Monday, August 31, 2009

appendix? don't need it anyway

Okay, after waiting 12 hours between phone calls (LONG wait, btw) we found out Brakston's appendix was removed yesterday. Yes, he is appendix-free! Goodbye and good riddance to an apparently useless organ!

I have mixed emotions! This was Brakston's first hospitalization and I wasn't there and didn't even get to talk to him. This was very difficult for me and I have to admit I shed a few tears.

However, I do also feel a lot of relief! I am happy the problem was easily diagnosed and able to be fixed. I am grateful Brakston is in Arizona and not some third-world country where I'd have to worry about the quality of his medical care.

I am still just a little anxious about his recovery and about keeping his spirits up during his recuperation. Brakston does NOT do the sit-still-and-be-calm thing very well.

At least he'll have a good story to tell!

"In the end the only thing you really own is your story." (quote from the movie "Australia")

Sunday, August 30, 2009

a long day

This morning at 8:30 I received a call from Brakston's mission president. He said Brakston had spent the night in the hospital due to stomach pain. They thought it might be an appendix attack and the mission president thought they might operate today. He said he'd keep us posted.

I have been waiting ALL day for a return call! Nothing yet.

I don't believe it's Brakston's appendix because he has had severe stomach trouble in the past. They ran a bunch of tests before his mission and couldn't determine what was wrong. Then the trouble stopped suddenly so they cleared him for his mission. I am thinking it is just the same thing as before - whatever that is.

I am guessing the mission president hasn't called yet because he has nothing to tell us. Probably no surgery and no diagnosis.

Still, I am rather anxious! This is the first time Brakston has ever been in the hospital and not only can I not be there, I can't even talk to him! It's about all I can do to keep from hopping on the next plane to Phoenix.

I am at least grateful for the small things. YEA that Brakston is in the states so I don't have to worry about the quality of his medical care!

My anxiety about his hospital stay is compounded by the fact that a week and a half ago he got two different infections in his eye. He has been fighting the infections and has been getting horrid headaches since he can't see! Also, he has a really tough companion right now (even his mission president told me that when we talked this morning). That seems like a lot to handle all at once when you're away from home and family.

It's been a long day waiting for that call!

--scrappinsoccermama is not known for being a patient person


Here's some excerpts from John Bytheway's class on Marriage at BYU Education Week:

"...we can see others' examples as inspiration, instead of as measuring sticks..."
--Joni Hilton

Harmony is being different together. Elder Neal A. Maxwell called it "compensating competences". I really like that because I often think that I'm so glad Kevin and I do the parenting thing together. He is certainly better at some aspects than I am or has patience when I've run out. I would hate to be a single parent!

People either change themselves or they are changed by the Holy Ghost (there is no other way to change people).

Your marriage will grow and develop and last if the positives (compliments, affection, etc) outnumber the negatives (complaints, criticisms, etc) by 5 to 1.

Ardeth Kapp was once asked about her husband "How did you find a man like him?" Her answer "I didn't find him like this..." (gotta love it!)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

identifying the problem

Another class that I found helpful at BYU Education Week was taught by John Bytheway. He talked about identifying problems correctly before we try to solve them. Problems stem from 3 areas:

1)Value - should I? (doesn't know value of doing it)
2)Motivation - will I? (knows should do but doesn't want to)
3)Competency - can I? (knows should do and wants to but doesn't know how or is unable)

For example, as a teen, I almost never made my bed. It wasn't because I didn't know how. After all, I worked a couple summers as a hotel maid - I could make hospital corners with the best of them. I just couldn't see any value in doing it. I was just going to sleep in it again and mess it up again. Why bother making it? It drove my mom crazy but having her show me how was not what was needed. There was no motivation to make my bed and I couldn't see the value in it so it didn't happen.

I think that as a parent, I often attack the value of a problem. For example, Brakston steady dated throughout high school against the prophets' counsel and his parents' wishes. I kept attacking the problem from a value standpoint. "You shouldn't do that." Now I can see that the issue was more competency based. I think it was too scary for him to ask out different girls. Steady dating felt safer and more comfortable.

My goal is to try to correctly identify the problem (whether as a parent or a spouse or a leader or whatever) before I jump in and try to solve it. I see the value in such an approach and I'm motivated, now let's just see if I am able to do so!

Friday, August 28, 2009

blind spots

One of the classes I attended at BYU Education Week was taught by Hank Smith. He is a friend of mine who teaches at Copper Hills seminary. He is absolutely laugh-out-loud-until-you-cry hilarious!

Anyways, Tuesday's class dealt with marriages but could be applied to any relationship. He called it "Motes, Beams, and Marriages" based on Matthew 7:3 and Luke 6:41. Basically, there are 4 areas:

Known to self and known to others = ARENA
Known to self and unknown to others = FACADE
Unknown to self and unknown to others = UNKNOWN (potential)
Unknown to self and known to others = BLIND SPOT

Most problems come from our blind spots! We don't always consider that we are the problem or our actions are the problem because we can't see ourselves clearly.

To reduce our blind spot (and therefore reduce problems), we should:

1) closely examine ourselves first
2) ask trusted individuals to reveal our blind spots to us
3) listen to the Spirit

It was recorded about the Prophet Joseph Smith that when he received untrue criticism (and we know he received a lot of that), he would carefully review his actions to see if anything (even unconciously done) could have contributed to that criticism. If he found some basis, he would go to the person and thank them for showing him a weakness he didn't know he possessed.

That takes courage! Sometimes I feel like I'm so full of imperfections that I know about that I don't need anyone to point out any more! I don't often want to know that I'm the cause of my own problems. Still, it's good advice and I know I'd do well to take it.

"Lord, is it I?" (Matthew 26:22)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

marijuana musings

On the TV news this morning, it was reported that the police found 400 marijuana plants with a street value of about $800,000. They plan to destroy them today.

What I wonder is how do you destroy 400 marijuana plants. Is there some giant toilet so you can flush them? I can't imagine that burning the plants is an option that is "high" on the cops' list. lol.

I just couldn't resist such a bad pun! But, seriously, I do wonder.

high school social groups

The book club I belong to met last night to discuss "Stargirl" by Jerry Spinelli. It was a wonderful, touching book! I loved the story, I delighted in the characters, and I enjoyed the writing style. I also really enjoyed our discussion.

The book discussion led to a discussion on where we fit in high school. I really didn't "fit in". My high school was small (500 students in a 10-12 high school). We had the normal groups - jocks, popular, nerds, brains, druggies, cowboys (okay, maybe that last one is more of a Wyoming thing). I got along well with everyone but didn't really identify with any one particular group.

I was definitely NOT a druggie, cowboy or nerd! I was not really a jock (unless you count sitting on the bench or pep club). I had the grades of a brain and was a member of National Honor Society but I didn't have to study so I spent NO time in the library. I was not one of the "popular" group although I talked to all of them and we were friendly to each other.

I didn't dress particularly well (combination of no money and being a size 9 in high school!). I was well-liked enough to be voted queen of the Winter Formal my senior year but not well enough to even have a date to my junior prom.

However, I wasn't the only one. I had a group of friends who were all in pretty much the same category as me. We were known by everyone, liked well enough by everyone, but couldn't be categorized. We were just the ordinary, run-of-the-mill students.

Shouldn't there be a category for such people?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

more first day of school

Today was the first day of school for Alec and McKayla (yes, that makes 3 different first days of school we've had this year!).

Alec was quite agitated yesterday and neither Kevin nor I could understand him. I thought he was asking about a computer and I kept insisting he couldn't take my laptop to school with him. Finally, we realized he was upset because he didn't know where his classes were going to be and he didn't know who his "buddy" is going to be to help him around. I was glad to be able to reassure him and calm him down. We talked through his schedule and eased his concerns. I have to admit to actually enjoying him being so nervous. It seemed so "normal". A little bit of normal is not a bad thing! by this morning he seemed ready and excited to go to school.

I just thought McKayla looked beautiful this morning. She also looks far too grown-up. She's only going into 8th grade this year but, I swear, she aged a few years in the last couple of months. How does that happen?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

thank the weatherman

We have the BEST metereologist - he was WRONG!

My friends and I had one last lake trip planned before our teenagers went back to school. It's been such a busy summer that the teens really didn't get a chance to take the waverunners out earlier. Unfortunately, it was predicted that there would be late morning/early afternoon storms. We questioned whether to go since (1) Utah Lake is notoriously dangerous in a storm and (2) we would have very little time before "late morning" since we had to get our other children off to school first before leaving. We finally decided to risk it and go. Yea! I'm so glad we did because the weatherman was WRONG!

Utah Lake was absolute glass - every square inch of it! The skies were blue but it wasn't too hot! And, best of all, maybe the weatherman scared everyone else away because there were only 2 other boats that we even saw all day. We basically had the entire lake to ourselves! So, thank you weatherman!

You can see that Utah Lake was a piece of Heaven yesterday. Here's the waverunner pulling a tube. Behind the tube, in the background, you can see the Mount Timpanogos Temple. Behind that are the majestic mountains of the Wasatch Front (can we say gorgeous?) and fluffy white clouds amid blue skies. Aahhh...heaven!

Alec loves to ride on the waverunners and he likes to pretend to drive them but he is completely scared to drive them himself! He also refuses to ride on the tube.

Katie Goins and McKayla had a great time on the waverunners, on the tube, or just swimming in the water - best darn mermaids I've ever seen! I think they had the most fun when they were trying to dump Zach Nebeker and Nathan Goins off the tube!

Zach (driving) and Nathan headed to shore - pulling Jill Nebeker on the tube. They had managed to dump her a few times!

Alec, Katie, and McKayla enjoying a ride!

Myself, Karen Goins, and Jill.

Monday, August 24, 2009

reverse your buts

One of the ideas I got from BYU Education Week is to "reverse your buts." I guess the idea originated at Deseret Book in one of their staff meetings, but I heard it at Ed. Week from John Bytheway.

The idea is to change the order of your but statements. For example, I might say about my husband "I love him but he drives me crazy.". However, if I reverse the but it sounds much better. "He drives me crazy but I love him."

It could apply to church callings. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve but being in YW is time consuming" versus "Being in YW is time consuming but I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve."

I'm going to work on "reversing my buts". (Now if only there were a better way to say that! lol)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

temple dedication

The kids and I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Oquirrh Mountain Temple dedication this morning! It was a tender, peaceful experience. Pres. Uchdorf and Elder Bednar were among the speakers and they are some of my favorites. It's the second temple dedication we've been able to attend in less than 6 months. What a miracle! Utah now has 13 temples. I, personally, have a temple to my north, to my east, and to be northwest.

A few years ago, as I was substituting seminary, I was speaking with a girl in the class in the moments before the bell rang. She had just moved from Florida. I asked her if she liked Utah. She did. I asked her the biggest difference in Utah and Florida. Without hesitation she replied "The temples." I asked what she meant by that and she explained that every single day in Florida her family knelt in prayer and gave thanks that the nearest temple was ONLY 2 hours away! I began laughing and said I understood. We started counting the number of temples that are within 2 hours of my home - Logan, Odgen, Bountiful, Salt Lake, Jordan River, Mount Timpanogos, Provo, and Manti (at the time Draper and Oquirrh Mountain weren't yet built). We could be at any of 8 different temples in 2 hours or less!

I often think my children do not realize how incredibly lucky we are! Heck, for that matter, I often think that I take it for granted far too often. Do I kneel in prayer every single day and thank the Lord that I have a temple only 10 minutes away? And that I can go there in my air conditioned/heated car after choosing what food I want to eat?

What is the best way to help my children realize what an incredible blessing this is? My nephew was here in June and was able to do baptisms for the dead for the first time. It was about 3 months after his birthday. Shanley wants to go on her birthday (and will probably have the blessing of being able to do that). I am filled with stories of people who save their whole lives, sell their home, or go without food in order to afford to go to the temple. How do I make these stories come alive in the minds and hearts of my children? That is my quest.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

a most insane week

This week has been nonstop. Here's the quick rundown.

Mon. - up at 3 am, Jazzercise, meet Chandler's teachers, grocery shop, spend day at Lagoon, home at 10:30 pm, bed at 11 pm

Tues - up at 3 am, work at temple, straight to Education Week in Provo, drive home and go straight to YW at 7 pm, get home at 9:30 pm, write to Brakston, dishes, laundry, bed at 11 pm

Weds. - sleep til 5:30 am, drive to Provo for Ed. Week, arrive home at 8 pm, take McKayla swimsuit shopping, home at 10 pm, laundry, bed at 11 pm

Thurs - up at 4:45 am, Jazzercise, Ed. Week, arrive home at 10:30 pm, bed at 11 pm

Fri - sleep til 6 am, Ed. Week, drive back and go straight to Pack Meeting at 7:30 pm, home at 9:30 pm, hold birthday party for Pres. Monson, bed at 11 pm

Sat - up at 5 am, Jazzercise, play game with Chandler, help girls with craft project, swimsuit shop for 3 hours, drive to Grantsville for birthday party, on the way home stop at 4 MORE stores to swimsuit shop, home at 10:45 pm

I know we've all had crazy busy weeks like this (and at least I was really enjoying myself) so I'm not complaining. The only thing that really threatened to make me insane was the swimsuit shopping. I'm not sure there is anything worse than swimsuit shopping. It has to go on the list of things I hate doing!

We ended up with what I would classify as only mild success. We pieced together a bottom from one store, a top from another, and then finished it with a cami to wear underneath.

Next year the swimsuit shopping MUST have its own separate week so that I have plenty of time to recuperate!

Friday, August 21, 2009


At Education Week today I attended a class by Michael Ballam. He sang songs from many Broadway musicals including Annie, West Side Story, South Pacific, and Cats. In addition, he sang two of my all time favorites: The Impossible Dream from The Man of La Mancha and Bring Him Home from Les Miserables. He was incredible!

He announced that it is his 58th birthday today. It is also President Monson's birthday today. I find it a little ironic and a little humorous that President Monson and "Satan" share the same birthday (some of you will know what I'm referring to).

Alec absolutely loves birthdays so it is our family tradition to celebrate many birthdays throughout the year. We celebrate Mickey Mouse's and Dr. Seuss' and so on. Tonight we had birthday cake and sang happy birthday to Pres. Monson. We left "Satan" out of the celebration!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

a favorite thought

I saw this quote on a wall of one of the seminaries where I substitute taught. I don't know which school or who said it so I can't give appropriate credit. However, I really liked it and have reflected on it many times.

A perfect man
at an imperfect trial
was found guilty
so that
an imperfect man
at a perfect trial
could be found innocent.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

BYU Education Week

For about the last 7 years I have attended BYU Education Week. I absolutely LOVE it! For the first few years I could only attend a day or maybe two. For the last several years, I have been able to attend most of the week.

I have always been excited about it (I believe I blogged about receiving the catalog). When the catalog comes in the mail, I spend hours poring over it. I carefully select classes (tough decisions since there are over a thousand classes offered).

This year has been a little different.

As the time to attend approached, I found I was lacking the intense excitement that I usually experience. I still looked forward to attending but mostly because I felt that I really NEEDED it this year.

You see, I've been stagnating. Actually, probably worse than stagnating. Can I say regressing? Over the summer, our family prayers and scripture study and FHE have suffered. My temple attendance has dwindled. My own scripture study and prayers have been pathetic. I have been feeling the difference and the feeling has not been good.

So, I truly NEEDED Education Week! I needed the spiritual lift. I needed the motivation to get my life back on track. It has done just that. I will blog more later about my experiences and the things I've learned but for now, I am grateful for the kick in the rear (sometimes that's what it takes!)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I took Alec, Shanley, and Chandler to Lagoon yesterday. The lines were the worst I've ever seen there but we still had fun. We managed about 15 rides, 2 1/2 hours at Lagoon-A-Beach, and a picnic dinner and talent show with the Utah Down Syndrome Foundation.

Shanley and Chandler both discovered that a Haunted House is much less scary if you go through it with your ears plugged!

Shanley declares that the swing is her favorite ride. I really like it too! My favorite is The Rocket Re-Entry (it's similar to The Tower of Terror at California Adventure.

I am not a big fan of the Music Express but the kids like it.

We all loved The Bat, The Spider, The Samurai, and Colossus. Chandler's favorite ride is the old wooden roller coaster. I hate The Wild Mouse but went on it anyway (silly me). It is really enjoyable to go to amusement parks now that all the kids are old enough (and daring enough) to ride ALL the rides!

Alec danced with a bunch of people with Down syndrome to "We're All in This Together" from High School Musical.

Overall, it was a fun day. I must admit that I did feel a few moments of guilt. After all, it was Chandler's first day of school and he went for all of 2 hours before I checked him out of school to go to an amusement park. I am certain it was the responsible parent thing to do. lol. Oh well, at least he won't someday need therapy for a mom that never let him have any fun!

Monday, August 17, 2009

another first day of school

Today was Chandler's first day of 3rd grade!

Our school district does year-round school with a track system. There are 4 tracks and 3 of those tracks are in school while 1 is off. Chandler and Shanley are on different tracks this year (my choice) so they are both in school for 6 weeks then one or the other is out for the next 6 weeks. Shanley started 3 weeks ago and now Chandler's track has started.

With Alec and McKayla on a traditional school schedule, it can be quite difficult to remember which child to send to school on which day. Thank goodness for calendars!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

books I've read in the past month

Once again it is time for my report on the past month's reading. I managed to read 11 books in the past month which is quite a few but, unfortunately, they were not my favorite books. The two best books of the bunch I still only rated about 4 stars out of 5. I put an asterick by those two.

The Angels of Morgan Hill - by Donna VanLiere

Kissing Games of the World - by Sandi Kahn Shelton

The Dirty Secrets Club - by Meg Gardiner

Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail - by Malika Oufkir

City of Thieves - by David Benioff

Black and Blue - by Anna Quindlen

The Seat of the Soul - by Gary Zukav

**Survive! My Fight for Life in the High Sierras - by Peter DeLeo

Before You Get to Heaven: 8 Mighty Changes God Wants for You - by D. Kelly Ogden

The Road - by Cormac McCarthy

**The Patron Saint of Butterflies - Cecilia Galante

About the best thing I can say about this set of books is that it helped me in my quest to read a book by an author of every letter of the alphabet. This batch of books netted me an O, Q, V, and Z author. That only leaves me I, U, and X authors and then I have read my way through the alphabet this year.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

girls' night out

Last night it was high time for a girls' night out! The theme of the get-together was "no worries". We met and ate dinner - potato soup in bread bowls (the ultimate comfort food!) Then, of course, we HAD to have chocolate! How about a big slice of chocolate layer cake from Costco? YUMMY!

We watched the Neil Diamond special on TV and even sang along! Then we pampered ourselves. We used Mary Kay's lip mask and balm and their satin hands collection. We now have the softest lips and hands around! Karen is doing some much needed pampering!

Here's Julie, Jill, and I doing our nails. Taking a look at my hair, I think it's too bad we didn't do complete makeovers!

Check out the pretty toenails complete with nail decals! Can you guess who's feet are whose?

And the lovely nail art on our pinkies! Beginning at the top going clockwise it's Karen, Julie, Jill, and Marvelle.

Jill provided everyone with a gift bag with a few treats and funny stories and sayings. We ended the night watching "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" which provided us with many laughs! We should definitely do this far more often!

Friday, August 14, 2009

a deal-breaker

The other day I recognized one more of my pet peeves - I hate to be summoned by a horn honk!

I was waiting for a ride, saw them approach, and went to the door but was not even given 30 seconds to appear. The driver honked as they were pulling into my driveway and I saw RED! Great, big, firetruck-bright red! And I realized...I hate to be honked for.

It made me grateful that no date had ever tried summoning me with a honk. I think it would have been a deal-breaker/date-breaker.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

temple and high school - heaven on earth?

I spent yesterday at the high school helping with registration. I spent this morning at the temple. You might think this would be a tale of contrasts. You know... the worldliness of high school vs. the escape-from-the-world of the temple.

However, for Alec, they are both a slice of heaven on earth! He absolutely loves to go and do baptisms for the dead. He looks forward to every other week when it is the boys turn for Kevin to take them. We were at Yuba Lake in July and Alec was quite upset that I refused to take him back home so he could go to the temple. One Sunday Kevin was not at church (sick, I think) and Alec left priesthood meeting and dragged me out of YW so I could reassure him that Dad would still be able to take him to the temple Tuesday morning. (I wish Alec could articulate to me why the temple is so important to him and how he feels when he is there.)

And, as astonishing as it may seem, RHS has also been a place he absolutely loves to be! He is so excited to return to school. I took him with me to registration for about an hour. We hadn't even gotten out of the car when people starting yelling "Hey Alec" and waving to him. He just beams and gets a bit of a strut to his step.

High school has been really good for Alec. I think he spends the most enjoyable moments of his day walking down the halls giving high fives to people. He loves attending the athletic events and is their #1 fan! He counts student body officers, athletes, and very cute girls among his friends.

I wonder if:

a) it is due to Alec's outgoing, friendly personality
b) it is cool to be friends with those with disabilities
c) youth today are just more tolerant and accepting than they were when I was in school

Whatever the reason, for Alec it seems that the gap between this world and the other is sometimes not such a wide gap!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

another last first

Today was Chandler's first "real" soccer game.

He has played recreational leagues for a few years but they don't follow all the rules. He played "academy" last year and they played lots of scrimmage games.
Now, however, he is playing in a competition league and they are playing in their first tournament.

It's not so much the soccer games that made me post. In fact, I'm probably stretching it to call it his first "real" game. It is just that, as my youngest, Chandler's firsts are also lasts. There are no more kids to have their first soccer game.

There are no more kids to have their first day of kindergarten or their first cub scout pack meeting. None of my children will ever have their first bike ride again. Or their first day in Primary or their first late-night.

It is a little sad sometimes.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

the love is gone

After posting the last couple days on how much I LOVE the internet and how much I LOVE my neigbbors, I suddenly find the love is missing!

I still love the internet and my neighbors but my mail yesterday contained a few nasty surprises!

The first is a bill from the boy scout camp that I took the YW to this summer. We paid in full but now a bill has appeared telling me I must immediately pay the $1,550.00 owed. What?!?

The second is even worse. It was a notice that since my account "remains seriously delinquent" the bank has notified the credit bureau and will be forced to take legal action against me. Again, what?!?

This delinquent account happens to be a business account - a business I sold over 8 years ago! I certainly have not shared in any of the profits for the past 8 years so isn't it amazing how, now that money is owed, my name magically appears in connection with this account?

I am no fortune teller but I do foresee a lot of time on the telephone to resolve these issues. I hate speaking on the telephone! I hate confrontation! I hate errors/ineptitude! I hate being placed on hold!

As you can see, the love is gone....

Monday, August 10, 2009

neighbor love

Okay, yesterday's post was a tribute to the wonderful world wide web! Today's is a tribute to my awesome neighbors!

I have lived in the same home for a little over 17 years. Five of the seven neighbors in my circle have been here even longer (and they're all older). Over the years they have been so helpful and kind! They have provided gardening and yard advice (Kevin and I do not have green thumbs). They have allowed our children to jump on their trampoline. They have shared garden produce. They have even taken our children fishing. Their children rode bikes to school with mine when mine were too young to ride along. They all drive around Alec when he decides to lie in the middle of the street (but that is a whole other post). You get the picture.

This morning I was baking cookies and was on the phone with my sister, Dawnette, when Chandler ran in to tell me that the front yard was flooding. I looked out and sure enough, the secondary water system was leaking water everywhere. I told Chanlder to shut off the water. He couldn't. I sent McKayla out to turn it off. I think she turned one handle but not the other so the water was still running. I said I'll go do it as soon as I'm off the phone. (Of course, Kevin is on a flight and won't be back until 10 pm - no help there.) I wasn't really sure about what to do.

I got off the phone and headed to the door but my neighbor, Keith, was already on his knees and up to his elbow in water shutting off the valve. Then he said, "As soon as the water has subsided, I'll be back to see what the problem is."

I could go on and on and on telling my great "circle neighbor" stories but suffice it to say that I thank God that I have such awesome neighbors!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

internet love

When I count my blessings, I just HAVE to include the internet! Here's how it's blessed my life this week:

1) I was able to receive an email from Brakston on the same day I emailed him. This is as good a communication as I can get while he is on his mission. How did those poor parents stand it when they used to have to wait a week or more to get replies to their questions? Or worse, have sons in countries where the mail system is completely unreliable?

2) I was able to check on McKayla's soccer team tournament results from Bear Lake so that I at least had an idea how she was doing (my cell phone is broken!)

3) I easily kept in touch with family and friends through facebook, blog, email, etc...

4) It helped me find a particular scripture that I was looking for.

5) Halfway through making cookies this morning, I realized I did not have any sweetened condensed milk. Did I have to break the Sabbath and run to the store? No. Did I have to phone countless neighbors at inappropriate hours and bother them trying to find someone who had a can? No, I just looked online for a recipe for sweetened condensed milk and my cookies turned out yummy!

6) I was easily able to research copyright laws for a planned YM/YW activity.

7) I was able to renew library items, from the comfort of my couch no less, enabling me to avoid costly late fees.

How did people EVER survive without such a useful tool? For that matter, how did I ever survive the days of dial-up internet? We've come a long way, baby!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Bear Lake - a family affair

More of the things I enjoyed about Bear Lake:

My brother, Todd, always brings his homemade candy cannon (he's an engineer, what do you expect?) Here's my nephew, Jake, taking a turn shooting it.

The kids are all awaiting the candy and/or prizes that shoot out!

The collection race is on!

We celebrated my darling niece's, Avery, 3rd birthday with ice cream cones and brownies!

We ate well! Here's my aunt, Kathy, my husband, Kevin, and my cousin, Brant in the "kitchen".

And, of course, Alec always enjoys his cousins! Here he is with my niece, Natalie, who is getting ready to head off to college in 2 weeks.

Jolyn brought up foam swords with PVC handles and the kids had hours of fun fighting with them. My uncle, Reed, brought up badminton and PVC golf. Chandler would hardly get off the bicycles. We had fun on the waverunners, the 4-wheelers, the boat, the banana/rocket, the rubber raft, and on the tube. There was lots of great sand for the kids to dig in! Shanley caught a couple of frogs. Long-lost "cousin", Belly Bob (Darin in disguise) showed up to tell us the campfire story of Rindercella. We sang campfire songs and roasted marshmallows for s'mores.

The things that were NOT highlights:

*the wind - it blew Brant's tent down, snapping 2 poles and putting several holes in it. It also blew down my parents' tent and Natalie's tent (sending Natalie screaming from it). It beached the boat requiring a new anchoring in the middle of the night.

*illness - Brant and a couple of his kids got really sick and ended up calling it quits on Friday morning (sickness and loss of tent was just too much). Reed, Kathy, and Kara were all sick and also left Friday. Natalie and Emma were sick and spent most of the time in their tent and/or camper.

*cold temps - Saturday morning it was very cold and rainy causing us to depart earlier than originally planned.

All in all, we did have a good time and the wind stories will be legends for many family reunions to come! Why is it you always get better stories and more memories with the adversities than with the fun times?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Bear Lake

As you are reading this, I am at Bear Lake. Here's what I am enjoying:

* the waverunners
* laughs and talking with family
* the 4-wheelers
* too much junk food
* cooler temperatures
* the famous Bear Lake raspberry shakes - YUM!
* a little extra sleep

Here's wishing you enjoyment as well!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

if any of you lack wisdom...

I am lacking in wisdom...teeth, that is.

It's true. My wisdom teeth have never come in. They are supposed to appear somewhere between age 16 and age 30. Let's just admit that I passed age 30 a while ago. wisdom teeth.

Over the years my wisdom teeth have made special guest appearances. They will hurt for a few days, break through the skin, and then make a fast retreat.

Maybe my problem is not lack of wisdom...maybe rather than having my wisdom pop out of my jaw and risk having it yanked out of my mouth, I am trying to keep it to myself!

I need all the wisdom I can get!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Sunday night I was at my brother Todd's home. My sister-in-law, Melissa, showed me a decorative plate she'd received as a gift. She said it reminded her of me. It was a square plate and the center read the four basic food groups. Then on each side it said milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and hot chocolate. Melissa knows me well.

I did a chocolate inventory today. Here's what I found:

1) a half-eaten bag of Dove Promises stashed in my dresser drawer.(I'd claim it is for me only but McKayla knows where it's at so...)

2) several dozen frozen Cookie Tree chocolate fudge cookie dough discs ready to be baked

3) half of a 10-pound bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips (I actually don't like chocolate chip cookies but I still buy the chips in bulk because I make cookies for my kids, the soccer team, Sunday School classes, etc)

4) 3 boxes of sugar-free instant chocolate pudding (they're great for making a low-fat chocolate shake or making a dessert for my diabetic dad)

5) 1 box Devil's Food cake mix

6) approximately 2 pounds of Peter's Milk Chocolate (best brand ever) dipping chocolate left over from Christmas last year

7) 2 decorated tins of Whoppers (birthday presents for a niece and a nephew with upcoming birthdays)

8) 1 1/2 canisters of Hershey's Cocoa

9) various boxes of white, semi-sweet, and unsweetened baking chocolate (what can I say, I like to bake)

10) one #10 can plus two 10-packet boxes of hot chocolate

11) a package of 6 Hershey milk chocolate bars to take camping this week (after all, what is camping without a s'more?)

Listed out this way, it looks like a LOT of chocolate but I know that it is NO where near the year's supply we've been commanded to have. I better go chocolate shopping. lol. What's in your chocolate stash?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

6 word descriptions

One of the blogs I follow regularly, The Chocolate Chip Waffle, asked how you would describe yourself in 6 words. Here's some options:

birthed five, still alive, (and kicking)

soccer + scrapbooks + sugar snacks = my pleasure

math nerd, English words, school rocks

busy, bossy, bright, beaming broad

devours books, chocolate, and children's hugs

actively pursuing life, goals, and children

What does your 6-word description look like?

Monday, August 3, 2009

"bad-boy" Alec

Okay, maybe my neighbor was onto something yesterday when he complained about Alec. After all, I opened the newspaper this morning to find the list of the top ten "bad-boy" baby names. Guess which name is included?

You got it! It's Alec. Who knew?

I apparently cursed the kid just by naming him a bad-boy name! What was I thinking?

I was so careful to make sure my children's names couldn't be shortened into embarrassing nicknames so they wouldn't receive playground taunts. I even checked their initials to ensure they didn't unintentionally spell out something hideous. I made sure my boys names were masculine and my girls names were feminine so the teacher would always at least know what sex they were when calling roll.

Yet, somehow, in the midst of all this carefulness, I missed the fact that Alec is associated with "bad-boy-dom". What do the scriptures say? Something about the sins of the children being on the heads of the parents if they name them incorrectly and end up cursing them for life?

Sorry, Alec!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

never-ending blessings of service

This morning was a little rough. A little bit before we left for church a neighbor, whom I don't know well, came to my home to complain about Alec. Alec had upset him and his wife and the neighbor said if Alec did it again they'd call the police. I apologized but the man remained angry.

I was quite upset. It's embarrassing and it's scary. It is also a little maddening because I wanted to scream at the man to give Alec a break. After all, he has Down syndrome and autism. He doesn't mean any harm.

I talked to Alec and explained why he couldn't do what he did. Then I listened to Alec yell at himself and cry in the 10 minutes before we left for church. I walked out the door with a very heavy heart thinking "how in the world am I going to get the Spirit back into my life today so that I can enjoy church?"

I climbed in the suburban and it was out of gas (and we're supposed to make the 1 hour trip to Tooele and back again tonight). I got to church and only one other leader/teacher showed up for the teacher training class that I had prepared for so we cancelled it (what a waste of my time and preparation!). It was NOT being a good day.

Then Carolyn gave the YW combined lesson on service. My mind was flooded with memories of services that I have been the recipient of and, in turn, my heart was flooded with the Spirit of God.

Who knew that services I received even years ago would come back to heal my heart and mend my troubled spirit?

I walked into Sacrament meeting only to watch one of the other Priests help Alec tear the bread and I was overcome with emotion at the tender mercies of the Lord. Using the hands of others, God helped me see that His hand is in all things and that He loves me and is mindful of me. If I just look, I can see God's tender mercies in all the many acts of service that I receive daily and the memories of those acts of service can buoy me in times of need.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

stay-at-home mom

Over the years as I've talked to Mormon women (or read their blogs), I've seen a recurrent theme. Many women feel that being home full-time is a huge sacrifice and doesn't allow them the time or means to follow their own goals and dreams. Many women express that they don't even recognize themselves anymore as they've been swallowed up by motherhood.

I reflected on this and asked myself why I don't feel this way. After all, maybe I should. Being a mother was not my childhood dream. I knew I'd have children but I wanted a career and planned to have one. I wanted to marry later in life after I'd traveled and experienced "life" and "success".

Instead, I married young (age 20) and had FIVE children one of whom has a disability that was really time-consuming in his younger years. I did graduate from college and circumstances dictated that I work full-time for the first 13 years of our marriage. I got to experience the accolades, awards, and respect that come from being a professional. I loved the business that I was a part-owner in and found a lot of satisfaction and pride in my job.

So, when I was finally able to stay home full-time I thought I might go a little crazy. I thought I might miss the professional life and its accoutrements. Instead, I can truly say that while filling out "homemaker" on various forms as my occupation still does not fill me with pride, I really have loved being a stay-at-home mom.

I've reflected on this and I think these are things that helped me.

1) Find a friendship base. I knew I'd want adult conversation sometimes so I set up a scrapbooking group which met once a week. I was able to socialize and even do something that I enjoyed. I also joined Jazzercise which allows me an extra opportunity to meet new people and socialize a bit.

2) Continue your own education. I still complete 40 hours of CPE (continuing professional education) every year. This helps keep my brain sharp. Over the years I have also taken community education classes, attended BYU Education Week, or read books to help me learn and grow. Yes, I have temporarily put my Master's Degree plans on hold but I fully believe there will be a right time for that for me.

3) Continue pursuing your own dreams and goals. Again, some things have had to take a backseat (i.e. Master's Degree) but I have found there are goals I can continue to accomplish. I love teaching and I love youth and would love to someday become a youth inspirational speaker. In the meantime, I started substitute teaching seminary a few years ago. This is working towards my goal. I found a shift at the temple that I can work without it interfering with my family. I love that and feel it brings me one step closer to being an ordinance worker someday.

4) Get involved. I don't think of my "mommyness" as just being at home cleaning and doing laundry. I really try to get involved in my children's lives. I have volunteered on PTA boards, in the classroom, and on my children's soccer teams. I view my being involved as also teaching my children what is important to me (i.e. education).

5) Do things just for you. I Jazzercise, belong to a book club, etc. "Me" things!
Once in a while, it is okay to be a little bit selfish.

I have been truly blessed to have an incredibly supportive spouse. He encourages me in all my "projects" and does all he can to help me achieve the goals and dreams that I think are worth pursuing at this point in my life.

It is not all roses. I realize that my children are never going to award me plaques, give me a raise, or probably even publicly give me kudos. Some days it seems more trouble than it's worth to fix dinner for kids who will probably tell me "Yuck! Do I have to eat it?" Still, I can honestly say that being a full-time, stay-at-home mom has been rewarding, fulfilling, demanding, challenging, and very worthwhile.