15 years together!

On August 18th Scott and I celebrated our 15 year anniversary (yes, I’m a little behind!). I can’t believe how fast, and how wonderful, the time has been. I can’t believe how much I didn’t know then about life and marriage and parenting and careers and bills and compromise . . . and I can’t believe it has been as rich and rewarding as it has been. I am so grateful for the man I married and all the potential that was in him that I didn’t even know. I didn’t know what a wonderful husband he would be–how he would take care of me, and make me laugh, and listen to me, and bring me flowers, and tell me jokes, and rub my shoulders when they are sore, and take me out on date night every single weekend, and change baby’s diapers, and be my biggest fan, and bring me Ben and Jerry’s for no reason at all. I didn’t know that he would be the kind of Dad who studies scriptures with his kids, and wrestles with them, and takes them out on dates, and coaches their soccer teams, and snuggles them on the couch during movies, and laughs and plays and takes them on adventures. I didn’t know he would be more than just a good student but that he would be great at his career–and love it too. I didn’t know he would be a devoted church member and Priesthood holder and home teacher and spiritual leader in our family.  I hoped all these things. But 15 years later, I can look back and say I didn’t know for sure then, but I know now. What a blessing it is to have chosen the right guy–to have found the best friend to spend all my days with–the first time around. My kids sometimes ask me about my parents and how they got divorced, and why. I just say to them, “Sometimes two people get it right the first try, and sometimes they get it right the second try, and sometimes they don’t even get it right then. Mommy and daddy nailed it the first try.” IMG_0301

To celebrate, Scott planned a backpacking trip to the Tetons. I had never been backpacking, but I’m all about new experiences and I like being out in nature. So I figured, why not? Lucky for me, it was beautiful and sunny the whole time. We hiked up Paintbrush Canyon and came down Cascade Canyon. It was an incredible experience to be in such a beautiful place in our country, away from modern distractions, for three days. We slept in a tiny backpackers tent, and with the top flap open, we woke up to a pink sky the first morning (well, I woke up to it briefly and went back to sleep. Scott stayed up to enjoy.). We discovered it was freezing to sleep like that, so we woke up to the closed tent flap the second morning. Besides the beautiful scenery of trees, lakes, waterfalls, streams, and wildlife, I also loved simply spending time with my husband to talk about our experiences, thoughts, dreams, things we’ve read, things we hope for, or just to be quiet together. It was an experience I will never forget. Thank you Scott for being who you are, for planning this adventure, and for being my best friend for 15 years and counting.  IMG_1625

Summertime…we miss you!

Where did summer go? So much fun playing, swimming, relaxing, running around, and being together. I remember when the summer started, I was nervous about having all four kids home all the time (minus a few little play dates and camps). The when school started, the same exact thing happened that happened before the start of last school year–I felt sad. Although it was stressful at times helping everyone find things to occupy their time happily (which mostly, they are pretty good at on their own) it was been so fun just being together. I knew I was going to miss Zach and Ellie, who are now back to school for all the live-long day. Luckily, breaks like UEA help–where we got to spend days together visiting the Golden Spike, going to a BYU football game, and playing at home. I guess no matter what phase you are in, there are things to be happy about, and things that might make you sad. Like today, it’s Monday and all my favorite people are gone doing their important things. On the other hand, my baby is asleep, and the house is quiet…and I just got to finish the last leftover piece of birthday cake. It’s a good day.

House on wheels!

Last week our family did something we’ve wanted to do for a long time–we rented a motorhome! I was too scared to drive this 38-foot mammoth other than for one hour on the freeway, but Scott was amazing at maneuvering the thing. The kids absolutely loved having the space to play, and I loved getting to enjoy my favorite parts about camping–being outside in beautiful places–along with the comforts of home. Yay for beds, electricity, toilets, showers, and an easy place to cook! We took the kids around to Zion National Park, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, and Bryce Canyon National Park. We picked up a cool Passport book for each of the kids that they get to fill up with stamps from every National Park or Monument we visit (they are so excited, I think this will be a lifelong quest to fill up the book!).

The motorhome was so fun to hang out in. For a few of the mornings, we got out of bed slowly and hung around the table, just playing Life, Monopoly, Uno, and Go Fish. Sometimes we sat for hours doing it. When in real life does anyone have time to do that? IMG_0102

The national parks were beautiful. In Zion we did the Emerald Pools hike, which I just loved for how many cool crooks and crevices the kids got to explore, including a path that went under a waterfall. IMG_0188

The Grand Canyon is jaw-dropping. I loved seeing the kids see something so, literally, grand. It’s huge! After spending a couple of days hiking around, we packed up the RV (easy!) and headed to our next adventure. A favorite day for everyone was spent just floating in our life jackets at Lake Powell (the downside of this day was getting our RV stuck in the sand at Lone Rock beach–but luckily an angel named Alan had the gear to tow us out and point us in the right direction). IMG_0151The kids loved the water and came up with a challenge for us all to swim out to the buoys and back (Sam came too in his little life jacket!). They all loved playing in the sand, building sand castles, and playing a good old fashioned game of keep away. Sam thought he might enjoy eating the sand–as he does everything–but I think soon realized this delicacy is not for him. Good learning experience.

IMG_0153We wrapped up at Bryce where hoodoos and cool rock walls juiced up our kids’ imaginations. We spent the hike out of the canyon keeping the their minds off the hard stuff. They spent the hot, hard part of the hike creating elaborate stories about any random set of objects we gave them. My little five year old probably went on for 20 minutes creating a story about a pirate, a mermaid, and an octopus, all while hiking uphill in the heat. I don’t think she even noticed. Another favorite moment was lying outside one night on a picnic table by our RV, looking up at the stars together. We pointed out the Milky Way and used an app to find cooIMG_0167l constellations. There is nothing quite like the night sky in southern Utah. All in all, an awesome and memorable trip!

My heart grows





IMG_6336In December, a precious baby boy joined our family. You know how sometimes you feel like your heart is already so full of love for the people in your life, it couldn’t possibly love any more? A new baby in the family teaches you something about what a heart can do. No matter how much you love each person in your family–for their quirks, their mannerisms, the sweet or funny things they say and do, the way they sing or play or hug you goodnight–your heart can love more. This little guy, Samuel Scott Poelman, has been a precious gift to our family who has caused my heart to swell. He’s our little caboose, almost five years younger than our youngest before him, which makes him immediately and absolutely adored by everyone. He has a gentle spirit, the most wonderful smile, and watching my older kids love him absolutely melts me.


IMG_3878A regular nap schedule I’m finding is a thing of the past. With each of my other babies, I could do it because my oldest at the time was only two or four with not much going on outside our little home. The world could revolve around them a bit more. With Sam, we are on the move, whether it’s off to school, dance, soccer, scouts, the grocery store,IMG_0189 piano, play dates or wherever else, this guy gets to sleep in his carseat, or his stroller, or he passes out whenever he nurses because he has been all over town. Thankfully, he seems happy to sleep that way (which is now becoming a little troubling in the middle of the night when I want to sleep and he wants to nurse!). We’ll figure it out. Overall, we are so grateful for this sweet addition to our family and can’t imagine life without him.   IMG_3944



Deseret News book review

I was so excited to see this book review of The Two-Minute Marriage Project in the Deseret News this week: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865615852/Book-review-Two-Minute-Marriage-Project-offers-inspiration-instruction-for-staying-in-love.html?pg=all

THE TWO-MINUTE MARRIAGE PROJECT: Simple Secrets for Staying in Love,” by Heidi Poelman, Familius, $14.95, 142 pages (nf)

“The Two-Minute Marriage Project: Simple Secrets for Staying in Love” by Utahn Heidi Poelman is a refreshingly relatable guide to marriage maintenance for newlyweds and longtime spouses alike, worthy of space on any couple’s bookshelf.

Tackling topics like learning to understand a spouse’s perspective, creating and maintaining intimacy and handling conflict, Poelman discusses various facets of a day-to-day marriage relationship, offering numerous suggestions on small, everyday actions to nourish and support a lasting partnership. Each chapter, which addresses couples in every stage of marriage, ends with a summary list of “action steps” each spouse can complete to strengthen their relationship — each of which can be done in two minutes or less.

While many authors of classic marriage self-help books are scholars and marriage and family therapists, Poelman is neither. Rather, she is a wife, mother and Utahn who has “been in the trenches” and understands what the everyday life of marriage is like. Whereas other guides can feel stuffy or more theoretical than practical, “The Two-Minute Marriage Project” is a simple read that makes sense, is entertaining and is easy to apply.

What she lacks in professional expertise, Poelman more than makes up for in relatability; her engaging, self-deprecating style evokes a type of trust that is hard to feel for academics. Utilizing many of her own marital experiences to demonstrate the principles she discusses as well as “what not to do” scenarios, Poelman makes it easy to understand and apply her suggested action steps.

Aside from the observations she has made about tried-and-tested marriage maintenance ideas among family and friends, Poelman references plenty of academic studies and marriage therapists to create a balanced list of citations.

Thanks to Poelman’s practical applications and prosaic writing style, “The Two-Minute Marriage Project” is an enjoyable and easily applicable marriage maintenance guide.

Jennifer Ball is a freelance journalist out of Los Angeles specializing in food criticism and LDS media. Email:jenniferpelota@gmail.com


A few weeks ago Scott and I went in for our 20 week ultrasound. I had been waiting for that day pretty much ever since we found out we were pregnant. I had always been excited about the ultrasound for our three other children too, of course. That glimpse into the womb gives you a sneak peak of so much–a healthy baby, hopefully, first and foremost. But also learning if we were going to have a daughter or son was always so magical. We could start picturing how our little family was being shaped. For our first, we learned we were having a boy. I was thrilled because I had always wanted an older brother when I was growing up, and now I knew this little guy would be the oldest sibling. With our next pregnancy, our ultrasound gave us exciting news–a healthy baby girl. Now one of each! With our third pregnancy, we found out that our little girl would have a little sister, which made me so happy. Every girl needs a sister, at least in my book. So, with each ultrasound it was a little different, and always exciting news. But this fourth one was different.

Here’s why. I thought for a long time that we were done with three kids. Growing up with just two kids in the family, three felt like a lot. I felt like my hands were pretty full most of the time, and I was happy that each of our kids had two siblings. A family of five seemed like such a great number. I was content.

Then something happened when Scott and I were sitting at an extended family reunion around two and a half years ago. President Henry B. Erying was speaking, and he was talking about his brother. Something hit me then. Zach is supposed to have a brother. It was just a thought in passing. Maybe it was more like “It sure would be neat if Zach had a brother.” But the thought didn’t leave me. I drove away that day and couldn’t get the thought out of my head. Inspiration? Who knows. But ever since that day I couldn’t feel quite comfortable with our family of five. 

Scott had been excited about the idea of having another baby for a while, but I just hadn’t been ready. But after this experience, we started to really talk about it, and sincerely pray about it. Both of us felt like a baby–a boy–was missing from our family. It was so weird to say that, because we had never felt strongly one way or the other about the gender of our other kids. Once we decided that, yes, we were excited to try for another baby, we went for it. It took us a while–longer than any of our other kids–but we finally took a pregnancy test that came up positive (after lots of negative tests taken in our impatient excitement). Then the question remained–were we going to get the boy we had felt so inspired was supposed to be in our family?

Twenty weeks went by, and finally the day of the ultrasound came. Again, first and foremost we were hoping to find that we had a healthy baby, with all the working organs and limbs he or she would need to start off life well. The tech dimmed the room and we stared at the images on the machine. I’m sure I was holding my breath. She took measurements, showed us a healthy heart, brain, stomach, arms, and legs. I loved seeing a beautiful little profile shot. What magic to see a glimpse of our child. Then Scott saw something. “Is it a boy?” he asked. The tech smiled and said “You stole my thunder.” Then she moved to a screen shot that showed so clearly. “Yes, it’s a boy,” she said. The emotion I was trying so hard to keep in control let loose and I cried. I squeezed Scott’s hand tightly as we looked at each other. “Zach’s going to have a brother!”IMG_0199IMG_0203

Telling our kids was magical. Scott and I stopped by Target on the way home and got three little boy outfits with gift bags. When we got to my mom’s house where all our kids were, we gave each one of them a bag. They pulled out the little boy outfits and all screamed. They had all been asking for a brother for the past year.

IMG_2763Now we anxiously await our Dec. 31 due date. We don’t know what he’ll be like or look like, but we know a little bit about him. We’ve seen him, after all. Besides that he will be the little brother in our home, we know that he will be one of the most loved little boys ever to come down from heaven. So, little man, we’ll see you in a few short months.

The Two-Minute Marriage Project Released Yesterday

My new book, The Two-Minute Marriage Project, came out yesterday! So far reception has been great. I think people are looking for easy ways to make a real difference in their marriage. It was so fun getting my first copies in the mail and being able to hand a few out to friends and family. Thanks to my publisher Familius for giving me this opportunity. Also, here’s a link to a fun story that just came out on Redbook’s online page (don’t mind the quote about bringing home wine, which I didn’t say). Hopefully you’ll find some fun tips for making a quick difference, which is what the book is all about: http://www.redbookmag.com/love-sex/advice/quick-ways-to-improve-marriage#last-slide.



Happy-mom moment

There are so many times when I get frustrated with how my kids are treating each other. You know how it is–someone wants to play with the toy someone else has, someone is touching someone in the car, someone is complaining that it’s not fair that so and so gets to go out on a date with dad and they have to wait a whole two weeks until their turn. Yeah, you’ve been there right? The grit-your-teeth, take-a-deep-breath kind of moments?

Luckily, I have lots of moments when my kids are actually behaving like best friends and not worst enemies. Tonight Addie is on a date with Dad, and Zach and Ellie have spent the night bouncing together on the trampoline, giggling through dinner, and enjoying their twosome time. When it was time for everyone to crawl in their beds, Zach and Ellie asked if they could hang out together on Zach’s bed for just a few minutes. I said “No, it’s bedtime.” They said “Pulllleeeease.” I figured it was a special opportunity and gave in. “Five minutes,” I said. It’s been 20.

Now they are upstairs and Zach is reading out loud to Ellie his new biography, “Who Was Neil Armstrong?” They are two bugs in a rug, as the saying goes. That’s a happy-mom moment. The question is–will this mood hold through tomorrow? I can only hope. But I know the reality is that before I know it, someone will be bugged by someone again. So I guess here’s to enjoying the moment . . .

14 miles

Ellie just learned to ride her bike a few weeks ago. We had gotten her a bike in February for her birthday, but in Utah, February and March don’t provide too many optimal riding opportunities. We took her to the church parking lot when we finally had a nice Saturday, and we did the usual drill–push, hold, run along side, let go, watch her fall, try again. She was a trooper. After an hour or so all she needed was a little push to get going and she could ride.

It took her a few more tries in our cul-de-sac and she got the hang of starting by herself. Once she had that, she wanted to ride her bike out front every chance she got. She loves riding that bike. Of course, out in front of our house is pretty much the only riding she’s ever done, aside from a little family bike ride around our neighborhood a couple of weeks ago. Over Memorial Day, we had the opportunity to challenge her, and Zach, for a ride along the Jordan River Parkway with some of Scott’s family. It’s a beautiful ride, and quite easy for an adult. But for a kid on a bike with no gears, on a trail with hills that ended up being 14 miles round trip, we were asking a lot.

Ellie had never ridden more than about 4 miles. Zach had never ridden more than about 5. There were moments when both kids wanted to quit. Zach pulled over after a few miles and said “Can we go back? I’m tired. My legs hurt.” Then he did it again a few miles later. “I don’t want to ride anymore!” Sorry, Charlie.  If Ellie was in the back, watching all those big grown ups in front of her, she got discouraged. “I can’t do this Mom. I’m tired.” You can do it. Once she got up in front, she knew it too. And she had a blast.

On the way back, Zach led a breakaway group home without looking back. “Like a horse to his stable,” Scott’s Dad said. On the hills that went up and down on the last mile before home, I looked back at Ellie and her face was contorted like she was about to cry. “I was crying in my head,” she later told me. I said, “Ellie it’s just over these hills. You can do it.” She took a deep breath and kept pushing those pedals around on the only gear she had available. I felt bad, knowing I had switched to an easier gear several times on the ride. But that option wasn’t available for her, and there was no where to go but forward.

We made it to my in-laws’ street and Ellie knew she was almost there. It was an uphill climb to the finish. On our short neighborhood ride the day before, this is where she had hopped off her bike and walked. But she had ridden 14 miles and she wasn’t about to quit now. She pushed harder and moved her bike ahead, finishing the ride just in front of me. The look on her face was priceless–I wish I had taken a picture. “You did it Ellie!” I said. She grinned with the pleasure of someone who’s just conquered the world. “I didn’t know I could ride that far.”

I think there’s a pretty good metaphor in there somewhere. How many times have I been in a situation that was hard, that I’ve never done before, when I’ve felt like I might need to quit? But then, digging deep, that’s when we find out what we’re made of. It helps when you have a few people along the way who can say “You’re almost there!” and “You can do it!” I’m starting a new book project right now, on the subject of parenting with the Holy Spirit. I love the topic and I have loved diving in to the research, reading books and articles and interviewing people. But there have been moments where I have sat back and said, “How am I going to do this? This is too big, too important a subject. I can’t do it.” I think we all have days like that. I guess those are the days I’ll remember Zach and Ellie’s 14 miles. I’ve just got to keep pushing those pedals and, eventually, hopefully, I’ll make it.


Mother’s Day

Being a mom can be tough sometimes. It’s hard when, like last night, my daughter starts playing with my son’s Legos and he gets mad because she broke some of the pieces off. Then they both fight for their cause until we need to send them to their rooms to cool off. It’s hard when, like yesterday, my daughter wanted to play with the neighbor friend who was over and did not want to finish her homework. Or practice cello. Or go to school. It’s hard when my two girls want the same toy, which my 6-year-old may or may not have had first, and my 4-year-old bursts into the tears of injustice. It’s hard trying to teach, for the 20th time, why we don’t call somebody “mean” just because they don’t want to play the same thing we want to play right when we want to play it.

On the other hand, being a mom can fill me so much with joy I don’t know how I can possibly keep it all in. These are the moments that make it all worthwhile. Like when Zach asked to go running with me on Monday morning and then that night when I asked him what his favorite part of the day was and he said “Running with you.” Then he set his alarm early so we could do it again the next morning. Or going to his first piano recital on Thursday night and watching him do what he has been practicing for weeks to do, feeling so nervous about it. Then afterwards, when I asked how it went and he said, “I loved it.” Or when Ellie and I were driving home from her cello lesson after a rain storm, and the sun was coming out, and she wanted to look for rainbows in the sky. Then, with her curious mind, she started asking me questions about all the biggest things on earth. Or watching her draw a beautiful picture on a Mother’s Day card with the most creative flowers and colorful sky. Or when Addie gets lost in her own land of play, having conversations between dolls or ponies or whatever for what seems like hours on end. Or when she laid down on my bed this morning and looked at me and said, “Mom, I don’t ever want another Mommy. I love you so much.” Or watching them laugh and be silly together. That might just be the best part.

It seems that the greatest things in life are the things that take a little hard work, a little sacrifice, and a great deal of patience. I am so grateful for my opportunity to work hard and sacrifice and be patient for these beautiful, amazing little ones. That’s the only road to the gifts they constantly give me of love and joy and wonder as I watch them grow into the people they were always meant to be.

To the moms in my life–thank you for your sacrifices and for everything you teach me and for your love. I am so grateful for you. Happy Mother’s Day.