Friday, February 27, 2009

To My Brothers

Dear Brothers (older and younger),

Last week both of you called our home. One of you was wishing a happy birthday to Brynley, but since she was asleep you spoke to me and listened to me as I folded laundry and tried to make sense of the day that had passed. The other of you phoned literally seconds after the first hung up. You were calling to check on us, to see how things are going and to ask if I was hanging in there.

I barely was.

Neither one of you could have known that hearing from my brothers was what I needed to "hang in". And because I heard from you I did hang in. And the clouds parted and hope and sun came my way, eventually. You did that for me, and you didn't even know you were doing it.

Sometimes (meaning-like most every morning)I look at the big huge bunch of kids that I mother and I wonder exactly how on earth I came to parent so many. It is overwhelming in this world of financial crisis, lots of wars and rumors of wars, and pornography and texting and over consumption of all things digital to realize that I am responsible for raising these little souls to become contributors to this society instead of leeches upon it. Its my JOB. Not only do I want them to become decent taxpaying law abiding citizens, I want them to come to a knowledge of greater spiritual truths, and I want to lead them to the feet of the Savior I love. And every single day it takes my life and most all of my thought. I take it pretty seriously and sometimes when those kids do exactly what they came to this earth to do-make choices-I don't like the the things they choose, and sometimes I can even see that those choices bring them sorrow and pain that was completely avoidable if they'd just listened to me...

and it kind of hurts my feelings that they didn't love me more in the second of their decision-cause of course if they had they would have chosen better right? (no worries, I know this answer, you don't need to post to reassure me here, knowing the truth doesn't' always make it easy to accept...right?)

but then I think of my brothers. Both made choices-most of them really good, but sometimes not so much. And both of them have become

honorable and faithful men

who check in on their sister and care for their wives and children. Who serve their communities and remain strong in their faith.

and did I mention they check in on their sister?

so, thank you brothers. Thank you for helping me hang in last week. You reminded me that my children aren't finished becoming just yet. And as they continue to make those blasted choices I can hope and expect them to become better and better. To become like you.

and knowing that makes hanging in there just a little bit easier.

love you and thanks.
-Your forever sister

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Little to Say and the flowers by my bed are still beautiful

I have little to say today. A few random sentences;

1. I am blissfully uninformed about most current events and especially about politics. What I can hear from NPR while driving (of course, this is contingent upon my daughters not needing to sing, scream, snore or cry in the car while I drive) is what I get. I have not heard all of the President's recent speech, but what I did hear made me think he is trying to - like most president's before him - promise to both spend money and cut back our country's borrowing at the same time. I've been trying to spend and save for years, and it just doesn't work.

2. I would like an invitation, to your blogs. Many of you comment and I eagerly enjoy every word you write, and then if I "click" on your names I get this thing that says I'm not invited to see your life. I understand, I totally get that. But, if you think I'm safely not going to stalk your children would you let me come into your blog and make comments like "thanks for this post, it made my day" or "you are so creative!" or the like. I'd really like to send that love your way, promise.

3. Fridays are not coming fast enough right now. There are 12 school weeks left, and my kids are acting like there are 5. This is going to hurt, I can tell!

4. Michele Wilks saved my bacon yesterday by giving me a gallon of her milk and a loaf of her bread so I didn't have to go into the store, at dinner time, with all my children, to buy those completely can't make it through the morning without items. THANK YOU MICHELE!

5. Mason finished his cross country season yesterday with a 10:13 run. Fabulous. Last week's was even faster, 10:06. Yes people, he ran a mile in 7 minutes and then another half of one in 3:06. Amazing to me, the 10 minute miler. My pride in him is ooozing out every pore this morning.

6. Last one. This weekend is our Stake conference, and I'm seriously looking forward to it. Not only do we have this truly inspired and fantastic Stake President to learn from, but on Sunday we get to hear from President Uchtdorf and Elder Cook. Awesome.

even when I have little to say I write paragraphs. Oh well. Happy Thursday

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

conversations and prayers by Porter

Yesterday was Fat Tuesday. This means that in much of the Christian world there was a lot of bead wearing, King Cake eating and general binging of worldly appetites. Today is the beginning of Lent, wherein at least one of those appetites will be "sacrificed" in preparation to receive the glorious wonder of Easter(our babysitter is giving up texting. Lots of our friends are giving up diet coke. or smoking; get the idea?)

I brought home a king cake to introduce the tradition and explain the christian culture of it all. You see, we are Christians too

but for us, its kind of lent all the time...

Porter spent the entire afternoon deciding what he'd give up for lent. His first idea was to give up vegatables. Then we explained that he was supposed to give up something he liked but that wasn't good for him. Like playing the wii all weekend. Or teasing Molly.

Trying to tell him he didn't have to give up anything for lent because we try hard to give up bad habits and sins all the time was hard, because we've done a really good job of helping Porter see that because everything we believe is centered in the reality and grace of Jesus Christ we are also Christian.

in the end, he decided he'd just "do lent", so his friends and teacher wouldn't be confused or wonder if he was Christian. The wii was just too much, so he gave up something less dear to his heart; picking his nose and eating it (o.k., I made that part up, but it would be the perfect lent offering for Porter, let me tell you...)

Just before bed I got to hear Porter say his prayers. Sounded something like this;

Dear Heavenly Father
I thank thee for this day
I thank thee that this was a good day
I thank thee for helping me remember to be good at school so i didn't lose my sticker
I thank thee for my family that loves me
and for my clothes and food
I thank thee that I could be my mom's son

and I want to be a good missionary someday. Please help me be a good one.
And please help me to be good in the morning
and please bless my dad

in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Lent? The kid doesn't need lent. Wings and a halo were sprouting from him even as he closed his prayer. I don't think his friends or teacher will have a hard time knowing the this little guy is definitely a Christian.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Some things that are currently helping me smile

not that things should be the motivation for happiness or anything, but there are a few things that have brought the downturned corners up my mouth decidedly up these last few days...

the fresh flowers we bought for last weekend's real estate open house (which apparently no one attended, sigh). Having beautiful spring jewels bedside just has to make me happy, right? And the red tulips in my kitchen that stretch toward the sun are little heavenly masterpieces.

The photo art of my children's feet that is fastened to the wall above my toilet makes me smile every time I head into the water closet. I even like the little way I made the ready-made frame fit the odd sized photo. Numbers (like 8 for 8 grahams or 6 for 6 kids) and letters (in particular the letter G) are ultra symbolic for me and I like scattering them about in odd places through out our home.

And finally I love the new settee set we (meaning I with John's reluctant but doting nod to indulgence) have in the den (den is used loosely here, all of you would say "great room" but I just cannot come to terms with that term, so I call it the den even though the ceiling is high and it is a room of great proportion just off of the kitchen). The Swedish lines of the pieces, matched with the casual linen fabric and all the white accents just bring a sense of nostalgia and total satisfaction when in my view.

so, happy viewing to you. What makes you happy these days?

Monday, February 23, 2009

From John

Who spent some of the weekend pouring over websites all about photography, when he wasn't doing dishes, making Sunday dinner or hugging his wife. He also ran 8 miles (with me and Mason as companions), did lots of dishes, took care of kids while I took Bryn to her gymnastics meet, and read not only his scriptures but also some heady book about the world economy.

That's my guy. Enjoy.

Tomato Soup!

4 T unsalted butter
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 cans (35 oz. each) plum tomatoes, with their juices
8 large fresh basil leaves, slivered
Pinch of sugar
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
4 cups chicken stock/broth
1/2 t allspice, ground
2 cups heavy or whipping cream

1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add the onions, carrot, and
garlic. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables have wilted, 10 minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes and their juices, basil, sugar, and salt and pepper.
Cook for 5 minutes. Then add the stock and allspice, and slowly bring to a
boil. Reduce the heat, partially cover, and simmer for 50 minutes.
3. Puree the soup, in batches, in a blender or food processor. Return it to
the pot, add the cream, adjust the seasonings, and heat through.


Friday, February 20, 2009


Karen Scholl is responsible for introducing me to Tomato Soup from City Cafe on Lover's Lane in Dallas. She took me, and some other first year consultant's wives, to lunch over 10 years ago and while we spoke about what its like to be married to a traveling businessman my taste buds danced and sang hallelujah to the music of Tomato basil.

Being then the wife of a newly graduated MBA, finances were tight. I couldn't afford to go back to the swanky cafe for soup any time I pleased. I mentioned this to my sweetheart, and he took matters into his very own hands.

He learned how to make the soup.

By Christmas of that year he had the recipe down pat. Soup at my beck and call, as long as John was home to make it. And that really was the key. For I know how to read a recipe and the ingredients aren't hard to find. Its the magic of John's hands making the concoction that creates the delicious feeling of comfort the comes through me head to toe when this soup is served.

When we moved to Sweden and I had to get used to a dark and dreary winter, John made soup.

When we moved to Idaho and I had new friends to make, a house to put back together and a new life to figure out, John made soup.

When I returned from my first exposure to the third world, leaving my dear friend Susie behind in that world to fight out the adoption and return with her new children to her house across the street, John made soup.

Another move, to another new neighborhood, soup again.
And again and Again and Again, including when Lucy and I arrived home, after a month in Vietnam and a week of anxious not knowing when we'd see our family again.

Soup-this soup-made by my love is home and comfort for me.

So, the tears (literally) which welled in my eyes last Sunday when John slipped a spoon full of this hot love into my mouth were really no surprise. It was a deeply tender realization that no other recipe (not even my mom's rice with hamburger and cream of mushroom soup gravy) brings more comfort than this

made by my husband
made sweetly and specially for me.
Happiness in a bowl full of comfort, a bowl full of John's made-because-he-loves-me tomato basil soup.

Have a great weekend.
spiritual enlightenment here.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Another "next house" musing

So my plan was for our children to receive little baby chicks for Easter this year. These little chicks would be raised inside a little darling chicken coop, fed free range and loved for the little egg layers that they are. Then, as their little fuzzy bodies became fertile havens of protein, we would reap the harvest of free range, fresh, nearly free eggs.

It was a great plan.

But with change comes the need for new plans. Only I'm having a hard time letting go of this great idea. I mean, we eat like 18 eggs a week, and have you noticed that eggs don't cost a nikel a piece any more?

Some parts of our old Utah neighborhood will let you grow chickens. Those are the parts of Utah I muse about living in. Or out in the middle of nowhere, whichever. I lean less toward those suburbs with anti-grow-your-own-chicken ordinances and more towards those that will let me try my hand at free range eggs.

Just a new house wish, just a great idea.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A tee pee appeared in our yard over the weekend.

Bryn has been reading about Indians lately-in particular about Mary who was taken hostage by a tribe back in colonial days. Her family scattered or killed, she was adopted by her captors and shown love and kindness. When she finally was given the chance to return to "white civilization" she opted to remain with her tribe. A tragic and courageous story. Bryn was affected, truly.

And now we have tee pees in the back yard, and forts in the bedrooms. We have puppets made with beads strung on make-shift deer skin costumes.

And we have sisters clinging more tightly together, because who knows when an Indian tribe might come and take one of them away?

I love the tee pee in the yard because it means my children are playing together, clinging to each other over the threat of make believe enemies. I hope they ever cling to one another when real enemies come and threaten to destroy the delicate fabric of our family life. Too much time staring at a screen, the temptation to put friends before family, the enemy of too many activities and not enough time to play- those are real threats, and my daughters don't realize that they'll need to hold on tight to each other to keep themselves close.

But for now, pretend warriors and hostile frontiersmen can be the glue that solidifies family as they huddle within the walls of the back yard tee pee.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

One Year older and wiser too...

Happy Birthday to You!

Cinnamon toast and hot chocolate with marshmallows.
Gifts from parents and grandparents.
the promise of a lunch outing with mom and birthday cake with daddy.

what more could a girl ask for on her 11th? (oh yeah, a cel phone, an ipod touch or a trip to the mall with the girlfriends. But Brynley doesn't live in a dreamland, so the cinnamon toast and lunchtime outing will just have to make do.)

I love you Bryn boo. A privilege to be your mom and a joy to be your friend. Happy Birthday baby!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Monday Musings

So I'm trying not to dwell much on the fact that I have no idea when we will move, or where in Utah we will settle, or to which kind of home (older with character, newer and cheaper...). There is so much of the not resolved in my life that I am now living with that daily dose of anxiety that can eat one's vital organs right out of one's body.

Before I lose my appendix to worry I will try to spend some time this week posting great ideas for our next pad. Like the one above.

I snapped this photo at a local sandwich shoppe ("Which Which"-its a yummy lunch!). I'm totally loving the industrial strength steel and clips they use in their decor. Here they display pictures their customers have drawn on the bags they use to clothe their sandwiches.

While traditional mixed with old Swedish country mixed with whimsical is my personal home decorating style, I think this sleek modern and intensely function over form idea would be the most awesome system for displaying my kids art, don't you? Especially since our art wall in this house has been in our garage, because that is a place we see every single day, and I want their art displayed where we actually see and enjoy it. And because my stainless steel fridge can't hold a magnet. Can you dig this for a fantastic idea? Once we move into our next and final house, I'll go shopping at our local hardware store, come up with steel cable and clips, ask John to pull out the power tools (I love it when he pulls out the power tools) and voila! Art display extraordinaire!

watch for more "future nest building" ideas this week. They are a silver lining to the low hanging clouds of appendix eating anxiety...

oh, and tomorrow is Brynley's birthday. Thus begins our "birthday every month" for the next 7 months...marathon cakes and candles for half the year at our house!

Friday, February 13, 2009

To My Valentine

Some of these delicious delectables are waiting for you at home. And I'm there too, giddy to smother you with chocolate frosting kisses.

You mean it all to me my love. You are the current source of most every smile, the comfort that with you I am home, and the hope of a happy eternity.

I'm yours. And the great blessing and privilege of this life is that you are mine in return.

hugs and kisses as soon as we meet again.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Trying to keep from getting bucked off...

No one has come to view our home in nearly 4 weeks. Some of the hopes and dreams about being in Salt Lake in time for short sleeves and new blooms (that's late spring to most of the rest of you) are fading off in the distance. New, alternate plans for driving west when school ends are starting to come to the forefront of conversation. Leasing instead of buying, Renting instead of selling.

Its all just talk.

But, as usually happens with me, this kind of talk bucks me off my "I'm going to be positive and happy no matter what happens to me" bull, and I have to hang on tight to keep myself from sinking down into the mud of pessimism and worst case scenarios.

I'm hanging on tight to stay in the saddle. And even though the tears are a little too close to the surface, and the temper a little to short, I'm going to fight to stay in there until the clarity of God's plan for our family's future is made just a little bit brighter.

Because I can promise He's in charge of all this. I can't tell you how its going to work out, can't promise myself it will happen as I'd like. But I've felt those definite assurances that He will lead us. And as I work hard to keep His commandments (including the one to "be of good cheer and do not fear"), He promised me He'd show us the way.

so I'll keep hanging on, and smiling.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Another thoughtful friend...

Last Wednesday Mrs. Sharon Cliff phoned to see how I was doing. I had determined to go with her to Dallas that day to work and worship in the Dallas Texas Temple. But my service was meant for other things-as Lucy and Molly needed a sick day from school to recover from green snotty noses (and eyes, and ears...). Sharon sensed the "wo-is-me" in my voice as I left the message that I would not be joining. She went without me, which is certainly as it should be. When it comes to worship, its best done solo anyway.

Sharon, on her way home from the Dallas Texas Temple, stopped by the bakery that makes the best piece of cake on the face of the Earth. And she bought me the last little slice (and 6 sparkly heart shaped cookies for my children to pack in their lunches next day)

Can you believe she gave ME the last slice of cake perfection from Panini Bakery? She did.

That temple worship brings out the best in all of us. Not that Sharon wasn't charitable and kind and thoughtful before her trip to the Temple, but it is PANINI cake after all.
Thanks Sharon, for giving me something to smile about on a day when smiling didn't come so easy.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Last week's great moment

Was on Wednesday evening. Despite the craziness of dragging little children out to a winter track meet (with bigger children stranded at their church activity day because mom cannot be in two places at one time...) I watched my oldest kid cross his first finish line. A 1.5 mile course in 10minutes22seconds. Pretty awesome for his first race. He wasn't the fastest, wasn't the slowest and I was certainly the proudest parent there.

It isn't that he is running fast, it isn't even that he passed other runners during the course of his race. It's that he is trying new things, putting himself out there where he could potentially fail and trying hard to succeed. It's that he loves the running enough to get his own work out gear in his back pack, put his own after school snack in his bag and get his own homework turned in on time so he can run day after day.

Its that in that 10 minutes and 22 seconds I saw my kid grow older and wiser. That was last week's great moment.

Five meets to go. Five more times my other kids will be inconvenienced so I can support their brother (who we seem to never-endingly support these days in so many other ways). Five more chances to see him mature in 10 minutes 22 seconds (or less).

Friday, February 06, 2009

Random photo from the archives

For a fun twist on a Friday, here is a photo from last Christmas morning. Thanks Hadfield cousins, for dolling up the darling duds for winter. Molly dons her scarf nearly every morning whether its cold or not. Bryn has gone about trying to figure out if you stitched around or glued on the monogram applique (always the creative engineer, that one) Madi loves the color of her scarf and uses her gloves a TON, and Lucy, well, Lucy likes hers well enough, but that phone you see? it was the hit of the day.

Have a great weekend. Spiritual enlightenment here

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Bryn's project

Three identical flower pots, each filled with soil and seeds, placed in 3 different windows which all face the same direction. One grows in silence, one grows with a little piano music to aid it along each day, one gets a long dose of music to coax it along.

Photos taken to document the progress of the seeds over the course of the experiment.

Never mind the project, isn't she a great photographer? Happy Thursday.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A humble Thank you

Above you see a gift from a dear friend. Melissa, who lives and thrives with her husband and children in Johannesburg South Africa became my friend through visiting teaching. Visiting teaching is our church's phrase for "female fellowshipping". We are paired with a companion in our congregation. We go together to visit some of our other "sisters" in our congregation. We visit in one another's homes. We take with us a spiritual message that centers in the teachings of Jesus Christ. We call those we visit and check in on them. We bring food when babies are born or loved ones pass on. We care for one another. We watch over each other.

Melissa watched over me. She was my visiting teacher. And in the months we lived in SA she never missed. She came each month, she visited, she called on other occassions to check in on me and be sure I was "getting along" in her country. She shared tender feelings and sweet spiritual lessons with me. I became better for knowing her.

Melissa is still watching over me. She sends me email letting me know she remembers me. She prays for our family; especially now with a house up for sale and a husband starting a brand new job and all the ups and downs of yet another move. Melissa sent this gift right around Christmas time. She planned it, stitched it, and mailed it (which is no small feat for anyone who knows the mail system in Africa!). It hangs on my wall. A treasure of friendship and a gift from her perfectly pure heart.

Thanks Melissa. It is only a pleasure to know you.

One of the great blessings of my life has been seeing first hand that the church I belong to and the gospel I believe in is successfully thriving and changing the lives of many in countries other than my own. This church was founded in the United States, though we believe it to be a restoration of the very church Christ organized when He was at its head over 2 centuries ago. Still, as most view this church from its outside, you would see us as an "American church". I get that. I understand why you'd see it that way.

But I've seen this church function; with its lay clergy and its volunteer ministry in the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Haiti, Vietnam, Sweden, Germany, Austria, France, South Africa and England (to name a few). We've had the priviledge of worshipping for extended periods of time (6+months) in Sweden and South Africa. It is miraculous and strengthening to my personal faith to watch people and programs function across culture. It gives me greater validation that the teachings of Christ; His doctrines, His covenants and His invitation to follow Him are true and are embodied and outlined in the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Melissa's faithfulness in her duty as my visiting teacher is impressive. But her love for me, her genuine caring love for me...that is Christlike. And that is the gospel I believe in. That we can love others the way Christ loves. And that's what my church preaches. And that is what the members of my church- at least the ones I've met in all those different cultures of the world-are living. I'm so blessed to be a part of it. I'm so humbly thankful for it.

Monday, February 02, 2009

She did it!

About 2 years ago I sat around a lovely lunch table with several incredible women. In our conversation we, of course, discussed our children and the constant quandries that beset good parents as they try to navigate what is good and what is best. Which talents to help kids develop, how to teach kids to work, to be compassionate and to feel and recognize spiritual promptings. Our hostess and journalist-friend DeAnne led the group through an impromptu interview on some of these very topics and by the conclusion of our meal I heard her saying, "I've been wanting to write a book about this "talent trap" we're talking about. I'm gonna get to it."

And ya know what? SHE DID IT! She found the time, she worked the material, she researched and edited. She found a publisher, she refined the text, she asked many to read her manuscript and contribute their opinions and in the end she did it.

I'm so proud of you DeAnne.

The book is great and has terrific down to earth advice. Read it and let me know what you think. But I'm not posting so much to plug a book (though DeAnne might appreciate it if I did)

I'm posting because a friend who makes time for a great husband and 7 talented busy kids made time for her own worthy project. And the result, while I'm sure very satisfying to her, was something that can also benefit you and me.

You did it DeAnne! You did it!