Norman Rockwell

Thanksgiving was a bit different this year. It is my first Thanksgiving with my own littles, and my first Thanksgiving without family. I was really stressed out about having to make the entire meal with no hands on help from my mama (though there were A LOT of phone calls to her throughout the day). But I was mostly concerned about being really homesick and feeling isolated with the 2,000 miles between us and "home".

It ended up being a really wonderful day. I have been fighting off a cold that got the best of me that morning, so I spent the morning with my littles watching (aka sleeping through) the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade while my sweet husband did all the heavy lifting with the turkey. During the afternoon we worked on making all the sides (a little ahead of schedule because the turkey cooked faster than anticipated...) which is my favorite part of the holiday. I love the smell of herbs in the kitchen, rising dough, and pies sitting out on top of the dryer (just like my grandma). 

My sister set a beautiful table and we even hooked up the babies high chairs for the first time so they could sit at the table with us. They looked adorable with their little napkins tucked under their chubby chins. Dinner turned out AMAZING!! I'm chalking it up to beginners luck but seriously each of us were completely shocked at how delicious it was. As soon as we started eating we all started laughing because we expected everything to be on a the verge of terrible. I loved sitting around the table at my new little family. My sweet husband, my amazing little sister, and my two adorable littles. I could not be more blessed.

This Thanksgiving I felt more blessed than I ever have. We are in a beautiful home on a beautiful, new adventure. Danny is doing so great in medical school, and more importantly loving what he is learning. I love when he tells me about school, he gets so excited! We are blessed that he gets to chase his dream, so many people never have that opportunity. I'm beyond blessed to have my amazing sister living with us. I would not have survived these last few months without her. Whenever I feel like I'm about to loose it, she talks me off the cliff and makes me laugh until my stomach hurts. Jess is so amazing with my children and shows them such love, I will love her forever for the way she loves my kids. My sweet Linc makes me laugh so much. I love how deeply that kid feels his emotions. When Linc is sad it just shatters your heart the way his lip quivers and his big eyes well up. But when the boy is happy he lights up the room, his happiness touches him from head to toe until he just flails his little arms and legs because he can't contain his joy. My Sophie has changed everything. She makes me beyond grateful for modern medicine, for the health we do have, for really difficult trials, for a foundation of faith, for supportive family, for quiet moments, for compassionate smiles, for loving strangers, for a changing heart, for a patient husband, but most of all for her sweet spirit in our lives. My heart is so full for my little family here in New York and all of the experiences and trials we are going through. God is good. 


Sarah Koppelkam

Like most post-pregnant women, I have been working on working out. We have drastically (aaaalmost completely) cut back on sugar in our house, got gym passes to Planet Fitness (such a good deal!), and I have been trying out yoga in the early mornings because I'm the least flexible/calm person in the world. I get so down on myself and my body and have been feeling so motivated to have a happier and healthier lifestyle rather than just trying to do some crazy diet. Which is hard. Because a healthier lifestyle, is a a path of permanent change rather than just a month or two of binge dieting. 

My mother-in-law sent me the article "How to Talk to Your Daughter About Her Body" and it rang so true to me. Not just for my daughter but for myself and for my whole family. So I am sending out into the void, because I believe it is a message worth sharing.

How to Talk to Your Daughter About Her Body
By: Sarah Koppelkam

How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: Don't talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.
Don't say anything if she's lost weight. Don't say anything if she's gained weight.
If you think your daughter's body looks amazing, don't say that. Here are some things you can say instead:
"You look so healthy!" is a great one.
Or how about, "You're looking so strong."
"I can see how happy you are -- you're glowing."
Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body.
Don't comment on other women's bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice one or a mean one.
Teach her about kindness towards others, but also kindness towards yourself.
Don't you dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your daughter, or talk about your new diet. In fact, don't go on a diet in front of your daughter. Buy healthy food. Cook healthy meals. But don't say, "I'm not eating carbs right now." Your daughter should never think that carbs are evil, because shame over what you eat only leads to shame about yourself.
Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or mountain bike because it scares her and that's a good thing sometimes.
Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you'll never stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn't absolutely in love with.
Prove to your daughter that women don't need men to move their furniture.
Teach your daughter how to cook kale.
Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.
Pass on your own mom's recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of being outside.
Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide ribcages. It's easy to hate these non-size zero body parts. Don't. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can run a marathon if she wants to, and her ribcage is nothing but a carrying case for strong lungs. She can scream and she can sing and she can lift up the world, if she wants.
Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize her beautiful soul.


John Green

I'm somewhat of a book junkie. Danny (and now Jess) really hates when I find a good book. A good book demands to be devoured. I'm like a starving person every day of my life looking to get my hands on something that fills me up and then I find books like The Fault in Our Stars and I feel like I'm stuffed to the brim. My poor husband and sister and babies. I completely disappeared on them for the last two days as I read and read and read.

Now a few of my friends peaked my interest in this book a few months ago but I have been putting off reading it because it is about a girl with cancer. But the thing is, it is not about a girl with cancer....it totally is but not at all. I love those kinds of books. It is funny and interesting and incredibly smart. I loved it. 

So a few of my favorite quotes:

“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.” 

“That's the thing about pain," Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. "It demands to be felt” 

“My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.” 

“Some people don't understand the promises they're making when they make them," I said. 
"Right, of course. But you keep the promise anyway. That's what love is. Love is keeping the promise anyway.” 

“You do not immortalize the lost by writing about them. Language buries, but does not resurrect.” 

I realize many of these quotes seem a little depressing, which maybe reveals something about me. But I promise, this book is really funny too. Read it, go on now. And please, do it the justice of hardback! Books like this deserve the weight of paper and flesh. 


Ansel Adams

The things is, I'm no Ansel Adams. Not even close. I'm actually pretty terrible at taking pictures. It is a skill that I get really jealous about. Some people just have the eye for it and I am not one of them. 

The second thing is, twins are so hard to get a good picture of. I have been trying to take a picture of them every month so I can look back and see how fast they grew and remember them at every stage...but it is hard! I swear I am never going to have a single picture where both babies are smiling. 

So I decided I will share some of my epic fails today. I'm always frustrated when these situations are happening but then I look back and they are some of my favorite pictures!

^^^^ I think Soph has good reason to be afraid in this picture...

Oh, bless my photo awkward babies. I adore them.


Uncle Sam

We live in the city of Troy, New York. And though I am terrible at taking pictures of this place it is slowly capturing my heart. Sometimes when I am driving home across the Hudson, I look up at the tree-filled-hills with the tops of the old brick buildings popping up and know the image will always be dear to my heart.

A month or so a go (oh my, time is passing so quickly) my sister Jess and I spent an evening in downtown Troy. I fell in love. We wandered around the shops, spent some time in the coolest bookstore, ate at a delicious joint and just took in the scene. I love downtown. I love the apartments but especially the doors. Oh, the doors! The stoops of the apartments downtown are like works of art.

We spend Sunday afternoons taking drives around the city. Taking pictures of old churches is quickly becoming a favorite thing. The churches here blow me away. I love all the old architecture but there is something about the churches that touches my heart. So many people across time, of so many different faiths, build gorgeous buildings to worship a higher power. 

Just some pictures of our little city (via the intranet).

^^^^ Troy is Uncle Sams hometown so there are these statues all over the city. 

Sometimes I desperately miss my mountains, but when the day comes to move back west oh how I will miss  my river!


Chubby Chunker

Let me just tell you about this little man we call Chubby Chunker.

Lincoln Daniel Catts. He kinda steals my heart with those long eyelashes and chubby cheeks. Linc has the sweetest little heart! We can already tell that he will be a tender little thing. When I wake him up in the morning he gets the biggest smile on his face and starts kicking his little legs. He is so happy! But when he gets scared or sad he gets really scared and reeeeaally sad. Not just screaming tantrums but big, old tears and a quivery lip just about kills you. 

He is also a bashful little guy. Sophie has three therapists that come to work with her twice a week and they make a point to play with Lincoln too (we never want Linc to feel like he is missing out!). A few of the therapists have noticed how quiet Linc is and how slowly he gives them smiles because he is just a shy kid. Sophie is a chatter box and will smile and coo with everyone but strangers have to really work for it when it comes to my little man. He is also much more camera shy. Sophie hardly notices it in her face but as soon as Linc sees the thing he gets stoned face. 

Stinkin' Lincoln has been cursed by his mother. We found out he is allergic to cow's milk which was causing all of his painful cries and puking. Now that he is on a specialized formula he is sooo happy. He sleeps so much better (7am-7PM plus naps that little angel!!!) and the puking has finally stopped. But the downside....he literally stinks. The formula smells soooo nasty so obviously so does his spit up and diapers. If the kid even drools and it gets on his clothes it is a stink fest. Poor guy. I should have always called you Thinkin' Lincoln. Most babies with this allergy get over it by the time they turn one....keeping our fingers crossed.

Linc is super smart! We work off of developmental charts (every kid varies a lot) and Linc is always ahead of the curve. He is so good at reaching out for things and holding them and getting them to his mouth. I watch him take in the world and he gets so fixated on things. He reminds me of Danny and how you can almost see his wheels spinning as he is figuring out how things work. 

The boy LOVES his sister. And this is my very favorite thing in the world. They are just starting to realize that the other exists and it is my favorite thing to watch develop. Linc will be playing on his mat at look over and see Sophie and he gets this huge smile and just stares at her. It is like he gets so excited he just can't contain it and he starts kicking his legs and waving his arms and cooing at her. It seriously kills me. This boy is just so full of love.

Lastly, this guy is a mama's boy. He is in love with his Dad and Aunt Jess but there are definitely smiles reserved just for me (which melts my heart). When he is playing with others he spends a good chunk of his time looking for me. Little man gets fussy occasionally and i just carry him around with me or he just sits on my lap while I do my work and he is just content to sit and chat while I get things done. I love that special time just him.


Valerie Albrechtsen

Last weekend I woke up to an email from our gas company. New York was on high wind warnings and the email was warning us about power outages across the state. My heart dropped. I am basically the least prepared mother of all time! 

Later that day Sophie's speech therapist came over (she has lived in Troy for 20+ years) and I was asking her about power outages here. In Utah they seem to last for maybe 24 hours if it is reeeeally bad. I don't ever remember having to use anything out of a 72-hour kit (unless I had a serious sweet tooth on a Sunday and dug around for a granola bar....but maybe I'm revealing too much about myself). But here in Troy, power is a different story. The infrastructure here is not only ancient, there are also a LOT more trees to knock down power lines. I was informed that last year Troy experienced an 11 day outage! Again, my heart dropped.

When Danny came home that night I was in overdrive and he had to calm me down a bit. Because he is a wise man he knows the fastest way to do that is to help me make a color-coordinated list :). So we got on the computer, did some research, and made a 72-hour kit list that works for our family. The very next day we made a trip to Sam's and in less than two hours we had 72-hour kits bagged and ready along with a five cases of water. 

And thus begins my new mission of following the prophet's counsel and starting up my own food storage. I really should have started this earlier but I always just planned on going to my parents house...how horrible. But now I am the parent! And my parents are just few too many thousand miles away to help out during a crisis. I have a long way to go for my 3-month supply but It am slowly working my way up and making a plan. Having my 72-hour kit has given me some peace of mind and that makes the effort worth it!

If you are interested, I'm using this site to help me get my 3-month supply up and running. She also helped a lot in getting our 72-hour kits ready. Not only does she take it step by step, but she makes lots of great suggestions about how to do it on a budget and points out how much you already have in your home.


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