Sunday, August 31, 2014

Keep the commandments

Almost the whole time that we lived in North Carolina I had my hair cut by the same person.  Over those 17 years we had many conversations, often about religion and spirituality.  She was always so complimentary when she spoke about Mormons--over the years she had many LDS clients and came to feel very positively about the church.  She often told me that if she heard people make critical comments about the church she defended us.  But over the years she was also certain that she would never be able to live as strict of a life as we did/do.

I think that feeling is not uncommon--one of the things that is well known about the church is all of the things we *don't* do.  We don't drink or do drugs or smoke, we don't play sports or shop on Sunday, we don't have sex before marriage.  Some people see us in terms of the strict way we live, thinking our lives are defined by God's restrictions and experiential deprivation.

Recently someone in our ward spoke about this topic in a way that was new to me.  She suggested that instead of seeing God's commandments as restrictions we might instead think of them as a  user's manual for life.  Just like a piece of equipment works better when we follow the directions, life works better when we follow God's directions.  In his compassion he didn't send us down to earth with no idea of what things will make this earth experience better and leave us to figure it all out on our own.  Instead he provided us with users manuals, including commandments, that will give us the best possibility of success in our lives.  Love each other, don't covet, tell the truth, take care of your body, doubt take things that aren't yours, respect your parents, live a clean life... all guidelines from life's users manual.

Oh, and don't kill anyone.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Overheard after the dinner table

Rachel's rant in response to my saying that I wasn't ready for her to grow up:

Do you know when you're grown up?  You know you're grown up when you say something about being identical at the dinner table and your dad says "sure you're identical except that you have boobs and he doesn't!"

(Volume and intensity of rant increases.)
You guys are so inappropriate!  I can't believe you said that!  And you go skinny dipping!  All the time!  I can't believe that!!!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Back when blogspot was a thing
(or how blogging makes me happier)

I can't remember what I was reading last week but it gave me a moment's pause when it said "back when blogspot was a thing." At first I thought but wait, blogspot is still a thing!  But just as fast I had to concede that there was a moment when blogging was all the rage, and that moment has definitely passed.  I have a long list of blogs on my sidebar that I once read but now haven't been updated in years.  That's OK--different seasons call for or allow different things.  Different media work for different people.  I think that many people transitioned from blogging to facebooking which is easier with a smart phone and much quicker.  I think that some people moved into busier seasons of their lives.  I think some people were trying it out and it just really wasn't their thing.

One of the things that I do regret about the shift in social platforms is the decrease in comments.  Not that I ever had a ton of comments but I at least had some idea of who was reading my blog.  These days comments are down everywhere and practically nonexistent here.  It's not that I need comments, I'm not writing for comments.  But I do miss the interaction.  (Because I'm all about interaction.)


Oddly I had already been thinking about this for the last couple of weeks when I came upon this quote in the reader's digest:

"Intentionally feeling positive experiences longer helps them sink in,
which can help you become happier and more resilient."

As I read this statement I realized that this is what blogging does for me.  Since I started blogging 6 years ago I have seen the world through blogging eyes.  Knowing that I want to blog about our family experiences, my experiences, and the things I'm thinking about, I pay so much more attention to the details than I used to.  I keep track of things that are interesting or funny or awful.  I notice more.  Blogging doesn't change how I live my life, but it changes my awareness of my life. 

Jason touches the water to experience the waterfall hike
with more of his senses.  Feeling intentionally.

In a similar way taking pictures changes how I see my life.  Having a camera in my purse means that I see the world with more scrutiny.  I notice things that are beautiful, things that are interesting, colors, shapes, light.  I see so much more than I would without a camera.


Blogspot may not be a thing anymore, but it is certainly still a thing to me.  What's more, thanks to the magic of online publishing website like blurb our family is going to be appreciating blogspot for years to come...

Just think... One day a grandchild will say "grandma sure had a lot to say, didn't she?" And my kids will say "Why yes, she did.  And saying it made her life a whole lot happier."

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Good moments

Jason just left yesterday to go back to BYU, but he’s been here for the last week and a half.  It was such fun having him here and also so nice to have him cleaning the kitchen all of the time!  We had been waiting for him to come back to ordain Josh an elder and it worked out that that day Jared was also ordained a teacher.  As we were walking out to the car afterwards my heart was just full with love for my awesome kids, and happiness at having 5/6 of them here with us.  I made them wait and not change out of their clothes immediately so that I could take a few pictures documenting the moment.  And then, just for good measure, made them have a few more pictures this Sunday.  Parenting in this moment sure makes me happy!


(the girls’ dresses both weeks recently purchased at goodwill.  so awesome!)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Things I am thankful for today:

A clean kitchen (even though it will last only milliseconds.)


19 bottles of canned pears

Boxes of peaches waiting to ripen

And a world with flowers in it


Monday, August 18, 2014

Things I do not miss

I remember when our septic system in NC had a problem and we got to spend the day watching bits of our backyard get dug up so that the septic line could be fixed.  I remember when the inspector from the city turned to me and asked, straight faced (and this after having watched my little kids watch the tractor all day…) “now you don’t do a load of laundry every day, do you?”  And I said, “Every day.  At least one.  But hopefully not more than two.” 

On a day like today when the washer seems to run from morning till night, I don’t miss the subtle-but-constant worry about the state of the septic system.  I don’t miss worrying about the drought and the well.  I don’t miss the rust tinged water making our whites dingy.

I don’t miss the 30 minute drive to Walmart, or the 15 minute drive to the closest store.  I don’t miss the 20 minute drive to church or the 45 minute drive to the stake center.  I don’t miss feeling like any errand required the commitment (and the energy expenditure) of half of a day. 

I don’t miss cockroaches, big spiders, mosquitos, or copperheads on the road.  I don’t miss feeling not-quite-safe in some parts of downtown or the lack of sidewalks for safe walking.  I don’t miss the days of all or nothing homeschooling or driving an hour for an art class.  I don’t miss Russ’s 45 minute commute to and from work every day.

There are still so very many things about North Carolina that I *do* miss.  It is embarrassing to me that I am still easily brought to tears about it.  But I thought it was a good moment in time to record the fact that there are also a lot I don’t miss; things that I love about living in Oregon.  You know, it’s a good reminder for me.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Controversial FHE topics

For over a year now I’ve had a strong feeling that we needed to teach our children about these controversial church issues that so often leave people feeling like the church must be false.  “Vaccinate” them so that when they encounter these ideas on their own they won’t be shocked/frightened/repulsed/surprised.  They will still get to make their own decisions about how they feel, obviously.  But they’ll be able to do it on their own time and having both sides of information. 

Here are some of the topics on our agenda & resources I plan on using or have already used.  I’m really grateful that in the intervening months the church has published a lot of information on some of these things!


Topics (no particular order)

Different versions of the first vision

Blacks & the priesthood

women & the priesthood

the book of Abraham


mysticism in Joseph Smith's time (seer stone, etc)

"I know the church is true"
Chapter from “No Weapon Shall Prosper: New Light on Sensitive Issues” by Robert Millet

Book of Abraham

imperfect prophets/leaders

mountain meadows massacre

gay marriage

anachronisms in the book of mormon

This might be interesting:  the new D&C church history manual--

Other resources:

“Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt” by Michael Ash

Other possible topics:

Being offended



US Constitution


Peer Pressure

Laziness (service in the church)

Balance between family/church

Trials (not more than you can bear, but sometimes you can't bear them)

Mental health vs. simply relying on the scriptures

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The problem with Harry Potter stamps

When I heard that there were Harry Potter stamps I thought it was a great idea.  And one day when I was at the post office and remembered to ask I bought some.  Two books, even.


There is a problem with Harry Potter stamps.

[Now apparently there is more than one problem with Harry Potter stamps.  More problems than my problem.  I learned this when I was looking for images of the stamps online because I am quite frankly too lazy to scan them.  It turns out that a member of the Citizens Advisory Stamp Committee (yes, there is such a group) resigned in protest over the Harry Potter stamps.  This committee has met quarterly for over 50 years to decide which things will get to be on stamps.  And apparently the committee is concerned that the USPS is sacrificing ‘gravitas’ in favor of more commercially viable stamp images.  In fact in his resignation letter this man suggested that the USPS was prostituting the stamp program.  Who knew!]

On to *my* problem with the Harry Potter stamps.

I got them.  I looked at them.  I oohed and ahhed at them.

Harry reading his Hogwarts letter!  How cute!

zharry letter

Little Hermione who always knew all of the answers!


And a fun shot of young Ron, Harry, and Hermione.  I loved them.


I would use any of them on mail to you, you know.


But what about some of the other stamps?  Can I really use them on anything other than an impersonal bill?

Maybe I can put this one on a letter to you.  Harry fighting for the right and all that.

zharry spell

But Malfoy?   Some of Cindy Lynn’s friends liked Malfoy in the beginning, thought he was cute.  I never did, though.  And by the end I thought he was pretty awful, even when I also felt sorry for him. 


And this?  Bellatrix?  Could I really use her stamp on any friendly mail?  How would it be interpreted??  (Though it might remind you of that fantastic scene with Molly Weasley.)


Lastly… Seriously, could this be interpreted any way but badly?  “When I think of you I also think of He Who Shall Not Be Named!”  “Nose job, anyone?”  “Avada Kedavra!


I think not.

And that is why, as cool as I still think they are, I doubt I’ll be buying another book of Harry Potter stamps.  Because honestly they’re just a little too much work to use.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Part 3: Operation Survive the Portland Winter

Girl’s Night Cruise
At some point during the winter flight prices went down quite a bit and I told my sisters that I could afford to come to Utah another time for a sister’s weekend.  Andra and Laila decided very quickly that we should go on a short cruise from Los Angeles to Ensenada instead.  We went the last weekend in April.
Russ & I took a weekend cruise when the triplets were about 2 and I really needed a break.  We weren’t too thrilled with it (other than the snorkeling) and some of those original feelings surfaced again on this cruise.  The weather wasn’t great (we really were only warm in Ensenada and once we were back in Los Angeles), the food wasn’t great, and the ocean was rough enough that I had dizziness for about a month after we got back.  (You know, 2 days of cruising, 31 days of dizziness.)

But the truth is, wherever I am with my sisters we have a great time.  We had fun from the moment we met in the airport and Margaret and I had fun in the airport for hours after we sent Andra and Laila home on their flight.
We laughed and laughed that we had the most fun sitting beside a wall.  On the first night we were all so tired and just wanted to go to bed.  (Well other than Margaret who just wanted to go exercise, which she did.)  But our cabin didn’t have the bunks lowered yet and the beds made up so we had to wait.  And wait.  And wait.  We ended up going out into the area with the elevators and sitting down by the stairs.  We sat there for long enough that we had several people come through and make comments about it.  One group even called us their landmark.  After that we made a point of coming back and sitting by our wall regularly.

(I should point out that here we are wearing our “isleepy: there’s a nap for that” shirts, except that I totally had a mental lapse and forgot mine so I’m wearing Margaret’s.)
Cindys 4-27-14 059Here we are in our formal night clothes.  We walked around and had our picture taken at several of the picture places but we really thought their poses for 4 women together were ridiculous.  Cindys 4-27-14 043
This picture is after we went into Ensenada where we skipped the higher priced vanilla and went to a regular grocery store and bought all that they had.  Mostly Margaret who took some back for everyone she knew in New York.  Ensenada was one of the most stressful parts of the cruise experience for me—walking down that main street with all of the vendors calling to us to look at their thing was my definition of a nightmare.  In retrospect I would have been happier to buy the more expensive vanilla by the ship and spend the day sitting in the sun.  On the other hand I did buy a really terrific pair of earrings in Ensenada.
Cindys 4-27-14 069After we disembarked we found ourselves a new wall and basked happily in the sun while we waited for our airport shuttle to arrive.
Here are some other random pictures and happenings from our trip.
The first thing I had to do on the ship was get some protein.  I was desperate by this point.  (And no, I didn’t even get a plate.  Just a fork!)
10172819_10202874787343590_9016156068079450597_nWe did put on our swimsuits, find a semi-sheltered place, and buy a (non-alcoholic) drink.  Brrrrr.  We were all happy to wrap up again after the picture was taken!Cindys 4-27-14 041We had an interesting experience on formal night.  There was a group of 20-something guys who always stopped to talk to us when the saw us anywhere on the ship.  We were perplexed by it, because although Laila (who is much younger than the rest of us) is young and cute, the rest of us look like what we are—middle aged moms.  Nevertheless these guys always stopped to talk.  On the formal night when we were sitting by our wall they came through that area.  When they saw us they came over and one of them said, “We don’t know what it is, but we love your vibe.”  Now we didn’t always want their attention (especially when they had been drinking a lot), but it was interesting to see that there was something about us that they found appealing.  We, of course, would say it is the light of Christ.
Cindys 4-27-14 047Here is a shot of our room with the bunks out.  They were very comfortable and we all slept great!
IMG_9659You know this water slide looks so awesome but it’s just not that great when it’s so cold and windy up there that you would need a wetsuit to go on it.  And we did see several wetsuit clad children who still looked like they were freezing.
Cindys 4-27-14 062This is our “we survived Ensenada” picture. 
Cindys 4-27-14 067We ate breakfast every day out on the deck.  One morning we saw dolphins and it was magical.  (As dolphins almost always are.)  We decided that our mom had sent them for us to see and be delighted by.  Other mornings we tried to keep the seagulls from taking off with our breakfasts.
Home again—I don’t think I’ve flown in before where I had a view like this down the Wilamette River.  So pretty.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Birthday Girls

Jenna decided that she wanted a strawberry cake made from a recipe she’d seen on pinterest.  We decided that we would make it on Sunday after church to eat as part of our fast Sunday dinner.  We ate it with cool whip and strawberries on top and it was quite delish, though not necessarily strawberry tasting.


I must confess that we completely forgot to put candles on it, though we did sing happy birthday to Jenna. 

The next day the girls had a birthday party and invited 8 friends.  They went to the pool first and had a fun hour in the sun.  We didn’t have enough seatbelts going back to our house so for the 2 blocks home I let the girls trunk ride.  IMG_20140804_183928 Back at the house we had pizza, cake, and watched Batman Begins.  Rachel had chosen an ice cream sandwich cake and as always it was yummy.  They ended up not watching all of the movie because some of the girls were more interested in talking, so they all went out on the trampoline to laugh & giggle like a bunch of young teenagers.  Which they are.



The girls also celebrated their birthday by going to their first stake dance the day they turned 14.  Jared wasn’t at all interested since none of his friends are 14 yet.


Birthday Boy

(taking the baby first this time)

For the first year ever we had separate birthday celebrations.  Not just separate birthday cakes, but different cakes on different days.  It was kind of like a whole new world.

Jared celebrated his birthday (on their birthday) by going to the skate park with his posse.  This is their favorite thing to do this summer.  After they spent the (long, hot) afternoon at the skate park they came back to our house and had pizza and Jared’s ice cream cake.

jared (3)IMG_1160

Jared used ALL of his money—savings, birthday, money he’s earned, and a little he borrowed—to buy a new scooter.  He was so excited when it came, even though it didn’t come until the 4th.  So of course he had to go back to the skate park again!


Here are a bunch of different pictures of him scootering.

IMG_1192jared scooter2jared scooter (2)jared scooter

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

One possible downside of the pacific northwest…

Look what I found in the sink the other morning…


Saturday, August 2, 2014


It is hard to believe but today my babies turn 14.  It has been both the longest and shortest 14 years of my life—parts of it have been among the hardest moments of my life, and parts among the most priceless.  I marvel constantly at the delight they are and give thanks that for whatever reason we were blessed with them. 

They started the day proving that they are truly teenagers—by sleeping until almost 10.  Russ is on a high adventure trip and I didn’t want to let them down so I made what we call “dad-hop” for breakfast (because Russ is better than IHOP) and I added cantelope and a german pancake for Rachel.  It was an excellent breakfast, or perhaps I should say brunch since we ate it at 11.   I hope to get a chance to blog more about them soon, but until then I wanted to say Happy Birthday!!


Josh administered “birthday punches,” a “tradition” I’ve not seen before and would be just as happy not to see again.  Poor Jenna locked herself in the bathroom when he came her way.