Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ringing in the New Year

In past years, we've had movie marathons. One year we watched our series of old Little Rascal movies from about 4pm until 1am. We could have gone on longer, but by then we could hardly keep our eyes open. Another year we watched Mr. Bean in the same manner.

When it was changing from 1999 to 2000, I was up feeding and changing a brand new baby. That was a new year's celebration I'll never forget.

This year we're not doing anything fantastic to celebrate the ending of 2008 and beginning of 2009. We're going to play games, drink sparkling cider, eat my mom's amazing dip, and maybe watch a movie or two. It's just going to be us. Z wanted to invite others, but I'm not sure I'll make it to midnight or that I'll even try, so I squelched his great idea. You know, every party has a pooper...

The one thing we're going to try this year is to pass around a piece of paper for each family member that says, "What I want from ____ in 2009." We'll pass them to those who can write and see what we come up with. Of course, these listed things can't be physical items; they will be limited to actions or ideas. I'm hoping this will help me and the rest of the family come up with some resolutions. I might even add the element of a wish for each family member for the new year.

So, for today, the plan is to clean the house. I always want to start a new year out fresh. I'm hoping to get the garage completely finished, sheets changed, laundry done, garbage all out, and everything sparkling. Thank goodness I have so many helpers! The men in the house need haircuts, so I'll undertake that as well. We'll see how we do.

I'd love to know what your traditions are. What was your most memorable new year's celebration?
Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Lucky Number

As a child, when asked what my favorite number was, I would say, "Four." Why four? I really don't know. I think my thought pattern went something like this.... I was born on April 13th--4/13. Thirteen can't possibly be anyone's lucky number, so I'd better opt for four. There it is, my favorite number, but as far as a lucky number, I've never had one. I think it's now time to have one.

According to Three Dog Night,
"One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do.
Two can be as bad as one
It's the loneliest number since the number one..."

..And, from what I understand from my childhood Saturday mornings, three is a magic number...

There are four seasons, so that's gotta be pretty important.

We, most of us, have five fingers and five toes on each hand and foot, and you give a "high five" when something goes really well. We also have five senses.

Can't think of anything for six, but to have a sixth sense about something is pretty special, so there you go. I thought six was a pretty great number for our family. Six kids was pretty danged blissful.

But now, SEVEN, let's look at seven...

Seven has been acclaimed as THE lucky number.

  • God rested on the seventh day and sanctified it.
  • There are seven days in a week.
  • There were seven loaves multiplied in the miracle of the loaves and the fishes (and there was surplus).
  • Oh yah, Pharoah had seven years of plenty and seven years of famine back in Moses' day.
  • There are seven notes in a major scale.
  • In the Harry Potter books, seven is said to be the most powerfully magic number.
  • There are "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People."
  • There's a seventh inning stretch in baseball.
  • I drink 7-Up when my tummy's upset and played "Heads Up Seven Up" when I was in elementary school. That was pretty fun.
  • Snow White was lucky to find SEVEN dwarves in the forest.

The Hindus originally wrote seven as an upside down "J"--coincidentally the first letter of my name. Could this be symbolic? Seven, so far, has turned my life upside down.

In this analysis, lies the cryptic answer to my strangeness these past few months.

Here is a rerun of the miracle of seven:

Seven Wonders Of The Present World - Awesome video clips here

Yes, these wonders of our world are what I have to offer the seventh wonder of my world. This email was the first I received (just moments) after taking a pregnancy test, indicating that Z and I would be parents once again. The timing of this email was miraculous. It was a waking to my new reality. Becoming pregnant again was something I was sooo not anticipating. This is what I've been trying to come to grips with. This is what's been making me sick.

As of today, I am very excited to have another child. I will more than welcome him (I'm fairly certain this is another boy) or her (finally my Lachlan?) with open arms and heart, but I'm so not excited to be pregnant. It's much harder this time. I do not recommend pregnancy after 40. Pregnancy has always been a fairly easy walk in the park deal for me, but so far, it's proving different this time. I'm too old for this.

Because of the timing of so many aspects of this occurence, I can't help but believe that all things happen in the Lord's time. Coincidence? Accident? No way! Surprise? Of course. Gift? Miracle?You'd better believe it.

So, I'm going to try not to whine for the next six months.

Oh by the way, take a moment and review #4 of this list of unusual things, and you will see the significance when I tell you that

child number seven is due on 7/7.

Yes, SEVEN is my new lucky number!

(I've decided not to mention the seven deadly sins, but they'd make some really great Halloween costumes in the future.)


I found this today. Never did I realize that these little lists that I've created when I've been tagged may someday be used to define me. I love this list--#17 and #46 make me very sad. I have a hard enough time coming up with 5 facts about myself, but 50? No way!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Missing Emilie

My childhood friend and neighbor Emilie Ast Lemmons, who has been suffering from cancer, died on Christmas Eve. I have been wanting to blog about it but haven't been sure how to. I have requested prayers on her behalf in the past, but now I'm requesting prayers on behalf of her husband Steve and two boys, Daniel and Ben.

Emilie was a writer by profession. We graduated from high school together. She attended Columbia University in New York. She was a soft-spoken, intelligent woman, who came from an uncomplicated, unpretentious, God-fearing Catholic family.

It has been a blessing in my life to become reacquainted with Emilie over this past year. We reconnected through facebook and then really got to know each other again through our blogs. If you get a chance, go to my sidebar and find Lemmondrops (her blog) and take a minute to read some of her entries.

Emilie visited her family in Portland--they still live in the house they did when I was a child--in October. By the end of the trip, she had an excrutiating pain in her hip and had to travel via wheelchair through the airport on her trip back to Minnesota.

To me, this was all very poignant. After my mother had seen all of her family, she too started to have intense pain in her hip and lost her ability to walk. I so hoped that these signs in Emilie, with her young family, weren't going to be the end for her. I also hoped she would make it through the holidays.

It is hard to understand why young children would have to lose a parent. My mom lost her mom when she was just about to turn six. My one comfort in this is that my mother was a uniquely strong person. She was sweetly strong. I hope this for these two boys.

As I have read of Emilie's journey through cancer up to death, I have been so impressed with her husband. I didn't realize until today, as I've read facts about her life on facebook, that she and Steve were only married for five years. The things she writes about him are so sweet. He loved her unconditionally.

I worry for Emilie's family here in Portland. Their road has not been an easy one. They are quiet people, strong and enduring. I hope in their situation they are able to get out to Minnesota. The funeral is on Monday.

I will miss reading Emilie's blog posts. I will miss getting to watch her boys grow up through her camera lens and hear about her fun dates with her husband. It is hard to believe that she is gone. I am grateful for the blogsphere that puts us back in touch with and connects us with others who we might never know but who can enrich our lives with their day to day comings and goings.

Please keep the Lemmons and Ast families in your prayers.

Making Up for Lost Time with Some Randomness

I left my laptop at home for this trip to the beach. I did it on purpose, so I'd be forced to do other things. As the house is quiet right now, I decided that I'd get on Z's computer and do some blogging. The great thing about his computer is that he has photos that I don't have on mine, so I've decided to create a slideshow with some little glimpses of this past year for you. Enjoy!

My Favorite Christmas Gift

Z's mom decided that this year she was going to give gifts of service. She called me a few weeks ago asking what I thought Z would think about her ironing his dress shirts once a month. I told him that he would love it (so would I), so that's what she gave him. When I hung up, I wondered if she was planning on doing something similar for each family member and tried to figure out what she would do for me. I really couldn't think of anything.

On Christmas morning, I was handed a very small wrapped box with a raffia ribbon tied around it. Inside was a slip of paper that said that Z's mom would make an entire meal for our family one time every month for the year of 2009. Wow!!! For any of you that don't know, Z's mom is my favorite cook in the entire world! She never uses a recipe and ends up with amazing dishes that are TO DIE FOR. I couldn't be more excited.

You'd better believe I'll be posting about these fabulous meals. I can't wait!!!

Christmas Eve

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!

We have Christmas Eve and Christmas with Z's family every year. We have since we were engaged. We have a wonderful feast of a dinner, act out the nativity, and sing Christmas carols until we're hoarse. Usually we go up to their home in Banks (about 40 minute drive from our house), but this year, it was decided that we'd go to their home on the coast to celebrate. This was a great idea it turned out because the Banks home had at least four feet of snow to contend with.

Our original plans, this Christmas, were to leave for Lincoln City (on the Oregon coast) on the 23rd, but our world has been so snow covered, that we questioned getting there at all.

After much research, we decided, rather last minute on Christmas eve, that we'd brave the elements and head toward the beach. Yeah for a Suburban, chains and the weight of eight bodies. We experienced snow up through McMinnville. The only risky part of this venture, or so we thought, was going to be getting over the coast range. It ended up being no problem at all. Many of those roads had been closed during the days before because of downed trees. As we headed into the mountains all there was was rain. We were in great shape.

In the past few years, our ward has helped serve dinner at local hospitals on Christmas. Z invited his parents to join in on the fun last year. Z's mom was so enamored with this idea that she decided to bring it to the Lincoln City area.

The hospital here in Lincoln City is really small. One of the E.R. doctors used to be in the bishopric, so Z's mom had an in. She got it all organized.

When we arrived in town late in the afternoon of the 24th, I dropped Z and four of the six kids at the hospital to help. Even A, who is almost six, begged to go and help serve. I was so pleased with his decision.

Two of the boys and I left them, stopped at the grocery store and went to Z's parents house to unpack the car. We went back to get them at 7pm. They served 128 people and ran out of food. Everyone had a great time. Could become a new Hess family Christmas eve tradition, we'll see.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Just a Little Thinking Ahead

Christmas isn't even here yet, and I'm thinking about my resolutions for the new year.

Okay, here it 2009, I want to be perfect.
How's that?
I want to learn to do it ALL and be ALL that I'm supposed to be.
With that kind of attitude, do you really think any one little goal is going to satisfy?
Hm. I didn't think so.
So, what's a girl to do?

At this point, I'm so far from this goal that I don't even know where to begin. Here is my short list of possibilities:
  • Be perfect in Visiting Teaching. I have never struggled with this like I do now. Not sure why. Wish I could resolve my own concerns about it, but not sure where to start. For 2009, I just want to get out and do it--hang ups or not.

      • Be a better homemaker. I want to set goals each month to learn a new skill and work on it throughout the month until I get really good at it.

      • Have more fun with my kids. Maybe reinstitute date nights with them. Not sure yet on this one. Any ideas would be appreciated.

      • Read my scriptures daily. I've been doing good with this one, but I need to continue even if it's just one little verse every day.

      • Say more meaningful prayers. I loved Elder Bednar's talk at this last Conference on this topic, and I want to do all that he said to do.

      • Finish four more classes this year, so I can graduate next year.

      • Become more fiscally sound--create a larger emergency fund.

      • Muck out the house completely and keep it tidy--declutter. I think I will assign an area a month, and give myself some breathing room.

      • I'm going to watch what I eat, limit my portions, and exercise at least five days a week. I need to get back into walking the kids up to school.

      • Be a better housekeeper. I hate this one. Here's the reason. When I clean my house, I expect it to stay clean at least for a little while. I want to be able to leave a room and come back and at least find some semblance of my hard work when I return. If I don't find this, I become a bit irate. I basically throw what might be termed an adult temper tantrum. At forty years old, I think I'm ready to outgrow this, but I feel very disrespected when my house gets turned upside down without any effort on my part. To resolve this problem, I have chosen to ease up. My house is less than perfect, but it is liveable. I've even had people say they've never seen it messy (I don't think these people come over very often). My kids are very helpful and know how to work around the house, but none of us are all that great on picking up after ourselves on a regular basis. In short, I have chosen peace over perfection. Am I copping out? Should I be making a firmer stand with a more iron-ish fist? I think I just may be expecting too much.

      So, overwhelmed yet? I definitely am. We have many home projects that need to be done--walls to paint, a retaining wall to put up, a dryer that still needs to be re-ducted (was supposed to be done yesterday, but the snow prevailed), and a ladder that needs to be created--we are WAYYYY overdue on this. The bids people are giving us are just way too high for our budget, and we now need to build it ourselves; good luck getting Z around long enough to do it. We will also be buying a new (well, not "new," just different) car in 2009. *heavy sigh* What do you think of this fine model? It just SCREAMS "madhouse," don't you think?

      I know I've got to decide on only one goal, which will require a lot of prayer, but I would love any opinions you might have. I know these are personal choices that I need to make, but input is always valued. Many of you have been there and done that, so you have experience I don't have. Bring it on.

      Maybe it's a good thing I'm thinking about this before Christmas. There's a lot to think through and iron out before 2009 arrives.


      Saturday, December 20, 2008

      Madness or Medicine?

      I noticed that the last time I posted was my 300th post. I think I deserved a bit of a break. Ooh, that darned entitlement thing. I really didn't deserve it, but the only things I truly want to blog about cannot be blogged about yet. I'm figuring give me to the end of this week, and I won't be able to stand it any more. Just a warning--a good gut spilling is on its way--that's what Z says I do here (he's just jealous that he doesn't have a place to do the same; don'cha think?).

      I can't sleep this morning, so here I am. Nothing like a little therapeutic blogging to put one back to sleep. Only problem is, my little human alarm clock will be awake by the time I finish I'm sure. *Sigh*

      But, did you miss me? I know I have blogging friends that when they don't blog I miss them terribly. I'm sorry to be so sporadic, but I'm going to make that all change.

      The other evening, we were with my sister-in-law and nephew. About something we had just done, my nephew said, "I have never laughed so hard in my life." Q said, "Well, you should come eat dinner at our house more often. I laugh that hard every night just sitting at the dinner table with my family." I LOVED that! We are truly a madhouse, and I would have it no other way.

      I was also raised in that kind of home where laughter was the norm. We used to try to beat each other to the punch. When my dad said something, all us kids'd try to be the one with the funniest retort. It was just our way of communicating and showing love to each other. It's how I feel that others love me now. I love people who laugh easily--I feel a connection with them. I fear people who don't smile. I wonder when life turned sour for them.

      I remember a few times when things got heavy in our home and my dad would lose his humor. Those were sad times. I have to admit, I follow that trend as well. These past few months have been a fairly humorless time in my life. I regret that I'm not laughing away my worries and am really trying to find a way to do so.

      I once worked at girls' camp with a well-respected woman in our stake. One day she said something along the lines that people who laugh too much aren't right in the head. A number of years back, I heard a rumor spread that a friend of mine was crazy--not sure why this was concluded about her, and I defended her. I'm fairly certain that the same thing was said about me; the rumor spreader might not be all wrong if too much laughter is the criteria. Those who honestly consider us crazy just don't understand.

      Honestly, I enjoy life. I feel that things happen for a purpose and there's a greater force in control here. Yah, hard things happen; bad things happen, and sometimes I get caught up in trying to adapt, but when it all comes down to it, let's put this all into perspective--I'm not out here on my own, fending for myself with nothing to guide me. I should be able to laugh at life, and I should laugh a lot and laugh hard.

      So, here's the catch 22. They say laughter is the "best medicine," but on the other hand, if I'm a person who laughs easily, I'm crazy? Okay, so which is it? I'd much rather go through life facing my difficulties with laughter than with a stiff upper lip as I "take my medicine."

      No doubt these are hard times. There are so many things to get caught up in and worried about. Many of these things that we face are not a joking matter it's true, but aren't there good things in life as well? Aren't there things that we should be truly joyful about? I just can't help but think that God is aware of the evil and bad situations around us, but is that what He wants us to focus on? If we are truly reliant on Him, shouldn't we be able to come to understand and learn from those things, make the best possible choices in how we respond to them, and then put Him in charge and seek for the joy that is here for us?

      I look at my children, and I worry about what the future holds for them and their children. Who doesn't? But, do I want them to live lives of worry and sorrow? No WAY, so I'm giving them a little of my "insanity"--a little madness--so they can learn to live happily in hard times. Are you doing this too? Is there a method to your madness?

      I know that our Father in Heaven has a sense of humor. I've experienced it. I believe He's blessed my life with it, and I'm grateful for it. Now, I just need to find it again.

      Well, the two-year-old continues to sleep--oh blessed day! So, thank you for letting me spill a few more of my guts here. I'm back off to sleep now. I leave for you...

      ...some medicine:

      Friday, December 12, 2008

      More on Courtney

      For those of you who are interested, Courtney Jones was on KOIN-6 yesterday. I just found that it can be seen online--push the arrow to the right until you get to the picture of her. Here's a link to her website too.

      Thursday, December 11, 2008

      Just Gotta Vent

      Okay, help me understand this. I will be as vague here as I can be and will use no names in order to protect the innocent--and also because I don't know their names.

      As many of you know, I am not married to a little man. I mean he can be picked out of any good crowd on a bad day. For those of you who don't know, my husband is a school administrator.

      Here's the situation...
      Yesterday, I get a call from the hubby asking me to bring him a new shirt. Strange request. No? Says he's been spat upon and needs a change. I'm thinking, "What?!"

      He gets home last night and shows me his shin. It's got a huge bump and bruise and tells of the situation. I cannot share all of the details, but a kid went ballistic and a number of the school staff were present to take care of the situation. None of them got away unscathed.

      Today, hubby gets the news that the parents might sue for abuse. What?! If anything, knowing my husband, the gentle giant, he should be suing this kid for the abuse he took.

      Another story...
      The school district is now using a new computer software that checks students' compositions and essays for plagiarism. Sounds like an amazing program.

      At another school in the district, a student's paper was checked and found to have 65% of its contents stolen from other works. Mother comes in with her son to meet with the principal, to discuss this issue, and sides with her son when he says it was all his own words. COME ON!

      All I have to say is WHAT IS UP WITH PARENTS THESE DAYS?! Yah, what's up with the kids, but are we, as parents, so blind to our sweet little children that we can't see when they're pulling the wool over our eyes? For heaven's sake, people!

      I guess coming from an educator's wife and daughter-in-law's perspective, I've heard so many things about parents backing and protecting their children when it's so very evident from everyone else's perspective that the kid is wrong or has a problem that needs to be dealt with. We are doing our children no favors by siding with them or ignoring what we're being told. We are depriving them of some very important lessons. Man, I mean, wouldn't you rather have them learn it now from people who love them and want the best for them than when they're adults and have to be told the much more painful lesson from a police officer or a judge?

      I'm sorry, but when my kids are wrong, they're wrong. If a teacher comes to me and tells me one of my kids is having a problem, which has happened more than I'd like to admit, I listen and try to come up with a plan of action with that teacher. I want help from that person who spends a good part of his/her day with my kid and has studied these things and learned from the school of hard knocks in many cases. I know, having seen my husband in action and the time in the evenings when he worries about his students and loses sleep over them, that a teacher or administrator doesn't call us to pick on our kids and make our lives hard. I would think this is the hardest part of their job--to have to call parents and confront them about issues with their kids. Why can't we see this and why do we ignore them or debate with them? Ugh! I'm sorry this just frustrates me sooo much!

      We can say, "What is wrong with kids these days?" But, I'm afraid in many cases the answer is evident, "Their parents."

      Okay, so I'll step off my soapbox now.

      Courtney Jones Video

      This is the daughter of our good friends. I love this song, and I love this album. I know it's on itunes if you're interested in what you hear. Enjoy!

      Back On

      I went ahead and re-signed up for facebook. So much easier to log back on than to get off the thing. Anyway, find me there. I had so many of my blogging friends signing on and received a few invitations that I couldn't stay away. Let's hope for the best this time.

      Tuesday, December 9, 2008

      I've Just Gotta Do It!

      I'm suffering with the lack of my usual blog music. Christmas music is great, but I'm, quite honestly, getting sick of hearing the same songs over and over again. Do I sound like Ebeneezer Scrooge here? I'm thinking the old music is coming back tomorrow, so if you don't like it, just push the pause button on the player.

      On second thought, nope, not tomorrow....

      Right now!

      Sunday, December 7, 2008

      Seven Important Dates

      In keeping with Vaxhacker's comment on my earlier post, I decided to hunt down some good meme's to share. This is one I found on a site called "Patrick's Place."

      "Today is Pearl Harbor Day. December 7th is one of those dates that Americans were told would live in infamy by President Roosevelt. But it doesn’t take an act of war or anything necessarily bad to make a date stick out in your mind.

      "Maybe you’ll never think of November 22nd without thinking of the Kennedy Assassination. But maybe you’ll never look at the date of your wedding without thinking what a joyful day that was. It can be something good or bad.

      "This week’s question asks you to choose up to seven dates (including years or not) that stand out to you for whatever reason. (And please give the reason if you’re willing.)"

      Okay, so funny thing is those dates mean nothing to me because I wasn't alive when either of those things happened. Sad, but true. Here are my seven dates.

      April 13, 1968 - The day I was born. Do I remember it? No, not really, but I celebrate its anniversary every year. There was a long stretch of time when daily I'd look at the clock exactly at 4:13. That was weird. Actually, night before last I woke with my stomach hurting and glanced over at my clock (one of the only ones in the house that isn't set ten minutes fast) and it said, "4:13." Do you hear the Twilight Zone theme playing? By the way, yes, it is the thirteenth, but rest assured I was born on a Saturday (the day before Easter, actually). One of the Friday the 13th movies came out on my 16th birthday. Friday the 13ths have been my best birthdays--it's true.

      May 1, 1976 - The day I was baptized. Z always wonders why I remember this date. I really don't know why it has left an indelible mark. We went to the Forest Grove building, as I recall, for my baptism. The closest font at the time, I think. I think the Hillsboro Stake Center was under construction at the time. I remember driving home and feeling the importance of what had just happened. I knew I never wanted to do a bad thing again in my life. I was confirmed the next day in our ward building (on West Union Road). I remember a boy who lived in the ward at the time sitting in the front row of the chapel that day and making faces at me the entire time of the blessing. Ugh! He ruined the whole thing for me. I wasn't smart enough to just close my eyes. So, I have no idea what my dad said in the blessing. Very sad.

      April 7, 1989 - The day I went to the temple for my endowments. My younger brother had been called to serve a mission in Hartford, CT and I had been called to serve in Sendai, Japan. I entered the MTC on his coattails--just missed him. Huge bummer. He's a BLAST! Anyway, since we were leaving so close to each other's time, we got our endowments the same day. We drove to Seattle to do so. The Portalnd Temple was under construction and had its open house and dedication right after I left for the MTC. It was a very small session--just us, our parents and another couple, as I recall. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed when I walked out of the temple that day, but my brother was feeling the same way, and knew just how to verbalize it, so it was great being with him.

      March 21, 1992 - The day Z and I got married. It was a beautiful, sunny day with a bit of a wind kicking up now and then. Man, I was so in love with him! I dated a lot in my teenage years and early twenties. My mom used to say she couldn't wait for the day when I came home exclaiming, "I'm in love!" I promised her that was never going to happen. Heck if it didn't. My parentes loved and still do love Z. My mom once told me that if I didn't marry him I would never get married because he was so perfect for me. It's true. He puts up with a whole lot of garbage but is so patient and loving. The best thing is he laughs with me and makes me laugh. How did he ever decide that he should marry me? I have wondered that often, but I'm grateful that he did.

      November 11, 1993 - The day my first child was born. I will use this date to represent all the others--Oct. 4th, Sept. 4th, Dec. 28th, Jan. 3rd, and Oct. 10th. I had been told the day before that I would be induced as soon as possible because of preeclampsia--pregnancy induced hypertension. We went in bright and early and had to wait. It was Veteran's Day and the maternity ward was full. When they finally took us in, the woman in the room next to ours was screaming like a banshee. I turned to the nurse and asked, "Do I have to do that?" She said that some people are just more loud than others. I promised her that I would NOT be doing that, adn I didn't. It's funny how opinionated I was about this--no meds, I wanted to be in control of everything I could be. Q was born at 2:22 on 11/11. This has always been easy to remember.

      March 17, 1999 - The day my mom passed away. I had to speak at the baptism for a sister-in-law that night. We knew for days that she was going to go soon, but that morning we knew it was imminent. I sat on her bedside that day and stayed there. I'd been in the house for five days, but this day I couldn't leave her. I didn't want her to be alone. I got a phone call from Z's mom asking if I was going to give the talk that night, or if I wanted her to prepare for one. I knew that was where my mom'd want me to be, so I told her, "No, I'll be there." I, in my head, said, "Mom, if you want me to be here when you go, you'll need to leave by 5:00." I went through the things on her desk--genealogy books, etc. trying to get a grasp for what had been most important to her in those last few months. I started to teach my sister how to administer her meds, but my sister got a phone call and stepped into the next room to take it. A few minutes later, my mom took a deep, awful, drowning, sounding breath. I turned and looked at her, knowing, but not wanting to know what was happening. She exhaled and did it again. My heart hurt. I ran to her side, but I knew there was nothing I could do. I ran toward the door calling my dad. I remember yelling, "Dad, Mom's gone." He walked in, laid her down, and as he covered her with the bedspread, said, "I'm going to miss your sweet smile." He followed this with words I'll never forget, "Time of death...five o'clock p.m." Someone had heard me and knew she wanted me to be there.

      December 8, 2008 - Tomorrow. Who knows what tomorrow holds? But. as my mother by marriage would say it's gonna be "my best day ever."

      The Coming Week

      Here are the upcoming events at our house:

      Tomorrow night, we get to do FHE with some dear friends to get ready for a Christmas nativity thing the kids'll do together.

      G's got basketball practice on Monday and Wednesday nights. They had their first tournament this past Saturday and won all four of their games! Should be a good season. They changed the Monday night practices to 8pm. At first I thought this was a bit late, but I realized later that this is perfect for our Family Home Evening schedule. Yeah!

      Yes, we're still without a dryer. I've been washing all the laundry, which is super fast, and then running the wet stuff to the laundromat to dry. We need to rerun our dryer ductwork in order to get our dryer a permanent fix, so it might not be until Christmas break for Z to have the time to do this. It'd be nice to know someone who actually knows what they're doing in this kind of a case, but we can't think of who would, so we'll see what happens. So, tomorrow I'll be washing all the clothes and Z will run them to the mat during G's practice. Oh I know, fun! Fun! Fun! You're all just a bit jealous of my seemingly idyllic life.

      B's Cub Scouts and DJ's Activity Days are on Tuesday as are G's swimming lessons and Enrichment for me. I've loved watching G swim. I love, first of all, getting out of the house, but it's been fun to watch him graduate level by level. He started out at level C. He was nervous about this, thinking he'd be the oldest kid in a little kid class, but the first week he passed all the C requirements and moved to D and the next lesson he fulfilled all of those and is now in E. Our goal is to get him up to level G so he can do fun swimming stuff with his friends during the summer. He is in a class with one other boy who is seven, but G really likes him and is so good with kids younger than he is, that it's still a fun experience for him.

      Wednesday I have a doctor's appointment and that evening is Sub for Santa with the youth. Q has invited her friend from school. Not sure if this is such a good idea. He is a boy, and just knowing how the youth have reacted in the past when girls have brought guys and guys have brought girls to mutual--there is a judgmental thing that goes on and they're automatically considered a "couple." Q knows there is no dating until 16, and she's seen others make mistakes that she knows she doesn't want to make. Am I handling this wrong? Should she not be allowed to invite this boy? I guess since I had so many guy friends at her age, I see things as very harmless. Am I being naive?

      Thursday'll be grocery shopping day. Yeah for coupons!

      Q's going to watch the kids for me on Thursday afternoon as soon as she gets home, so I can run to the temple. Ahh. I can't wait.

      Friday is the day I'm looking forward to the most. Through blogging, I've come back in contact with a young woman who was one of my Beehives way back when Z and I were just starting out. She's a photographer and has offered to take our family portraits. So, we're picking Z up from work on Friday afternoon and heading straight down to Salem to see her (I think it's been thirteen years). I'm just so excited to see her! Now I've got to see what we all have to wear for photos--white shirts and jeans is where I'm leaning. It's been awhile since we've done photos like those. She mentioned black shirts also looked good, but I don't think all of my kids have black shirts. Any other opinions?

      Just a silly side note:
      At Z's school, there is a large flock of geese that hang out on the fields. One of them aimed just right for the passenger side window on Z's car. Today, as we drove to church, there it was, out my window. Ugh! It's green! I started calling it "poose goop," as I frequently mix first letters in words. It seemed to fit, but maybe it should be known as "peuce goop."

      I promise that I'm going to get back into my Constitution series. It'll happen this week. Have a great one! We'll see if I can get a little more bloggy in my thinking and post a bit more than this past week.

      Saturday, December 6, 2008

      Kind of Funny?

      I know I need to get back into this blogging thing. It's only been a few days, and I know that a lot of people only blog every couple days, but I love blogging daily. For now, I don't have anything urgent that I want to post about. So, I come to you...

      What do you want me to write about? Is that kind of funny to ask? Ask me some questions, and I'll do my best to answer them. Maybe it will get me out of this non-interesting phase.


      Oh, Merrianne, I got your Christmas card!!! I was so excited! Beautiful pic of your family. Thanks for sending it to me. I felt so special to be counted as one of your friends!

      Friday, December 5, 2008

      Can You Help Me?

      A few weeks ago, I was reading a blog--the I believe I have listed in my list to the right--and there was a recipe for macaroni and cheese. It was actually a link to another website. I thought I had saved the link, but I can't find it now. I wanted to make it tonight. Can anyone help me here.


      Wednesday, December 3, 2008

      Someday... *Sigh*

      We sat looking at our Christmas tree this evening. We have just a plain ol' tree. Nothing like you'd see at a department store or anything fancy like that, but every ornament has a story behind it, and you can tell that some proud kids decorated it. You can also tell that a two year old lives in our house by all the ornaments that were once on the tree but now decorate the floor.
      As we looked at the tree tonight, A and I, I started to comment on who made which ornaments. He asked, "Which ones did I make?" I realized that there weren't any that he had made. There were some that he'd been given, but nothing that he could look at and say, "I made that," so I told him the day school gets out for Christmas break, we'd make ornaments.
      I remember being invited over to my neighbor Laurie's house when I was little to make homemade ornaments. One year it was orange crickets made from clothespins and another year, it was styrofoam boys and girls that we cut out with cookie cutters and painted with red and green glitter. We were allowed to take home whatever we made and put them on our tree. Every year, I would remember making those ornaments and the good feelings of doing so. This is a tradition I'd like to start in my home.
      As I was hunting for ideas this evening, I came across this. I think it's beautiful and would love to make it, but it makes me laugh because as I look at this picture, all I can see are little bites out of each and every apple. This poor thing wouldn't last a day at my house. Would someone please make this, so I can enjoy it at your house?

      Someday, I'm going to have things like this. Just wait and see. For now, I'm going to have glittered styrofoam hanging from my tree, and I'm going to have kids who are proud to say "I made that" for the next fifteen years of their lives.
      I this this is a good trade-off.

      LOVIN' this!

      Okay, so I'm in a rare mood today. I'm a bit grumpy. Feeling a bit rebellious. Just kind of in a bad mood. Someday I will explain more about why, but now, Z, always knowing just what to bring me out of these kinds of moods, sends me something worth laughing about...

      When you have an 'I Hate My Job day'
      [Even if you're retired, you sometimes have those days]
      Try this out:
      On your way home from work, stop at your pharmacy and go to the thermometer section and purchase a rectal thermometer made by Johnson &Johnson
      Be very sure you get this brand. When you get home, lock your doors, draw the curtains and disconnect the phone so you will not be disturbed.
      Change into very comfortable clothing and sit in your favorite chair. Open the package and remove the thermometer. Now, carefully place it on a table or a surface so that it will not become chipped or broken.
      Now the fun part begins.
      Take out the literature from the box and read it carefully. You will notice that in small print there is a statement:
      'Every Rectal Thermometer made by Johnson &Johnson is personally tested and then sanitized. ' Now, close your eyes and repeat out loud five times,'I am so glad I do not work in the thermometer quality control department at Johnson &Johnson.'

      .........Remember, if you haven't got a smile on your face and laughter in your heart...Then maybe you should go and work for Johnson &Johnson!!!!!

      Suddenly, I LOVE my job!!! Have a great day!

      Tuesday, December 2, 2008

      Stand Firm

      My sister sent this to me this morning. Wow! This is from an address at BYU in 1978. Is he talking about today or what?! Listen and be in awe of these prophecies. Then stand firm and immovable.

      Sunday, November 30, 2008

      Boy Am I Spoiled!!!

      We've gotten to a point where the nightly cooking duties are divided. We've been doing this for about the last month, and it's been heavenly. Z cooks on Sunday, I cook on Monday, Q has Tuesday, DJ Wednesday, G does Thursday, B (who begged to be added to the rotation) has Fridays. A is also begging (as of tonight) for a night, so he might just be added in for Saturday. It's amazing to only have this one night a week. I LOVE it.

      G, a few months ago, told us that he didn't like to cook. He only felt this because his sisters on either side of him really like to bake--cookies, cakes, brownies, whatever is sweet and gooey and yummy--nice to have girls after my own heart.

      We are trying to help him overcome his feelings of not being a cook. So, tonight G and I sat down to find a recipe for Thursday evening. Here's what we came up with. I share it here because it looked so yummy and easy--well, relatively so. The tricky part is going to be the pizza crust. I may just buy ready-made dough, or have it made up in my bread machine before he gets home at 4pm.

      Let me know if you try it and how you like it.

      Gotta Have Some!

      I'm dying for some hot chocolate. We are absolute fanatics about it here at our house this time of year. Some of my kids are picky about the brand they ingest. Swiss Miss is too watery. They like Nestle--the big can of it. That way they can throw in as much powder as pleases them.

      Tonight, I went looking for some, and it's gone. Gone. Gone. Gone! I had kids searching all over the house for it. None! So, after some thinking, I realized that there have to be recipes out there for this kind of thing. I turned to my red and white checkered Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, and sure enough. Q, who loves hot chocolate more than any of the rest of us combined, volunteered to be the chef. It should be ready any second.

      Here's what it says it takes to make it:

      1/3 c. chocolate chips
      1/3 c. sugar
      4 c. milk

      You start out with the chocolate, sugar and half cup of the milk, mix those together in a saucepan over medium heat until the mixture just comes to boiling. You then add the rest of the milk and let it cook until it's heated through. Not too tough.

      I love add-ins, so mini marshmallows are coming my way. Yippee!!!

      "No Unhallowed Hand"

      Any chance I can get at sharing something uplifting, I will. Thank you, Trudy, for sending this to me. I'm assuming that since this is being circulated via email, that I am okay to post it here. I have chosen to withhold the last name of the writer to protect her anononymity.

      As I have stated before, I don't believe in coincidence, but I do strongly believe in miracles. I hope this story reiterates the fact that God is aware of all that goes on and watches out for each of us. We are all His children.
      I have been to the Los Angeles Temple twice. Once when I was a college student when my older brother got married there, and right before I entered the MTC and was visiting that same brother. It is an amazing place. Right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of downtown Los Angeles--on West Santa Monica Boulevard--stands this quiet, peaceful haven on a hill above all the craziness around it. I guess, having experienced time here, the email I received today meant even more to me. Thought I'd share it here.

      "Date: Saturday, November 15, 2008, 6:16 PM

      "My dear family, brothers and sisters, friends and leaders:

      "My heart is overflowing with joy and gratitude to our Heavenly Father for His tender mercies and mighty miracles in our behalf. I just have to share this with you. As most of you know, I am a Temple ordinance worker and work the morning shift in the LA Temple every Saturday. Today, I had the privilege of translating sister Martz-the new assistant Matron's-message during our devotional. She started like this 'The prophet Joseph Smith said that no unhallowed hand would be able to stop this Work from progressing. These past few weeks when mobs have combined and armies have gathered against the saints, the Lord has protected His house'. She went on to say that those, like her, who were inside the Temple when mobs were surrounding it, did not realize how scary and terrifying this looked on TV to the rest of us, because inside the House of the Lord all was calm and there was peace abundant. After Proposition 8 passed, the Temple began receiving threatening calls and mail from those opposing it. They were warned that more than 5000 people would come to the Temple and burn it to the ground, and stop Its work.

      "The first Thursday when the mob came, the new LA Temple President called the Salt Lake City Temple Offices for instructions. He was instructed to call the local police and to insure the safety of those attending the Temple by closing the gates. The assistant Matron said today, that it was a tender mercy from the Lord that the mob chose that Thursday to come since they had only one person coming to receive his own endowment that day, which he received in time to leavebefore trouble started. The LAPD and the FBI responded quickly to the Temple Presidency's summons and patroled the grounds and kept the mob from entering the same. Most of them had never been there before and expressed their surprise at how beautiful and peaceful all around was. They were invited to come back during the Christmas season to see the lights and they promised they would.

      "On Thursday, November 13th, sister Campbell, a secretary in the Temple, was opening the mail and upon opening a large manila envelope found inside a smaller one. When she opened this one, a white powder flew all around her desk. She thought this could be related to the demonstrators and feared the worst-ANTRAX. She contacted the President, who in turn called the Salt Lake City Temple office again for instructions. The FBI, the LAPD, and even the SWAT teams were once again in the grounds to investigate, and the Temple once again had to close from around 11:30 AM to 5PM. They closed the gates and were instructed to keep all the people there wherever they were found at the time. Those in the parking lot had to remain in the parking lot. Those entering the Temple had to remain in the first floor and those already upstairs were taken to the Celestial Room.

      "Then, the miracles began to happen: A brother serving as a recorder that day is a Microbiologist by profession and used to deal with hazardous substances every day. He was the first to say the white powder in the envelope was only talc, and put every one at ease. Then the sister coordinator upstairs was impressed to call upstairs to the sealing area, and said 'They said we can't go down but no one said we can't go up, and I have many people in the Celestial room with their ceremonial clothes on ready to work. Could they do some sealings?' As it happened, there were four sealers present that day and they ran four sealing sessions non stop while the Temple was closed. Downstairs, someone else thought to invite those in the Lobby to do some initiatories, which they promptly did for all those hours too, brothers and sisters alike.

      "Among those waiting in the parking lot there was a large group of young men and women with their leaders who had come to do Baptisms for the dead, and who waited patiently all those hours and decided when the Temple was reopened to go ahead and fulfill their assignment instead of driving back home. The Temple reopened in time for the 5:30 PM session. The next day when recording the ordinances, they discovered that they had performed 2000 sacred ordinances on Thursday, only one less than the day before when three stakes had been visiting the Temple. Once again the assistant matron reminded us of the words of the prophet Joseph Smith, 'No unhallowed hand can stop the Work from progressing...'.

      "But, this is not all, a prophecy was fulfilled also. When the new LA Temple President was set apart by President Uchdorft of the First Presidency, he received a blessing and these words were pronounced: " The time has come for the LA Temple to come out of obscurity and become an Ensign for Righteousness to the world under your Presidency." The pictures of the Temple have been shown on TV, newspapers and the internet, not only in this country but worldwide. People of other faiths have called and sent letters to the Temple thanking the Church for defending marriage and protecting the family, and commenting how impressed they are by how beautiful and majestic the Temple looks . One minister of an African American church, who by his own admission had harbored ill feelings against the mormons before said ' I am impressed by your integrity and Christ like behavior, and even if I am not ready to consider you my brothers and sisters in Christ, we can be first cousins'

      "I asked the assistant matron if I could share her comments and she said to go ahead. I can only add my own testimony that I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has the power and authority of God on earth. God Lives and Jesus, His only Begotten Son and our Savior is coming soon to redeem His people. I am grateful to know this and I pray we stand firm, steadfast and immobile while the prophecies of the signs before His Coming are fulfilled. 'Be not afraid, only believe' He has said, and also ' What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.' I testify that this is true and testify it in the Holy Name of Whom I strive to serve, even Jesus Christ. Be faithful and safe is my humble prayer.

      "Your sister in Christ, P. H. A."

      Wednesday, November 26, 2008

      Up, So Very Up

      Do you ever just sit and realize how many reasons you have to be happy?

      Yes, I've been sick lately. I'm usually a pretty healthy person, and I don't enjoy being sick--who does? But, although I felt yucky all day yesterday and woke up this morning feeling it too, I made myself move today. I gave myself something to look forward to before I went to bed last night and made myself do it. Even though it was grocery shopping. By mid-afternoon, I was feeling much better, and I'm grateful for that.

      Tonight I'm just happy. I get the feeling that life could not be better. I am blessed daily, so much so, that I feel ashamed that I overlook these blessings more often than I should. I never should. I hope that by mentioning them here, I am not misunderstood. I hope that it comes clear that I am grateful to God. I know from whom these blessings come. I know that He loves me. I know that He wants me to be happy, and I know that he wants me to succeed. I have my trials, but I know He is aware of those too, and He knows what will cause me to grow and improve. I hope I'm handling them as He would have me handle them.

      I was driving in the car with the little boys earlier today. I told them that I loved them. I often sing a silly song of my own creation to express this to them. A echoed back my song with his own words. He then added something about how he shouldn't love himself. I stopped him and said, "Oh, no, you have to love yourself. If you love anybody, you must love yourself." I expalined a little of why that was important, and he decided that he really did love himself. I spent too many years of my life not loving myself and feel that it's held me back for years. I hope my children will always love themselves--not in a vain, conceited way, but in a healthy, taking care of themselves way.

      Q got home early today. She showed up at 11:30, right as I as arriving home from the grocery store and was just about to walk A to the bus stop. What a treat this was to have her home!

      After we walked in from the wait for the bus, I got T down for his nap, and we started in with the Thanksgiving preparations. Q makes amazing fudge. I have NEVER been successful in this (mine always turns out to be ice cream topping), so it's a source of great pride for her. She succeeded again today. We then made the salad, the pies, the cheesecake (which looks soooo yummy)--it has chocolate and caramel ice cream toppings on the top along with mini chocolate chips and pecans. I was surprised it turned out. I used neufchatel and thought this would affect the outcome, but it looks wonderful! Can't wait to have a sliver of it tomorrow.

      Anyway, we spent all afternoon in the kitchen. I turned the movie "Hairspray" on my laptop and it played in the background while we baked our little hearts out. So, everything but the rolls are ready. They are still raising even though they're probably ready to go. I guess I'd better get on it.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you!!!

      Grocery Shopping is Fun Again?

      Wow! Not that grocery shopping was ever fun before, but my thanks goes out to Rebecca and all the people online that share great deals!

      I went looking for a diaper deal a couple days ago. I had to look no further than another person's blog. I did a blog search with the words "diaper deals." Target had Huggies and Pampers on sale for $9.99 for a jumbo pack (approx. 30 diapers). I believe this same package usually costs $12.99. If you bought three, which I needed to stock up anyway, you got a $5 gift card for free. Not only that, but I had a $1.50 off coupon for each package. Yippeee!!! So, that was $25.47 for three packages of diapers plus an additional $5 to spend another time, so can I go so far as to say that I really spent $20.47? That may not sound like an outstanding deal to some of you seasoned shoppers, but considering how much time I've spent spending full price for whatever I bought for so many years, I'm thrilled to know there are other ways of doing things. I believe in this transaction I saved $18.50. If you're in need of diapers, this deal ends today.

      I'm needing to grab a few more things for Thanksgiving dinner. In an earlier post, I shared that I'm only in charge of rolls, jam, a salad and a dessert. We tried out a recipe for rolls the other day, but I wasn't all that impressed with the results--yummy, but I'm out to impress, so we're trying another one this afternoon. I think I'm going to use my bread machine to mix up the dough. If this doesn't work well, Rhodes will be helping me out. You can't lose with them.

      I decided to make a Turtle Cheesecake. I found the recipe in "A Taste of Home" magazine. I wanted to make something that no one could say no to. It's been so long since I've made a cheesecake that I'm hoping I didn't toss my springform pan.

      My mother made a dip that we have every year. My father by marriage isn't a fan of onions, so I only make it for our family. This may sound selfish, but we're happy not to share. We LOVE it! So, I'm excited to get the stuff to make it. It's one thing that I look forward to the holidays for.
      Okay, so here's the deal I'm most excited about today. This may sound silly, but cheese is so very expensive right now. It's around $9 for a 2 lb. loaf of Tillamook (our very favorite). Fred Meyer had a store coupon for $4.99, and I found an additional coupon put out by Tillamook for another $1 off. So, that's a $9 loaf of cheese for $3.99. WooHoo!!! I was hoping to double the coupon but was sad to find that it said it was not to be doubled. Sigh. I'll take the $3.99!

      Oh, and Rebecca, you'd be proud of me, I'm getting frozen veggies for free! Actually, they're paying me .50 to take them off their hands. Nice of them, huh? It seems like I must be getting better at this because for the last few weeks, I've gotten at least one thing for free.

      Thanks again to all of you who help my family out on a weekly basis. I'm really finding that every penny counts. I actually look forward to getting my deals all laid out and ready to go. I think it only took me about thirty minutes last night.

      Oh, I decided that I'd go to WinCo first this morning and check out their shelf prices, get my produce and use any coupons that I have on stuff that I need that isn't on sale elsewhere and then go to Albertson's and buy the deals I'm aware of--including the blessed cheese.

      Tuesday, November 25, 2008


      If you haven't noticed, I like change.

      I wanted to wait until after Thanksgiving for my Christmas change over, but I just couldn't wait.

      I seem to be having good days and bad days right now. Today's a bad day, so while I'm laying around, here's what you get.

      Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!

      Come, Thou Fount

      I was sent this by one of my great Young Women. She doesn't know this, but this is my favorite hymn, and I'm not sure why they deleted it from the latest hymnbook. I hope they'll put it back someday. Regardless, not to be morbid, but I want this sung at my funeral.

      Sunday, November 23, 2008

      Our Associations with Others

      I taught the YW lesson today to two Mia Maids--count 'em, two. The birthdays hit hard this month. The Laurel class is up to 19--where we were last year--and we're down to four.

      I really enjoyed this lesson and think anyone can benefit from its message.

      We emphasized the fact that we are here on earth to be with, learn from and benefit from our interactions with others. We need to have other people in our lives but everyone can work on making their relationships with others more meaningful. So, I post these things here for anyone who could benefit. I just felt that I gained a lot from studying to teach this lesson.

      We spoke about three main ideas in building relationships with others.

      1. Reach out to others.
      2. Don't criticize or judge others.
      3. Pray to have more love.

      The lesson talked about out gifts and talents and how these are given to help us perfect ourselves and build others. This is our challenge in life. If we don't reach out to others, how will we grow.

      A couple of the things that we decided that keep us from reaching out are fear and shyness. The lesson stated that if we are shy, we need to look beyond ourselves and look for the needs of others first. We need to not be so self-conscious but be more conscious of others around us and what we can do to benefit their lives.

      So, there's the challenge for this week:

      Think of someone with whom you could improve your relationship and figure out what you can do to make that happen. I'd love to hear what you do.

      Saturday, November 22, 2008

      Oh NO! Not the Pie! Anything but the PIE!

      I really want to blog everyday, but somedays there's just nothing to talk about. So, for today, all I have to say is I LOVE pumpkin pie!!!

      We are trying really hard to be frugal and stay within budget and just plain be good, but we went to Costco today. I told Z as we arrived that we needed to abide by the budget we'd set, so we did really well until we got to the bakery and the refrigerated case there. Sighhhhhh. Those pies just called to me. Z started to pick one up, and I said no, but he said, "Look. They're only $5.99. What's your time worth?" I replied with, "Yah, but my crust is better." Then he placed it in the cart. That's all she wrote. We not only left with one pie, we left with TWO.

      They're in our extra fridge in the garage. Out of sight out of mind is a great thing unless pumpkin pie is involved. That pie is so going to be sitting right in front of my face in about three minutes here, and I can't wait. I'm salivating just thinking about it.

      Friday, November 21, 2008

      Twilight...My Honest Feelings

      I went to the midnight showing of "Twilight" last night. I have to say that I wasn't disappointed. I actually really like the film and would go see it again in a heartbeat.

      There were a number of things I didn't love about it. I didn't expect there to be so many hokey and silly things. I mean, what was up with Jasper's character? The first scene where Bella and Edward meet, Edward looks like he is seriously about to hurl. Did anyone else catch the part where Edward looks like he has white wings while sitting in the classroom? The first time he runs with her on his back wasn't at all realisitc, but it was all forgiveable to me, but I wonder if it should have been. Makes me wonder if I didn't love the book so much, or if I hadn't read the book, would I still have liked the movie as much as I did.

      I was also sitting an a theater with a bunch of giddy teenage girls who, you could tell, were feeling the sexual tension in certain parts of the movie. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't all riddled with sex, but as in the book, there is some amount of tension between Bella and Edward, which I believe is to be expected between two characters who care for each other so much.

      All in all, I would say that this movie doesn't deserve its PG-13 rating. There was a mild scene of kissing and a violent scene near the end where they dismember and burn a fellow vampire, but you only get snippets of that.

      I loved that this movie stayed so close to the book. I loved that it was filmed in a place that seems like my home does now--overcast and rainy. I love the relationship between Bella and Edward.

      So, here's one thing that I have really pondered since reading the book and now am revisiting since seeing the movie....What is my fascination with the Bella/Edward relationship? He protects her and in some ways comes across as owning her. Is that really what I fantasize about? I'm just so drawn to that in Edward's character. She never suffers alone. He always pulls her out of the fixes she finds herself in. He saves the day. I didn't marry a man who pulls me out of fixes. He lets me figure them out and gives me as much freedom as any woman could want. I have always loved that about him, but this other side, this Edward thing is so enchanting. Couldn't I have that too? Does anyone else feel this way?

      No, I didn't love Robert Pattinson in the role of Edward. He was, as Hugh Grant defines himself in "Notting Hill," "Squidgy around the edges." In parts of "Twilight," he was goofy. His expressions were overdone and almost melodramatic, but I was more than pleased with Kristin Stewart's portrayal of Bella. In a lot of the trailers, they took her voice from certain parts of the movie and overdubbed them into a different scene. Does this make sense? So, in the movie, it seemed to fit better when they put her voice in the right place saying the right thing. Having it all in context really helped my enjoyment of the film. I was especially impressed with her acting ability in the dance studio scene. She was believable. She made the movie for me.

      I still love the book way better than the movie. I love the images in my mind and the feelings as I read "Twilight," but the movie is sweet and brings out good feelings.

      Now, mind you, I am a teenager who never grew up and have this romantic side to me that won't quit, so I probably forgave way more than I should have, but I'd love to know what anyone else thinks as you see it.

      Jiffy Lube Saga Continues

      You're not going to believe this.

      My car started making a grinding sound from time to time on the right hand front side--sounded like brakes, but I'd just had those replaced back in early September, so I was pretty sure that wasn't it. I had a great mechanic take care of them for me that I completely trust. I think that says a lot coming from a mechanic's daughter.

      This morning, I decided that enough was enough, so I called Zan and asked him to meet me at the mechanics and took the car to have the right front brakes checked. The guy popped off the tire and saw nothing that could be wrong. The brakes looked great and everything at first inspection looked just fine. All of a sudden, he called his buddy over and said, "Hey, look at this caliper and tell me what's wrong with this."

      His co-worker responded with, "Well, look at that, the bolt is missing." We checked to see if it was sheared off somehow, but no, it had fallen out or had been removed. (Note: this photo is not of my car, but the caliper is the red thing).

      I started thinking back to when the sound started. It was the afternoon after I'd had Jiffy Lube change my oil. I had run some errands and was rounding the last curve in my neighborhood. From that point on, it would come and go.

      I know these are fairly strong allegations, and there is no way I can prove it. But, there was no doubt that those men who were working on my car that day were unhappy with me, and after hearing everyone else's complaints about Jiffy Lube, it really raises some suspicions. I will not be returning to Jiffy Lube. Z's car now sports an Oil Can Henry's sticker inside the front windshield.

      Thursday, November 20, 2008

      I just LOVE being tagged. It keeps me from having to think about what to blog about. Plant Buddy, one of my new blogging friends, tagged me with this one. Oh, BTW Plant Buddy, I'm going to learn something from you and your blog because my plants consider me to be Plant Enemy #1--if they had a most wanted, I'd be at the top of the list.
      The tag says to post 8 Random Facts and/or Habits about myself and then choose 8 other people to tag.
      After you put this link on your site, go and tag 8 other bloggers and have them link back to you.
      There are benefits to this tagging game: You increase traffic to your site and meet new people.
      This is my first tagging experience. . . So here goes:

      1. I'd love to travel, but so far I have only been to Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Arizona (just the very northern tip when my brother was showing us the polyg colony there--he's fascinated by that--kind of funny!), Montana, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Texas (only the airport in Dallas/Fort Worth), and Japan and Mexico (only Tijuana--does that count?).
      2. If I had a choice between a dozen roses and mixed wildflowers, I'll take the wildflowers any day. I think roses lack imagination. I used to work for a seed company and the gardeners would come in at certain times of the year with armfuls of beautiful flowers and put them on my desk. I LOVED it!
      3. I've been through the Portland underground with the same brother who is fascinated by polygamists. He's always looking for adventure and sometimes drags me along. They say the Shanghai tunnels of Portland could be one of the most haunted places in Oregon. Oooh, and I've been there--be impressed. I lived to tell.
      4. I love color! I'm not brave enough to get really bright in my house yet, but blues, yellows and greens are my favorites.
      5. I really like liver and onions. It was a food we weren't allowed to eat as children. This ranked right up there with steak. My mom would make these things for the adults and the kids'd get frozen pizza or mac and cheese, so these became delicacies in my mind. You had to beg for a bite.
      6. I've only ever received one ticket. That was for running a stop sign that was covered by an overgrown tree. Fair? Hmm. I don't know.
      7. I used to teach English at a language school to help get my hubby and me through college. I taught college students from all over the world. It was a private school, so I didn't have to have a degree.
      8. I love anything with nuts--cashews are the BEST! The rest of my fam doesn't love them, so I sacrifice for them. Sigh.

      Funny how I can't think of a thing as I sit down to do this, but so far I've thought of enough that I don't have to delve into anything too embarrassing. I'm afraid those days are coming.

      HERE'S MY LIST OF THE NEXT 8 BLOGGERS BEING TAGGED (I'm chosing eight people that I don't know very well yet that I'd like to know better):

      Tink (I know I just tagged you, but it's so fun getting to know you!)
      Trying to Stay Calm

      Hope you enjoy this as much as I did. Take a minute to leave a comment telling them that you have tagged them. Be sure to leave me a comment too when you're done. HAVE FUN!!

      Holiday Tag

      Thanks to Patti for this new idea.

      1.Eggnog or Hot Chocolate: Both. Eggnog just makes me feel guilty because of the fat content, but I do endulge from time to time--love it!
      2.Does Santa wrap presents or set them under the tree? wrapped.
      3.Colored or white lights on tree and house? white tree, colored house if we get them up.
      4.Do you hang mistletoe? Sometimes Z brings it home, but that's only happened once or twice.
      5.When do you put your decorations up? Any time after Thanksgiving
      6. What is your favorite holiday dish? Stuffing
      7.Favorite holiday memory as a child: When I was about eleven, my mom felt terrible that she hadn't gotten me a doll. I hadn't asked for one, but she felt strongly that I needed a new doll for Christmas. She took me up in the attic on Christmas afternoon, and we searched through my sister's old dolls (from back in the '50s), and she gave me one. It had great clothes too.
      8.When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? What about Santa? Just kidding, my brother told me. I was devastated.
      9.Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yes. We have a gift exchange with the in-laws. We pen those presents the night before.
      10.How do you decorate your Christmas tree? Z puts the lights on and the kids decorate it. I always ended up decorating the tree alone as a child, so I don't love doing it now. I let them enjoy it.
      11.Snow. Love it? or Dread it? Love, love, LOVE it!
      12.Can you ice skate? If I get warmed up.
      13.Do you remember your favorite gift? That's a toughie. I think it was back when I was about 9. I wanted a Barbie dreamhouse, but we couldn't afford it. My parents got me a Barbie Boutique instead. I LOVED it!
      14.What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Spending lots of time with my family.
      15.What is your favorite holiday dessert? pumpkin pie topped w/real whipped cream
      16.What is your favorite holiday tradition? Spending the night at my in-laws
      17.What tops your tree? A white angel
      18.Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? I'm a bit embarrassed to receive--never sure if I'm responding correctly. I love to give especially when I know it's just the right thing.
      19.What is your favorite Christmas song? "The Sheherd's Carol" and Amy Grant's "Breath of Heaven"
      20.Candy Canes? Yuck or Yum? Yuck. Only in hot chocolate.

      Here's a beautiful Christmas video for you. This is an LDS video that just happens to go perfectly with "Breath of Heaven." I showed this in YW last year for Christmas. Hope you enjoy it!

      Now, consider yourself tagged. Let's see what your Christmas is like.

      What Have You Done?

      Found this on Danielle's blog. It looked like fun, so I thought I'd do it too. Plus, insomnia reigns tonight, so what better do I have to do? This insomnia thing is a total bummer as tomorrow night at this time I'll be watching "Twilight," so I could use all the sleep I can get. *Sigh*

      1. Started your own blog
      2. Slept under the stars
      3. Played in a band
      4. Visited Hawaii
      5. Watched a meteor shower
      6. Given more than you can afford to charity
      7. Been to Disneyland
      8. Climbed a mountain
      9. Held a praying mantis
      10. Sang a solo
      11. Bungee jumped
      12. Visited Paris
      13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
      14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
      15. Adopted a child
      16. Had food poisoning
      17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
      18. Grown your own vegetables
      19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
      20. Slept on an overnight train
      21. Had a pillow fight
      22. Hitch hiked
      23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
      24. Built a snow fort
      25. Held a lamb
      26. Gone skinny dipping
      27. Run a Marathon
      28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
      29. Seen a total eclipse
      30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
      31. Hit a home run
      32. Been on a cruise
      33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
      34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
      35. Seen an Amish community
      36. Taught yourself a new language
      37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
      38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
      39. Gone rock climbing
      40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
      41. Sung karaoke
      42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
      43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
      44. Visited Africa
      45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
      46. Been transported in an ambulance
      47. Had your portrait painted
      48. Gone deep sea fishing
      49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
      50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
      51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
      52. Kissed in the rain
      53. Played in the mud
      54. Gone to a drive-in theater
      55. Been in a movie
      56. Visited the Great Wall of China
      57. Started a business
      58. Taken a martial arts class
      59. Visited Russia
      60. Served at a soup kitchen
      61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
      62. Gone whale watching
      63. Got flowers for no reason
      64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
      65. Gone sky diving
      66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
      67. Bounced a check
      68. Flown in a helicopter
      69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
      70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
      71. Eaten Caviar
      72. Pieced a quilt
      73. Stood in Times Square
      74. Toured the Everglades
      75. Been fired from a job
      76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
      77. Broken a bone
      78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
      79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
      80. Published a book
      81. Visited the Vatican
      82. Bought a brand new car
      83. Walked in Jerusalem
      84. Had your picture in the newspaper
      85. Read the entire Bible
      86. Visited the White House
      87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
      88. Had chickenpox
      89. Saved someone’s life
      90. Sat on a jury
      91. Met someone famous
      92. Joined a book club
      93. Lost a loved one
      94. Had a baby
      95. Seen the Alamo in person
      96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
      97. Been involved in a law suit
      98. Owned a cell phone
      99. Been stung by a bee
      100. Seen Mount Rushmore in person
      101. Learned to play an instrument

      Try this out. It's actually really fun to see what you've done. It also makes you think about what you want to do--so just copy and paste, then bold the things on the list you have done.

      Tuesday, November 18, 2008

      Happy Birthday, Dad!

      I can't let this day go by without posting about one of the two favorite men in my life. This photo is of him at 19 years of age--the day he married my mom.
      Here are the things I love best about my dad. I won't give as many as his age, although I could, because it's late, and I'm already past my self-imposed curfew. So, I'll give you my top ten reasons I love my dad (in no particular order):
      10. He always worked hard to support his family.
      9. He took us to Klickitat, Washington, where he grew up and taught me to love that part of this world.
      8. He's the smartest man I know.
      7. He took the time for me, as a teenager, and helped me get back on the right path.
      6. He picked the most perfect woman in the world to marry.
      5. He looks for the good in all of his family and never speaks evil of any of them.
      4. He loves my kids and makes the most delicious "hot cakes" for them whenever they come visit.
      3. He has an undying love for the Gospel and the Savior and expresses his strong testimony in all that he does.
      2. He used to sit in the backseat of the car with just me on family trips and share his knowledge of the scriptures and gospel topics--I remember especially learning about the Nicean Creed from him.
      1. He endowed each of his kids with a sense of humor and the ability to laugh in the face of hard things.

      Happy birthday, Dad! I love you!!!

      ABC Tag

      A--Attached or Single: Attached

      B--Best Friend: Z
      C--Cake or Pie: Pie
      D--Day of Choice: Friday
      E--Essential Item: My planner and computer.
      F--Favorite Color: pink
      G--Greatest Accomplishment: being mom to my kids
      H--Hometown: Portland, OR
      I--Indulgences: ice cream and chocolate
      J--January or July: July (I actually love cold weather, but I love having my kids home even more).
      K--Kids: Q, G, DJ, B, A and T
      L--Life is incomplete without: Z and my kids
      M--Marriage Date: March 21, 1992
      N--Number of Siblings: Five - Toni, Steve, Gordon, David, Matthew
      O--Oranges or Apples: Oranges and Braeburn apples
      P--Phobias or fears: terrorists, losing my kids, forests (alone), spiders
      Q--Quotes: "The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world." - William Rose Wallace and the one at the bottom of my blog.
      R--Reason to Smile: Everything! I had a friend in high school confront me with, "Not everything in life is a joke, Julie." I know that's true, but I also know there's someone in charge whose much more powerful than anything that can happen in this world. That keeps me smiling.
      S--Season: Spring. I love the flowers the earth is blessed with.
      T--Tag 5 Friends: Megan, Paige, Tink, Christy, and Breezy
      U--Unknown facts about me: Haven't I exposed everything by now? Let's see...I LOVE it when people just stop by to visit unannounced and are willing to just go with the flow.
      V--Very favorite store: I don't think I have one. Maybe See's Candy
      W--Worst habit: picking my cuticles, but I'm getting better.
      X--X-ray or Ultra Sound: Ultra sound
      Y--Your favorite food: I just had the most AMAZING Swiss chocolate the other day. It just melted in my mouth. Also, if you ever go up the Columbia River Gorge, go to the Riverside Grill and have their Chicken Oscar with crab. It's soooo good!
      Z--Zodiac: Aries

      Striking a Balance

      Yesterday was the most amazing day! By the time Z got home, the house was fairly orderly (you should have seen it the days before), dinner was on the table, all the kids were helping with various chores around the house, and I was feeling good. You could tell by Z's whole demeanor that he was happy to be home.

      It just so happened that the missionaries dropped by as we were starting Family Home Evening, and it was nice that they could walk in, and I could feel happy about what they were walking in to.

      If only I could copy and paste yesterday.

      I've been reading "Confessions of an Organized Homemaker," which I saw recommended by a couple other bloggers. It's been a good reawakening for me. I'm not even 1/3 of the way through the book, but I'm bound and determined to get my house in order. No matter who is against me--not this boy:

      I've been tagged a few times, and I need to get to those. I also have an award that I started to blog about (yeah! Thanks!), but I haven't gotten to that yet either. It'll all happen just not yet. Let me get a grip on life first, and I'll be back in full force.

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