Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Feats, Treats & Eats

A couple of weeks ago I posted that I didn’t know how to keep track of recipes I like or want to try.  Two of my (wonderful) friends suggested that I used pinterest.  At first I was dubious—it took me a couple of days to catch a vision of what pinterest could do for me.  But now I’m hooked, completely.  Here are pictures of our Halloween, courtesy of pinterest.  (And Goodwill, but I’ll talk about that later.)  Several of the ideas came from the site itself, and several that I found in other places I pinned on my Halloween board so that I would remember the things I wanted to do.  Now I’m going to leave myself notes in the comments so I’ll know what worked well for next year, and what I need to do differently.  (Besides start cooking earlier!)  Without further ado, our Halloween fun!

I used to think I wasn’t a fun food person.  I’ve decided in the last few years that I’m not a creative food person.  But given the right set of circumstances, I’m totally up for trying someone else’s creative idea.  I brought fun Halloween food for our party today:


Mummy dogs, Apple mouths, Ghost cupcakes, and candy corn cookies.

For dinner tonight we had these tasty treats—


Pizza ball eyes, and Spaghetti & meatballs.

If our Halloween had a theme this year, it would probably have been eyes. 


I saw directions for a really awesome Halloween Wreath and pinned that on pinterest too to be sure I wouldn’t forget.  The girls had a great time making the wreath while I worked on costumes the other day.


Here is the finished product on our front door today, complete with glow in the dark paint on the letters!


Not all of our fun was via pinterest, of course.  We had a great time carving our pumpkins last night.  Here they are out on the front porch tonight.


The first two are Rachel’s, and the Owl pumpkin is Jenna’s.


Jared’s, Jenna’s 2nd, and mine.

And finally, the costumes.  These were all their own ideas this year—the girls were vampires (Russ called them vampire princesses when they added their new skirts to the mix) and Jared was an escaped prisoner.  He had glow in the dark paint on his writing on his back, but I never did see him in the dark so I don’t know how well it worked.



All in all, a very fun Halloween!

Is it time for a total career change?


I read online the day that Russ got laid off that Iron Man 3 is being filmed in Wilmington, starting soon.  The article said,

The production is expected to create 550 jobs for tradesmen, technicians and other crew members and more than 1,000 spots for actors and other talent.

Clearly, this is a chance for a new life for us…

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Temper Tantrum Over

Somewhere today between the wonderful Sunday School lesson on the teachings of Paul, a quick read of a fun book, and a much needed nap, my emotional angst faded away. I don't know if the thoughts and feelings I'm having right now are of the "worst case scenario" variety or the "prompting of the spirit" variety, so I will just keep praying that we can have as much guidance as possible. The Lord knows how much we love it here, and how much we love our home. But we know the most important thing is following His plan, and finding a good job for Russ.

Back to seeing what thing$ we can cut out of our lives...

Phillipians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sleepless Thoughts on Leaving and Trusting

I woke early Saturday morning.  It was ironic, since I almost never wake early and Russ had been worried that he would.  I lay in bed, listening to the rain in the dark and telling my brain to go back to sleep.

Instead, it started running the millions of possible scenarios in our future, leaving me teary and feeling both helpless and hopeless. 

It is one thing to sit in a class at church and talk about Lehi’s family leaving Jerusalem, or the pioneers travelling across the country with only 17 pounds allowed per person.  We can sympathize with their experience and talk about the need to have faith and trust in what the Lord has said.  We shake our heads about Laman and Lemuel and their stiff-necked stubbornness, asking why they would murmur about leaving their comfortable life in Jerusalem.  We can even hypothesize what 17 pounds of belongings we would take if we were pioneers and called upon to leave our homes.

The reality of it, even an abstract and unknown reality like the one we’re facing, is an entirely different animal.  Laying there in the dark I was distressed to think of leaving this home that we’ve come to love so much.  Of having to leave my big bathtub, my beautiful neighborhood, all of the space that we have.  The thought of having to leave my friends, our friends, can bring me to tears at any moment.  We have lived in this place for 16 years, and in this house for 10.  This is the longest I have been anywhere in my entire life, and I have put down deep roots.


Neal Maxwell said,

“The submission of one's will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God's altar. The many other things we 'give' are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us.”

Yes, this is really what we’re aiming for.  But in the nitty gritty of it, the idea of actually letting go of what I want feels almost impossible.  The idea that all of the things we have loved about our life for the last decade might be lost forever is almost unbearable.

I once knew a family in a similar situation that lasted many months. As I watched these people go through their unemployment experience I confidently told Russ that I would do it this way, and I would feel that way, and I would let go of the things I was holding on to so much more easily.  How ironic that I am going to get my own chance to live this experience and see if I really can live up to those lofty ideals.


In the end, of course, we will do what we have to.   But I can see the truth of Elder Maxwell’s words as never before.  That true spiritual success will come not merely when we are obedient, but when we are able to submit our will—our desires, our comforts, our preferences--to the will of God. 

I do not think it will be easy.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A good day for stocks

So yesterday was a good day for Semtech stock.  After being lower for quite some time, stocks rose about $3 a share.

Much of the increase in value can be attributed to the news that Semtech has discovered a way to make one of it’s small divisions “more profitable.”

Unfortunately, in this economy “more profitable” almost always means “fewer employees.”  In this case, apparently it will be “more profitable” for Semtech to operate without the 15 people in Russ’s group.  Including Russ.


This is going to be a new experience for us.  In 2005 the company Russ was working for was closed and he was laid off, but it was a very different experience.  He got to work for 2 months after the layoffs were announced and we had about 5 months of severance.  The economy was fairly robust and he found a new job almost immediately.

Yesterday he met with the HR person, was given 2 cardboard boxes to pack up his belongings, and then he was escorted from the building.  He was given 6 weeks of severance, 7 days of vacation pay, and told that we still own some of our stock options. 

Good thing stocks are up.


I lay in bed last night, thinking that now we will be able to cross another of life’s big traumas off our our life list.  We’ve experienced the death of a parent, worried about the death of a child, and now we’re going to get to learn how to be unemployed. 

Oddly enough, I feel like I’ve been somewhat prepared to have this happen and still be able to trust in God and His plan.  I don’t want to have to change our lifestyle.  It’s been fun to have this great job and to be able to relax some of our financial worries.  But it’s seems clear that that experience is over and we’ll have to learn a new way of living.

I might regret Russ taking that job; it worries me that we living in this big house.  But I know both of those things were put into our life by Heavenly Father—I know that as well as if they had come with a card signed by Him personally.  So it seems this must mean it will all be ok, whatever ok means.  However long ok means.  Wherever ok means.  (And boy does it hurt me to write that one!)


I am committed to one thing.  That this is going to be the best experience possible, for all of us.  We are going to enjoy having Russ around—what a treat it will be after his 90 minute round trip commute and long work days.  Happily I had just bought tickets last month for Mahon and Cindy Lynn to come out after Christmas.  So Christmas will be small, but at least we’ll all be together. 

Now I need to get dressed; we’re going to start our first morning as an unemployed couple by going to the temple.  Somehow I think we’re going to need all of the help from above that we can get…

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I Hope My Children Will Forgive Me for Not Being Perfect


This summer someone asked me the a question—something like why my kids didn’t play soccer, or why they didn’t play sports.

This assumption isn’t exactly accurate.  Cindy Lynn played soccer.  (Or stood around on a soccer field looking cute, anyway.)  Jason and Josh both played soccer and baseball.  All of my kids have been on the swim team for many years. 

What is accurate is that my little kids don’t play soccer, or do any sports other than swim team.  I’m sure my friend had no idea the amount of soul searching that has gone into that exact topic.  Rachel and Jared told me that they wanted to play soccer a few years ago.  It was really a bad year for us to spend almost $200 on signing up for a soccer team, and we were going to be out of town during the registration period.  So I asked them,

“What does playing soccer mean to you?  Why do you want to do it?”

and they responded,

“Having fun!  Meeting new people!  Getting treats!”

So then I told them they wouldn’t be playing soccer, but that I would try hard to be sure that they met new people, got to play more, and had plenty of treats.  And my plan has been relatively successful.


This is a real issue for me.  If my kids were to play soccer on the league that operates near us, they would have practices on multiple weeknights and Sunday as well.  If there were to play on one of the leagues in Durham every practice would involve almost an hour of driving, and there would go our family dinners & evening time together.  Additionally, one of the things I know about myself is that too much driving around & being busy really saps the life out of me.  It doesn’t take too much before I feel like there isn’t anything good left in me to give to my family.  No listening mom, no homemade dinners, no reading together or playing games.  Just grouchy tired me.  So Russ & I have deliberately made choices that help me be the mom that I want to be.


The other day one of my friends said something interesting.  She said “I think I can finally see that my parents were trying their best.  Sure, they did a lousy job at a lot of things.  But they were doing the best they knew how, and they certainly weren’t trying to hurt me.”

It really made me stop and think.  I have a whole laundry list of things I thought my parents could have or should have done better.  But, if I think about it, isn’t that true of them as well?  They were doing the best they could.  Sometimes they were probably only just surviving, with nothing left over for their kids.  Sometimes they were just ignorant of what I wanted or needed.  But they weren’t malicious—it’s not like they woke up and thought “I wonder how we can hurt one of our children deeply today.” 


Somehow these thoughts morphed into musings about what my children will think about the job I did as their mother, when they see it through their grownup eyes.  Will they only see my weaknesses and shortcomings?  Will they be entirely focused on the shortage of organized sports in their lives, or the fact that the house was never all clean at the same time?  What thing that I’m not even aware of now will my children will vow they will never do to their kids?


Eventually I hope  that they can see that I was really trying my hardest.  That sometimes my hardest wasn’t very great, but that it was still all I was capable of.  I hope they can see how much I loved them, and that when I made choices it was to provide the things that I thought were the most important.  And hopefully one day they’ll forgive me  for not being perfect…


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Vocabulary Lesson

I was chatting with Cindy Lynn on the phone yesterday, telling her about something that had happened that bothered me. 

I get it, she said, You don’t want to be incommoding anyone.

Uh, what?  I replied,  I didn’t say anything about any commode.


She laughed and said,  I thought incommode meant something like inconvenience.

I think you have the wrong word, I told her.

And then, just because my computer was near I googled the word incommoded.

past participle, past tense of in·com·mode

Verb:     Inconvenience (someone).




Well, as my grandfather, an old country farmer would say,

It’s a poor stock that doesn’t better itself.

Clearly Russ & I are good stock.



com·mode  /kəˈmōd/


  1. A piece of furniture containing a concealed chamber pot.
  2. A toilet.

The word commode comes from the French word for "convenient"…


Learn something every day, don’t you!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Oh So Tempting...

At our church we're going to have a Fall Festival and Trunk or Treat. But this? This looks so much more appealing...

PS--these pics are for my brother in law Brent, who really couldn't believe there was such a thing...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Girl Walks Into a Fabric Store And..

A piece of fabric jumps off of the shelf and into her arms!

I mean—hasn’t that happened to you???


For several years I’ve been looking for a piece of great Halloween fabric.  Halloween is harder than some of the other holidays—I want something that can be worn to church, which means nothing with skulls, nothing ghoulish, no witches, and it also needs to be fabulously cute.

And this was.


The only problem was that clearly a lot of other people had loved this fabric, because there was only 1 yard left.

After thinking about it for a while I decided that I would make a dress for a younger child, so a yard would be ok.  I thought about it for a day or two, and this is what I came up with.


It turned out just as cute as I had hoped, and I had such fun making it.  I haven’t sewn much in the last year; I’ve been focused on de-junking and organizing my house.  But I think it’s time to get back to some sewing!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

You Know You've Been Thinking About Your Diet Too Much...

When you have a nightmare that you've accidentally eaten the wrong food!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Finding Charity


A couple of years ago I started noticing something interesting.  I noticed that quite often as I walked out of church on a Sunday, I felt an unexpected amount of love towards everyone in my life.  The first time or two I just noticed it without paying much attention.  But as time went on and I noticed it more regularly, I started thinking about it.

After all, I was working hard in the rest of my life to behave in loving ways towards the people around me, and yet sometimes it was really hard to feel loving enough in my heart. 

And yet there I would be, having done nothing but go to church, walking out of the double glass doors and onto the sidewalk feeling like I loved anyone and everyone.

I was perplexed.  And intrigued.


I thought about it for a long time and  finally decided that it must be a combination of two things.  Because I am an extrovert, church is usually a positive experience socially for me.  But even more importantly, church is a place where there is a good likelihood that I will feel the spirit.  My hypothesis was (and is) that spending several hours in a place where I can feel the spirit helps me be able to have charity in a different way. 


I guess this gives me another reason to keep my wandering heart in places where it can feel the spirit. 

So that I can be nice to the rest of you.
Winking smile


PS—Even as I typed this I realized—I usually (usually) act nicely.  Because I’m well behaved, and generally prosocial.  (A new word that I learned at education week.  The opposite of antisocial.)  My problem with charity (that I am continually repenting for) is that while I may be well behaved, I am often so unloving in my heart.  I’m truly and continually grateful that there isn’t a printout on my forehead showing the world all of the thoughts going through my head.  But I know they’re there, and that I need to keep striving for more charity…

PPS—Yes, I have Sundays where I come out of church feeling like my heart/soul was disconnected the entire time I was there and I felt nothing.  I will have to pay attention and see if, on any of these days, I feel loving.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sweet Validation

I was just listening to an interview online with Sister Julie Beck and her daughters.  Apparently at some point the producer asked them what their favorite family activity was, and they all said (without hesitation) that it was breakfast with books. 

Sister Beck explained that she loved reading herself and she really wanted her kids to love to read, and so she let them bring a book to the breakfast table on Saturday mornings.

Then one of the daughters went on to say that she really didn’t know how to eat without a book!  She said that occasionally now she and her husband will tell their family that they’re having a “reading dinner” (which usually means her husband needs some peace and quiet)  and all 7 of their children will run and grab their books.  Their youngest children read the Friend magazine because it doesn’t matter if they spill on that.


I love it.  Because not only do I read in the bathtub, I read while I eat.  Not if I’m eating with my family—I draw the line there.  (For me and for anyone eating at a table with me.)  But if I’m eating breakfast by myself—grab the book!  And I think we’re going to start having some breakfasts with books!!


PS—I must tell you quickly about the fun book I just read.  It was one I just grabbed off a shelf, and you know what a dangerous practice that can be.  But this one was great—nothing (NOTHING!) objectionable, and a fun murder mystery.  It’s called “The Sudoku Murder.”

PPS—I cannot spell Sudoku.  Took me 3 tries…

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Utah 2011—Pictures From the Road

It always makes me laugh to see how contorted these kids can get then they sleep…

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In Kansas at a big truckers gas station we saw these “wide loads” pull in.  Clearly they were not only wide they were LONG!  And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a tanker/container supported like this before.  Wish I knew what it was!

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We have gotten used to hotels having waffle makers as part of their free breakfasts, but the swanky hotel we stayed at in Denver had a new toy—a machine that made pancakes.  Seriously, you pushed a button, and a few minutes later a pancake or two rolled off of the (internal) conveyor belt and onto your plate.  The kids were fascinated. 

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And last but not least.  When we made it to Utah the kids were thrilled!

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Utah 2011—The Great Kansas Mystery

One of the things that is interesting when driving across Kansas is that you can occasionally see amazing church steeples in the distance.  I don’t know a thing about the history of Kansas, but I am curious to know what religious culture shaped this area.  We’ve driven several times past a sign advertising the “cathedral of the plains” which of course only adds to my curiosity.

While we were driving this summer I decided that we needed to get some post card stamps.  I immediately called my navigational assistant and asked him where we could find the nearest post office.  After a few minutes he called me back and told me to get off at the next exit and drive into the town.  Since I was already curious about the town (and it’s church that was visible for miles) I was more than happy to do that.

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Except, well, there hardly was a town.

Seriously.  What I finally found was three or four paved streets, crossed by three or four gravel streets.  You would think I could have found the post office right away, given the size of the town, but it eluded me.  Perhaps because I wasn’t expecting it would look like this.  The only way I finally found it was to look for the flag…

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And then I drove to the edge of town to see this.

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I’m still shaking my head.  What on earth?  What would such a tiny town, seriously in the middle of nowhere (even if it was near the interstate there was nothing else remotely near it) need with an edifice like this???

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Utah 2011—St. Louis Arch


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A couple of years ago we stopped in St. Louis and went up into the arch.  I didn’t want to go in it again, but I did want to go see it and to go see the movie about Louis & Clark.

(Clarification: the official name of the arch is the Gateway Arch or the Gateway to the West and it was built as a monument to the westward expansion of the United States.)

We made our movie reservation for first thing in the morning and got up and got packed.  I loved driving down towards the arch, seeing it get closer and closer.

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It’s amazing how much bigger it gets as you’re walking towards it.  You really have to be quite a ways away to be able to get a picture with the entire arch in it. 

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And once you’re right up close, it’s HUGE!!

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I LOVED the movie about Lewis and Clark.  Wow.  What an amazing feat their journey was.  The kids were kind of sad we weren’t going up in the arch again, but we’d done that a few years ago and I didn’t want to take the time/money to do it again. 

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After the movie we walked down to the Mississippi River. 

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I loved all of the bridges alone the river.

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When we’d left our hotel that morning it was cool and very overcast, but by the time we were done with the movie the clouds had started to clear.  There was just enough cloudiness left that combined with the sun and the arch (and with the fact that I’d left my sunglasses in the van) the light was blinding!  I just hoped my pictures would turn out, since I couldn’t see much in the camera.

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Before we left, the girls wanted me to take pictures that showed just how strong they are…

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I love visiting the arch.  I love driving towards it, seeing it get bigger and bigger and bigger.  I love walking around it and realizing how massive it is.  And when we’re done, it’s really hard for me to drive away without looking back…

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Utah 2011—St. Louis

It sounds funny to say it, but one of our favorite things about our trip to Utah was our night in St. Louis.

I generally Hotwire 2 1/2  star hotels for our trips, but this summer for some reason the 3 star hotels were cheaper.  Because I wanted to go to the arch when we spent the night in St. Louis, I booked a downtown hotel.

It was beautiful, and the kids were so excited to stay in such a nice place.  I loved the view of the arch from the hotel.

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The unexpectedly wonderful thing about St. Louis was the downtown.  In addition to many wonderful buildings, for blocks and blocks (almost from the waterfront up to our hotel) there was a greenspace and public areas.

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  Several of the blocks were a sculpture garden.  The sculptures were big enough that we could see them from the car and we were intrigued.  We arrived early enough that we had time to go and explore.

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At the entrance to the sculpture garden there was a map of all of the sculptures and information about each one.  It was quickly obvious that these sculptures were all meant to be interacted with.  Children were playing IN the fountains, dancing on the walls, climbing everywhere.  I didn’t let my kids get wet, but they climbed everywhere.  We had a great time.  (Although Rachel was a concerned the whole time about our time running out on the parking meter!)

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We loved downtown St. Louis, and can’t wait to visit again someday!