Tuesday, March 31, 2009

lifelong friends

We had my sister, Jolyn's, children over for a sleepover last night. My kids love their cousins. We have lived close enough for their entire lives that they can get together fairly often. They have grown up together and are close enough in age to have a really good time together. This time they enjoyed staying in their pajamas all day watching movies, playing computer games, playing with matchbox cars, and building with Legos.

Monday, March 30, 2009

twenty pounds

I have FINALLY lost 20 pounds since the first of the year! It has been agonizingly slow. I know I should feel really good about the weight loss and on one level I do. However, and this is a big HOWEVER, it is so frustrating and disappointing to see the lack of noticeable difference! I don't even feel like my jeans are fitting much looser (maybe a smidgen if I think skinny and concentrate really hard).

I think it will take another 20 pounds to even notice any difference in size. Maybe it's just another motivating factor to lose weight. Lose more and more and more and then you'll finally be able to see the results.

For now I will just have to content myself with the fact that 20 pounds is quite a bit of weight and will improve my overall health. Go! Fight! Lose!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

more like Christ

Last Sunday I was reading a book entitled "Temple Worship" when I came across a quote from Pres. Hinckley. I found the quote to be intriguing and thought-provoking. I even called Kevin over and read it to him. The very next morning I was reading the New Era and came across the same quote. Doo-doo-doo-do... Do you think that means something?

Here's the quote:

"I think that vicarious work for the dead more nearly approaches the vicarious sacrifice of the Savior Himself than any other work of which I know. It is given with love, without hope of compensation, or repayment or anything of the kind. What a glorious principle." --President Gordon B. Hinckley, "Excerpts from Recent Addresses of President Gordon B. Hinckley," Ensign, Jan. 1998, 73.

I really like this idea. We are never more like the Savior than when we are doing temple work for the dead. There we are doing work for others that they cannot do for themselves. That is the very essence of the Savior's life.

Friday, March 27, 2009

my little pit bull

It is the end of the quarter for the high school and middle school and I've just witnessed a valuable lesson in tenacity and hard work. McKayla has received straight A's which would make any parent proud but what makes me the proudest is the struggle it was for her to accomplish this.

McKayla has always been a good student and studies have come fairly easily for her. That is, until her algebra class this year. Last year her 6th grade teacher recommended a few students skip math 7 and/or pre-algebra and take algebra. McKayla was one of those students. At first it wasn't bad but suddenly it seemed that McKayla did NOT get it. She was frustrated and discouraged. Both she and I wondered if we had made a mistake in skipping pre-algebra. Maybe she really needed that foundation.

McKayla would faithfully complete her assignments (with lots of help from me) but the tests were another matter. For the first time in her life, it appeared she might not do well in a class. In fact, for a time, she was even looking at a D.

That did not stop her. She asked me for extra tutoring. She did extra algebra problems until she could really understand the concepts. She retook her tests (sometimes 2 or 3 retakes) until she got a score of which she could be proud. It paid off for her in terms of a good grade (and a bag of Chips Ahoy from Dad).

Good grades are nice but I really value McKayla's perserverance, tenacity, and hard work. I am so proud of her!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

seminary teaching

Reasons I Love Teaching Seminary (most days)

1) I love the gospel! I have a firm testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. It has brought a lot of joy and peace into my life and I feel the need to share that message with others.

2) I love youth. I think they're wonderful and I feel I relate to them really well. I love their (mostly) positive attitudes. I like their enthusiasm for life. I am really interested in their lives -- how they think, what makes them tick, what life is like for them, etc. I wish I could get to know each and every student on an individual basis.

3) I love to teach! (or maybe I just like the sound of my own voice) I think I am pretty good at teaching. I really did think about becoming a math or English teacher before becoming a CPA. Maybe I should have stuck with becoming a teacher (but the pay is so crappy!) For now, I am content teaching seminary but I think my dream job would be teaching something at the college level. Imagine -- a whole classroom of students who want to be there!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Verbal Tag

1. I love walks in the rain and curling up with a good book and a hot chocolate when it's snowing outside.
2. I fear driving next to semis on the freeway.
3. I crave chocolate and warm homemade rolls.
4. I dislike shellfish -- all kinds.
5. I honor my mother. She's incredible. I also honor soldiers who fight for America's freedom and the fight to preserve my rights and the rights of others.
6. I discontinue doing things that continually make me feel inferior.
7. I require lists to help me remember everything!
8. I refuse to hang out with people I don't like.
9. I think I am too judgmental.
10. I perceive the logic in things. I like logic and order and common sense.
11. I disengage in confrontations. I am not good at them.
12. I reject opinions I don't agree with.
13. I loathe phony, plastic people who ONLY care about superficial things.
14. I worry about the decisions I make as a mother. Am I too strict? Not strict enough? Do I talk to my children enough? Do I talk to them about important things? Have I taught them the things they need to know to be successful and happy?
15. I enjoy time spent in nature (hiking or camping).
16. I contemplate my mission in life. What am I good at? What is the best use of my time and talents? In short, what am I good for?
17. I cherish spending time with friends and family.
18. I pray by rote and without real meaning far too often.
19. I value my children.
20. I instigate social opportunities. I am usually the invitor and rarely the invitee.
21. I mock those who do their hair and make-up before coming to the gym.
22. I regard education as having a very high value and respect those with higher education.
23. I struggle with my weight.
24. I respect Kevin. He is a good person in all ways.
25. I wonder what I'll be doing 10 years from now.

Tag. You're It.

1. I love
2. I fear
3. I crave
4. I dislike
5. I honor
6. I discontinue
7. I require
8. I refuse
9. I think
10. I perceive
11. I disengage
12. I reject
13. I loathe
14. I worry
15. I enjoy
16. I contemplate
17. I cherish
18. I pray
19. I value
20. I instigate
21. I mock
22. I regard
23. I struggle
24. I respect
25. I wonder

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Elder Brakston Morgan

I got to speak to Brakston this morning. He got to call from the airport while awaiting his flight. It was so wonderful to talk to him but I may miss him even more now! I am having trouble not crying!

He sounds great! He liked his MTC companion and loved his Branch President. He thought his district was the greatest ever! He enjoyed being the district leader.

He has already grown so much! He has learned to really love the scriptures.

He feels pretty special because so many people have written him. He says he got the most mail. Forget the most toys, maybe he who gets the most letters WINS!

At this point, with 9 weeks down, I can't say that time has flown. I have certainly felt every single of the 71 days.

Monday, March 23, 2009

pet peeve

One of my pet peeves is when I tell someone about something I've done and they wish they'd done it or think they ought to be doing it but they say "I just don't have time."

Do people think I have more time than they do? Have I uncovered the secret for generating the 26-hour day (I seriously wish!!) I feel I am just as busy as anyone else. True, my children are now all in school which does free up some time but I've pretty much filled it with substitute teaching, volunteering for PTA at the high school and the middle school, working in the temple, etc.

I think it's all about choices. I choose to spend my time on things that are of worth to me. My list is different than other people's but it is still just a choice.

I could say my house isn't clean because I don't have time but that's not really true. I could make time if it were really important to me. Instead, I clean what has to be cleaned (i.e. toilets, countertops, etc) and spend the remaining time doing what is important to me.

--scrappinsoccermama would write more but I don't have time (see, I do it too! I am my own pet peeve!)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

scary religion

I just finished reading "Escape". It is Carolyn Jessop's memoir of how she escaped the FLDS culture and a life of polygamy. The account is harrowing. What surprised me the most is how closely our beliefs are related. It shouldn't have. Obviously, since the FLDS broke off from the LDS church we have a lot of beliefs that stem from the same source. However, it seems to me that Warren Jeffs took a lot of those beliefs and twisted them just a little or pushed them to an extreme. That's the scary part. That is how the devil does his best work. He takes something good and twists it just a little so it still looks a lot the same but is now evil. For example, taking the doctrine of the priesthood holder as patriarch of the home and twisting it to make all women subservient to their husband and relying completely on him and his mercy to take you into heaven with him. I am so glad for a respectful husband who treats me as a valued, equal partner!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

oh so funny Alec

People are always sharing their humorous stories about Alec. I love to hear them! Here's a couple of recent ones - thanks Tonya and Karen for sharing them!

Alec was recently playing basketball outside and one of my daughter's friends, Katie, was around. Alec invited Katie to watch him and then proceeded to tell Katie when to clap and cheer for him! I love this! We all need a pat on the back once in a while -- too bad we don't all have the lack of inhibition to go recruit our own fan club!

My friend, Tonya, shared this one. Again, Alec was shooting hoops at Tonya's home. He knocked on the door to ask her 11-year old son, Jacobsen, to play with him. It started to get dark and Alec told Jacobsen to go ask his mom if it was okay for him to stay outside and keep playing. Jacobsen kind of shrugged it off but Alec insisted and escorted Jacobsen to the door to make sure he asked his mom's permission to stay outside (in his own yard, no less). Tonya was quite confused at the request until Jacobsen later explained that Alec made him ask.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

defective pet gene

I don't remember ever wanting a pet. I do remember having a cat when I was really little (probably 4 years old). I remember sitting in the hallway sobbing when my mom told me my cat had died when my dad accidently ran over it. However, I don't remember ever wanting a pet. Dogs, cats, turtles, and hamsters all just leave me cold. I detest being sniffed and muzzled by dogs. I don't like cat hair and don't see the point of hamsters running around on wheels.

Is this a cold heart on my part or just the absence of a pet-loving gene? My friend, Andrea, loves every furry, fuzzy, creepy, crawly species you can imagine and she is very soft-hearted, so I'm sure a case could be made that I am just hard-hearted.

I don't dislike all animals. I love wild animals. I have been known to stand still for 30 minutes (a minor miracle for me) just staring at the majesty, grace, and beauty of a deer. I recently was at the National Zoo in D.C. and found great joy in watching the pandas interact together so playfully, but geckos and gerbils just don't do anything for me. Maybe my pet gene is defective.

Monday, March 16, 2009

cooking dinner

I actually don't mind fixing dinner (as long as I can do it in the morning). I love crock pots! I also love freezer meals that I do ahead of time. I have been known to freeze meals for an entire month. My biggest requirement is that I have to have planned ahead. I detest trying to fix dinner when it is already dinnertime and I am scrambling to come up with an idea (especially one that I actually have the ingredients for).

Currently I am operating on a 2-week menu plan. Tonight's dinner is one of my favorite soups -- Pasta e Fagioli (think Olive Garden).

1 lb hamburger
1 small onion, diced
1 lg carrot, julienned
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz tomato sauce
1 1/2 t salt
1 t oregano
29 oz diced, stewed tomatoes
15 oz canned red beans w/juice
15 oz canned Great Northern Beans w/juice
12 oz V-8 juice
1 T white vinegar
1 t basil
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t thyme
1/2 lb ditali pasta

Brown ground beef. Drain. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and saute for 10 min. Add remaining ingedients, except pasta, and simmer for 1 hour. About 50 minutes into simmer time, cook the pasta. Cook for 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Drain. Add pasta to soup and simmer 5-10 minutes.

This recipe is relatively quick and painless and made more so by the fact that I brown all my hamburger at once and freeze it in one-pound portions. I also use dried onions (no chopping involved) and I put the soup in the crockpot for the day. The only thing I have to worry about is cooking the pasta at dinnertime. Yum!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I want to be a missionary, too!

Alec always provides so much entertainment for us that I thought I'd share his latest escapade.

He hasn't asked after Brakston nearly as much as I expected. However, you can definitely see the influence Brakston has on Alec. This is how Alec showed up in the car when we were heading to Stake Conference.

personal signs of spring

Forget the groundhog or the calendar!  I have my own personal signs that spring is near!

First, socks are no longer white!  The weather gets nice enough that the kids don't need shoes but they can't seem to remember the rule that it's either barefoot or shoes.  So, they go outside in their socks causing all their socks to turn black and give me laundry nightmares.

Second, our home turns into a greenhouse!  Kevin starts all his seedlings and even has a flourescent lamp on a timer over the plants.  This is all located in the laundry room.  This causes me to have the urge to water the plants every time I do laundry (which is more frequently due to the socks -- see the first item).

Third, I make frequent trips to the gas station!  This is caused by soccer season.  Currently we have 5 soccer practices a week.  I expect to have 7 or 8 soon.  This is a lot of extra driving.

Fourth, I feel the uncontrollable urge to sit in a camp chair on a soccer sideline and cheer wildly!  This is caused by 15 years of conditioning.

It is definitely spring at our house!

--scrappinsoccermama thinks it's too bad that one of her personal signs is not the urge to do heavy duty spring cleaning!  Her house could use it!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

There are some trouble spots in my home that refuse to stay clean and well organized. One is the top of my dresser. I take the blame on this one because it tends to be my default location. If I am in a hurry to get things out of the way, I pile them on my dresser. If I have something that needs my attention but I can't get to it immediately, I put it on my dresser. It is a bad habit and makes my room a disaster area.

The second is the lazy susan cupboard in my kitchen where I keep mixing bowls and storage containers. This disaster area can be blamed on the girls. I have asked them repeatedly to stack the dishes neatly when getting them out of the dishwasher, but it seems they just throw them in there haphazhardly. Pretty soon the lazy susan won't even turn and I have to organize it once again.

The third area is the linen/medicine closet in the bathroom. This one is a complete mystery. I put the towels and linens away AND I put them in there neatly. Also, as a family, we don't use a lot of medicines or first aid supplies so that shelf should remain relatively untouched. However, more often than not, that closet is a first-rate disaster area.

These three areas seem to be my "trouble" spots and on a fairly regular basis I have the need to organize once more!

-scrappinsoccermama must go clean the top of her dresser before it collapses from the weight of the mess!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Brakston's Care Package

The following is the contents of the extremely large, he-is-totally-spoiled-and-probably-doesn't-even-realize-it care package I sent to Brakston today:

*1 Marie Calendar's frozen chocolate silk pie (his favorite and possible since The UPS store does same day delivery)
*1 batch of my homemade german chocolate brownies with caramel (another favorite)
*1 chicken poppyseed pasta salad (another favorite and a request and also made possible with same day delivery)
*1 mango (requested - I'm sure he wanted more but they were $2 each and I'm cheap)
*2 peaches (requested - he doesn't just request junk food)
*1 bag of Starbursts (requested)
*1 pkg of gum
*address labels (for home so that I get his letters not my neighbors since his 5 looks like a 6)
*3x5 cards (maybe he can jot notes on them during the week so that he has something to say in his letters on P-day)
*a humorous story that was in Mormon Times
*a 2009 Riverton High School soccer roster (he had to know who made the team this year)
*4 CDs (all ones we currently owned that are on his approved music list - apparently he is tired of listening to the one CD that he took)
*5 pairs of black socks (he claims his have been stolen but having seen his bedroom for years, I have a sneaky suspicion they are on the floor in his room)

All I can say is thank goodness for the UPS Store. Not only do they have same day service but they are cheaper than anywhere else when it comes to MTC delivery. The package weighed a whopping 14 pounds (not as much as he'll gain if he eats everything I sent) and it cost me $10 to send. Not bad! It is still cheaper than feeding him when he was home!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

This I Believe

I recently read a book titled "This I Believe". It is based on a 1950's radio show by the same name in which people were encouraged to submit essays describing their beliefs. The entries were really varied. Some of the basic tenets I agreed with and others I didn't, but the book really made me think about my own beliefs. What would I write in my essay? I guess one of my beliefs is the need for balance in our lives (see yesterday's entry). I have many beliefs and can't narrow it down to just one overriding belief but I'll focus on one today.

I believe in the inherent goodness of mankind. Despite the various media reports which would protray an ugly, horrible, violent society, I do believe that most humans are kind, generous, and helpful. For every horrid thing that has ever happened to me, I can think of hundreds of random acts of kindness, thoughtful gestures, or loving things that have been done for me.

I see the basic goodness of mankind on a daily basis. It is in the high school basketball players who allow Alec to play ball with them, sit with them at games, and pose for pictures with them. It is in the driver who motions for me to merge in front of him when there is heavy traffic. It is in the neighbor who stops me to say hello and see how my life is going when I am out for a walk. It is in the fact that the only two times I have ever had a flat tire, someone pulled over to change it for me before I had a chance to even remove the spare from the trunk.

Yes, bad things do happen. Evil exists. I am not Pollyanna or someone living in a fairytale. I just have a basic, heartfelt belief that more people are good than not.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I was recently substituting for a middle school seminary and was trying to stress to them the need to prioritize. I asked them if they are trading what they want most for what they want now. I tried to emphasize that no one was expecting them to study scriptures for 5 hours a day or give up TV or friends or sports completely. Instead, they just need to make sure their activities are in line with their long-term priorities and that they give some time to spiritual things as well. The more I thought about this, the more I concluded that it all comes down to balance.

I am a big believer in finding balance in my life. Back when I was at Ricks College (longer ago than I'd like to think) I set about trying to make sure that every day I did something in each of the four following areas:

I still try to do this on a daily basis. I find that when I have balance, I feel better about myself and about my life. Intellectually, I enjoy doing the sudoku, crossword puzzle, and cryptoquote in the newspaper each day. I also enjoy reading (I'll admit some of my reading is not too intellectual) and doing the word challenge game on Facebook. Spiritually, I enjoy reading the scriptures, preparing lessons, writing in my journal (or blog), attending the temple, or serving others. My favorite physical exercise is Jazzercise and I take a Jazzercise class 5 days a week. i also enjoy walking and hiking and playing soccer with my children. I am probably the weakest on social. I don't like to talk on the phone so most of my social comes from scrapbooking with friends a couple times a month and being involved in PTA and Young Women.

In addition to the daily activities, I like to stretch a little more in each area on an annual basis. For example, for the intellect I do continuing professional education (required to keep my CPA license) each year. I also try to learn new skills such as blogging, sewing tote bags, learning PowerPoint, trying new recipes, etc. Socially, I go on semi-annual scrapbook retreats with friends that are so much fun and I enjoy family reunions a great deal. One of my favorite things to do on an annual basis to improve my spirituality is to attend Education Week at BYU.

I do believe everyone's balance is different. For example, what I do spiritually may be more than the next person but maybe for that person Jazzercise 5 times a week would not be enough. I think everyone must find the balance that is right for them. All I know is that if you find me flat on my face (or flat in bed), I have probably let myself get out of balance.

--scrappinsoccermama is upright for now!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chocolate Excuse

I now have a new excuse for eating chocolate (as if I needed an excuse or waited for one). Chandler came home from school and said his teacher told the class that if you don't eat at least one piece of chocolate a day, your fingernails will go rotten. That does it. I must eat more chocolate. I don't want rotten, green, spoiled fingernails. I am sure something got confused in Chandler's retelling, but better safe than sorry.

--scrappinsoccermama must go dig out her hidden stash of Cadbury Mini Eggs. Immediately! lol

Monday, March 9, 2009

Be of Good Cheer

During our last Sunday School lesson we talked about being of good cheer even in the face of adversity. I think my mom is a good example of this. While undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, I didn't hear her complain a lot about the unpleasant side effects of the chemo. Instead, she said that the chemo drugs were the best medicine for her arthritis and that her hands had not felt better in years. Way to find the silver lining, Mom!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Down syndrome

A couple of weeks ago I was deeply disturbed by an article I read in the Deseret News regarding prenatal testing for Down syndrome. The article stated that currently 90% of infants with Down syndrome are aborted in the U.S. and 95% outside of the U.S. There is a push to improve the testing for Down syndrome so that all such infants can be aborted. The push comes from highly academic circles who want to rid the world of people with Down syndrome because "they are unproductive." As a parent of a son with Down syndrome I found this nearly incomprehensible. What is their measuring stick for unproductivity? Do people with Down syndrome not contribute to society? My son, Alec, has contributed greatly to my life, to the life of my family, to our community, and to his school.

Alec is a cheerful soul who is always happy to see people. He greets them with a hearty hello and an enthusiastic hug that is almost guaranteed to lift anyone's spirits. He has taught me to enjoy little things and that it's better to forgive and forget. He has taught my children responsibility and tolerance for others. Our community has welcomed him and, I believe, he has made the members of our community more tolerant of others and more aware of some of the struggles associated with disabilities. Alec has always been popular with his classmates. He doesn't judge or label them. I recently was talking to a boy from his high school. When he realized I was Alec's mother he told me Alec had been in his P.E. class the previous semester. He told me he thought Alec was the greatest person in the school because Alec was the only person in the entire class who even spoke to him the entire semester.

Alec may never become a doctor, a lawyer, or a corporate CEO but I believe he brightens a room just by walking in and smiling. He has helped me grow as a person and I believe he helps others grow as well.

Too bad there is not prenatal genetic testing for serial murderers, rapists, drug dealers, etc. Then we might really be able to rid the world of "unproductive" citizens.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Practice Being a Teenager

Chandler, had his friend, Abby, over to play recently. Times have sure changed! I played tag and baseball and hide and seek with my friends. Chandler and Abby sat across from each other in our living room and texted each other using my husband's and my cell phones (we are not great believers in the basic human right of every 8-year-old to have a cell phone -- or 11-year-old or 13-year-old for that matter. Our kids just call us mean but whatever). Texting back and forth across the room occupied their attention for an ENTIRE hour! Afterwards, my husband and I looked to see what was so interesting. They had been talking about going out to a movie and dinner. We reminded them that they are far too young to date and their reply was, "We were texting. We were pretending to be teenagers." Scary that tomorrows' teenagers need to practice for it! What am I in for?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Wanker of the Week

Utah lawmakers should receive the "wanker of the week" award for this one. A law has passed the Senate which makes it a misdemeanor for a criminal to hide on school property. I am positive that the guy who just committed armed robbery will now think twice before hiding in a school on his flight from the police. Gee, if we had only known all it would take is a law. To make matters worse, the schools must foot the bill to post signs clearly stating that it is school property and criminals are not allowed. Maybe the criminal is too stupid to recognize a school when he sees one? I don't know about you, but I will sure sleep more soundly at night knowing there is a law prohibiting hardened criminals from hiding in my children's elementary school. lol

--scrappinsoccermama will not be hiding out in any schools any time soon (after all, there is a law against it)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

It's a lion out there!

My son's 2nd grade class welcomed March by doing a fun art project based on the saying "March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb." I knew he hadn't quite grasped the concept when he came home a day later, in the middle of terrible gusting winds, and announced, "There really is a lion out there!"

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Movie Review

I don't intend this blog to be a movie review but when I have been pleasantly surprised by not just one but two relatively unacclaimed movies in the past couple of weeks, I just gotta share!

Penelope is a cute romance that I could even watch with my teenage daughter without either of us flinching.

Martian Child is a touching drama involving foster care and adoption. Again, I could watch with my teens and tweens with no embarrassment.

Both are worth watching!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I need a new mom!

I am so completely anal. Though thousands have been blogging for years, I can't just start a blog. No, I have to read Blogging for Dummies first, sign up for a class, and get all my ducks in a row. Now I'm all set. Except...when I create my blog I realize I have done absolutely no thinking on what to call myself or what to call my blog. Total pressure to come up with the perfect title that will describe me, invite readers, and capture interest in 5 words or less. Huh? I still don't know what I am doing. I finally decided (after all my hours of research and preparation) that I would probably learn much faster and easier by just doing so here goes...

I have a 16-year old son with Down syndrome. Most days are an adventure. However, I am often reminded that in so many ways he is a typical teenager. For example, driving to church the other day I made the unspeakable mistake of telling him I love him. His reply? "Oh gross. I need a new mom!"