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?