At church on Sunday, the lesson talked about how we can grow strong roots. The teacher had a picture of a tree with small roots and one with large roots.

Now, with a horticulture background, I started to think about what would cause a weak root system. The first thing I thought of is girdling roots. These occur when a tree starts out in a container. The roots are often forced to grow in a circle, without room to expand. If the tree is planted with these circling roots, instead of growing out, they continue to follow the original circular pattern. As the tree grows larger, the roots can actually girdle the tree and cause the tree to be unhealthy and even die.

I once saw a row of trees. All of them were planted in the same area with the same care, but several of them died over time in spite of being a good fit for the area. I suspected it might be a case of girdling roots. How do you prevent the problem? When you plant the tree, wash the roots off and prune back any growth in a circular pattern that could later girdle the tree. Although harder, you can also take care of the problem after planting by inspecting the roots next to the trunk of the tree.

There’s the horticulture lesson, here’s the life lesson.

I have girdling roots in my life. I have ways of thinking that worked when I was younger, but as I grow they become limiting and can suffocate me. If I want a strong root system, I need to inspect my roots and get rid of the ones that can girdle me. For me, these are things like relying on my own strength to do everything that needs to get done, instead of relying on God. It’s checking things off a to-do list instead of paying attention to what is really important in my life. It’s pride, and my favorite guilty pleasures, and all the times that I know better. Girdling roots aren’t foreign enemies: they are things on the inside that can still tear us down.

If I want a strong foundation, a strong root system, identifying how I can improve my thought patterns to rely more completely on God allows me to prune my root system and start growing roots that are healthy and larger.

If you want a bonus analogy, trees also grow poorly when planted in a lawn. The lawn competes with the tree, and the tree is stunted. Getting rid of the lawn around the roots of the tree allows the tree to grow taller. Distractions also crowd out spiritual growth.


We started to upgrade the house. We just finished a big addition to the house, but now we have to take the old part and upgrade it. The floor has holes, the cabinets also have holes, and everything looks about the same as it did thirty years ago. We started with the laundry room. I wish I had before pictures, but I don’t. Here’s after. And I’m a real-life person who does things to live in not look pretty in pictures. The laundry room is a bit cluttery with stuff from the pantry we tore down, and because of life. The kitchen was also not even remotely staged, but here are the before pictures for later.

And here’s a couple of the kids. Who are doing great, but also complain a lot. I would love to go a day without hearing annoying, complaining sounds. We went to the local Hutchings museum over the long weekend. Kids enjoyed it, and I suddenly realized that it was the basis of a recurring location in my literal dreams. I had been there as a kid, but mostly just remembered it in dreams. Zack’s been loving the local toddler sports, and also got sick and that was awful. He isn’t a happy sick kid. No one is, but some kids decided to just sleep a lot, and other kids cry at me all day.

Winter Wonderland

We all enjoyed a winter break with lots of snow and fun things to do. I tried to keep the kids busy because I like them better when they aren’t bored and fighting each other. We visited family, went sledding, hiked to a waterfall, swam and visited a museum. But some of the best moments were simply being home together and playing games.

Top 10 of the Year

It was a crazy year:

I graduated from school with a Master’s in Landscape Architecture and MA in Instruction Design. I decided to start my own business.

Joe changed jobs and now works at a hospital in Salt Lake County.

We moved from our home of nine years to the home I grew up in.

Peter played basketball and is doing quite well even after moving to a more competitive area. He also likes piano, flag football, and percussion. Curtis did a lot of clubs, and rec soccer, basketball, and flag football. Henry did swimming, wrestling, piano, and scouts. Zack learned how to use the potty, went from daycare to preschool, and loves sports, monster trucks, and Spiderman.

Evie was born which is probably the biggest change of all.

We remodeled our home (still ongoing). We went to Lava Hot Springs, central Utah, St. George, and Logan. Not a lot of traveling with everything else going on, just enough to keep life interesting.

And here are my top 10 pictures from the year!


We had a great Christmas. The kids enjoyed all their presents, we sang songs and watched, read, and acted out many of the versions of the nativity, and spent some awesome time together as a family. I like going to church at Christmas. And the next day we took a short trip to sled, visit family, and have some fun.

It was our first Christmas in our new home. I missed some of the traditions we had in our old place: we walked up to the nativity on Christmas Eve every year. This year we performed one in our home with cousins. So new traditions replaced old ones. And it was nice to have the space to buy presents like a ping pong table and indoor sports equipment.

I also don’t take enough pictures in my life anymore. Just a few, and I go steal some my husband and son take as well.

Christmas Break

So my kids tend to be a lot more pleasant if we take them places. We are a week into a two-week Christmas Break, and I’ve tried to keep them busy. We’ve been to the butterfly biosphere, a couple museums, the library, sledding, visited our cousins’ house and had cousins over. It’s been fun, and we are excited for a great Christmas. We’ve also made gingerbread houses, watched Christmas movies, played games, and the kids are really into tiny soccer. It’s regular soccer, but with a quarter-size ball and tiny little nets that Peter made with Joe

Winter Birthday

Henry had a birthday! He’s such a fun kid. Creative, full of energy. He loves people and makes friends easily. I love what he wrote on a school assignment about himself: “Not many people get me. I don’t really get myself.”

Winter is in full swing with days of snowfall. We went sledding because that’s what we like to do best when it snows.

Quiet Contemplation

Sometimes it’s good to get a time that isn’t busy, to do what you want to do. One day when all the kids but the baby were in school, I went on a walk down by the lake. The time alone was beautiful. Sometimes I fill up my life with more tasks and busyness. This was simply time to enjoy, time to reflect. A time to inhale, because if I always exhale, there’s not enough inside of me to keep going, or at least not keep going well.


One of the goals, when we started to remodel our home, was to have enough space to have everyone in my giant family over. We were working hard to get it done by Thanksgiving, and we had the big room done and ready to seat 40 people.

Before we moved here, I was adamant that I did not want to live in my childhood home again. It ended up being the best thing we could come up with so I moved back into the house I grew up in. But now, it isn’t so much my childhood home anymore. We’ve got more work to do, but it’s quite a dramatic change so far.

We mostly hung out over Thanksgiving break and worked on the house, but we also did go to a new park for fun one day.