Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Beautiful Piece of Porcelein

Granted, you might think me a bit odd for taking a picture of my toilet and posting it on the Internet, but bear with me. You see, for the last, oh, who knows how long, we've had toilet troubles. Nothing serious. More...annoying.
The toilet rocked as it wasn't stabilized from underneath the house. There's nothing like sitting down to do some business and wondering if you'd be able to stay on.
We had to flush two or three times to make sure everything made it down. And sometimes it didn't. Eww.
And then there were the times the handle and chain would somehow get stuck and would need a little convincing to release enough to keep the toilet from flushing on it's own. There's nothing like hearing one's chirpy little girl run into the bathroom saying, "I'll jiggle the handle!"
Even worse were the time the chain would get stuck under the plug and water would just keep rushing. Ugh. The amount of water wasted over the last year has to be, well, bad.
An early Christmas present arrived on our front porch about a week or two ago. It was from my daddy. He bought us a brand new, water efficient toilet! That would be the masterpiece pictured above. Yesterday after work my hubby went into our crawlspace and spent about two hours putting together something to stabilize the toilet. Oh yeah. We sawed wood and drilled holes and put in screws and nails. It was awesome.
We were planning on having my daddy come to help put the toilet in later this week, but when we already had the old toilet out my hubby said, "Why put the old one back in?" So we opened up the boxes and pulled out all the pieces. As I read through the instructions I started to really wish we'd waited for my dad. They were bordering on Greek to me. However, my brain finally began to make sense of what was printed and in another ten minutes or so we had our new toilet in.
Guess what? Everything flushes in just one go! It doesn't rock when you sit down and get up! And there's no need to jiggle the handle! Ah, the sheer bliss of knowing one can use the bathroom with no worries.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Easy Christmas Gift

It's one of those things you really want to do this time of year, but can easily become overwhelming: Christmas gifts for teachers, friends, and neighbors. Set aside thoughts of baking for hours on end for I have a simple solution.

For the last several years I've been giving this out to the kids' teachers, along with a tree ornament. Get a hold of a chocolate bar (ie, Hershey's, Symphony, etc) and attach the following:

(Sung to the tune of Jingle Bells)
Dashing from the mall
With groceries yet to buy.
Children, work, and house cleaning,
Life is so crazy! Why?
Bells on our cell phones ring,
The machine will take the call,
We have no time to breathe this year,
It drives us up the wall!
How are you? How's your life?
We really want to know.
We'd love to chat and hear the news,
But please don't talk to slow.
How are you? How's your life?
When is it gonna snow?
We hope you have - is that the time?
We really have to go.
A day or two ago,
We thought we'd make a treat.
A present to give out this year -
A Christmas gift to eat.
Intentions were top notch,
But our schedules would not budge,
Hence here's this year's edition of
Our homemade Christmas fudge!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lessons in Honesty and Integrity

I consider myself to be a fairly honest person. I'm a firm believer in practicing what I preach, and in doing right by those around me. So when I tell you I stole from Walmart this last week I hope you'll give me a chance to thoroughly explain before calling the cops on me.

We celebrate several birthdays during the month of December, one of which happens to be my oldest, Miss M. The night before I went grocery shopping she was telling me how she couldn't find any of her earrings, that she'd lost them all. Grrr. However, it was nearing birthday time so I played nice and thought immediately of a display of jewelry cases set out at the front of the store.

Sure enough, I found exactly the one I was thinking of, then decided to go a step further and get her a few pair of new earrings. I found some spectacular looking ones, but as I went to put them in the cart a dilemma appeared. If I put the earrings at the top of the cart my youngest could get at them. If I put them in the big part of the cart there was a danger of the earrings becoming smashed or lost. I also worried about putting them inside the box; if I did so, would I remember them once I got to the cashier line?

Seeing as how I was so concerned, I came to the conclusion I wouldn't forget and tucked the earrings inside the jewelry box. Can you see where I'm going here? I got the groceries home, took one look at the jewelry box, and gasped. I'd stolen both pair!

I was horrified. Beyond horrified. I felt sick from head to toe thinking I'd just done something that is not just wrong, but a commandment of God. Thou shalt not steal. Not even accidentally. It's just a no-no.

Back to Walmart I went. The cute greeters at the entrance know my face, and one particular man always tells me to stay out of trouble. When I approached him I said, "You know how you're always telling me to stay out of trouble? Well, I'm in trouble." I told him everything, even how dumb I was in my thinking. The darling man was torn between laughter and trying to look serious. Of course I still wanted to buy the earrings and made sure he watched while I stood in line (my line of shame!) and paid for them. As I walked out of the store a giant burden was left behind.

A few days before this exciting event the young women (girls 12-18) of our church had put together a program about their Personal Progress values. Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability, Good Works, Integrity, and Virtue. I thought about how the young women who'd spoken on these topics had described how their lives had changed by following them. I thought about all the years I had spent as a youth doing my own challenges and projects involved with each value.

This awkward and uncomfortable experience and my decision on how to handle it involved many of the values the young women of our church are taught. Divine Nature: knowing I am a daughter of God, and have a responsibility to represent Him here on earth. Individual Worth: based on my decision, how would I value myself if I'd made a wrong choice? Choice and Accountability: I'm always telling people we always have a choice in each circumstance that comes before us. Even if it's just in our attitude, there's always a choice. And whatever choice we make, we'd better be certain the consequences will be something we can live with. Because we WILL have to live with it. Integrity: practicing what we preach. Being honest and trustworthy. Virtue: one wrong choice can mar even the most beautiful of souls.

I told my daughter about what had happened, not holding back. It was important to me for her to see Mom's not perfect, she makes mistakes, but she also does her best to right the wrongs she may commit. For topmost in my mind through all of this was the example I was setting for my children and for the girls I teach. If they can't trust that those who teach them these values abide by those teachings, they will not follow. And if there's anything I want to see for these younger generations, it's the ability to make good choices, to repent when they've done something wrong, and to live with as little guilt and burdens as possible.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Scrooge'n It

I've been an absolute SCROOGE when it comes to getting into the Christmas Spirit this year. Of course, when Christmas decorations are out by the middle of October and FM 100.3 is playing Christmas music 24 hours a day the moment Halloween is over, I have to ask, "Can you blame me?"

I'm normally on the rooftop the day after Thanksgiving putting up all the outside lights. I've even been known to visit a few stores on the dreaded Black Friday. Not this year, though. This year I stayed in the house the whole day long making a dozen earrings to sell at a boutique the next day (only sold one pair, sadly, which may have added to my Scroogy-ness).

For several years we haven't put up a Christmas Tree. Not because I wasn't in the spirit of the holiday, but because we've little ones in the house and I really didn't want to spend all my time replacing tempting ornaments. Nor did I relish the thought of only decorating the top half of a tree. I am happy to report this year my husband made us get one. Yep, you read that right, he made us!

I will readily admit I'm happy he did. Though our decorations are a bit sparse, once we light it up come nighttime, the glow makes us feel extra happy. I'm finding my attitude is simply reluctant, rather than out right bah humbug-ish. Once we get me going, I'm happy to get the job done. The biggest problem is getting me going.

To help me along, however, I have downloaded some of my absolute most favorite Christmas CD's onto my iPod and have even listened to them. Whoa, I know. Don't worry. I have no intention of going overboard.

One funny before I let you go. Whilst sitting around the dinner table last night the children began discussing what they were going to ask Santa to get them. Things got silly (as things will do at our house), but not as silly as the moment our youngest was asked. She said, and I quote with all honesty, "A piece of plastic poo!"

Monday, November 29, 2010


A few times during the year the citizens of Utah become a shall I put it...crazed? You will witness crowds of people segregated by color - red and blue - for a good week before the big event occurs.

I am talking, for those who are not familiar with our local competition, of football/basketball games between the University of Utah and Brigham Young University.

For the most part the rivalry between fans is lighthearted. I have often chuckled when listening to the various members of my husband's extended family spar on who's team is the best. One particular moment still makes me laugh to this day. One day last year my in-laws won a BYU pillow, which they had placed on the back of one of their couches. My niece Heather and her husband Brian were sitting on the couch. Both are die-hard Ute fans.

Her daddy, Stephen (also a Ute fan), suddenly yelled out, "Heather! Don't move! Whatever you do, don't put your head back!" Of course through her mind immediately raced thoughts of giant spiders or snakes or some other frightening or deadly creature right behind her. We all started laughing when Stephen pulled the BYU pillow out from behind her and tossed it across the room. "That was a close one," he joked.

In my own family we've never cared which team won. I've never been THAT into sports, and really neither has my husband. I figured we'd live in a fairly competition free home. That is...until cousin Bethany started BYU. My oldest daughter, Miss M, absolutely LOVES her grown up cousin. As Bethany's love of BYU became more and more vocal, my daughter became more and more a fan.

Suddenly, Miss M is ALL ABOUT BYU!!! Whilst I attended a boutique Saturday, she went over to Uncle Stephens with cousin Bethany so they could all watch the game together (I figure that must have been interesting).

So now my home, previously known as Switzerland (neutral), is housing my very first sports nut. I never thought this day would actually come.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Halloween 2010 Pics

Are you thinking to yourself, "Well it's about time!"? 'Cause I sure am. To be perfectly honest I was really not into Halloween this year. The kids did most of the decorating, and the only thing that helped the costumes happen was Savers. Poor kids. Oh, perhaps I shouldn't say that. After all, things did work out :)

Our first pic is of Mr. J, who is sporting a Snake Eyes costume from G.I. Joe. We darkened his face and hair for the night. Next comes Mr. B as Spiderman. I have to admit, as his makeup came together I started to get a bit more excited for the night.

Here's Miss A. as a ballerina in boots. At least, I think that's what it ended up being. She just loved it because it was sparkly.And this is my gorgeous Miss M. She started out dressing up as a dead witch, but decided when we were done with the makeup that she looked more like a vampire.

Here they are all together.

We did two closeups of M. Even dead I think she's pretty gorgeous.

This is daddy as a last minute pirate. We even gave him some rotting teeth.

I hadn't planned to dress up, but my friend Erin began threatening me. Something about eggs and my house. I really didn't know what I would be until I'd finished with everyone else. That's when I created "The Aftermath". Basically I took elements from everyone else's costumes and put them on me.
Do you like the shirt? Totally my favorite.

This next picture shows what happens to unsuspecting ward members when my kids are high on sugar...
Actually, he knew exactly what he was getting into, lol.

One last picture. Proof M came back to life. Whew!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

CNN's Take on Elizabeth Smart as a Mormon Missionary

I tend to get nervous whenever I see there's been an article published in national media on "the Mormons." When I opened up my LDS Living e-mail this morning there was a link to CNN on Elizabeth Smart's "other" testimony, that of her being a missionary for the Mormons (preferably called by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS Church).

Due to the emotional atmosphere surrounding the young woman in question, I could not comprehend there being anything blatantly against our shared religion, and opted to read the article.

To my surprise it was beautifully written. There were certain words or phrases I took small issue with, but these were actually asked about and corrected right away in the comments section. What struck me as most beautiful about this article was it's testimony to how well Ms. Smart is doing all these years later.

Here's a link to the article if you'd like to read it. I highly recommend it. If any of you who are not a member of this Church have any questions, feel free to ask. I'm happy to answer as best I can.

Elizabeth Smart's Other Journey

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Step in a New Direction

We're in debt. I realize this is nothing new, especially when one considers the life and times in which we live, but this is not a style of living with which my husband and I are comfortable.

Beyond the house and car payments we work our best to spend only the money my husband brings in through his job. For most of our married life he has had to work two different jobs (one full-time, one part-time) in order for us to scrape by. About two years ago the higher-ups of his full time job were able to square things away to enable my husband to at last quit his part-time job, which was especially needful as he had been asked to take on the role of a bishop (or leader of a congregation) in our church. This particular role requires much of his time.

Though he was finally able to quit his part-time job, it meant a pay decrease - something we did not mind as it meant he would get to be home a bit more. We tightened our belts even more when necessary and found other ways to keep ourselves living within our means. This year, however, life simply took it's toll.

We have just one credit card. It is pulled out primarily to make online purchases (like medications) or in case of an emergency when our savings cannot cover it. I don't know what it was about this particular year, but emergencies seemed to pop up from a lot more sources than usual. Our savings has been almost depleted, and the last time we needed to pay this much on a credit card was several years ago when our car had been stolen and required much in the way of money to be fixed.

I keep waiting for that "long lost great-uncle twenty times removed" I never knew to somehow discover I'm here and leave me a fantastic legacy! Either that or for Publisher's Clearing House to at least give me that million dollars they keep promising.

I'm not complaining...well, not much. But it's sent within me a drive I've never really experienced before to sit down and get serious about writing. A sweet friend hooked me up with a few sites to look into when it comes to freelance writing. I actually had to sit down and put together a rather pitiful looking resume. This morning I sent in said resume to a professional freelance writing site in the hopes they'll overlook my lack of experience and give me an honest chance at working for them.

It's scary, especially for someone who's never tried this online before. Yet I'm hopeful. There's this little bubble of excitement that's rolling around inside my head wondering if this could be what gets me started. I've long wanted to create a name for myself - a name that goes beyond my sweet, wonderful, and supportive circle of family and friends. I've been told by my Heavenly Father that this is what I'm meant to do (after the whole mom and wife thing, of course) with my life. It can be difficult, though, to let go of the hesitations, fears, and uncertainties. It can be difficult to believe in myself!!! Anyone out there know what I'm saying? I'm sure you do.

Perhaps today is the beginning of good things, both for myself and for our family. Perhaps today is the beginning of taking control and working towards something new and wonderful and exciting. Perhaps this is the unseen purpose behind all our little emergencies this year. Who knows but that this has been the Lord's way of getting me moving in a new direction.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Playing Hooky

My hubby and I are, for the most part, those individuals you can trust to be where they need to be. For example, church meetings. We try to make it to all of them when possible. If we don't, you can bet it's for a very good reason.

The month of October has been especially busy for the both of us. We've had more going on than usual, and it's taken a toll on our sweet children. When my youngest is begging me not to leave just for a few minutes on a Saturday morning, we know it's time to play hooky.

This weekend was our stake conference, a time when extra meetings occur. My husband did his duty to the priesthood meeting, but we made the decision to take the rest of the evening, and most of today, and spend it with our children. It wasn't an easy choice to make, I'll be very honest about that. Yet it was the right one.

I wanted to share with you some of the pictures of today's adventures enjoying some of God's most beautiful creations. We started up one of our favorite canyons, intending to drive along Guardsman Pass through to our home. Here are a few pics from a few stops we made along the way.

Picking leaves and throwing rocks in a stream.

Isn't this a beauty? I love the intense colors of Autumn in the changing leaves.

I tried to capture the incredible colors of our surroundings in this and the next, but the pictures were mere echoes to what we saw in real life.

We finally found the turn off for Guardsman Pass, traveled up a ways only to find...


The kids had some fun throwing snowballs at eachother and Mom and Dad.

View of a nearby mountain top.

A few minutes later in our drive and we realized there was no way we'd be making it through this weather, so we carefully turned the car around and headed back.

Before going home we figured it would be nice to stop in at our favorite area, Silver Lake up by Brighton Ski Resort. There was a good bit of snow up here too.

Mr. B began to freeze. Of course, he's the one who threw the most snowballs, fell and slipped in the slush, and didn't bring a jacket along. Silly boy.

Daddy finally took pity on this poor, shivering boy and draped his coat over him.

Isn't this pretty? The color of the stems were almost as pretty as the leaves themselves.

Here's our last look in black and white. We headed home after this, all the kids wrapped up in blankets in the car, Dad and I wishing we could open the windows just a smidge due to the heater being turned up high. The moment we got home I took out our hot cocoa maker (thank you Errin!!!) and soon we were warming up inside and out.
My husband and I were grateful we took the morning off, especially as we ended up doing hospital visits to a few ward members that had us gone most of the evening. Each and every one of our kids told us how much fun they had today, how nice it was to have daddy with us, and how they hoped we could do it again soon.
As I lay with my youngest, listening to her ramblings just before she fell asleep, I knew we'd done the right thing for our family. We might get in trouble with certain people for not being where we were supposed to be, but that's okay. There was no doubt in our minds our choice placed us where we needed to be.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The baby is named Cullen. He's our little buddy who comes to play twice a week. When all the kids were off of school last Friday each of them had a chance to feed their new favorite baby
which was, apparently, awesome in ways they cannot begin to explain.
I normally don't accept ongoing babysitting jobs, but this time around I couldn't resist the little man being proffered nor my darling friend (one of the young women I used to teach) who asked the favor of me. And I have not regretted it.
Little Miss A gets jealous a little more than I'd prefer, but when baby Cullen is sleeping I make sure to give her extra love. I've found in this job a little bit of me filled - a little bit I didn't know required filling. It's wonderful to hold a tiny baby again, to make him laugh, to comfort him when he's crying. Changing stinky diapers is definitely something I don't love, nor the smell of formula all over my clothes, but being able to cuddle his tiny form in my arms and have his minuscule fingers clutch my own as he eats from the bottle centers me in a way I haven't been able to do in some time.
I really do think babies remind us to slow down, to experience life in the moment. They teach us to look for the simple joys in life, like the wonderment of having someone truly happy to see us, or the ability to make another of God's special children feel safe in a sometimes scary world.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to babysit little baby Cullen, for he has brought an awful lot of joy into this home of ours. I am also grateful for the change in my own attitude, my thoughts, and my ways of approaching life that allow me the chance to enjoy this little boy, to see my own children respond to having another "little brother" in the family. Even if it is only twice a week.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I am a Mormon, a Wife, a Mother, and a Daughter of God

When I first began this blog - how many years ago? - I did so due to many different spiritual nudgings that now was the time. I didn't really know what this would evolve in to. Well, to be frank I still don't know what this is supposed to be all about, and perhaps that's okay. I don't gear this toward any one thing: cooking, crafts, art, politics, religion, etc. Somewhere deep inside me there was this burgeoning hope of it including a little bit of everything to help those who are not familiar with the Mormons and their beliefs/ways of life might get an insight through my own eyes.

I never thought it would include so many different aspects of my life, from silly little daily happenings to my struggles with depression. I also never thought anyone outside of my little circle of friends and family would be interested in reading the inconsequential (to me, that is) things I would have to say.

There are not too many out there who know this, but I feel as though the Spirit is indicating to me it's time to impart something special with those who share this blog with me. It was either right before or right after I started it that I received a message, peculiar in it's origin yet geared directly to my heart. I was told, in essence: people will read what you have to write.

I took this to be both a promise and a warning. The thought that my words might go out there and touch the life of someone I may never meet in this lifetime seems almost impossible...and exciting. At the same time I knew it was necessary to choose my words carefully. It's one thing to write about silly or even sad or interesting or opinionated subjects. It's entirely different to delve into religion.

The Monday after our semi-yearly General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I looked at my visitor's map and found myself stunned to see so many visits from states and countries who had never appeared before. It didn't take long for me to realize many of these visitors were probably looking in to just about anything they could find on the Mormons after Boyd K. Packer's talk - both truths and lies having been circulated. At that moment I knew, more than I had ever known before, why my Savior directed me to title this blog as I did.

Because people would come to find out precisely how a Mormon mother would respond to almost everything in this life.

We are all too prone to lump people into stereotypes, whether they be correct or mistaken. You bring up certain words and images flow into our minds: rodeo, the Bible Belt, beaches, skiing, housewife, alcoholic, Harry Potter, etc. We each bring with us the experiences we have gleaned throughout this life, as well as the impressions placed before our eyes and in our ears by those things we choose to watch and listen to. All of these combined give us images in our heads and feelings in our hearts, whether or not they be accurate.

Let me say this. The things we learn of in this world will not always be accurate. The more we, as human beings, learn and grow to understand how life works - the intricacies of bugs and flowers to atoms and cancer cells - the better our grasp on the big picture becomes. It is my belief the more we learn about this amazing experience called life, the more we can grasp God's handiwork in it. We can know for ourselves the vitally important fact that He is in charge, He knows and understands our hesitations and questions, and He believes in us, even during those times we choose not to believe in Him.

We are all extraordinary children of God, the Father. Whether we be African, English, Indian, Polynesian, Canadian, Mexican or American. Whether we be Jewish, Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Hindu, Buddhist, or even Athiest. Whether we be rich, poor, selfish, selfless, or somewhere in between, He loves us all. This I can promise you Mormons believe.

So think to yourself, when I say the word Mormon, what comes to mind? Ask yourself if the things you feel, remember, imagine are things you've experienced for yourself or have come to you through others. Have you paused long enough to go to our Father to ask Him if what you think and feel are accurate? It's okay to question the beliefs of the Mormon faith, just as it's okay to question the belief of any faith. Yet we need to kneel down and ask the one being who will be honest with us, no matter how we may like - or not like - the answers. Just remember to come to Him with a humble heart and a contrite spirit, with the desire to know His truth. Not our truth. Not my truth. Not the world's truth. Just His.

I am a Mormon. I am the wife of a bishop in this church. I am a mother to five beautiful children. I love the youth with all my heart. I enjoy serving others, and being at home with my kiddies. I am a writer. I am a dabbler in hobbies. I am an avid reader. I am an avid learner. I am a listener. I am a song leader. I am a computer game player. I am a Facebook junkie. I am a daughter. I am a sister.

But first and foremost, I am a daughter of God. And that is the role I cherish most.

I would invite you all to remember you, too, are children of a most loving Father in Heaven. Spend some time thinking and pondering what this truly means. Read the Savior's words as given in the Holy Bible. Read another testament of Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon. Spend some honest to goodness time in this hectic, crazy world to rediscover your spiritual roots.

I would invite you to feel free to learn more about the Mormons, otherwise known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


A week ago I declared on my Facebook status I was going into "hiding" for a few days. Well, a few days turned into a bit longer than that.

By the time last Sunday rolled around I'd been feeling more than just a little frantic with life, and began to recognize some of the "warning signs" my counselor and I had discussed during our very last session together. I was feeling overwhelmed, overdrawn, and overdone. It wasn't to a horribly bad point, but I could see the warning signs coming and knew if I didn't do something quick, I'd be heading down the depression road once again.

So I decided to be proactive and remove myself from typical daily activities and get some things done around the house to shake me out of my normal routine. I stayed off of the computer for several days. I spent my mornings reading or crocheting while sitting with my youngest (she was in absolute heaven!).

I tried cleaning the house and doing laundry at the beginning of the week to give myself a chance to get through my jam-packed weekend without feeling harried. I even washed down the hallway walls - something that honestly hasn't been done in FOREVER!!!

Over the last several days I've slowly been reintegrating myself into life outside of my home, including all of my friends on the Internet. I'm still trying to keep things on the down-low, just so I don't back pedal right to where I was before.

During yesterday's afternoon session of General Conference, President Uchtdorf spoke about simplifying our lives when we begin to feel lost, or overwhelmed. It was as if he was telling me I did the right thing in backing off for a bit. He spoke of it being okay to slow down, and not feeling a bit guilty about it. We live in a fast-paced world where the quicker we can get things done, get to where we're going, or make things happen the better. Being able to accomplish a lot is definitely a wonderful thing, yet these bodies of ours - like any machine - need a chance to rest.

When we're going at full speed, we cannot focus on the slow and simple beauties of our lives, of this world, and of the people around us. We are too busy to listen for the promptings of the Holy Spirit. We forget to stop long enough to learn the lessons our Lord would have us learn.

My husband came home from a VERY long weekend at work. He is a chef who, with a wonderful crew, works to feed everyone involved with General Conference. This poor man was beyond exhausted today. Still, as he sat down with his family for the first time in several days to enjoy a dinner I actually cooked he couldn't stop saying how grateful he was - for the food, for his family, for this wonderful home we have created together. He was made to go at full speed all weekend long, but was able to slow down this evening and enjoy something as simple as a homemade chocolate cake shared with five crazy people whom he loves beyond words.

Of course, he will have to pick right back up with the fast pace of work tomorrow, and I will need to start getting ready to paint that hallway of ours, but we both learned to appreciate the blessing of slowing down, and/or going into hiding. Even if it was just a few hours for my hubby.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Light Up Your World

As our ward choir was singing yesterday in church, I dropped my oldest over for one last practice about 8:30 am. During my ride home I listened to 100.3 fm, a local radio station that plays more sacred and religious based music on the Sabbath.

Even as I pulled up into my driveway a song I'd never heard before, by an artist whose name I could not even remotely pin down, began to play. Before turning off the car four little words were sung, immediately capturing my attention and not letting go even now.

"Light up your world."

We are all asked to be a light in this world, a light for righteousness, for love, for all the good things in life. A light that represents our Savior, His example, and His teachings. We have been told to be a light unto the world, a phrase that can sound daunting, perhaps to some even impossible. How can one person light up the entire world? How is it possible for us, who may never reach further than our own little neighborhoods, influece this vast and enormous world filled with people we may never meet in our lifetime?

Those four little words, just one of them changed, brought about a beautifully enlightening thought to my own mind: we don't have to light up the entire world, but we should be working our hardest to light up our own world.

Some of us out there are not filled with wanderlust. We do not crave the chance to travel from place to place, to move a billion times over, or to wander too far from home. I am certainly one of these people. So the circle of people I know is small compared to some. But this does not mean I can't have a great influence on that small circle of loved ones. It does not mean I can't be a light for those I meet in my own little, yet wholly satisfying, world.

Who knows how one kind word, one unexpected hug, one spontaneous compliment, or one experience in listening to the Holy Spirit's whisperings will influence the life of someone around you? It could be someone you've known your entire life. It could be the individual at the check-out counter at your local grocery store. Whoever he/she may be, you never know when holding up your light nice and high may cause another lost or hurting soul to be comforted, to be lightened, or even to start on a path of finding themselves closer to the Savior. All because you chose to hold up your one, seemingly insignificant light.

We don't need to light up the entire world, but when we choose to shine the light of Christ on those around us the effects might actually ripple to places we would have never expected. Our influece could be felt in places far beyond our own limited reach.

No, we don't have to worry about lighting up the entire world, but we should do all we can to light up our own world.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

'Cause We're Awesome. That's Why!

These days it's nothing to sniff at, managing to make it to number fourteen on the marriage anniversary list. What's even more incredible is the fact we're still going strong! So I've got two lists for you today. First, I'd like to give you the top five serious reasons our marriage works.

#5 - We communicate!!! If fincances are tight, we talk about it. If there's a problem at work or home, we talk about it. If we're feeling frustrated about something or someone, we talk about it! Communication invites intimacy, allowing each person to feel important in the other person's life.

#4 - We're similar, and opposites - and we embrace both in each other. My hubby and I are very similar in many respects: our love of service, we'd both rather be home than anywhere else, we enjoy reading and sharing what we've read, we're both peacemakers, etc. But we're also opposites in many respects: I'm a thinker, he's a doer; he's a morning person, I'm a night owl; he enjoys a nice tomato sandwich, I'd rather not (but thank you very much); he'll eat just about anything, I'm one of the pickiest creatures on the face of this earth; I help him chill out, he helps me be motivated. It works for us.

#3 - We're both very selfless, and even a little bit selfish. We're the sort who will give up everything at the moment to help the other (and he's done more than his share of this in recent months). We keep watch over one another, and notice when the other needs a pick me up. But we also know when to say, I need some help. As I learned from my therapist this last summer, if our own needs aren't met, we cannot help fill the needs of those around us. So if we need a little time to ourselves to read alone, or take a walk, or go to the library, we'll make it happen.

#2 - We make family a priority. I'm not even talking about our immediate family, but extended family as well. We have both been blessed with AMAZING brothers and sisters and in-laws. Our nieces and nephews are to die for, and our parents would move heaven and earth to help us out. We do not take that for granted, and lend our love and support whenever possible.

#1 - We make God a part of our marriage. We make Him a vital and essential part of our marriage. There is no doubt in my mind, without Him, we would not be where we are today.

Now, for the top five silly yet equally important reasons we've made it this far.

#5 - We share a love of Coke products. What?! GASP! For shame, Laurie. I know, I know. But there's nothing like seeing the face of my husband when he sees a bottle of Coke in the fridge that I got for him as a surprise. Or my delight when he's stopped off at 7-11 to get us a couple of Big Gulps before he comes home. Good times, people, good times.

#4 - We also share a love for teasing the children. It comes in really handy when one is trying to convince the children of something improbable (like we're having snake for dinner) and needs the other to act as though it's true. The hubbs is WAY better at the teasing, I'm merely the pupil. But I'm getting better at it.

#3 - Neither of us is way into sports. Nope. When hubby's brothers and nephews (and some sisters-in-law and nieces) get together to play some basketball, you won't see my hubby among them. And I love it. While others talk about this sports team, or who's doing what and being traded where, neither of us has any idea of what's being talked about. And neither of us, even just a little, root for the U more than the Y. Instead we sit back and enjoy watching the rivalry.

#2 - When we're old and gray we plan to share a room in a rest home. We'll both have Alzheimers and plan to flirt with the cutie in the bed next to us. A lot.

#1 - 'Cause we're awesome. That's why.

*** Author's Addition ***
My good friend Carol reminded me of something, and it's just too good not to put in. When all the kids are out of the house and we won't have to worry about any children saying, "Why won't you let us get one!?!?!", hubby and I are totally getting motorcycles and traveling the U.S. of A.!!!!! OH YEAH BABY

Monday, September 13, 2010

Book Reviews: Science Fair

I was rummaging through the Walmart Bargain Book table when I came across a book front with a giant frog on the front. Add to that the name Dave Barry and immediately picked it up. Scanning down the inside book jacket I saw one sentence that clinched the sale: "He made the mistake of selling his dad's priceless original Star Wars blaster to a lunatic who thinks he's Darth Vader and travels with a large, hairy sidekick known as the Wookiee."

GOLDEN!!! This book was right up my boys' alley. For a whopping four dollars I became the proud owner of this completely awesome book.

I really do mean awesome. The authors are actually Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, both of whom have (apparently) put together a whole other series of books. This particular book, however, is absolute genius.

We start off in the land of Krpsht, where there are very few vowels and a whole lot of crazy. The leader of Krpsht is planning the destruction of America due to a grave insult to their country, one that simply cannot be overlooked. Their plot revolves around the science fair held at Hubble Middle School, where an insider is working to make their horrible vision a reality.

Here enters Toby Harbinger, your average, run-of-the-mill middle schooler who wants nothing more than to get through one day without being made fun of by the ME kids (you'll have to read the book if you want to know what that stands for!). Little does he realize his entire world is about to fall apart as a series of events takes him into the world of weird science, a lunatic man who uses a voice changer to make him sound like Darth Vader and wants Toby to help him steal more of his parents' Star Wars collection, a plot so twisted, so deeply hidden he becomes involved with the FBI in a desperate attempt to make ANYONE believe his claims something is wrong at the science fair, and - perhaps most disturbing of all - the Wienermobile. Every time you think to yourself, "This can't possibly get any worse for Toby," oh yeah, it does.

It may take a few chapters to keep your attention glued, but this book is entirely worth the read. I'd lend you my copy, but...uh...I'm already lending it out to just about everyone I know!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

On My Bucket List: The 7-11 Man

Just a short walk away is one of our favorite local convenience stores, the 7/11. It's owned by a family who take turns manning the store. I have enjoyed chatting with the husband and wife, and can even claim to have gotten a bit of conversation out of their daughter, who comes in to help out occasionally after school.

The one who poses a challenge, however, is the young man who is there most often. He could be a very younger brother, or perhaps an older son - it really doesn't matter. What gets me is he is so closed off! This attitude could easily be taken as being rude, arrogant, and/or just plain hating being there. I, however, think he's just shy and guarded.

I can't blame him. The family is of mid-Eastern descent, though I could not say precisely where they are from. In this day and age anyone of any color and nationality faces a world of discrimination and hatred for things they have personally never done and most likely don't even condone. But that's a discussion for another time.

When I come up to the register the young man won't even look at me. I'm okay with that, as I realize we all have certain reasons for doing, or not doing, something. Every once in a very long while I'll get him to look me in the eye, and consider it a huge accomplishment when I get more than a "You're welcome" out of him.

I've told my hubby more than once my biggest goal with this young man is to get him to smile for me, just because. If you've ever visited this particular 7/11 you'll know what a daunting task I have set before myself.

I've been slowly breaking down his barriers, though. I have made him almost laugh a few times. I always say hello, thank you, and have a nice day. For the most part he remains stoic, answering with as few syllables possible. But I remain undaunted.

Recently we took the kids over there to get Slurpees, and he was outside washing down windows. I had finished paying for our things and had started backing up to the door when it suddenly opened for me. I looked up in surprise and said, "Oh! Wow! Why thank you." I don't know what struck him as funny, but he gave me an honest-to-goodness, completely unguarded smile. It took my breath away, and made me even more determined to see that smile happen without me looking like an idiot.

So there's my first ever post on my Bucket List. We'll have to see if it's a goal I can accomplish!

Monday, August 30, 2010

My Mother

During the month of August I have the awesome opportunity to celebrate the birth of one of my all time favorite people: my mama. Seeing as how August is almost over, I figured I'd better sit down and get to telling you about this amazing woman. After all, she is the woman who gave you all me :) Heheheeee.

My mother was born in the small town of-

Just kidding. Not going for a biography here. Instead I'd like to share with you some memories I have of this, one of my greatest heroes.

I remember having chicken pox as a kid. They were worst on my feet. My sweet mother would kneel next to the couch and very carefully dab on the lovely pinkish anti-itch medication. You may not think it, but there was a lot of love in every single one of those dabs.

It certainly wasn't the first nor the last time she took care of me while I was sick. She has cradled me in her arms, soothed fevers with a gentle touch, cried along with me as I received shots, sat in the hospital as I had stitches put in my eyebrow, held my hand as I lay in the back seat of our car while my daddy drove to get me to the hospital when my appendix needed to come out.

One evening, when I was a bit older, my younger brother had been driving me up the wall, down the wall, and maybe even across the ceiling a few times (sorry bro, but it's true). My cute mommy saw I was in need of some time away and took me to A&W's for a frosty mug of rootbeer, my absolute most favorite drink at the time. Because that's the sort of woman she is.

My mother worked at the high school I attended. I know there are some kids out there who would moan at the thought, but I never minded. Having her there was often a great comfort to me. I didn't always have an easy time during those four years. There was one particular girl my junior year who moved into the school and I befriended. She had some problems with socializing and ended up making my life, as well as the lives of many of my friends, utterly miserable.

One day I had simply had enough. I walking into my choir class and burst into tears. With a grateful heart I went to my mother and let it all out. She held me, as she has done all my life, and just let me cry. You see, I didn't know how to stand up for myself. I thought the best way to go through life was not to make waves. My mother has never felt that way. Over the next few days she talked with the teacher of a class this girl and I had together, she had one of the counselors who had met with this girl talk with me and another friend who was also involved about (without going into anything private) why this girl was the way she was, and basically just had my back! I don't know if she'll ever comprehend how everything she did at that time saved me.

She sat in the hospital room with me when my son had been taken from my arms, and was one of my greatest supports as we buried him just a few days later.

She has laughed with me countless times as we've chatted over the phone, and has become, as my teenage self would never have guessed, one of my best friends.

My mother is a strong woman. She'll be the last to admit it, will hem and haw try to think of other less-flattering ways to describe herself, but she is strong. She has had to watch as so many around her have been cruel to herself and to those she loves, as her family and friends have endured so much especially in the ways of illnesses, and through it all she has been a pillar of love, strength, and what it means to state the words "choose the right."

She doesn't think of herself as beautiful, or amazing, or anything special, and yet my world would be a darker place without her. I love her smile, her giggle, her beautiful eyes, and her curly hair. I love her hugs, her ability to cheer me up when I'm feeling down, and the way she can make a sandwich that actually feels like comfort food simply because "mom made it."

So Happy Birthday Mom: you are, without a doubt, extraordinary. And I will never let you forget it!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


The new school year always brings about huge changes. It involves getting back into a new, or even old, routine. I'm not just talking about the changes made for the children who attend school, but also for those of us left here at home.

My youngest, Miss A, has had a summer filled with her two brothers and big sister. Her Mama (that would be me), has been kicked off the computer for several months until the later hours of the night as the children seem to think they need electronics to while away so many hot, muggy hours. The house has been noisy, messy, and gloriously filled with the laughter of my children.

Now we're bored here at home. Little Miss A and I are aaaaall alooooone. I know, your heart is just breaking for us ;) Miss A has been adjusting to having the television all to herself, as well as the freedom to bring in all her toys and play with no worries a well-meaning brother might pick one up and run off in an effort to "have fun" with his baby sister. She kinda really likes being able to have Mom all to herself (even if Mom spends a lot of time on the computer).

Okay so maybe it's me that's bored. Well, hmm. If I have to admit it there's PLENTY to do around here, but none of it sounds even remotely fun. Add to that the need to get up at six in the morning when I'd much rather sleep 'till about eight or so, and I'm having a hard time adjusting as well.

I miss my kiddies. Though they can occasionally drive up the proverbial wall, they are my heart. I love laughing with them, doing things together, seeing their faces light up when I suggest going to the library or over to Toys R Us to look around. I miss having an hour or so together read Percy Jackson, or another book, together.

Now when they all get home from school it feels a bit like chaos. Everyone wants to talk at the same time. They're starving and absolutely MUST get a snack - which always seems to turn into an almost meal - and will pounce on the chance to get back on my..uh..our computer. Dinner becomes a rushed affair and right after is homework. By the time we all get a chance to really sit down and enjoy one another, it's almost bedtime.

Still, changes are good for us, and my children really do blossom through their experiences with teachers, friends, and even those who are not so much friends. I think it makes us all recognize what a blessing we have in our little home of love, where arms are always open, snacks about, and Mom and Dad are ready with hugs before bedtime.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Jeers to TV Guide

The TV Guide has a Cheers/Jeers section wherein they feel free to let a show, actor, or organization know when they think something awesome or seriously lame has happened. They'll even open it up to readers to give their own opinions here and there.

I should not have opened up this week's TV Guide. To be honest I've been debating about whether or not to even renew my subscription as I rarely even check it to see what's on that night anymore. I do enjoy the articles they write, but to be honest I could always just check their website if I truly wanted to know who was doing what in my favorite shows.

But read this week's edition I did, and I grumbled at one of their main articles. TOP EARNERS could have been meant to let us oooh and aaaah over the money certain of our "favorite" stars are earning, though the article itself talked about how the actors of new shows will be getting less for a starting salary than before.

That's right, even the most popular shows out there are feeling the crunch of a harsh economy. These poor actors (even veteran actors) will go from a starting paycheck of $150,000 to under $100,000 ... PER EPISODE! Just to start out with! Oh, doesn't that just break your heart? Incredibly enough, one actor refused to take a job because the network/studio refused to go over $200,000.

In a time when a family of six (yes, I'm talking about ours) is struggling make it through life with a yearly income of just under half of that, and thousands of other families out there are struggling to even find some sort of income, it makes me more than mildly ill to sit back and learn what some of these stars are making (regardless of whether or not I absolutely love them). When I think of what I could do for my family with the money many of them earn from just one episode, I get angry.

The article felt like a slap in the face. There's no other way to describe it. So Jeers TV Guide, for not remembering the circumstances of many of your readers out here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

On This Sabbath Day

On this sabbath day, I just want to let you all know you are loved. That's it. That's all. And yet it can be the difference between utter joy and despair.

Awesome is the power of love ♥

Sunday, August 8, 2010

As a Man Thinketh

Last night I posted on Facebook I hoped today would be spiritually filling. Never did I realize that not only would it fill me up, but I would struggle to figure out exactly what to choose for today's post. The children sang so well in Primary - even in the nursery! I found myself able to serve a sweet and overwhelmed sister by simply being a shoulder to cry on. I had a chance to go to choir practice today (something I haven't done in months) where we sung through one of my absolute favorite hymns. But it was the messages shared in our main sacrament meeting today that caught my attention the most.

As a child, a teenager, and young adult I used to love cloudy days. There was something invigorating about taking a walk or swinging at the park or even just sitting on my front porch in windy, storm like weather. I loved to watch the clouds rolling across the sky, see where they would try to touch the ground in a shower of rain, and most of all enjoy watching lightning streak across the sky.

Something happened over the years. Instead of enjoying the weather as I used to I found myself particularly depressed on cloudy days. It got so bad I would suffer the effects of seasonal depression through the winter months. I wondered more than once where my joy of cloudy, rainy days had gone.

The young, single adults in our ward (local congregation) have had a chance this weekend to attend a summit put on by the area leaders of our church. Men and women ages 18-30 were invited to attend a dinner and concert Friday night, a bunch of classes plus a carnival Saturday, and tonight there will be a spiritual speaker to tie everything together. My husband, as the leader of our particular ward, had the chance to attend as well. Today a few of those who went spoke to us in our main meeting.

Though the theme of the summit was "Find Yourself Through Service", most came away having been greatly influenced by one particular speaker (who had also been one of the entertainers at the concert the night before). He spoke about the way people think and how much it influences who they are and the way they present themselves.

The idea is simple enough: if you think negative thoughts you'll be negative. If you think positive thoughts you'll be positive. I believe the problem comes when we don't realize our thoughts are negative.

My therapist and I have discussed it a lot throughout my sessions. He's a big believer in our thoughts contributing greatly to the way we approach life. He told me our thoughts can come through so fast we may not even register what it was that just went through our heads. These thoughts are often formed during our childhood years, though the way the think about things can change (as mine did about cloudy days).

Dr. Jim gave me a copy he'd made of a bumper sticker he once found. It read: Don't Believe Everything You Think. That's right - believe it or not the things we think are not always true. We can even change the negative thoughts that come automatically by recognizing them when they happen. For example, someone makes a mistake. Their automatic thought is, "I'm so stupid. I can't do anything right. Might as well give up." If we see ourselves thinking along these lines it's time to stop, to rewind, and instead say something like, "I made a mistake. That's okay. I'll remember what I did wrong and try again."

Doesn't that sound easy? I think so. Give it a try this week. If you find yourself in a really bad mood and you don't understand why, do a little backtracking to figure out where the negative thought hit, then change the way you think. When you go to bed at night, review your day, let the bad thoughts go, and just remember all the good things. When you wake up in the morning, start your day with some positive thoughts. See if you find a difference in the way you approach your day, in the way you are able to handle your problems, and even the way you look at yourself.

This last week we've had some rainy weather. I could actually sense the dark feelings approaching. Instead of embracing those, I went outside and just stood in the wind, feeling it rush over me, and for the first time in many years I felt invigorated again. It was beautiful.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What Does Your Body Language Say About You?

I went grocery shopping this morning, not an unusual occurence. While there I was doing a little "people watching" as I went up and down a few isles, and one particular woman caught my eye.

She was heavier in her build, long, dark hair pulled back into a ponytail. Her skin looked fair and healthy, though her features held no expression whatsoever. But what really spoke volumes on how she felt was the way she stood.

Her shoulders were hunched forward and slumped down. Her head was also bent forward, as though afraid to glance up on the chance someone might actually notice her standing there. Every movement was small, hesitant. I wanted nothing more than to go over, take her shoulders, and push them back a little. I wanted to tip her chin up and raise the corners of her mouth to create a hint of a smile. Those three things would have made a world of difference.

I wondered how I looked as I walked through the store. I'm also heavier in my build, my long, red hair pulled back in a ponytail. This is where the similarities between the two of us ended. Though my skin may not be flawless I typically have a smile on my face. I prefer to keep my head up and shoulders pulled back as it helps my posture. And those three things perhaps make a load of difference in how I am perceived.

How do you think you are perceived? How do you hold yourself when you're out in public? Is it different from how you hold yourself when at home?

Just an observation :)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

It's Okay to Say No and NOT Feel Guilty!

For someone who only made it through Primary today, I'm feeling greatly inspired to sit down and write about a particular subject. There was a comment made by our stake leaders to the bishopric and Primary presidency about our lack of participation in the recent Pioneer Day parade. Our stake had put together a float that was chosen to be a participant in our biggest parade day for Utah. The children of the stake were invited to walk along with the float, and I hear there was one of the First Presidency in the float just behind them.

It's true our particular ward typically has the most attendance (though really not so much during the summer months), so of course at least one child should have been present, right? Three of those kids happen to be my own. My husband is the bishop. I myself am in the Primary organization. If anyone should have had a kid present it should have been us, right?

I am going to sit up straight, put on my sweetest smile, and say no. No. No! And I don't feel one bit guilty about it. Saying that one little word was not something I could have done just a few months ago. There was a time I would have pushed myself to do something I not only didn't want to do, but did not have the energy or strength to accomplish. I also would have resented every minute I felt forced to do it.

One of the things my therapist and I have been working on is changing my beliefs that everyone else comes first, my needs come last, and if I don't do it I'm being selfish. Turns out this isn't true. My needs HAVE to come first.

In Mosiah 4:27 we read: "And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order: for it is not requisite that man should run faster than he has strength."

"How do we know when we are running faster than we have strength? We develop physical and emotional symptoms. Continual stress triggers such physical symptoms as headaches, high blood pressure, stomach aches, ulcers, eczema, heart palpitations, etc.; ... stress is certainly a major contributor to depression and its symptoms, i.e. tiredness, crying spells, sleep disturbance - either sleeping too much or sleeping too little, appetite disturbance - either eating too much or eating too little, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and suicidal thoughts. If a person develops these symptoms he or she is certainly 'running father than he [or she] has strength.'"

This quote is from my therapist's book "Spiritual Therapy". In chapter 7 which goes into neglecting our own needs Dr. Shelton talks about a question asked by President Harold B. Lee regarding our priorities and responsibilities.

"An anxious physician worried that because of his profession and church responsibilities, he was neglecting his own son, (and) asked President Lee how [he] should handle [his] time? What is most important in life? How do I do it all? President Lee replied: A man's first responsibility is to himself, then to his family, then to Church, realizing that we have responsibility to excel in our profession as well. He then stressed that a man must take care of his own health, both physically and emotionally, before he can be a blessing to others."

Imagine that. A prophet of God saying the one who should come first in our lives is...ourselves! Let's stress for a moment the fact that there is a difference between the things we need, and the things we want. Needs are essential for balance in our lives. We must eat well, get plenty of rest, take time to meditate, pray, exercise, read scriptures, and make this time you put aside for yourself necessary. Feel free not to answer the phone. Tell your children you'll fulfill their wants as soon as you're done with your hour. Set up boundaries so others will see it's good to make your own needs as important as those of others.

Even Christ knew it was necessary to take time out for Himself. He spent so much of His time teaching and healing and walking and doing the work of His Father. Yet when His body began to suffer, He would willingly go into the wilderness to pray. Once when He visited Mary and Martha, the latter sister became frustrated because she found herself doing all the work while Mary sat and listened to the Savior. When she thought to complain, Christ reproved her, letting her know Mary had chosen something to help keep herself balanced. Housework would always be there. The time at hand needed to be spent choosing to feed themselves spiritually. Had Martha recognized this, the frustration and anger that popped up would not have been an issue.

Many of the symptoms of running faster than we can walk listed above have been things I've experienced an awful lot of most of my life. I'm hoping to go more into some of the negative core beliefs I've had and how they have changed in the next little while. I wanted to go through this one today for one simple fact: I have nothing to feel guilty about. I love my church. I love my ward. I love the members and leaders of our stake. But I also love myself, and I know when it's necessary to say no to the expectations of others while saying yes to taking care of me. And there is no reason to feel guilty about it.

The truth is, not only myself and my husband, but all the members of the bishopric and our Primary presidency either already had something going on, or felt it was more important to take care of the needs of our family first. We cannot control what other choose to do, or not do, and there is no need to feel bad for what may appear to be coming up short in the eyes of others. Not even when fingers are pointing.

If I could offer you one challenge this week (one Dr. Shelton gives me continually), it's to take one hour a day out and do things strictly for you. Say no to those who might impose on this hour, and when the guilt comes take a deep breath, hold it, and then let it all go.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Pros and Cons of Swamp Coolers

I feel the need to complain at length today. Upon my triumphant return from grocery shopping it took less than a second for me to realize it was just as muggy inside my house as it was outside.

For those of us who live in desert areas, swamp coolers are a pretty good alternative to central cooling when looking at it from a financial point of view. However, on days like today the financial benefits aren't exactly outweighed by the problems swamp coolers cause.

For those of you unfamiliar with the workings of a swamp cooler let me quickly explain. The square unit sits upon the the roof where a very large duct leads into the house. When the cooler is being prompted to turn on, water first filters through four very large pads intended to help with the cooling process. When the pads are sufficiently wet the main blower turns on and sends the cool, moist air through the duct and into the house.

This might lead one to naturally assume summertime in the house is a bit on the damp side. One would be correct. I've had to rescue more than one child from their room because they closed the swollen doors and can't get them open. Then there's the food problem. If it's not in the fridge, or a can, or properly sealed, it's gross. Not only is it stale, but a bit gummy too. Not something you want in a cracker or chip. Seriously.

Still, these things can be dealt with, and due to the savings when it comes to money we don't tend to stress too much. I'm afraid the point in which having a swamp cooler becomes unbearable is when the humidity outside rises to such a point we can feel it amplified inside. Then we all feel the ugh!

Like today. I was pretty certain if it became any more humid in the house we'd see rain clouds forming in the hallway. All the floors feel damp, as does any bit of wood. With the increasing humidity outside comes another un-fun fact: no cooling. The air blowing in simply comes out feeling hot rather than cool.

The only way to help alleviate this added humidity is to turn off the water and just let the fan blow. Less humid, but yet again, more hot. Needless to say I'm grumpy. It's hot, it's humid, I'm getting a headache and all the ceiling fans in the world are not making me feel better.

Hey, at least I can admit it. And I can look forward to the day when hubby and I are so rich we can afford the central cooling without worrying about what it's going to cost us to stay below 76 degrees. Good times, people. Good times.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Sweet Tribute

I had the opportunity to speak in our main church meeting today, something I really quite enjoy doing. Last Sunday I posted a story the Lord blessed me with to give to the girls at camp the week before. Today I was asked to share that story with our congregation.

Afterward one girl - I say girl but HELLO! She's 19 now! - that I used to teach in the young women program came up to me afterward. With tears in her eyes she said, "I hate you." We both laughed as she continued to say, "You always make me cry."

Though when she began to cry in earnest I absolutely had to reach over and give her a big hug. "I really miss you," she said, and my heart broke a little. She's been feeling adrift lately, as she's no longer a part of the young women program, but not exactly a full-fledged member of the relief society (for women 18 and older). There's this terrible sort of in-between stage where you finally have to rely on your own testimony and find your way in this crazy world of ours.

We chatted for a few minutes, something we really haven't had a chance to do in a long, long time, and it became time to leave. But her message to me perhaps far outweighed anything I might have given her, for she let me know I meant something to her. And that's a gift I shall treasure always.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Girl's "Time Out"

The constant heat and humidity has been taking it's toll on all our tempers. I've been impressed with how well I've managed (no...seriously!), but could tell my daughter was a few hours away from a serious meltdown. Mom and Dad have been asking a lot of her lately, especially in regards to watching her younger siblings while we attempt to accomplish our various obligations, and I'd been thinking for a while she deserved a little treat.

By the time we got home from visiting a few church members today there were two extra boys on M's hands (friends who'd stopped over to play with my boys) and she looked pretty well done in. When a spider appeared on the ceiling just above her during dinner, I could tell from her complete and total freak out it was time to take her away from the house and see if we couldn't put a smile back on her face.

Granted I'm not much of a last-minute thinker, and our usual thing is to go to the mall (I know, original right?). Instead of wandering through the various stores looking at things we've looked at before, we headed over to the dollar theater. Fortune favored us in the form of a movie M wanted to see and it was only rated PG. So we bought two tickets for "Letters to Juliet."

Definitely a cute movie. There are certain things I would have changed - like less time on her dwindling relationship with one guy and more time on seeing the new relationship form, but still cute. Best of all is M had a good time. She laughed a lot, loved all the mushy lovey stuff, and just plain had fun being out with her mama.

It took me back to an experience I had with my own sweet mama. My younger brother (whom I flippin' adore...just want to make that clear) had been driving me more than a little nuts. Oh come on, that's the top job of a little brother. My mom could see I was at my own patience-limit, grabbed her purse, and told me we were leaving. Next thing I know we're at Hires sipping a root beer in those awesome frosted glasses. I needed that little outing with my mom. I needed that chance to just plain chill.

I'm so grateful for my mother. She is so hard on herself at times, in particular when looking back at how she raised us (as so many of us do), but she has always been exactly what I've needed. So when I see myself doing something for my precious girl that she had done for me, I know I'm being a good mama.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday Inspirations July 11, 2010

I spent most of this week at our church's Girl's Camp participating as one of the leaders. It was hard, it was dirty, it was buggy, it was wet, and above all it was beyond awesome!

I was in charge of one of the projects, and decided to do up a little charm bracelet involving the colors which represent the values the young women of our church are given to help guide them through this crazy life.

Not until the last week did I also begin to feel there was a story that needed to go along with the bracelet, something to help make the meaning behind each stone more than just being something pretty to look at. The Lord gifted me with a story I feel needs to be shared far and wide, and so I invite you to pass it on to those you feel might benefit.

The Greatest Treasure

Once upon a time in a land so very far away there are few who even recall it’s name, there lived a King and his beloved daughter, Bethia. At only twelve years old Bethia was all ready considered a great beauty: flawless fair skin, eyes bluer than the sea, hair as dark as night. But more than this, one only had to look into her eyes to see there was a spirit of great strength residing there.

The King worried over the welfare of his daughter, as any father should. He knew the man who would wed her one day needed to be something more than wealthy, of royal birth, or flattering. No, for his precious girl there needed to be a man who knew the value of the gift he had to give.

And so he sent out a decree intended for anyone hopeful to wed the princess.

Let it be known the hand of princess bethia
Is not to be easily won.
Only he who is able present before the king
The greatest treasure to be found
Shall win her hand.

News spread quickly, even in lands so distant they were not known to the King. In only a few months men old and young began to show up, carrying with them jewels and gold and silver, fine silks and linens, even animals so rare some had never been seen before, all in the hopes of pleasing the King. Some brought everything they owned, thinking more wealth would surely buy them the prize of the most beautiful girl known to man – not to mention becoming heir to one of the richest kingdoms.

Yet each eager suitor was turned away. None of them understood what the king meant when he sadly said, “What you have brought is wonderful, but it is not what I am looking for.”

In the meantime Bethia was given a tutor to help her grow in knowledge and understanding. Much of what the King hoped she would learn seemed to come naturally to the young princess. Under the care and gentle teaching of the tutor Bethia grew to be almost as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside.

To the surprise of the kingdom years passed quickly by, hope waxing and waning with every hopeful prince, king, nobleman and even commoner who strutted into the castle grounds, only to leave puzzled, embarrassed, and angry. It wasn’t long before words were passed like vipers, striking at the name of the king whose daughter was too good for the richest and most handsome of men.

As time moved along fewer came calling for the hand of the princess. After all, she couldn’t possibly be as beautiful as the rumors said, thought those who were mildly tempted to try their hand. Why, thought others, should anyone try so hard for a mere woman? It was the king’s decree that got everyone so excited to try. In fact, when one stopped to think about it, king’s daughters were really quite common. There can’t possibly be anything extra special about this one. Such a fuss over nothing.

And so the King and his daughter were forgotten by most who did not live close by. The King mourned for himself and his daughter. Once his hope for a good man who knew what a treasure existed in his girl was thought, by him, to be a good thing. Now he wondered if he’d done them both a disservice. It gave him a lot to think about.

Shortly after the princess’s 18th birthday he noticed Bethia fingering a lovely bracelet on her wrist. It didn’t look familiar. He asked who had given it to her.

“Ben-Ad,” she said, speaking of her tutor. “Aren’t the stones lovely? Each one has a special meaning. He says they remind him of me.”

The King watched as his daughter continued on her way, toying with her new gift.

“Ben-Ad,” he said, wondering if…

What could the meanings behind the gems be? It was unusual for the quiet tutor to honor his charge with a gift, which only served to increase the King’s curiosity, and so he sent for his daughter’s teacher.

Ben-Ad came quickly, bowing his dark head low in reverence of his Master. “Sire, you called for me?”

For several seconds the King scrutinized his servant, trying to really see him for perhaps the first time. He had a pleasing countenance. His dark eyes radiated intelligence, indeed, but there was something more. There was laughter, also in evidence behind a mouth that looked ready to break into a smile. His form was fit, positioned in a stance to show respect, yet he also appeared relaxed, comfortable with himself and his surroundings. Even being inspected by the King didn’t appear to unsettle him.

“You gave my daughter a gift,” he said, and no more. Over his long years of ruling he’d learned you could tell a great deal of the measure of a man by putting him in an uncomfortable position. He was pleased when Ben-Ad at last let the smile escape.

“Yes Sire, I did. I hope it didn’t upset you.”

The King smiled in return. “Not at all. I was simply curious. Bethia said each of the gems had a meaning. I would like you to tell me about them.”

At that moment a door opened and in walked his daughter. She paused at the sight of her teacher standing before the King. Was that a blush suddenly coloring her face? At the same time he saw the tutor’s face briefly flush, and had to stifle his pleasure. Something told him here was a man who might be able to answer his prayers.

Ben-Ad reached a hand into his pocket, grabbed something, and pulled it out. His fingers stretched open just a bit so only his eyes could behold the object. The King watched the young man’s features soften for a brief moment, before he raised his head and asked to approach. A quick glance showed his daughter had not moved an inch.

“I have in my hand eight precious stones,” he began. “Ones your daughter and I have been studying the last few months. The princess asked me one day what I thought the stones meant. I didn’t understand until she began to tell me how the blue ones reminded her of you, and the gold ones of her mother. She even said the green ones make her think of me, her teacher.”

He smiled at his student, and the King watched her face light up.

“I began to think on her question, even then coming up with the idea of making her a gift of the stones. It was my hope that she could be constantly reminded of the beautiful things in her life and in herself.”

Ben-Ad pulled out a small, white stone, almost perfect in its color. He placed it in the hand of the King, who marveled at the beauty of something so tiny. “Your daughter watches you, Sire, and her mother. She sees daily your examples of unending faith and perseverance. Though she may not always understand why you do the things you do, she trusts you implicitly. Her faith in her parents, and others around her, is not to be taken lightly.”

The next stone placed in his hand was blue, the color his daughter said reminded her of him. In their land blue was a sign of royalty, a color he always wore. “This is to help Bethia remember she is the daughter of a king. There are things passed on from father to daughter that connect them in a relationship more precious than all the riches in the world. This father loves her more than she will ever know. At times he asks difficult things of her, like waiting to marry a man who will appreciate who she truly is, even if it means waiting for years. But these things are asked out of love. For she truly deserves someone who is just as willing to wait for her.”

It was extraordinary, the insight this young man had. His own daughter had never gleaned the truth, as the puzzled look on her face showed. Before he could ponder further the next stone was placed in his hand. It was just as small as the others, a shade somewhere between pink and red. It wasn’t very smooth, a bit ragged here and there, but no less beautiful. In fact, the individuality of the stone almost demanded his attention. Certainly there was no other like it here in the kingdom.

“I believe this stone is most like your daughter. It is unique, special, distinctive. Even though she is the daughter of a king, she is not like every other daughter of a king. She has her own irreplaceable gifts, talents, and abilities, her own individual experiences that have worked over the years to make her rare. As we all are rare. There is not one person who is like another, and I believe this is something she should celebrate.”

Ben-Ad smiled as he next placed the light, green gem in the hand of the King. “I have dubbed this one knowledge. Not for myself, Sire, but rather for the knowledge your daughter has gained. She has a teachable spirit and a love for learning. There is no doubt she will continue to educate herself, as she should. I believe we should all strive to learn everything we can in these short, mortal lives of ours. Some of the most beautiful minds on this earth are those open to discovering new things.

“I had to laugh a bit when the princess saw this gem.” Ben-Ad dropped two interlinked, perfectly round orange balls onto the King’s palm. The King laughed out loud, then beckoned for his daughter to come near. Her laughter mingled with his as she caught sight of the gem. Though he’d never understood why, Bethia had never liked the color orange. Seeing it on her lovely bracelet must have been upsetting. She nodded to Ben-Ad to explain.

“Just as the princess might not choose to include this color in anything, we are sometimes asked to make choices that may seem unfair, hurtful, or mean. Sometimes the choices we make are wrong, and we must face the consequences of those wrong choices. Even if she is a princess, she is not perfect. But that’s okay, so long as she learns from her mistakes, and makes the better choice next time.

“Then there are those choices that are hard because others will complain, mock, or cry unjust. Well, that is the choice of others. Yet she must decide how she will act in face of adversity. Will she cave under the pressure and take back her choice? Or will she stick with what she knows is right?”

It didn’t seem real, everything the King was being taught in this simple interview. Not only was he gaining a new insight into his daughter, but also into the incredible mind that had been teaching her for several years. Why had he not paid more attention to this young man?

Next into his hand was placed a yellow stone. It shone bright as the sun.

“This one makes me think of service,” said Ben-Ad. “I cannot help but think of the joy brought to the people we serve. And I cannot help but think of the joy we bring to ourselves when we serve others. I have seen your daughter bring about good works without being asked. I have witnessed the faces of those she serves. They light up. They shine. They glow with happiness. In the process her own countenance shines.”

The next gem to find it’s way onto his hand was violet. It instantly made him think of solemn and sacred things, though he could not say why. What could this gem mean in the eyes of a learned man?

“In this I think of the Lord,” said Ben-Ad in almost a whisper. “I think of how well he stood up for that which is right, even in the face of evil. I think of all the times he quietly went about doing good, teaching good things, and living his life as though he knew those around him were watching.

“Yes there were those who loved and followed him, but there were also those who hated him. Time after time they tried to trick and trap him. Even Satan tempted him when he was at his weakest physically. Yet the Lord never backed down from doing what he knew to be right. He never went back on the things he taught. He is truly our greatest example of courage and integrity.”

All three remained silent for several seconds, pondering on the sacred words just spoken. The King could not hold back the flood of emotion pouring through him. It was as if he was just given a special look at the Lord through someone else’s eyes, and he felt humbled. So lost in his thoughts was the King it took a moment to register the last stone placed in his hand.

It sat atop the others, shining with pure intensity. For this stone men throughout the ages had fought with one another, valued it even over the life of their loved ones, and sought to gain more and more. Over the years the King had begun to hate the sight of this stone, as hopeful suitors brought mounds of it with them, asking to trade them for his daughter.

It was gold. What could gold mean to him other than greed? He looked to the teacher, his teacher, for answers.

“I can see what you are thinking, Sire, and cannot say that I blame you. Let me see if I can’t help change your mind. It’s true gold has often been given away without a thought by those who don’t care to recognize its value. It is hunted by evil men who believe having more will make them happier.

“But I believe in something different. You see, Sire, I believe it is something precious, to be guarded and cherished. I believe it needs to be protected from the evils of the world, and ever cared for so it does not tarnish. I believe this gold represents everything else we’ve been talking about. It is the goodness and virtue within all of us.

“When we keep ourselves pure, unstained, and protected from the evil influences around us, we are more able to shine in the light of the Son, so that others who see us will want to know what makes us glow. However, I also believe this is a lifelong process. Every time we find ourselves discolored, we must work to clean ourselves up and glow again. But one day, if we follow what all the other stones represent, our golden selves will be fit to stand before the Lord.”

For several minutes the King pondered the brightly colored stones in his hand, awed at the gift presented to his daughter. “May I keep these?” he asked in a soft voice, looking up long enough to see the tutor nod before placing them into his robe. When at last he trusted his voice, the King stood and turned to face the two young people. He stepped forward and took his daughter’s face in his hands.

“Ben-Ad has given you a gift like no other,” he whispered, “and me as well. I am looking at you now and can hardly believe my eyes. How is it I have not seen the young woman who stands before me today? You are truly remarkable.”

He placed a gentle kiss on her forehead, then wiped the tears from her cheeks. “I have always wanted to give you a husband who would see you to be the greatest treasure. Would it please you, my daughter, if Ben-Ad were to be that husband?”

She trembled, barely able to contain her joy. “Yes, Father.”

He turned to Ben-Ad, whose wide eyes and tight lips expressed wonder, hope, and excitement. The King took his daughter’s hand and placed it in that of her teacher, her friend, her love. The elation shared between the two could hardly match that of his own. At last he’d found a man worthy to wed a princess.