Sunday, June 24


Blogs used to be *the* way to connect and see into the lives of friends and total strangers. Now there's Instagram (@ojillo, that's me), Facebook and a lot of other social media apps/sites. I literally never look at blogs just to look at blogs anymore. I google for recipes and might stumble across a blog post with an incredible recipe, but scroll straight to it, read the ingredients and steps, then either print or move on. The stories and clever write-ups preceding the recipe drive me CRAZY! Everyone is a writer first. That's blogging though, right? Somewhere along the way I grew out of it- stopped blogging and stopped reading. And probably no one follows this blog anymore and will never read it, but this blog served as a sort of journal for me for so long, that I decided to post an update.

It's 2018. Johnny and I have been married for 19 years. In 2016, we welcomed our 3rd son, 7th child, Charlie Ivan, named after both his grandfathers. He's precious and darling and adorable and sweet and smart and still sleeps with us. None of our kids ever got to sleep with us. Truthfully, we have a crib, but I'm soaking up every ounce of his babyhood I can, so I never want to put him down. Johnny and I are loving this stage and not at all complaining. And, that means we outgrew our Expedition, so we bought a 12-passenger Transit. It's the best!

Katherine will be 18 this fall, and a senior in high school. Every parent says, "it's hard to believe she's almost grown!" and they mean it. She's in cosmetology and will, hopefully, graduate with her license. She's taking ASL and loves it! Since she was about 12 or 13 she began having some health problems that eventually became unbearable and needed medical attention. She saw our family doctor, an orthopedic surgeon, a neurologist and a rheumatologist for severe pain in both wrists, pain in her back and other joints. After lots of tests, she was diagnosed with axial spondylarthritis and was prescribed a prescription anti-inflammatory. She was also fitted for wrist braces, which she wears almost 24/7. The medicine is helping a lot- her pain level has gone down from 7-9 at worst to 5, and from 3-5 at best to 0-2. It's also making a difference not being in school and having to use her hands so much. We're hopeful that this summer will give her wrists time to heal and that she can start occupational therapy before school starts and that eventually she won't need medication. But this is a relatively new diagnosis in medicine and not a lot is known about it. Her rheumatologist said she is the youngest he's ever seen with carpel tunnel, and since her wrists aren't swollen and she's right-handed but it's only slightly worse in her right-hand, and mostly bilateral, this diagnosis makes the most sense. Surgery wouldn't make things better and might make it worse, so that's out of the question right now. With her carpel tunnel, driver's ed hasn't happened. She took the online class and has a permit, but can't do the driving yet. She's not anxious to learn, but wishes she could do more with her hands. The pain has gotten so severe that she can't play her instruments or draw or write like she wants to and used to. She has a beautiful voice, and can still sing, so we're encouraging her to hold onto that. She's gotten priesthood blessings that she will be healed, so we're being patient- as much as we can. Cosmetology and ASL are hard on her. She wants to serve a mission when she's old enough, and use her cosmetology license during college. She, Travis and Olivia will be going to EFY in July- it's the first time for each of them. We're excited for them. Katherine is excited, Travis and Olivia are more nervous.

Travis just turned 16. He's about 5'10.5", 6' in boots. He works about 10 hours a week for a man in our ward, has a savings and a checking account and a learner's permit. He drives every chance he gets and is pretty good at it. He got a dog for his birthday- she's an outside dog and is full-grown. She loves to play and chase squirrels. Her name is Spec and she's a curr mix. He's good about buying her food and making sure she has water. The other kids are better about bathing her and playing with her. Since the start of Travis's sophomore year, he's been struggling with anxiety and some depression. He was diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder, but it escalated into clinical depression. He's on medication, and we're hoping he can wean off soon. He gets really down on himself and gets worked up before social events. I'm worried about him going to EFY, but really think it could be SO good for him! I'm praying so hard that he'll have faith and put forth the effort to participate and think outside of himself and come home with a new perspective. He's such a good kid and we are so thankful for all the good he does/is, but we can't seem to help him believe it. He's staying morally clean and is a hard worker. When there are opportunities to help someone, he's all in. He and Katherine have a friend from school that comes over a lot and they hang out. Recently he started meeting with the missionaries and Travis lights up when he participates in the conversation! He doesn't even know that, but it's true. He gives incredible input and knows what to say to put his friend at ease and makes comments that give clarity. Afterwards though, he might shrink and tell himself he didn't say everything right or something. He was seeing a counselor, but after several visits he seemed to not need to continue. Most days he is okay, but he doesn't have to go anywhere. Once school starts, that might change. We're praying and hopeful that EFY will make a big difference for him in how he feels about himself and that he'll be ready for the school year. Oh, and he's a cowboy through and through. Johnny and I smile and are proud because he only likes country music- he has a Spotify playlist that continues to grow with all the best songs/singers. He wears Wranglers and boots everyday. He has 2 cowboy hats- a George Strait Resistol for nice occasions and a cheaper one for working. For Christmas he got a pair of gray elephant Black Jacks. He bought a pair of Dan Post caimans a couple weeks ago and they look really nice! He has another pair of Ariats that he wears for working. His uncle Travis would be proud.

Olivia just turned 14 and is NOT excited for Stake Dances. She loves to read and write- she asked for an accordion folder for all the books she's writing to keep them organized. I think she's writing 5 books right now. She'll be in 8th grade next year, which is exciting but scary because she's really quiet and shy, which makes having friends hard, and it means high school is next. Tomorrow morning, she and Katherine are going with some of our friends to Florida to Universal and DisneyWorld for the week. I'm glad they'll have each other and get to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity. Johnny and I have never been, but it seems like it'll be more fun at this age for them. Harry Potter World is what they're most excited about. Oh, and Olivia will be rooming with Lia at EFY, so she'll feel more comfortable with her there. And since Katherine and Olivia will be in Florida this week, they'll miss Youth Conference, which means EFY will be her first dances. That should fun.

Ella is 12 now and got contacts and braces last summer. She just finished 6th grade. We were really proud of her for joining the Student Council and going to all the meetings. She's happy to be in Young Women now and with her sisters. Ella is in that stage where she's still into playing but her attention span doesn't last long. She isn't as much of a reader as the older kids. She has a great sense of humor and is more talkative than the other kids- she liked to tell us the funny things that happened at school when we picked her up. She's really good at including everyone in her class at church and notices when some feel left out. She's friendly and can be helpful- sometimes she is concerned about what everyone else is doing and gets distracted- we all do!

Bryn is 10, and still tiny. She'll be in 5th grade (the last year of elementary school here). Her best friend is Audrey McDermott- they are a lot alike and such sweet girls! She's also really good friends with Callie Reinen and Madie Pratt. Bryn is a good friend to everyone and will really miss them when we have to move. She is also in that weird stage of playing, but not for long. She likes to read sometimes, but it depends on the book. She's really sweet with Charlie and very helpful. She's active and energetic- she can ride a Ripstick, roller skate, cartwheel and a really good swimmer.

Samuel will be 8 this year, and will be baptized on his birthday! He is an energetic boy- sometimes enough for all of us. He likes to make people laugh and is learning what's funny/appropriate. He's excited to be in 2nd grade next year, but misses kindergarten a little. He's a good reader, but doesn't always like to read. With the big age gap between him and Charlie, he's really the youngest child. Since the girls are not as into playing anymore, he gets sad when they stop. He's learning how to play with Charlie. He's very curious and sometimes asks really deep questions out of the blue. He's giggly, runs more than walks, loves jumping off the diving board, acting goofy and making people laugh.

Charlie is 22 months. I don't say what year he's about to be, because I don't want that to come. It's summer, there's no school and since his birthday is close to the new year starting, it needs to be far away. He's talking a lot! He can say all the kids names, but the funniest is Muel (Samuel). He is getting good at telling us when he doesn't like something. He always wants to go fishing with his daddy. He has a good sense of humor and likes to make us laugh, just like Samuel. He loves to dance and asks for music. He loves running, and with the long hallway here, he gets to do a lot of it. His favorite treat is marbles (M&Ms). We were at a friend's for supper and they had actual marbles Charlie played with. Somehow he thought they resembled M&Ms and started calling them marbles from then on. He doesn't want to go to nursery. Guess how I feel about that! Yep, it's okay with me. Haha! He's good during church, so it's great with me. He doesn't love swimming yet, but yesterday was pretty good. He has to stay in the "boat" (his floaty) but doesn't always like to.

Johnny is working ICU, day shift. He's been a nurse for 9 years now. He also works part-time for a hospice group. It's not regular, just whenever he's able to sign up for a weekend usually. He's applying to 6 CRNA programs in 6 different states, this summer- which means we could be moving within the year or in a year. He has to take the GRE next month (2 schools require it). We're anxious but hopeful and excited. It'll be a big change for us, but one we've planned for and anticipated for a long time. It's the end goal and it's been a long time coming. With all the applications and his new calling as Young Men's president, and with work, life has been really busy. We're hoping to finish one application, and start 2 applications tomorrow and Tuesday before he goes back to work and then to Youth Conference. He's such a good and devoted husband and father. We're so proud of him and grateful that he's willing/able to dedicate himself to his education and his/our future. He wants to get back into biking- especially for his health, so he put his bike in the shop to get it adjusted to fit him better. Hopefully he'll get it this week.

I am diligently helping Johnny with his applications and devoting each afternoon this summer to swimming. It's really my happiest form of exercise and I wish I could do it year-round. At the beginning of the year, we worked tirelessly on taking down wallpaper and texturing/painting rooms in Denton Abbey for our landlord. This house needed to be updated and we were glad to be able to help with it. The difference is remarkable and we love it! I am the 1st counselor in RS right now. I have an account on Instagram for one of my goals this year- to read the standard works in a year. It's called @standardworks365. I post the scripture reading for the day with an uplifting quote from an LDS leader. I found the reading schedule online from a man that posted several options for scripture reading. I'm excited about it. I'm in Daniel right now. I'm not sure how many are actually reading along, but it doesn't matter. Also, from all the years of swimming and being outside, plus pregnancy, I developed hyperpigmentation (melasma) on my forehead and cheeks. I've tried skin lighteners with hydroquinone, which helped some I think. I wore a hat most of last summer in the pool and have worn one everyday this summer. I've been diligent about applying the skin cream since last fall. The other day I bought a vitamin c serum and a moisturizer and some face masks that I'm hoping will help more. I struggle with wanting a tan, and not wanting to age my skin. I know I could not swim or wear a long-sleeved swim shirt, or even use sunless tanner. I did use sunless tanner for probably 14 years, but that got tedious- plus I tan quickly and can keep a tan since I'm swimming often. That sounds vain. Mostly I swim for the exercise, but I do plan my swim time around when it's best to not burn and still tan. Haha!

Well, that's all for now I guess. We have to get up early to see our girls off tomorrow, then we'll get started on the applications. We're really hoping this is our year!

Saturday, May 23


Every day is like a blank canvas waiting to painted, or in my case, a blog post waiting to be written. I rarely write though. Why don't I write? Hmm... a number of reasons: because when I wrote often I spent too much time at the computer; I find I have less to say- or maybe I feel like what I have to say isn't important... Can you tell I'm blah today?

Blogging used to be therapeutic for me and I had goals to network with my blogs. I became discouraged, and stopped. I have a journal I write in about as often as I blog, maybe more.
"Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave?" -You've Got Mail
Most of my days are predictable. And while I like predictability, I know I need variety. Comfort zones aren't necessarily comfortable. Yesterday I visited with some friends about the trouble of being introverted and how it often takes someone else to pull me out- they could relate which made me feel less like a freak. On the way home, Bryn wanted to ride with the top down and listen to the radio. The song "Try" by Colbie Caillat came on. It touched me. I'll share the link to the video- it's worth watching.

Speaking of predictability, I made bread today. It smells delicious. I worked out this morning with Katherine- before eating or drinking anything. I won't do that again. I did drink water during the workout, but my energy stores were depleted too quickly for me to keep up like I normally do. Tomorrow is the last day of week 7 of Piyo. Next week is the last week. I created a calendar for my workouts for the next 16 weeks- alternating Turbo Fire and Piyo (even though Turbo Fire is supposed to be a 12 week program). I'll end on my sister, Rachel's birthday.

Johnny is gone with Katherine and Travis on our ward's Youth Temple Trip to Dallas. Olivia, Ella, Bryn and Samuel are watching cartoons. Our friend, James Talbot, was here playing, while his family also went to Dallas, but he just left to go play at another friend's house. I'm waiting on laundry to finish so I can change it out. The sun is finally out- we've had rain nearly every day for over a month. And when it hasn't rained it's been overcast. There is rain in the forecast for this evening and the next 10 days. It's kept the temperatures down, but it's been terribly gloomy.

Johnny's dad went into the hospital last night. He had shoulder surgery May 1st, and the incision site seems to have developed an infection, which went into his bloodstream. He's not in ICU, and has a good doctor, so he'll go home on Monday I think.

Maybe I'll blog more often. I'll try. Here's the video:

Thursday, December 4


I rarely blog. Obviously. But I did today. Twice now. :) 
The holidays bring out my creative side.

See these? 

They're for this.

Here's the link of how we're making the most of this holiday season...

Friday, May 31

My Daddy

It's late and I should be sleeping. But I can't sleep. I am lost somewhere between a fog of disbelief and a nightmare of reality. I think most girls see their daddy as a superhuman- indestructible, invincible and immortal. My daddy is a superhero. Tonight my mind is flooding with thoughts, memories and sounds while he lays in a hospital bed in Beaumont Texas. My mom took him to the ER this afternoon because he has had chest pains, presumably since Saturday. He was quickly admitted to the ICU because it was indeed a heart attack. Several, actually. Tests show that only one artery is pumping blood to his heart and he is not a candidate for surgery. The doctors are giving him medications to keep him comfortable and he will stay there for a few days. Then...we'll see. Johnny is scheduled to work all weekend. The girls aren't out of school for the summer until next Thursday. But, they'll all miss tomorrow so we can go be with my family. Johnny may have to come home to work Saturday...who knows what will happen? My sisters and brother are coming in too. 

When Johnny explained what was happening to Paw-paw to our kids, they all cried. It wasn't two weeks ago that he was here with my mom and Marianne and Ethan. They came to pick up some furniture they bought from the SFA dorms to put in the Davilla house. Their dream house. My dad built it back in 1992. Samuel and Bryn loved playing with Paw-paw Ivan that day.

I feel like part of me is dying. It's a dark cloud hanging over me and no matter what I do or where I go, it's lingering in the back of my mind, like there's no escape. I felt this way when my brother Travis died. I dreamed about it that night. I saw people in my dream and I felt like I had to tell them about Travis- like they needed to know. That dream made it seem even more real, so when I woke up I felt sick. There's nothing worse than waking up to find your nightmare is actually reality. I guess that's why I don't want to go to sleep tonight. I'm afraid of what I'll dream and what I'll wake up to.

Someday, probably in the near future, I will re-read this post and roll my eyes because of how dramatic I'm making everything. But these are my thoughts and feelings tonight and this is like my journal. is what it is.

We'll leave in the morning. I'm praying we'll get lots of visiting time with daddy before Johnny has to get back for work, and that our kids will too.

Thankfully we still have time with my dad. I'd like to share some of my favorite memories of him and things you may not know about him. 

When I was around 3 or 4 I had eczema behind my knees. My skin hurt so bad there I would cry. I remember one Saturday (I assume it was Saturday because everyone was home, but it could've just been summertime). My dad put medicine on my cracked skin and dried my tears. He held me in his lap for a long time. My mom brought him his sandwich- white bread, mayonnaise, ham and cheese- and he ate while he rocked me.

When we were little, and his eyesight was still good, we loved to wrestle with him on the floor. He tickled us until we threatened to wet our pants. Wevwould all clobber him in a pile, it was called Dogpile on Daddy.

I have frozen memories of just watching him. In Davilla we had an above-ground pool. We spent summer afternoons there and my dad would be out working with the cows, chickens, goat, dogs, etc. On many occasions he would come over to the pool, lean over the side, and dunk his head in to cool off. I'm not sure why that stuck with me but I remember watching him in awe.

He was our seminary teacher. We had early morning seminary in our living room. I remember watching him prepare the night before. He had a big marker board and large print scriptures. He knew his stuff too. (Still does know his stuff!)

He LOVES the song Small Town Saturday Night by Hal Ketchum. He had one of my sisters make a cassette tape with that song recorded back to back on both sides of the tape so he wouldn't have to rewind it and he could play it as much as he wanted. He would put it on and dance with my mom, or any of us, in the living room. His way of dancing- since he couldn't see well (and I think to be funny)- was to stand in one spot and shuffle his feet a little and move your hand really fast up and down while he held it and had his arm around you. (I hope I described that ok.)

He used to have all us kids help him work in the yard or barn or garage. Then he'd take us to Hetzel's, a little convenient store, to each pick out our very own soda. I usually got a Sunkist. (Gross. I wouldn't touch the stuff now, thanks to the glucose tests.) Oh! On the way to Hetzel's, he let us ride down the highway in the back of the pickup.

In Davilla he wore a cowboy hat and boots. One year we had someone come bail the hay into square bails. I drove the truck around the pasture while he road on the trailer and hopped off to load each bail. He was so hot and sweaty and we needed to beat the rain that was coming and it was getting dark. I drove the truck into the barn and helped him unload it all. I felt needed and proud of myself- I was a girl and I helped my dad do something hard- manual labor! Something I'm sure even my brothers would've been impressed with! (Can you tell I'm still proud of that?!) I loved that time with my dad, even then I knew it was a memory I would cherish.

He LOVES blackberry cobbler and Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream. He loves almost any Blue Bell. He loves Cheetos like no one else! And his all-time favorite candy bar is Snickers. He loves John Wayne movies, classic cars, Corvettes, Davilla, his kids, his grand kids, and, most importantly and especially, my mom. He gets giddy when it's Mother's Day, her birthday and Christmas. He always, ALWAYS makes Christmas big. He gets over-the-top excited to surprise my mom with a gift, or several.

There are too many special moments/memories to share. But I want my kids to know these for sure, so I'm glad I've recorded them here. I love my daddy and always will. I look forward to seeing him tomorrow, er, today, now that it's almost 1 o'clock in the morning. That means today is Marianne's birthday! Happy birthday sweet, beautiful Marianne! Love you so much! Xoxo

Monday, May 20

Phi Kappa Phi

This came in the mail today. 

What a brainiac! We're so proud of Johnny!