Monthly Archives: November 2014

Wingmen

When we moved from our house in town to our house 15 minutes from town, my husband and I started a list of all of the out-of-ordinary animals we saw (or evidence of them) around our property.IMG_0846

  • Muskrat
  • Snapping turtle (we named him Franklin and he lived in our pond until the flood)

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  • Deer

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  • Owls
  • Hawks
  • Eagles
  • Wild Turkey

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  • Rats (So. Many. Rats. I HATE rats)
  • Mice
  • Foxes
  • Coyotes
  • Elk

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  • Bull Snakes
  • Garden Snakes
  • Brown Bear (it knocked over our garbage can and stole bags of garbage one night, then knocked over our grill another)
  • Mountain lion (scat all over by our pond)
  • Rattle Snakes

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  • Bobcat (Howard, our dog, treed it and we watched it hiss at him for an hour)
  • Desert centipede

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  • Raccoon
  • Skunk
  • Milk Snake (in our house!)

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I had no idea what a city girl I was until I came face-to-face with my first rattle snake. Not to mention the rats, the mountain lions, the bears…Early on I realized that life would be different from here on out, and I had to raise my children accordingly. After we moved in, my husband and I set up the “buddy” system. The kids always had to have a buddy at all times when they were out exploring. I found myself constantly saying, “Where’s your buddy? Find your buddy! Don’t leave your buddy alone!” and the boys would run off, rolling their eyes. We found quickly that when we said “buddy” it didn’t have the right ring to it. For three rough-and-tumble boys, “Buddy” sounded far too sissy. But wingmen, now that was something little boys could get excited about. That night we found a really great you tube video of two fighter jets flying side-by-side, and we sat our boys down. We taught them about wingmen and told them of the grave responsibility they had for each other. A wingman never leaves his partner’s side. They help each other, they protect each other, and they warn each other of impending danger. They had graduated from “buddies” to “wingmen,” and it wasn’t a term to use lightly. They had a responsibility as brothers to stick by each other and protect each other, no matter what, no matter where. And it worked. I’m thankful for three boys that stick together, play together, and help each other out. Three wingmen flying side-by-side.

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This month I’ve been thinking about the “wingmen” I’ve had over the years in my life. Those that have flown beside me, who have helped me, and who have stuck with me no matter what. My amazing parents, my awesome sister, grandparents, in-laws, teachers, professors, friends, my husband…Those people that have flown by me both when the skies were clear and when the storms arose or bullets flew. More than anything, I’m thankful for a Father in Heaven who flies next to me, guides me, and lifts me up. The ultimate wingman.

This is a month of giving thanks, a month when we think about the amazing blessings we have in our lives. I imagine the things that we hold most dear and cherish more than ever this month are not things at all. They are the wingmen who have been at our side. Sometimes I think about those I love who have passed on. I think about the life they led and the life they left behind. I will always remember many years ago sitting in my grandma’s little living room after her funeral with cousins, aunts and uncles all around. Pictures were strewn across the floor. Pictures of old friends, new friends, family, and those she loved. Album after album of those that flew by her throughout her life. She left this life with very little worldly possessions. And that didn’t matter to any of us. She left behind so many with memories of her love and her influence. She flew by their side, and they flew by hers.

I’m so thankful for the wingmen in my life. Those that flew by me for only a short time, and those that continue to be there. This Thanksgiving let’s remember that our greatest blessings of all are those soaring through the winds of life by our side.

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The Green-Eyed Monster

I had one of these days this week and thought of this post from back in April. Sorry to those who have read it before! I needed this reminder (or maybe more like a slap in the face) that I’m happy I am who I am, and I’m thankful I have the amazing friends I have!

catching crawfish

In December I was asked to play the role of “miss every-day mom” for a little pretend pageant at church. Apparently I was a pretty good fit for the part. About a week before performance night we were sent our script to memorize. I won’t go into detail, but the gist was this: A group of talented women are in a pageant, and then there is miss every-day mom, a total train wreck. At the end of the play it’s decided that all the women, including little ole me, are talented and capable in their own way.

Here was my part:

In hustles miss everyday mom in yoga pants or jeans and t-shirt with a messy bun, looking a bit frazzled. Miss everyday- I’m so sorry I’m late! I had to take my kids to soccer and gymnastics, and then the hamster got out of its cage and I had…

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What’s Cookin’ Wednesday–When Life Gives You Snowstorms, Make Potato Soup

It’s been said that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

If that’s true, I’m doomed. At least as of late…

Take last night for instance. Cold  cereal. Cold Cereal. And…hot dogs. Yeah, I totally agree. It does sound like a disgusting combination. It’s embarrassing, really. I don’t even have a good excuse. I’m ashamed to admit that’s what went down last night at our house. As we brushed our teeth after the chores were done and the kids were asleep, my husband said, “I miss your old cooking. You know, like when you used to, I don’t know…cook?” I knew something had to change, and fast, because my love was certainly not getting through to his stomach with Raisin Bran and the amazing Applegate tube stake. For what it’s worth, my kids were in heaven.

So here’s my plan. I’m going to post a recipe on Wednesdays (What’s Cookin’ Wednesdays, clever, yes? Or…ok, just cheesy) from the good old days when I had my wonderful husband’s appetite won over. I’ll cook it beforehand and make sure it really is a winner, take pictures, and give you the recipe so, if you so desire to woo your family with a new recipe, you can do just that. Then I’ll have a bit of extra motivation. I hope I haven’t scared you off with my cereal and hot dog story. I promise, I really do pretty well in the kitchen when I actually try.

My absolute favorite dinner is potato soup. Especially when a snowstorm comes and makes you want to bundle up and stay warm (like it’s done here!). It’s my kids’ absolute favorite too. Can’t beat that, right? And this recipe is spectacular. It’s my mother-in-law’s and it honestly and truly can’t be beat. Even the five-star, rated-by-thousands-of-people Ham and Potato Soup on allrecipes.com doesn’t even come near it. This recipe is not only delicious, but it has NEVER failed me. I’m so glad I married into my husband’s family for many, many, many reasons, and this is one of them.

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Potato Soup

1 cup onion, peeled and minced
3 TBSP butter or margarine
6 cups potatoes, peeled and diced (I often use red potatoes and don’t peal them)
6 stalks celery, diced
4 ½ cups cold water (or 4 1/2 cups chicken broth, and omit the chicken bouillon)
5 cubes chicken bouillon
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp celery salt
1 cup milk
6 TBSP cornstarch
2 cups whipping cream
1 teaspoon pepper

Add cornstarch to mild and stir to dissolve. Set aside.
Melt butter in large pan. Stir-fry onion in butter over moderate heat until limp.
Add potatoes, celery, water, salt, celery salt, and bouillon. Cover and simmer 10-15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Gradually stir in cream, milk mixture, and pepper. Continue stirring to prevent lumping. Simmer uncovered, stirring constantly, 3-5 minutes, until soup thickens.

Scaled to serve 6—it’s a great leftover soup!

I hope you can woo some tummies, big and little alike, in your house with this recipe. It’s definitely a blue ribbon winner around here. Stay warm!

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Categories: What's Cookin' Wednesday | Tags: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

You Are Worth So Much More

My dear child. As I watch your big, blue eyes fade in and out of dreams there’s so much I want to tell you. It’s been a long day. Somewhere between spilling your second glass of orange juice at breakfast and your fit in the middle of the yogurt isle at the grocery store you seem to have misplaced that sparkle in your eye. Your block tower really was amazing, probably one of the best I’ve ever seen. I’m sorry that last piece on the top sent it tumbling to the floor. And time-out for teasing your brother isn’t much fun. Believe me, I know. But do you know something?

I love you.

I love you more than you may ever know. You see, your worth to me is so much greater than a silly glass of orange juice or tears in the grocery store. I think it’s fantastic that you like to build towers. Nothing brings a smile to my face like when you run in, beaming with pride as your magnificent creation teeters in the family room. But that’s not why I love you. Your towers scaling the sky will never hold a candle to the worth you are to me. You may have splashed the sudsy water out of the tub and squirted shampoo on the wall, but I don’t love you any less. Bath or no bath, I love you from the tip of your muddy nose to the bottom of your stinky toes.

My son, do you realize your worth? Your worth does not hinge on your mistakes. It does not fluctuate each day with your accomplishments. Nothing could measure my love for you. It is infinite, like the stars in the sky. Your worth is great because you are my child. Nothing else matters, because I love you and always will. No matter what. Tomorrow is a bright, new day. When the sun shines through your windows we can try again. But remember, always remember, you are worth that same infinite, incalculable amount. I promise, my love for you will never change.

Love, Mom

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…as my eyes beging to fade in and out of dreams, I can almost imagine I hear a faint whisper…

My dear child. Do YOU know something?

I love you.

Your worth to me is infinite, like the stars in the sky. I don’t measure it by how your hair looks or if you lost your temper today. I love you the same wether or not your toddler throws himself on the tile floors of the grocery store in a fit for all to see. Your worth does not hinge on how spotless your kitchen is, nor does it diminish when you don’t feel like you could even compare to the other moms who have it all together. Nothing could measure my love for you. Your worth is great because you are my child. Nothing else matters, because I love you and always will, no matter what. Tomorrow is a bright, new day. When the sun shines through your windows we can try again. But remember, always remember, you are worth that same infinite, incalculable amount. I promise, my love for you will never change.

Love, God

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Preparing our Children for the Weather of Life

Monday Morning R, our six-year-old, slipped on his jacket and sneakers, grabbed his backpack, and dashed down the driveway to catch the bus. 60 balmy degrees. The sun was shining, beautiful fall leaves of red, yellow and brown still hung high in the branches above. As the bus rumbled away, I looked into the sky and saw a dark cloud looming over the mountains. “Boy,” I thought to myself, “I’m glad I talked him out of wearing shorts today! It just might get a little chilly later.” And chilly it got. Within an hour of the bus screeching to our stop fall had all but been dashed to oblivion and winter had boldly taken stage. Temperatures dropped 30 degrees almost instantly and snowflakes as big as ping pong balls fluttered down from the sky. And there my little boy sat in his first grade classroom totally unprepared for what waited outside those big, red doors. His light spring jacket was certainly no match for this winter storm.

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As the two younger boys and I signed in at the front office to bring more suitable clothes for their brother, Mrs. R came over the intercom. “Inside recess today! Make sure to come in winter gear tomorrow so you can play outside!” “Oh good. I’m not the only neglectful mom who failed to check the weather,” I sighed in relief. As I drove back home, I thought about how our family theme this year is to be organized and prepared. Thoughts of preparedness and being more organized filled my mind. I failed at sending R off to school prepared for the winter weather, but what about the weather of life? Had I helped to equip him with the skills he’d need to face the world?

Would he know what to do when someone was being left out? What to say when he needed to stand up for what was right? How to encourage a friend? Stand down from a fight? Had I prepared him for times when friends and peers would say inappropriate things? For moments when he would be the only one with certain beliefs and feel so alone? When friends would tease him or choose to no longer play with him because of his clothes, his freckles, his backpack…the principles he values and holds dear?

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Had I prepared him, taught him, helped him to know?

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Had I said “I love you” enough? Does he know that he matters, he’s important, he’s kind and unique? Does he know that no matter what happens out there, he has a family who thinks he’s wonderful and a Father in Heaven that knows him and loves him more than he can imagine?

Did I prepare him for school today?

It’s my fervent prayer each morning that I have. That when the storms rage and the weather quickly turns, that I’ve helped to equip him with all he needs. Physically, emotionally, spiritually.

How do you prepare your children for the storms of life? I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts!

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Leap of Faith

But what if I fail?…”

Can I tell you a secret? Blogging terrifies me.

I’m a relatively private person. Telling the world my feelings, my experiences, my stories, my life, that kinda intimidates me. In some ways I’m still shocked that I took the plunge and wrote that first post nine months ago. I served myself and everything I stand for on a silver platter for anyone in the entire world to read, critique, judge, enjoy, or mock.

What if no one reads my posts?
What if people read it and don’t like it?
What if I offend someone and they make ugly comments?
What if I can’t come up with a story?
What if I say too much?
What if the people following me via email feel like I fill their inbox with senseless garbage and wish they’d never signed up?

But among all the doubts and worries, I mustered up the courage and chose to hope. I stepped up to the edge and held my breath, assuring myself that if even just one person would read and like what I had to say, it’d be worth it.

To my dear friends and family, to the sweet friends I have found along the way, to those who have trusted me with the precious gift of your time, who have allowed me space in your email inbox, who have commented, liked, encouraged, cheered me on, and clicked on my site, it has meant the world. Your words have made me laugh, cry, and brought such sweet joy to my day. You have given me hope.

IMG_5180So now I’ve taken another giant leap out of my comfort zone. I feel vulnerable and incredibly silly all over again. But if I have learned anything in the past months of writing and posting my stories, it’s that we never know unless we try. I signed up to be a part of “Top Mommy Blogs.” I very recently learned about it through my sweet friend, Marla at A Pendulum World (who you should go see, because she is amazing and her blog is so refreshing, down-to-earth and all-around awesome). It’s basically a directory of blogs that parents write. The way it works is that if people click on my button to vote for me, my blog will become more accessible to those searching for things I write about. Up to this point I’ve simply wrote. I haven’t really reached out. I feel a bit ridiculous writing this, but I feel like it’s time to stretch myself a bit. Just like before, I’ll need your help. If you enjoy my posts, please click on the “Mommy Blog Badge” off to the side (or in this post) once a day as often as you like. That’s all you have to do! When you get done reading my latest post, just give it a good click. I would appreciate your help so very, very much! (And while you’re at it, maybe you could check out A Pendulum World and vote for Marla as well. 🙂 )

imageI hope you, too, can take that risk you’ve been contemplating. Do something totally unexpected, totally life changing, totally wonderful. It might seem out of character, you might feel incredibly vulnerable and maybe a bit silly. But you’ll never know unless you step up to the edge. Here’s to all of us, you and me, taking leaps of faith in this journey of life.

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“…But oh my darling, what if you fly?”

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Believe

“Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things that a man needs to believe in the most: that people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love, true love, never dies… No matter if they’re true or not, a man should believe in those things because those are the things worth believing in.” –Secondhand Lions

We see things in the news every day. Disasters, scary things. People making unwise decisions and the consequences of their actions hurting others. We see it on tv. We read it in the paper. I stand in the checkout line at the grocery store and, glancing over at the tabloids, I almost feel sick.

“Exclusive: What drove a popular boy to commit mass murder.”

“The Ultimate Betrayal”

“So-and-so and another actor split. Who gets the kids? The fight begins.”

“Secret Lies Exposed”

“Hollywood’s Worst Bodies.”

Wait. This is news? Really? Do we honestly enjoy this gossip? Reading about how other human beings’ lives have been destroyed? Their faces plastered across the front page, their anguish three columns in length for the world to peruse.

And then I return home and I look out my kitchen window while I make dinner. I see my boys playing pirates. No doubt the bad guys will loose, the good guys win. They always do. Good always triumphs over evil. Honor, courage and virtue still exist. People are generally good. They know because they are around goodness and kindness every day. Teachers, bus drivers, librarians, parents, the lady at the grocery store that digs through her purse to find a penny to ride the horse. Money and power simply don’t matter. And love. True, selfless love: they’ve seen it. They see it in grandparents and great-grandparents, and they’ve felt it from all the good people. They know. It’s real. IMG_0795 Their faith is so pure, their innocence refreshing. Their view of life uninhibited and clear.

And again I believe.

Categories: children, Life Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Home

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A while back my mom told me about her friend’s son who had entered his school science fair. His experiment was the classic “mouse in a maze” test. The subjects: three mice. The test: going through the maze. The variable: music. For an extended period of time before the experiment, mouse number one listened to heavy metal, the second mouse listened to classical, and the third was left in silence. My freshman year in college I took a humanities class from Michael Ballam. If you are familiar with opera or LDS culture, his name might ring a bell. I spent the semester falling deeply in love with classical music and learning of the amazing benefits of it, so naturally I was sure I knew how the science experiment turned out. “Of course the classical mouse did best! Right, Mom?” She went on to tell me the results.

The heavy metal mouse was a mess. He ran around the maze so confused and totally wild. To my shock, the classical mouse did only slightly better. It was the silence that won. The mouse who sat in silence navigated the maze flawlessly.

But that wasn’t where the story ended. After the maze experiment, all the mice were placed in a box and everyone left the room. When they came back a while later, the heavy metal mouse had killed and was EATING the other mice!

Over the years as a mom I’ve had uncertainties. Who really was playing with the Lego penguin first, if allowing my kids to eat a cookie at 5 will ruin their appetite for dinner at 6, if that bonk on the head deserves a doctor’s check or if mom’s hug and kiss will suffice. But the one that has been the most challenging for me is how much time is healthy for my children to be spending away from home in extra-curricular activities.

Some of my favorite moments with my kids have always been trips to the library, picnics at the park, playing with friends, going to children’s museums, swimming lessons…all of what you might consider the “classical music” type activities. Important, wonderful, enriching. But what I’ve discovered over the years is that we need those silent moments. Those days at HOME. Just us, just being together, nothing busy, nothing complicated. I know as an introvert and a home-body my children and I might need that more frequently than many of our friends. But I really believe all of us need that time. And I’m afraid it’s a need that often gets overlooked.

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“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” -Leonardo Da Vinci

I trust that few parents would ever expose their children to “heavy metal” type activities. If they did, Who knows! The results just might be as horrific as the mouse after the maze (heaven forbid!). But I know I have on occasion let life get too busy doing good activities and thinking they are what is best for my kids.

In our efforts to be good parents, to provide our children with ample opportunities, to make sure they’re smart, athletic, well-rounded, socially adjusted, have a plethora of friends, and happy, I hope we can remember that home is just as (or more) important as any museum, any soccer field, any dugout, any library. Those are great. I love those places! They are important. But do we, just as I did in assuming that the classical mouse would win because I’ve been taught classical music is so beneficial to all aspects of life, assume that we must fill every second of our children’s days with those extra-curricular things for them to reach their amazing potential? I’m completely convinced that those quiet times at home are vital to all aspects of their growth.

Remember the quiet moments. Don’t take them for granted. There really and truly is no place like home!

“…we would do well to slow down a little, proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstances, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most.” -Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Moments That Matter Most

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To All of My Expectant Friends and Family: Babies (and those 9 months in your tummy) are the BEST!!

The past few weeks I have been bombarded with news of dear friends and family expecting. Text messages, phone calls, facebook pictures, and in-person news have me reeling with joy with the prospect of new babies coming into this world (is there anything in this life better than that kind of news?? I think not!), all going to be born to simply AMAZING people that will make fantastic parents. Even writing this makes my heart skip beats with happiness. Having a baby, whether it is your first or fifth, is a wondrous miracle.

I’ve been thinking about those nine months leading up to that one nerve-wracking, hard, exhausting, emotionally draining, remarkable, marvellous, phenomenal, stupendous, life-altering day and what it meant for me each time. If you’ve been there before, feel free to add any that I’ve forgot. If this is your first time, hold on tight. Here’s a little bit of what to expect when you’re expecting.

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1. Everyone, including strangers, will glance down at your tummy mid conversation. Try not to judge. You most likely did it too.

2. Everyone, including strangers, will touch your belly. When you become pregnant apparently your belly no longer becomes a part of you and an invisible “Please touch!” sign suddenly appears.

3. Nothing will sound good to eat. Or everything will sound good to eat. Or everything and nothing at the same time.

4. People will whisper behind your back, wondering if that little pouch you’re growing is more than the result of a few too many brownies. They will smile, knowingly, but not dare say a word just in case it is simply a result of brownies.

5. You will cry over EVERYTHING. Everything, I’m not even kidding.

6. You will be drawn to the baby clothes and want to buy the entire infant section. And you will cry, because they are all so darn cute.

7. Your husband will, at some point (unless he is much wiser a man than most) ever-so-innocently comment on the incredible weight transformation you have gone through. You will probably take it personally and you will cry.

8. Any organizational skills or memory of where you put your keys or phone will totally disappear. You’ve traded this little, amazing human being for a bird brain. It’s a fact.

9. You might want to consider making business cards to pass out or a large sign to carry around with answers to these questions:

  • Oh! When are you due?
  • Is it a girl or a boy?
  • Are you hoping for one or the other?
  • Are you excited?
  • Are you getting nervous?
  • How have you been feeling?

10. Prepare yourself now to hear all of the horrendous, nightmarish stories of other’s birth experiences. Try not to get scared out of your mind, too grossed out, and try not to judge. You just might be doing that too one day. Few can resist the excitement of telling their unique and very personal story of their sweet baby coming into the world.

11. When that baby is days away from making that début, multiple people will say, “Oh! You’re still here, are you?” And you just might cry because you are still here.

12. You will forever remember that meal that you ate after your child had exhaustingly been brought into the world. And those chicken nuggets and mashed potatoes will be the BEST chicken nuggets and mashed potatoes you have ever, ever tasted. Your dear husband will sneak away to get subway because, let’s face it, the deliciousness of the chicken nuggets and mashed potatoes are just a figment of your delusional, just-spent-the-last-9-months-growing-and-the-last-24-hours-delivering-a-human-being mind.

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Dear friends and family carrying those precious little ones for the months ahead and awaiting their arrival, enjoy it! What an incredibly exciting time. You are in my thoughts and my prayers!

Categories: children, Family, Pregnancy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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