Monday, December 31, 2012

What I’ve Learned This Year


When Russ lost his job I had a plan. In fact, I had a big plan. The plan was that we were going to accept Heavenly Father’s will in this situation. We were going to have faith. And I, at least, was going to be very Neal Maxwell.

Here we are, fourteen months after the fact, and I can tell you that things did not go according to plan. It’s one thing to say we’re going to experience something in such and such a way, but I’ve learned that it’s entirely another thing to succeed in doing it that way.

Now we have been obedient to what we’ve felt was Heavenly Father’s will. Russ took the job in Oregon. Eventually (and not even too much later) I joined him here. We sold our wonderful house. (And lost a lot of money doing it.)

But oh, my heart has been far from Heavenly Father’s will. My heart has been broken, and if I had been Lot’s wife I would have been a pillar of salt a million times over. I expected to experience some grief, but I have been surprised at it’s intensity. (But why shouldn’t the death of our life in North Carolina with all of it’s happiness and memories bring intense grief?)

I have also been surprised by the anger I have experienced. Anger at God for having this plan for us. (Someone suggested that Jason might find his wife because we moved to Oregon. My answer? “He can find his own wife!”) Anger at people who got to live where they wanted to live. Anger at people who suggested that I should behave or feel differently. Anger at people who got to buy houses in cheaper places. I’ve had all sorts of anger.

It was interesting to see how people responded to my emotional state. Fortunately most people just kept their hands off, or gave me a hug and then kept their hands off. But there have been some people who were like “YOU HAD BETTER FIX THIS PROBLEM. Because YOU ARE GOING TO BE IN TROUBLE for feeling like this.”

I’ve long been a believer that you have to feel what you feel, and that to some degree, there is not a way to short cut through emotions. And that certainly was the case this year. I could have pretended all of those feelings weren’t there, but it would have been like putting a pretty cover over a raw and ugly wound. It wouldn’t have helped and it might have slowed down what healing was occurring.

At some point during the fall I was talking with an old friend and telling her how I was doing/feeling. She started telling me about an experience she had had of praying, and wanting to pray about her child, but feeling like it wasn’t ok to request more help from God because her child had already had so many chances. But she said that as soon as she brought this thought into her prayer she felt a total rebuke from God, and the feeling that He was telling her that He is a god of second chances. It was a powerful moment, and it lead me to wonder how God felt about me and my broken & angry heart.  I took a quiet moment later to open my heart up and ask my Heavenly Father if He was angry with me. What happened was very unexpected.


I felt

nothing but space.

Bigger than a football field, with me alone in the center of it, just filled with space and acceptance.

I could not even comprehend the enormity of the acceptance that I felt.

Not a patient cover hiding God’s impatient heart. Not a stop-watch clicking down the seconds and minutes and hours and days that I have spent angry about God’s plan. Nothing but peace and acceptance.

I felt palpable relief at the realization (again) that I can NEVER assume that I know how God feels about anything. 


Later I realized something interesting.  If I had succeeded in my goal to “be as Neal Maxwell as possible” during this last year, I probably would have looked back on the year with some amount of pride in my faithful accomplishment. Don’t get me wrong—I’m sure there would have been beautiful experiences that would have come from being truly able to embrace this new plan—things that I have missed out on. But it would have happened because I did it so right.

Instead I have learned something about humility. And I have learned so much more about a quality of Heavenly Father’s love that I could never have understood before. I have learned that while He is waiting for me, He is waiting with perfect peace, with acceptance, with love. That He gives me an immensity of space and acceptance that I almost cannot fathom.

What a thing to know…

Saturday, December 29, 2012

How my life is like a tray of dehydrated apples.


I was loading the dehydrator one day this fall.  I dried apples again, of course, for days and days this fall, trying to make sure I will have plenty to snack on all winter.  For a while there I had it going every morning and every night.  One day I noticed something interesting.  Every morning I loaded each try as full with apples as I could without overlapping the pieces.


And then every night I turned it off and opened it up, and this is what I saw.


Hardly any apples at all!


It occurred to me that this is a lot like my life feels.  Every day it feels like I am packing my life as full as possible, even layering things on top of each other sometimes.  But then at night when I look back on my day, it looks much more like the tray of dried apples—like there is hardly anything there.


Russ and I had one of our (thankfully) rare fights a couple of weeks ago.  One of the interesting realizations that came from this disagreement was seeing how much expectation I pack into my life without ever consciously being aware of it.  I realized (in a very low moment) that to some degree, I feel like a failure every single day.  I was a little shocked by this awareness.  Later as I analyzed my feelings more I realized that many of the expectations that I have for myself are set as absolutes.  Things like:

  • clean the house today
  • do the laundry today
  • fix a delicious and nutritious dinner
  • make sure the family dinner time is warm and bonding
  • unpack more boxes
  • make sure all of the homeschool things get done

and those are just a few. 

As I thought about all of these expectations I realized that there is never a way I can succeed at most of these most of the time—at least not the way they’re set up in my mind.  Some of these things are simply a work in progress by definition.  As I am cleaning one part of the house, some other part of the house is being un-cleaned.  I never get all of the laundry done in one day (and my kids do their own laundry) and even if I do, by that night there’s more laundry again.  I may succeed at fixing a delicious and nutritious dinner one day, but the next day I have to prove myself again or I fail. 

Expectations seem like a good idea.  You know, dream big, aim high, reach for the stars, etc.  But I’m just not so sure, when I see that I am defining and condemning myself all day every day, without even being aware of it,  that I’m doing myself any favors.

Maybe one of my goals for this year should be to examine the “goals” (expectations) that are already running in my mind (like unseen background programs on a computer) and see if I can stop setting myself up for failure all of the time…

Friday, December 28, 2012

When in Rome…

So something interesting.  People in Hillsboro really love their Christmas lights.  I couldn’t tell you exactly how many homes in Durham had outside lights, but I think that a lot more people have them here. In some places it’s almost every house.  I’d guess that it’s because when it’s dark at 4:30pm, so there’s just so much more of the night to enjoy the lights!

I’d really always wanted outside lights, but our roofline in NC was SO HIGH and just straight so it wouldn’t have been too exciting anyway.  But here—here it was doable.  And Josh needed to earn some money so I had a willing worker.

I’m already scheming to figure out how to get lights on the upper roofline, but since the roof is tile and you’re not allowed to walk on it, that gets much trickier.  So who knows.  But I have definitely enjoyed what lights we do have.

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Our neighbor across the street has his house decorated with red and white lights, which I’ve never seen before and are terribly cute.  I’d copy in a heartbeat if it wouldn’t be so obvious, being across the street and all.


One thing that is interesting is that so many of the lights are just as straight as little soldiers.  I didn’t realize until we bought ours that the lights have clips on them to keep them in place perfectly.


I should say just so you know that the rest of these houses aren’t in our neighborhood—Russ & I just went for a drive the other night.

I love it when people have lights on all of their rooflines, esp when they have a lot of different rooflines!




Some people really go all out.  The craziest one is over by the seminary building, but we didn’t go over there when I had a camera with me.


Even the city gets in on it.  This is a picture of the Hillsboro Stadium.  (taken from the freeway @ 55mph)  It’s huge and really neat to see all lit up.


And here is my favorite house to see.  It is a darling house anyway, and they decorate it just perfectly for Christmas.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

A new Christmas Eve tradition is born?

Several months ago I bought a groupon for all of us to go ice skating.  Then life just got crazy busy.  The groupon expired on December 25th, so I figured that we would go skating either the Saturday before Christmas, or on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. 

It turned out that the afternoon of Christmas Eve was the perfect timing.  What it meant was that we started our family time together that day at 3pm, instead of at dinner.  And we had such a great time together.  When we got to the rink there were a fair amount of people there, but with 30 minutes most of them had gone and there were less than two dozen people on the ice. 

When we arrived Santa was actually out on the ice skating around—that was kind of fun!  (Sorry—only cell phone pics this time.)


For some reason ice skating is an activity that really seems to draw our family together.  It’s not that we skate in a big Ray group around and around the ice, but we seem to keep coming back together in different combinations and truly having fun together.  We stayed until they were almost ready to close and then wobbled off of the ice and changed back into our regular shoes.

Two memories:

First, I sat down by a little boy to change my shoes because one of the kids had mentioned that these little kids were speaking with British accents.  (The whole group, adults & kids alike, sounded like they were visiting from England.)  The little boy, adorably blonde and maybe 3 years old, put his face really close to mine, and then he said in his charming little accent,

are you….. someone’s nanny???   (except that it sounded more like “ah yuuu”)

Ouch!  I rallied quickly and told him that pretty soon I would be someone’s nanny indeed.

Second: we realized that we had forgotten the Monterey Jack cheese necessary for the Christmas Day mexican feast and so we drove over to the closest Fred Meyer after we left the skating rink.  It was 5:54 when we got out of the car and we knew that they were probably closing at 6.  Sure enough, the worker at the door told us we’d have to hurry.  No problem, we said, we just needed some cheese.  And some ice cream.  The funny part was that the whole 3 or 4 minutes that we were in the store they were announcing “Customers, we are closing in 4 (3, 2, 1) minutes.  Please take your items to the checkout counter to pay for them so that our employees can go home to spend time with their families on Christmas Eve.”  It was very entertaining!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Boxing Day

Russ woke me at 9:15 this morning (I love Nyquil!) to tell me that we had to leave for the movie in 30 minutes.  About 45 minutes later we loaded in the van and drove 30 minutes to a super-big screen theater where we had groupons that we were going to use to see the Hobbit.  We loved it, though my eyes were tired by the end from the 3D. 

We got home about 3, ate some lunch, and at 3:30 I told Russ that we should have a nap.  When I woke up it was almost 5 and pitch black outside.

Awesome, I thought.  Perfect way to spend Boxing Day.  Sleep, movie, sleep some more.  Tomorrow and the next day and the next there will be time for getting things done, but today, just rest.

The Best Part of Christmas Day

Was this:


There’s nothing like having your family all together…even when it takes technology to make that possible. 

(And Cindy Lynn wants me to point out that that was a really bad angle and reassure you that she’s really not that big.)

Snapshots from Christmas Day

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Monday, December 24, 2012

Let It Come Quietly


I have struggled to feel Christmas this year.  I’ve bought the presents, written the Christmas letter, made and received treats, decorated the tree—but all without feeling it in my heart. 

Each year I watch for the moment when I really start feeling the joy of the season.  There is no predictable way to know when it will come; sometimes it’s triggered by a movie, or a song, or an activity.  But this year, nothing.

Someone that I haven’t seen in a few months asked after church yesterday how the new house was, if we were getting settled in, feeling happy, etc.  I told her that the answer is complicated; that yes, we had been.  But that the Christmas season seems to have had a negative effect.  I think it’s just been one big reminder, just when we were really starting to get our emotional feet under us, of how big this change has been.  We are in this new house, with no idea of where to put the Christmas decorations.  Once again a major holiday without our holiday people who have been a part of every celebration we’ve had for more than a decade.  If I have felt any emotion consistently this Christmas season, it has been grief.  Which I am certain is not what people mean when they talk about “feeling the Christmas spirit.”

Yesterday we had a lovely sacrament meeting program.  Lots of music, the choir sang well, and in addition to my lovely girls a double quart that was richly beautiful and had “glorias” in the chorus. 

In my primary class I sat and listened to the other teacher teach the children that our Heavenly Father remembers all of his children, wherever they are.  She and the children read scriptures prophesying of Christ’s birth from Isaiah and Helaman, and then read the account of His birth from the New Testament.  I sat and thought about those righteous Nephites who faithfully awaited the Savior’s birth.  I am always humbled by their courage and faith.  I thought of the reactions of the shepherds when the angels came to tell them of the new baby, and of the puzzling instruction that the baby would be found in an animal feed box.  We looked at a world map and I wondered exactly how far the Wise Men traveled to come and see the Christ child.  I thought how lucky I am to have been born in this time, when I can read both prophesies and witnesses of His birth.

I thought more about the Nephite Christmas throughout the evening.  I read again the words spoken to Nephi by the Lord—one of my favorite moments in the Book of Mormon.  “Lift up your head and be of good cheer, for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I unto the world.” 

Sunday night I stayed up late to email Jason, not certain that I would be up early enough on Monday to email him before he was online in Chile.  I wrote to him about a small and relatively unimportant (in the grand scheme of things) tender mercy I’d seen in my life recently, and about some tremendous and probably life-saving tender mercies our friends had just experienced.  As I wrote I felt such gratitude for a loving Heavenly Father who is concerned and caring for us—not just in the big problems, but in the little ones as well.

I lay in bed later waiting to fall asleep and thinking over the happenings and thoughts of the day.  My thoughts drifted back to the primary lesson again.  The children in our class are often very energetic, and sometimes it’s hard to know if they’re actually internalizing anything from a lesson.  I don’t know if they did that day, but I do know that I did.  As I lay there thinking of the lesson, thinking of all of the different prophets who testified of Christ’s birth, sometimes hundreds of years before He would be born, my heart was filled again with gratitude—gratitude for the prophecies of His birth, and for the fact of His birth. 

And then I thought to myself, oh, there it is in my heart right now.  The joy of Christmas.  Remembering what a gift the birth of our Savior truly was and is.  That is what I had been waiting for all along.


           Let it Come Quietly

Let it come quietly this day, as sifting snow upon the earth.
Let me be quiet, worshiping with all my heart,
remembering my Savior’s birth.
Let there be singing in my heart
and choirs caroling His name, telling His praise like holy angel’s song.
Oh, let His light light up my soul to point me to His holy way,
a star to follow to His love.

[Song from the New Era years ago.]

My girls

My girls sang in a quartet Sunday in church—a sweet song called “Little One” published many years ago in a church magazine.  They did such a good job and were so lovely—my heart swelled with pride and love and it was all I could do not to cry.  I am such a lucky mom.

I wish I had a picture.  They looked all grown up with their hair pulled back and each wearing a pair of my dangly Christmas earrings.  Of course if I had a picture, you’d see that they were wearing last year’s (still super-beautiful) Christmas dresses.  And then you’d know that I must have decided that I agree with Pres. Uchtdorf, and think that some sacrifices are foolish.  (I could have finished the new dresses, but I estimated that it would have taken me until 2AM Sunday morning, and I know that my estimates are usually way on the optimistic side.  So I decided at 9pm to put it all down and walk away.)

While I’m talking about my girls, I have two funny stories that I wanted to make sure to record.  First, Rachel.

I went to see the last Twilight movie a few weeks ago with a friend in the ward.  When I got home, Rachel was waiting with her questions.  Did I like it?  And more importantly, when could she see it?  I told her that I’d never given it a thought, and I had no idea how old she’d have to be before I’d let her see any of the Twilight movies.  And then she said,

“I have, I’ve thought a lot about movies I can’t watch!”

Funny, funny girl.


Now Jenna.

We were waiting in a line somewhere talking about Survivor.  The kids know I watch it every week, and they watch it often enough that they know how it’s played and often who the contestants are.  Jenna said how cool it would be to be on Survivor, and I said what I always say—that I could never be on Survivor, because I can’t handle going without sleep and food.  Then she said,

“Well mom, if I grow up and get on Survivor and get to the ‘Loved One’s Challenge’ I hope you don’t mind if I invite Rachel instead of you.  I mean, you’ll be pretty old.  And Rachel is just awesome!  And I’ll bet she’d be pretty athletic too…”

No problem honey…just that my only shot at ever being on Survivor just went right down the drain…


[For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, towards the end of every season on Survivor they have an episode where one family member for each contestant comes to participate in a challenge with the contestants.  Clearly, you will never see me there.  Not that I’m bitter or anything.]

Saturday, December 22, 2012

O (NO!) Christmas Tree, O (darn) Christmas Tree

I haven’t had time to blog yet about our first Oregon Christmas tree; how I determined that we were going to have FUN getting it, and be like real Oregonians, and so one Saturday afternoon after the rain had stopped and before it started again (and before dark which happens here at about 4:30pm) we went to a Christmas tree farm.

[Oregon, as it turns out, is the #1 Christmas tree grower in the United States.  Followed, ironically, by North Carolina.  We had to drive approximately 8 minutes to get to the Christmas tree farm.  We passed several others on the way, as well as some tree lots.  There are LOTS of Christmas trees here.]

Had I blogged about getting our first Oregon Christmas tree, I could have posted pictures of how pretty the area was,


and how we walked up and down the hill with our tall measuring stick, looking for the perfect tree,


how there really is moss everywhere,


how we decided to cut an older tree and just cut it farther from the ground,


how everyone took a turn helping dad with the sawing,


how excited we were when it toppled over, how it had started raining again (earlier than the prediction), and how we slipped and slid as we carried our very heavy tree back up the muddy hill.


I would have told you that the kids waded in the pond to clean the mud off of their rainboots,


And that we decided to put the tree in the entry, thinking that this year with the mirrors there (hopefully they will be gone long before next Christmas) maybe that would be cool with the Christmas tree lights. 


If I had had time to blog I would have told you that it took over a week before we finally decorated the tree, and that as big as this tree was, we still had more ornaments than we could use. 

I probably would have explained that I’d just read that it’s better somehow (faster? better coverage? can’t really remember…) to put the lights on the tree vertically instead of wrapping them horizontally, so Russ tried it that way just for this year.

I’m sure I would have said that at some point every year I’m wishing for a pre-lit tree.


I could have told you that sometimes it was the tree that got decorated,


and sometimes it was Russ.



And that Josh doesn’t like decorating the tree, so he played around on the piano and then took pictures for us.


And that I still haven’t taken the time to take any good pictures.


But I didn’t, because I’ve been too busy to blog.




In the middle of the night I thought I heard something, and I felt Russ sit up in bed beside me.  I worried that someone might be breaking into the house.  Russ didn’t get up and go anywhere though, so I decided that something must have fallen in the boy’s room above us.  And I closed my eyes and went back to sleep.


This morning Russ got up and into the shower and I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep.  Just as I was convincing myself it really was going to happen, there was a knock on my bedroom door.  Darn it, I thought, Russ is in the shower and so I will have to deal with this!  I asked what they needed, and then I heard Rachel’s little voice coming through the door,

The Christmas tree fell over!

Ahhhh, I thought….that was the sound in the night.  No one was breaking in after all.  It was just the darned tree, falling.

And when we went in and picked it back up, falling again just for good measure.


By the time Russ was out of the shower we had it up again, and he & Jared spent quite a long time re-adjusting it in the tree stand.  He realized that it hadn’t been watered for a day or two and we think that’s one reason it fell.

I’m surprised at how few ornaments broke, considering a huge tree fell onto a wood floor.  A few of the ornaments that broke are part of sets, so the loss of one or two is sad but not unbearable.  There are a couple that I am hoping can be mended.

We swept up all of the pine needles (though I guess these are really fir needles, since this is a noble fir), bits of broken stuff, and sand from one of the broken ornaments, picked up all of the unbroken ornaments and set them in a box.  Russ & I re-strung the lights but I’d just borrowed the extension cord for something else yesterday so we don’t know yet if any of the lights are broken. 

Hopefully I’ll get the ornaments back on tomorrow (the rest of today is for sewing, duh!) and even remember to get a few pictures.

Right now Russ is on his way to the hardware store.  I think we’re going to tie the tree to the ceiling…just in case…

Friday, December 21, 2012

So much miscellany

1.  We’ve all had some pesky cold/cough.  The boys were home from church/school several days.  Russ had it last week.  I came home from church feeling pretty bad but felt much better by Monday, then not as good again yesterday.  Only Jenna seems to have escaped it entirely.

2.  On Thursday the kids went to school and stayed at school.  They went in their pajamas because it was “pajama day.”  They called once they were there and asked if they could stay for the pajama/reading/movie day.  They were entirely thrilled about it, and seem not to realize that as homeschoolers they have experienced any number of pajama/reading days in their lives.  At first I thought them staying at school all day would make my life easier, but that was laughable.  I’d already gotten up early to finish up the teacher gifts.  Then there came the call to ask if they could stay, and to say that they all needed their books and lunches.  So I got to round up books and make three lunches.  (They usually make their own lunches—I’m not used to doing that.)  After I’d delivered those to school and returned home I got a text from a friend helping in the classroom—Rachel needed her pillow pet, please.  By 10:30 I’d been to the school twice already.  They really did have a fun day—I love that the entire school gathered in the (hot) gym and sang Christmas songs together, and then they all watched Polar Express.  Though they only got through half of it…

3.  Teacher gifts.  We’ve never really had a teacher to give gifts to, so my kids were all jazzed at the idea of giving something to their teachers.  After doing a little bit of research online and thinking about it, I decided that one thing which seemed like it would be appreciated and we could manage (emotionally and financially) was to make home made whole wheat bread.  I also made a big batch of honey butter and added in a little peppermint extract as an experiment.  The kids were so happy to get to give their teachers something.  They even took something for the music/choir teacher (who we’ve spent a lot of time with this month) and then because I couldn’t leave anyone out, the PE teacher.  Rachel said the PE teacher was very surprised and appreciative.  I’m guessing she doesn’t get thought of as often, so it made me glad that we did it. 


4.  I still haven’t started the girls’ Christmas dresses.  That doesn’t bode well for me. 

5.  For the record, I clearly had NO idea how much time it takes to send out 100 Christmas cards/letters.  None whatsoever.  They are, however, done and delivered to the post office as of 4:52 yesterday afternoon.

6.  My kids have been far less interested in cleaning the house this morning than I had hoped.  I think I always have this fantasy that they will be aware that we have let things slide (sick/busy/school) and will be willing to dig in and deal with what we’ve ignored.   Not so much, though—it’s been a lot like pulling teeth except with less blood.

7.  Someone brought us “Secret Santa” treats 4-5 nights in a row.  First I’m super glad that it wasn’t freezing outside because I would hate for some kind person to slip on our super-slippery-when-frozen bridge and end up in the pond just because they were trying get away; fast.  Second, I’m not quite sure how to feel about being Secret Santa-ed.   Does someone think we need extra cheer this year?  They’re probably right, but truth be told I’m not sure I’m willing to be cheered.  I’m working on it.  The kids, on the other hand, were delighted and now they are dying to “ding dong ditch it” to take treats to everyone we know.  I see another batch of bread & honey butter in my future.

8.  At our library here (which I really love, and is less than 10 minutes from my house) not only can you self-check out your books, but you can pay your fines while you’re doing it.  How’s that for high tech?  Next thing you know they’ll be trying to give me cash back at the library too.  I’m still kind of bothered every time they offer me cash back at the post office…


9.  It’s surprisingly hard to decorate our new house.  In the other house we knew exactly where everything went and how it went there.  Here it’s a whole new ball game.  The tree is up, the stockings are actually hung this year (we can do it on this fireplace because we don’t have a mantel), but not much more than that.  I’d say I’m working on it but that would be an exaggeration.  Possibly even a gross exaggeration.  Something had better happen though, because the boxes have been out for days and they’re starting to make me seriously crazy.


10.  My visiting teacher brought me a poinsettia for my birthday.  (I do not particularly like poinsettias, but I do like my visiting teacher, and I would have accepted it graciously either way.)  It is still alive.  I count that a major (MAJOR) victory.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

It’s all in your perspective

Every morning for the past 13 days I have started my day with 1/2 cup of coconut water.  I’ve had it at room temp.  I’ve had it chilled.  I’ve had it with and without a straw.  And each and every time, I have been, shall we say, less than thrilled with the taste.

Let’s face it.  Coconut water tastes bleh.  I tell Russ that it’s not like drinking sweat.  Not that I’ve ever had a drink of sweat, and sweat is surely saltier than coconut water which is not quite salty and not quite sweet either.  Just bleh.

[Now I must interject here and say that in this 13 days of drinking coconut water I have had almost NO stomach problems, and I think the two times I have had problems can be directly linked to the stress of playing for the elementary school choir concert—though I played acceptably—and eating soup that was just too spicy.  So I will be the first to admit that it seems to be making a big difference.  If only it tasted better.]

This morning I came into the kitchen to get my zantac and my coconut water.  After I took the zantac I remembered that I’ve slacked off on my vitamin D for a few days and so I decided to take that too.  (I’m hoping it helps with the seasonal depression that is so common in the pacific northwest.)  We have a liquid vitamin D from costco.  It is pretty tasty—Jared would drink it if I’d let him, but I tell him no, the dose is just 1 teaspoon per day.  I grabbed a teaspoon from the drawer, reached into the fridge, pulled out the bottle, shook, poured, and swallowed.

And as I swallowed if I could have shouted I would have been saying something like “YOWZA, what the heck was that????”  Cause it surely wasn’t yummy vitamin D.

I looked back down on the counter at the bottle I’d just set down and then the light dawned.  It wasn’t the vitamin D.  (of course)  In the first day or two after my agonizing night in the Emergency Room, I’d gone to Whole Foods in search of Some Things That Would Help My Stomach.  And one of the things I’d come home with was a bottle of liquid aloe vera spiked with other herbs and bearing the label “pleasant peppermint flavor.”  Well I will tell you, there was nothing pleasant or peppermint about the flavor, and I was supposed to drink 1/4 c. several times a day.  So yeah, I haven’t been taking that one.

But as I stood there trying to rinse the flavor of the aloe vera juice out of my mouth this morning, I had the thought “hey, that coconut water really isn’t too bad after all, is it?”  I mean…it could definitely be worse!  Maybe this will help me start liking it better…

Friday, December 14, 2012

Heartbreaking Contrast

This morning on my way home from exercising there was an interesting interview on NPR, the guest a woman who has just published an article saying that the cost of raising a child is $1.7 million and that that is why she and her husband have decided not to have children. 

I don’t think anyone who doesn’t want children should have them.  Heaven knows, parenthood is not a job for the faint of heart, and there are few (or no) guarantees.  At the same time, I could never put a price tag on the happiness my children have brought into my life.


Just a half hour ago the girls and I went out to the van to run something over to the school.  As I turned on the van we heard the news on the radio: a man armed with two guns shot and killed 26 people, including 18 little kids, at a Connecticut elementary school. 

I am heartbroken.  It was bad enough when someone in Portland killed two adults at a mall earlier this week.  But children?  Why on earth would anyone do that?  I cannot imagine the grief that these parents and neighbors are experiencing today, and I too will be hugging my kids tighter today…

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Twelves Have It!


Wishing you & yours a happy 12:12 on 12/12/12!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Chocolate Family Night

Mondays have suddenly gotten more difficult at our house.  After guarding them for Family Night for years and years, all of a sudden Josh has swim practice on Monday evenings and the girls have a color guard group.  We’ve been trying to have family night on Sundays, but this week we had tithing settlement & our home teachers came, and that was pretty much the end of the evening. 

On Monday I’ve been trying to serve dinner at 5:15, but I know that the girls will be hungry again by the time they’re back at 7:30, and Josh won’t eat before practice so he will be starving.  Last night as we were eating I decided that when everyone was back home we’d have a chocolate tasting party so that at least we were doing something together. 

Russ always buys  me a box of truffles at Costco for my birthday, so of course for the last few weeks I’d been watching the candy selection.  I was sad not to see the box of belgian truffles that I’ve enjoyed from our NC store, and eventually “suggested” a different package to Russ.  The next week I saw a woman at the checkout with a box of Belgian Chocolate Cups.  I asked her if they were fabulous and she said they were, so I figured our family should give them a try.  I brought them home and stuck them under the bed waiting for the right moment.


We had such fun trying out all of the different combinations—dark chocolate layers, pistachio centers, almond paste, crème brulee—these were far more exotic than our usual grocery store chocolate. 


Some parts were unexpectedly delicious.  Some parts were universally disliked.  (coffee flavored chocolate bean, anyone?)  Some of us ate only a few of our selection, while others were determined to finish them off before bedtime.


I’m pretty sure that most of the kids will never remember when they are adults that one night we sat around the table and tried out fancy belgian chocolates.  What I do hope they remember is that we (often) sat around the table, and that we laughed together and had fun together.  Those are the only details that matter…