from us to you

Saturday, December 24, 2011

To all family and friends, we want to wish you a very merry Christmas.

And to our missionary friends around the world....


Monday, December 19, 2011

The kids love these things and they are so very good for you, 
but they are about as messy as it can get.
Until now!
 I just learned the greatest thing - maybe you already know! 
But in case you don't, and in case you love pomegranates as much as we do, 
I thought I'd share. 

this week.....

Sunday, December 18, 2011

we got a package from my parents in the mail. It contained Christmas cards for the kids and this years ornament. Since moving away my mom has made a really big effort to send the kids cards - for Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, ect. This means so very much to them. They save every card! Thank you, also, Mom and Dad for the birthday cards. I got two - one from my mom and another one especially from my dad! I am missing my parents this time of year, and wishing we could have our annual girl's trip to the mall.

Auntie Shannon let Santa know that we needed an elf at our house, and so a couple of weeks ago we had a new little guest come to stay with us for the holiday season. Nya was not too sure about him, and refused to go into the living room where he sat. After a couple of days, and seeing pictures of her cousin, Aubrey, with her little elf, Nya warmed to the idea. I asked her what we should name him and she insisted upon Sheep. So here he sits, taking advantage of the many holes we still have in our drywall since getting pot lights installed last summer! The kids are actually super excited about him. Every morning I will awake to Tate asking me if he can show me where the elf is now! 

My Christmas mantel this year is super simple. I didn't go and gather greenery to make fresh boughs. Normally I clip behind my parents house, but since they moved I didn't have in in my heart to go. Maybe next year. But thanks to Debra who was in a purging mood, the mantel got a facelift at least. Thank you, Debra. I LOVE the believe sign, and the black star got a coat of red paint and now my pretty bland mantel is all ready for Christmas. And..........

after 8 months I FINALLY painted my board and applied the vinyl (cut by Debra) for our family affirmations. It makes me smile every time I walk past! It has been WAY too long since I have done anything creative. I need to get back at it.

My boys have such fun with their hair. Every morning they think up some new animal they resemble. One morning this week it was a great horned owl. About 30 minutes later Bergen was relieved of his horns, via the hair clippers!

Noelle is continuing to cook up a storm! She loves it, and so do the other children. She declared one day that she wanted to open her own bakery and name it 'The Baker Bee'. She would greet her customers with, "Welcome to the hive. How may we help you?" I, for one, think this is a fantastic idea. I will be your first customer, Noelle!
You would think that Nya would never be in need of a playmate, but the other day I found her playing Connect Four with a Webkinz. She would lift his paw and have him play his piece when it was his turn. Too cute!

a full house and an empty womb

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Preface: I shouldn't have to do this, after all it is my blog. But I will. 

It is hard to push that "publish post" button sometimes. I may tell you more information than you ever cared to know. I am sure that I will lose readers along the way. And I will have to be okay with that. In my desire to be real through this blog, I learn to be real with myself.

I want my blog to be a place where I can be absolutely honest. There are pieces of my life, of the lives of my family, that are and will remain private. There are others that, for whatever reason, I feel inclined to share. With a variety of pieces, I leave you to do what you will with them. With no directions or blueprints. I send these thoughts out into the world and then I have to let go. I do not know what happens to them or how they are interpreted when they are received. I should not care. Some, then, may feel I should not share. Yet, something compels me to. It would be asking the impossible for anyone to get any accurate picture of what someone is like through the view of this window. 

I try to remain as positive as possible, while still maintaining an accurate sense of my feelings towards the events that make up my life, the good and the hard. All these experiences help shape the person I am becoming. I have nothing to hide. I have decided that the mask of perfection is too heavy for me to carry anymore. If I ever portray my life as perfect, I am sorry for that. On the other hand, if I ever come across as negative or seem to complain, I am equally sorry. That would not be fair for my family or for anyone who chooses to read. 

Something happens to me when I write. I feel I am am able to express those things that need clarification within my own mind, and the longer I blog the more open I feel my heart becoming. I write for me. As I read and re-read, these kinds of posts in particular, I am filled with hope. I realize that I am strong, even though I feel so weak. I have come through trials that, in the moment, I would have preferred not to have had to experience, and I have grown! Next, for my family, a record for them to have of all our daily happenings. A legacy I wish to leave my children. Lastly, I write in the hopes that I may touch even just one person. If my experiences can offer hope in anyway, if only to let them know that they are not alone, in thoughts, in feelings, in trials, then I will have accomplished what I hoped to do with this blog. My life is not perfect, but it is unbelievably beautiful. I share pieces of me through this blog, not to seem better or worse than I really am. I do not ask for fame, or pity. I write because that is what my heart tells me to do. 

I am pretty sure that I miscarried this past month. I never took a test, but I know the signs of pregnancy. I also know, all too well, the signs of a miscarriage. We were not trying. In fact we are not planning to ever try again. But if the day ever comes when the Lord steps in and sends another wee one our way, we would open our doors, our hands, and our hearts to it. None of this makes the loss any less painful. For a moment I had a new life growing inside me, with all the emotions and hormones that accompany that. Upon reflection, I do feel that for whatever purpose this happened it was probably for the best. If Heavenly Father wants me to have another baby, He will from the time of conception until delivery, protect and bless that new little life. Sometimes, for reasons we cannot yet understand, these things, hard as they seem, are simply part of life. Never, ever, is it a punishment from God.

I really do feel like our family is complete. I really do not want to ever be pregnant again.

And yet I am a woman, which seems to be innately connected to the desire to have a baby.

So to my friends who ask and wonder if they will ever know that they are done, I cannot answer that question for you. All I can say is that it is different for each woman. I do feel completely, wonderfully, absolutely finished, in the most joyous way possible. I do not feel denied.

And yet my heart aches for just one more. But I think it always will. No matter how many I have.

I suffer from empty womb syndrome. Every time I hear that someone is pregnant I go through 2 days of trying to convince myself that I could do it again. I could have another baby!

It passes, always.

But not this time.

Will I ever have another baby? I truly believe that I will not. Just because I know these things though, and feel this sense of completion, does not remove that part of me, created by Him, to nurture life. Maybe this part of me, that is so inseparably connected to my heart, accentuates that most vulnerable soft mother core. So maybe, just maybe, as I pray for these feelings to leave, I should instead be praying for these emotions to stay, and keep this mother-heart soft and exposed. A shift in focus, a transfer of emotions. This life I am already living, this house I have already filled, it may just be that these things need that heart, that would, if asked, make great sacrifices for the love of those she already has.

cedar boughs

Saturday, December 10, 2011

We had the opportunity to go down to Sidney yesterday and visit with our friends the Schafers.
The kids played, while the moms made wreaths. I had no plans of making a wreath this year, not because I didn't want to, simply because my list is long.
I am so grateful that a hedge needed trimming, and a friend made a phone call. Thank you Kirsten. I love you.
I thought I might add other things to my wreath when I it got home, but I hung it on the door straight away to keep it safe, and decided that I like it just the way it is.

Toast - it's a male McCullough thing

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My husband's idea of a bedtime snack. There are 8 - count them - EIGHT pieces of toast!
I gain weight just looking at that plate.
And I can guarantee that he will not stop there. This is just the first course.

tea for two

Today as I was cleaning the bathrooms, Bergen was helping me bathe Nya.
He sat on the edge of the tub and took every single one of her commands, with a smile even!
The following conversation ensued:
Me: "Girls sure can be bossy, can't they?"
Berg: "YES!"
Me: "Sometimes the smaller they are, the bossier they can be."
Berg: "Ya, and they scream if they don't get their way, and who wants to listen to that?!"
Me: "You do what works!"

First Presidency Christmas Devotional

Monday, December 5, 2011

This is one of my most favorite nights of the Christmas season. Every year I pray that I will feel the spirit of Christmas, and every year I struggle to, even though I promise myself that we will take it slower and enjoy this holiday.
Until this night.
This night focuses me on what is truly important. This night reminds me of all the things I already know, but lose in the fog of this busy time of year. I am so very grateful for revelation from God spoken to his children through his servants.

"We like the wise men of old, should seek the Christ and lay before him the most precious of gifts, a broken heart and a contrite spirit. We should offer him our love. We should give him our willingness to take upon ourselves His name and walk in the path of discipleship. We should promise to remember him always, to emulate his example, and to go about doing good. We cannot offer him the gift of perfection in all things, because this is a gift that is beyond our capacity to give, at least for now. The Lord does not expect that we commit to move mountains, but He does require that we bring as gifts our best efforts to move ourselves one foot in front of the other, walking in the ways He has prepared and taught.
And what are the Savior's gifts to those who are willing to bring these gifts to Him? This may be the most one sided gift exchange in the history of the universe. The Savior's gifts to us are breathtaking. Let us begin with immortality. Because the Savior overcame death, all men and women, the just and the unjust, will live forever. Then forgiveness. Even though our sins and imperfections be as scarlet, they can become white as snow because of Him. He is our Savior. And finally eternal life, the greatest gift of all. Because of the atonement of Christ not only are we guaranteed an infinite quantity of life, but He offers the possibility of an unimaginable quality of life as well."
"He promises to be with us, to come to us when we need comfort, to lift us when we stumble, to carry us if needed, mourn and rejoice with us everyday. He offers to take us by the hand and help transform ordinary life into extra-ordinary spiritual experiences. The hallowed Christmas season can and should be one to recommit to keep the fire of the spirit and the glory of the Son of God burning in our hearts everyday throughout the year."
"May we always remember to bring gifts to Him who has given his all for us. May we always remember and be grateful that in the birth of that child the universe rejoiced, and may each Christmas season remind us to lift up our voices and fill up our hearts with joy and gratitude that Christ the king has come."
                                                                                                               President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

On a side note - we baked cookies and drank holiday tea as we watched. I found these chocolate chips while grocery shopping. I was informed last night that they are SUPER yummy!

from mother to daughter

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Every year we buy a new Christmas tree ornament for each of our children. This tradition began with my grandma Spalla, my mom's mom, and my mom has continued this on with me. The first ornament she bought for me was on November 26, 1997. It was purchased in the gift shop aboard one the BC ferries, as we all traveled home just hours after Darren and I had been married. We didn't even have a tree, but I carefully packed it away for the future. Since that first year of marriage my mom has added something special to my collection. 

I now share this tradition with my children. Every year, as we open our boxes of decorations and unwrap each one, I hear the children's excitement as they show one another their ornaments and remember all the years past. Each one is lovingly and thoughtfully placed on our tree. This year several of the kids have designated a 'section' of tree for all their ornaments. Not only is our tree filling up with ornaments, but with so many special memories as well!

(BC Ferries moose - Christmas 1997)

A December Saturday

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Today we...........

carved neglected pumpkins from October (at least we got to it before Christmas, sheesh!),
taught ourselves how to play 'hot cross buns',
 commenced work on an impossible puzzle,
  read our library books (again),

 went shopping here,
where we were assisted by this lovely lady on the first day of her new job (she now works in this little piece of homemaking heaven).
We created with the queens of craft, Mrs. Moore & Mini Moore. 

We are now off to get the kids into bed so we can go out to dinner and do some Christmas shopping.
Happy Saturday, from the McCullough home!

get lost!

Friday, December 2, 2011

This is the second time we have been here this week. This is one of our most favorite places to be. 
 Of all the worries and insecurities I have about homeschooling, there is one thing that fills me up and gives me hope and lets me know that I have nothing to worry about!
 These children LOVE books. They could read and read and read. Being a book lover myself, I secretly thrill at the sight of them in the library. 
Actually, I rarely see them. Once we are through those doors they all disappear into the section of their choice, and I reluctantly have to gather them all up when it is time to go. 
 Back at home they disappear once again to snuggle on couches, in beds, or even on the book tray itself.
I love nothing more than when my children and I can get lost - in a good book that is!

little inventors

Thursday, December 1, 2011

We have been having some fun with these books, learning all about Leonardo daVinci and his incredible inventions. 

Last week we wrote secret messages using water and baking soda. 
The kids got pretty creative and instead of using the paintbrushes I provided they disappeared for a few minutes and came back with q-tips stuck in the ends of feathers (understandably so - it's simply more authentic) 

When the paper dried it looked perfectly blank.

But, once you add the lemon juice, slowly, the words start to appear.

Today we made parachutes fashioned after daVinci's design. We also learned that although he was never able to test it from great heights, in July of 2000 a man named Adrian Nicholas built and tested a model following daVinci's instructions, and using supplies and tools that would have been available in his day. With the safety of a back-up parachute he jumped 3000 meters above ground out of a hot air balloon. He stated that it gave a smoother ride than the modern parachute. 
The best part - they really did work. Not all of our experiments do. But, I suppose, Mr. daVinci knew what he was doing!

25 days to go...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

a masterpiece it's not

When I see pictures of food art on Pinterest I long to be that mother who creates works of art with her children meals. But, I know my limits, and I realize that as much as I desire to make every meal a memorable experience, for now it is a means of survival. 
Little do they know of pandas made with rice, and sharks carved out of watermelons. They have yet to discover such things as the Eiffel Tower constructed from cheese, and frogs sliced from apples and carrots
Yet I can (thanks to my sweet friend Lisa Burbank) make peanut-butterflies for lunch! 
The end result - one very pleased 3 year old. It's the simple things. Good thing I am a simple girl. 

Someday, I might get really crazy and try my butterfly skills using an apple as my medium instead!

14 years

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Darren and I were married 14 years ago today. 

November 26, 1997 he took a little 19 year old girl and gave her everything she had ever dreamed of. 

He has loved me and cared for me throughout the years. 

Even at times when it has been hard too, he loves, always. 

I trust him with my heart, my feelings, my hopes, and my dreams. 

He holds my hand and those of our children.

He makes me feel like I am the best wife and mother in the world, even though I am not.

He encourages me on, and believes in me when I don't believe in myself.

He does not expect me to be perfect - he loves me regardless.

She sees what I can be, and he wants great things for me.

He is so strong, and gentle, and he leads our family along in the footsteps of our Heavenly Father.

There is still no one in the world I would rather share this life with than him.

Happy anniversary Darren.

I love you.

How I get my house clean again after the kids come in looking like this :

Friday, November 25, 2011


I am a believer.

I truly do love these products, so I just thought I would share. 

Here are some of my favorites.

 The window cloth. I use this one to dry windows, mirrors, my stove top, and anything else glass. 
No streaks left behind. 

The dusting mitt. I use this to dust with of course, but this makes the job so easy. 
I especially appreciate it when I clean the blinds.

These are great for using as you would your magic eraser, but without any chemicals!

This! This is one of the products that I love the very most. I clean everything with this. I use it for tubs and showers. I use it on appliances, walls, and floors. I use it to get scuff marks off my cupboards and sticky labels off glass. It takes off grease and scum (I have scum sometimes) amazingly well. (It does have some precautionary directions as it is an abrasive, but so far I haven't found that it scratches anything, or leaves a dull mark, but that would be something I would suggest that you figure out for yourself.

 The toilet brush. Everything you need is right here, all together and ready to use. 
You push down on the handle of the brush and cleanser is released into bristles. 
It works great and smells even better.

The laundry detergent! I do laundry every single day, at least once a day, usually more. 
This little bag, which costs about $30, lasts me at least 6 months, 
even though I have been informed that I am using way to much. 
Apparently you are only suppose to use a teaspoon per load when you have a front loader.

I don't even know what this one is called, but I LOVE this cleaning mitt. 
I use it to do the bathtubs and the tile floors in the bathrooms. 
It has an abrasive side and a softer microfiber side. 
If I could only pick 2 products it would be this mitt and the cleaning paste.

I do care about having chemicals in the home, especially with young kids. We all know that it is just better to try and have as little of that as possible around them, and us. But this is not the reason I use them. I use them because they work. The bonus is that they work without chemicals.

I do not sell Norwex. I am not getting paid to say these things. The items I have shared with you are only a really small selection of the products they have available. If you would like to know more though, I do know someone you could talk to. She resides in Blogland here.