Thursday, December 11, 2014

The year we gave up Christmas-KSL article

BOUNTIFUL — It was summer when Mom had first mentioned the idea of our going as a family to Disney World. We were ecstatic. Because we were a family of 12, trips that necessitated hotels and plane rides were extremely rare. This would be a first for many of us. Before we got too excited, Mom explained to us that the only way this trip would be possible was if each of us worked hard and saved up money to pay some of our own way. We weren’t worried about that, though.
Mom and Dad had taught us from a young age the value of hard work. We jumped right in with baby-sitting, paper routes, odd jobs, lawn mowing and anything else that got us closer to our goal, until one day we made it.
Not too long after that, Mom gathered us all into the living room. I sensed that something was wrong when I saw tears in her eyes.
“We just learned that your bus driver’s 11-year-old daughter had a heart attack recently. She’s been in the hospital and I’m sure the bills are piling up. I can’t imagine that there’s much left over for Christmas.”
I wondered why Mom was telling us this. My bus driver wasn’t very friendly. He even yelled at us sometimes. I wasn’t very fond of him and neither were my siblings. Still, I was surprised to hear that he had a daughter just a few years older than me.


Mom continued, “And, there are some kids that are in a rough situation that attend your school.” The tears started to roll from Mom’s cheeks. “Then there was that boy at the junior high who recently committed suicide. His family needs money for a gravestone …,” Mom’s voice trailed off.
I couldn’t understand what was happening, but some of the older kids had started to cry too.
“There’s so much need.” Mom shook her head.
She looked at us kids with the most apologetic look as the tears flowed faster now. “I wanted to ask you guys what you thought about giving up your Christmas this year … for them.”
It was silent for a few seconds until one of my siblings spoke what we all wondered. “You mean, give up Florida?”
Mom nodded. She looked heartbroken.
Even as a young child I could see how hard this was for Mom. She almost looked like she wanted us to say no so that she could appease her conscience, yet still give her children the Christmas they had earned.
Although difficult, it didn’t take long for us to come to a unanimous decision.


We also understood that with our decision Santa would not magically appear on Christmas morning and reward us for our good deed. Mom made sure we knew what was at stake. This would truly be giving up our Christmas gifts — all of them.
Not long after that, I remember the envelope of cash anonymously left on the bus driver’s seat and my brothers' and sisters' excited faces as they shared their experience of leaving Christmas gifts, food and money on the porch of their various school mates’ houses and then hiding and watching their reactions from a distance.
I also remember gathering up my courage months later to ask my bus driver if his daughter was OK. He nodded and then thanked me for asking. After that, he was no longer just my bus driver, but a dad with a daughter close to my age.
Mom was wrong about one thing that year, though. Santa did come. I received a paint-by-number set and a baby doll. My brother received some Legos and a game. My other siblings, received clothes and ski paraphernalia. The gifts meant everything to us because we hadn’t expected them.
It wasn’t until years later when my brother and I, now adults, were reminiscing about that Christmas, that Mom disclosed to us who Santa was that year.
My oldest sister, just 22 at the time, had worked long hours in retail, saved up all of her money for weeks and spent every last dime on her eight younger siblings.
That was the year we all gave up Christmas to find it.

-Kate Lee

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"Thank You Soldiers"

When I was 18, I went to the Pearl Harbor Memorial with my Dad in Hawaii. I remember watching a black and white video of boys who were my age, soldiers who lost their lives fighting for mine. The movie was unarguably impactful, but seeing that movie wasn’t what taught me the most about veterans. It was watching my dad watch the movie. Tears streamed down his cheeks at that time and again later when he stood reverently at the memorial. His respect taught me their sacrifice.

I ...had the opportunity this Veterans Day to attend Valley View Elementary School’s play titled, “The Candy Bomber.” The play centers around Gail Halvorson, the American soldier who dropped candy, tied to parachutes, from his airplane to the children of West Berlin during World War II.
I was not prepared for the emotion the play brought to my heart as it did to all those in attendance. The story of Gail Halvorsen is wonderful, but this was more than that. It was seeing children under the age of 11 understanding, watching and acting out what it means to be free and what one person can do to change the course of history.

There were veterans in attendance at the play. At one point the cast sang the song, “Thank you soldiers” to those veterans. One was a 95-year-old man and one of six brothers to serve during World War II. Four of his brothers returned; one did not. Neither I nor others could stop the tears rolling down our cheeks when during the chorus of that particular song, the entire student body of grade school children joined in singing with the cast.

I am so grateful to those who take the time to teach my children the importance of Veterans Day and other holidays that honor our soldiers.

It was the perfect way to celebrate Veterans Day with the best yet to come. At the close of school, Valley View Elementary had a mock fire drill. The children went outside to the upper field where they lined up. Suddenly, the sound of a helicopter was heard and the children looked to the sky. It hovered just above the field. The children’s confused faces changed to huge grins as parachutes started to fall from the sky. Shouts and laughter erupted as the children spontaneously ran to the center of the field, their hands held high above their heads. Some of them sang the words “drop it here, drop it here” from one of their play’s songs “Dear Chocolate Pilot.” Once again the emotion welled inside me as I imagined this same scene playing out some 70 years previously to the very children these kids had just portrayed.

And like my own father had once done while I stood by his side watching, I stood holding the hand of my son with a smile on my face, tears in my eyes and a reverence in my heart for those veterans whose selflessness and kindness ended a war and bought our freedom.

Thank you.

Monday, November 3, 2014

KSL article about my cousin Mike Frame, his late wife Lisa and their son Matthew


'Matthew's Song' a powerful reminder of a mother's love

By Kate Rose Lee, Contributor | Posted - Nov 2nd, 2014 @ 8:52pm

My grandmother was in her eighties when she passed away, an age that is “acceptable” for ones passing. Yet, when they closed her coffin, a gasp and then a loud wail filled the room. It had come from her daughter — my mother. Instantly the eyes of all the women in the room filled with tears and silent understanding.
As a mother myself, my heart especially aches for those children who are forced to feel that acute separation from their mother at far too young an age. Children like that of my cousin Mike’s wife, Lisa, who loved music, dancing, the theater and more. Her real pride and joy were her children.
With the birth of each of her children, Lisa started a journal, not only for them, but to them. An odd concept perhaps — why write to someone when you can simply talk to them? Yet, Lisa did both. In each personal and separate journal, she recorded her feelings about their strengths, their talents, how they each individually blessed the family and mostly how much she loved them.
When Lisa was three months pregnant with her sixth baby, she went into cardiac arrest one night. Lisa was in a coma for five days before she and the unborn baby passed away.
Eight years after losing Lisa, Mike re-married. This marriage however, was extremely difficult, and four years later, they divorced. The separation was especially hard on Matthew, Mike’s youngest son. This woman, although the complete opposite of Lisa, had been the only definition of “mom” that Matthew had ever known and now he would lose her too — this time at the age of 12.
After the divorce, the family was again aware of just how much they missed Lisa, but perhaps it was Matthew who needed his mother most of all. Because he had only been a year old when she had died, he did not have anything like the precious journals his mother had written, which his older sisters treasured. Nor did his then-3-year-old brother Michael.
One particularly tough day, Mike and his boys decided to clean out some old boxes in the garage. As Mike opened a box and pulled out its contents, two journals fell out the bottom. One was addressed to Michael and the other to Matthew.
I asked Matthew if he’d be willing to share a part of his journal with me. Matthew couldn’t hold it together, but he nodded as he quietly got up from where he was sitting and reverently handed me his journal, open to a specific page. The words, “Matthew’s Song” were handwritten across the top.
I looked at my cousin Mike for an explanation.
“Lisa wrote songs for each of our kids that she’d sing to them for bedtime each night,” he told me.
Matthew wanted me to share his mother’s song to him.
Matthew’s Song
Matthew, my baby, be joyful and giving. Be glad you are living. Rejoice with a song.
Matthew, my child, be honest and true. The spirit will tell you what’s right and what’s wrong.
Matthew, choose wisely — stand tall and be fair. Seek to know mercy, forgiveness and prayer.
Matthew, my friend, never doubt that I love you — like stars up above you, I’ll always be there.
At the end of the page it simply said, “I love you. —Mom”
With tears in my own eyes, I asked Matthew what his journal meant to him, though I could clearly see the answer by the way he cradled it. It was his link to his mother, her voice, her words.
Struggling to get the words out and with tears now streaming down his cheeks, Matthew responded. “I didn’t realize how much love my mom had for me ... I didn’t know moms love like that.”
Shortly after Lisa died, Mike’s family would learn the cause of her death: an enlarged heart.
When I got home from Mike’s house, I opened my nightstand and found my journal. I wiped the dust off and began to write.

Kate Rose Lee is a Utah native, mother of three and author. You can read more of her writing as well as her books at Contact her at

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Updates on our house updates.

 I bought this light from the D.I for $15.00. I debated about it for a long time. I'm not sure why. I saw that a girl had painted a similar one to this black, so I decided to try it.

It took a while to tape it so that I could spray paint it.

We had a hole in the ceiling above the dining room table. I bought the round disc from Lowes and we hung the light. Turned out to be a great idea. Not bad for a 15 dollar light. 
Here is a couple other D.I finds. I wanted two chairs for my boys rooms. They were 6 dollars a piece. I let them pick out some fabric. I let my older boy paint his too.

 I stressed a bit letting him paint it, but figured it was about a ten dollar chair for all the supplies. It turned out cute and I'm glad I let him do it. He helped me staple on the fabric too.
 This is the two-year -olds chair. I used spray paint which looks a lot better than the regular paint we used on the blue chair, but since I already had that paint leftover, we used it.

Super easy, super cheap, super cute. I love projects like that.

 This is my two-year-old -Edisons room. It was used as a dining room before we bought the house. I took the wallpaper down and added some wood work to the lower half of the wall.

 The wall with the closet to the door-we added to make it a bedroom.

 My sister-in-law and I did the wood work on the bottom. I was so grateful to have her help. It's easier with two and always a good idea to have someone check my math.
 Mostly finished project. I will still do some more decorating, but it's great for now. Those cute old car pictures, were pictures we found in my Mother in law's basement. They were given to her husband as a gift. Since my Father in law has passed on, it's neat to have something of his to display in our son's room. The lamp was D.I for $3. I made the curtains and the dresser we got off of KSL for $40. My sister gave me the rug for doing some work for her and the airplane boy picture I got for under $20. This room ended up being a great value! This room was fun to finish. It took me awhile to get to it and my son was so excited when he learned it was his room. He kept jumping up and down and pointing at items and saying. Dat's Eddies?!!! Dat's mine??!! It was cute.

You can look back at my other remodel post to see what this basement looked like before it was an apartment. The apartment was our biggest project and we are beyond thrilled that it is done and we have a darling couple renting it!
This is their front door. I painted it black and it added a lot.
 The bathroom is on the right. We didn't have to do much in here. I painted the walls white and the cabinets grey. I found some great tile remnants on KSL for $40.00 so we did the floor.
 We had to build a kitchen from scratch. That was crazy! My husband was amazing. I bought these cupboards on KSL for 100 dollars. We used what we could and then my he built boxes to make them work. My oldest son loved tiling with me and did a great job.

We added a great laminate grey floor that we got for only $1.37 a square foot! It turned out darling. We loved it so much we decided to do it upstairs in our portion of the house. I painted the cupboards and for $120 we had cabinets and a back splash. Not bad at all.

This is the dining room area. I painted the existing cupboards white and spray painted the existing hardware.

This is their master bedroom. 

The other room they are using as a closet. So glad it's done and they are here!!

 This is the upstairs living room. It is still a work in progress. But here is the progress. :)

 I'll paint the front door black eventually and we will finish that grid wall eventually too, but it's getting there.
The kitchen will eventually be re-done, but for now we just painted and added the new floor. That's the old light that you can see hanging. The light that I replaced with the D.I. find.

Our kitchen dining room before the floor.

I need to take some more updated pictures of this room ,but for now this is what I had on the camera. This room we decided to use as a playroom/office area. We added that same grey floor as the kitchen and downstairs.

I painted the entire room white in place of the yellow and it brightened it right up!

 I found these "benches" at downeast home outlet. They are actually the drawer/dresser things that go under king sized beds. They didn't have the drawers in them so the guy gave them to me for 65 dollars for both. I made cushions for the tops of them and called them bench seats. They are the perfect size for my kids. The underneath area I am using for kids storage (toys, legos, books, activities).
My favorite thing about this room is the door. I need to find a before picture. It was a cream colored door. The black paint added a ton! I love this room. The shelves I made from a piece of barn wood that the previous owners used as paneling in the basement. I bought the hardware for $4 bucks a piece and had instant shelves. 

I will get the other pictures loaded on here, hopefully soon. It's getting there. We are so lucky to have a home. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

I'm not a perfect mom. My latest article on KSL

BOUNTIFUL — I sat in church Sunday with a group of women when one woman raised her hand and humbly, with emotion in her voice, explained she was a terrible mom because she was losing her cool with her kids so often lately.
The woman is eight months pregnant, has two other young children at home and her husband has been away the past three months for work.
My heart went out to this young mother. It was so easy to relate to those same feelings of failure for the countless times I myself have reacted the very same way that she probably had. I realized that all of the self-help books, counting to 10 and knowing a child’s love language is useless in that moment when complete and utter mental and physical exhaustion pushes you to your breaking point and dad’s not there to save you or your — or perhaps he's not even there at all.
In today’s world, mothers are constantly made aware of how traumatic it is to spank our kids, to yell at them, to not hold them or play with them enough, to feed them non-organic food, let them play video games or watch TV and give them sugar or fast food and every other thing that I probably do wrong or not enough.
But I’ve learned something in trying my best to raise my three young kids. My best is not perfect and it never will be, and that is a thought that is both a relief and dejecting.

Sometimes as mothers, we don't need one more piece of parenting advice or one more self-help book filling up our nightstand. Sometimes we simply need a friend; someone to tell us that our kids will turn out just fine in spite of us and because of us; just like we did.
I have learned that there is real power in asking my children for forgiveness when I know I have once again “failed” as a mother. I’m always amazed and touched at how quickly they offer it regardless of the fact that this is not the first time I have had to ask nor will it be the last. Perhaps tougher still, I am learning to forgive myself — something that for a mom can be incredibly hard because no one is harder on Mom than Mom.
After hearing this young mother’s confession, I couldn’t resist raising my hand. I asked this young mother her name.
“It’s Jacquelne.” She said almost fearful. I’m sure she worried that she was about to receive one more unsolicited piece of advice on what she should have done or could do better.
“Well, Jacquelne.” I said, now with emotion in my own voice. “You just call me the next time you feel that way, OK? You can scream, rant and do whatever else you need to do to feel better again. There are times that I’m the exact same way and that’s OK. I’m not perfect and I know I make a lot of mistakes, but I love my kids tremendously just like you love yours. Because of that I know something for a fact that even with all our mistakes and shortcomings we are still good moms you and I.”
The truth of the matter is that most moms are good moms, but we work hard at times convincing ourselves and each other that we are not. There is no right way to parent and apparently there are a million wrong ways. Just ask your own mother. If she is anything like mine she will be quick to tell you all the things that she did wrong in raising her own children. Yet in my eyes she did it exactly right.
When Jacqueline admitted her feelings, I didn’t judge her, or think her kids were given the short end of the stick, or worry that they would suffer their entire adult lives as a result of their mother. I simply felt for her. I didn’t know her, yet I loved her. I wanted her to know what I need to know so many times in raising my own kids. That she was doing just fine. She wasn’t just a good mom, she is a great mom. Mostly I wanted her to know that her weaknesses do not define her, her strengths do.
Sometimes as mothers, we don’t need one more piece of parenting advice or one more self-help book filling up our nightstand. Sometimes we simply need a friend; someone to tell us that our kids will turn out just fine in spite of us and because of us — just like we did.

About the Author: Kate Rose Lee

Kate Rose Lee is a Utah native, mother of three and author. You can read more of her writing as well as her books at www. Contact her at

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My reading for LTYM

Listen To Your Mother

Sunday, June 22, 2014


So I haven't posted any updates lately, but we never stopped working. So I am now going to post a huge post with most of the updates we have done so far.


 This is my brother in law tearing out the workshop that the previous owner had built. This is only some of the wood that was on the wall. There is barnwood paneling on the back wall above the wood shelves.
 He was about one hundred times faster and stronger than me, so I just took pictures and let him do the tear out.
 After he had torn it all out, we discovered a fireplace! This room is what we will be using as the master bedroom in out new rental apartment.

 More of Travis' family came to help! My brothers framed in a new wall and changed the door from the left to the right so that we could use the room in front of the master for the kitchen.

 We then hung drywall.

 And the smartest thing we did and the only thing that we hired out on this house was the mud and tapping. Thank goodness for that! We also had the guy cover the ceiling tiles that were up before. Travis wired above the fireplace for a future TV. He also installed new wiring for switches and outlets.


I wish I had a better picture. This is after we painted, hung moldings, did a bit of wood work over the fireplace and got new carpet. Quite a change!

 This room was also used as the previous owner's workshop. The two rooms are connected by this large opening.
 My brother's slid all of the utility closet things over to one side of the room and then framed in a new wall. Consequently we gained another room!
 Sorry this picture is sideways. This is after all of the wood was cleaned out and it had been drywalled, mud and taped. The little door leads to a cold storage room and also to all of the plumbing for the hot tub that sadly used to be there and we wish was still there.
 I couldn't get a good picture of this room, but it's a weird angle. Anyway this is after.
This is a picture with the two rooms together. Very different.

So I let Cameron paint before I painted his room. This isn't a great before and I wish I had taken more pics. but this is it.

 We are growing to love the couple more and more that we bought the house from. We never got to know them as they both had passed on, but we love all the little and big things that they did to their home. We wanted to have a little bit of them still in the house as we feel like it's truly their home and we just lucked out big time in getting to live here. We decided to use some of the barnwood from his workshop to make Cameron a headboard. I cut the wood and stained it a bit and then Cameron put it together and put the finishing coat on it. It turned out so cute. We also used some for shutters for the outside of the house.

This room is very basic, it will be decorated later, but it feels great to have rooms mostly completed.
 More of Cameron's room. This is one of the elements that we love that the previous owner added. The desk area and shelves. We only had to add paint and make a new lamp shade.

Again this isn't a great picture, but is all I got for some reason. Those are toll painted birds around the room at the top. Meg was sad to see them go. I promised her that we would incorporate birds into her room somehow.

My brother Jeff after a text from me and came and put up trim with me. I painted all of the walls grey and then did a metallic stencil in pewter over the top. The stencil was a huge amount of work, but so worth it. I kept the wall around the window white and that's where we did the picture frame moldings.

AFTER: I have to say that her room is my favorite room so far. It turned out so cute. We made the bird pictures above her bed and I made the curtains. We also painted the little night stand. I need to get bedding eventually, but for now we love it.
 My sister gave us the dresser. She bought it from D.I. and painted it and added knobs. I love this room, because most of it is homemade and done very inexpensively. For all of the wood and paint I think we paid under $75. The rug I had bought years ago and never got to use. My favorite feature is the darling door. It was already here and we love it!!

 This is what our room looked like after we removed the mauve carpet. It had half original wood in it and then plywood on the other half since it was an addition. We decided to add wood on the top as it was way easier. This room I am very proud of because I did 80% of it. It felt awesome to do it myself. so here is the Before.
 I made a headboard because I have always wanted one. It cost $70 and was super easy. Only took a couple hours.
 We went with super complicated on the wood design for this room. It turned out awesome, but took me about 12 hours just to caulk and paint it. I had already painted it blue on top. I was very hesitant with blue, but am thrilled with the results. Travis' loves blue so it was his idea and I'm so glad I listened!
 I even made my kids paint!
 Here is what the squares look like once they are caulked and painted. I cut the wood and put them up. It looks harder than it is. Luckily they are all the same cut so it's pretty basic. Travis had to do around the outlets though and he did a great job!
 AFTER: I still need to decorate and make pillows and things, but I am thrilled to be done with the painting and woodwork. My niece and nephews were awesome-they came and helped me lay the wood floor.
 This room is huge, so it's kind of fun to have a place for me to write as well. The chair I got from D.I for 20 bucks and I will eventually cover it. The pear I painted so I could have art work. The desk was free as was the dresser. The picture on top is one of two from my mission in Italy. I think I am most proud of this room because most of it is homemade or very cheap and redone. There is something awesome and satisfying about doing it yourself! Our favorite feature about this room is that it leads out to it's own private deck! I feel like I am sleeping in a cabana each night. So fun.
 Closer look at the squares.
 Desk area.

So that is it for now. I thought getting a lot done would help me to relax, but it's only made me want to keep going!!