Friday, July 31, 2009

Order Has Been Restored

My goodness you all are getting a lot of Laurie this week! Maybe I'm making up for being such a bad blogger the last month. Maybe it has more to do with there being so much to report in just one week. Who can say?

I wrote last Sunday about our struggles with the refrigerator. What I never got into was the problems we had since Sunday. As it turns out the new used fridge we bought didn't want to work either. It took a while for me to admit it, so we didn't get someone in to take a look until Tuesday. "I'm afraid I have bad news," is what the guy said as he came sauntering out into the living room.

Turns out there wasn't any cold in the fridge! And a fridge without any cold expensive yet well lighted pantry. Unfortunately for me all the machines needed to work on the problem were in the shop, which is where the refrigerator needed to go in order to be fixed. I might have started bawling right then and there until he said the words, "I'll bring in a loaner fridge until we can get that one fixed, but we probably won't be able to bring it until Thursday."

I DIDN'T CARE! The mere thought of a working refrigerator in my house practically made me giddy. Thursday came quickly enough and after removing fridge doors and back doors, and putting the back door back on, within my kitchen sat a tiny little refrigerator that actually worked. IT WORKED! I immediately put together lunch for the kids and headed out the door to do some honest to goodness grocery shopping.

Oh the glee of looking for things I could keep cold, that I wouldn't have to smell every time I opened it up in the hopes it hadn't gone bad yet. It was glorious! When I got back home my darling husband had even cleared out our old fridge and was getting ready to remove it from the kitchen.

Within an hour we had groceries put away, the old fridge on the back porch, the back door once again taken off and replaced, and our kitchen table and chairs restored to the kitchen. I feel as though I can breathe in my own house again.

I'm such a happy camper now ☺

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Many Changing Smiles of Laurie

I used to have a beautiful smile. A few thousand dollars worth of braces helped to make it so (thanks Mom and Dad!!!). It was not a stretch for me to say it was by far my best feature for many years! Which is why it hit me so hard to have it taken away.
I posted back in January about my experience with Bell's Palsy (in which the entire left side of my face was left paralyzed for several months). This post today is not easy to for me to put together, but I wanted to share a big part of myself. A friend and I were talking last night about losing something that made us feel really good about ourselves. For her it was her weight (she used to model swimwear). For me, who has never been "skinny," while my weight has always been an issue it was hardest to lose my smile.

As I looked for pictures to share with you I ended up choosing two of my bridal pictures. It was necessary, as it appears in most of my pictures I tend to be a bit of a ham, lol. Like these two gems:

My roomies at Snow were decorating me for Christmas. Don't I make a lovely tree???

And this is simply Laurie being Laurie, lol.

I looked for some pictures that could best show what my smile truly meant to me, and of all the pictures I found, these two showed it best. In particular because the side that's really shown is the same side affected.

I know the pictures are a little dark and grainy, but that's what happens when one doesn't have a scanner and has to instead take pictures OF pictures :) Still, I think you get the general idea.

Shortly after the birth of B is when the Bell's Palsy hit. I had no intention of allowing my picture to be taken, and didn't think any existed until I began cleaning along a bookcase I hadn't touched in many years. Tucked away in a stack of other long-forgotten pictures were the next two, taken at a family party.

I suddenly remembered my mother had taken these, along with a few others, and had given me copies later on. It was a Sunday morning when I opened up the envelope and looked at my face permanently fixed in an awful position, and I began to cry. Over what I had lost. Over what my children and husband might very well have to look at for the rest of their lives. You cannot imagine what it was like to look in the mirror day after day, full on (unlike these pictures which don't show quite how bad it was when not turned to the side), wondering if I'd ever be able to smile again.

Healing has most definitely been slow, and it's not finished yet. I have much of my smile back, but not enough for me to yet feel comfortable having my picture taken. Still, I used my little webcam to take a few for you today, just so you all can see the difference a few years has made.

Notice...I still have great teeth :) I'm praying for the day the corner of my mouth will finally turn up. The really good news? I can still make silly faces!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My Friend Herbie

I cannot help but want to write about Herbie, my 70+ year old Irish pen pal over in England. We met almost two years ago and after e-mailing a time or two found ourselves to be fast friends. As tends to happen over time and familiarity, we began to let our sillier sides come through. There are times he truly makes me laugh right out loud at his antics, as was the case with his letter to me yesterday. I sure hope he doesn't mind me sharing a portion of it with you all, but if you're in need of a laugh he is surely the man to provide it.

I was standing in the bus shelter when a chap came to the shelter and stood beside me. He was aged about forty or so and quite athletic looking. For a minute or two we stood in silence, I contemplating the rain and how wet I would be if I had chosen to walk. He turned to me and asked, "Do you live here?" I looked at him and replied, "Of course not. Who would want to live in a bus shelter?" He gave me a kind of peculiar look and said nothing more. The bus arrived, we got on and went into town. I went to another nearby bus shelter to wait for the Supermarket bus. Mr. athletic was there as well. Again a few minutes of silence, then, "Are you waiting for the bus?" "Not at all", said I. "I am about to make a pot of tea. Would you like a cup?" He muttered something and left the bus shelter.

Believe it or not, it only went on from there, lol. The ability to make those around us laugh does not come naturally to most, but to my friend Herbie it seems to be ingrained in every portion of his witty and brilliant mind.

It's not often we're able to publicly thank those around us for being the special people they are...unless one writes on a blog chronicling the ups and downs of one's life. Today I absolutely HAVE to thank my friend Herbie for being the utterly remarkable man he is, and for sharing such a comical and beautiful life with me. You have truly blessed my life more than you can ever know!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Inspirations July 25, 2009

Our refrigerator has been dying the last few weeks, getting worse the last several days. Due to yucky germs in our house I didn't want my dad to come over here (no, instead I'd rather infect someone else's dad), even if it was to tell us precisely what the repair guy said: It would take more money to fix than it would to buy a used one.

When things begin to fall apart like this, I also tend to fall apart. My moods become...morose. I struggle to keep the happy going - even while on happy pills :( Add to the mix I was hostessing a Mary Kay party and things went from rough to frenzied. I definitely don't do frenzied. Still, my husband and I went to a place that sells used appliances and naturally I chose the fridge/freezer that WON'T fit through the doorway without removing several large pieces (like the doors), and WON'T fit in the space we have set aside for the fridge because I didn't think to measure the distance from a cupboard over the washer to the wall.

During all this I was doing my best not to stress out while helping the ladies I'd felt SO inspired to invite for an afternoon of bonding. I don't believe those ladies have any idea how much I needed their sweet, hilarious spirits to help me through the day. It was really because of them I wasn't crying after everyone else had gone to bed.

I'm heaving a big sigh, are you?

Neither my hubby nor I knew once you plug in the fridge it can take about 24 hours for the temperatures to set. So instead of being able to move the food from the coolers over, we've lost over $100 worth of food as well. Waking up this morning did NOT present a happy mama. Yet we still made it to church for the first time in three weeks and to my delight I found my mood improve by leaps and bounds. I had the opportunity to be in the nursery today - something I honestly normally dread.

Turns out it was precisely what I needed today. The kids were sweet, funny, and so loving. Once again I found laughter with the ladies who stayed as well as the children we were to look after. Even during our main meeting I was able to laugh with my own kids and listen to a returned missionary speak on being prepared. It was so incredibly uplifting. I couldn't help remembering not too long ago when I wrote on here about how hard it is some days to keep the kids good for three whole hours, to teach to those who may not even be listening, and to feel of the Holy Spirit. After getting out of church today I realized it's days like this we are blessed with when we've done all we can on the harder days. It helps remind me that even when things start to get so bad, we have those around us who will laugh with us, love us, and help lift us up.

I don't know where the money will come from to pay for everything we've lost the last few days, but for right now, it doesn't matter. I know the Lord is looking out for us, and will help us. He certainly helped me survive this difficult weekend.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Backward Summersault

For those few of you who are not my Facebook friends (or aren't as obsessively on it as me), I thought I'd put on my very first YouTube video. It's one of B doing one of his backward summersaults.

This kid has amazing muscle control, balance, and a good sense of space. This video is SO SHORT, but it's awesome to watch.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday Inspirations July 12, 2009

I had all sorts of ideas on what to post today (none of which I'll remember for next week), but one particular story continually came to my mind whenever I tried to think of something new. This is a story my father told to my family YEARS ago, and I've loved it ever since. When I was asked to give a talk a year or two ago, I asked if he still had a copy of that particular story. To my utter joy, he did.

I have no idea who wrote this story. If anyone does PLEASE feel free to pass the name along. The person who wrote it was, in my opinion, inspired.


Once upon a time there was a little kingdom called Rayad. The tiny people who inhabited this kingdom were called Rayadites. They lived happily, sharing and caring about each other. Life was good to them. There were only a few things they needed to watch out for; for instance, chocolate cake or wearing the color red. If any Rayadite ever ate chocolate cake or wore red, his spirit would become weakened and he would care less and less about himself, others, and the rules of the kingdom.

Also living in this tiny kingdom was Zynock, an evil person who wanted to destroy the kingdom and all of the people in it. He hated for them to be happy and loving, for that made it harder for him to influence them. He knew what weakened their spirits and made them easier to capture. But Zynock also knew that he could not just offer the Rayadites chocolate cake and have them devour it – they were not that foolish! Nor could he make the most wonderful garment in bright red and expect them to wear it immediately. The Rayadites wanted to be good and strong. They had promised each other that they would help and strengthen each other in times of need. So how could Zynock weaken this people? How could he get them to succumb to him so that he could destroy them and thus the whole kingdom?

“Let’s see,” he said, “I can’t get them to eat chocolate cake right off, but maybe I can get them to develop a taste for chocolate.”

That’s when chocolate chip cookies were introduced to the kingdom of Rayad. At first the cookies were ignored and scoffed at. Then some commercials and billboards were produced that showed handsome, wonderful-looking Rayadites eating chocolate chip cookies, and nothing happened to them except they became more popular and sophisticated – at least that’s what the message conveyed on the screens and billboards.

It wasn’t long before a few Rayadites could be seen eating a chocolate hip cookie every now and then, and they seemed to be doing fine. They were still loving and caring and hadn’t changed at all – so it seemed. So more and more Rayadites began eating the cookies. What they didn’t realize was that the portions of chocolate chips in each cookie had been doubled. They were getting a double dose of chocolate, disguised in the cookie. You’d hear phrases like these: “That cookie is really good, except for a couple of places where it’s pretty chocolaty. But don’t miss the cookie just for those two places. It’s too good a cookie and you can overlook the taste.” “I heard that one of our friends had eaten a chocolate chip cookie and she says it’s nothing to be afraid of. It won’t ruin your life if you eat it!”

That was true: lives didn’t seem to be ruined by chocolate chip cookies. Things were pretty much the same as usual. However, some of the teachers and leaders and parents in Rayad suggested avoiding the cookies because tastes were being developed.

“Avoid the cookies?” came the cries of surprise. “What for? What’s wrong with them? They’re not chocolate cake! How stuffy can you get?”

Some who refused to eat the cookies were even laughed at and made fun of. Zynock himself started chuckling. He had no idea his plan would work so well. And Zynock was patient. He didn’t care how long it took to destroy Rayad, just so it was destroyed.

Chocolate chip cookies seemed to be moving pretty well. Zynock didn’t worry about the words of caution and counsel from the leaders, because his commercials and billboards were so exciting and enticing. He had to make them that way, or the truth of the leaders would have swayed the Rayadites away from the cookies.

Now it came time to introduce a new product of destruction. No, not chocolate cake, not quite yet. Rather, Zynock began advertising spice cake, white cake, yellow cake, carrot cake, all kinds of cake except chocolate, but all with chocolate frosting – rich chocolate frosting. More commercials, more billboards, a few songs to hum and sing all day about how wonderful chocolate cake would be. Although they’re not eating it – yet. Get them thinking about it before they will actually succumb.

Then in the kingdom of Rayad you could hear: “Have you tried the yellow cake?

“Well, no. Is it good?”

“Oh, yes! Granted, it is chocolaty, but it’s not chocolate cake. And it really doesn’t have much more chocolate than those cookies we’ve been eating.”

“But the cake doesn’t seem right. I mean, cookies are one thing, but cake?”

“Ah, come on! The important thing is the chocolate, and this is no more than you’ve already been eating. Everybody’s eating it. You can’t pass it up and be the only one left out!”

In the meantime, the songs were subtly strumming away in the background, singing the praises of chocolate cake. Right, the words were not good, but the beat and the rhythm were so cool that many Rayads listened just for the music. After all, what can music do?

Zynock began thinking again: “One thing that strengthens those Rayadites is when they are together, talking to each other. What can I do about that?” Then he reasoned, “Well, it’s all right for them to be together. In fact, maybe there is some way I could use their gatherings and parties for my purposes. Aha! I’ve got it!”

So parties in Rayad began changing. Instead of the Rayadites talking to each other and playing games so they could get to know one another and share their strengths and talents, a new trend began. Everyone who was anyone had the new kinds of parties.

“Have you been to a party over at our Rayad friend’s place yet?”

“No, I haven’t.”

“You should go. It’s really cool!”

“Oh? What do you do?”

“Well, it isn’t like any other party you’ve been to. All you do is go and sit down and watch stuff on the screen.”

“Stuff on the screen? Like what?”

“Exciting, scary stuff that’s pretty good. There are a few scenes showing people eating chocolate cake, but no biggy.”

“People eating chocolate cake? But…”

“Oh, it’s not that bad. Besides, there’s nothing out there anymore without a little bit of that. And it’s fun to get together with your friends.”

So Zynock stood back and watched his plot unfold. “Let’s see now. They’re eating chocolate and they’re eating cake. They’re listening to songs and watching movies about chocolate cake. They’re becoming weaker and weaker, although they’re not even aware of it. They haven’t eaten chocolate cake yet, but it won’t be long now. They’re all falling into my trap. Thinking their leaders and parents are square and stuffy came off nicely. And it’s so helpful when their best friends tell them what I want them to hear. Friends – they really are my greatest asset.”

“Hey!” says a friend Rayadite. “Have you seen the latest movie?”

“No,” comes the response. “I thought it was rated C – for the chocolate.”

“No, it’s rated R – for Red. There’s no chocolate in it.”

And so Zynock continued his plotting – this time a gorgeous garment, though not in red. Not yet. Instead he pictures a luscious, deep pink.

It sure makes you think, doesn't it?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Try A Little Something New?

A sweet friend of mine recently did something new with her hair - and it looks AMAZING! She had it cut and put highlights in it and everything! It's a amazing how a new "do" can help one feel like a new person.

I've never dared to be drastic with my hair. It's pretty safe to say I have the same basic hairstyle I was sporting back in high school. You know - all of two or three (or fifteen) years ago. The most drastic thing I've ever done was to get a perm (*GASP* I KNOW) just before my sophomore year. The funny thing is that perm never really left. For years now I've lovingly referred to my hair as having a "chemically induced natural curl". I love it, though. Rarely do I have to fix my hair in the morning, as it tends to already look wildly messy even on a good day.

The one thing I've always wanted to do, yet have never dared, was try a new color. As a child I used to imagine what it would be like to have raven-black locks (much like Anne Shirley wished in Anne of Green Gables), and would even take yards of yarn and drape it over my head just to see what I might look like with blonde, brown, black or even rainbow hair!

I hated my red hair when I was younger - kids can find absolutely EVERYTHING to make fun of others about, and my hair was a hot target (I know my older brother feels my pain). As I grew older compliments began to replace taunts, so I felt my hair color might not be the worst thing in the world for a person to have to endure!

Yet there has always been this little voice in the very back of my head that wonders what it would be like. I've never dared to dye it - thanks to the aforementioned Anne Shirley as a matter of fact. There's this child-like fear my hair really will turn green! It doesn't MATTER how far hair dyes have come in the last 100 years. I'm still SCARED.

For the most part I really enjoy my hair color. Oh sure there are days I bemoan trying to find colors to wear that match my hair and skin tone, but it's worth it in the end...mostly. Still, I find myself veeeeery envious of my friend's new do. If only I knew I could pull something like that off, and that everyone around me would forgive me, I might actually give it a try.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sunday Inspirations July 5, 2009

My post today will be short and (hopefully) sweet. Short because my head feels like some one's put a vice around it and if I don't go and lie down soon we'll all be in big trouble.

I knew from the moment I got up this morning it was going to be a rough day. My older son was in an awful mood, my youngest was clingy beyond words, and my headache began a mere half hour after after waking. Add to this today being fast and testimony day for our church and I knew my own mood would only grow worse (as my sugar levels drop, so does my attitude about life).

I spent the first two hours of church (we have a 3 hour meeting block on Sundays) volunteering in the nursery today, which I didn't mind at all (neither did A, haha), but as the time came to a close my daughter's temper became increasingly volatile. I thought, "Uh, oh. Sacrament meeting could be tricky today." Oh baby did I underestimate that one.

Tempers were flying with every single one of the kids. My oldest was distressed about things that wouldn't even happen for a year or two (like going to junior high) and after asking permission to go to the bathroom disappeared for over twenty minutes, J wouldn't leave ANYONE alone and got upset when I told him to please stop, B was in a corner under the bench crying because J wouldn't let him color in his (J's) coloring book, and I swear I took A out of the room about five times because she wanted EVERYTHING that EVERYONE ELSE had.

The last time I took her out of the chapel and into the cry room I kept her there. The room was aptly named. Both of us stayed in there a good ten minutes and cried.

I found myself thinking, "Is this worth it?" Knowing my kids were in a bad mood, knowing my headache would only grow worse as the day went on, knowing I could have simply packed everyone up and headed home, why on earth did I keep us there!?!?!

My answer came in one simple thought: because it counts. My Heavenly Father knows how HARD today was on me. He knows (and probably wouldn't have blamed if I had) I could have gone home. But I didn't. And that counts.

The kids obviously didn't get much out of the meetings today. Not even I, multi-tasker extraordinaire, didn't get much out of the meetings today. But I went, and I brought the children with me, and THAT COUNTS!

Take some time to think about it the next time you feel like going to church isn't worth it, because it's at the times it's the hardest to go that I think it counts the most.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What's Your Season?

A few years ago I wrote an "article" as an assignment for the Institute for Children's Literature. It's never been published, but I got to thinking about it this last week as I went looking for a new shirt to buy. The fact I willingly went to spend money on myself was a miracle in and of itself. Finding a style I liked was even better. Too bad for me the everpresent problem of finding colors that match both my hair color and skin tone is for the most part impossible.

During the time I wrote the article I had a dear friend come to visit a group of young women to help them learn what colors would work best on them and why. One particular girl, we'll call her Ashley, loved the color green and would wear everything from Spring Green to Forest Green. Sometimes she looked great, other times she looked pale and hollow-eyed. We discovered she could still wear green, just not all shades.

It was for this very reason I wrote the article all those years ago. So I thought I'd do a little chopping of the piece and share some basics with you today. I especially encourage you mothers out there to help your girls (and even boys) understand these ideas as it can go a long way to helping them look their best long before they start begging to wear makeup (for the girls...NOT the boys). And men - don't poo-poo this idea 'cause it seems girly. Anything that can help YOU look your best should never be ignored.

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. Did you know every person has a season, and that each of those seasons contains colors to help you look your best, or worst? Believe it or not, the colors you most enjoy wearing could be making you look less than lovely.

To find “your season” it’s important to consider the tone of your skin, eyes and hair.

Is your skin creamy white or peach? Is your hair golden brown, blonde, or strawberry red? Add a dash of light blue eyes and odds are you’re a Spring. Look for warm and neutral colors with yellow tinges such as ivory, camel, peach, and coral. Eastery pastels are also extremely flattering. Accessorize with a touch of gold jewelry to top it all off.

Autumns have gold undertones in their skin. If you’re a redhead or brunette, with brown or green eyes, this is most likely your group. Think warm, medium colors: camel, beige, gold and dark brown to bring out the richness of your eyes and skin. Gold jewelry will bring out the gold in your skin. Autumns also look great in orange undertones as well. Pumpkin, rust, or mustard yellow paired with mossy or forest green can be stunning.

If your skin is pale pink you’re definitely a Summer. Typically you’ll also have fair blue eyes, and dark blonde or light brown hair. Summers should think cool pink and blue when picking colors. Lavender, plum, rose-brown and soft blue are just a few of your many options. A softer white, powder blue, or aqua can be perfectly complimented with silver jewelry.

What if you look best in dark, bold colors like black, navy or red? Is silver your best choice in jewelry? Sounds like you might be a winter.

Wintry skin can vary from pale white, to olive or dark shades. Your hair is classically black or very dark brown, and odds are your eyes are dark as well. If you’d like to wear lighter colors try some pale, icy tones.

Just as specific colors can compliment your looks, wearing those opposite your season will make you look tired or sick. They can emphasize dark circles around your eyes, or red in your face. Others can make you look too pale, or slightly green. Those who look good in cool colors – winter and summer – should stay away from the warm pastels and oranges of autumn and spring.

The good news is you don’t have to clean out your closet (not to mention your bank account) and start over. You can wear all colors as long as you place them carefully. Wear complimentary colors close to your face: shirts, jewelry, and scarves. Keep less favorable colors further away: skirts, pants, and accessories.

Of course the best way to figure out which season is your is to simply hold different colors up to your face. You might be surprised at what works to make you look your best, and what doesn't.