Today...




For most of you, today was like any other Friday. You went about your day looking forward to the weekend and maybe made some weekend plans. Perhaps you were annoyed by the cold weather or the late-April snow. Maybe the only shake-up to your routine was that you watched part of the Royal Wedding and all it's festivities.


I attended the funeral for my Uncle David. I saw cousins I'm close to and cousins I haven't seen for years. I met relatives I've never known who live in the same town as me. I listened to beautiful music and heart-stirring words. I tried to comfort some of them and some of them tried to comfort me. I hugged more people than I can count and some of them I hugged more than once.

I heard of the love that nine children have for their dad, my dad shared stories of Uncle David's life, and many mentioned the love that Uncle David had for his wife, Louise. We sang a song that had given Uncle David peace during the last months of his life and listened to a recording of him singing a song he wrote 35 years ago for a family reunion. It was called "Through the Eyes of a Child." His voice was clear and young and beautiful and it felt like he was there with us.

We went to a lovely cemetery, high on the hill. We snuggled together and shared coats and blankets to protect us from the biting wind and every few minutes the shy sunshine would tiptoe out and warm our shoulders for a few happy moments. We sang songs together including "God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again."

A sweet Relief Society provided delicious food for at least 200 members of Uncle David's family, restocked the food table with pan after pan of funeral potatoes, bowl after bowl of salad and plate after plate of cake--all provided with a smile.

It was the kind of day that you both dread and cherish.

Funerals often inspire soul-searching and this one was no exception. I began to ask myself some hard questions. When I die will my husband and children remember my love as sure and patient and unshakable? Have I been the kind of sister that when I'm gone my siblings will ache because they can't imagine life without me? Will friends remember me as a person who loves and serves unselfishly? Will those who knew me miss my sense of humor, my unselfishness and my unwavering faith?

I fear that the answers to some of these questions might disappoint me. But lucky for me, I'm still alive and I still have a chance to try become the kind of person that prompts all those sweet memories and feelings.

Today was a tragically sad day, but it was also a monumentally happy day. My uncle's body rests peacefully on that beautiful hill. But only for awhile.

But his legacy lives through his children and his grandchildren and his memory lives on in the hearts and minds of all of us fortunate enough to have known and loved him.

The Day I Learned I was a Good Cook

It happened on a Sunday. I was about twelve years old and was regularly helping mom with the cooking. I'd make the salad or peel the potatoes. I'd mixed up batches of cookies and I'd even helped with canning fruits and vegetables.

On this day, I made "Dessert." That's what we called it. I've since heard it called "Better than Robert Redford" and "Better than Sex," but we just called it "Dessert," a more appropriate name for a family with a whole bunch of little kids.

It was heavenly--a buttery, nutty crust, a layer of sweetened cream cheese, another layer of chocolate pudding goodness, all topped with whipped cream and shaved chocolate curls. I'd carefully made each layer and then chilled it well, to keep the layers distinct and pretty. I'd curled the chocolate with a vegetable peeler into long, curly pieces. It was a lovely dessert.

And it tasted incredible. I wanted Grandpa and Grandma Higginson to try it, so mom helped me cut two perfect pieces and put them on a plate.

After dinner, I walked the two blocks to Grandpa and Grandma's house, proudly carrying my culinary masterpiece. I walked through their gate and headed to the side door. Just a few feet from my destination, my foot caught on the grass surrounding one of their stepping stones and I lost my balance. I caught myself, but the jolt sent the plate of dessert flying. My tasty accomplishment was upside down on the grass in a messy blob.

I didn't knock on the door. I just picked up the empty plate, turned around and walked home. I may have cried a little. I was only about twelve, after all.

Back home I told mom of my tragedy. I had wanted them to have some. I knew they'd have been impressed. "Let's see if there's any more," Mom suggested. There was a little left but it was messy and all the layers were muddled together. It wasn't pretty. I wasn't sure. "It still tastes good. They'll like it," Mom said.

Together we dished up the rest and I carefully walked back to Grandpa and Grandma's. Mom was right. They thought it was delicious and ate every bite. Then I told them what had happened and how sad I was that they didn't get to see the beautiful pieces.

"Where did you drop it?" Grandma asked.

"In your yard. Right by the door," I said.

Grandma opened the door and saw the pile of dessert on the lawn. She walked into the house, got a spoon and a plate and headed back out. I followed her and watched her scoop it up and then pick off the grass that clung to the whipped cream. Back in the house, she divided the dessert onto three pretty plates and we sat down at the table and ate it.

"This is just too delicious to waste," she said and Grandpa agreed.

I walked back home bursting with pride. I may have cried a little. I was only about twelve, after all.

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Uncle David

(My Uncle David and his youngest son, Jared)

Yesterday, as we celebrated Christ's victory over death, my Uncle David died, surrounded by his family.

Uncle David was more than just my dad's younger brother. He was his close friend and confidant. He was a husband and father of nine.

He was incredibly talented. He started out teaching high school music. During that time, he developed a system for teaching the chord method of playing the piano. It was genius and taught people how to play the piano using the chord markings usually written for guitar. He was an entrepreneur and took that method of playing piano around the country and on infomercials.

He was my first music teacher. I took regular piano, chord piano and voice lessons from Uncle David. He helped me prepare numbers to audition for the select choir in high school.

If you could get paid for coming up with analogies, Uncle David would have died a millionaire. I've never known someone who could so quickly come up with fitting analogies. Sometimes they were hilarious, and sometimes they were insanely over the top. But usually they were profound and inspiring.

Uncle David was my first employer (other than babysitting). I worked for him for about a year in his music store.

He was faithful. He served wherever he was asked. He and Aunt Louise had just finished serving a year-long mission at the MTC and were preparing to serve a full-time mission when he found out he had cancer.

He was an optimist. No matter what was happening, he looked at the bright side. He was philosophical and positive and always had faith--faith in people, faith in himself, but mostly faith in Heavenly Father and the Savior. I was lucky enough to have a few visits with him when he knew he was dying. He never complained or questioned. He trusted completely that Heavenly Father was in charge and that He knew best.

Uncle David was a singer/songwriter. He wrote beautiful music. He sang at our wedding reception. He produced music for others in his home recording studio.

He was a cheerleader, always encouraging others to do their best. I received many of those pep talks. We knew Uncle David had cancer when my book came out. I gave him the first copy. I didn't know if he'd have time to read it or even the inclination, considering his circumstances. A few days later, he called me. He'd finished the book and wanted to talk about it. He said he loved it and together we had our own little 45 minute book club as we talked about the parts that he'd loved and the places where he'd cried. He asked me questions about how I'd done it and told me how impressed he was, how proud he was of me and how much he loved me.

I saw him Saturday. I was pretty sure as I left that I wouldn't see him again in this life. It makes me incredibly sad, especially for his family and my dad. I felt extra thankful yesterday for Easter and all it means.

I love you, Uncle David. Thanks for everything you've meant in my life.

Miracles


(This picture is of the car we were in when we were hit head-on by a drunk
driver in a stolen car.)

This time of year brings with it the anniversaries of some of my most life-altering experiences. Every year during this time, I'm reminded of these events, the miracles surrounding them and what they mean to me.

It's been sixteen years now since we were in that car accident. Bruce, who was 3 years old, is now serving a mission. He's a good-looking young man. You'd never know he had 182 stitches in his cute little face. After the impact, while we were waiting for help, I couldn't see him. He sat behind me in the car, crying, saying he was dying. I was pinned in my seat by the dashboard and couldn't see the horrific damage that had been done to my sweet little boy. I kept telling him he'd be okay and I loved him. But I was scared. I didn't know how bad he was injured. That metal window frame and all the broken glass from that back passenger window had really hurt him.

I was in the front passenger seat, concerned about everyone else in the car and worried that I was paralyzed. My lower back was on fire and I couldn't move my legs at all. I didn't know if it was because they were trapped or if it was because of my injuries. My pelvis was fractured in four places and my elbow was crushed. I spent the first 24 hours in the ICU because I was bleeding internally. The pain was shocking.

I don't share these things for sympathy. I tell you them because of the miracle I watched happen after the wreck. The miracle of healing. I watched my little boy's mangled face change from huge gaping wounds to angry red lines to light pink lines to white lines to almost invisible lines.

I watched my legs. The weeks after the wreck were like slowly turning a kaleidoscope as the rivers of bruises all over my legs changed from almost black to purple and blue then green and yellow, before they disappeared altogether. The legs I couldn't even lift up gradually became strong again. We were a sad and broken mess and although we still carry scars, with time, we experienced the miracle of healing.

On April 26, 1985, my sixteen-year-old brother Bruce was killed in a car accident. That event changed my life. I knew sorrow in a way I never had before. My heart ached with a crushing, physical pain. I watched my family, especially my parents, suffer almost crippling anguish. But miracles happened. The miracle of family, friends and love. There are still scars on our hearts, but once again we experienced the miracle of healing.

Today we celebrate Easter, the Savior's death and resurrection and atonement. The miracle of all miracles. Because of this miracle, my brother lives. Because of this miracle, we all live. This miracle brings us peace and comfort. This miracle allows me to be forgiven. This is the ultimate miracle of healing.

Wikipedia calls a miracle a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is considered to be divine.

These are just a few of the miracles that strengthen my faith and make it solid. I don't know the science behind the creation or the resurrection. I don't know how God hears my prayers at the same time that so many others are also praying. I don't know how He heals us when doctors aren't sure it's possible. I don't understand exactly how He orchestrates the answers to my prayers. I don't have to know all these things to know that He lives, that He's there and that He loves each of us.

I'm grateful for the miracle of Easter.

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Let's Talk Movies (and an Addition to My List of Romantic Movie Scenes)

Veronica and I recently watched the mini-series "North and South." This wasn't the one about the civil war. We'd planned to watch just the first part of it, but couldn't stop once we got started. We were glad we finished it. The last five minutes have to be added to my list of most romantic movie scenes. And not just added at the bottom, it needs put right near the top. The meadow scene in "Pride and Prejudice" still holds first place for me, but this one is probably number two or three. I love, love, loved the line by Richard Armitage's character. "You're coming home with me." Who wouldn't want to go home with him?

While my family was out of town, I watched a Merchant Ivory movie called "A Room with a View." I'd never seen it before and it was a British period movie. Netflix had NR on it, but I figured that's because it was on television or something. Let me just let you know that it should have been rated R at the very least and I was unable to finish it. Insane nude scene. You should probably avoid this show.

This week we went to "Source Code," a suspenseful, intelligent thriller that I really enjoyed--until the end. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Monaghan were excellent. I really liked the Vera Farmiga character. Unfortunately, it felt like the makers of the movie were more concerned about a happy ending than a realistic or sensible one. I don't want to spoil the movie for anyone, but I'd ask that if someone has seen it and can logically explain the ending, I'd appreciate it. I want to like the movie without reservation, but the ending is frustrating me.

And finally, something I don't understand. The makers of "The King's Speech" tried to get the movie rated PG-13, but because of a tirade of foul language were given an R rating. I was disappointed because I wanted to see it, but figured I'd just have to wait for it to come edited to television in the next few years. Then after it won Best Picture award, they re-released it, edited, "so that this wonderful movie could be seen by a larger audience." I smell dollar signs more than altruistic motives, but hey, I want to see it so I'm glad.

BUT WAIT!!! Aren't these the same Hollywood people who shut down Clean Flicks and other businesses like that who were doing exactly the same thing so that people like me, who love movies, but don't watch R-rated movies could see them? They went to court and closed down the businesses, even though those businesses were making it possible for more people to see and enjoy the movies. I'm seeing some hypocrisy here. And I'm still upset that those businesses were closed down. I think it's a bunch of crap!

But I still plan on seeing "The King's Speech."

Little Victories

In December, we received the email from City Recreation. "There have been no volunteers to coach your daughter's team. If we can't find a volunteer, we'll be forced to dismantle the team and distribute the girls among the remaining teams."

Let me do a quick translation for you. "If you don't volunteer to coach your daughter's team, she will get less playing time and therefore the money you spent for her to get this opportunity to see if she likes basketball and has a talent there will be largely wasted. This, dear parents, is a chance for you to show if you love your daughter at all. If you don't volunteer, it will be evidence that you don't care about your daughter's well-being and you're probably not a very good parent."

Since I'm good at translating messages like that, I knew what I had to do. I volunteered. And since two of the games were on Saturdays when I had book signings scheduled, Travis volunteered to help me volunteer, because he loves his daughter, too.

If you read my blog, you know I love basketball. I have a good knowledge of the game and I love watching teams I care about. But I'd never coached beyond giving my kids encouraging pointers before the game, so this was a new experience. It turned out to be fun, even though our girls were outmatched in all but a couple of games.

The league was for 7th and 8th graders and our team was almost entirely 7th graders. We were also the shortest by several inches and we were playing teams with a ton of talent. But our girls were scrappy and enthusiastic and they never, ever gave up. We finished the season with only two wins, but I discovered something amazing. If we gave them something to accomplish, they finished the game with smiles on their faces and excitement in their step.

It was the little victories.

The score might not even be close, but if we set a goal to get ten steals in the second half, the girls did it, so they left feeling successful. If the goal was to keep a girl from scoring again, they tightened up their defense and did it. We had little victories every game and the girls left winners every game. Even if the score said we were losers, the girls walked out with their heads held high, because they'd reached their goal.

Life is full of opportunities to have little victories, but I'm not always great at recognizing them when it comes to myself. Some days I feel like a loser. I feel like I can't get this whole wife/mom/homemaker/writer/human being thing right. Why can't I set myself up for success the same way I set my little team up for success. Maybe I can't do it all right, but maybe I can give myself something smaller that I can accomplish if I try hard. And then even if I'm not perfect at everything, I can hold my head up because of what I DID do right.

Sometimes success isn't about being THE best at something. It's about being YOUR best. And maybe I don't have to be the best mother that ever walked the earth. Maybe today it's enough not to raise my voice when I'm irritated. And maybe I won't ever be the perfect wife, but I can be happy that I was a good wife. Perhaps instead of beating myself up that I haven't lost five pounds this week, I can congratulate myself that I exercised three times and only ate ice cream twice.

We'd probably all do well to take some pride in our little victories instead of beating ourselves up when we aren't the big winner.

How to Go From Frumpy to Fabulous

Let's be honest. I'm a few decades past weighing around 90 lbs and having twig arms like this model. This picture is just to illustrate a point, not to get anyone's hopes up about any trick that will turn a regular woman into a stylish waif.

But it is possible to look a little less like the Queen Mother without sacrificing your dignity and embarrassing your children by dressing like a trendy teenager. And come on, do any grown women really want to look like the Queen Mother or a teenager? Most likely not.

How do you do it? It's easy. You stop being matchy-matchy.

This sounds simple in theory, but if you were raised anytime during the JCPenney catalog heyday, it might go against some deep-seated fashion habits, but very few things will give the impression of style and confidence more than confidently wearing something unexpected.

So, instead of a scarf that matches your outfit, throw on a scarf that clearly doesn't match. When you wear a cardigan, wear it in an unexpected color. Throw on a pair of shoes that don't "go with" an outfit. Wear a colored pair of tights that have nothing at all in common with your dress. Or--gasp!!!--mix a couple of un-matching prints. You know, the kind your mom has been telling you to avoid since you were three years old.

You might think I'm kidding, but I'm not. Look at the Anthropologie or Urban Outfitters catalog. You'll find unexpected combinations that are fun and young, without being ridiculous. Then look at the older generation's mail-order catalog and everything will match perfectly.

Matching is great for your socks, for a set of dishes, or even for a family picture. But if you're a mom who's thinking you might be starting to look a little frumpy, be adventurous. Pull out something that isn't matchy-matchy and wear it with confidence.


(Image from Anthropologie athttp://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/catalog/category.jsp?popId=CLOTHES&navAction=middle&navCount=306&isSortBy=true&pushId=CLOTHES-SPRING-OCCASION&id=CLOTHES-SPRING-SIDEWALK)

The Whitney Awards and Broadening My Horizons

One surprising benefit of having Gifted published, is that I became a member of the Whitney Academy.

For those of you who don't know what the Whitney Academy is, it's an awards program for LDS authors. The books don't have to be LDS fiction, they just have to be written by a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In fact, last year's new author winner was Jamie Ford who wrote Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, not LDS fiction, but a book I thoroughly enjoyed. I was happy to learn he'd won this award.

As a member of the academy, I get to vote for my favorites. Of course, to vote, I had to have read all of the books in a particular category. I wanted to read every book so I could vote in every category, but there are eight categories with five books in each category. I just couldn't do them all, so I chose a couple of categories I wanted to be able to vote in and read those books.

I enjoyed all the books, but the biggest surprise was how much I enjoyed the books I typically wouldn't have read. There were some really clever and original stories and some talented authors. It was a lot of fun. Maybe it would be good for all of us to read something different than our usual picks.

Now I've voted and it will be fun to see if my favorite books win.

And while we're on the subject of the Whitney Awards, let me say thank you to those of you who have nominated Gifted for a 2011 award. It would be so exciting if it gets enough nominations to move on to the next level. I love Anna and Kelsey and Susan and Brent and their story. That any of you enjoyed it enough to think it was worthy of a nomination, I want you to know I'm very honored. Thank you.

What I Learned This Week

This week was spring break. The first three days we did crafts, studied for AP tests, visited family, watched a movie, read books, went shopping, had basketball practice, and had a nice time together. Then Wednesday after work, Travis took the kids to St. George for four days. I had a writer's meeting, a manuscript that needed work and a book signing, so I stayed home. Here are a few things I learned.

1. I generate very little laundry.
2. I dirty very few dishes.
3. It's nice to have no schedule to worry about but my own.
4. When no one else is here I can write for 12 hours uninterrupted.
5. Pepper (our Great Dane) is nice to have around when you're alone.
6. Pepper still sheds, so the floor still needs vacuumed twice a day--even if I'm the only one there to do it.
7. It's not much fun to watch television alone.
8. I miss snuggling.
9. It's more fun to laugh with other people.
10. I wanted a good meal and didn't feel motivated to fix something really delicious since no one was here to enjoy it with me.
11. I missed family prayers and family scripture reading.
12. I'm generally a night owl, but when the family is gone, it's hard to make myself go to bed.
13. I like telephones.
14. Scary books are a bad idea when you're alone.
15. Four days is long enough!

I'm excited for my family to get home. I hope Travis can fix the garbage disposal. I'm not going to complain about the laundry they'll bring with them. I'm fixing a really good meal for tonight. We'll get Bruce's letter tonight (since it becomes Monday there while we're still having Sunday). It's going to be a good day.

Today I Feel Random

My daughter has a crush on one of these guys in the key. Can you guess which one? Quite a contrast here, don't you think? I'll take Gordon Hayward for my daughter (and the Jazz) over Chris "Birdman" Anderson any day.

Cooking for one is harder than cooking for a family. It might have a lot to do with motivation, but cold cereal or peanut butter on toast sounds pretty good when you only have yourself to feed.

A message to construction workers, the pest control man, and all door-to-door salesmen: Please don't try to befriend my dog. She's here to protect me from you should you happen to be a bad guy. Just admire her size, listen to her loud bark, and take note of her teeth. But don't try to be her friend.

Getting into a car that's been warmed by the sun on a chilly day is one of my favorite things to do.

I don't like flies. But a fly that is buzzy, quick and opportunistic deserves no mercy. And one that is all those things in the morning when I'm still trying to sleep MUST DIE IMMEDIATELY!

I love Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Thankfully, I can control that love and not let it destroy me. But whoever made Reese's Eggs is sadistic and should be made to pay.

I can handle most potholes. I understand that our weather makes it hard to keep up with the task of repairing them. But when a Subaru Forester is almost swallowed whole by a pothole ON THE FREEWAY, it's time to call out road service reinforcements.

There is a likeness of Al Jefferson on the mountain outside the back window. The rocks, trees and slope of the mountain are all working together and it's quite remarkable. If my camera wasn't in St. George, I'd show it to you. If we're giving it the same weight as the Virgin Mary on a piece of toast, maybe it means good things for the Utah Jazz next season. Yes. I'm going with that.

Moms could accomplish all they need to and still find time to write, read good books, catch up with their favorite television shows, finish the laundry and see an occasional movie if they didn't need sleep. If I get to design my own world, one thing I plan to do is make sleep optional for moms from the time their first child is born until their last one leaves home. (I have another great idea for my own world, but you'll have to ask me about that one personally. Not really blog-appropriate.)

A friend who blogs recently called blogging an egotistical act. I hadn't really thought about it like that, but I think he may be right. My value as a blogger weighs heavily on the number of comments I get. Few comments tell me I put up a crappy posting. Lots of comments and I give myself a little pat on the back. Funny thing though, a lot of my favorite postings didn't generate much response. I'm not sure what my ego should take from that.

(Image from Rob Higginson Photography. Used with permission.)

And the winner is.......

LEXI@BOOK BUG

Congratulations. I'm emailing you right now to get your address.

Thanks to everyone who participated. I loved reading your comments. Happy Easter and Happy Mother's Day!

How to Hi-Jack Christie's How-To Tuesday in Order to Shamelessly Promote My Blog Giveaway

Thanks to Christie for approving this idea!

It's time for a giveaway and since I love Easter and I love Easter Candy and Mother's Day is right around the corner and I love my mother and I love being a mother, I'm going to do a giveaway that celebrates both events. I think you're going to want this one!

First is a wonderful book for mothers. I Am A Mother is written by former CBS Morning Show host Jane Clayson Johnson. Keep it or give it to your mom!

Included in this giveaway is LOTS of Easter candy--a BIG assortment that will include lots of chocolate! You can use the candy in your kids' baskets, share it with your friends, or hide it in your underwear drawer and eat it all yourself!

AND, because I feel a little guilty for hi-jacking How-To Tuesday, I'll throw in a signed copy of my book Gifted. You can keep it or give it as a gift if you already own it. (And if you already own it, let me take this moment to offer my most sincere thanks for your support.)

Giveaway will end on Friday, April 15, 2011 at 6 p.m. mountain time. This should be easy to remember because your taxes are due.

I want everyone to have lots of chances on this one. So here is the list of ways to enter.

1. Leave a comment telling me one great thing about your Mom.

2. Leave another comment telling me why you like Easter.

3. Follow this blog through Google. (leave a comment)

4. Follow this blog through Networked blogs. (leave a comment)

5. Follow me on Twitter. (leave a comment)

6. Tell me what your favorite post is on this blog. (leave a comment)

7. Click the "Like" button on the right side of the page to like Gifted on Facebook. (leave a comment)

8. Leave a comment on the Gifted page on Facebook. (leave a comment here)

8. Link a favorite post from this blog to Facebook. (You can link a new post each day, which gives you four more chances. Just be sure to leave a comment with the link.)

9. Link a favorite post to Twitter. (You can link a new post each day, which gives you four more chances. Just be sure to leave a comment with the link.)

10. Get your friends to follow me on Twitter or Facebook and have them include your name in the comment, then you leave a comment to get credit for bringing me a new follower. (You'll each get an entry that way. Refer as many friends as you can!)

Please be sure to leave your email address so I can notify you if you win.

There are lots of chances to win, which means lots of chances for good candy to eat while you read a good book (or two). BUT DON'T BE OVERWHELMED! Even a couple of entries could make you the lucky winner!

(Image from http://blendnewyork.com/fashion/tag/snow-cartoons/)

Can We Ever Get Even?

During the fall of 2008, we went through some pretty major changes in our family. The biggest change was a move from Idaho to Utah that involved a lot of stress, but a lot of blessings for our family and new schools for our children.

During this time, we met Mehmet, a foreign exchange student from Turkey. He went to the same high school as my two oldest kids and became their friend. He was living with a couple who wondered if they wanted to have children and decided that hosting a teenager from another country would be a good way to test the waters. (Do I even need to point out the flaws in that plan?)


It didn't go well. Mehmet was lonely, he didn't fit well with their two-job schedule and was left rideless and alone most of the time. His American experience was wretched. It wasn't good.

During Christmas break, Bruce got a text from Mehmet. "I've been removed from my foster home. I don't know if I'll be able to come back to school there."


We called a family meeting and within minutes a plan was in place and I was on the phone with the director of the program. We wanted Mehmet. As a mother I couldn't imagine how horrifying it would be to have your child in unpleasant circumstances in a foreign country and we were determined to make things better as quickly as we could. We offered to jump through all the hoops required (a home visit from a woman who talked and talked and talked and talked until we wanted to take back the offer, background checks, a ton of paperwork) to have Mehmet spend the rest of his time in America with us.


We wanted to do something nice for him. We wanted to be of service.


Two weeks later, Mehmet moved in. From the moment he was here, he was part of the family. He pitched in, he cooperated, he communicated, he complimented the food, he played with the kids, he laughed at my husbands jokes (even the really bad ones) and participated in family home evening, family prayer, family scripture study and church. He attended extended family visits and events and over fifty extended family members adopted him into the family.


We had 6 1/2 of the best months of our lives. We didn't want to send him home. We all cried at the airport and most of the way home. E-mails and Facebook eased the blow a bit and it was a happy day when we got to talk to him on Skype and he sang the Family Home Evening song for us.


We decided to take Mehmet into our home because we wanted to do something to show Heavenly Father how grateful we are for our blessings, to pay Him back by doing something good for someone else.


What happened was that Mehmet turned out to be a blessing that I don't think we can ever repay. We love him. He loves us. He still calls us Mom and Dad. We'll be part of each other's lives forever, of that I'm sure.


DANG IT! How are we ever supposed to get even when the very things we're doing to be of service end up being so incredibly wonderful for us.

My Unlikely Love of Golf

I grew up in a family who likes sports. Saturdays as a child usually involved getting ready for Sunday and watching some kind of sports. Television was different then. There wasn't an endless deluge of sporting events. No one had ESPN, let along ESPN2 or ESPN Classic or The Golf Channel. I remember getting our sports on Saturday, and if we were lucky, ABC's Wide World of Sports would have something we liked. I can still remember it:

"Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport,
The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat. (Can you remember the ski jumper crashing in such a horrible way that you hope he'd survived?)
The human drama of athletic competition.
This is ABC's Wide World of Sports."

As a child, I hated watching golf. The announcers whispered. It moved slowly and I had no idea what was actually going on. I felt like this until the spring of 1995.

On March 25, 1995, my sister, my two oldest kids and I were hit head on by a drunk driver in a stolen car. I suffered some pretty serious injuries and spent seventeen days in the hospital in Aspen, CO. It wasn't fun. I was in traction and in terrible pain. I had my own room, thank goodness, because sleep was sporadic. Television was spotty. I grew bored with most of my options.

While I was laid up, the Master's Tournament took place. It would never have tempted me under normal circumstances, but on the first night of the tournament, late, late at night, there was a wrap-up of the first round. There were highlights of the day's event, and a few human interest stories about some of the golfers. It was interesting and I wished that Round 2 was going to be televised on Friday, but at least I learned that there would be a recap the following night.

Friday night I watched the late-night recap and then Saturday, I watched the four or five hours of coverage for Round 3 and Sunday I watched all of the coverage of Round 4.

I was hooked.

The next several months of recovery provided more opportunities to watch other tournaments--The US Open, The British Open, and more. I became familiar with Ben Crenshaw, David Duvall, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman, Tiger Woods and Payne Stewart, who would die a crazy way a few years later. So sad and so freak!

Now I love it. I've watched at least one of the weekend rounds every year since. I even watched the last two rounds in the hospital after Joe was born. And even though I have a busy weekend ahead of me, I'm going to try to fit in part of The Masters.

Joe - The Ultimate Consolation Prize

I wanted a big family. I always thought I'd have six or seven children. That wouldn't even seem that hard since I was the oldest of eleven children, right? That's what I thought. Then I didn't get married until I was twenty-five. And then I didn't have my first child until I was twenty-seven and with that child came some complications that made it so I had to have C-sections for the rest of my babies.

But that's okay. I'd just have to take a little longer in between. In the back of my checkbook was a calendar for the next ten years. I pulled out that calendar and circled the months I could have kids, leaving myself the necessary time (my doctor recommended two years between children) to let my body recover. I could still have seven children by the time I was 40.

Then we were in a car accident. That messed up my schedule, so with a different colored pencil, I want back through and recalculated the months I could have kids. I could still have six.

I got pregnant pretty much on schedule. But then I had a miscarriage. I went through and circled new months in a different color.

My second child I was on bedrest for the last month. My third child I was on bedrest for almost two months. Then I got pregnant with Joe. I had earlier labor than ever and I was on bedrest for more than three months to keep him from coming too early. And there were other complications, too. I sat with the doctor and made the awful decision that if he found what he was afraid he'd find when he performed the C-section, I'd be through having children.

Joe was born and my optimistic calendar with all the months circled in different colors was put aside. I was through having babies. And I only had four. I cried. And then I cried again when his little cord fell off. "This is the last time I'll go through a cord falling off." "This is the last time..." became my mantra. Everything was an event. I couldn't believe I'd never again have my own newborn fall asleep in my arms. I couldn't believe I'd never potty train another child. It was really hard for me. I couldn't believe my last child was starting kindergarten.

I think God knew it was going to be hard for me, so he sent me Joe--a sweet, cuddly, affectionate, loving little boy that completely lit up the world. One day, a zillion family members were at Grandpa and Grandma's house and the kids were all playing with their cousins. Joe and several cousins ran through the room on their way to play somewhere. Without losing his place in the group or missing a beat, Joe called out, "I love you, Mom." Several people in the room laughed at how sweet that was. I just smiled because I was so used to it. I rarely have to wonder how Joe feels.

Joe is super social. He is great with directions and will patiently follow a youtube origami tutorial until he's made a masterpiece. He loves to read. He loves airplanes and basketball. He's been my Webelo (until today). He loves watching basketball with me and occasionally watches golf with me. He talks a lot and has had almost every teacher complain about how social he is. He's nice to everyone. He confides in me, even if it's embarrassing or hard. He sticks up for the girls and the underdogs. He vacuums stairs so that the carpet looks new. He works hard in school and sports. If my family had to be complete with just four children, Joe was a pretty amazing consolation prize.

I love you, Joe. Happy 11th birthday!

My Thoughts on The Book of Mormon Musical, Religious Tolerance and Respect


I'm angry. I'm annoyed. I'm frustrated. I'm sad. I'm sick of it.

And I need to get over it. But before I do, I want to say a few things about it.

Last night I read an article that compared the way the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Muslims were handling their religious mistreatment. It's an interesting article, but be warned--there is R-rated foul language in it. After I read that article, curiosity sent me to read a couple of reviews of The Book of Mormon--The Musical. I can't link any of those here because they were so disgusting.

As I read of the sacrilege, blasphemy and disrespect that is being praised by critics, enjoyed by liberals and humanists, and touted as fantastic entertainment, I got sicker and sicker. I know that the creators of this show mock other religions, but they are not equal opportunity mockers. They have chosen to single out a religion and walk all over the things held sacred by members of this church--all in the name of humor.

IT ISN'T FUNNY! Can someone, anyone, please explain to me why, in a country that has been taken over by the religion of political correctness, Christians, and especially Christians who belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are free game. Make fun of them. Ridicule them. Get your laughs off them. It's okay. Don't do it to the Muslims. Don't do it to the atheists. Don't do it to blacks. Don't do it to illegal immigrants or homosexuals. Don't do it to women (unless they happen to be Mormon women). All of these special groups need to be respected, handled carefully, raised up, helped, even reverenced.

But Christians? LDS Christians? They're fools with superstitious ideas. Only idiots would believe what they do, so have at them. Make fun of them. Mock the things they hold sacred. Make fun of their Savior, their founder, their prophet, their missionaries, their scriptures, their beliefs and their God. They don't deserve the same respect as every other group of people on the planet.

It's not new and it's not isolated. Members of the church were driven out of cities and states. I had friends whose parents didn't want their kids to associate with me because I was a member of the church. You'll find Mormon jokes in movies, television shows, in books and now Broadway.

Mitt Romney, a viable candidate for president has to answer ridiculous questions that no other candidate has to answer. President Obama's controversial religion and religious views were glossed over and those who tried to ask questions or get answers were called racist. The LDS Christian candidate starts the race from two or three laps back. Simply because of his religion.

The Book of Mormon teaches that there will be opposition in all things--light and dark, good and evil, right and wrong. As followers of Christ, there will be opposition. So while I'm angry and tired of it, I have to recognize that it probably isn't going away.

The LDS church issued a short statement about The Book of Mormon Musical. It's short and to the point and helps me remember what's really important. I guess I should just feel sorry for those that don't know any better. It was the Savior who taught it best. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

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How to Use Your Leftover Turkey or Chicken...

and thrill the family!First of all, this How-to Post is going to require you to trust me a little. It sounded strange to me at first too, but I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. I tried it and a new family favorite entered the rotation.

The great thing about this is it's super-fast and super-easy. Perfect for nights when you have scouts, pack meeting, New Beginnings, Jr. Jazz, dance lessons, piano lessons, baseball, temple recommend interviews, too much laundry, you've spent the day reading, you've blog-hopped a little too long, you forgot to get off the phone, or you have an unsightly blemish.

A good mom would toss a salad or pull out some carrot and celery sticks, but the pizza can totally stand on it's own, which is how I usually serve it.

If you have leftover cooked chicken or turkey and you're not in the mood for chicken/turkey noodle soup, what can you do? (From here on out, I'm just going to use the word chicken, but you can use turkey, as well.)

Make Cranberry Chicken Pizza! It is so easy and will please almost everyone. My most finicky eater turns up her nose unless she is forced to eat it for fear she'll perish of hunger.

Pizza crust: You can use any pizza crust, including homemade, but you'll want to cook it first. I prefer the di Giorno crust. It's so simple and really yummy.

Spread the pizza with jellied cranberry sauce. You can determine the amount by your love of cranberry sauce.

Sprinkle pieces of chicken on top of the cranberry sauce.

Sprinkle generously with grated cheese. I prefer mozzarella or a mozzarella/cheddar blend.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes at 450 degrees. I put it on broil for the last minute. This crisps up the crust and makes the cheese a melty dream.

For my one picky girl, I just replace the cranberry sauce with bbq sauce.

This is so easy and good, you'll want to have chicken on hand. I buy rotisserie chicken at Costco, bring it home and debone it and stick it in the freezer so I have cooked chicken on hand whenever I feel like making this.

ENJOY!!!!! And come back and tell me what you thought.

Some Words of Wisdom

Today we got a wonderful letter from Bruce (our missionary). He's in Taiwan now and is feeling completely lost as far as the language goes. His branch president in the Missionary Training Center gave him some good advice as he was leaving. "Don't let the things you can't do keep you from doing the things you can do." Bruce's response to that was "I really like that. I can still work hard, study hard, smile and wave to everyone I see, have faith, and strive to improve my language skills everyday."

What a great way to look at life and our challenges. I learned at a very young age that math was hard for me. Numbers didn't click in my head the way they seemed to in other people's. I always felt lost and like they were speaking another language.


In 9th grade, I had my uncle for Algebra. I was optimistic. Surely having a teacher who knew me and could give me extra help would finally get me over the hump and I'd finally get math. I tried. Uncle Dennis tried. We spent many hours trying to teach me the concepts of algebra. I still didn't get it. I passed the class and never took another math class again.


The problem with that is that math paralyzed me. I thought I might make a good high school English teacher, but I didn't pursue it. I loved literature and writing, but I never majored in it. Instead I took many classes that interested me, but I never pursued a degree. Why? I couldn't do math and math was a requirement for college graduation. Because of being paralyzed by the things I couldn't do, I didn't try to do the things I knew I'd be good at.


Now, many years later, I still love literature and I write. I'm doing the things I can do and trying not to be paralyzed by the things I can't do.


I can't do math. I can't always say the right thing. I can't paint or draw. I can't play a musical instrument. I can't sing as well as I'd like. I can't whistle at all. I can't seem to perfect my housekeeping skills or be as thin as I once was. I can't travel to all the places I wish I could. I can't speak a foreign language. I can't grow a successful garden or keep the deer from eating my tulips. I can't dance. I'm not graceful or particularly athletic. I can't do the splits or a cartwheel.


But I can smile. I can recognize good art and music. I can be a good listener and I can sometimes make people laugh. I can keep my family in clean clothes and cook a good meal. I can bake an amazing chocolate chip cookie pie and I can be a good friend. I can make a wedding cake and I can sew a beautiful dress. I can love people and I'm not afraid to let them know it. I can color a pretty good picture and I can fall in love with a book. I can sing to my kids and I can write.


The things I can do are enough to keep me busy. I'll just have to leave the things I can't do to someone else.


What are some of the things you can and can't do?

(Image from Free Clip Art by Phillip Martin)

The Value of Dad

A couple of mornings ago, Savannah came in for breakfast all excited about the text she'd gotten late the night before. (The kids don't take their phones to bed, so she didn't see it until morning.) It was from her dad, who was on a business trip. It said simply. "Good night. I love you. Tell Joe." (Joe doesn't have a phone.) Veronica had a similar message on her phone. They loved that Dad remembered them.

I was talking to my sister whose husband had taken the day off work to go on a field trip with his daughter. My sister reported that her 7-year-old was thrilled. Her dad was going to be the only dad and he was taking off work to go with her. She was beaming with pride.

Both scenarios reminded me of my mission. As a missionary, I only got four or five letters from my dad the entire time I was gone. But when I got them, it was huge. I was so glad he'd taken time to write them.

These reactions to gestures from dad are interesting to me. I text my kids regularly that I love them, or have a good day, or good luck on your test. I (and my sister) have gone on many field trips with our kids, and while they're really glad we're there, it doesn't pack the same punch. I got a letter from my mom every two or three days on my mission, and while I loved them and was grateful for them, those few letters from dad seemed more monumental.

At first glance, I'm tempted to put on my mom the martyr hat and mope around feeling taken for granted, unappreciated, and unloved.

But is that the case? I don't think so.

Of course I love it when my kids say thank you for something I've done, or when I get a text back that tells me they love me too, but if I'm being honest, I'm glad my kids can take me for granted. I want them to be able to count on me and know that I've got their back and I'm there whenever they need me. I want them to be able to expect all the little gestures and the big gestures.

This isn't to say that our fathers' love is in question and so it means more when we get these reassurances. My kids know their dad loves them all the time. I'm sure my niece knows her dad loves her all the time. I never had a question about my own dad's love for me.

Maybe dads get more credit for these efforts because they don't come as naturally or easily to men. I don't know for sure. But one thing I'm sure of--I want my kids to know my love and support is so constant and unwavering that they don't even need to think about it. It's like their air.

I also want them to recognize and love the efforts made by their dad and it's okay with me if those are the ones that get the most recognition.