We Climbed a Volcano!

Last week we took a trip to visit Mr. Ferrero Rocher's sister in St. George, UT. One of the things we did was hike up Cinder Cone Trail to the top of this cinder cone volcano.

IMG_1943 volcano

There are actually two parts to the trail or two ways up to the top - straight up 500 in about 3/4 of a mile or round the back in a gradual slope. The seven oldest took off running and climbing (and eventually crawling) straight up. Mr. FR, his sister, and I took the three youngest on the longer gradual trail.

IMG_1946 starting to climb the volcano

Hershey led the way marching ahead. Occasionally she would turn around and yell back, "Come on, guys!"

IMG_1955 Jules walking

IMG_1951 Jules

When we rounded the bend for the final steep ascent we heard a cheer erupt and there were the older kids waving and clapping. It took us twice as long (maybe three times) for us to get to the top as it did them so they were happy to finally see us.

IMG_1965 family at top of volcano

The view from the top.

IMG_1958 top of volcano

The big kids and Mr. FR with Ganache took the fast, steep way down while my sister-in-law and I walked back down the long way with Hershey and Junior Mint.

It was a very fun hike with beautiful sights and the younger kids were excited to let everyone know, "We climbed a volcano!"


Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God

EAH sidebar button 04This month's Establish a House posts will focus on mothers and how they deal with feeling overwhelmed. Hopefully through these guest posts you'll be able to receive ideas on how to handle your own trying motherhood times! I thought it appropriate as we near Mother's Day to focus on the good we ARE doing even when we feel we aren't.

When I was in college, I was always trying to do too much. One semester in particular, I had signed on to take 21 credits, was working 30 hours a week to put myself through my degree, and was rehearsing for an upcoming opera. This was on top of trying to juggle a relationship that wasn’t going very well, a social life, and a church calling. I was, to put it lightly, completely overwhelmed.

One of the 21 credits I was taking that semester was an acting class which struck fear into my heart every time I crossed the threshold into the classroom. As nerve-wracking as that class was for me, one activity in particular completely changed my life and I will never forget it.

We were working on empathy, so the professor had us all sit in a circle on the floor and dump all of our current trials and tribulations into the center. As I listened to the things each of my classmates going through, my own trials of having way too much on my plate and not knowing how I could do it all seemed small in comparison. Easy, even. I was so surprised when more than one of my classmates told me they could never do what I was doing, because I felt that what they were doing was so much more difficult.

The experience certainly illustrated the truth of the saying that if we were to put all of our trials into a pot, we would most likely choose our own again. But it also taught me that being overwhelmed with life is common, even though we are all overwhelmed by different things.

Twenty years later I’m not much different. I’m still working 30 hours a week, trying to help get my little family out of debt. While I’m not taking 21 credit hours in college, I have three children who most certainly require just as much time—if not more!—than such a course load would. I can still be found rehearsing for operas or other singing gigs, and while I’m in a happy marriage now, it takes work, too. I still have a church calling, and I do like to have something of a social life if I possibly can.

I guess this is just the trial I picked for my life.

Until recently, I have felt that there are only two ways to deal with being overwhelmed:
  • Go and do.
  • Shut down.
Guess what? Neither of these options really ends up working all that well in the end. The first just leads to burn out and the second leads to apathy and depression.

So what are we to do? I have a new two ways to deal with being overwhelmed:
  • Set priorities.
  • Have mercy on yourself.

I almost shouted for joy during Sister Linda S. Reeves’ talk in General Conference a couple weeks ago. One particular paragraph stood out to me as both an answer to prayer and a new way to deal with being overwhelmed.

“Some of you have heard me tell how overwhelmed my husband, Mel, and I felt as the parents of four young children. As we faced the challenges of parenting and keeping up with the demands of life, we were desperate for help. We prayed and pleaded to know what to do. The answer that came was clear: ‘It is OK if the house is a mess and the children are still in their pajamas and some responsibilities are left undone. The only things that really need to be accomplished in the home are daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening.’ ”

I am working on the priority shift. On being okay with a house that isn’t up to my standards of clean 24/7. On being okay with some responsibilities being left undone. Because making sure that teaching my children the Gospel and making room for the Spirit in our home is number one. And when I am putting those things first, the rest seem to come more easily anyway. Extending mercy towards myself has become a natural byproduct of switching my priorities around.

The Lord absolutely does not expect us to run faster than we are able. Nor does he expect us to be perfect right now. If you are feeling overwhelmed, look at your to-do list and make sure He is at the very top. And then don’t worry about the rest!

Of course, as I am writing this, my deeply ingrained perfectionist side is screaming at me to write out all of the possible exceptions. You can’t not worry about work! You can’t not worry about all the things on your schedule! You can’t not worry about your commitments!

YES, YOU CAN.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33

Lara is the mother to three beautiful, brilliant and bossy daughters. She's married to The Maestro, Orchestra Conductor extraordinaire. When she isn't working on her mother of the year status, you can find her singing professionally, teaching voice lessons at the University, taking lots and lots of photographs, listening to opera, finding a good deal on groceries, or reading a good book. (that is, if she's not blogging). Life is definitely overstuffed, and she wouldn't have it any other way!



My Treasures

Last week was our Spring break. We traveled together visiting some sights in southern Utah 
(more about that later).
And then, yesterday, we spent the whole day together just relaxing, listening to beautiful music, attending church, and eating a delicious dinner. 
I can't help but feel overwhelming gratitude for this family of mine!
I love being a wife and mother.
I love each of my children's differing personalities, talents and strengths.
They are amazing!
And I feel so grateful I have so many to call me mother.

Boys Easter 2014

Girls Easter 2014

Kids Easter 2014

We had a most blessed Easter!
Now we look forward to the next five months where we will once again have all ten under one roof until mid-September when the TWO oldest will leave for college. {sniff}
Bring on summer (and what's left of spring)!

Happy Easter!

Just a few wonderful links and videos for today to help you celebrate Easter.


The Mormon Tabernacle Choir gave a live performance of Handel's Messiah Friday evening. They were so surprised by the reaction of the public when it was announced they would give this concert (the tickets were gone in 7 1/2 minutes!) that they did their best to make it available to everyone. If you missed it you can see the breathtakingly beautiful performance at the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's website.

If you visit Youtube today (with your adblocker off) you will find this!



Part of the #BecauseofHim Easter initiative to share with as many people as possible the wondrous event of Christ's resurrection!

Another beautiful oratorio that is a MUST at our house this time of year is Rob Gardner's Lamb of God. If you have Spotify you can listen to all of it!


Have a most blessed day today celebrating that miraculous morning over 2,000 years ago! Jesus has risen!


The Amateur Naturalist

I know Christmas was over 3.5 months ago but I just have to rave about one of the gifts Fudge received. She is my nature lover. She is the first to notice any hint of growth from plants in the spring. She talks to flowers, watches for bugs, and just enjoys being outside whenever she can.

Browsing through etsy one day trying to get some inspiration for Christmas gifts I came upon the store The Amateur Naturalist. And I found the perfect gift for Fudge.

photo from The Amateur Naturalist
A terrarium kit complete with real but dead bugs from around the world!

Fudge is very patient and isn't the kind to use up a gift fast. She will do a little here and a little there to spread out the joy more. She is the one who received the rock tumbler a couple of Christmases ago. She has slowly been putting together the five terrariums that have come with the kit.

amateur naturalist kit 01

When I first received it her older sisters and I just HAD to look through each of the boxes of moss and dried flowers and bugs. There were so many wonderful surprises! And a lot more than what is pictured here.

amateur naturalist kit 02 horned beetle

Each insect comes packed in its own box accompanied by a small brochure explaining what it is, where it lives, etc.

amateur naturalist kit 03 sangria butterfly

They have been great starting points for our science lessons!

amateur naturalist kit 05

Fudge has enjoyed filling the acrylic jars with moss and flowers and placing her insects just-so.

amateur naturalist kit 06

This butterfly was a bit too large for the acrylic jar but fit perfectly in the slightly larger glass jar that came with our kit.

amateur naturalist kit 08

Fudge has a special shelf in her room where she has been placing her finished terrariums. If you have a nature loving child this is definitely something you could get for them, or build your own kit.

I just have to show you my favorite insect that came with the kit, a blue weevil! Isn't that color amazing?


Okay, so the photo doesn't do it justice. It was a very cloudy day and I did retake the picture but now my camera doesn't want to talk to the computer so we are stuck with this one.

I wasn't paid or asked to share about The Amateur Naturalist. We have just been so pleased with our kit! When I find something I really like I want to pass that information along for others to benefit from it.