Thursday, February 27, 2014

Commencing Part 1: Operation survive the Portland winter

Project1As I have talked to people in this area about my experiences here the first winter (dread, depression, and general gloom) the advice I’ve gotten has been consistent across the board:

Plan a trip.

In fact it was even more specific that that:

Plan a trip to some place sunny.

Well!  I am all over that!  And so this winter I have all sorts of escapes planned, both large and small, in hopes that when the end of the winter comes I’ll be in better shape than I was last year at the same time. 

Today is the start of my first escape—a trip to Las Vegas where I will reunite with 10 former Durham-ites.   More specifically, former members of our incredible D2 bookclub.  Together we are going to spend the weekend talking, eating, a little sightseeing, more talking, and even…wait for it…having a book club evening.

I am positively giddy.  Total jazz hands…

See you next week!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

If I was to have another life…

Sometimes I think if I was to have another life I would try to become the Georgia O’Keeffe of photography.   This is what wikipedia says about O’Keeffe:

She made large-format paintings of enlarged blossoms, presenting them close up as if seen through a magnifying lens…

Yep.  I would want to do that.  For days I’ve been taking different pictures of the last of the valentines roses on my island. 


I am fascinated by the shapes and colors and textures of flowers, fascinated by the symmetry and the individuality of them all.


I don’t have a great photographer’s eye, so I am always wondering if I can use my camera to translate the beauty I see into a picture that shows that beauty. 



One of the doctor’s offices that I went to last fall had artwork all over it that was just spectacular to me.  I only had my phone with me but I still took some pictures of the canvases just so I could remember how terrific they were.  They were big squares, probably about 2 feet by 2 feet.  Aren’t these amazing!


Monday, February 24, 2014

Paying our respects—the least we could do.

A few days ago a friend in the ward told me that a young man in a nearby stake had recently been killed in action in Afghanistan.  She said that people were planning to gather to hold flags along the road near the funeral to show support for the family and wanted to know if we might be interested in going. 

Right away I knew that it was something I wanted to be involved in.  I wanted to take the triplets and I was surprised when even Josh wanted to go.  We borrowed flags from people in our ward, put on our warm (and waterproof) coats and set out for Beaverton on a cold and rainy afternoon.

When we arrived there were already so many people there with flags big and small and some with signs as well.  In the Target parking lot was a hook & ladder truck with it’s ladder fully extended, holding a large flag over the road.  It was a sight to see—for blocks in either direction, people lining the road holding their flags. 


As we waited I couldn’t help remembering my mom’s funeral procession.  In the south there is a beautiful tradition that when a funeral procession comes by, you pull your car off to the side of the road to let them pass.  I had done that many times without ever really thinking about it, but when I was on the other side—when people were pulling off the road to honor my mother, it was so meaningful.  The final bittersweet moment that day was driving past the policeman who lead the funeral procession and then stopped at the entrance to the cemetery, as he stood and saluted the cars that drove by.  I could not have imagined how much that respect and thoughtfulness would mean.

After we had been waiting in the rain with our flags for a while we heard a police siren blip.  Several groups of policemen on motorcycles rode by us, participating in the procession as their way to pay their respects to the family and honor their son.  Finally we could tell that the procession was approaching.


I could tell his parents were in the car right behind the hearse because I had seen the family picture in the news and I recognized his mother.  They had the windows partially down on their car and I could tell she was looking at all of the flags and crying.  As all of the other cars went by so many of the people in them were overcome by emotion at the sight of the flag-lined road.  One young woman was standing up through the sun-roof of her car, her face pressed to a camera hidden in a plastic bag to protect it from the rain, sobbing as she went by.  We saw many military officers with lots of colorful bars on their uniforms.  One had his window down and looked right at us, saying “God bless you” over and over again out of the window as he drove down the street.

It was one of those experiences that only lasts a few minutes but seems to occupy much more space than that.  We stood silently holding our flags, watching the cars drive by, and then it was over.  We rolled up our wet flags and walked back across the street and into the crowded parking lot, and I was profoundly grateful that I had come to show my gratitude and pay my respects.  It seemed the least we could do…


(I forgot my camera, so borrowed these pictures from the news & the facebook page.)

PS—read this on facebook today:

Sitting in McDonald's watching the kids play and I overhear a lady in her phone taking to a distant relative saying. Yes it was a nice funeral. You would not believe the way people lined the streets, it was amazing and overwhelming to see how everyone cared for John.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Funny things my kids say

We were watching the men's figure skating the other day:
Jared: If you think that's good you obviously haven't seen me skating.
Jenna: How can his feet do that? While he's skating backwards?? I can hardly go forwards!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Out of sight, out of (my) mind.

I just came into the kitchen and around the island and this is what I saw:


And my first micro thought was “who did this?!?”

which was quickly followed by the thought “Oh, I did this.  Right.”

Which was then followed by the question “Why on earth did I leave everything out in the middle of the floor??”

Which after just a second was followed by the thought “ohhhh…”

Which meant:

While I was in the middle of matching tupperware containers to lids because I have known for some time that we have some of each with no matches, Jared asked if I could please call the middle school office to ask a question about today’s schedule.

So I came around the island to the phone and did so.

Once I was on the phone with the secretary, she remembered that she had been needing to call me all week to ask about an extended trip we’re taking to Utah in the spring.  I ended up having to pull up my calendar on the computer to give her the exact days each child would be gone. 

When I got off the phone with her I sent Russ a couple of texts so he would know I was thinking about him.

And then I shut the computer again and went off to read my scriptures like a good girl, thoroughly and completely forgetting the mess I had left behind.

And THAT is why I can never walk away from anything I’m doing.  At least tupperware lids don’t catch on fire…

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sewing for Kate

When Cindy Lynn was little I used to make most of her clothes.  I loved doing that, and it just wasn’t just as much fun to sew for Jason and Josh when they came along.  I always longed for another little girl—a sister for Cindy Lynn and another girl to sew for.  Well as you know I got that little girl(s)…and for many years had NO energy to sew for them at all!  When I did start sewing for them I didn’t have the same kind of time that I’d had with Cindy Lynn—I knew my sewing was more special occasion than every day.  One of the things I realized that I really loved to sew was holiday dresses using seasonal fabric.  Now we have Kate and once again I’m excited to sew for a little girl.  Here’s what I’ve done so far:

The Blessing Dress

3May2013blessingdress040 copy

special effects: the smocking.  time consuming but fun!



special effects: contrasting band at bottom—couldn’t decide for the longest time but I think it worked.

Christmas (made without a good pattern, so hopefully will also fit her next year!)


special effects: Jenna & I had found this fun green Christmas fabric before Kate was even born and I have been so excited to use it.  I paired it with a red and white stripe to match the candy canes in the green fabric and with a a little bit of a red dotted fabric.  I also made piping of the striped fabric and used that in the bodice around the neck and armholes.  I really do hope this fits next year because I love it!



special effects: I was excited to find this fun heart fabric—it felt like valentines but the colors and busyness was unusual.  I decided that I wanted to experiment with making a bias binding to put around the neck and arms this time.  I have a little tool to make bias tape that I’d never used before—that worked really well.  I had a hard time picking the purple to use for this but I was really happy with the one I ultimately picked.  While I was at the fabric store I had seen this cute pink checked knit and I decided that it was a fun match for leggings. Then I decided that I wanted to put an applique on the skirt of the dress—a big purple heart and a smaller heart of the legging fabric.  I thought the whole thing turned out fun!


So there you go.  10 months of happy sewing for Kate, and hopefully years to come!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

100 Happy Days: the first 27

In January I noticed an interesting hashtag on a picture someone had posted on facebook.  I was curious and so I followed the links to a simple web page challenging people to take a picture every day of something that made them happy and either post it on facebook with the hashtag or email it to their email address.  I decided it would be a fun thing to try (even though I knew it would be harder without a smart camera) and yesterday I hit day 30.  Here are the pictures from my first 27 days…

100 happy days

  • Day 1—she may been a teenager, but she’s still little enough to fall asleep on the couch.
  • Day 2—hooray!  I finally started the Christmas letter!
  • Day 3—finished this book.  simply amazing.
  • Day 4—the Christmas dresses are finally done!
  • Day 5—my girlies in their dresses.
  • Day 6—flying into the sunrise.
  • Day 7—Kate’s cheesy grin.
  • Day 8—I got Kate to sleep!
  • Day 9—naptime snuggles.


  • Day 10—on a clear day you can see…Mt. Hood.
  • Day 11—a beautiful drive in to Portland, crossing the St. John’s bridge in the sunlight.
  • Day 12—happy to be back home with my sweetheart.
  • Day 13—thinking about mom.
  • Day 14—after a very dry winter so happy to have rain.
  • Day 15—celebrating Russ’s birthday.
  • Day 16—my wrestler.
  • Day 17—normally I’m not interested in succulents, but this one just made me happy!
  • Day 18—ending a 10 day Ender-binge.

100 happy days2

  • Day 19—seeing this picture just in the door of a new church building.
  • Day 20—homeschool fun.
  • Day 21—nothing like a long talk with a good friend.
  • Day 22—Mt. Hood again!
  • Day 23—hummer in the snow.
  • Day 24—this hummer has a new favorite place to hang out.
  • Day 25—the snow continues.
  • Day 26—he made his own sandwich!
  • Day 27—sewing fun.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I’m glad God’s plan is nothing like the Olympics


We, like many of you, have been mesmerized by the Olympics all week, piling onto the couch each evening to watch athletes dressed in colorful outfits (mostly made of spandex) slide and glide and flip and twist and soar.  We have been amazed by the athleticism, touched by the beauty, and inspired by the determination. 

We have also, on occasion, been heartbroken.

This morning I watched the American skeleton competitor go for his last run, a sure contender for a medal of some color.  Instead of the run that everyone expected his sled runner came out of the groove in the ice, destroying his chances in that one split second.  He was left to do damage control, sliding over the ice for almost 2 minutes at close to 80 miles per hour, devastated and yet having to go through the motions in order to get safely to the end.  Only to be greeted at the other end by a reporter (just doing his job) who stuck a microphone into his dejected face and asked questions despite the fact that the athlete was on the verge of tears the whole time. 

I thought in that moment how glad I am that when I crash and burn in my life, there is no one waiting to interview me when what I want most is to crawl into a hole somewhere and cry.

And then I started thinking about how glad I am that God’s plan is nothing like the Olympics.

In the Olympics, people specialize, sometimes at very young ages, and spend all of their time and ALL OF THEIR MONEY on that particular thing.  God’s plan usually allows us to experience so many different parts of life.  God’s plan gives us times and seasons—some long, some short, but such a beautiful variety.

In the Olympics the pool of competitors has been selected in each country from a bigger pool of contenders.  Those contenders come from a larger pool of hopeful athletes.  All over every country countless little ice skating girls are practicing every day supported by family and coaches in hopes of being the one.  But in the end only a few will make it.  Life isn’t like that at all.  We all get to try our best, and no one person’s success prevents any other person from also being successful. 

In the same way, in the Olympics the smallest of margins separate the winner from the not-winners.  Four hundredths of a second is enough to keep you from receiving recognition, glory, and a medal.  In almost every competition there are the three medal winners and…well…no one really thinks about the other people who have given their lives in an effort to excel in this sport—we usually don’t hear about them.  In God’s plan there is no tiered podium, no limited supply of medals, no fading into obscurity because of a miniscule shortfall.  In God’s plan every single person can be a winner.  Every one.  One big wide podium for us all.

In the Olympics circumstances outside of their control can prevent an athlete from being able to do their best.  A slushy half-pipe, a skeleton track that’s not quite deep enough, a pulled muscle.  These unanticipated problems can turn a medal contender into an also-ran, or into someone who’s not able to compete at all.  Sometimes life is like this too.  Sometimes one person is able to better deal with a difficult circumstance than another.  Sometimes someone seems to be sidelined by a difficult situation or injury.  The difference is that God, in His omniscience and mercy, knows and understands this.  And instead of saying “too bad you’re not good at snow-boarding on a slushy half pipe” He in His mercy is able to take into consideration each person’s unique circumstances.  He knows the desires of our hearts, He knows our difficulties, and He will judge us accordingly.

In the Olympics a lack of funding can prevent you from participating…

In the Olympics a competitor can crash and take you out of your race with them…

In the Olympics, if you fail spectacularly, or even just fail when you were expected to excel, you know you have a reporter waiting at the end, invasive in your most painful moment.  In life when you fail spectacularly you can turn to God to find peace and comfort.  In life you can remember that there is no fail so spectacular that it takes you out of the game forever.  In life you can remember that even those who fail spectacularly can still succeed in the end.  That is the Good News of God’s plan.

And that’s better than an Olympic gold any day…

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentines wins & losses

Loss: pink heart shaped pancakes.  Whatever.  At least the kids did notice that they were pink and they tasted good.


Win: heart shaped pizzas.  I was running late and Russ put the sauce & cheese on, but I made the heart crusts.


Loss: accidentally turning the kitchen-aid on too high just after putting the flour in for valentine’s day snickerdoodles.


Win: modeling flour and flowers which Russ brought me along with chocolates.  He’s a keeper!


Maybe they’re all blonde??

Another anonymous child just told me that they had an irritated place in their mouth.

Me: I’ll bet it would help if you rinsed with salt water.

Anonymous child: Oh, ok.  Where’s the salt water?

Me: You’ll have to make some.

Anonymous child: But I don’t know how!!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ya gotta love ‘em…

IMG_8855Me: Can you hang your jacket up?

Anonymous child: I already put it where I want it.

Me: Well I want it in the coat closet, not hanging on the stairs.

Anonymous child: But I like it there—it’s really convenient for me.

Me: (the soul of calmness) Well I don’t want it there, I want it in the closet.

Anonymous child: You just want to impress everyone who comes over here to see our house!

Me: I just want it in the closet.  Coats don’t belong on the stairs.

Anonymous child: Then why did they put those things there???IMG_8856

I’m thinking teenagers don’t get the concept of design features…

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Hummers in the Snow

As you already know, one of the consistent delights about Oregon is that there are hummingbirds that stay all winter.  (You may worry, as my neighbor did, that feeding them encourages them not to migrate and puts their bitty lives in danger.  I did some research on this and it turns out that once the urge to migrate starts, all of the nectar in the world can’t keep them from going.  So if they stay it’s actually a service to feed them.)  (You may also feel like I am focusing over-much on the previously mentioned ultra-long Oregon hummingbird season.  That is because I focus over-much on anything & everything I like about Oregon.  Since, you know, I’m still not a 100% fan of living in Oregon.)

Anyway.  Back to the hummers. 

Last week (as you also already know) the Pacific Northwest was hit by a big winter snowstorm.  We started with 7 inches of snow and ended with a nice topping of ice on that.  It was enough to close the MAX down when the freezing rain built up, and I am not sure that has ever happened before.

Anyway.  Back to the hummers. 

As the snow fell and fell, it piled up on everything.


Including the hummingbird feeders.


One of the kids pointed it out to me when they noticed the poor hummingbird (who didn’t get the urge to migrate to warmer climes, remember?) flitting around and around, puzzled by lack of access to nectar.


When I saw what was going on I staked out the window, took a bunch of feeders, then sent a child outside to knock the snow off of all of the feeders.  Those poor hungry birds!

DSC_2740 p

The other thing we noticed was that the hummers were resting in unusual places.  We’ve seen one sitting here before when the feeder was in the midst of the tomato forest, but not since the tomato plants have been gone.


But we’ve never seen one sitting here, on the fish yard ornament.  (That you are NOT surprised that I own, I’m sure.)


I was baffled by this until I looked at the world through the eyes of a hummingbird.  And realized that all of the normal places they like to perch were covered with snow.  At least this fish’s fin stayed snow free, unlike the tree they like to hang out in!


I’m sure that all of the hummingbirds were thrilled when the snow started melting on Monday and they could go back to their regularly scheduled eating schedule.

Don’t you think?

DSC_2919 p