Friday, September 30, 2011

You Think Your Afternoon Was Bad?

just be glad you weren't...

driving along highway 70
having The Talk
with one of your eleven year old daughters
when you
ran out of gas
started getting a migraine
had to wait for 40 minutes
to be rescued
got a bad tummy-ache
really needed a bathroom

and then when you said
she could ask any questions she wanted
she asked
do you and daddy...


The Truth Never Exists Unopposed


I get email newsletters about things in the media from two different conservative groups.  I’m actually not politically conservative, but I am very morally conservative and so I appreciate these watchdog groups that keep their eyes on inappropriate television shows and the companies sponsoring them. 

Every now and then an email will come out.  It will explain what their current concern is, offer a link if you want to check out the situation more, and then usually have a link to go and send letters to the advertisers.  I’ve been amazed and impressed at how many advertisers are influenced by these campaigns.  Sure, some shows are able to pull in new advertisers, but some shows fold because the advertisers see that enough people are upset about the show’s content.

Several weeks ago a new email came.  It explained that in the new season of “Dancing with the Stars,” one of the contestants would be Chaz Bono, formerly known as Chastity Bono.  The email went on to explain that this would probably mean that the formerly family-friendly show would now become a platform for transgender issues, discussing topics that we might not want our children introduced to. 


A week or so later we had the tv on during the day to get information about Hurricane Irene.  When we were done getting our weather update I switched channels and a daytime talk show with a group of women came on.  I believe it was called “The Talk.”  Just as I switched the channel one of the women started talking about this advocacy group and the email they’d sent out about Chaz Bono. 

I was kind of startled as I listened to them talk about the situation.  They were so angry, so indignant that anyone would suggest that a television show during the “family viewing hour” was not the place for a transgendered contestant.  And then one of the women said, “I think that this comes from such a place of hatefulness.”

I was shocked.  After all, I’d gotten the email.  I’d read the email.  There was not a thing ugly or hateful about it.  It was calm and informative and informational.  I was so disturbed that I just switched off the tv, confused about what they were saying and about what I was feeling.


Several days later I was reading in the September Ensign, an article called “Valiant in the Testimony of Jesus Christ.”  When I got to this paragraph it was like a light bulb went off in my brain:

The Savior and those who have taken upon them His name have always drawn and will always draw criticism. The truth never exists unopposed. It will always have many times more than its share of antagonists, desperately striving to disprove, debunk, discredit, and destroy. That is so because it is truth; if it were not, it would be of no consequence and the world would pay it no mind, much less waste any effort to oppose it.

The truth never exists unopposed. 

Now I could see why these women were so incensed about this email campaign, why they would label the letter and the people participating as hateful.   Because of the truth; the truth that parents should be able to control what issues their children are exposed to, and the truth that gender is something established pre-mortally and not something that we should choose to change.


The next paragraph in the Ensign article was also helpful, though somewhat less comfortable. 

Human tendency is to blend in with the crowd. “Broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat”. But we must be willing to speak up, stand up, and stand out for the truth.


I hope I can remember this lesson.  That someone is always going to be attacking the truth, and that it is my job to stop being surprised by it and to speak up for the truth. 


PS—Please know that I have every sympathy for people who feel uncomfortable with their gender.  I just don’t think sex-change operations as a solution are a part of Heavenly Father’s plan, and I don’t want my children learning about these things while watching DWTS.  Not that they watch DWTS.  But you know what I mean…

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Say What?

Every now and then when I download the pictures off of my camera I find some surprises.  This was one of those times…


I’m still not sure who was responsible, though I have my suspicions.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Is it Bad to Say I Despise Bronson Alcott?

After all, the man has been dead for almost 124 years.

But seriously, I do.


A couple of years ago I read a book called “Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and her Father.”  Last night I finished reading a book that was part biography and part novel, called “The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott.”  The novel’s premise was that a strong-willed passionate woman like Louisa surely must have had a romance at least once in her life, even if there is no record of it.  (Apparently  she burned many of her letters.) 

This book was entertaining, the romance was (mostly) realistic, the ending was sad.  But other than my sadness that everyone in this world doesn’t get a happily-ever-after wonderful marriage and life like I have, my overriding feeling after reading each book was one of disgust for her father.

Bronson Alcott was a man who’s brain was filled with big ideas.  I get this, really I do.  My brain is going 24/7.  But he was so busy thinking his lofty thoughts and so unwilling to compromise any of his high intellectual values that his family suffered most of their lives.  He taught school from time to time, but invariably offended the parents with his controversial methods.  He was unwilling to hold a job that might “damage his soul” (which meant anything involving commerce) and his family depended largely on handouts from family and friends until Louisa achieved success as an author.

Bronson was a vegan before there were vegans.  Not only was he unwilling to eat animals or animal products, he was unwilling to wear ANY.  For a time he only allowed his family to wear linen, as cotton, wool, etc were produced from animal products.  He wouldn’t even plant root vegetables or use a plow because it might disturb the worms! 


Today I want to say a big thank you.  Thank you to my wonderful husband who goes to work every days, when sometimes it feels like a mind-numbing slog.  Thanks to my dad who worked harder than most human beings ever have to in order to meet our basic needs.  And thanks to all of the other hard working fathers out there, who might rather sit around and talk with Emerson but instead are doing what it takes to take care of their families. 

You guys are awesome.

(rant over.  you may now go back to your regularly scheduled program.)

Which One of These is Not Like the Other???


What?  You mean you don’t have a rifle by your purse???

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What’s Going On Here?


If you stop paying tuition, do they revoke your right to have the bumper sticker???

Monday, September 26, 2011

Manna to an (Ex) Scrapbooking Mother’s Heart

We have all of these scrapbooks.  Years and years and years of them.  And sometimes I wonder why I ever made all of them.

But the other day I walked into the schoolroom, and look what I saw.


They looked at all of them!  Read what they said!  Talked about the pictures!

It was wonderful…


Saturday, September 24, 2011

My Least Favorite Thing About North Carolina

I love North Carolina so much.  I love almost everything about it.  But this time of year I am reminded, without fail, about what I don’t like.


Everywhere I look, everywhere I turn.  Too often where I walk.


Even on my tire.  I discovered this guy at the end of our driveway.  Yuck!


I know they’re an important part of the food chain.  That they eat lots of mosquitoes.  And other unsavory bugs.  I just wish they would do it FAR AWAY FROM ME!!!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Catching Up: Utah 2011

Ok, I’m going to try to do it.  I’m working on a new blurb book (for 2010) and I’ve realized that it makes me sad when something big in our lives doesn’t make it into the blog and into the blurb book, since this is the best record of our lives that is happening.  So here goes.  Eventually I will change the dates to move the posts into chronological order, but for now I’m just going to put them in as I get them done.  Wish me luck!

Arches 2011 (175)_ edited

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Help! My Cookbook Runneth Over!

I really love cooking blogs on the internet.  And  And all of the other hundreds of cooking sites.  Really—it’s amazing!  But I’m having this problem.  I have pages and pages of printed out recipes that I like.  I started putting them in page protectors in a notebook, but there are too many.  My notebook is full and there are still recipes left!


So—my question today is, how do you deal with recipes from the internet? Do you print them all out?  How do you organize them then?

Or do you never print them out and then just carry your computer into the kitchen?  If you do that, how do you keep track of them on your computer?

Please give me suggestions!

The Header That Never Was

After I made my comment about how much I love my current header, I happened to see this one in my pictures folder. This is the one I made first, then decided not to use because it was too tall. Too bad, because I sure love it! (If you're interested, you can click on it to enlarge it.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Blog Facelift

What do you think?
Yay or neigh???

ps--Russ says I can't ever change the header. Because it would make him cry. And I tend to agree, I think that's a pretty sweet pic of all of my favorite peeps...

Fall Squash

Last night at the grocery store I saw this beauty.


And what I’m wanting to know is-- really? Is someone going to eat that???

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


This is what happens when you take down the hummingbird feeders to clean and refill them, and you are standing at the window while doing it…


The Reading of the Riot Act


All day yesterday I was thinking of what our Family Night lesson should be about.  I thought and I prayed throughout the day, and finally the thought came to me that I should teach them about the importance of work in Heavenly Father’s plan.  After some searching I printed out the lesson from the gospel principles manual on work, and an Ensign article from 2009 that had stories from the lives of the first presidency.

We started by each looking up a scripture, and after we read all of our verses I asked the kids what they had in common.  It didn’t take too long to figure out that all of the different scriptures were about work.

After we had talked about the importance of hard work for a little while, I started talking about our attitude about work, and their attitude about schoolwork.  I could tell that the little kids each felt skewered by what I was saying—they sunk farther and farther down onto the couch as I was talking.

The thing is, my kids are great!  Wonderful!  They are obedient and good to do both their chores and their schoolwork.  But their attitudes about school have become worse and worse over the last year.  They spend lots of time talking about how much they hate school, how much they hate math particularly.  And they would be happy to spend all day every day playing computer games. 

So now we’ve read all of the scriptures; that the Lord is not pleased with the idlers in Zion, that the glory of God is intelligence, and that any intelligence we gain in this life will be to our advantage in the life to come. 


Will it help?  I hope so.  It is much less enjoyable to homeschool kids who are busy hating much of what they’re doing every day.  I hope we can make an attitude shift.  And I definitely will need to “show forth an increase of love…” tomorrow and in the coming days.

June 2011 376

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Wind Beneath My Wings

Zions 2011 224

On Thursday after work he met me in Costco with a kiss.  Then we went to work, piling our big carts with food for the upcoming stake women’s day.  After we were done checking out he loaded everything in my van, hugged me, then went home to take care of things there while I went off to help with food prep until late that night.

On Friday he left work a little early so that he could meet me at Costco again.  “When else will I get to see you?” he asked.  We rounded up the last few items I needed, hugged and kissed in the parking lot again, then he went home to take care of things there while I went off to help set things up at the stake center until late that night.

On Saturday morning the alarm woke me way too early.  I stumbled into the shower, dressed, did my makeup, then came downstairs to be greeted by a to-go breakfast; a scrambled egg burrito and a cup filled with sliced and peeled pears.  Many hours later when I returned home, happy, tired, and footsore, he massaged my shoulders and feet, then let me go to bed and stayed up to welcome a late-arriving houseguest.

He is amazing, and saying yes when he asked me out and I had no idea who he was all those years ago was the best decision I ever made.  Everything I am and everything I do is only possible because of him.

I love you, Russ!!!!!!

Emerald Isle 2011 1516_cropped

Friday, September 16, 2011


Is it odd that this is the second or third conjoined flowers that this gerber has produced?


At first I thought that maybe it was just two flowers growing very close together. 


Then I noticed another new flower also appeared to be a double.  So I looked a little closer. 


Maybe this is specially just for us?!?


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Good Morning, Sunshine

Take a look at my newest volunteer.


Thanks to whatever bird dropped the seed amongst the petunias, gerbers, and impatiens!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Accepting the Blessing Given


It has been a bad year in my mouth.

I may or may not have mentioned that in the spring I had fillings revised (removed and replaced) in 3 quadrants of my mouth.  (And then went and had a physical with my new doctor, while still all numb and unable to speak intelligibly or intelligently.  That was awesome.)

In Park City at the beginning of July I cracked a tooth.  The ‘nice big hole in the back of your mouth’ kind of crack.  A few days later when we were in Rexburg I found a nice dentist to patch the hole for me.  He was very impressed and told me to expect a root canal (along with a new crown) when I got home.

For this reason I was super excited when I got home and my dentist got started on my new crown and said he didn’t think I was going to need a root canal.

I was excited, that is, until during the week after the temporary crown was put on I realized that I couldn’t chew.  At all.  Not on the sore temporary crown, and not, as it turned out, on the other side either.

When I went back to get the temporary crown switched for the real crown, the dentist asked carefully about all of my symptoms, concerned that I might be in that small category of people with cracked teeth that just end up needing a root canal.  He was happy with all of my answers, until I said,

“There’s just one thing.  I hadn’t realized until now that I wasn’t chewing at all on the other side, and I can’t.  It hurts when I do.”

His face fell.

“That, my friend,” he said, “Is not what I wanted to hear.”

After a quick test he was positive that I had yet another cracked tooth.  (And decided that while I may not be grinding my teeth at night, I must certainly be gritting them, thus causing all of the cracking.)

A couple of weeks later I met him again at his office for another crown.   He decided while he was working that the reason for the pain was actually not that the tooth was cracked, but that the nerve was going bad.  And that it would need a root canal. 

Have you ever cried at the dentist’s office?  I came close that day, especially when the office manager told me that I had almost certainly used up my entire major dental benefit for the year already, that she wasn’t sure how much of this crown would be covered, and that I was probably going to have to pay out of pocket for the root canal which would most certainly be around $1000. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

When my dentist got down to the root of the problem (which was the root of the tooth) he was worried.  Very worried that I wasn’t going to be able to get into the endodontist before the tooth started causing me enormous pain.  Worried enough that he sent the assistant out to call the endodontist’s office right then to make the appointment, assuming that a dental assistant calling from his office would be able to make an appointment sooner than a regular person like me would.

She came back and told me that my appointment was set for 6 days from then.  And then they warned me about the pain, and told me they would give me any medication I needed for the pain, and to call ANYTIME if there was pain, and on and on. 

I was a bit worried.

But I had no pain.  Not a bit.

They even called me two days later to make sure I wasn’t in terrible pain.  I said no, I was fine.


Tuesday morning I got to go see the endodontist.  She was very good with the novicane needle and spent a long time drilling in my mouth.  It turns out that this particular back molar has four roots, and that mine are pretty curvy—one of them even makes (made?) a 90 degree turn, which was difficult for her to navigate.  But she did it.

We ran out of time, though, because the roots were so complicated.  (And let’s be honest—because I had a hard time finding her office, probably because I really didn’t want to find it.  In fact I almost got a stent placed instead of a root canal!)

Her assistant came in with three ibuprofen and they went through the pain discussion again.  I should take three ibuprofen now. I should take three ibuprofen every 6 hours, no matter what.  If that wasn’t enough for the pain, I should take three ibuprofen and a tylenol at the same time.  And if that wasn’t enough, here was a prescription for some percocet, just in case. 

And then I went out, made my return appointment for early October, and let the nice receptionist charge my credit card approximately $1325 for the fun of the day.  Oh, and by the way, turns out that the dentists office manager was right; I had to pay for $836 of the $1036 of the second crown.


I took the ibuprofen offered in the office, and then took three more later in the day.  I felt nothing more than a little mild soreness which seemed to be about par for the course I’d had that day.  I kept waiting for the awful, percocet needing pain, but it never came.  Still hasn’t.


What I have felt instead was the financial pain.  Not really the pain of not having the money to pay for all of this dental work.  More the pain of not expecting to pay for it, and really not wanting to pay for it.  This frustration has gone round and round in my mind, just like the hamster on it’s wheel.  (Equally squeaky, also keeping me up at night.)

Why, I wondered to myself, could Heavenly Father not postpone all this additional dental work?  Until next year, when my dental insurance would pay for it again.  Why did it have to happen so far away from next year so that it wasn’t possible for me to just wait and have it done?  Why did we have to pay so much money right now when the stock market is down and Russ has to take days off without pay and when I didn’t want to have to use our money in this way?!?


And then, in the middle of my mental muddle, I felt the spirit give me a gentle but firm nudge.

Having had no pain is a tender mercy from Heavenly Father.  Accept what he has given you, appreciate it, and stop wishing for something else.”


I was startled.  I knew that everyone expected me to have pain.  A lot of pain.  A percocet amount of pain.  And I was really glad not to have had it.  But I was so busy being irritated by the financial part of it that I didn’t even stop to appreciate the mercy in being pain free.  I never considered that the pain could conceivably have been bad enough that I would have been thrilled to pay my $2000 just to make it go away.


I think the take home lesson for me today is this:  Don’t be so busy being frustrated with what isn’t that you miss what is.  And then be grateful for the mercy that has been given.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Time With My Mom

Last week I spent a couple of hours with my mom.

That may come as a surprise to those of you who know me, and know that my mom died more than a decade ago.  Let me explain…


I mentioned a couple of days ago that my mom canned.  That sentence in no way communicates the reality of the situation—my mom canned like a maniac.  She canned everything she could get her hands on, and as much of it as she was able to.  When I was in high school we lived in a neighborhood with some empty lots in it.  My dad got permission to plant a garden in TWO of the vacant lots, in addition to the garden across the back of our yard.  I can’t remember what else we grew (and weeded) there, but I do remember my mom canning dozens of bottles of beans, corn, and tomatoes. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2006 (5)

My mom was no canning purist—none of her vegetables or fruits were every going to place at the fair.  She canned her tomatoes by washing them, throwing them whole and unpeeled into the blender, then putting that in the jar.  I’m sure her other methods were equally fast and furious.  They may not have been pretty but they met our needs. 


On Labor Day I spent about 6 hours canning peaches.  I don’t think I’ve ever canned peaches before, so I was pretty excited to do this.  As I blanched and peeled and cut and bottled I had the strangest feeling; like my mom was teaching me what to do.  I felt it as I used the knife blade to pry the peach halves apart so that I wouldn’t make marks on them with my fingers.  I felt it again when I used the knife to lift the peelings off of the peaches instead of “slipping them off with my fingers” like my directions said to do.


As I worked throughout the day, I knew that I must have seen my mother doing those things; seen them enough times over enough years that they had seeped into my unconscious mind, waiting until the day when I would need that information.

I thought a lot about my mom that day.  As my back hurt more and more I marveled at how hard she always worked.  She had six kids like me, except that she had them in 7 years.  And then she had four more.  She survived my dad going back to college for five years (and working full time)  when I was 13.  During that time the 9th and 10th kids were born.  I don’t know how she did it, and I don’t  remember ever hearing her complain about it. 

My mom is my hero, and I’m glad I got to spend the day canning with her…

Scan243, June 03, 2002

Monday, September 12, 2011


I love gardening but I sure don’t love the bugs.  Today I found a bunch of mature (read: big and gross) squash bugs in a previously ignored area.  I poisoned the ones that were far away from the blossoms but still had to hand squish quite a few.  (Those gloves will need to be laundered now!) 

Then I found a partially full bag of manure tucked behind a big barrel of flowers and decided that I wanted to put it in my compost pile.  When I pulled the bag out there was a hitchhiker on it. 



Just in case you can’t tell that that is one BIG SLUG, here is a picture by Rachel’s finger.


I wouldn’t let the kids kill it (God’s creatures great and small, and all that) but I did put it out in the woods!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Swap

I’ve loved having the hummingbird feeder in the window over the sink.  (In case you hadn’t noticed.) 


But the truth was that the little birds could (and did) spend a good amount of time keeping the bulk of the feeder between us.  So when I was out refilling all of the feeders the other day I started wondering.  Would they still come to feed at the window if I switched feeders?  I wasn’t sure, especially since they have never seemed to like the other (more expensive) feeder as well.  And I knew I couldn’t put one of the little feeders in the window because they leak and I didn’t want the sugar/water on the deck.  Anyway, I decided to give it a try.  At first the hummingbirds seemed hesitant.  And if they see us moving abruptly inside the house they usually fly right away.  But they seem to come to the other feeder in the window just as much, and we can see so much better!

IMG_8735 good_b

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Secret Handshake

This is why we all wished we had a twin…

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Grapes and Hummingbirds

In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I grew up pretty poor.  Poor because of  a growing family and parents who were determined to be as frugal as possible, and then some.  My mom canned everything she could get her hands on and fed us as cheaply as she could.  This meant that a lot of times there wasn’t fresh fruit in our house.  But every now and then my dad would come home with grapes.  He would wash them oh, so carefully, and then sit at the table with the grapes in a bowl.  There was no grabbing a handful of grapes and stuffing them in your mouth, oh no.  These were to be eaten individually, enjoyed and savored.  They were a Treat.  (With a capital T.)

I still love grapes, I eat them slowly, and I often think of my dad when I eat them.


Until I was twelve we lived in Southern California, near Los Angeles.  My dad was a teacher then, and every summer we’d go for a camping trip in the Sequoia National Forest.  It was an amazing place, filled with trees that were taller than my young mind could comprehend.  The first time I ever remember singing “Israel, Israel, God is Calling” was in a small non-denominational chapel near the campground.  I remember playing with my dad in the river near the campground.  And I remember going to a place called Sunset Rock (presumably to watch the sunset?) and my mom being so excited every time she saw a hummingbird.  I could tell that seeing a hummingbird was a Treat.

I still love seeing hummingbirds, I think they are beautiful and amazing, and I always think of my mom when I see them.


Cindy Lynn suggested the other day that I was a little obsessed with the hummingbirds.  I am.

Part of it is because it’s hard to ignore anything so beautiful doing aerial acrobatics right outside your kitchen window.  But the other part of it is because it’s a connection to my mom.  She loved hummingbirds, and I know that she would be delighted to see these. 

So really, when I’m watching the show outside my window I’m loving it twice.  Once for me, and once for mom.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

We Got Pictures!!!

I had NO IDEA how exciting it was going to be to get the first pictures in the mail.  Seeing my sweet son as a real missionary is amazing!

Here he is with his companion, Elder Lucero.


And again, in front of the Provo Temple.


Here he is with the Elders of the matching tie.


Here is his district.  This just makes my mother heart happy!


And ok, this picture scares me a little…


Poetry in Motion

hummer curved

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It’s Not Exactly that Familiarity Breeds Contempt, But…


I just can’t stand here at the kitchen window ALL evening watching you!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day, Indeed


Nighttime Visitors

For some time we have suspected that there were critters coming onto the deck at night.  Just little clues, really, like the birdseed container being gnawed on, or the woodpecker’s suet block disappearing overnight, or this feeder being empty every morning.  (Despite it’s squirrel-proof billing.)  We’ve started only putting one scoop of seeds in it so that we aren’t going through them so fast.


When Russ was getting ready for seminary the other morning he heard something out on the deck and looked out the bathroom window.  He told me later that he saw two raccoons on the deck eating the birdseed.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about that…until Josh and I were up late Friday and he called out to me that there was a racoon on the deck.  I grabbed my camera (not sure what I could do with it that late at night, but darned sure I was going to try!) and ran to the window.

Sure enough, there was the masked, ring-tailed culprit.  Having his way with our black oil sunflower seeds.


Somehow watching it out there on the deck took all of the irritation right out of me.  How am I supposed to get mad at this???



PS—I have a hard time reconciling the image of the cute critter on my deck with the animals in the book “Where the Red Fern Grows.”  But I’m not going out there to play with it any time soon…

Sunday, September 4, 2011





I think there will be a reason to call it Labor Day…

Counting My Blessings

Do you have a favorite frustration or worry, one that you particularly like to take out and play with when you’re tired or overwhelmed or stressed? I sure do…

I had a meeting the day after I got back from Utah that didn’t finish until I was well and truly jetlagged. Then as we left the church building we realized that no one (with keys) had locked up, so we had to figure out a way to get the building locked and wait until that was done. By the time I started my drive home I had taken out my favorite frustration and was getting myself worked up into a lather about it.

The radio wasn’t on in the car, and after a few minutes of fretting I had a thought. I could, I thought, pray about my frustration and see if Heavenly Father could make it go away. And so I started praying.

I told Heavenly Father how tired I was of feeling this way, and asked him if He could change my heart in some way so that I could stop thinking these thoughts. After a few moments of prayer, a thought came into my mind. It was just a little memory of a talk that Elder Bednar had given in General Conference in October of 2008. In this talk, Elder Bednar had told of an experience when a visiting general authority had suggested that his wife only include expressions of gratitude in their family prayer. Although I had struggled with that idea at the time (and for months after hearing the talk!) I decided that since this thought had come to my mind I should give it a try.

First, I tried to find all of the things about my favorite frustration to be thankful for. And there were more than a few; aspects of this situation that I usually ignore while focusing instead on the parts of it that make me unhappy. Then I felt a desire to move my focus of thanksgiving away from this specific situation and onto my life as a whole; my knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His atonement for us, my wonderful fabulous husband, his good job, our comfortable home and amazing children.

As one thought lead to another and I paused to give thanks for each blessing in my life, I felt something start to happen inside of me. The re-awakening awareness of my multitude of blessings filled my heart, swelling and crowding out all of the frustrations I had just been experiencing, leaving only peace and joy. It was a miracle, a late-at-night jet-lagged miracle, and I was truly astonished and grateful.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the hymn “Count Your Blessings”—I like the words but it’s a long song and in our ward hymns are almost always sung slowly enough that by the end you are exhausted instead of uplifted. I decided that I need to find an arrangement that I can love, because I learned that night the truth of the principle that the hymn teaches…

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done…

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Note to Self—Mums

Next year if we decide to do mums again,


must remember that they are kind of brittle, and break easily.



Warning: Rant Ahead


I have a pet peeve—something that I hear from time to time from different people that just sets my teeth on edge.  Today I read a similar comment on a random blog and so now I am going to say my piece.

Last year a young mother was telling me about her friend.  “She has three children, and she got married when she was really young and had her kids fast and [I could tell by her voice that this was going to be the good part] her kids will be leave home by the time she’s 43!!! 

I didn’t launch into my rant at that point, though I sure could have.  Because this is my rant:  At what point did we, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who theoretically believe that "families are ordained of God,” buy into the worldly philosophy that our lives will be better when our kids leave home?  Because this is surely what I am hearing, over and over again.

Don’t get me wrong.  When I had 2 year old triplets I was certain that my life would be better when everyone slept through the night, when everyone both pottied and wiped on their own, and when we could all communicate in a rational manner.  But even then I knew that there was no connection between that moment of young-mommy stress and my children growing up and leaving home.

And what magical thing is supposed to happen once the children are all out of the house by the time you’re 43?  Life still goes on.  Bills still need to be paid.  For most of us, one or both will still have to be working full time.  How is that either so different or so amazing?  It’s not like life is going to turn into a beach vacation the moment the kids are out of the home.  (Because you know I’d be all over that!)

Cindy Lynn points out that there’s a real double standard in our LDS culture.  People are very judgmental and critical towards couples who wait a long time to have kids.  But for some reason it’s ok to have all of your kids early/fast, and then spend the next twenty years rejoicing about how soon you’ll be empty nesters.

So here’s my suggestion.  (Since it’s late at night and I am pretending for the moment to have at least some of the answers.)  Enjoy the moment you are in NOW.  Enjoy your life with your kids, whatever age they are.  And then get a babysitter and go out for the night and enjoy your spouse WITHOUT the kids.  And once a year or so, get a babysitter (or trade if you can’t afford the babysitter, or beg if you have to) and go away with said spouse for two or three or seven days.  Be together.  Hug and kiss a lot.  Have several complete conversations.

And then go back to your kids, and enjoy your time with them.  I am here to tell you that I am almost 45, I have had two children get old enough to leave home, and it’s not all that great when they leave.  I love the stage we’re in but I’m not so happy when I look ahead and see how few years I have left with these remaining kids.  Because (in theory, anyway) these are people that you love and care for—people that you enjoy spending time with. It stinks when they’re far away and you only get to see them a couple of times a year.  And when they really do leave, you find you’re missing some of your very best friends.

Emerald Isle 2011 403_edited

(If I have offended, please forgive me.  My intent was not to offend, but to present
an alternate opinion to one that I’m hearing from many different places.)

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Red Bag

We’ve always had the red toiletries bag.  Russ brought it with him into our marriage and I didn’t think much about it, other than to be grateful that I now had access to a toiletries bag.  We’ve used it many times over the last 24.5 years; anniversary trips, family vacations, beach escapes--wherever we went, the red bag was there stuffed with all of the accoutrements of the well groomed family. 

I started noticing a few years ago that the red bag was looking a little hammered.  And well it should after carrying our toothbrushes for almost a quarter of a century!  It must have rubbed up against some bleach, because at some point I noticed a big faded mark on it.

Every now and then I’d think that we were really due a new toiletries bag, but then I’d pack the red one away and never think about it again until the next trip.

One day last spring I actually thought about the red bag while I was at a store, and sure enough, the store had nice new un-bleached toiletries bags.  So I plopped one into my cart and brought it home, happy at the thought of being able to retire the red one.


But when I told Russ about my purchase I didn’t get the response that I’d expected.  Sure, he used the new bag.  But instead of putting the red bag in the trash, it remained in the corner.  For weeks. 

It turns out that he wasn’t all that excited about having a new toiletries bag and throwing away the old one, because the red bag was the one that he’d been given when he was going to BYU, and had then taken on his mission. 

I thought of that while I was getting Jason all ready for his mission; wondering which of the (bazillion) things we were buying he would maintain a businesslike relationship with, and which things he would develop an emotional connection with.  Who knows what it will be—but I kind of like the idea that every time we’ve used the red bag through the years, it’s been a little piece of personal history for my sweet husband. 

And that is why we won’t be throwing it away any time soon…

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I Blog in My Sleep

I have a hard time getting to sleep at night.  I don’t know what it is, but the act of laying my body down in the bed activates a signal in my brain to make me very aware of every last ache and pain in my body, and I seem to have quite a few of them lately.

Russ, on the other hand, is asleep approximately 20 seconds before his head hits the pillow.  Lucky guy. 

So I lay there, waiting for my brain to calm down and my muscles to relax and pray for sleep to overtake me.  And, quite regularly, I blog.

Not on the computer, of course.  Sitting up in bed typing on a computer would be counter productive to the whole exercise of trying to get to sleep.  Instead I just write blog posts in my head.  Posts about the day just past, about whatever I’ve been thinking, about how cute my kids are.

When I blog at night I am so eloquent.  From time to time I have the thought that I should really jot down a note or two to make sure I remember all of these profound thoughts and beautiful words, but again, that would defeat my ultimate purpose of trying to relax enough to get to sleep, and so I never do.

And in the morning?  Nada.  Zip.  My brain is completely empty.  I write during the day but  never can seem to achieve the same elegance of phrase. 

I have to wonder.  Do all of those nighttime thoughts accumulate somewhere, in some metaphysical blog-in-the-sky?  If seen by the cool and rational light of morning would they be as wonderful as they seemed in the quiet dark?

How do you entertain yourself while you’re falling asleep?