The last two days have been absolutely frantic! I have run from dentist appointments, haircut appointments, presidency meetings, stake meetings, soccer practice, high school PTA stuff, YW in Excellence preparations, etc. You get the idea. Even my scripture study (?) has been a little hectic. (I am reading alongside my Mia Maids to finish the Book of Mormon before Christmas.)
We had a Stake RS meeting last evening and it came with a beautiful reminder to "Be still and know that I am God." (D&C 101:16)
A wake-up call for me was the question, "How much of the Lord's help are you missing because you're not listening?"
I am hereby recommitting to arising at 4:15 am so I have some quiet, peaceful time to study and ponder and BE STILL!
Brakston has now been in the mission field for 9 months. I got a letter from him yesterday - normally a very happy, joyous occasion. Yesterday's letter was different. He said the words I'm sure every mother wants to hear - NOT!
He said, "I love my mission so much I'm never coming home."
Yep, the words I've always dreamed of hearing a son say... The words that make 9 months of heartburn, insomnia, morning sickness, and weird food cravings worth it. The words that justify umpteen hours of labor pains. The payoff for sleepless nights of worry and stress. The satisfaction I get for baking hundreds of dozens of cookies for him over the years, fixing meals, doing his laundry (oh wait, he did his own laundry, but I digress...)
Still, he WILL be coming home. I do Jazzercise with an Italian who "knows people." I'm just saying.
--scrappinsoccermama is actually glad he is enjoying his mission and wouldn't have it any other way
Dawnette's family, Chandler, and I headed to the Stockyards on Saturday. What would Texas be without horses, Stetsons, boots, and longhorn cattle? Notice the cobblestone streets.
The highlight of Chandler's trip was the cattlepen maze. He thought it was great fun!
Here's the gang watching an air show. (Chandler is the photographer which explains why he's not in the photo as well as why backsides are showing.) The Blue Angels were incredible to watch but my photography skills are no better than Chandler's and the photos are all indistinct gray blurs against a blue background.
We toured the Bureau of Printing and Engraving but, alas, they don't allow cameras so pull a $20 bill out of your purse/pocket and stare at it. Add some big machines and lots of wire cages and you've got quite a bit of our tour.
The Water Gardens were pretty cool. I'm posed with my nephew, Neal, and Chandler. The Water Gardens contain three different pools - aerated, active, and still.
My favorite pool was the active pool. It sounded like a major waterfall. You could step on the stones to walk down into it. The water rushed around you and under you. It was a little unnerving just because it was so loud but it was really cool.
I'm home from Texas - the place they do everything big! Big state, big longhorn cattle, big steaks, big drinks, etc. We even brought home some Texas-sized jelly beans. (We thought they were pretty funny!)
Now, I'm afraid I have come home Texas-sized too. We ate out a lot! We tried asian-influenced chicken wraps, BBQ, Mexican, homestyle, and food too yucky to classify (oops - but you never know until you try). Dawnette and I also made homemade Snickers bars - truly YUMMY - and bought orange crusted pecans (also YUMMY).
Combine that with 5 days of no Jazzercise and the results aren't pretty. It was so nice to have such a long break from cooking, though. McKayla even had dinner ready when I walked in the door tonight. I'm really feeling spoiled. Tomorrow may be a crash back to reality when everyone wants to know what's for breakfast...
--scrappinsoccermama wants to know if a Texas-sized jelly bean counts as breakfast as long as it is orange flavored...
I'm having a great time in Texas but since I left my camera connection cord at home, all pictures will have to wait until I'm home. Therefore, I'll write about the trip when I can put the pictures with it (after all, a picture is worth a thousand words).
Suffice it to say that I heard a word in church yesterday that I am not accustomed to hearing in the hallowed halls of my ward back home. No, no one used foul language or took the Lord's name in vain. No, no one told the bishop no. No one yelled "hypocrite" at the speaker (a fear of mine!).
Instead, the word I heard was...y'all. Truly not something I hear in Utah.
"To comprehend a man's life, it is necessary to know not merely what he does but also what he purposely leaves undone. There is a limit to the work that can be got out of the human body or a human brain, and he is a wise man who wastes no energy on pursuits for which he is not fitted; and he is still wiser who, from among the things that he can do well, chooses and resolutely follows the best."
-- William E. Gladstone
Great quote but not one that I have implemented successfully in my life thus far.
Yea! I'm off to Fort Worth to see my sister, Dawnette. She moved there in July so this will be my first visit to her new home although I did spend a week in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area years ago. Just Chandler and I are going so it should be a relaxing trip. We do have to fly standby so wish us luck getting on the flight!
I attended book club last night where we discussed Sarah's Key. This novel is based on the involvement of the French in the Holocaust.
One of the club members asked if we thought society had improved enough that such a thing could never happen again. Has the world learned its lesson? We thought of the current instances of "ethnic cleansing" and decided the answer is probably no.
I thought of something else this morning. I wonder if our "cleansing crimes" are just getting more high tech and easier to rationalize. Doctors estimate that 90% of babies with Down syndrome are aborted. We no longer have to send them to the gas chamber like Hitler did. We just choose not to let them be born in the first place.
I'm not sure I see the difference. Hitler wanted only a superior race which he defined as white, non-Jew, non-disabled people. Parents today want a superior baby - namely a non-disabled one.
I think we are just kidding ourselves if we think the attitudes that existed in Hitler's regime have all been erased.
I have never seen a shooting star - no kidding, NEVER! I am usually looking the wrong way or maybe I look down too much or something.
Last night was supposed to be the prime star-gazing opportunity of the year! The earth was going through a meteor field or something (I'm fuzzy on the details) and shooting stars were supposed to be rampant!
I was really excited! Here was finally my chance to see one. I got up shortly after 4 am and got dressed in my workout clothes. I dragged out a lawn chair and wrapped up in a blanket (it was really cold outside) and stared intently at the sky. And stared. And stared. I kept staring until I had to leave for Jazzercise.
You guessed it - no shooting star for me. Maybe they were falling from the sky behind my head...
I hope this is not a metaphor for my life. Am I focused on the wrong things? Do I miss the important, best things in life? Am I looking down instead of heavenward? Do I miss the mark? Or is it that a shooting star is not the important thing - it streaks and sparkles then fizzles and is gone. Maybe it's the North Star I should always be focused on...
Shanley has been off-track almost 3 weeks. We have had a good time but one thing has really struck out. Everywhere we've gone, people have asked if she is playing hooky or if the junior high is out for some reason. You see, everyone is assuming she is older than she actually is. All of a sudden, my youngest daughter has grown up!
She is no longer the long, dark-haired toddler who just HAD to run everywhere she went. She's not afraid to sleep in her room by herself. She's not even in Primary any more.
She is twelve (but in 6th grade) and has gotten tall and beautiful. Even my own mom when she stopped by last Saturday just kept saying how grown up Shanley has gotten. I guess it really does happen overnight.
At least Shanley has not outgrown the desire to be "daddy's little girl".
I listened to The Today Show this morning while I was blow-drying my hair. Maria Shriver was on and was saying that less than 30% of children have a stay-at-home parent.
I feel so incredibly lucky to be one of those stay-at-home parents! I love being there for my children. I love doing fun, creative things with them.
I did work outside of the home for the first 13+ years of my marriage. Brakston was 11 before I was able to stay home full-time. I was so grateful that I was able to be at home throughout his teenage years.
I am definitely one of those people that thinks it's more important to be home for your teens than even for your young ones. I think my being home helped keep Brakston out of trouble. It also forged a strong bond between us.
As my girls are in or reaching their teenage years, I am feeling blessed to still be able to be home with them. I like greeting them at the door when they get home. I like seeing them off with a hug and kiss when they leave in the morning.
Now, if I just liked nagging them to practice the piano and empty the dishwasher...
Kevin was released as Bishop of our ward 3 weeks ago. This past Tuesday night the Young Women invited all of the new bishopric and their wives and the former bishopric and their wives to a dinner. It was wonderful - yummy food, china, crystal goblets, the works.
The Young Women sang two original songs. The first was "So Long, Farewell" from The Sound of Music and was directed to the former bishopric. The words were adapted to say things like "I'll never drink champagne" and "You'll still have to wear a suit and tie". It was great! The second song was "We're Off to See the Wizard" from The Wizard of Oz. Again words were adapted so they said "we're off to see the Bishop".
The Young Women then presented Kevin with this beautiful quilt made by a woman in our ward. The Young Women had gone around the ward and collected signatures and messages from all the ward members.
I took Chandler to WalMart yesterday for a free Lego activity (thanks Beth Anne for telling me about it). Chandler got a baggie of Legos and got to build a Lego pumpkin. He loves Legos so this was a big deal to him.
On the way out of the store we saw this Lego creature. Chandler could not believe someone had actually built this! (Now he's convinced he needs more Legos!)
Being a bit inspired, I built with Chandler when we got home. I was quite proud of my "Mr. Krabs" (from SpongeBob). I asked Chandler and he said "Well, it's pretty good." I asked, "Just pretty good?" Chandler's reply "Well, it's your first time building so I'm not going to say REALLY good."
Since Halloween is approaching I thought I'd do a tribute to spooky things.
What scares me?
-driving beside semi-trucks on the freeway -having a daughter-in-law who hates me -getting Alzheimer's or dementia -being forced to eat canned peas -getting pregnant at my age -any creepy, crawly bug or spider -the stuff that grows in forgotten containers in my refrigerator -the kids handing me the phone when I'm in the bathtub and the Bishop is on the line (oh wait, that actually happened!)
"Sometimes our greatest gifts grow from what we are not given." --Erica Bauermeister
Does this go along with "necessity is the mother of invention"? Are the gifts greater because we have to work for them? Does this quote apply to my life? Do I have great gifts that weren't handed to me?
I like quotes that make me ponder a bit. Sometimes when I am reading a book a line or two will just pop out at me. I stumble in the flow of the novel and instead get stuck on a phrase.
The above quote is from the book The School of Essential Ingredients. I'm not far enough into it yet to pass judgment on it other than to say it is a feast of words that meld together in my mind to create a beautiful symphony of language. Also, it does have at least one great quote!
Here's my list of books I've read in the past month. I have starred** the ones that I highly recommend.
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt **The Shape of Mercy: A Novel by Susan Meisner Stalking Susuan: A Novel by Julie Kramer SkyBurial: An Epic Love Story of Tibet by Xinran The Archangel Project by C.S. Graham A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope by Don Van Ryn **Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins
I absolutely LOVED The Shape of Mercy and Catching Fire! I was disappointed in A Thousand Splendid Suns because it just wasn't as good as The Kite Runner. I can't understand how Angela's Ashes won a major book award. It's not well-written and it covers the same material over and over and over for about 300 pages (alcoholic father finds job, spends wages on alcohol instead of food for impoverished family, ends up losing job due to alcohol, family on the dole, cycle starts again).
One of the very best things about my hike up Mount Timpanogos on Monday was the opportunity it gave me for self-reflection. That was my main purpose in going. Back in May, I took a hike for the same reason. I spent time then pondering the different roles in my life and where I saw myself in those roles in 5 years, in 10 years, and in 20 years.
This time I reflected on what I would want people to say at my funeral (begin with the end in mind) and then hammered out my personal mission statement. I have been working on my mission statement for years but feel that it might now be a finished product.
There is something empowering about having written my mission statement. It dovetails nicely with my 100 life goals. I feel like I am going somewhere. I have a map for getting there and a clearly defined purpose. It is exciting!
Shanley and I hiked partway up Mount Timpanogos yesterday. It was gorgeous and so nice to get away for a bit! I did, however, have to wonder if I was really "escaping" the world when I saw this sign... I'm not sure I'm really in wilderness if there is a nice sign announcing it!
I love hikes to waterfalls! They are so beautiful. Also, I find the sound of a waterfall to be very relaxing. I guess it's how you look at it though. I mentioned to Shanley that "it is so peaceful here" and Shanley said "you call this peaceful? That waterfall is so noisy!"
Our intent was not so much the climb as the peaceful moments. I wanted to work on my personal mission statement. Shanley curled up on a rock and did some reading.
We were too late for the best of the fall colors but there was still enough color to make me happy!
I know I should live in the moment and enjoy each day as it comes, but I also really love looking forward to good things in my future.
Currently I am looking forward to the following things:
*a hike up the back side of Mount Timpanogos today *going to Dallas to see Dawnette in a couple weeks *a scrapbook group retreat in November (one month from yesterday - but who's counting?) *going to Southern Cal. over Thanksgiving for a soccer tournament *our 8th annual scrapbook group Christmas party
Hard to tell which one is the witch... Any one of us would be willing to cast spells for chocolate! Horrid picture! I was trying to scrunch down so you could see the witch (we had an 8-year-old photographer). I ended up just looking funny and I still blocked the witch's face.
Jill, Karen, Andrea, and I took our children (and a couple of Tami's) to Gardner Village this past week to go see the witches. They had a scavenger hunt which made it even more fun for the kids (especially since their prize was a chocolate chip cookie). Just a few of the 16 children we took.
Rant: Seriously, Pres. Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize for his promises?
Before you accuse me of racism, let me unequivocally state that my rant has nothing to do with his race or his political affiliation or my political affiliation. I just want the Nobel Peace Prize to stand for having accomplished something. I ranted when Yassar Arafat won too.
Pres. Obama was up against Greg Mortenson (author of Three Cups of Tea which I read this summer) who has built over 120 schools for the poverty-stricken in Pakistan. Reading his book, you see that he has completely devoted himself, put himself at risk, and suffered to make this happen.
What has Pres. Obama actually accomplished? Maybe it's just that he's NOT George W. Bush...
Rave: Alec has a classmate named Jacob Murtha who has taken him to football games and soccer games and basketball games. Last week Jacob talked to the head basketball coach at Riverton High about Alec serving as a manager for the RHS basketball team this year. Coach Galley thought it was a great idea! He and I talked this week and it is going to happen. Alec gets to be a manager for the team! Alec loves sports and loves being involved so this is wonderful for him! Last year Alec refused to sit with Jacob in the students' section but sat on the bench with the team. This year it'll actually be official for him to do so.
My heart just sings at the thoughtfulness of Jacob arranging this on his own initiative! I am so happy for Alec!
What do you do when your son has chosen a life of criminal behavior?
It's not the first time, he's committed the crime of identity theft and I don't know what to do about it. Yes, it's sad but true...Alec filled out the name line on his school papers not with his own perfectly good, thoughtfully chosen name but with (GASP!) the name of Ashton Kutcher!
As I said before, this is not the first time he's tried to steal someone else's identity. Over the past many years he has been Luke Skywalker (Star Wars), Ron Weasley (Harry Potter), Will Turner (Pirates of the Caribbean), Joseph Smith (The Work and the Glory), Goldfish (The Guardian), Troy Bolton (High School Musical)and many more.
I am not sure where this criminal behavior will lead...
(Editor's Note: For any unfamiliar with my family, Alec is my 16-year-old son. He has Down syndrome and autism and loves movies. He often re-enacts them. He has been tarred and feathered multiple times. He has felt "the force". He has sailed ships and fought pirates. He has rescued lost fishermen or boaters. It is a total crack-up except times like last night when he woke me up at 1 am screaming as he re-enacted some movie scene or another.)
My crafty mood continues as does my copying prowess. Thanks to my wonderful, uber-creative sister-in-law, Melissa, for the darling idea for use of plastic pencil boxes. Thanks to the fantastic scrapbook store, Pebbles in My Pocket, for the cute YW value/theme block.
That's me. I am the queen of copying. My reign is supreme. Don't worry, any former teachers or professors, I took my own tests. I just love to copy other people's great ideas! It is so much easier than trying to have flashes of creative brilliance on my own!
I have posted pictures of the great totes that I've sewn this year. COPIED. I stared at a lady's bag until I had designed in my own mind a way to make the bag. I posted pictures of my Halloween box craft. COPIED. Last night I did a really fun Cash Cab activity for a YM/YW combined activity. Yep, you guessed it...COPIED.(although I did make my own questions and modified it a little, but the idea was totally from them)
I get to look really good (don't worry, I am happy to share credit and to disclaim that the idea is mine) and I don't fry too many brain cells trying to rack my own brain for ideas. A great big thank you to all of you who save my brain cells by sharing your wonderful ideas!
Oh, wait..."the good wife" would not be me! I do have a terrible confession to make though -- I forgot my husband's birthday.
Well, I didn't actually forget my hubby's birthday, I just forget we were supposed to be celebrating it yesterday instead of today.
Kevin had to fly out at 7 am today (his actual birthday) so I asked him last week what day he wanted to celebrate (see, I WAS thinking ahead and remembering). He said Tuesday and we planned the menu so I could fix his favorite foods and lavish him with the love and attention he truly deserves.
Then I played with my sister from Idaho all weekend and had two extremely crazy busy days on Monday and Tuesday and all of a sudden it was Tuesday afternoon and I was still running around trying to prepare for my YM/YW combined activity when I realized I hadn't made the special menu. Oops! So sorry, dear!
I did come home from Jazzercise early this morning so I could make him crepes before he flew out (he won't be back until Saturday). Still, I didn't have a gift to give him so it was a pretty pathetic birthday celebration. Sorry again!
Now you know why Kevin is stuck with me forever - no one else would put up with me.
One of the great things about Fall, and there are many, is that it is soup weather! I love soup!
I am so excited because I found TWO delicious new recipes that my family loved and that used the harvest from my garden. How great is that?
First, I found a recipe for zucchini soup in The Deseret News. No, don't groan about the zucchini! The soup was wonderful! It tasted just like a creamy potato soup. My sister and I had it along with our children and another sister's children. EVERY one of them liked it! (you can't beat that)
Zucchini Soup 3 pounds zucchini (8-9 cups of chunks) 1/2 medium onion, cut into chunks 2 t salt 2 cans condensed chicken broth 1 can water 1 1/2 C half-and-half cream or 2% milk 1/2 t pepper
Bring first 5 ingredients to a boil and cook over moderate heat for 10 minutes. Puree in small batches in blender. Return to pan and add cream or milk and pepper. Reheat and serve. *Cook's note: I used evaporated milk. This would also be good if you added cooked potato chunks, clams, broccoli, or cheese.
Second, I tried a Tuscan Tomato Soup recipe that I saw on "Good Things Utah". It was yummy and filling.
Tuscan Tomato Soup 2 large onions, diced small 3 T olive oil 5 C tomatoes (peeled and seeded then diced) 2 C chicken broth 1 1/2 C heavy whipping cream 1 C basil pesto salt and pepper to taste
Cook onions in olive oil over moderately low heat until onions are completely translucent. Add tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in cream and pesto and then puree in blender. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve. *Cook's note: I only used 1/2 C basil pesto so the flavor would be milder. (I wanted my children to like it.)
Alec never ceases to make me laugh! He is such a quirky kid. I could spend hours writing about his bizarre behavior but today I'll limit my comments to his bedroom/sleeping arrangements.
First, you never actually know where Alec will sleep. Sometimes it's in his bed but often he'll set up his pillows and blankets in the family room downstairs and will sleep there for weeks at a time. Even when he sleeps in his bedroom, sometimes it's not in his bed. Sometimes, it's under the bed or on the floor beside the bed. Currently, he has dragged an extra mattress in his bedroom and he is sleeping on that mattress right next to his bed. The only time I draw the line is when he wants to sleep in my front room. Then I get onery and won't let him!
Second, although he has two dressers, he normally chooses to keep his clothes in suitcases and bags. He totally has a system and can find what he wants but I can't! When he is sleeping downstairs, he generally takes his suitcases with him.
Third, Alec likes things very clean so he doesn't usually have stuff on his dresser. He doesn't even like clothes hanging in his closet (packed in his suitcase is a much better scenario! lol)
Fourth, he even keeps his bathroom items (shaving kit, deodorant, comb, toothpaste and toothbrush) in a ziploc bag in his suitcases and carries the bag into the bathroom every time he wants to use it.
I don't understand Alec but he does make me laugh. Silly boy!
Thanks to my friend, Beth Anne , I did a cute craft for Halloween. It was so easy (the only kind, in my book) and lots of fun! I sent some to Dianna for being my blog contest winner. The rest I'll give away to friends and family.
This week I was introduced to a new TV series, Flash Forward. I didn't watch the premiere but heard so much about it that I decided to watch it online. I think I might be completely captivated!
The show begins with a worldwide blackout where everyone (except one person) in the world loses conciousness for 2+ minutes and during that time sees a vision of an event 6 months in their future.
Hmmm...I wonder what I'd see. Would it thrill me and make me excited for my future or would it make me scared and fearful? Would I be looking forward eagerly to that event or would I be anxiously engaged in trying to prevent it?
I think my history shows I would NOT want to see my future. I never tried to find my hidden Christmas presents as a child or even shake the wrapped ones because I didn't want to spoil the surprise. I begged the doctor not to tell me the babies' sex after the ultrasounds. Especially after giving birth to Alec, the doctor urged me for my next 3 pregnancies to have an amniocentesis. I refused saying "If there is something wrong, we'll deal with it when it happens." I was glad I hadn't known Alec had Down syndrome before he was born. I would have spent months worrying needlessly about heart conditions and surgeries. (Alec's heart was fine - small hole but nothing requiring oxygen pumps, surgeries, etc.)
I guess I am a live-in-the-moment kind of girl! I don't like to worry and fret about something that may or may not happen and I like surprises. Still, if it were something to look forward to, it might not be all that bad to have 6 months of anticipation!
On Tuesday night while I was having dinner with my co-leader and friend, Jeannean, and our Mia Maids, Kevin walked in with a dozen red roses. He said, "They're for my girlfriend." I thanked him and Jeannean joked "Boy, she's sure of herself. Thinks she's his girlfriend." I got my comeuppance the next morning when I blithely asked all my kids, "Did you see the gorgeous flowers Dad bought me?" and Chandler said, "They're not for you! They're for his girlfriend."