Thursday, January 31, 2013


A few pics today of Tess' recent artwork because they signal that things are looking up for her.  It wasn't until she started drawing these that I realized she really hasn't been drawing much for the past couple weeks or so.  I think there may be a tie-in to anxiety levels and that she draws when she's more comfortable and relaxed.

I had my appt scheduled with her to-be play therapist today.  Except that they didn't tell me that the office she's in is not the Woodbridge office, but the Gainesville office.  They didn't tell me that the Woodbridge office just opened and they only see uninsured patients there.  What the?@!!

Sigh.  So that means a 30-minute trip and no school on Thursdays if we want to see this therapist.  Frustrating, but I'm thinking maybe we still need to do it.  Drives me crazy how difficult it is to find good mental health care.  If I meet the therapist next week and then Tess sees her the following week, it will be 5 weeks since I first called on this.  Over a month just to meet with a counselor. 

She's been doing a little better, so I'm not in crisis mode about it.  But I"m thinking if its this hard to get help, we better have it in place when she starts school in case we really do need it then.

So which drawing is your favorite?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Tess is still itching to make a snowman on this windy, 70-degree day.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

The Weekend

 Two photos from the weekend.  Saturday we took the kids to the National Building Museum, which had a couple exhibits for kids.  Should've been more fun, but these two have been mighty clingy lately, which made it hard for them (and us) to enjoy.

Here's a picture of Tess trying to enjoy the kid-sized playhouse while desperately and frantically checking out the window every 5 seconds to make sure her mom hasn't moved an inch from the spot immediately outside the window that she promised three times over she wouldn't budge from.

We did at least get Mexican food afterwards, which everyone enjoyed.  OK, not Drew.  But you can't please everyone.  :)

Tess' family home evening lesson on Sunday was about "homes" and why they are so important.  To introduce the topic, she had 3 cups turned upside down and we had to guess which one had a clue inside as to the lesson.  Then we had to draw people and make homes for them.  You know, because homes are important.

Watching Cookies Bake

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Face Trick

For your entertainment, what Drew thinks is the funniest trick he can pull: squishing his face from side to side while repeating the "potty" word "pee pee! Pee pee!"

It's a real crowd pleaser.

YouTube Video

Sent from my iPod

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Snowy Moonlit Night

Thursday, January 24, 2013


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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

He's Got Moves

The kids have started looking forward to a nightly dance party before bedtime.  Drew gets particularly excited and starts yelling, "A-dancing!  A-dancing!  Songs, songs, songs!"  He's quite animated and has some pretty good moves.  My favorite is when he moves his elbows up and down like he's marching in a parade.  A close second is his rolling-the-arms move.  Drew's favorite song is "I Like to Move It, Move It!"

This video is pure anticipation of the dance-a-thon--before any music starts playing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Get Yours For Only $19.95

Tess' idea for turning a bath into a shower. Do you think it's marketable?

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, January 21, 2013

Color Nazi

Drew has learned most of the basic colors now, and he frequently uses colors to describe objects.  He likes to play a game with his cars, where he matches the color of the car to its parking space.  I heard yelling while he was playing, and I realized he was berating his cars for parking in the wrong colored spot.  He'd put the blue car in the green spot and yell, "No, no, nooooo!  No geen!  No geen!" and then  move it to the blue spot.  
"No, no nooooo!  No red!"  
"No, no, noooo! No sun, no sun!"  
Yep, he still calls yellow "sun."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I Stand Here Ironing

Tess's foray into the domestic arts today:  She wanted to make a "zipline" to hang up her doll's laundry "like they did a long time ago."  Once the laundry was out to dry, she decided to do some "knitting" with yarn and two pencils.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Fountain Ever Springing

Up close and personal with Drew.  We are trying Allegra to see if it will help with his ever-springing fountain of a nose.  Behind him is the colossal marble run Ry made with the kids today.  Impressive.

Strawberry Smash

Drew helping Tess with a recipe of her own creation for dinner last night:  Strawberry Smash with Spinach and Cheese.  This photo shows her "smashing" the strawberries.  The key to the technique is all in the wrist.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pizza! Pizza!

Tess spent all morning creating her own pizza shop.  She started by making a pizza board (the kind used to take pizzas out hot ovens) and she went on from there.  The menu is posted on the window.  I had the diet Dr. Pepper and the pink pepperoni pizza.  Delish!

She's happy enough during the day, but she's been experiencing anxiety again at bedtime.  It's hard to deal with and it's difficult to watch her go through it.  We're going to see if we can get the bug some help.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Laundry Helper

 Tumble Dry.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Grandma Ruthie: Obituary and Eulogy

Obituary written by Trea Murdock West

Ruth Murdock  JANUARY 09, 2013 12:50 AM  •  

Ruth Berniece Holdaway Murdock
1927 ~ 2013
Ruth Berniece Holdaway Murdock, 86, was born to Leland Eugene and Violet May Moulton Holdaway in Heber, Utah on 1/15/1927. Ruth died peacefully of diabetic complications at a care center in Highland, Utah with family around her on 1/6/2013.
Ruth married the love of her life, LaDell Reece Murdock on 6/21/1948. She graduated BYU in social work and psychology in June 1949. Reece accepted her diploma to the laughter of the audience because Ruth felt too pregnant with their first child.
She possessed many talents, a mischievous wit, and wicked sense of humor. A voracious reader until her eyesight failed, the last book her son Phil and daughter Trea read aloud to Ruth was Donald Hall's Eagle Pond. Ruth valued, pursued and promoted education, literacy, and the arts. She loved antiques, red geraniums in clay pots, teddy bears, kittens, thrift stores, mashed potatoes and gravy, old movies, all musicals, yard work, deer hunting, and puttering at the family cabin now beneath the waters of Strawberry Reservoir.
Ruth loved raising her family in the old American Fork 2nd Ward. There she participated in ward choirs, taught many Primary and Sunday School classes, and served happily as co-Scoutmaster with Reece. A daughter-in-law remembers meeting Ruth for the first time after picking beans at the church farm. Ruth climbed on the back of son Steve's motorcycle, utilizing the bean bucked as a helmet for the ride home. She learned to read Danish in order to research ancestral records.
Ruth worked 17 years as an x-ray technician at the old American Fork Hospital. She was also a social worker for the then American Fork Training School. After Reece died of a brain tumor in May 76, Ruth was no longer able to endure a hospital environment. So Ruth became the children's storyteller and then the research librarian who ordered all the books for the American Fork Public Library for another 17 years. Ruth completed a master's degree in library science at BYU in 1986 while working full time.
Ruth is survived by her sisters: Dorothy H. Eggleston (Heber, UT) and Leah H. Monson (Redondo Beach, CA); Ruth's five children: Petrea M. (Doug) West of American Fork, Phillip (Beverly) Murdock of Rexburg, ID, Stephen (Colleen) Murdock of Castle Dale, UT, Ross (Pam) Murdock of Enoch, UT, and Russell Murdock, her chief care-giver, of American Fork. Ruth leaves a legacy with ten remarkable grandchildren and fifteen great-grandchildren (one more's on the way).
Ruth is reunited with her Reecie and his father Isaac Stacy Murdock, whom she regarded as her father too. She is with her grandmother, Annie K. Jensen Moulton who grew fabulous flower gardens. She adored her older brother Floyd Holdaway, and mourned for and missed her late brothers-in-law Howard Eggleston, and Vern Monson, as well as Reece's brother Ralph and sister Colleen M. Casper; also brothers-in-law Ellis Casper, Floyd Webb, and Pat Patterson. She is getting to know three grandsons now: Loren Jackson Murdock, Stacy Murdock West, and Joseph Whitley Murdock, in addition to twin great-granddaughters Seija and Daisy Yardley.
The family wishes to thank Ruth's care-givers at Sunrise and I-Care Home Health Care, particularly loving hospice nurse Lori Liston, RN, and CNA Balenda Gutierrez. Cody, Balenda's fluffy white Maltese/Pomeranian, jumped into Ruth's lap joyously almost every day. She would also want the efforts of Kaitlyn Harris, CNA, and neighbors Bill Wood and Ross Bratt who saw to outside chores (without being asked) acknowledged. Long-time home teachers Bill Brailsford and Ted Strong visited Ruth faithfully even in the care center. CNA Katie Johnson took a special interest in Ruth during her holiday stay at the Ashford Memory Care Alzheimer's/Dementia care center. The Murdock family appreciates the many kindnesses of staff and administrators during Ruth's weeks there.
Funeral services will be held at 12:00 noon on Friday, January 11, 2013 at the Warenski Funeral Home Chapel, 1776 North 900 East in American Fork. Friends may call from 10:00 to 11:30 am on Friday prior to funeral services.
Condolences, memories, or messages may be sent to the family at

Eulogy written by Phil Murdock

Eulogy for Ruth Murdock, 11 January 2012

This past month has provided unasked-for opportunity to spend time with mom in intimate ways.  Her care in the nursing home required presence 24 hours a day, and each of her children has spent nights in the chair beside her bed. In the small hours of the morning, last Friday, I listened to mom’s increasingly shallow breath and remembered some lines written by the 17 century poet John Donne.  I looked up the poem on my phone:

As virtuous men pass mildly away,
    And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say
    The breath goes now, and some say, No:
So let us melt1

As I read, I was comforted by a parallel spanning 400 years.  Since mom was instrumental in my love of reading, I hope you will indulge some poetry in her eulogy.

John Donne wrote the poem to his wife Anne, who greatly feared his death.  Anne’s fear turned out to be unfounded, with Donne outliving her. Not so with mom.  As you are probably aware, mom’s center of existence disappeared with the death of her husband Reece in 1976, when he was 49.

He was more than a supportive husband.  Ruth comes from, and has unintentionally passed on, a line of familial mental illness.   Depression, bipolar disorder, debilitating anxieties.  All of us children know the story of Ruth’s grandmother, Anna Katrina, an LDS convert who emigrated from Denmark and lived a hand-to-mouth existence with her sister as second and third wives in a polygamous marriage.  As I speak, Anna Katrina’s photograph sits on mom’s piano.  Anna Katrina supported herself by selling novelties and raspberries door to door.  I maintain a patch of raspberries in honor of her. In 1891 Anna was in a difficult place mentally.  Her husband, sister and children had fled to Mexico in response to anti-polygamy pressure.  Anna could not follow.  In the post-partum depression of her last baby, she had been committed to the Territorial Insane Asylum in Provo.  Anna was in the asylum when that baby, Heber Parley, died and was buried in an unmarked grave in Mexico.  Mom still has one of Heber Parley’s little leather shoes.

None of this was lost on mom’s mother, Grandma Doty, who was on that fateful trip to Mexico.  I was too young to know her well, but Trea tells of her deep anxieties, and, eventually, her refusal to enter public places.

Mom had the same uneasy mind, which she attempted to manage with discipline and focus.  In

1 A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
addition to becoming a mother, she graduated from BYU, certifying as a social worker for the
state of Utah.  As you might suspect, this was not an ideal career for someone emotionally stressed, so mom went back to school and certified as an X-ray technician. This too, took its toll, and mom went back to school for the third time to indulge her love of books. She became a librarian and worked at the American Fork Library until her retirement.

Mom attempted other mind management as well.  Just on the edge of my memory are the elaborate marionette productions mom produced.  She wrote the scripts, sewed the puppets, built a portable stage, and drafted us children into productions of Hiawatha and Hansel and Gretel at local schools.  I also remember several years during which mom faux-finished all the doors and woodwork in the old house at 148 South Center.

Through all of this it was Reece who supported her, who talked her through the bad times.  Often talk was not enough, and mom would go into the hospital for electroconvulsive shock therapy.  Reece made arrangements with his father, Grandpa Stacy, to tend us children weeks at a time. He became our third parent.

And so you understand what it meant for mom to lose Reece at age 49. Ross was 17 and Russell 11.  

In my nighttime vigil by mom’s bed I was touched by John Donne’s attempts to comfort his wife.  If we part, he says,

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
    . . . endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
    Like gold to airy thinness beat.

Their love, Donne says, pure and malleable as gold, can bridge the impossible distance of separation with its “airy thinness.’

But mom found scant consolation in the wake of dad’s death.  Her childhood witness of Anna Katrina’s polygamous marriage, combined with the fact that Reece had a first wife who died in childbirth, fueled her anxiety.

It was Trea who first stepped into the gap.  Even though her own hands were full with family, education, and career, Trea cared for mom and her younger siblings.  She accompanied mom on countless visits and negotiated with doctors, pharmacists, and lawyers.

As Russell became older, he shouldered much of the responsibility. When mom retired and later became infirm, Russell gave mom fifteen years of assisted life in her own home.  At great sacrifice and risk to his own career, he cared for mom with a mix of compassion and blustering. I still smile when I remember him teasing mom about her favorite television show: Molly B’s Polka Party. Russell was assisted by an army of helpers: visiting teachers, home teachers, nurses, and especially aides like Katie and Belinda. Ruth took great delight in Belinda’s little dog, Cody.  Ross, Harley, and I, living at a distance, visited and helped with tasks around the house.  But make no mistake, it was Trea and Russell who did the heavy lifting.

Beside mom’s bed I read on through the night.  Anne Donne was not comforted by John’s clever gold metaphor, so he tried again.  We two are, he says, like the paired legs of a scribing compass, the tool used by mathematicians to draw arcs and circles.

If [we] be two, [we] are two so
    As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show
    To move, but doth, if the other do.

And though it in the center sit,
    Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans and hearkens after it,
   And grows erect, as that comes home.

If mom was forced by circumstance to decades of a solitary life made meaningful by whatever “movings” and “roamings” she could manage, it was Reece who was the “fixed foot,” which “in the center sit.”  Whatever she undertook, it was with the deep hope that Reece was leaning forward in interest, that he “hearkened” to her concerns and misgivings.

Donne follows the metaphor to its conclusion:

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
    Like th' other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
    And makes me end where I begun.

The firmness of the set leg, Donne explains, allows the scribing of a just and perfect circle. On Sunday, January 6, that circle was scribed. It is just, in ways we cannot comprehend. The prophet Alma, speaking of the resurrection, says

The spirit and the body shall be
areunited again in its bperfect form;
both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame…

Alma might have added the mind, since limb and joint are small stuff in comparison.   

Through my night vigil with mom I was touched by an old poem about a husband who comforts his anxious wife.  I prayed that mom would be released after her son Harley had arrived and spent time with her.  And I prayed that at the moment of death Reece would be the first to greet mom, intent, as always, on easing her fears.  For very personal reasons I am sure this has happened.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, January 14, 2013


Drew and his new favorite reading material:  Ry's Sports Illustrated.  Drew is a little obsessed with balls of any kind.  His favorites are "fatball" and "bas-kitbal," but he also knows baseball, tennis ball, golf ball, and ping pong ball.  

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Bald Eagle on a Foggy Morning

We were totally amazed when Ryan spotted a bald eagle directly outside our bedroom window, taking a rest in the trees across the street.  He was a massive and impressive bird.  We took out the telescope for a closer view.  The eagle stayed for a while and then flew off in the direction of the Occoquan.  I was aware of a pair of eagles that nest near the Occoquan, but I also learned that Mason Neck State Park is bald eagle reserve.  We felt fortunate to have him come visit the neighborhood.

Drew spent the rest of the day pointing out the window, saying, "Eggle, eggle!"  I told Tess about how the Bald Eagle used to be on the endangered species list.  She said, "It is a really important bird because it makes a serious face like this," and then she furrowed her brow in a pretty impressive eagle impression.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday Morning Snuggle

Good thing we bought a big house so everyone has their own space.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Scented Valentine

Wendy's sister Deborah asked about the paint color we used in Tess' room.  I searched my blog for a photo to send her, and--What?  GASP!--no photo?!  So here' a pic of the color "Scented Valentine" by Behr, along with her Christmas vanity.  I think the color is lovely.  Tess thinks it's "too sweet."

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Testing out my new wifi SD card for my camera.  
It automatically uploads my pictures to my computer via wifi; no cords or cards necessary!
Oh yeah, it's supposed to be nearly 70 degrees this weekend!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Tuesday, January 8, 2013


The sod is in next door and the construction barrier between our houses is down.  Landscaping is done in the front and the dumpster out front is gone.  It's finally starting to look more like a neighborhood than a construction zone!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Remembering Grandma Ruthie

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Every time Drew colors, he always fills the entire page with "basketballs."  He has progressed from making tiny dots all over the page to full-fledged circles.  And it's a fairly accurate representation of his view of the world, because he sees "basketballs" everywhere we go!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Tess, Age 3

Getting ready for bed with a bubble bath and clean teeth.

Friday, January 4, 2013


Two out of the four walls are done in this room.  
It would go a lot faster if Mom were here to help me!

Last Night's Bath

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Preschool Drop Off

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year

I'm going to try a new blog approach this year--one picture a day.  We'll see how long that lasts!

Today's snapshot:

Happy New Year 2013!

December 2012 Tidbits

Tess: "Daddy, do you know how I know I was on the good list this year?"
Ryan: "No, I don't know."
Tess: "Santa Claus came on a fire engine down Nana and Papa's street and Nana and Papa ran outside and asked Santa, 'Was Tess good this year?' And Santa said, 'Yes, Tess was perfect this year!'"

Tess asked about the 80's music video Ryan & I were watching on VH1. He told her it was music from a long time ago. Tess: "You mean from the time when there were dinosaurs?"

Tess: "Do you know what the hardest, hardest thing is about Christmas?"
Ryan: "No, what?"
Tess: "The hardest thing is you keep wondering, 'Have I been good? Have I been good? Have I been good?' People say to relax, but I can't relax."

"Mom, does the Easter Bunny care if you've been nice? Why does Santa have to worry so much about it at Christmas time? It makes it so hard to relax."

Tess: "When I grow up, I want to be a monkey!"

Tess: "Daddy, do you know why they're called 'missionaries'?"
Ryan: "Why?"
Tess: "Because when they go far away you miss them!"

Tess and Ryan have been locked away upstairs for the past 2 hours working on my Christmas present from Tess. She has only emerged on two occasions to request a safety pin and a nail. Raising my curiosity.

Drew was in the bathtub and he kept throwing out all of his bath toys. Frustrated, I finally gathered them all up and put them away. He then spread out in the tub, looked at me with a big smile and said: "Fish!"

Tess: "The 'throw up' germ looks like a green frog wearing a party hat. I saw a picture of it in a book at school. The 'sore throat' germ looks like a purple giraffe with polka dots. And the 'headache' germ looks like a hammer."

Tess told Drew that her birthday is tomorrow, and he's been singing, "Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you!"

Tess' Primary teacher was out of town for several weeks because her father died. Today we passed a cemetery and Tess said: "I wonder if Sister Cumming's dad is in that garden over there because you know he died. And I think he's still dead."

Progress report on Drew's colors:
Green = "GEEN!"
Yellow = "SUN!"
Red = "Daddy's car."
Blue = "PUR-PA!"

The best visiting teacher ever just brought us a surprise dinner for our Christmas present. Tess: "Awwww! She's just like a mom!"

Tess: "How did Morley type 'North Pole' on the computer with his hands?"
Ryan: "I don't know. Maybe he figured out how to hit the keys with his hands together."
Tess: "Maybe he used some sharp scissors to cut his hands apart and then he used a sewing machine to sew them back together!"

More Drew-speak:
"car-shees" (Drew for "crackers)
"K" (Drew for "OK," when he agrees with something)
"Tinky" (Drew needs a diaper change)

Every time I ask Drew what color something is, he responds with a huge grin on his face: "Pur-pah!" He may not know what color it is, but he knows it's NOT purple. He's a big tease.

Ryan: "Tess, Christmas is on December twenty...."
Tess: "Twenty-fifth!"
Ryan: "That's right!"
Tess: "How'd I know that?!! I'M IMPRESSED!!!!!"

"Gee-gup! Gee-gup!" (Drew's version of "giddy-up," most commonly used when climbing on my back.)

"Mom, what do you want for Christmas...out of paper?"

So you know those over-achieving Elf-on-a-Shelf moms? In our house, that mom is Ryan.

I told the kids that if they were good for their doctor appointments, I'd take them to Wendy's for lemonade. Tess was very excited: "You mean we get to go to Nana's?!!"

Tess and I (Ryan) had a discussion about the story of Jonah and the "whale." Her reaction to the notion of being swallowed by a whale: "It would be sooo boring. You couldn't watch TV in there and you couldn't go to school and learn. It would be yucky in there with seaweed and fish. You would need to take a bath when you got out."

Tess has been playing "Amazon" with her dollhouse. Apparently her dolls ordered a chair online because another "delivery" doll is bringing it to their doorstep.

Tess: "Daddy, today I saw Santa at the mall. I didn't need to sit on his lap because I already sent him a letter."

Tess taught our FHE lesson tonight. She gave us three clues as her introduction: "Who died a long time ago but is still alive today?" "Who was born in a belly named 'M'?" "Who is King?"

Tess and I were cuddling in bed this morning when the alarm on my iPod went off. "I guess iPods don't know when you have a little girl or boy snuggling in bed with you."

"Sometimes I get confused if I'm a boy or a girl."

"Sometimes I can't tell if I am in a dream."

On seeing a Red Cross sign: "That's a first add kit!"

Morley's appearance (he's our Elf on the Shelf): "This is the first time Morley has been to our new house. We need to make him feel welcome."

Cold air in car: "That's okay, Mom. This is what December is all about."

"When I get home and take off my shoes, my feet smell like chips. Old chips." Thanks for the info, Tess.

Tess is finally getting excited for her birthday party tomorrow, now that I've convinced her that it will really be December. She's made signs that say "Put Presents Here" and "Warning: Tess' Spot" (for her seat at the table). Heaven help me.

I've been trying to teach Drew to put his clothes in the laundry room after I change him. This morning I changed him out of his PJ's and a stinky diaper, which I put at the top of the stairs to take down after I got dressed. I was headed down when I noticed there was no diaper to be found. "Drew," I asked, "Where's your stinky diaper?" "Come," he proudly replied with a beaming face. He dragged me by the finger to the washing machine, where I found the diaper sitting inside. Sure am I glad I found it before I unknowingly did my next load of laundry!

Conversation tonight in the car:
Tess: "You know when Dad and I are learning about something new, we look it up on the computer. You know Dad is really smart?"
Me: "Yes, he is really smart. Did you know that's one of his talents--finding answers to questions?"
Tess: "Oh. I thought you were going to say his talent was being a really good dad."

12th Anniversary at Ashby Inn

Christmas 2012