photo credit Mimi Lee Printables

I am always on a quest to better myself and one way I try to do that is by reading self-help books.  I’m currently reading the book Mindset by Carol Dweck.  It is a self help book that was recommended to me by the principle at my sons middle school.

The premise of the book is that there are two different mindsets, a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.  A fixed mindset is where you believe that you are what you are and have the talents that you have.  These things are fixed and don’t change.  In a fixed mindset success is proving that you are smart or talented.  You are always validating yourself and you fear failure.  A growth mindset where you believe that you can always grow and change.  The talents that you currently have can grow with effort.  You are looking for a challenge to help you learn and you don’t fear failure, you see it as a learning experience.

I really like the book and it has left me with lots of ways to change and better myself.  But the thing that I keep thinking is that it’s amazing, and not amazing at all, that in all of the self-help books that I read, the main point that they teach people about is always something that we are taught in the church.  This is true with Mindset as well.

My stake has a weekday religious class that I attend sometimes.  I went to it yesterday and one of the things the lesson was on is how we really reach heaven.  We don’t get there by being perfect, we get there by repenting and doing our best.  The teacher said, “Satan is all about perfection, while God is all about progression.”  This fits exactly into the lesson that Mindset teaches.

People who have a fixed mindset are always feeling like they need to be perfect while people with a growth mindset are happy if they are improving.  This is also part of the message of Elder Holland’s last General Conference talk. He said:

First of all, if in the days ahead you not only see limitations in those around you but also find elements in your own life that don’t yet measure up to the messages you have heard this weekend, please don’t be cast down in spirit and don’t give up. The gospel, the Church, and these wonderful semiannual gatherings are intended to give hope and inspiration. They are not intended to discourage you. Only the adversary, the enemy of us all, would try to convince us that the ideals outlined in general conference are depressing and unrealistic, that people don’t really improve, that no one really progresses. And why does Lucifer give that speech? Because he knows he can’t improve, he can’t progress, that worlds without end he will never have a bright tomorrow. He is a miserable man bound by eternal limitations, and he wants you to be miserable too. Well, don’t fall for that. With the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the strength of heaven to help us, we can improve, and the great thing about the gospel is we get credit for trying, even if we don’t always succeed.

Honestly, this happens with pretty much all of the self-help books that I read.  I am grateful for these kinds of books though.  It is easier for me to learn the lessons from the secular books and then see how they apply in a gospel sense than it is for me to see them in a gospel sense and apply them to my daily life.  I’m glad that I know that I can improve and become better, that those traits I lack now are something that I can strive for.  And I’m grateful for the many ways that we can learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Party Hardy

I’m having a Norwex party on facebook this week.

It’s totally stressing me out.  I really don’t want to do it.  I hate this kind of thing yet here I am.

Why do it then?  Well, I decided last month that in 2016 I wasn’t going to let fear and shame hold me back.  I look back on my life and there are many times I didn’t do things because I was too afraid of the shame that would come from rejection or not being good enough.  Now I feel like I totally missed out on some awesomeness because of that fear  and I don’t want to let fear keep holding me back.

So, I’m having a Norwex facebook party.  And if no one joins it and no one buys anything and I don’t earn the free mop that I really want then I will be okay.  And maybe in the future the fear of failing at something so simple won’t hold me back anymore.

2015 Year in Review

DSC_7733colorJanuary –  We started out 2015 in a yurt at East Canyon State Park.  It was our first time staying in a yurt and it was fun.  It was also cold.  The yurt had a stove to heat it so we didn’t freeze when we were inside but it was -9 outside when we woke up.


February and March were spent enjoying the unseasonably warm weather with hill races and soccer games.

DSC_9604colorApril was our annual trip to Snow Canyon.  We love it there as much as ever.

May brought Eli’s 11th birthday, Keenyn’s graduation from preschool and a cute picture of me and the kids on Mother’s Day.

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We started June with Eli going to 5th grade camp at Camp Big Springs.  He had a great time.  June also started our screen free summer.  No screen time for us except for the occasional family movie.  It turned out so awesome.  Keenyn even taught himself how to ride his bike because of it.


July brought the Smith Family Reunion at Rockport Reservoir.  Most of us were able to be there and it was awesome.  The kids played and played while the adults talked and talked.  DSC_0762color July also brought Keenyn’s 5th birthday and the Kroeber Family Campout.  We didn’t get a group picture but most of us were able to be there for at least some of the time.  DSC_0959colorDSC_1378color

In August we had the Kroeber boys backpacking trip to the Uinta’s where they got rained on and did a much harder hike than they prepared for.  They all survived and even managed to have quite a bit of fun.  School also started in August.  Eli is in 6th grade, Isaac in 3rd and Keenyn in kindergarten.  Briella just wanted to be in the picture with them.

Chris and I got a week away in September.  We had a conference to go to in Nashville and my parents were brave enough to watch our kids.  It was a nice vacation and we took our first selfies while we were there.

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For the last day of Fall Break in October we trekked north to the Golden Spike National Historic site.  We were one week too late for the summer shows/reenactments and the engines were in the shop.  They let us drive over to the engine shop and have as much of a tour as we could so it wasn’t a total let down.

On the way out we saw a sign for the spiral jetty and since we were already all the way out there and didn’t know if we would ever be there again (It’s pretty far out in the middle of nowhere) we decided to head out there.  Even though we hadn’t had lunch and were all pretty hungry when we finally got back to town it was worth the trip.


Isaac turned 9 in November.  Chris and I had birthdays as well but they weren’t nearly as exciting!

December was the busiest month of all.  Eli and Isaac both had music concerts/recitals.  They are both in the before school choir also so they had a concert for that.  Then came the day that the boys have been waiting for for years now.  STAR WARS!!  It happened to come out on Briella’s 3rd birthday so we celebrated her birthday by going to the movie.  Don’t worry, she was pretty happy about that fact.  She is a Star Wars lover just like the rest of them.  DSC_0375color

2015 was good to us.

Now onto 2016!


The Bus Driver

Lately I have been thinking about the man who drove my school bus when I was young.  I think his name was Don but I’m not quite sure.  He was older, probably retired from another job, and I would be surprised if he is still alive.  I’d be even more surprised if he remembered me but I definitely remember him.

photo(101)Me in 9th grade

My family moved when I was in junior high.  While we were in the same town and I would be attending the same schools it was still a hard move for me.  Everything is extra hard in junior high isn’t it?  All of my friends now lived on the north end of town, I lived on the south and none of us could drive.

My old neighborhood was far away from the school so I rode the bus everyday.  My new neighborhood was much closer and I can’t remember how I was supposed to get home from school but I know I wasn’t supposed to ride the same bus.  Obviously it was only for those who lived on its route which wasn’t anywhere close to where I now lived.  All of the buses would pick the kids up from the junior high and then go to the high school to pick up the high school kids and then continue on their routes.

My new house was only a block away from the high school and I know he wasn’t supposed to, because I was told that I couldn’t do it, but Don let me ride my old bus with my friends every day.  I would get on at the junior high and ride the to high school where he would let me off and I would walk home.  It is such a simple thing but it helped me through a hard time in my life.


When I got into high school I was on the girls soccer team and Don was the one to drive us to most of our away games.  I remember him watching our games and congratulating us on wins and being sorry when we lost.  It just seemed like he cared.

Don didn’t do anything most would consider great.  He was a bus driver but here I am 20 years later and I still remember him.  I remember the nice things he did for me and the ways he helped me during a hard time of my life.  It has really made me realize that we never know how we are influencing the lives of those around us and who will remember us in 20 years and be grateful for the small part we played in their life.


I just got back from a week long vacation to Nashville.  Chris had a conference to go to and my parents were willing to come and stay with the kids so I went along.  I’m not a big country music fan but it’s always fun to go somewhere new.  Especially if you can leave the kids behind.

It was a great break.  A lot of it was spent by myself in a hotel room which may sound boring but it is heavenly for me.  It is the only place where I can really do whatever I want.  Not only are there not any people to take care of but there isn’t anything else to take care of either.  No cleaning or organizing that I should be doing.  No Primary stuff that needs to be done.  No yard work, no laundry, no cooking.  Nothing else that I should be doing so I am truly free to do whatever I want.

One morning I slept in until 9.  And then that afternoon I took a nap.

When Chris wasn’t in meetings we got to be together, without any interruptions.  We saw a movie, went to a show at The Grand Ole Opry, played some fuse ball while listening to live music at the Wildhorse Saloon, spent a few hours at the Belle Meade Plantation and several other things.  It was great to explore a new city together.

But you know what the very best part of the trip was?  Coming home.

While it’s great to get away, it’s even greater to come home.  Being away helped me to realize how much I love my life.  My messy, loud, crazy, overwhelming life.  I love it.  All of it.  Because I love these humans that I get to share it with.  They bring more than messes and noise.  They fill my life with laughter, love and joy.

I’m grateful for the time away to realize how much I love being home.

(And I know I will refer to this post almost daily now to remind myself during the day to day struggles that I really do love my life.)


Isaac stayed home from school yesterday.  He woke up with a sore throat and a runny nose.  I have had a cold for the last few days so I wasn’t surprised that it had spread.

The day before he had gone to school with a headache.  He gets them kind of frequently and they last for 15 minutes or so and then they go away but when he got to school he told his teacher that he wasn’t feeling well.  She then used that reminder to tell his whole class that if they have a cold or pinkeye that they shouldn’t come to school because those sicknesses are really contagious.

The very next day he wakes up with a cold.

As we were getting ready for school he told me what his teacher said about colds and I let him stay home.  As the day goes on I can see that he is well enough to be at school and I am annoyed.  Sure, I could bring him to school and let him finish out the day but I don’t see much point in that.  Plus, he is playing with the little kids which is oh so nice.  But all day I feel bothered by the fact that I let him stay home.

Then eventually it hit me.  I’m not annoyed that he is home when he is clearly well enough to be at school, I’m annoyed at myself that I let his teacher influence my parenting decision.  You see, we are not a stay home from school with a cold type of family.  So, if I had followed my own instincts on the matter he would have been at school.  Instead, I let something his teacher said make me question my choices and that isn’t okay with me.

While I am still somewhat annoyed at myself I am also glad that I was able to learn this lesson.  Isaac missing one day of school at the beginning of the year is a small price to pay for me to be more aware of how I make my decisions.    Hopefully in the future I will follow my gut and not worry about what others say.

Embracing the Change

DSC_1378colorToday is the first day of school.  It is always a bitter sweet day for me.  It’s sweet because having four kids home all summer can get crazy… and loud.  Now there are schedules and friends and after school programs … and quiet.

It’s bitter because another summer has gone by.  No more late nights, camp outs,  water parks and visits from family.  Each new school year is a stark reminder that they won’t stop growing up, that another year of childhood is in the books.

Every year before school starts Chris gives the kids back to school blessings.  A few years ago Eli was the only one going to school and was a little nervous to get a blessing.  I offered to get one first so that he would know what it was like and hopefully lessen his fears.

During the blessing Chris gave me the Lord counseled me to enjoy the fact that my kids were growing up.  He taught me that growing up is part of the Plan of Salvation and that I needed to embrace the change that was happening in our life.

I remember that blessing often, whenever I am sad about growing children or a life change.  It helps to be reminded that that is the way it’s supposed to be.  Children are supposed to grow up and when they do it’s okay to embrace it.

It’s also okay to be sad about it.  The sadness brings the realization that it happens so fast and helps us to slow down and be more present in our day to day lives.

I still feel the regret of all that we didn’t do over the summer or the longing for that child to just stay four forever.  For them to always fit into my lap and always want me to read them a bedtime story.  But the fact is, our kids are going to grow up.  That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

If it’s going to happen we might as well embrace it and find the joy.  Because there will be joy.  The 3rd grader will still want you to walk him all the way to his desk and will even hug you before you go.  The 6th grader will turn back and make sure he gets one last look at you as he heads to his class on this own.  And that look, that sign that he needs one last reassurance from you that he will do great, will let you know that even though he is growing up he still needs you. And that will let you know that it’s all going to be okay.