and make time for them. It is not selfish.

7. Happy Moms Simplify
We need to clean up and clear out. Take a look at your schedule and make sure it is not too full. Don't over schedule our kids, or ourselves. Juggling a million things doesn't make us better moms with cooler kids. It just stresses us out. We are not happy when we are stressed. Our kids only need one or two extra activities, same with us as moms.
We should simplify our homes also. Too many clothes and toys in our homes and cars add stress. It can become overwhelming to manage so much stuff. Simplify. Cut down to what is manageable and spend less time keeping up with all the stuff, and more time with those you love, doing things you want to do and being happy.

8. Happy Moms Laugh and Smile
Laughing and Smiling naturally brings happiness. Let your face light up and let out a giggle. In fact, smile at someone else and watch their face light up. We can get so rushed and serious that we forget to be happy. So even if you have to force it at first, smile.


I would like to add a few things to the list:  

Get enough SLEEP!
Exercise regularly
Eat right - be healthy so that you have the energy/stamina to take care of your family!

Have a great week!

XOXO,  Shari