Hi, I'm Stephanie




  I love Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice so much that I decided to have five daughters and name the second one Elizabeth.  Like a modern-day Mrs. Bennett, I spend my days raising my girls so they will be happy and independent when they grow up – only I prefer that they make their money instead of marry it.  And if my youngest runs away to London with some loser at age 15, I will track her down and haul her home myself.  But I’ll totally do some sightseeing first.




The Guinea Pig.  Gives me hope.  My husband in feminine form, she just gets more fun.




 Energetic, smart, kind, and will argue her convictions to the death. 






My Hallie Priscilla. Unique fashion sense, desperately wants to live in a purple house.  Loves skunks and fruit bats.


 My girly-girl and lone lefty.  Charming, gracious, stubborn, preternaturally practical.  And ya, she and Hallie are identical twins.

Scarlett Bella, Bella-boo.  Becoming a daredevil. Spoiled rotten, practically perfect.

Mr. Man

My intensely private husband.  Hilarious, smart, compassionate, good. 


Joan Rivers on Housekeeping:

I hate housework.  You make the beds, you wash the dishes, and six months later you have to start all over again.

Blog Honor Roll:

CK’s Days

Cozzens Family News

Cranberry Corner

Every Day I Write the Book

Graham Family Adventures

Grandma Honey


Living Waters




"I surely know that there is no role in life more essential and more eternal than that of motherhood.

"There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family. Many are able to be “full-time moms,” at least during the most formative years of their children’s lives, and many others would like to be. Some may have to work part-or full-time; some may work at home; some may divide their lives into periods of home and family and work. What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply and, in keeping with the devotion she has for God and her husband, prioritizes them above all else."

Elder M. Russell Ballard, "Daughters of God"


Hey there...

...so.  Bishops cannot plan Christmas for their families.  This seems obvious in retrospect, since I've been attending tithing settlement in December as long as I can remember, but somehow my husband and I had forgotten that he would have to do it until mid-November rolled around, Christmas planning was only in its beginning stages, and welfare needs in our ward were reaching epic levels.

Therefore, the novel got started but nowhere near finished, but our family had a very nice Christmas and I even managed to reach new heights of cleanliness/organization in the homemaking department.

Side note: my husband discovered that he REALLY likes doing tithing settlement! I've always thought that it made sense to just shoot the bishop a quick email or text message saying, "Yup, paid in full," but bishops don't often get to meet with all the good folks in the ward who are doing just fine, thanks. He spends most of his time with people who are struggling. He loves and cares for them, but he also really enjoyed touching base with all the ward members who don't usually need him.  He appreciated the people who came in who hadn't paid a full tithe. He is mildly aggravated, however, with the surprising number of "good, active" members who skipped tithing settlement, and for whom he must declare their tithing status.  We have over 700 members in our ward... tonight is going to be a long night.

I thought you might like to know the insider scoop of tithing settlement because I found it surprising and interesting.

Other news...

The whole issue of should-I-or-shouldn't-I in regards to a job has been put on hold.  My husband's been either travelling for work or doing church stuff five or six nights a week since mid-October. He's just not home much anymore. And although he tries his best to be an involved, aware dad, the heavy lifting of parenting has fallen to me. I've been taking a little time during the day to rest, or read, or have some "me" time because otherwise it won't happen. Life is good, it's working, but for the first time since Scarlett started kindergarten, I feel at peace, knowing I'm doing exactly what I should be.  Next week something might come up where I need to think about it again (declaring an issue settled on my blog is a sure sign that plans will change!) but for now, I'm good.

And maybe, just maybe, I'll start writing more. For sixteen and a half years, my life has been wholly dedicated to church and family, and having a little free time to figure out what I want out of life is intimidating, but a lovely gift.  I am grateful, and I hope I don't waste it.


This is Not What I Expected

I spent years trying to anticipate what this phase of my life might be like – kids at school during the day, house quiet, me not yet working. I thought I’d spend a few weeks whipping my house into shape, painting, scrubbing, organizing.  My pile of clean laundry would disappear daily into closets and drawers.   I would finally have the time to eat right and exercise, so I would immediately start losing weight.  Finally, with no little ones left at home, I could assuage my guilt and volunteer in my kids’ classrooms.

Well, at Sophia’s class Halloween party, I stood around with 9 other parents, trying to look like I could be useful, if only a need arose. To my credit, I did fetch a plate of cheese and crackers for the teacher’s adorable toddler, who came visiting with her daddy and baby brother.  Lizzy, who has a meaningful-but-not-starring role in the school musical, told me that “they” had started making costumes, which surprised me since I had signed up to help with that.  But “they” never called, so I guess I wasn’t needed.  In fact, I’ve realized that all my guilt over the years since the twins were born and I haven’t been able to volunteer much was pretty silly.  The schools are doing just fine. I’ll pitch in when something comes up, but I’m not going to sweat it.

The soup kitchen did need me one week – it was the first time our ward had been responsible since my husband became the bishop and the relief society president was called, which meant that neither of them had it on their radar and help didn’t get rounded up until a few days before.  Since I had the time free and am kind of awesome at doing the soup kitchen, I went every day.  We served some tasty, nutritious meals to people who needed food, then I went home and failed miserably at cooking for my own family because I couldn’t wrap my brain around planning another dinner. My kids are still talking about the mashed potatoes and gravy we had to throw away.   My husband and I looked at it as trial run for the “what if I had a job?” scenario, with the conclusion that I would probably enjoy it, and the family might suffer enough that it wouldn’t be worth it. (Not just because of some bad food – I was also tired, cranky, and impatient.)

I’ve gained significant poundage since my kids went back to school.  I don’t know how much because the scale broke a few months ago and I haven’t bothered to buy a new one, but it’s enough that outfits for Sunday have to pass the “does this make me look pregnant?” test and most of them fail. Turns out, the things that were priorities before all my kids were in school are still priorities, and things that I never got around to still get pushed off until “later.” I’ve exercised all of three times and I didn’t take time to make healthy meals for myself until just recently. Recently my guts have been in full-scale rebellion, I can tell I have inflammation in my joints, my skin looks like it did at 15, and it’s time to take care of myself if I don’t want to die young and miserably. 

While at the soup kitchen, I worked with another lady in our ward who also has hypothyroidism, and who does take care of herself.  She isn’t afraid to turn down food because she has dietary restrictions.  She will be forthcoming about fatigue and the need to take it easy. I’ve never wanted to make hypothyroidism or [what I suspect is] irritable bowel syndrome or allergies or any other physical complaints into my identity.  I am not my disease. That even sounds weird, saying I have a disease, but I actually do.  But this lady, Kim, she takes care of herself without self-pity or apology. It’s inspired me to get serious about cutting out gluten, sugar (I LOVE sugar!) and dairy.  Yup, dairy.  Some of my siblings have become lactose intolerant with age, and some of my reading about hypothyroidism advocates going dairy-free as well.  I’ve also temporarily eliminated corn, and will cut out soy as soon.

And guess what? I feel better.  My face isn’t so puffy, and four days in, my skin looks SO much better than it did. As long as I remember that I also cannot tolerate greasy food, I’m good. Unfortunately, I seem to have wrenched my back somehow, which is putting a kink in my plans to exercise, but eating right is a good start.

The one thing that does not surprise me is that my house really is cleaner with the kids gone all day.  I’ve also made good progress painting. The only exception to my new neat-freakiness is the pile known as Mount Laundry.  Turns out I hate sorting laundry, no matter how much time I have to do it, and that pile is only going away when Scarlett goes to college or my little ones become big and take care of their own clothes. Sorry, family.

The biggest surprise in this new life of mine is that I don’t miss the kids when they’re at school.  Judge me if you must, but by the time I give Scarlett a hug and a kiss before she gets on the kindergarten bus, I’m practically skipping back into the house so I can get busy.  It’s like when Kira and Lizzy were little and I’d be exhausted by the time I tucked them into bed at night. Then, when I shut their bedroom doors, I would often literally dance down the hall with newfound energy. So no, I don’t take naps, I don’t sit around reading books (much). I’m busy. The house is a little too quiet so I often do listen to the radio, or music, or even something on Netflix I don’t need to watch closely, but I get to work.

My newest endeavor is writing a novel.

Yup, a novel.

My husband, bless him, decided to do Christmas this year. He probably has a lot of reasons, the nicest one being that he wants to relieve me of the burden. The larger truth is that he always thinks I spend too much money (I contend that I am merely a killer bargain hunter and can therefore buy more with less), but periodically we decide to skip the fight and have Mr. Man buy gifts. The kids are a little bummed, but I’ve decided to take the month I would normally dedicate to planning Christmas, and write a novel I’ve had bouncing around my head instead.

A few caveats: this book is probably going to be really, really bad.  In fact, the file name I’ve given it is “Bad Novel.” I do not expect it to ever be readable, even by friends and family, much less become a bestseller.

But how will I know if I can actually write fiction if I never try?

I have this little window of time when my kids are gone and I don’t have a job outside the home, and I have about four hours a day when I can write. It’s a gift I can’t waste.

So, ya, life is not what I thought it would be.  It turns out I enjoy my own company and am capable of sustained housekeeping efforts.  No amount of free time will induce me to conquer the laundry mess, but I think I’m going to write a book.

It’s good.  Life is very good.




Spider House

I need to get to know these neighbors better!


Clean Windows

My husband took last Friday off to help me wash windows because they haven't been washed since 1952. Here's a "before" photo:


The ladder's there because I'm also painting.  Always, always painting.

My favorite view is from the dining room.  The glass is all wavy like you'd expect in a 113-year-old house.

Yes, that's the neighbor's house.  All the houses on our street are close to each other, but it's okay because the neighbor has a very picturesque home. I live on a cute street.

I can't believe how much happier clean windows make me. It was even worth it to climb up on the terrifyingly steep roof to clean our upstairs windows, but only because I didn't die.


Nursery Art

The kids in nursery drew this on the chalkboard yesterday, and I love it!  I want to blow up a print of this and put it on my wall! Doesn't it perfectly capture the energy of 18 month - 3 year old children?