Monday, January 14, 2019


Sterling: Alexa, definition of P-H-A-T.

Alexa: As a noun, 'phat' is usually defined as: fat. As an adjective, 'phat' is usually defined as: great; wonderful; terrific.

Sterling: I have the phattest mom in the whole world!

(See what I put up with around here?) ;)

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas 2018

The Stowells are alive and well. It's been a good year and we have so much to look forward to! Our two missionaries will both come home in 2019 and, if all goes well, Sterling will graduate from high school a year early in May. It's possible that I could have 4 kids at BYU in January 2020!

With our missionaries out, I couldn't get a family picture this year. I could have pieced together a Christmas card with everyone here and there, but I wanted us all together so I hatched a plan that worked out beautifully!

Isn't that awesome? I commissioned Sadie's 13-year old friend, Jack, to draw our family picture and I am so happy with how it turned out. The word "Christmas" is something I doodled on the back of my church program a couple weeks ago and my friend, Jen, digitized it for me. (Jen and I have started a little Etsy shop with these digitized files -- I'll blog more about that later!)

I was a little worried about getting the cards out before Christmas. I received the finished drawing on Sunday, December 16th and had the card designed and ready for the printer on the morning of the 17th. The week before Christmas felt like a bad time for a rush order at the printers, but I walked into my favorite print shop at 9:20 Monday morning and, literally, walked out at 9:30 with a stack of 90 cards -- printed, cut and shrink wrapped! It was a happy little miracle and my cards were in the mail Monday afternoon.

Life is good! We have been so blessed and can see God's hand in our lives in a daily basis. We are grateful for the Savior and the opportunity to celebrate His birth.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Ballroom Dance at its Best

Sam is at BYU. He's majoring in biology and minoring in - of all things - ballroom dance. 

I had to register him for his first semester of classes at BYU while he was still on his mission. I selected several typical freshman classes and a couple that were required across a selection of majors he'd shown interest in. But then he still needed one more credit. Jeff and I both enjoyed ballroom and folk dance classes in college so I signed him up for entry-level Social Dance. 

When Sam saw his schedule he actually complained a little bit about that. I explained why I chose it then told him he was free to change it if he wanted. I think there may have been some eye-rolling on his part, but in the end he kept it. 

Long story short, he LOVED it. He couldn't get enough of it. And he's really good at it! He proceeded (and continues) to take multiple ballroom-related dance classes each semester. This semester he has 5. (Or is it 6?) 

I stumbled upon this video today while cleaning up a few files. It's the finale from the BYU Ballroom Dance concert this past spring. It's SO good!! Sam's group comes in at 2:42 then again, with everyone, at 4:13 to the end. I can see why he loves it. 

And I'm taking all the credit. :)

Thursday, September 6, 2018

ReMix Revisited

Sterling attended the ReMix Vocal Academy during the summer of 2017 at BYU. It was such an amazing experience that he and Soren were excited to attend together this year.

It didn't disappoint.

Sterling was the first one we saw in the show opener.

A whole week of a cappella instruction and rehearsal, team bonding and workshops makes for a really good time. The teams were super tight and both of my boys loved every minute. They are already saving up for next year. 

Here are the numbers my boys were in:
Show Opener (all teams): Kaleidoscope

Blue Team (Sterling): Home For Me

Green Team (Soren): Pieces

Closing Mashup (all teams)

If you are interested in hearing the other team songs, here's a link to the entire ReMix session B playlist.

Sterling had the opening solo in his team song.

Soren had a solo in his team song, too. 

Sterling's team. Sterling is third in the back row.

Soren's team. Soren is first on the bottom row.

Sterling in the awesome Beatboxing showcase. (Sadly, they didn't post the video on YouTube this year.)

The boys' cousin, Trevor, was at ReMix this year, too. He had a great experience and his team song, Maps, was really cool.

Trevor is second in the back row. 

My boys are sad it's over, but they still listen to the music regularly and are in touch with their team members. It's not something they'll soon forget and was the highlight of their summer! (...especially when you compare it to getting their wisdom teeth out the following week before leaving Utah. They had to drive the 1500-miles home on a liquid/soft food diet and a regular rotation of Tylenol and ibuprofen. lol. But that's another story....)

Friday, August 31, 2018

School Days

School has been in session for 2 1/2 weeks now and we're all looking forward to the long Labor Day weekend. We LOVE our days off!!

Sterling is a junior, Soren a sophomore and Sadie is in 8th grade - big man on campus at the middle school. These kids are ready for the year and off to a good start. Admittedly, we all cheer when the kids come home with no homework. That's the best! (You can read my thoughts about homework here. It's an old post, but nothing has changed in that department.)

Here's a picture from the first day of school. All three of these kids are significantly taller than they were this time last year. It's fun to watch them grow and become such great people. Most of the time they are pretty good friends with each other, too.

I'm looking forward to a great year.

(Can you tell my blog isn't on my radar? At all? I'm working on that.)

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Surprise Sighting

Look who Spencer saw on his first day in his new area -- grandma and grandpa Stowell!! What a fun surprise. This made my day and I'm guessing I'm not the only one. Spencer was just transferred to Iona, Idaho. He's in his third area and his 10th month. He looks so healthy and happy. Just what my mother heart needed to see. ♡

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Laddie Wha Lived

We all like Harry Potter so I was excited when my friend told me about a Scots language edition of the first book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stane."

It's a riot to read out loud, and somehow that seems to be the only way we can read it around here. It makes me miss my bonnie Scotland more than usual. The best part is when my kids attempt the accent. Sometimes they sound Indian or Irish. Sometimes they get it just right. Sadie is hooked and is getting pretty good at it.

We were hooked from the start. Page one had us all laughing, especially the paragraph describing the Dursleys:

The whole book is like that! It's pretty great and a fun investment.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Sterling's Spring Recital: Praeludium from Partita No. 3 in E Major

Sterling started working on this piece in January. Right up to the end, he was worried he wouldn't be ready. There are a lot of 16th notes, like the whole piece. It's fast and it has plenty of tricky parts, but if you ask me, he nailed it.

So enjoy Praeludium from Partita No. 3 in E Major by Bach/Kreisler. It's a good one!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Just a Mom

I know, I know. It's been forever. Like WAY too long since I last posted. I could go through a laundry list of excuses, but really I miss this. I've never gone this long without posting and it makes me sad to think of all the things that have passed without a nod to how great they were. My loss. 

I've been thinking about Mother's Day and how it can be a hard day for so many. I don't want to be that person. I love being a mom. It's what I've always wanted and now I'm living the dream. Sometimes that thought makes me laugh, especially when motherhood isn't as dreamy as I sometimes wished it to be. But I do love it and don't wish I was doing anything else. 

I read a great article today about how, sadly, Mother's Day can be a minefield of emotions. Guilt, regret and longing often get in the way of gratitude. Mothers come in all shapes and sizes and life circumstances. To "mother" looks different in different situations and that's okay. Mothers should be celebrated regardless. So ladies, let's embrace that instinct and opportunity to mother, whether we are mothering our kids or someone else's. 

I love me a newborn. It's one of my favorite stages. Recently a friend was struggling with her baby who wouldn't settle down no matter what she tried. We were in a meeting together so I told my friend I'd be happy to walk the halls with her baby. She gratefully accepted. After about 10 minutes, baby was sound asleep and I got to enjoy a snuggly warm baby for the rest of the meeting. Afterward, someone who had been watching me in the hallway called me a "baby whisperer." It was the best compliment. 

As much as I love newborns, I have to admit that though teenagers can be hard, I have some pretty great teenagers and I love the stage where each of my kids are now. We have our struggles - everyone does - but I am so grateful I get to be the mom. Their mom. It's my favorite job ever. 

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Here's Your Change

After missing for the past few months, I finally attended our community writing group again last night. I don't know why I've stayed away. It's a really fantastic group of people who are very encouraging and funny and kind.

Last night, the assigned topic was change. I had a busy evening so I knew I'd be quite late to the meeting and I thought about missing again, but as I pondered the topic, my paper pretty much wrote itself so I went and shared it with the group. Here it is.

Here’s Your Change

I was selling tickets last week on opening night of my daughter’s school play. Ticket prices were four and seven dollars which meant I repeated the line “Here’s your change” dozens of times as I handed back various assortments of bills.
As I thought about the topic of change, that phrase “Here’s your change,” kept running through my mind. If only it were that easy, I thought.  But as I reflected more and more, I realized that maybe it is. Maybe change isn’t as elusive as it sometimes feels.
Recently I was listening to a podcast when the speaker said something that was so inspiring that she may as well have reached through the internet to say, “Here’s your change.”
She pointed out, in short, that circumstances are neutral. It’s our thoughts and the meaning we give them that determine our feelings which determine our actions. So if we can change the way we think about something, we can change the way we feel and ultimately act.
This goes along with my belief that we have been put here on earth as agents to act, not objects to be acted upon.
Let me share a simple example.
Let’s say my preschooler spills her milk during dinner. I immediately get mad, thinking (and saying) that she is so irresponsible and if she would pay more attention to what she’s doing, I wouldn’t have so much work to do. I get up in a huff to clean it up, fuming the whole time.
Is she irresponsible? No. That’s only what I think about her, but it doesn’t make it true. The only fact here is that there is milk spilled on the table. What is she then? Well, she’s a preschooler. Sometimes preschoolers spill their milk and that’s okay. If I can slow down enough to change my thinking, I may even find some compassion and reassurance for my daughter to let her know that she’s normal and that spilled milk is no big deal. Do you see the difference?
So if, for example, you don’t think your husband is doing a very good job making you happy, stop and change your thinking. That’s not his job. It’s yours. No one can make you happy because you are not an object to be acted upon. It’s what you think about the things your husband does and what meaning you give to those thoughts that determine your feelings of happiness…or not. It’s also important to realize that it’s not your job to make your husband happy. It’s his. Because we’re agents to act, we have the option to choose happiness. No one can force it upon us. Release other people to feel how they feel. You can’t control their feelings. And know that you are free to feel how you feel and that you can change your thinking and the meaning you give those thoughts to arrive at the feelings and, ultimately, the actions that best serve you.
This is potentially life-changing stuff. I know it has changed my perspective. I have realized that when I react negatively based on other people’s actions, I am giving them control over me. I have learned that I can change my thinking and it will, in turn, change everything.
One other thought.
As I pictured my podcast friend reaching through the internet with my “change,” my mind’s eye focused in on another picture. It was one of the outstretched arms of the Savior. I could see the marks of the nails in his hands as he said, “Here’s your change.”  I had to catch my breath because that is exactly what the Savior offers to each one of us. “Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you,” (Alma 5:33).
Repentance means change. It’s not always easy, but change is what will allow us to return to our Heavenly Father and feel comfortable in His presence. We will never achieve perfection on our own, but through the Savior’s Atoning sacrifice, we can become perfect through Him. He can change our very hearts. This is available to each one of us, but He always honors our agency and will never force us to choose Him. But if and when we do, we will see Him waiting there with outstretched arms.
“Here’s your change.”