Saturday, December 31, 2011

my Christmas baby

our family was truly blessed with a beautiful bundle of boy on Christmas day 8 years ago. and that beautiful boy has grown in to my handsome, kind, caring, sensitive, intelligent, intuitive, often wild 8 year old burton.
today was a special day in our family as burton was baptized. we had almost out entire extended family come to cranbrook for the weekend to support burton in his decision to be baptized and to celebrate the new year with us. i felt the spirit of our Heavenly Father touch my heart as i sat with those i love most and watched my burty burt enter the waters of baptism. how i love my family. how blessed i feel to have parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews, both mine and brent's, that i love so much and who love me and my family too. what a blessing it was to be able to join together today and let burton know how much we all love him. and how much more sweet and special it was to have my little brother, andrew, baptize burton.
and as i sat loving my burton, i felt a glimpse of how much our Heavenly Father loves him too. burton is a special little boy. as crazy as he can be at times, maddeningly so even, he is also very sensitive to the things of the spirit. he has a testimony of the gospel. he knows that Jesus Christ is the Savior. he is a brilliant not so little boy with so much potential for good.
when i had burton 8 years ago, i was grateful for the strong and healthy addition to our family. i felt that instant, heart filling love that all mothers feel after they labor so hard to have their babies. little did i know, as with each of my children, how much i would love that little boy as he joined our family. i was reminded today as i watched burton of how blessed i am to have the opportunity to love as a mother loves. to have the all encompassing love that begins as your baby grows inside of you and carries on in to forever.
what a good day this last day of 2011 was.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

from the mouths of babes

our boys had the chance to act out the nativity scene at our ward Christmas party last weekend. jensen was joseph and burton and evan were 2 of the 3 wise men. a few days after the party, we were talking with our boys about the true meaning of Christmas, etc., and asked them to think of how it might have felt to actually have been in bethlehem to see the Savior after He was born; we asked jensen how he thought joseph might have felt to be the earthly father of the Savior of the world. we then asked burton and evan how they thought the wise men might have felt after travelling so far to kneel before Jesus. evan thought for a second or two and then said, in all seriousness, "tired."
well, not quite the answer we were looking for, but still true, i am sure!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

the big 3-0

so, it has been a long while since i have last posted. not much has happened and i really haven't had much to say. but a few things have come and gone and i thought they were worth mentioning.
i turned 30 at the beginning of the month. the big 3-0. i remember being in high school, thinking that 30 was so old and so far away and now, bam, here i am, living it. never has the old adage "you're only as old as you feel" meant more to me! the fact is that i have been married for 11 years and i have 4 children aged 9 to 2. so one must deduce that one is getting up there in age. although this "one" still feels 19:) i have decided that 30 is the new 20...that's the truth and i am sticking to it.
summer is by far my most favourite season. however, fall is a very close second. i love the fall! i have always found a great amount of joy in and appreciation for the world around me as i watch the trees change their faded summer clothes for more vibrant and varied fall frocks. what beauty surrounds us in the fall!! and what a beautiful fall we have had. the nice weather has allowed for many fall bike rides, walks, trips to the park, and lots of giant leaf piles to make and jump in.

fall is also my favourite time to take pictures. since brent and i started having our kids, we have taken a family picture every fall. anyone who knows me knows i LOVE to take pictures. i jokingly told brent the other day that by the time we are old and gray, we will have thousands of photo albums full of pictures...i think that is more truth than joke! here are some more of my faves from the last month.....

i could go on and on with the pictures, but i will only add a few more. we went to my mom and dad's farm for thanksgiving, as we do every year. it was a beautiful weekend and we had a lot of fun playing and visiting. perhaps the funnest thing we did was something that i have never done before. my dad called it his version of cow tipping. we pushed round bales down a hill in one of the fields by my parents' house. it was awesome. the kids loved it and i am so very glad we have that memory. here are a few pictures of cow tipping, dad/papa/big steve style.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

my wish

raising a daughter in today's world sometimes seems frightening to me. will i be able to safeguard paige from the onslaught of what the world's view of beauty is? will i be able to foster in my daughter a love for herself? a positive self image? will paige love herself because she knows that she is a daughter of God? or will she wonder where her value is and define herself by other's standards?

my wish for paige is that she will always know how beautiful she is. that she will never doubt her self worth. that she will love herself as much as i do. that she will be comfortable in her own skin and know that the beauty of her spirit is what matters most.

being the mother of a daughter has opened my eyes to the importance of loving myself too. of setting an example for paige of what is important. of learning to love my own body and self image. of being aware of what i say in relation to my body so that my daughter doesn't learn to worry about those few extra pounds or whether or not she exercised today or how many calories she has eaten or whether or not she should be dieting.

because in the end does it really matter? does my sense of worth rely on what i look like? and if it does, should it? or should i be more focused on what my Father in Heaven thinks of me? i am certain that when i see Him again, He won't notice if my hair is perfect or if i am a bit flabby or a few pounds heavier than i would like to be. he won't notice if my eyelashes are long enough or if i chew my fingernails. He will love me for me...He does love me for me.

and i want to teach my paigey that simple truth too.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


it has been a long while since i have blogged. can i say that we have been busy!? because summer in our house means lots of busy! traveling, boating, beaching, more traveling, more boating, and more beaching! at least the house has stayed fairly clean as we have not been inside much to mess it up! we have been having a lot of great fun with family and friends. click here if you want to see some pictures.

it has been almost 2 months since my brother and his wife had a stillborn baby boy. they named him stephen james swainson, jr. he was named after my brother. he was to be the 3rd stephen in our family - my dad and brother being the first 2. they were going to call him little steve, my brother would be big steve, and my dad would become old steve. my brother and dad were called little steve and big steve when we were growing up.

my sister in law, andrea, went in to labor a few days before her due date. she had a normal and healthy pregnancy. little steve died during labor because of placental abruption, which means that the placenta detached too soon. how my heart has ached for this little nephew that we never had the chance to meet. how my heart has ached for steve and andrea and for the sadness and grief that they feel over the death of their son. i won't say loss because he is not lost to them, or to us. he is still part of our family and i know that we will have the opportunity to be with him again. as sad as this has been for our family, we have all felt some measure of peace and hope that we will be with little steve again; that he is with our Father in Heaven, waiting for us to come home to him. and when we see him, i feel as if we will know him and it will be almost as if he was here with us all along. i look forward to that day.

that gives me hope.

i also wanted to write about one of my most dearest friends who has been bravely battling breast cancer since march. she is almost done with her chemo and then will be doing some radiation and taking oral medications for awhile. i know that i embarrass her when i tell her how much i admire her in person so i thought i would write about it here. my friend has gone through the difficult chemo process with such grace, dignity, and strength. she has lost all of her hair and almost all of her eyelashes. her eyebrows have thinned. her skin is dry and red. her face is swollen and puffy. and yet i see such beauty in her when i look at her. she is beautiful because she is strong. she is beautiful because she is brave. she is beautiful because of the strength of her spirit. she is beautiful because of her faith.

she is beautiful in all the ways that matter. and i love her.

i love her sense of humor. i love her sarcasm and wit. i love that she understands my struggles and comforts me even when mine pale in comparison to hers. i love that we don't have to talk every day to know that we care about each other and are thinking of one another. i love her smile. i love her laugh. i love the light that she shines. i love her for the hope that she gives me, knowing that we can be strong in trials and that we can do all things in Christ.

i am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father and the plan that He has for us, His children. i know that there is always peace in sadness and hope in hard times because He loves us. and He has sent His Son to help us along our way.

and that gives me hope.

Monday, June 13, 2011

life - a metaphor:)

my 3 boys participated in the wasa lake kids triathalon on saturday. this was jensen and burton's second time and evan's first time and, like last year, we had a great time. i wrote about it to my brother, robert, who is currently serving a mission in the scotland/ireland mission. because i did such a good job rehashing it for him, and even managed to make a "profound" (ha!) comparison to life, i am just going to share what i wrote to him....i don't think i could manage the same brilliance (again...ha!) that i managed a few nights ago, so here it is (it also happens to be rob and andrew's 20th birthday today. hence the birthday wishes):

hey rob -

first off, i hope you had a good week - the last one in your teens!! when you get this, you will be 20!! and a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!! to you:) any special plans for your birthday?

the 3 boys participated in ther second (ev's first) wasa lake triathalon yesterday. it was a great day! it was so much fun to watch the boys push themselves and do something hard. it was a decent day, but as the weather has not been stellar so far this spring, the water was still freezing!! evan's age group went first. now, as you know evan, he can some times be a bit of a boob. but did he let the freezing cold water stop him? no!! it was so awesome. when the race started, he was one of the first kids to just dive in the water. they weren't in very deep water but they still weren't supposed to run to complete the swim - they had to either swim or dolphin dive - and evan kept diving in the water the whole time. after 2 or 3 jumps in the water, he came up crying. but again, that didn't stop him. i had a moment of "oh crap!" when i saw him come up crying - again, you know what evan is like. once he gets upset it isn't easy to console him. so, when i saw him start to cry, i thought that that was it - he was done. but no. he powered through it, finished the swim, biked with ease, and did his run. it was so awesome to see my little evanator complete his race and be so proud of himself for doing it! he already can't wait until next year. you would've been so proud of him rob!!

burton and jensen were in the same age group this year. they swam 150 meters, biked 5 km, and then ran 1 km. jensen did it without too much difficulty but it was really quite hard for burton. last year the water level in the lake was quite a bit lower so it was much easier for him to complete the swim. and he was also at the head of the pack when the race started. he kind of got lost in the shuffle this time - he was more at the back and couldn't touch the bottom well enough to really push his way passed anyone. as i watched him try to start the swim, he looked so lost out in the freezing cold water - almost panicked. my heart, as his mother, hurt for him! he even tried doing the back stroke just to get things started. but every time he "came up" for air or turned around to see where he was headed, he still looked panicked. so i muscled my way through some of the parents so i was closer to where burton was on the shoreline and just started cheering as loud as i could - saying, "you can do it burton!!" once he heard my voice and saw me on the shore, he didn't look so lost anyomre - the look of tears and panic disappeared and he was able to dig deep and finish the swim. after the 5 k bike, the run was also tough. when i saw burton rounding the last corner, he looked close to tears - like ke was trying so hard to keep it together. so again, i ran back to where he was and started just cheering for him. i even ran beside him for a bit. again, once he saw me there with him, cheering him on, he was able to regroup and pour on a little bit of speed to finish the race.

it made me feel so much love for my boys to be on the sidelines, cheering them on, encouraging them to do their best and to see them visibly lifted by my cheering. writing this just now, to you, made me think that this is really what life is all about. we are running our own race, trying our best to run it well. it is really hard some times. at times we want to just curl up, cry, throw in the towel and quit - because the water is too cold or the run is too long and hard. but then we hear and see our family and friends, cheering us on from the sidelines and even running beside us some times - encouraging us and reminding us that we can do it. and then there is our Savior - who is our biggest fan, who wants us to finish the race and finish it well. and he is not only cheering us on but he is always there, running beside us. the whole way. he not only ran his own race but is running our race with us too.

so, rob, when you are over in scotland and ireland serving your mission and it gets hard, remember that we, your family, are there for you. look to the shoreline and you will see us there - cheering you on, encouraging you, and reminding you that you can do this. and we will be there, running beside you and helping you finish your race - always.

i love you my brother!! have a great birthday and know that i am thinking of you today and always!

love jen

Thursday, June 9, 2011

brotherly love....?

this is jensen and burton and yes, they are holding hands. but, before you get the wrong idea, maybe i should tell you that..............

they were in trouble.

we were hiking up by fairmont and i was tired of them being snarky and impatient with one another. after jensen pushed burton and burton shoved him back, i made them hold hands for part of the walk. then i made them look at each other, say "i love you," and hug.

funny how making them love each other was a punishment:)

Sunday, April 17, 2011


one of my closest friends was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. she will be 31 next month. i admire her strength, her beauty, and her courage in the face of this scary diagnosis. although her prognosis is good, she has a difficult path ahead of her. and i know her faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ, will carry her through this trial in her life. i am grateful for her example of faith in the atonement of our Savior. it has led me to reflect on my own faith and testimony. i have always enjoyed general conference. and i especially enjoyed conference just a few weeks ago. i found the talks very inspiring and listening to the speakers made my own testimony burn within me. and i was very thankful for the powerful assurance i received that i do know that Jesus is the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. in sharing my thoughts, i would quote the words of one of my favorite talks from this month's general conference. it is a talk given by elder kent f. richards. he said... "i have pondered about the purpose of pain. none of us is immune from experiencing pain. i have seen people cope with it very differently. some turn away from God in anger, and others allow their suffering to bring them closer to God...elder orson f. whitney wrote, 'no pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. it ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire.'" elder richards also said... "opposition is part of Heavenly Father's plan of happiness. we all encounter enough to bring us to an awareness of our Father's love and of our need for the Savior's help. the Savior is not a silent observer. He Himself knows personally and infinitely the pain we face...president henry b. eyring taught, 'it will comfort us when we must wait in distress for the Savior's promised relief that He knows, from experience, how to heal and help us...and faith in that power will give us patience to pray and work and wait for help. He could have known how to succor us simply by revelation, but He chose to learn by His own personal experience.' elder dallin h. oaks taught, 'healing blessings come in many ways, each suited to our individual needs, as known to Him who loves us best. sometimes a "healing" cures our illness or lifts our burden. but sometimes we are "healed" by being given strength or understanding or patience to bear the burdens placed upon us.' all that will come may be 'clasped in the arms of Jesus.' all souls can be healed by His power. all pain can be soothed. in Him we can find 'rest unto our souls.' our mortal circumstances may not immediately change but our pain, worry, suffering, and fear can be swallowed up in His healing balm." this talk by elder richards really struck home with me. i struggle. i worry. i fear. and although these things have not always been taken from me through faith and prayer, i have always, always been given the strength and peace to work through them and learn and grow from them. i have never been left without the comfort of our Savior - comfort that will come to all who call on His name. with easter weekend coming soon, i also wanted to share the poem that president monson shared in his closing remarks of this april's conference. it is a poem written by emily harris: the linen which once held Him is empty. it lies there, fresh and white and clean. the door stands open. the stone is rolled away, and i can almost hear the angels, singing His praises. linen cannot hold Him. stone cannot hold Him. the words echo through the empty limestone chamber, "He is not here." the linen which once held Him is now empty. it lies there, fresh and white and clean and oh, hallelujah, it is empty. just thought i would share.

Friday, April 1, 2011


that's what i have been doing a lot of lately - complaining, griping, and murmuring. as i was sitting here, reading other people's blogs, i started feeling ashamed and embarrassed for my lack of gratitude and thanks for the plethora of things that make my life wonderful. i thought it would be beneficial for me to take a few minutes and think about things in a different light.

i am grateful for an untidy house because it means i have kids to clean up after.

i am grateful for dishes that never seem to get done because it means we have food to eat.

i am grateful for laundry that doesn't get folded or put away because it means we have clothes to wear.

i am grateful for a husband who helps and serves others because it reminds me of our Savior.

i am grateful for giggles and hugs and kisses.

i am grateful for i love you's and thank you's.

i am grateful for unconditional love and the promise of forever.

i am grateful for good friends even when i am not one.

i am grateful for the beauty that surrounds me.

i am grateful for my mom.

i am grateful for my dad.

i am grateful for good books that give me a break for a bit.

i am grateful for my sewing machine.

i am grateful for my camera to capture all those moments in time.

i am grateful for a husband who lifts me up and makes me stronger than i am on my own.

i am grateful for a husband who loves me for who i am (and in spite of it!)

i am grateful for this

and this

and this

and this.

i am grateful for tender mercies.

i am grateful that i can try again.

and i am most grateful for this

Sunday, February 20, 2011

good for a laugh

so, i found this little tid bit online the other day - i think it was on a friend of a friend's blog - and had to share. i must admit that my mothering life is not quite this hectic (yet!!!)...but pretty close! i often say that if our husbands only knew........

THE NEXT SURVIVOR SERIES: 6 married men will be dropped on an island with one car and 2 kids each for 6 weeks. each kid will play 2 sports and take either music or dance classes. there is no fast food. each man must take care of his 2 kids, keep his assigned house clean, correct all homework, complete school projects, cook, do laundry, and pay a list of "pretend" bills. in addition, each man will have to budget enough groceries for each week and purchase said groceries - looking for deals, sales, and coupons in an effort to be as thrifty as possible. each man must remember the birthdays of all friends and relatives and send cards out or make a phone call on time - no emailing! each man must also take each child to a doctor's appointment, a dentist appointment and a hair cut appointment. he must make 1 unscheduled and inconvenient visit per child to the emergency room. he must also make cookies or cupcakes for a school function.
each man will be responsible for decorating his own assigned house, planting flowers outside, and keeping it presentable at all times.
the men will only have access to television when the kids are asleep and all the chores are done.
the men must shave their legs, wear makeup daily, adorn themselves with jewelry, wear uncomfortable yet stylish shoes, keep fingernails polished and eyebrows groomed during 1 of the 6 weeks.
the men will have to endure severe abdominal cramps, backaches, headaches, have extreme, unexplained mood swings, but never once complain or slow down from other duties.
they must attend weekly school meetings, and find time at least once to spend the afternoon at the park or a similar setting.
they will need to read a book to the kids each night and in the morning feed them, dress them, brush their teeth and comb their hair by 8:30.
a test will be given at the end of the 6 weeks. each father will be required to know each child's:
height and weight,
shoe size and clothing size,
doctor's name,
child's weight and length at birth,
time of birth and length of labor,
favorite color,
middle name,
favorite snack,
favorite song,
favorite drink,
favorite toy,
biggest fear,
and what they want to be when they grow up.
the kids vote the men off the island based on performance.
the last man wins ONLY IF....
he still has enough energy to be intimate with his wife at a moment's notice.
if the man does win, he can play the game over and over and over again for the next 18 to 25 years, eventually earning the right to be called "mom."

now that i am done laughing, i must say that i wouldn't trade being a mom for anything in the world. and my wonderful husband really does do a good job of sharing the load that is our's, as parents. but still, if he only knew......

Sunday, February 13, 2011

my not so baby girl

dear paige,
how do words express the amount of joy that you bring to my life? your big smile, with your crooked, thumb sucking teeth, the way you look at me when you say "mama," your hugs and kisses, your beautiful hair, the way you run, your zest for life and love for your family, your laughs and giggles, dancing with you, playing with you, snuggling with you, and loving you fill my heart with such gratitude that Heavenly Father sent you to be my little girl.
i hope that as you grow, you will always know just how very much i love you. and how i treasure you, my one and only daughter.
your mama.

Monday, February 7, 2011

from the mouth of babes

tonight for fhe, jensen was teaching us a short lesson on the first vision. after he was finished, i asked the boys to think about how they know that joseph smith really saw Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. i asked them to really think about it and give me an answer. burton said he knew it really heppened because he has felt the holy ghost when he has been taught about the first vision. jensen said that Heavenly Father has answered his prayers so he must have answered joseph smith's prayer as well. and then evan piped in with his answer. this is what he said, pretty much word for word:
"remember in that movie where the guy hadded enough faif to see the Lord's finger? then joseph smith hadded enough faif to see Heavenly Father and Jesus."

how humble my kids make me feel! truly i have so much to learn from my kids. their simple and sweet testimonies of the gospel bring such joy and peace to my heart. they remind me that the gospel - and living the gospel - really is simple. i am grateful for such wonderful children who are gaining their own testimonies bit by bit.

i sure love them and love being their mom!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

2011 baby

wow! another year come and gone - how cliche, i know. but really, has it already been 11 years since the whol Y2K deal?? am i really getting that much older!!?? (don't answer that - it was a rhetorical question) the last 6 months have been go, go, go!! and as my lack of blogging shows, it has been busy! so, what has made it so busy, you ask? here, in random order, are the busy but FUN moments of 2010:
-swimming lessons and soccer! with 3 boys all in swimming and soccer, we had lessons 4 days a week and soccer 4 nights a week. with brent coaching both jensen and burton's teams (yep, they were on separate teams) and evan having his own soccer night at a different location, we lived, ate, and breathed soccer this spring. as fun as it was, we were relieved to get a break during summer vacation....only to start it all again in the fall!
-my younger sister, jess, went to the temple for her first time in june. what a special opportunity it was to travel to the edmonton temple to experience that with my family.
-my brother robert was also ordained as an elder that same weekend and brent and i were happy to be in red deer to witness and participate in his ordination.
-brent and i celebrated our 10th anniversary (what!!!???)
-camping with friends in july was fun, even though the weather was LOUSY!! needless to say, i am so happy we purchased a tent trailer this fall so that when the rain pours, we won't be sleeping in our leaky tent anymore.
-staying in a lake house for a week with my family at hayden lake (idaho) was SO MUCH FUN that we have already booked another trip for next summer. evan is already asking when we will be going to the lake house:)
-we adopted an additional family member for the summer and early fall. it seems my brother rob was out to visit us in cranbrook almost every weekend during the summer. i even took to calling it "the summer of rob." we had rob boating with us, camping with us, hanging in cranbrook with us, cliff jumping and hiking with us....i would like to think he was here so much because he loves me, his big sister, so much but i'm pretty sure it had more to do with my kids than anything. he sure loves them!
-boating, boating, and more boating...any time, any where, as much as we could! WE LOVE BOATING. jensen, burton, and evan all learned how to knee board and wake surf (with help), and jensen and burton discovered a new love for water skiing. i think we spent 2 weekends of the entire summer at home!
-young women's first one as a leader. LOVED IT!!! i love our girls here in cranbrook. what wonderful young women they are. they have truly inspired me to become a better "older" woman:)
-planning and organizing my mom's 50th birthday in september. how fun it was to have her whole family there! i love the coopers!!!! and my mom, a whole lot.
-then it was time for my other brother, andrew, to get ordained as an elder. as brent was already going to edmonton for an orthodontics course, the kids and i tagged along and had him drop us off in red deer for the weekend so we could support andrew and let him know how much we love and appreciate him.
-thanksgiving in red deer came next. always fun to go home for thanksgiving and spend time with the fam. we were also able to go to the temple with rob for his first time - again, a truly marvelous experience!
-followed a few short weeks later by meeting in calgary to send robert off to the preston, england mtc to get ready for his mission in the scotland/ireland mission. tears were shed by all, still are sometimes by me!! but happy tears - we all love him so very much! he is doing awesome and it was so great to be able to talk to him on Christmas day. we love getting emails and letters from him and to hear about his experiences teaching the gospel. what an example he is setting for my kids...and for me too! and to think we will have to do it all again for andy soon....emotionally draining sums it up pretty good:) but i wouldn't want my brothers to be doing anything else with their lives at this time. their missionary service and experiences will be invaluable to them and to those they serve.
-then...change!! being called as the new primary president in our ward threw me for a loop and it took a bit for me to get my feet back under me. but things are going well and i am really enjoying my new calling. it keeps me busy! i am grateful for the opportunity to serve the Lord.
-and then the hustle and bustle of Christmas. we actually stayed home for Christmas this year - we didn't travel to spokane until the afternoon of Christmas day. it was really very nice to wake up in our own home on Christmas morning. i sense a new tradition in the making:) it was fun to spend a few days in spokane with brent's family as we have not seen them too much in the last 6 months...what with all the major happenings in my family!
-and then back home for a few relaxing and LAZY days over the new year's weekend. my mom and sister, jess, came to spend new year's with us and it was so fun to just do nothing with them. just to have them around to talk to, play games with, watch movies with, and just hang out. i love my family.
phew....reading all that made me tired again. really we did have a fabulous and fun 2010. as busy as it was, i wouldn't change any part of it. i love making memories with my kids and spending time with our extended families. that is what growing up is all about. it is fun to see our kids learning and growing - trying new things as they are getting older. it is rewarding as a parent to start teaching my kids things that i learned and loved as a kid, and seeing them start to enjoy these new things. i only wish that they wouldn't grow quite so makes me realize just how much more i need to take a step back, focus on the most important things, and treasure every moment i have with my boys and paige. they are so precious and i love them so much.

so, with that being said, here's to 2011! may it be as fun and exciting as the last 10 years!