Thursday, March 31, 2011

Resolution Check-Up

It's time for my monthly day of accountability regarding my New Year's Resolutions.

Lose Weight - I guess the positive way to look at it is that I didn't gain weight this month. On the other hand, I didn't lose either. Actually, neither of those statements is completely accurate. I ate out too much during the trip to Las Vegas and a couple of girls' nights/lunches out. I would follow those up with losing so the numbers on the scale went up and down all month. Net result = no progress.

Read Jesus the Christ - Read another 92 pages (now on page 343).

Climb Mt. Timpanogos - It's too cold and snowy to even be thinking about this goal yet.

Run Ragnar - Yea! I have found a team (thanks, Tonya) and I am going to do the Valley of Fire Ragnar in Las Vegas in October. It's a 195-mile 12-person relay race. I am quite excited about it! Registration is tomorrow. I've started running and preparing for it.

Write My Grandma's Life History - No progress.

Do a Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk for a Cure - Decided to cancel this one. Every 3-day ends on a Sunday. I just can't bring myself to justify participating on the Sabbath. I've emailed race organizers trying to work things out but to no avail.

Attend 5 Temples that I've Never Been to Before - No progress. I've attended temples - just not any "new" ones.

Overall, I am not making much progress. I need to kick it into gear so I don't have to make this embarrassingly dismal report again next month.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I am so excited! Giveaways are just too much fun! I decided that since I have an extra banner I'd go ahead and pick three winners. So, using the free random number generator I found online (sshhh...don't tell anyone it says it's for psychics), the winning numbers in order are:

#6, #3, #8

Therefore, #6 Dawnette gets the button egg. #3 Crystal gets a banner and #8 Barb gets a banner. Congratulations and thanks to everyone that entered.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

just ducky

Any Latter-Day Saint who has ever attended the temple knows there is a peaceful and joyful feeling there that just can't be found anywhere else. I love going to the temple!

Apparently, I'm not the only one.
Even these ducks have recognized the wondrous feeling of just being on the temple grounds!

Monday, March 28, 2011

giveaway reminder

Don't forget to enter my giveaway here.

Pina Colada salad recipe


Mix 1 C chopped celery, 1 C dried cranberries, 2 C chunked fresh pineapple, and 1 C cashews. To make the dressing mix 1 1/2 C sour cream 3/4 C pina colada drink mix (undiluted), and 1/4 C sugar. Mix salad and dressing together and serve.

Note: Not pictured here, but the next time I made it I added chunks of cooked chicken to make it a meal!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

the great PPI

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are familiar with the acronym PPI. It stands for Personal Priesthood Interview and is designed to give you accountability for your stewardship.

In my reading this past week I came across some teachings of the Prophet David O. McKay who talked about the day when we will have a PPI with the Savior Himself. He was talking to the brethren of the church but I think it is instructive for me as well and certainly serves as a good checklist/guideline in my life. President McKay outlined the order in which the Savior will ask us to account for our earthly responsibilities.

First, our relationship with our spouse. How active have you been in making your spouse happy and ensuring his/her needs are met?

Second, a report of each of our children individually. How is your relationship with each and every child?

Third, what have you done with the talents you were given in the pre-existence?

Fourth, a summary of your activity in your Church assignments. How have you been of service to your fellowmen in your church assignments?

Fifth, if you were honest in all your dealings.

Sixth, what you have done to contribute in a positive manner to your community, state, country, and the world.

Stuff to think about.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

GIVEAWAY - enter now!

I was feeling a bit "crafty" the past couple of days so I made a few things - such as these "Happy Easter" banners.

And I know the picture quality is terrible but I also made a couple of button Easter eggs on burlap.

I will be giving one of each away and it is SO VERY EASY to enter. Just leave me a comment and let me know which item would be your first choice. If you are the first name selected, you will win your choice. If you are the second name selected, you win whichever item is left.

The contest will be open until Tuesday, March 29 at midnight. I am happy to ship anywhere within the United States. The winners will be announced on Weds, Mar 30th. Good luck and happy Spring!

Friday, March 25, 2011

get out of mourning with a giveaway

My household is in a bit of mourning due to the BYU loss last night. Our Cougars did very well in this tournament but, as always, we were hoping for a bit more. Alas, Jimmer just couldn't quite pull this one off.

If you are in similar mourning, take a peek at my friend's giveaway on her blog. Her stuff is so great that it will cheer you up. Plus, I promise to have my giveaway up tomorrow. Nothing like winning free stuff to take your mind off of basketball!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

a giveaway

Yea! A giveaway is coming! I am feeling a "crafty bug" coming on so I'll be making some fun things (hopefully today). I haven't done a giveaway for a while. Also, I feel like celebrating Spring. So, this all amounts to a giveaway soon - stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

am I scary?

Last night was a combined YM/YW activity. I am beginning to really dread those because about half of the youth are totally out of control. Last month we were supposed to be playing volleyball but half the boys were playing basketball (in the middle of the game) and the girls were out in the halls.

Last night's activity was another fun one. We were watching "The Other Side of Heaven" and we even provided every youth with a water bottle and LOTS of treats. We told all the youth that they had to stay in the gym and that if they left, they were done.

Some of the leaders and I ended up having to spend the entire time guarding the doors, chasing kids, etc. I feel like a babysitter not a leader. We did take some youth home. It is so frustrating! So many of the youth seem to have no respect for leaders, for others' feelings, for church property, etc. We've tried meeting with the youth and the parents. We've tried all we can think of. We don't know what else to do.

I personally am to the point where I'd like us to cancel the combined activities. (I know that's not a great solution either). And, unfortunately, it's not just activities. Our last combined YM/YW lesson where the Bishop was teaching, the youth were sitting on the floor, getting up and leaving the meeting, turned around in their seats talking, and even getting up and walking across the room to talk to someone.

When I got home Kevin and I were discussing why there is such a lack of respect anymore. Kevin asked, "Why do our kids not seem to have this lack of respect?' I said, "I don't know." And then Kevin told me it's because I'm scary. The kids don't want to make me mad.

I'm glad our children are reasonably well-behaved but I'm not sure I like being scary. I know I am the tough parent with high expectations. I also know if I threaten them with something, I follow through. But scary? I don't want my kids to be scared of me. Truthfully, I think it's just Shanley that feels this way but still....

I'll say it once again, parenting is hard! Really hard.

I'm just doing the best I can.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

ups and downs

Yesterday was a bit of a rollercoaster.

Down - parents left on their mission and I was a bit sad to see them leave

Up - excited that my parents will be in Washington, D.C. and we can have a fun place to visit them

Down - Brakston left for Rexburg again. He just got home last Monday and then I left town on Thursday. I got back Sunday and he left again Monday. I'm still loving having my boy around - we have 2 years absence to make up!

Up - saw a new (second) doctor who told me I don't need surgery after all. In fact, he did a procedure right there in his office that should fix the problem

Down - I was left in a bit of pain from the procedure

Up - McKayla's coach cancelled the Temecula trip so we'll get to stay home

Down - the Temecula cancellation left me (and others) with a non-refundable hotel room. That is $300 lost that I can't really stand to miss out on! I am extremely frustrated about that but still hopeful that the hotel and I can work something out.

Good thing I like roller coasters!

Monday, March 21, 2011

new toy

I came home from Las Vegas yesterday to find Kevin and Chandler super excited about a new toy they had bought me - a BOSCH!

I am pretty happy about it but Chandler was just dying to try it out. He bugged me yesterday and today until I finally gave in and made some roll dough. Rolls will go well with our Pina Colada Salad for dinner and Chandler can now calm down because I've used my new toy!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

kids and happiness

I read in the newspaper about several studies that prove children do NOT bring happiness to their parents.


Maybe I agree.

Not that I don't like my children. I love them - A LOT!

They bring a sense of completeness to my life. They enrich my life and give me experiences. They help me be less selfish and they teach me to love and serve. They bring me joy, stress, worry, fear, frustration, laughter, tears and so on but, no, I can't claim that adults with children are any happier than those without.

I do believe my life is more fulfilling and more challenging because of these young people who depend on me to one degree or another. I guess it's not my children's job to bring me happiness but I am grateful for my children and the emotions they do bring out in me.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

sure sign

Unmistakable signs that you are too tired:

1) you remind Alec to wear green for St. Patrick's Day even though you, yourself, walk out the door 30 seconds later - NOT WEARING GREEN!

2) you see the plane being pushed back from the gate but have no recollection of the plane leaving the ground (this has happened almost every time I've flown)

3) you take out your contacts to go to bed but forget to add contact solution or even close the lids on the contact case

Yes, I'll admit it. I did all three of those things on Thursday. Oops!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

thought for the day

Striving and struggling always precede success - even in the dictionary!

My definition of success: Having the Savior welcome me back home with open arms and with the words, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

C.S. Lewis

You can never go wrong with C.S. Lewis!

We took the family to "The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader". It was great! I love the messages in this movie.

And, the best part was that it cost us 75 cents per person - can't beat that!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


One of my pet peeves is dealing with insurance companies. It truly seems that insurance companies hire more than their share of incompetent workers. It is frustrating.

I had a medical issue which I was pretty sure would require some minor surgery so I went on the website of my insurance company to insure I got a doctor the insurance would cover. Found a doctor, scheduled an appointment, paid my co-pay and saw the doctor only to find out he's "in network" for appointments but "out of network" for surgeries. Couldn't the website have told me that? I wouldn't have scheduled with him in the first place. Now I'd need to find a new doctor, schedule another appointment (weeks out, of course) and pay ANOTHER co-pay.

So, this time I called the insurance company only to have the representative snidely inform me that I could find my own doctors if I'd just go to the website. I explained (NICELY) that I had but that hadn't worked so well for me. The rep went on a tirade about how it wasn't the insurance company's fault that the doctor didn't keep his info updated on the site. Whatever...just give me the name of a doctor.

The name they gave me was a doctor I'd used years ago. I told them this doctor wasn't listed on their website. They told me I must have used the wrong search parameters. Called this doctor only to find out he retired - FOUR YEARS AGO! Called the insurance company back to have another rep again rudely suggest that I could find my own doctor if I'd use the website. (yeah, like that had worked for me so far).

Got transferred and put on hold for 15 minutes then was told to go see Dr. X who happened to be the one I'd already seen. I explained again (slower this time) that Dr. X was out of network for surgeries. They suggested Dr. Y. I told them Dr. Y retired. They suggested Dr. Z. When I tried to confirm that he could perform surgeries "in network" I was told, "Oops, no." Great. Does anyone actually listen to the customer. Once more, I need a specialist in X field who can perform surgeries "in network".

An hour later I finally hung up with the names of a couple of doctors. Both are about 40 minutes from my home which is completely inconvenient. I haven't even worked up the strength to call them and start this whole process over.

After dealing with the insurance company, I might now need a mental health specialist!

Monday, March 14, 2011

what to do?

I have a free day today - nothing on the agenda except carpool duties this afternoon (which involves driving for almost 2 hours straight but whatever).

That is almost too much free time for me! What to do? What to do? Bake banana bread for Alec since he's been begging? Clean the storage room since that's been bugging me? Prepare my seminary lesson for this week? Plan our trip for Spring Break? So many choices...

I actually do better when I have serious time crunches!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I had to make a dessert yesterday to take to a friend who just had surgery. I thought maybe something beautiful would cheer her up - especially if that something were chocolate!

As my brother-in-law Danny always used to say, "good enough to make you whip your momma!"

Saturday, March 12, 2011

sign of the times?

Yesterday one of my seminary students asked me if tsunamis were included as signs of the Second Coming.

I actually had an answer for them. I believe tsunamis are specifically mentioned in D&C 88:119 when it says, "...the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds." Doesn't that describe a tsunami?

Speaking of all the tsunami talk, Chandler asked Kevin and I last night if the tsunami was going to hit Utah. He was a little fearful. I had to tell him what a tsunami is and then give him a geography lesson. That calmed him considerably. Who says ignorance is bliss?

Friday, March 11, 2011


I had the nicest compliment paid to me last week. A few of the RHS seminary teachers were standing in the hallway. One of them, thanked me for subbing for him the week before. Then he said, "I hate to ask you, you know." When I asked why he said it's because he likes to get really bad subs so that his students will be really happy to have him back.

One of the other teachers said, "Yeah, my students like you too much as well."

So, the third teacher said, "Could you just suck more?"

I laughed but left feeling great! What a delightful compliment!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

science project

I, er, uh, I mean, Chandler got a 99 on his science project. Yea!

Truthfully, he really did most of it himself but still, big projects like these always seem to require a lot of hand-holding and guidance from mom. I seem to have to spell out most words for him. He wants me to double-check everything. I have to show him how to make a graph using a computer. I have to show him how to enlarge the font size in Word. And on, and on, and on.

So, I have to take some satisfaction in receiving a 99 on the project. heehee!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

great thought

Here's a quote from "Unforgiven: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption" by Laura Hillenbrand that I especially liked:

The paradox of vengefulness is that is makes men dependent upon those who have harmed them, believing that their release from pain will come only when they make their tormentors suffer.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

saying NO

Last week was insanely busy and it completely wore me out and then I ended up sick. So, I was immensely relieved to look at this week's calendar and see it relatively empty.

Yea! I was going to have time to sleep and put my house back together and maybe even tackle the storage room. Sounds good, right?

So, what do I do? Agree to teach seminary at Riverton High on Tuesday and Wednesday and at East High on Thursday and Friday. Yep, you got it. I am teaching FOUR DAYS IN A ROW. (not to mention the prep work that goes along with that)

What was I thinking? How does that help me finish recuperating from my cold? Does that alleviate any stress? Does that leave time to clean up my messy home? Do I know how to say "NO"? Is this a lesson I can learn?

Monday, March 7, 2011

man's inhumanity to man

I am currently reading "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand. It is the true story of an Olympic runner, Louie, who served as a bombadier in World War II.

His plane crashed and he survived 41 days on a 2-man life raft with no provisions. Then he was captured by the Japanese and imprisoned as a POW. He served time at a couple different POW camps for a total of 2 1/2 years.

The story is fascinating but I am utterly appalled at the treatment that he and the other POWs received at the hands of brutal guards. Not all of the guards were brutal but those that were mean were beastly. Some of the guards seemed to find great pleasure in beating the prisoners. At one point, Louie was punched in the face 220 times (losing consciousness several times only to be revived and punched again). At another point, Louie was hit in the temple with a huge belt buckle repeatedly. He'd have his face rubbed in excrement. The inhumanity goes on and on.

On top of that, the Japanese never gave the POWs the Red Cross provisions but kept them for themselves or sold them. They literally starved the prisoners. Louie's weight dropped below 80 pounds at one point. How does a grown man, an athlete at that, survive at 80 pounds? Over 37 percent of American POWs interred in Japan died. The Japanese completely ignored Geneva convention rules for treatment of prisoners.

I have such a hard time believing that even in times of war people can be so callous to their fellow men.

What makes a person forget that a prisoner is a human being first and foremost and an enemy second?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

the luck ran out

McKayla' run of luck just couldn't last long enough. Her basketball team lost in the semi-finals by 2 points after leading most of the game.

On the other hand, maybe her "luck" was just used for more important things - like keeping us safe as she drove 4 hours of the round trip to Idaho.

I'll take that over a basketball win anytime!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

we should be in Vegas NOW

because McKayla led a "Lucky Charm" life for 24 hours.

Thursday at 3:45 pm she ran time trials for the mile for the high school track team. She placed first getting her new coach really excited about his promising young freshman.

Only 4 hours later, she finished her basketball playoff game which her team won 55-19. She was named MVP because of her outstanding defense and numerous steals.

Then about 16 hours later she passed her driver's license exam enabling her to get her learner's permit.

I'd say that's leading a pretty charmed life. We definitely should've been playing the Lotto or something.

Friday, March 4, 2011

a possible end in sight?

This week has been insane for McKayla.

Monday - 1 hour of track, 2 hours of soccer practice
Tuesday - 1 hour of track, 2 hours of basketball practice
Wednesday - 1 hour of track, 1 soccer game
Thursday - 1 hour of track, 1 1/2 hours of soccer practice, 1 basketball game
Friday - 1 hour of track, 2 hours of soccer practice

Saturday will bring more soccer practice and more basketball games.

On top of that, we got the proposed soccer tournament schedule for the rest of the year:

March - Las Vegas
April - Temecula, CA
May - State Cup (here in Utah)
June - tournaments 3 weeks in a row in Colorado, Utah, then California
July- early October - high school play (no club soccer allowed)
October - Arizona
November - San Diego
December - indoor at BYU

Now for the good news:

One, basketball is officially over after Saturday. Two, McKayla is thinking that maybe her goals don't match up with her soccer club's goals so she is thinking about not playing for Utah Glory next year (which would mean she probably wouldn't play any tournaments from June on).

McKayla's club team is really focused on getting all of the players scholarships to play soccer in college. As much as she would like to play in college, McKayla won't play for any college that has games/practices on Sundays. That pretty much limits her to BYU, BYU-Hawaii, and Utah State. McKayla recognizes that the odds of her being able to play for one of those schools is extremely slim. A lot of the tournaments her club team is entering now require Sunday play and McKayla won't do that either.

As much as McKayla loves playing soccer, she is beginning to think that a non-premiere level team (doing fewer out-of-state tournaments) might be a better fit for her.

I'm just hoping her sports schedule slows down enough that I don't have to employ a full-time driver for her!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

he's home and everything is falling apart

You always hear the horror stories about what happens when your missionary gets home. They are true!

Yes, we were mostly blessed without too many major expenses while Brakston was on his mission. Now he's been home for about 5 weeks and we've had the Suburban in the shop 3 separate times all with costly repairs. Also, we had to put 4 new tires on the car. Now our fridge is going out. It is making ghastly noises.

No one told me we'd be hit with 2 years worth of expenses within a few weeks of our missionary being released. Scary! Maybe he should have extended his mission.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Theodor Seuss Geisel

How do you celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday? At our home, we celebrate by eating this for breakfast:

Also, we read a Dr. Seuss book. This morning it was "My Many Colored Days".

I was also invited in to the middle school to read for 10-15 minutes this morning. Story time for middle schoolers - how great is that? I read to 2 classes - Mr. Hobbs and Mr. Varga's students. There were 50-60 students about evenly split between 8th and 9th grades. I read 2 picture books, a poem, and a short story. I chose mostly humorous material and had SO MUCH FUN!

Happy Birthday to one of my favorite authors of all time!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

books I've read in the past month

The following books were read by me in February:

Guys Write for Guys Read by Jon Scieszka

What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell

The Man Who Loved Jane Austen by Sally Smith O'Rourke

A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy Seals, and Five Dangerous Days by Richard Phillips

Tainted by Brooke Morgan

Miss You Most of All by Elizabeth Bass

Unfortunately, it was not my best reading month. I really wouldn't highly recommend any of them. They were all just okay.