Friday, November 5, 2010


Ok, I know this sounds really bad, since I'm referring to my children leaving in the morning. Just for clarification: I am not saying that I'm glad to get rid of my boys, since I really do enjoy having them around on the days that they are home from school (most the time, anyway :0).

But most school mornings are incredibly hectic for our family. Is this a familiar situation for anyone else? I know things would probably run smoother if we all got up earlier, but even on those rare cases when I do, most times it's just hard.

Five people leaving to work or school from 8:00 AM to 8:27 AM = CRAZINESS. What with getting boys out of bed, in the shower, lunches ready, breakfast made, boys eating enough breakfast, lunches in backpacks, jackets and shoes found and on (why are those items often never to be found with two minutes left until it's time to walk out the door?!), coats on, family prayers said, teeth brushed (ha), hair combed...whew! That exhaustes me even to type all that!

I must mention here that I am not the only one working on making the morning work: it's wonderful that my older boys can and do get themselves ready (even if they need a bit of prodding out of bed sometimes), and my husband and I work together to get everyone out. I'm so grateful I don't have to do it all by myself!

So now you can better understand why I should homeschool, be better organized, get up earlier...or, since I don't do those things, why I feel somewhat relieved and grateful at this sight: the last boy out, on his way to have a good day.

Now I can sit down and eat my breakfast.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Halloween has just passed and I have to say, I love Halloween food and am so grateful for how fun food is to play with. Of course, I have five boys, and boys do tend to appreciate more gross stuff than girls do (on the whole, that is), and I love seeing their enjoyment in eating something a tad on the disgusting-looking side.

It's amazing how much more and easily my boys will eat an unknown food sometimes if I name it something yucky. I don't do it very often, but last time I made something new and named it goblin brains, I met with a very appreciative audience. So sad how uncooth and low-brow we are...

But there are so many cute and fun and slightly to very gross-looking Halloween foods. Here's a snack I tried this year. Yummy, cute, a tad disgusting in the thought (eating eyeballs, you know), and not un-nutritious. A perfect Halloween snack! I got the recipe from this site. Here's my 8-year-old with part of his snack.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I love fall. The colors (both in nature and otherwise), the food (pumpkin desserts, warm drinks, hearty soups, etc. (although I guess those foods should be in reverse order. I guess I just automatically put them in order of importance :0)), the crunchy leaves as I walk down the sidewalk, the crisp's all great. So imagine my chagrin every year since I live in a place where often the autumn lasts a week or two if we're lucky, and then moves right on to winter, or sometimes it seems like we skip fall altogether.

Then imagine my (and everyone else who lives here) absolute delight with the beautiful and long and mild fall we've had here. It's been hovering in the low 70's-mid-60's now for over a month and is amazingly beautiful and pleasant outside.

Here's my view out my kitchen window:

I heard my 8 and 6-year-old little boys looking out across the street at these trees yesterday evening. Here's the conversation:
Daniel: "Look at those trees over there!"
Seth: "Yeah"
Daniel: "Those colors are amazing! You can barely even see any green!"
Seth: "Yeah!"

My sentiments exactly.

Isn't fall awesome? How's fall where you live?

Monday, October 11, 2010


Yes, I realize that it's been about four months since my last post. Pretty sad. I have no excuses.

My reason, however (much different from an excuse, in my mind), is that my family and I have been experiencing some challenges the past six months or so and I simply decided to cut non-essential things out and blogging was one of them.

Unfortunately, I also have become more lax in my habit of looking for things to be grateful for, which, I'm being reminded, definitely affects my state of mind and level of happiness.

So this past week, I made a new committment to try to be more grateful. It's funny: one night I said to my husband, "I've realized that I'm not focusing on being grateful as much as I used to and I think I'm suffering for it. I want to get back to looking for and being grateful for my blessings." Then the next day I listened to a message from a man who I have infinite love and respect for, who is a prophet of God and the president of my church, and his message to everyone was this: Be Grateful and everything will look better and be better.

What interesting (but I believe not coincidental) timing. Time to refocus.

So here is my first post back:


I love and am so grateful for the beauties of nature. I know, that phrase sounds so trite, but how else do you say it? Nature is absolutely beautiful! This weekend we went on a short hike to Bloomington Lake, which is a tiny lake up in the mountains of southeastern Idaho, with a 20-30 minute car ride up to the trail, along the picturesque Bloomington creek (above), and where many of the quaking aspens were bright yellow against the dark pine trees--wow.

But then the trail is only 1.2 miles to the lake and back, so it was easy for our kids (the youngest being 2) to walk there and back. And what a view! I realized that some people go their whole lives without seeing sights like this. The air was so clean, the sun was shining and the views were amazing.

What boys do not love throwing rocks into a body of water? Mine sure do .

And look at all the huge awesome rocks for climbing on!

I couldn't believe the clarity and color of the water. It was really a wonderful and beautiful hike and we had some great family time. Also, as a sidenote: who would have guessed that we could go hiking in the middle of October in the Idaho mountains at over 8000 feet and not even need jackets? Amazing!

Friday, June 4, 2010


Spring has been very long in coming where I fact, even though it is June, we are still only in the upper 60's every day with lots of overcast, windy and chilly rainy days. Hmmm. Don't know what that's all about (it's JUNE! But maybe all the farmers are glad because they don't have to water their crops? I hope someone is benefiting from this weather!)
But I love and am so grateful for all the trees that are blooming every shade of pink, the dark purple lilac bushes, the red tulips, and every other bit of color outside. I love color, and color seems so much more pure in nature. Our two apple trees didn't look as vibrant as this tree, but the blossoms didn't freeze, either: hoorah!

Monday, May 10, 2010


Hi everyone--sorry so long to be's been a crazy and stressful couple of weeks.

I am grateful today to be able to swallow without pain. Again, one of those things that you don't even think about, let alone be grateful for, until you go without it or see someone who does. (Sorry if you are reading this Lori or Anne :(

I have two friends who have gone through the joy of a tonsilectomy in recent weeks and they hurt. A lot.

My husband got his tonsils out when he was a teenager and he said that it really hurt, but he recovered fairly quickly.

I think the older you get, the more painful it is and the longer it takes to recover. My poor friends.

But I am so grateful for the reminder to appreciate this small, but very important part of life. Hoorah for swallowing!

Friday, April 23, 2010


Yes, I said beans. You know, black, pinto, kidney, etc. And don't forget lentils--my boys seem to do better with the texture of lentils than with beans. In the words of my 7-year-old, "I don't like beans, Mom. When I bite into one, it explodes." Yeah, well...who's to argue with that? The texture of beans does take a bit of acclimation.

We had a cooking class at our church a couple of nights ago and Wow! Who knew beans could be so delicious? A friend who is a wonderful cook and who has been cooking with beans ever since she served a church mission in Brazil taught the class and made 11 bean dishes for us to try, three of them desserts (more on that later). It was fun, informative and delicious! And we got to come and help her cook before the class and learn how non-scary beans are to cook with.

I have lots of beans in my food storage, but have actually never cooked with dried beans because I've always thought that they took so long to prepare. They do, if you use the traditional method, but did you know that you can cook them in the crockpot? (3-4 hours with no presoaking) Also, you can cook them in your pressure cooker (45 minutes, also no presoaking). I'm excited to try it.

But just in time for the weekend, I am including for you here one of the recipes that we sampled: Polka Dot Bean Brownies. Now, everyone knows that if you add whole wheat flour to a dessert, it makes them healthy, right? The same is true for beans. And these brownies have a whole cup of cooked beans in them (never mind the 2 cups of sugar and two kinds of chocolate chips--the addition of beans totally outweighs this). Also, these bad boys do not even need frosting: they are so moist and delicious just by themselves, so eat one before you go to the trouble of making frosting.

I got this recipe from the Idaho Bean Commission website:

Polka Dot Bean Brownies

3/4 cups cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup pinto beans, cooked and mashed
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Chocolate Frosting

Preparation: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine cocoa and soda; blend in 1/3 cup melted margarine. Add boiling water. Stir until mixture thickens. Stir in sugar, eggs, and remaining 1/2 cup butter.
Add beans, flour, vanilla and salt; stir until smooth. Add chips.
Turn mixture into a greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until sides pull away from pan.
Cool completely and frost or dust with powdered sugar.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Yes, many of you are experiencing spring right now: grass getting green, daffodils, crocuses and tulips blooming, warmer weather. I love spring flowers (purple crocuses are my favorite).

Well, today we woke up to three inches of snow. Sigh.

So not many colors going on yet where I live. (except white, brown and our grass is starting to consider thinking about maybe turning green :0)

How blessed I am, then, to have a husband who knows I love color and knows I love flowers and who brings them to me occasionally (usually not for any specific reason other than "I love you and think you are wonderful." I love that reason!).

Here is the bouquet I am enjoying currently. I love the yellows, pinks and purples--so springy!

Friday, April 2, 2010


I don't know if you have good-tasting water where you live, but if not, I'm sorry. I hope that if you don't, you at least have yummy bottled water or something. I'm so grateful that the town I live in happens to have absolutely delicious water, a luxury I totally take for granted until I go somewhere and taste gross water.

There's a great young adult book by Natalie Babbit called 'The Search for Delicious' about a king who is compiling a dictionary and gets stuck on the word 'delicious' so he sends his pageboy out to take a poll around his country about what food is the most delicious. Of course, no one can agree, and the boy gets all sorts of different answers from people. Then something happens to their water supply and the people can't access any water. They get so thirsty and by the time they get everything resolved and are able to get a drink of water, they finally all agree on the definition of delicious: a cool drink of water when you are very thirsty. There is nothing quite so satistying.

What a blessing to have easy access to clean drinking water!

Monday, March 29, 2010


The sound of birds singing may be my favorite sound in the world to wake up to. It is such a sweet, gentle and cheerful sound (unlike a rooster, which I've been woken up by before, and that sound tends to be much more grating than pleasant!).

One of my favorite songs at church when I was little was called "In the Leafy Treetops." Here are the lyrics and this link if you want to listen to it:
In the leafy treetops, the birds sing good morning.
They're first to see the sun, they must tell everyone.
In the leafy treetops, the birds sing good morning."

Sweet and simple :0) Although to this day have no idea what it has to do with church...

So this morning I was laying in bed trying to wake up when I heard birds for the first time this spring (hoorah!), and even though I didn't consciously think of the words of this song, my brain assumed it was sunny outside (you see the way this song is ingrained into my psyche). As I ventured out to the kitchen and opened the curtains, I discovered that it was not sunny at all. Light: yes (although actually kind of gray). Sunny: no. It's been overcast and dreary all day. Go figure! I thought that if the birds were singing, it automatically had to be sunny :0).

Oh well, it actually hasn't mattered because just waking up to that bird saying to me in his cute little tweety language, "What an awesome day it is! You really should get up and enjoy it!" has made my day more pleasant. Interesting how starting off right can make a difference, huh?

What about you? What's your favorite sound to wake up to?

Friday, March 26, 2010


I am so grateful for Hope, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. It is so wonderful to know that no matter how bleak things look or seem (or are), or for however long they seem that way (sometimes soooooo long--years and years), that even if you have nothing else to hold on to, you always have Hope. After a horrible day or week or month (or year), that you can know that things will eventually get better.

You just have to focus on that light and keep going. It's such a good thing we don't know how our lives are going to turn out and how long the hard times in our lives will last! Since I don't know how much longer I have to struggle with something, I choose to believe that it will get better tomorrow. And when tomorrow isn't any better? Well, it must be the next day then. Yes, this could go on for years, but that's ok, because as long as I have Hope, I can keep going. :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Yes, today is St. Patrick's Day, so don't we have to celebrate green? :0) It is a fun day to dress my children (and myself, I must admit) in green and make green pancakes (yeah, I'm purposefully not including a picture of them because they turned out looking kind of nasty, but my kids loved them!) But really...I'm grateful for green always; today is just a good day to spotlight it.

Technically, green is a cool color, which means it is soothing and calming, but I love it because it can also be so vibrant and alive. Perhaps it's not as visually dramatic as red or orange, but because green is a combination of both a warm and cool color, it can be both calming and exciting, which is one thing that makes it such a great color!

I love me a soft, mellow sage, a vibrant emerald, a cool olive, a deep forest green. There are just so many greens to love! And have you ever noticed all the different shades of greens you can find in nature--wow! I think God must really love green to make plants, grass, trees, flower foliage all green.

And after a winter of white and brown, green is the most beautiful color in the world! It means warm days are coming: gardens, picnics, trips to the park, family bike know--just all those wonderful spring and summer things. The snow is almost gone from our yard, and I'm not seeing tons of green yet (our highs are still mostly in the 40s), but I know the green is coming: the buds on the trees, the crocus and tulip leaves peeking out of the earth, the green shoots of grass mixing in with the dormant brown, making it more green every day. Hoorah for green!

What's your favorite green?

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Ok, my husband happened upon this gem while reading some news article the other night. After our stunned silence, and voicing some of the thoughts racing through our heads ("Is this serious?" "Is he lip-syncing?" "How can anyone smile that much?" "Does he think he's dancing?" and, "Can you actually make that sound while you are smiling?"), we all laughed our heads off.

We have watched it at least ten times in the last few days, probably more. In fact, my boys came home from school the next day singing it and wanting to watch it again. It's nauseatingly hypnotic and unfortunately fairly addictive for some people. Ok, enough talk. For this wonderful experience, go to this site and enjoy. You'll never be the same.

You might want to make sure you are sitting down and don't watch it after eating a big meal. Oh, go to the bathroom first, too.

Long live Lawrence Welk.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I have always loved to dance. I'm one of those strange people who, when I hear a good song with a strong beat, my foot starts tapping or my knee bouncing, and I feel like getting up to dance (although I usually don't). Aside from a little ballet and some gymnastics growing up, I haven't done much dance.

But I've found a really fun exercise class (Zumba) that is as much dance as it is exercise and it's actually fun to exercise (I didn't think I would ever say that!). So I'm dancing to get into shape--cool!

Also, for the past probably seven or eight years I have really been wanting to learn ballroom dance with my husband. So when I saw in our community education flyer that they were offering a beginning ballroom dance class, I signed us up ($35 for six hour-long classes! Awesome deal!).

We have now completed our third class and are loving to dance together! I am so grateful to have a husband who not only is willing to dance (which many men are uncomfortable with), but who is also a good dancer (I think, but I'm biased :0). We've learned the mambo, waltz, two-step, cha-cha, basic swing, tango, foxtrot (which we actually don't remember very well--need a refresher on that one), samba and a little bit of the west coast swing. So fun!!

It's also so fun to have a cheap and fun date on Friday nights (while our class is going, anyway)and I'm so grateful that I now know how to dance with my honey. We're not experts by any means, but we know some basics and have a lot of fun!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I am the mother of five boys. This comment always elicits some sort of response from people, one of the most common being, "Oh, you have a built-in basketball team!" Yeah, that's true. The only problem is that none of my boys really like to play basketball. Or frankly are really that into organized sports at all.

Sure, they love to be active: riding bikes, swimming, trampoline time, running, all sorts of indoor craziness, skiing looks to be an interest for a few of them, but organized sports: not so much.

I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, it makes me a little sad. I have great memories of going to school or church games to support one or more of my friends. On the other hand, I hear my friends bemoan the time spent travelling to practices and spent at games for months on end (don't get me wrong: they love to support their kids, but depending on the sport and age of child, it seems to get a little life-consuming at times). We have had our kids in a few organized sports, but they never have really lasting interest. Oh well.

Now, if there was a sport of reading, my boys would be all over that. Although, maybe not, because the fun of reading is how absolutely captivating and completely non-competitive reading a good book can be.

Our boys have reading "homework," where they are required (at least the ones in elementary and middle school) to read at least 20 minutes. Are you kidding me? I have to make them stop reading and go to sleep at night! Sometimes my husband and I forget to go down and ask them to put their books down and go to sleep, and we check on them an hour and a half later before we go to bed and they are still reading. Ever notice how time becomes an absolute non-issue when you are immersed in a book? I can't be hard on them for it (even though we all suffer the next day because they were up late :0), because I've gotten sucked into many a book as well.

So, bottom line: even though the current social environment dictates that boys are supposed to play sports and ours really have no interest in them, if I had to choose between having my boys love sports or love reading, I would choose exactly what I have.

I'm so grateful for kids who love to read!

Note: above is my 11-year-old reading 'Rapunzel's Revenge' by Shannon and Dean Hale. It's a graphic novel (comic book, basically) and a fun Old West retelling of the Rapunzel story--boy, is she a feisy heroine! She uses her hair as a lasso and whip! Cool!

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I love having a garage as a place to store things: tools, bikes, lawnmower, bins of clothes, recycling, garden items, etc.

But in the winter I am so excessively grateful to have a garage for the reason shown in this picture (this is our neighbor's car). While living in apartments, we had several years of having to clear the snow off our car before we could go anywhere. Now, we don't! Hoorah!

Monday, February 22, 2010


No, this is not a picture of my backyard (unfortunately). I wanted a picture of snow and sun and this is way prettier than my own backyard, which features an ugly (but servicable) fence, a hole where the trampoline resides (took the mat down for the winter), a playhouse, some trees and many power lines. It's a great backyard, but this is a better picture for this post.

Moving on...

I forget how dreary and sunlight-lacking winter can be. I would be curious to know how many people in snowy or rainy/overcast winter climates suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder--basically, where you get depressed when you don't get enough light).

So the last five days where I live have been sunny and I am so grateful! Wa-hoo!! Yes, and colder, because of the lack of cloud cover, but it is totally worth it to endure a high of 23 degrees and have the sun shining (actually, that's only 5 degrees colder than normal, so not much difference). I love the sun!

Sunday, February 21, 2010


This may be a bit redundant to write a post about gratitude on a blog about gratitude, but here goes. It's weird that even though I blog about and have been trying to be conscious of what I'm grateful for, sometimes I forget to be grateful (usually when I have something hard in my life I'm experiencing).

So it was really good to be reminded of the positive physical, spiritual and emotional power of practicing gratitude. I was having a hard day and was feeling (and probably acting) a bit crabby and sulky. I went to a concert that night and while I was waiting for the concert to start, instead of counting my woes, I decided to use the ten minutes to name everything I could think of that I was grateful for.

It was actually surprisingly hard to get started, but I just looked around me and ended up naming some pretty weird things (rectangles, since the walls of the concert hall were made of brick; beautiful hair; colors; the interesting differences in people; cushioned seats; etc.). I don't know how many I named, but I do know that by the time the concert started I was feeling better, and later that night after the concert, I felt happier as well. True, it could have been the music, or the effect of the people I was with, but I choose to believe it was my focusing on gratitude that was the main thing that turned me around.

I am grateful for the power of gratitude and how recognizing all I've been blessed with can really make me a happier person.

Friday, February 12, 2010


I tell you, when it snows here, as it is wont to do, I sure am grateful for some good tires. Ours aren't "snow tires" per se, but they work just as well, since they are new as of last summer.

I woke up this morning to an additional inch and a half of snow (to add to the 2-3 feet that is already there), and even though I don't love to drive on snowy roads, (I've had a few scary slide-offs in my day), it's not bad at all with good grippy tires!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


"Behold" by James Elston

My five-year-old, Seth, today asked for a Mario coloring page (since he and his four brothers love all things Mario), so I went searching and found this site. I was intrigued by the fact that this man had drawn these pictures for his son, and then shares them on this site. In addition, I am amazed at the fact that some people can draw this well (I admire it all the more since I am not one of these people) and am grateful that this guy uses his talent to share his artwork.

Anyway, just out of curiosity I went to his illustration site and found this gem, which I think is hilarious.

Can't you just hear this big booming voice in the background saying, "BEHOLD!" and the tongues come out and the crowd of little blue guys down below gasp and point. So random and so funny!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Again, it's amazing how many things I take for granted and only remember how grateful I am for them once I don't have them for a time.

Last week I had a weird skin reaction to a cut on my right little toe and it swelled to almost double size. Unable to put any shoes on or even put pressure on that toe without extreme discomfort, I hobbled around all week. Since I was walking weird and compensating to protect my foot, by the end of the week I was sore in muscles I didn't even realize I had!

So this week, I am so grateful and happy that I can wear shoes and walk without pain. What a little thing, but also a huge thing!

Friday, February 5, 2010


Today, seventeen years ago, I married my sweetheart. What I'm grateful for today is that he is still my sweetheart, and more than ever I love and am grateful for him.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I'm so grateful to be reminded that there is actually a physical reason why I sometimes have INTENSE sugar cravings (chocolate to be exact) and feel a bit snarky for a few days in a row.

Any other women out there ever experience this? Yeah, I'm sure I'm the only one. :0)

Monday, February 1, 2010


I, adore, mint. When I was young, I would go visit my grandparents in the summer and my grandpa had lots of mint plants in their gargantuan garden. He made this health drink he called his 'green drink' with mint and all sorts of other green leafy things. I tried it once. Nas-ty. But to this day I associate mint with those great memories at my grandparents' home.

And I think I love every mint food I've ever tried (of course, it helps that almost all of those are paired with chocolate or sugar. Kind of hard to go wrong). Unfortunately, I usually cannot eat mint of any kind because of a medication interaction (if you really want to know, you'll have to email me and I will explain).

No mint chocolate chip ice cream (sniff), no Junior Mints (one of my favorite candies...sniff, sniff), and perhaps worst of mint toothpaste (sob sob). It's really weird that toothpaste is the thing that I miss the most. It's something that I totally took for granted before, but now I really miss it. My oldest son contends that no mint gum is the worst, but since I'm not a big gum person, that doesn't hit me too hard.

However, for the next two weeks I can have all the mint I want--hoorah!!

Again, I maintain that the way to really appreciate something that you take for granted, even if it's something as non-essential and seemingly unimportant as mint, is to have it taken away for a while.

But then when you get it back, you love it all the more!!! Hoorah for mint!

Friday, January 29, 2010


I'm trying to be better about teaching my children basic home skills, like cooking. It's hard, because it really is just so much easier and faster for me to make dinner by myself, than explain to someone else how to do it (especially a child). But they need to know some basic skills and how to make some easy meals, so I had my 14, 11 & 7-year-olds look at my monthly menu and choose two meals in the month that they would be interested in helping me make.

My 7-year-old informed me that he wants to make up his own meal called Nacho Tacos. Hmmm...sounds intriguing (especially from a child who has never cooked at all. Ok, so he has flipped pancakes and poured milk--does that count?). So I ask him how one goes about making this delicious-sounding meal.

Here's the ingredient list and directions for Nacho Tacos, as concocted by my 7-year-old son.

Chicken, cooked without any spices
Barbeque sauce or sour cream (when did these become interchangeable? did I miss something?)
Mustard if you want
Crumpled-up pizza crust
Ranch dressing

You put all these ingredients into your taco shell and enjoy (or not). I was most confused about the 'crumpled-up pizza crust' part. When he first explained it to me, he just listed the ingredients and I tried to get him to explain what the pizza crust was for--does one put all the ingredients into the crust and wrap them up? No, he explains, you put all the food into the taco shell and eat it.

Hmmm...interesting and very entertaining! I love and am grateful for my boys' imaginations, even when it spills over into cooking!

Monday, January 25, 2010


Yesterday during breakfast we were talking to our kids again about the devastation in Haiti. I know I tend to look at pictures of a disaster like this and the main thing I see is the physical destruction: the hospitals, homes, hotels and other buildings damaged beyond repair or leveled.

What we don't see quite as often is the incredible human toll and suffering. We do hear about number of dead, but the ones I feel the worst for are those left alive, injured and unable to get the medical care they need, or those physically uninjured, but who have lost loved ones to death or separation. It makes my heart hurt for them.

As we explained a watered-down version of this to our children, we started also listing all the things we had that we were so grateful for. One of my sons said, "yeah, if I could raise a thousand dollars, I would buy a bunch of Ipods to send to those people in Haiti." We chuckled, and commended him on the kind thought and then I said to him, "you know, I think right now those people would rather have food, water and their family all safe." He paused and said thoughtfully, "Hmm...yeah."

It's so amazing the basics that I live with every single day that I almost always take for granted. Clean water, healthy and even delicious food, a warm home, and most importantly--my husband and boys around me healthy (ish), safe, and alive! What a blessing! It's sad that it takes other people losing all those things for me to recognize and be grateful for those basic blessings.

The other sad thing is that there are probably millions of people on this earth who live their whole lives without these basics that I take for granted, not just people who have been through a natural disaster like this earthquake. I am so rich.

If you haven't donated yet to the disaster relief, my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has set up an excellent donation site here, where ALL the proceeds go to the disaster relief. Or ask at work: we are donating through my husband's work because they are matching donations. Even if you can only donate $5 or $10, everything helps!

As a side note: I'm so grateful to live in a country where there are so many who want to help others. I see so much goodness and generosity--it's awesome!

Friday, January 22, 2010


Ok, a have to admit that this is one that I struggle being grateful for. Especially after New Years. My husband and I have decided that we wish Christmas was in late February or early March because once the holidays are over, aren't you just ready to move into spring? Ready for some warmer weather and some green? I am.

I guess if I lived someplace totally balmy and warm, it wouldn't be so bad, but about mid-February, I am so sick of winter, and where I am, that's a bad thing because about mid-February, we still have about another two months of winter--no kidding.

Here are the two things that have helped me be grateful for snow: First, when we lived across the state for nine years, even though the city was the same latitude, it was over 2000 feet lower in altitude than where we live now, so we get LOTS more snow where we live now. So for 9 years, we only had snow a few times a year and it was painful for my boys.

And now, although they don't get out every day to play, it is so fun for them to have the option of going to the park by our house to sled, to sled on the little hill we made in our backyard, or just to go out and play in the snow (and eat it, unfortunately. Blech.)

And two: once I was complaining about the snow and all the nasty ramifications: the icy roads, the cold temperatures, the wet shoes, the snow tracked all over my carpet when the kids come in, etc., and my grandmother, who was visiting and who is an absolutely amazing woman and someone who tends to enjoy and see the good in most any situation, gazed out the window and said, "yes, but isn't it beautiful?" I paused and looked with her. Well, yes, it is beautiful. Amazingly beautiful when you stop to look and appreciate.

So whenever I get ready to complain about the snow, I think of my grandma and focus on how really lovely it is (especially when it's fresh and when I can admire it from inside :0).

Don't you think that tree in the top picture looks like the whomping willow? It belongs to our next-door neighbors and is such a cool-looking tree, especially in the winter.

And I never noticed until I started looking how cool some plants look with snow on them.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


We got this story on a Christmas card from some friends and I love the story and analogy:

Wishing to encourage her young son's progress on the piano, a mother took her boy to a piano concert given by the great Polish pianist Paderewski . After they were seated, the mother spotted an old friend in the audience and walked down the aisle to greet her.

Seizing the opportunity to explore the wonders of the concert hall, the little boy rose and eventually explored his way through a door marked "NO ADMITTANCE". When the house lights dimmed and the concert was about to begin, the mother returned to her seat and discovered that the child was missing.

Suddenly, the curtains parted and spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage. In horror, the mother saw her little boy sitting at the keyboard, innocently picking out "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star".

At that moment, the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano and whispered in the boy's ear, "Don't quit. Keep playing."

Then, leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around to the other side of the child, and he added a running obbligato. Together, the old master and the young novice transformed what could have been a frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience.

The audience was so mesmerized that they couldn't recall what else the great master played that night--only the classic "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star".

Perhaps that's the way it is with God. What we can accomplish on our own is hardly noteworthy, We try our best, but the results aren't often graceful, flowing music. However, with the hand of the Master, our life's work can truly be beautiful.

The next time you set out to accomplish great feats, listen carefully. You may hear the voice of the Master whispering in your ear, "Don't quit. Keep playing." May you feel His arms around you and know that His hands are there, helping you turn your feeble attempts into true masterpieces.

Friday, January 15, 2010


I love and am so grateful for thrift stores. I realize that many people look at them with disgust, as in "Ewww! You wear a shirt that somebody else wore?" I can understand that, but my background is a bit different and has shaped my opinion about thrift stores.

I am the oldest of eight children, and my father is a teacher, and my mother chose to stay home with the kids. So you can probably guess how many new items we enjoyed. Not many. New food, which I am grateful for. But pretty much any new clothing I got, I bought with my own money. When I was younger, I did get maybe one outfit in the fall before school started (from Kmart--still can't stand to buy clothes there. The smell of the store, you know), but we didn't really get anything new unless we absolutely needed it (like, holes-in-the-knees-of-my-only-pair-of-pants-kind-of-need).

The way that my sisters and I got most of our clothes was that we had some awesome and generous cousins who about a couple times a year would send us a bag or two of their clothes. We were always so excited: it was like Christmas for us to go through those bags!

So to this day, I have absolutely no problem putting my kids and myself in clothes that are previously owned. I figure, if it's clean, smells good, and has no obvious stains or holes, why not? The sweater in the picture above I got last week at our thrift store. It's in perfect condition, is warm, and was only $4! Woo-hoo!

Ok, here are my top four reasons for shopping thrift:

#1: The price. A sweater that new probably cost $40 or more (it was a good brand), for $4? Amazing. Last week I got 7 sweaters and 5 long-sleeved shirts for $35. You would have a hard time getting that at a store, even with stuff marked 80-90% off, and the thrift store selection is probably better at that point.

#2: The fun of looking. At the mall, you have a lot more to look through, so you know that probably whatever you find, they will have your size and color. At a thrift store, you never know what you will find. It's like a treasure hunt. Although it can be frustrating (I've gone many times before and not found anything), when you do find that perfect item or items, it is so awesome!

#3: I'm no extremist environmentalist, but I do believe in doing my part, and I think this is a way of recycling. Sometimes I go into the big Everything-Marts, look around and think, "what a bunch of junk!" We are such a consuming society, and buying gently used items just cuts down a bit of that.

#4: It makes it easier to get rid of things. When I have an item that I got for $5, it's way easier to get rid of it (i.e. send it back to the thrift store :0), than if I had paid $45, you know what I mean? My sister calls it 'renting'.

#5: Entertainment value. I have found some absolutely hilarious items there. Think three inch 70's platform shoes, the most hideous coats ever, and Napolean Dynamite t-shirts galore. Here is a picture of a shoulder-padded jem I found recently:

I love and am grateful for thrift stores! What's your favorite reason for shopping thrift? And what's the best and/or most hilarious item you've found there?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Ok, I just absolutely love this picture of my littlest boy. It was taken back in July, which reminds me that I'm also so grateful for green grass and warm weather.

When I showed it to my husband, he said, "yeah, it's especially great that his nose and mouth are actually clean." Well, yes...that does help, since both those orifices being clean is not necessarily a regular occurance. Maybe that's one reason why I love it so much.

And those eyes.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Have you ever read a quote that stuck you as so true that as you read it, you found yourself smiling and nodding your head? Or it hits you right in the heart and it brings tears to your eyes? I love that, especially when it's a little gem quote--less than two sentences. Short and sweet. I've read them in great literature, heard them in songs, seen them on store marqees or had them sent to me from this site or this site. Oh, and the scriptures have some of the best. Here's a great quote I read lately:

"Laughter is to life what shock absorbers are to automobiles. It won't take the potholes out of the road, but it sure makes the ride smoother."

Barbara Johnson

And it's even better when the quote affects you in some good way. As I'm trying to write this post, my 2 and 5 year old keep turning off the computer monitor (very annoying). I'm starting to get irritated with them, but it's obvious that they just want my attention to be on them, not on the computer, hence the turning off of the screen. So how ironic it would be if after writing this quote about laughter, I didn't take this opportunity to laugh with my children (which, by the way, I often miss). So I write a few lines, the monitor gets turned off, I pretend to be mad (actually I don't have to pretend very hard), and then vent my irritation by leaving the computer do to do a little tickling.

Of course, one downside to this it is encouraging them to turn off the monitor while I'm working, since they will be expecting the scary face, sounds and the resultant tickle monster. Another is that it takes me 20 minutes instead of 10 to write this post. Yeah, oh well.

Do you have a quote that makes you smile and helps you do better? I'm always looking for more! :0) Hoorah for a good quote!

Friday, January 8, 2010


Ok, has this ever happened to you: you are talking with someone and a you use a word and then stop and think or say, "wait a second, is that even a word?" and then you have to go look it up to 1-see if it's even a word and 2-see if you used it right?

Has anyone besides me ever done that?

Being raised by two English professor-type people (one working English professor: my dad, and one English professor not in diploma but in essence: my mother, who didn't graduate because she had me and my seven siblings instead, but who is every bit as sharp as my dad), I was surrounded by words not used by some families: the people I lived with my first 20 years love words.

So sometimes these long-buried words come out and usually I use them right, but sometimes not. So imagine my chagrin when I am talking to my incredibly intelligent English major sister (one of them, anyway: I have three) and hear myself saying about something, "it became the impetus for my making the change" (I can't even remember what I was talking about.) Wait a second. Is 'impetus' even a word? and how is spelled? impitus? empetus? amputis? I ask my sister and she didn't say much--so I thought it probably wasn't, but after the conversation, I looked it up. Lo and behold: "Impetus: n. the force that sets a body in motion."

Hoorah! Aren't words great?