Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year 2010!!!

The other day, I commented about how much I love the fresh start of a new year and how I was trying hard to get organized.  A friend commented on this and asked that I blog about it, so herein lies my purpose with this post.
First, I have the advantage of having a husband who works in the public school system, so he's home for winter break making getting organized much easier than it would be on a regular day.  Maybe that's why I feel the urge to do this.  If I can get on top of things now, I won't have to scramble later.

My top priority is having a menu to follow for the year.  I have created a spreadsheet and have connected it with hyperlinks to this site.  They include wonderful recipes and a complete shopping list, so much of the work is done for me.  I am using the site's 2009 archive.

The next thing on my list is having my 2010 budget in order.  Z and I went on a date for breakfast this morning and discussed the special items and activities that require extra money at different times during the year.  One thing we started in 2009 that worked really well for us was taking the time on Sunday evenings to review the previous week's expenses and consider those of the coming week.  This is the plan for 2010--to become more unified in our spending and understanding of where our money's going.

One interesting thing that potentially lies ahead for our family is that with the budget problems in the schools, all school administrators have the possibility of losing part of their income during this school year--as days are cut, so will Z's pay be.  We're not sure what this will mean for our family, but because of this, we are planning to be much more careful in our spending and save more than we have in the past.  One site that I really love for financial things is here.

We had a party here this evening.  There is a New Year's youth dance going on, and our kids invited some friends over before the dance.  Each kid brought a munchie to share.  When they were done eating, they played games and hung out together.  We then took them to the dance at 9pm.  We ended up with fifteen kids going. 

The greatest thing about this party was that we had to prepare our house for guests.  We paired our kids up in teams and each chose jobs.  We got the house in order in no time flat.  I even had time to go grocery shopping this afternoon.

So, we are starting the new year with a clean house; all garbages are out; the fridge is clean; the cupboards and fridge are full.  All floors are mopped, toilets are scoured, etc.  It's a wonderful feeling.  I feel like we're starting the year all new.

Here are the things I'm concentrating on in 2010...

  • I want to be more unified with Z and with our family.
  • I want to focus on nurturing my children.
These are the areas in which I will set my goals for each month.  I haven't done these things yet, but this is where my mind will be tomorrow.  I will concentrate on Z and each child and what I can do to best benefit each one then I will set specific goals.  I feel like we're much more unified from our efforts in 2009, but we're only scratching the surface.  I'd love any input anyone has on this.

Here are a few of the things I'm looking forward to in 2010...
  • Q learning to drive.
  • Q getting her patriarchal blessing.
  • Continuing my children's literature class and finishing my family processes class.
  • Taking classes in statistics, organizational behavior, and financial planning.
  • Kids playing basketball and soccer.
  • T finally being completely potty trained.
  • L learning to walk and talk.
  • G going to high school.
  • Helping DJ with Personal Progress.
  • B possibly playing baseball.
  • I'd love to talk A into taking piano lessons--do I dare teach him?
  • G going to EFY for the first time and Q going for her second time.
  • Q and maybe G having summer jobs.
  • Getting to know a new group of nursery kids and having the joy of being with the kids each Sunday.
I feel strongly that we, as a family, need to come up with a good goal to save money toward.  Q and G are working toward saving money for EFY, but I would love to have the other kids have this experience as well.  I also need to rework the system we use for household chores.  We had it down so well before L was born, but with school and sports starting, it became a bit more tricky, so that's what I'm going to revisit in the next few days.

So, there it is...so far.  A continual work in progress, I'm afraid.  2009 has been a year of incredible ups and downs, but I'm grateful to say that the ups have far outweighed the downs.  I'm looking forward to what life holds for this madhouse in 2010.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Six Months for Number Seven






Sunday, December 27, 2009

Here...Have a Baby

We spent Christmas with my parents-by-marriage at the Oregon coast. Today, we went to their ward. It's an interesting place. On vacation weekends, like this one, the majority of people at church are visitors.

Today, as I went to sit down in Relief Society, I pulled a chair to the back of the room and left myself a large amount of space, so I could lay a blanket out for L so she could just lay there and play with her toys. Right after I did so, an older woman in the ward followed me and put a chair right next to mine. She was fully intent on holding L. This cracked me up!

I put L down on the blanket; she immediately started to cry, so the woman bent down and picked her up. I took L away as she continued to cry and explained that I'd go feed her and bring her back to her. The woman just beamed.

So, I did what I said I would. This lady carried her around during the entire meeting. She explained later that she only had two children who were now in their 40s and neither of them had nor would ever have any children. She said it had been a very long time since she'd gotten to hold a baby.

I'm thankful for a baby who loves people--any people--and will happily go to anyone. It was nice to be able to share. Especially since my arms were aching by the time we got to that last meeting.

The other interesting thing was that during sacrament meeting, L was pretty loud--happy sounds, but loud happy sounds. I ended up taking her out. Later, I heard two men out in the foyer talking. They were commenting on how great it was to hear babies in the congregation since they have so few. I totally take that for granted. What I thought was annoying others was pleasing to their ears. Funny.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Robert Redford...the Recipe

This is a recipe my mom got from somebody at church. I've also heard it referred to as "Sex in a Pan." I found, as I was going through my mom's recipes, that there are many that have been neglected. This is one of them.

I made this for our family's Christmas Eve dinner this year. Immediately upon tasting it, the kids started chiming in with, "Mom, you know how you make us cake or pie or whatever for our birthday dinner dessert? Well, this is the one I want this year."

I think we've now settled on everyone having the same birthday dinner and dessert every birthday. Each kid has wanted the same main course dish and now the dessert will be added to that. Simple. Yay! No more guess work as to who wants what.

So, for your enjoyment, here's the recipe for you! Hope you love all the creamy, gooey, richness of it!


The Next Best Thing to Robert Redford

Bottom layer - Mix until crumb-like:
1 c. flour
1 c. finely chopped pecans
1/2 c. margarine, softened
Press mixture into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 15-20 min. or until lightly golden. Cool.

Middle layer - Beat the cream cheese with the sugar until smooth. fold in half the Cool Whip:
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 c. sugar
1 12 oz. Cool Whip, divided
Spread the mixture over the cooled crust.

Top layer - Beat the milk into the pudding mixes until smooth and thickened:
1 lg. pkg. vanilla instant pudding
1 lg. pkg. choc. instant pudding
3 c. cold milk
Spread over the middle layer.

Spread the remaining Cool Whip over the top. (A grated choc. candy bar--my mom usually used a Heath or Skor bar but she used crushed candy canes during the holidays--may be sprinkled over the top, if desired, but watch out: This may make it better than Redford). Cover and refrigerate over night.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Posts from 2009

I found this on a friend's blog. It was a great idea, so I thought I'd follow suit, but I changed things a bit. He chose the first post from each month; I wanted to put down what I thought was my favorite post, so here they are. Each has a link attached to the title if you want to read the entire post. Otherwise, the first sentence is listed below the title.

And so, I present the recap of The Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Nine, or A.D. MMIX:


~January~
I think I have mentioned a few times how I feel strongly that lessons in my life are learned one at a time in a concentrated manner.


~February~
"Shaken, but Standing Stronger"
Note: Before you read this post, please know that it's a bit lengthy and personal.


~March~
"Messages from Mom"
I learned from my dad after my mom passed away (March 17, 1999), that my mom always stopped to pick up stray pennies.


~April~
"Doctors that Listen--a Dime a Dozen"
Okay, Alyson, I'll end your curiosity.


~May~
"Summer's a-Comin'"
Wow!


~June~
"Yippeeee"
Lachlan Julia Hess arrived last evening at 10:33.


~July~
"Just What We Needed"
L is sleeping in her carseat right now waiting for her mother to get her act together.


~August~
"Putting the Baby in the Swing"
I went to bed with a terrible headache last night and woke with it this morning.


~September~
"Binding and Casting"
It is said that in the last days Satan will be bound and cast into a pit.


~October~
"Twilight Zone"
Seven years ago today, I was in a car accident.


~November~
"Just Taking a Look Around"
Do you ever have the feeling that you've had your head in a hole in the ground most of the time and every so often you lift your head up and realize that life is going on around you?


~December~
"Children--What a Blessing"
The year T was born, there were a whole bunch of boys born in our ward.


It's so fun to look back and reflect. So many things to work on and improve in 2010, but what a blessed year 2009 was!

Monday, December 21, 2009

So That's Why

I'm preparing to take a mid-term for my Introduction to Family Processes class this afternoon. In preparation, I'm re-reading things I last read before L was born. I just ran across this little bit of trivia, which I thought was fascinating. I have pondered on the whys of this before, so here's the answer, just in case you've wondered too.....

"In 1660, in celebration of its hard-fought victory over Turkey, a crack regiment from Croatia (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) visited Paris. There, the soldiers were presented as glorious heroes to Louis XIV, a monarch well-known for his eye toward personal adornment. It so happened that the officers of this regiment were wearing brightly colored silk handkerchiefs around their necks. These colorful neck cloths, which probably descended from the Roman fascalia worn by orators to warm the vocal chords, struck the fancy of the king, and he soon made them an insignia of royalty as he created a regiment of Royal Cravattes.

"It wasn't long before this new style crossed the channel to England. Soon no gentleman considered himself well-dressed without sporting some sort of cloth around his neck--the more decorative, the better. So, a fashion was born and the resulting cultural "rule" established. It has become a custom, and for many families a "rule": "All men in this family must wear a colorful piece of cloth around their necks. It has meaning." The meaning might be that one is conforming to the norm, joining in, trying hard to not stand out, showing reverence for custom and tradition, and so forth. But it actually makes little practical sense to wear a cloth around your neck, right? And to explain these rules and their "whys" is sometimes difficult when speaking to the ten-year-old who has taken the more practical, sane approach and simply wants to know why this particular piece of cloth is so important." (From Introduction to Family Processes text ch. 6 introduction).

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Not Again! (Read to the end before you comment)

Just a minute.... ****AHHHHHHH!!!!!!**** (primal scream)

Okay, I feel better, but only a little bit.

Let's go back in time, shall we? Let's stop right here.

As I mentioned in this post, this is a recurring theme in my life. It is one of my many tests, and OHHHHH, am I failing right now.

Z told me after all the incidents that happened, "Wait for Christmas. She'll show up again." Sure enough!

She called me, out of the blue, about a month ago, from her mom's church building. She apologized for the grief she had caused me. I accepted her apology and really, I did. I didn't have any bad feelings. Before the conversation was over, she was saying how she wanted to get together and do all these things. I said, "Mm hmm" a lot, but in my heart, I'm thinking, "No way, woman!"

Last night was our ward Christmas party. We got seated, and I looked toward the back of the cultural hall, and there she was. Ugh! She had contacted another woman in the ward and got herself invited. She came over to chat with me. It was nice and friendly. Honestly, I have forgiven her long ago.

Later, during the program portion, it all started. Could I keep her daughter on Tuesday? Could they come over some time? How about Family Home Evening? Ugh! With all the stuff that happened those months ago, I don't want to get involved with her. I REALLY don't! But, the truth of the matter is, this woman has no one. If I were in her shoes, I'd want help. I wouldn't want to be pushed away. But darn it!!!

Maybe I haven't really forgiven her. Maybe I really am still holding a grudge. What do I do? I'm thinking "seventy times seven." That's what keeps pounding in my head. I've been up this morning praying about it, but I wonder if my heart is getting so hard that I can't (or won't) hear the answer. Thus, I am drawn to the ol' blog. Working it out in words, so I can find what I need.

So, I come to you who read this madness....What would you do?

As I went back and read the post I referred to at the beginning of this post, I realize that there is a large portion of my relationship with this woman that I didn't bring up back then, so you might not understand the "forgiveness" parts of what I'm writing here. I will elaborate just a little, so you know what that's all about....

At one point during my relationship with this woman, she was feeling threatened by some of her neighbors. She was quite nervous and gave me her most prized possession to hold onto for her. It was a ring in a box. I brought it to my house and hid it. I never even opened the box. As our relationship went south, I knew I needed to get the ring back to her, but she had no phone and no car and lived just far enough away that I didn't want to run back and forth to her place looking for her to be home to return it, so I contacted her Relief Society president, who I had spoken with a number of times about this woman and her needs. I asked her if I could bring the ring to her and have her return it when she saw her on Sunday. She said she hadn't seen her at church since Christmas (so this woman had been lying to me all this time), but she'd be happy to drop it by.

I thought, if nothing else, this'd get her back in touch with someone who could help her. I emailed her and told her what I'd done thinking she'd get it when she went to class.

Well, as weeks went by, I'd get answering maching messages from this woman asking for her ring, so I knew something was wrong. I contacted the R.S. president. She told me she hadn't had a chance to get it to ger yet, but she would.

Finally after months, I arrived home from running errands and found the last answering maching messages. One from this woman, and one from her mother. They were threatening messages telling me they were right then calling the police and submitting a report that I'd stolen the ring.

I immediately called the R.S. president. She sent her husband with the ring, but the woman wasn't there. He sat and waited until she returned.

So, good intentions gone wrong. This is frequently the case with me. Can you see why I don't want to get involved? Am I wrong to feel this way?

Okay, so back to my question....

What would you do?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Time with T

T loves to play with Pla-Doh, but just the smell of the store-bought stuff gives me a nasty headache. To be honest, I'm never sad when someone leaves a lid off a container so it dries out. It doesn't change the fact, though, that he loves it.

This morning, after getting the older kids off to school, and while L slept, I made playdough for us. It turned out great. If you're interested here's the recipe:


Nature's Playdough
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons cream of tartar

Mix flour, salt and oil, and slowly add the water. Cook over medium heat, stirring until dough becomes stiff. Turn out onto wax paper and let cool. Knead the playdough with your hands until of proper consistency.


I got it from this website. As you can see, the cream of tartar isn't mentioned in the instructions, so I put it in after the water. It worked just great. It also didn't take long for it to cook. Also in the instructions, it mentioned different kinds of juices you could add to create colors. I didn't do that--impractical in my world, but we added two drops of red food coloring and four drops of yellow to make it a nice orange color.

There have been a number of years in our married life in which we've done homemade Christmases for our kids. As I was making this, I thought was a great gift it would be for a small child. You could do all kinds of colors and throw in a piece of a larger dowel to make a rolling pin and throw in some cookie cutters and voila, you have a playdough set for a child's Christmas.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wow!

I went to a funeral today of a good woman who lived life right. She had her priorities straight. She was focused on just what she should have been.

I worked with this woman at Girls' Camp one year. She was over me as I led a group of girls who in turned led the younger girls. She was such a calming influence and very encouraging. You just always felt like what you were doing was just the way it was supposed to be. She just made you feel that way.

This woman has left behind seven children. The oldest two are in college. They are all remarkable people. The youngest, I'm thinking, must be around eight.

When I got into my car (I use the term loosely) to leave the funeral and looked at the decal on the side window, I felt blessed to also have seven children. She made it look so easy. It's all because those seven kids were her life. All that she did revolved around them.

As I sat through this funeral, I realized that I'm not afraid to die. I'm not making any kind of announcement here. I just think dying isn't going to be that bad. The real fear is what I would leave behind. The real faith and courage in accepting death would be in trusting that those you leave behind would be cared for. It just seems that this woman handled this with great courage. She had less than two months from diagnosis to death. I don't know that I'd be able to accept death with as much faith.

I am grateful for such amazing women that I get to rub shoulders with. There were three women who were her friends who spoke and shared memories and beliefs. As they walked up to the stand before the service, I realized what truly remarkable people there are in this world. One of these women was my husband's cousin. I have admired her from the moment I met her. Another of them is a secretary at my husband's school. The third is a woman I've also become acquainted with through Girls' Camp experiences--she was our stake Young Women's President years ago. Wow! How do people get to be like them? Someday, when I grow up, if I ever do, I want to be like that.

I am grateful just to learn from these people. I am grateful for the life of this good woman. I feel for her family, but I have honestly never seen a family more capable of handling this kind of tragedy. It is clear that they know from what source to draw their strength.

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY: New Haircut - You know it's pretty bad when they go on and on about how you should come back more often...


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Favorite New Traditions of 2009

This past year, we've started two traditions in our family that I just LOVE!

First, we realized that we had the same number of missionaries out from our ward as we had people in our family, so at least one Sunday a month, we sit down and write to the missionaries. Each family member writes to at least one. It's put a new focus in our family. Dearelder.com has made this process so much easier.

I'm infamous for writing a letter and not getting it into an envelope, or if I get it in the envelope, not addressing it, or if addressed, not getting a stamp on it, or if it's stamped, not getting it into the mail. That's just who I am. I'm embarrassed to say. Dearelder.com does the whole thing and most of the time, the missionary gets the letter the next day. To write to some missions, you're required to pay postage, but some are absolutely free. It's WONDERFUL! Sorry, I didn't mean for this to become an advertisement, but it really is a great service they offer.

Second, some time early in the year, we realized that our eldest had no desire to attend church dances. This is an activity we want our kids to be enthusiastic about. It was something Z and I did as kids, and it was a great way to make new friends. She was having a hard time getting excited about the dances because she only has a few girls her age in our ward, and they weren't dance goers either. So, we put a plan together.

Each week before a dance, we allowed her to invite enough friends from around the area to come to our home for pizza and games before the dance. Because we can't afford to buy pizza each time, we asked each kid who came to pitch in a couple bucks, and we went out before they arrived and bought pizza and provided soda and usually brownies or some kind of dessert. Q also became engrossed in getting the house clean for her friends. Many weeks, she wanted to do it alone, so she knew it was just how she wanted it. That's something I'm not going to argue with.

She actually started looking forward to dances. We've had a variety of kids here and now that G is attending dances too, he invites half and she invites the other half. Some kids in other wards have started this same tradition. It's been great to see it grow and watch groups of kids bond together. It seems that a lot of kids who were hesitant to go before now have the support of other kids in their wards and schools to go with them. YAY!!!

The other twist that's been added to this is that sometimes the dances are kind of far away. On these occasions, Z and I will have our weekly date in the town where the dance is. We'll find a fun restaurant and have dinner and enjoy one another's company for a few hours while our kids are off having fun. We've even had another set of parents drive a van-full of kids, and we've double dated with them and then gone back to pick up the dancers.

With the kids we have, this tradition should go on for years and years. I'm hopeful that our children will look forward to turning fourteen and attending the dances.

2009 has been a great year for our family. There have been a lot of positive changes. I'm looking forward to what 2010 holds.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Finally!


One thing that impressed me when I was first getting to know my husband was as I watched him referree some Young Men's basketball games on Saturday mornings. He was so encouraging, patient and positive as he dealt with them. I just loved this about him.

Over the years, as our own kids have entered sports, I have hoped Z would take on a coaching position. Although I have brought this idea up over and over again, he has turned it down saying he is too busy, which is true. He is not the kind of guy who commits part way; it's all or nothing.

Well, G has been on the same basketball team for years. They're a great group of boys and play very well together. Shortly after we got G signed up, we received an email stating that their coach, who just coached because he loved doing it (he had no son on the team), was having some family issues and wouldn't be able to coach this year. The league was trying to come up with a coach for the team.

Z started getting phone calls from parents asking him why he didn't step up to coach.

Well, need I say more? The peer pressure got to him. He's finally doing what I've wanted all these years. I'm sure he's going to be GREAT! I just can't wait to watch him in action!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Children--What a Blessing

The year T was born, there were a whole bunch of boys born in our ward. I think there ended up being about thirteen of them altogether and one girl. This is now the group I have in nursery. Many have moved out of and into our ward, but there are a few of those original baby boys who are now three and in my class. I also have the sweetest set of triplets (girls) that I just love to pieces.
I am now facing the reality that as of the first of the year, these kids will be leaving me. They will all go into Primary, and I will start over with the eighteen-month-olds in 2010. I am feeling sad about not having my fun, sweet kids that I've had these past few months. Maybe someday I'll get to be with them again in some capacity.

I got to thinking just now about what makes the difference with kids. I'm learning that all they need to know is that you love them unequivocally; that you're not going to let them get away with being a turkey, but even if they try, you're still going to be there and will still love them.

The lesson that I'm being taught over and over again lately is found in D&C 121:41-44. This applies to everything in life. That increase in love part is magical.

My sister, after being released as stake YW president, was called as a Primary teacher. She shared with me what she did for her kids. Her plan included a visit to each child's house and a small gift--a CTR ring (as that was the class she was teaching). I thought this was a great idea, so after moving into our current ward and being called as the sunbeam teacher, I thought I'd follow her good example. I made appointments with each of the mothers of the kids I had in my class and went to visit each child. I took a photo of each as I visited them and took them a sticker and a balloon. I had a little chat with each one, so they knew I was going to be their new teacher.

Little did I know what a huge difference this little extra effort would do for these kids and for my relationship with them. There were two sunbeam classes. As we sat in opening exercises, the contrast between the classes was stark. I had virtually no behavior problems with my group. They sat like angels and were very respectful, obedient and reverent. It was heavenly.

That was the year my mom died. It was a tough year, but every Sunday, I looked forward to being with my sunbeams.

A few days after my mom's passing, one of my boys, Ammon, appeared at my doorstep with his mom. She had a large camelia plant in her arms and said, "Ammon was feeling bad about your mom's passing. He told me he needed to get you something. I was standing at the checkout at the nursery with a smaller plant than this, ready to buy it, and Ammon stopped me. He said, 'No mom, not that one....that one,' and he was pointing to this, so this is Ammon's fault."


I laughed at her explanation but was very touched as I realized that the plant Ammon had chosen for me was exactly the plant that my mother saw from our kitchen window in the house I grew up in. It was the exact color. I was so impressed because that particular plant brought my mom close. Z went out that next weekend and planted that camelia bush in the perfect spot in our yard, so I'd be able to see it from our kitchen window--proportionate to where my mom would have seen it in her backyard.

Children are special. What a blessing it is to be in their presence. I appreciate how they have touched my life. I'm grateful for those who have shown love to me so unconditionally which they are so good at. I've loved working with these nursery kids. Oh how I will miss them.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Weather in My Own Little Bubble


I have spent most of my life in Portland, Oregon. I was born and raised here. I left for college and a mission, but other than that, I've lived a pretty isolated life. One thing I wonder is if, in other parts of the world, the meteorologists are right. Here, Z and I have a joke. Z says that our weatherman's name is "Yu Zhu Wi Wong." More often than not, our weather guys on the news are wrong. In the valley that we live, the weather is very changeable. I have a brother who lives in southern Utah. For him, the weather seems to nearly always be warm. Here, one day it's sunny, the next day it's pouring buckets. This is a major reason why my brother lives where he does.


Last winter, we had snow like I've never seen it before. Because of my upbringing, when the news said snow, I was cynical and told my kids to get ready to head to school the next day. Honestly, I can't remember a day last winter when the weatherman was wrong. I thought there was some freezing over happening in a very warm place, if you know what I mean. When snow was predicted, it actually snowed! Shock!


So, they started predicting snow and freezing rain (another question I have for those who live outside my little world here...do you get freezing rain? Also, do you ever have "sun breaks?") the other day for last night. We've had atypically cold temperatures this past week. It's been 13 and 14 degrees out in the morning when I've gone to take my boys to school in the morning, but the sky has been beautiful, cloudless blue. Alas, last night, there was no snow or freezing rain. Tonight it was a bit sprinkly outside, but nothing snow-like or ice-like.


I'm now wondering if we've gone back to Mr. Wong's kind of weather. I'm not going to get my hopes up and start to trust the weatherman just because last year he actually got it right, but it sure would be nice to be able to rely on him.

Friday, December 11, 2009

What in the World is Going On?!

I found the brother of an old friend on facebook today. He was listed as an alum of my elementary school. I sent him a message asking him if his sister was on facebook. After asking, somehow, and I honestly don't know how, ended up at his blog. Here is what I found--this is my friend Julie. This makes me sad. I wish I knew what happened.

One little story about Julie. When we were in fourth grade, I went to her house after school one day. We decided to ride bikes. I borrowed one from her garage, and she rode hers, and we headed for the tallest hill in the Lynnridge neighborhood. We started down going as fast as we could. After only a short distance, it was clear, as my front tired started wobbling uncontrollably, that my bike's front tire was flat, and I had a choice--continue down the hill and crash into the house we were heading toward, or somehow steer to the curb. It was also at this point that I learned that the brakes didn't work. Regardless, I chose the curb. By the end of this story, I was a bloody mess.

Julie's mom was a nurse. I don't remember how I got back to Julie's house, but I remember laying on a bed in her house and hearing her mom call my mom and report that my pupils were "equal and reactive." I just remember to this day how funny I thought that was. I didn't realize my pupils were anything. I had never considered them that important before.

I am sad to see that Julie is gone.

Christmas in the Northwest

Have you heard the song? The one with the same name as this post?


A friend on facebook asked what everyone's least favorite Christmas carol is. I realized that I have many. I concluded that I'm a Christmas song snob, but "Christmas in the Northwest" is what the Japanese would call my "dai kirai" (big hate). Sorry, to say that in English just sounds dumb, so I'm opting for Japanese.

Living in the northwest, I'm not sure if the rest of the U.S. gets to hear this cheesy piece of music each year. We get to hear it plenty, so if not, we're making up for your lack, I'm sure.

My purpose in this post isn't to bash that song to the nth degree. It is however, to tell you that I love living in the northwest at Christmas time, and why.

So, here's my list of what I love about Christmas in the northwest (at least the Portland, Oregon part of the northwest) in no particular order:

Peacock Lane - it's just a street in southeast Portland (across the Willamette River from where we are. Just in case you aren't familiar with the area, that's how the east and west parts of Portland are divided. North and south are divided by Burnside Street) on which every house is lit. From what I've heard, in order to own a house on this street, you sign an agreement that you will decorate for Christmas. There are horse-drawn carriages that can carry you up and down the street, for some extra fun, but we always opt to walk it, so we can take our time looking.

Downtown Christmas lights - when I was a small child, Christmas time was the one time of year when my mom would take all of us kids that were home (five of us) on the public bus (known as Tri-Met) and take us downtown just to walk the streets and look at the window displays. Meier & Frank, that has fairly recently been bought out by Macy's, was the best place. Usually their display is the 12 days of Christmas. You have to walk all the way around the building to see the entire twelve days. Pretty spectacular!



Santaland at the downtown Macy's - like I said, this used to be Meier & Frank, but they have a room at the very top of the store which houses Santaland. There's a small tram car which circles the room at the ceiling and Santa is there (down below), sitting on his throne, so you can place your Christmas order with him. This is any kid's dream come true. Just the ride in the elevator to the top of the store was fun when I was a child, but the tram and getting to see the Cinnamon Bear along with Santa put this experience over the top in excitement.


The big tree at Pioneer Square - we never go to the tree lighting.--too much of a zoo, but this gorgeous tree is great to see any time. It's just kitty corner (where did that phrase ever come from?) from Macy's, so it's all really convenient and the MAX light rail train runs right between, so transportation there's very easy.





Zoolights - with our zoo membership, we get into this event for free. If we want to take the train, which I love especially for this event, there is an extra charge. A membership is the only way to go with a large family. It pays for itself in one visit. The Zoolights is AMAZING! Yes, it's freezing cold to walk around, but there are so many things to look at that you don't even notice.





The Nutcracker at the Keller Auditorium - this was a tradition we started in our family, but it ended when we had so many that we couldn't afford it any more. I would love to start this tradition over again. Just so fun to get dressed up a bit and expose the kids to live theatre.

The Christmas ships - this is something Z and I have only been to a few times, but one thing I love about Portland is the river that runs through it. I love that they use it for so many festive things throughout the year. It's one thing that I think adds to Portland's unique flavor.


There are a number of Christmas traditions that have disappeared in the past few years. The one I miss the most is the Christmas celebration they had at Alpenrose Dairy. They had it all. You could see Santa and sit on his lap, go on a carriage ride, go see a Christmas movie in their old time movie house, go on a pony ride, etc., etc., etc. I'm so sad they've discontinued this, but I'm sure it was a LOT of work.




This year, we're going to the Zoolights to watch Q play with the school band. It'll happen next week. We usually go for B's birthday on the 28th--kind of nice because the Christmas rush is over. We go get hot cocoa at the Africafe. I would also like to go to the Grotto; I've heard it's beautiful, but I've never been there. Our plan is to go down Peacock Lane tomorrow night.






One thing about the northwest is its unpredictable weather. As long as I can remember, we've never had a white Christmas, but last year was a winter full of snow. More than I've ever seen, and I've lived here my entire life. The weatherman is saying snow this weekend, so we may just be spending time at home, which I love about Christmas too.
So, if you've heard the song, please don't judge the northwest by it. This is a WONDERFUL place to be for the holidays!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Office Depot Deal

I'm going through printer ink like crazy. I've gotten so I print a lot of online coupons. Office Depot has a deal that if you turn in your empty cartridges, they give you a monetary reward which builds up over time. After a certain amount, they send you a gift card to use in their store.

Last week, I received $14.56 in the mail, so today, I turned in three empty printer cartridges toward my next gift card and bought two new black cartridges. Each cartridge was $12.99, so I really only bought part of one cartridge. YAY!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - My Chubby-Cheeked Girl






















Mom's Sugar Cookies

My friend requested a sugar cookie recipe. This one is another from my mom's cookbook. A lot of people have had great things to say about these cookies. I hope you enjoy them too.

Gloria’s Cut Cookies
2 sticks marg. (1 c.)
1 ½ c. sifted pdrd sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
2 ½ c. flour
1 t. soda
1/8 t. cream of tartar
¼ t. salt

Bake at 350 6 min. Makes 5-6 doz.

Where Are We Going?

We got back from the allergist today, I picked up T from my friend's house, and got him and L home to take naps. I read them a story and got them down. As I was putting L in her crib, the little alarm on my Blackberry went off. I thought, "What is that for?" I didn't realize I had anything going on this afternoon.

After getting L down, I went to my purse and found that it was a reminder to go pick up our family pictures. Ugh! I had already rescheduled it once, so I had to go. There really was no choice.

I went and got T up and threw L back in her carseat, and we were off. As I drove, I thought, "What was I thinking scheduling it for 1:30 in the afternoon?!"

I could just picture this being a total zoo with two very tired children, so I started prepping T for what lay ahead. I told him we were going to the place where we'd been as a family to get our pictures taken and that he was going to have to sit next to me and be very quiet. His question, "But, can I play?" Oh no. I was in trouble. He just wasn't getting it.

As we got closer, I asked him, "Now, T, where are we going?"

His answer from the backseat was one word.....




"Crazy."

The Blob

Took my two oldest kids to Old Navy last night to get G a coat. As we left, I found a sweater that I absolutely loved. I took Q with me to look at it. She said, "Mom, you cannot buy a man's sweater. Don't you watch TV? You shop in the women's department. If you want a sweater, I'll get you a women's sweater."

I explained to her that I don't watch TV because if she had forgotten we don't have one. It's been more than a year since we've had one, and I don't want a form fitting sweater. She said, "Yah, I know. You want a 'blob' sweater."

I told her that yes, I did want a comfy, blob sweater because right now I feel blobby. Someday, in the not too distant future, I will have the kind of figure that can wear form fitting, but not yet. When that day comes, I will buy a women's sweater. For now, blobby sounds so heavenly.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

An Appointment with the Allergist

A goes to see the allergist tomorrow. I'm glad we're hopefully going to find out what might be causing his asthma problems. Until now, it's just been as he's gotten a virus that the asthma has come on, but they say that if there's another trigger--an allergic reaction--it can lower the immune system thus making the virus seem like the problem. Our bishop was telling me about his daughter who also had some bad asthma problems. They found out it was a wheat allergy; once they discovered that and took care of it, her problems were resolved. I'm hoping for an answer. We'll see what they say. Just nice to finally be able to take a more proactive stance on things.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mom's Ginger Snaps

Yesterday my sister-in-law mentioned how she'd made my mom's ginger snaps. I instantly craved them, so today I was the day. Just the smell made my mom seem so close. I remember when I was little, coming home from school and her letting me help roll them into balls, roll them in sugar, and put them on the baking sheet. I know they're called "snaps," but I like them soft, so I only bake them for about 8 minutes.

Ruth Hamm's Special Ginger Snaps
1 1/2 C. shortening
2 C. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 C. molasses
4 C. sifted flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. cloves
2 tsp. ginger

Cream shortening and sugar; beat in eggs, add molasses and sifted dry ingredients (I sifted these as a kid; I don't any more. They turn out the same). Roll into 1-inch balls and dip in sugar. Bake at 375 for 10-12 mins. Makes 5 dozen large cookies.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Whew!

I did it! Scared as I was, I did it. Senior Primary went much better than junior Primary. I got dressed up as Mary. I even got to go barefooted--my favorite way to be. I put L in a big pillowcase with her head sticking out and wrapped the excess around her.

She was so sweet during the first time around, but the second time around (my better time), she was worn out and cried a good part of the time I was singing. I thought for sure once she heard the music she'd stop, but I was wrong.

One of my dearest friends was sitting in the back during senior Primary. I looked back at her right as I finished singing, and she was wiping her red eyes. I was so relieved that I hadn't looked back at her while I was singing.

It was a good experience. Our Relief Society president just had a baby on Monday--a little boy, and she has a GORGEOUS voice. Last night, as I went to bed, I thought of how wonderful it would be to have her do this, but I was grateful to do it. Definitely not as beautiful experience as it could have been with her doing it, but maybe this was just something I needed to do. I'm much more an ensemble kind of singer, so I needed to prove to myself that I could get up in front of a group of people and sing all by myself--something I never do.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hows About a Road Trip?

The very first post on this blog was a very boring one about some family photos I was scanning for a Christmas present for my siblings. Those photos have become a catalyst to another project.

Two weeks ago, I was busy cleaning the house when the phone rang. One of the kids brought me the phone saying, "It's Chuck from Washington." Huh? Sorry, don't know any Chuck's not even one from Washington, so I told that child to tell him I wasn't able to come to the phone. I was sure it was a sales call.


After hanging up, the same child came into the room and said, "He was calling from Spokane and wants to know about your grandfather." Huh? Strange. I never met my grandfather (either one), but they both lived in Spokane for at least part of their lives. I was intrigued, so I called Chuck back within the half hour.

We finally connected. Here's the scoop. Chuck is a volunteer for the Spokane Valley Historical Museum. My grandfather James Howard Stegner was a resident of the Spokane Valley from his earliest days. His family moved to Spokane the year before Washington became a state. He felt very connected to Spokane and in his later years, made his basement into a museum. That museum no longer exists, but I have photos of it.

When my mom passed away, I inherited a few of his artifacts and the family photographs. Somehow Chuck caught wind that I these things. Needless to say, he wants some of them for the museum. I'm thrilled!

While scanning the photos, a great desire to head up north to Spokane grew inside me. It has now been re-ignited. Here we are in the midst of cold weather, but I would LOVE to go up and see the museum. I have things I think they'd really like to have, and I'd like them to have them. Anybody want to take a drive--a long drive with me and L (at least)? Finally, something to ask for for Christmas. Is that a strange thing to ask for?
Notes: These are the photos I've already sent for the museum's use.
Top photo - the Stegner home in Trent, WA
Middle photo - inscription on back of photo. Joseph Stegner was my great grandfather.
Bottom photo - the store built and run by my great grandparents--Joseph Andrew and Matilda "May" Greenfield Johnson Stegner.

Friday, December 4, 2009

YIKES!!!

I just got a phone call from our ward Primary chorister. She asked that I bring L into Primary this Sunday. I am to dress as Mary and dress L as if she were baby Jesus. I am then to sing "Mary's Lullaby" to L. Ugh!! Like any singing's going to happen at all. I will BAWL through the whole thing--guaranteed! I'm trying to formulate a way to create a mindset so I won't cry during this.

The Stocking Dilemma

A number of years ago, a good friend and I decided that we were sick of waking up each Christmas morning and finding out stockings unfilled. Santa always brought us nice gifts but continually neglected our stockings. So, I gave her my stocking with a list in it of little things that I liked, and she did the same for me. On Christmas Eve, we rendezvoused and handed back each other's stockings filled with fun surprises. We had agreed that we should get some of the things on the lists, not all of them, and it was okay to put in things that we thought each other might like as well. It was SO fun!

That friend has since moved away, so sad, but I thought I'd pose the question just because her list was so eye-opening to me; it said things about her life and personality. What would you ask to have in your stocking?


I just realized I've never spelled "rendezvoused" before.

So Funny!

My friend Lia shared this on Facebook today. CRACKS me up!!! Hope you like it too.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Music...Ahhhh....

I saw, on someone's sidebar, a little "anti playlist" button. There was some explanation about how rude it is to have an automatically playing music playlist for blog visitors. I have to say that when I come to my own blog, I love that the music greets me. I sit and bob my head to it. I sing along. It's WONDERFUL...to me.

When I started this blog, I wrote for me. Actually, I still do. This is my little corner of the world where I write whatever comes to mind. It's kind of my little closet where I can have my little "primal scream" and cleanse my mind. It's just fitting that the music that makes me happy is here. For those of you who are offended by it, I'm sorry. You can push pause on it. It doesn't bother me at all; I don't even know you're doing it, but you're very welcome to my closet just be prepared for the screams.

Just Bumbling Along

Wow! Life has been a bit hectic lately. Most of the time, I'm grateful to say, one or maybe two kids have issues that overlap. Recently, it's been most of the kids having overlapping issues. I'm always surprised that I've survived yet another day with my last shred of sanity intact. Here are just a few of the crazy things that have been happening.

Our eldest just turned sixteen. She has a boy who is very interested in her. Ugh! Just a date or two would be nice not the steady stuff already. Thankfully, she has a good head on her shoulders, and so far is making the right decisions. Hope this continues.

G has been sick and home from school for a few days. Last trimester, he was sick for a few days with H1N1 and missed a lot of school stuff that came back to haunt him. We're trying desperately not to have that happen again. The great thing is that his teachers maintain a wonderful website that fills us in on what he's missed. We can even access his math textbook online.

DJ is the one saving grace at this point. She has been healthy and is very upbeat. She has been acting as my "net" as I've been jumping from trapeze to trapeze. Don't know what I'd do without her.

It's funny but there always seems to be one kid who's in the "parental role" phase of life. That would be B right now. I guess it just shows me that he's very aware of what the family rules are, so I guess he can't get away with breaking them any more.

A has had asthma problems again. He was in Doernbecher Children's Hospital back in September for a terrible asthma attack, which they say was aggravated by H1N1. Well, the same thing happened all over again this past Sunday only this time, his lips didn't turn gray before I got him to the emergency room. He was just released yesterday and is now home. He will be on an inhaler everyday for the rest of the winter. This is a new situation for us as, even with the three asthmatics we've had in this family, we've never had asthma hit this bad. He has been told to take it easy as far as exercise goes, so he won't even be able to go out for recess for at least the next week. On the way to the doctor this morning for our follow up, he told me how excited he was for his afternoon recess today. It was so hard to tell him it wasn't going to happen for him.

T had what appeared to be rotovirus, but they now immunize against that, so I'm not sure what else it could have been. Thanksfully, it was very short lived, but for a day it just added that extra dimension that I could have done without. Anything that doesn't kill us just makes us stronger, right? Darn! I'm feeling really strong about now. Maybe a vacation would be a good idea.

L has had a bit of a cold the past couple days. It's her first and having all of my other children born in fall and winter, I'm grateful that illness for her has held off to this age. She's handling it all well, but was a bit fussy for a few days.

In spite of all the trials, I feel very happy. I know that we're being watched over and helped through this all. Otherwise, I'm not sure how I would make it through. Life continues to be great. Just hope I'm doing it right.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dear Santa....

I've been trying to be good this year. I've been doing better at not voicing my opinion when it's not been asked for, and I've been working on compassion and understanding; trying not to be too judgmental. I think I've learned to talk to my kids in a more productive way than before, and I'm really happy about this, but I know I could still work on a lot of things.

I could be a better wife--you know, more giving, more thoughtful. I need to take more opportunities to reach out to others outside of my home. I tend to obsess a lot about how to care for my house better. There just isn't time for all that needs to be done. I let this overwhelm and sidetrack me a lot. Wish there was a recipe for the magic required to do all that I want and need to do.

Santa, I need to be more like you. More aware of what people need in their lives. More giving; trying to meet those needs. I bet you're always happy. Who couldn't use more happiness? I think you've really got the key to that figured out.

So, here's my one problem, now that I've shared why I should be on the good list...

I don't have anything that I want for Christmas.

Thanks for always being good to me.
Love,
Julie

Monday, November 30, 2009

Who Does She Look Like?













The photo to the left is Q at about nine months. The one to the right is L at almost five months. People have asked who L looks like, so here's what I think.













Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wow! What a miracle a baby is!

Today, L is five months old. She's amazing, and it's astounding what she's done to our home.

Here's a quick recap....










Then:

  • L ate every two hours.
  • Slept when she wasn't eating.
  • Took daily trips to the lab to have her foot poked to check her jaundice level--I learned this is due to me having O+ blood type and hers being different.
  • While being held, L would put her feet right up against you; it would end up with her toes meeting her shins; circulation would be cut off, and they'd turn blue. Eeeek.
  • Lots of passing the sleeping baby around.












Now:

  • L, most of the time, will pass up the binky ("aya") for her thumb.
  • She sleeps eight or nine hours at as stretch each night.
  • She eats every four hours.
  • L is quick to smile and giggle.
  • She gurgles and coos a lot.
  • L is learning to manipulate her world by grabbing for things.

L's affect on our family was instantaneous. Z and I, at times during these past five months, have turned to one another and asked how we were ever happy before she came into our lives. It's not that we weren't happy, it's just that we didn't know our happiness was incomplete. She has brought everything into balance. God definitely knew better than we did just what we needed. I'm so grateful for this!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I'm So......

Amazing....


As we gathered for family scriptures this morning, Q did something she thought was really great and followed it up by exclaiming, "I'm so amazing!" Now, you might think this is a teenage girl being narcissistic, but to me, this was wonderful to hear.


As a child, I had a terrible tendency to put myself down. It became almost second nature. Someday I might explain why, but for now, just know that it was an awful habit. I did it well into my twenties. When I met my husband, for some reason, it decreased to almost nothing, and I started feeling good about myself.


I have often thought about what a waste that was. I learned that putting oneself down isn't humility....it's pride. In denying what is good in ourselves, we deny God the good we could do with the gifts He's given us. Humility is to accept what we can do, and using it for good while we try to build it and improve on it.

I find, as a mother, that one thing I want for my children, is that they be nothing like me, or at least the bad part of me, so when Q said this this morning, I quickly grabbed onto it. I realized that I rarely, if ever, say, "I'm so amazing." I usually do the opposite. I've been pondering on this this morning, and I'm realizing that I AM so amazing.

I can:
  • Taxi around seven children everyday.
  • Walk my two boys to school daily.
  • Calm my baby's cries.
  • Make my house smell amazing with good food--everybody who walked in the door yesterday exclaimed how wonderful it smelled (crockpot applesauce).
  • Take college classes and regulate my own time in doing so.
  • Take the time to read to my children.
  • Help my kids with their homework.
  • Meet the needs of kids when they're sick--even cleaning up the grossest things.
  • Keep my household happy and laughing.
  • Do better at something everyday.

Yes, there are things I'm not very good at, but I'm not even going to mention them here. For some reason to me, even talking about them justifies their existence, and I refuse to do that because someday, I'm going to be amazing at those things too.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Help me!!! I'm Drowning!!!

So, some advice would be great right about now. I hope someone has some for me....

As you are probably aware, laundry is an ongoing process here. It just never ends. I live for days when I'm all caught up. This really does happen sometimes.

Last week, I got all caught up. Well, kind of. I had washed and dried everything, but I had a huge pile of laundry to fold. It sat there until the last load was dried then I started the folding process; I dragged all the kids, all but the baby that is, to help me out. We got it all done. It felt so good. Even the three-year-old was in on the gig.

After Z got home from work, we went out for a date and left the kids to get the clothes put away. Can you feel this story going in a bad direction?

When we came back, the piles were all taken care of, or so we thought. Oh that false security thing....

Sunday morning came, and I went in to help T get his church clothes. Lo and behold, clothing ALL OVER THE FLOOR!!! UGH! It was just a really bad nightmare! It had to be!

Oh no it wasn't. Both boys that share that room simply laid their clothes on the floor and let them get kicked around. I stood there with my jaw open.

Didn't they help fold those clothes? Didn't they see the time it took to wash, dry, and fold them?! Obviously they didn't. I took this very personally. To look at it rationally, I knew that these boys are six and three; they have no value in their mother's time, but dang it, I do. Clearly, (to use an educator's catch phrase) I need to raise their level of concern. They need to improve their understanding of just what the whole laundry thing takes.

In the meantime, my laundry room continues to pile up with dirty clothes and towels. I don't want to touch them until I have it figured out how to do it right so this won't happen again. Such a silly thing, but I felt such a huge disrespect from this. Call me a hormonal nursing mother--that's got to be it, right? Sometimes I worry so much about doing and saying just the right thing, so my children end up well-adjusted and unscarred emotionally, but what about my emotional scars, who's worrying about those? I just walk past the laundry room, and my heart grows heavy.

Okay, so just tell me how dumb I am, shake your head and continue folding your nice, clean, freshly dried clothes. I'll get there, just not today.

Friday's Favorites

There is one blog above all that inspires me. When I can't think of a thing to write or really don't feel like blogging, I go here, and the ideas just start to flow. I found it on a friend's blog's sidebar, clicked and there I was. The photography is beautiful, bright and vivid--must be some camera! This is my FAVORITE BLOG (<--click here to go there)!

Dang Life's Lessons

There is one child in our home, whom I previously thought was a quick learner but is proving me wrong. Ugh! It also appears that said child really doesn't like being "called on the carpet" for not learning the previous lesson offered. Can't say as I blame this kid. I wouldn't like it either.

Now, here's the thing that really blows my mind. It seems that this child actually thinks that me and the dad like doing the calling and in so doing, we love making this child's life miserable. It's what we live for. It's like "Yay! Another screw up! We can make someone face the responsibility of it. Oooh. Let's do it so that child is uncomfortable. Just for fun and entertainment."

Well, I sat down with said child for a good two hours doing math--algebra is mine, geometry is Z's. This happened to be algebra, so I handed the crying baby off, neglected the house that needed to be straightened before going to bed, left the laundry sitting in the washer, let my own schoolwork fall a day behind, and worked through algebra problems with this kid, and to be honest, I enjoyed it. I think, of the choices offered, it's probably what I'd rather have been doing--not the algebra per se, but the sitting next to my child and spending one-on-one time.

This kid felt so picked on...at first--grumbling, sighing, moaning. I tried to explain that if this child didn't want to face up to his/her mistakes, then he/she shouldn't make them any more. Hmm. Lesson learned? I sure hope so, but for now, and hopefully for awhile into the future, I have a daily date with this kid and algebra. Can't say as I'm too sad about that.

Before heading up to bed, the same child approached me. I heard the words, "Thanks for helping me, Mom." Hmm. Maybe our help is starting to be recognized for what it is. Could it be...love?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gotta Love It


When Q was little, this was her favorite book. I read it twice daily for months. We read nothing else. I got so I could quote it verbatim--no text needed from beginning to end.
I've been taking a children's literature class. For it, there are a number of books I am required to read. This book was on the list. Since we own it, and since I hadn't read it in quite awhile. I decided to introduce it to T. It has become his favorite. I have now read it everyday for about the past week. So that I can get through more of the classes reading material, I have gone to reading him two books at a time. Zelinsky's Rumpelstiltskin is always one--the one T chooses. I choose The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Madeline, but his choice remains unchanged so far.
If you haven't read it, you should. Even if you don't have a child to read it to, go check it out. The illustrations are beautiful.
Well, I'd better go. Got some reading to do....
"Once there was a poor miller who had a beautiful daughter...."

Wordless Wednesday...a day late

I should be allowed because it was this girl's 16th birthday...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Monday, November 9, 2009

Painful to Watch!

Oh my GOSH!!! I can't believe this! The hair pulling thing especially! With soccer season just ending, I thought I'd post this one for Q. Yay BYU!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Just Taking a Look Around

Do you ever have the feeling that you've had your head in a hole in the ground most of the time and every so often you lift your head up and realize that life is going on around you?

I sometimes wonder whose life this is that I'm living.

I'm facing the realization that my oldest child is turning 16 next week. Ugh! How did this happen? How did she get this old? I am grateful that she and I have always been the best of friends.

When Z and I started school together, six months after we were married, I went along with Z's idea that we wait to have children until after we graduated. Not long after moving to Monmouth, Z was given the assignment to home teach a young couple who'd just moved into the ward. I was assigned to be his companion.

We grew to love Mark and Kati so much! They became our best friends, and we chose to be with them every chance we could. Kati was pregnant with their first child. We had a lot of fun finding things for their baby and anticipating his birth.

I have a hard time accepting the idea that this wasn't in God's plan for Z and me. Why would I be assigned to be Z's home teaching companion? I have little doubt that this was all laid out. In getting excited for their baby, it became clear that we could have the same thing happen to us. This had honestly never been a thought in my mind before this.

Mark and Kati moved shortly after Levi was born, but we got to enjoy their first few weeks of parenthood before they left sometime around Christmas.

The idea that we NEEDED to have a child grew and grew. By spring break, and our first anniversary, we were going to be parents! Q was born November 11th (11/11) at 2:22pm. And, our lives have never been the same.

Q was born while Z and I were in college down at Western Oregon University. Z had been accepted into the School of Education and was doing his student teaching when she was very little. The thing we understood about the Beaverton School District is the fact that they, more often than not, hire their own, so Z wanted to do his student teaching (at least part of it) in the Beaverton area, while I stayed in Monmouth.

When she was five months old, Z was also called into the bishopric of the young single adult ward. This kept us apart on Sunday's too. Our church building was under construction to make it into a stake center, so I was going to church with Q in Dallas, Oregon, and Z was going to church in West Salem with the YSA ward.

Well, at that point in time, my life would have been extremely lonely. It was such a blessing to have Q as my little companion. She gave me someone to focus on.

So, here I am now preparing to watch my daughter turn sixteen. I remember sixteen. It was a hard time. Q doesn't seem to have the hang ups I did at that age. She is fairly level-headed and happy in her own skin. She is confident and enjoys every day.

It's just scary to think that the day is coming, sooner than I expected, that the next time I pull my head up out of the hole I seem to live in, that she'll be setting off for college, so I'm not going to think about that....I'm just going to enjoy sixteen and love every minute I have her around.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Twilight Zone

Seven years ago today, I was in a car accident. The reason that comes to mind is that Z called me this morning to tell me he'd been in one today. I remember the date because it was the day that Z was allowed to break the news to the school, where he was working at the time, that he was accepting another position in the school district. Instead of making that announcement, he had to come take care of his wife--I really screwed that up for him, didn't I?


That day seven years ago brings to mind a number of interesting facts.


I was rear-ended as I stood still by a guy in a black car who was going 35 or more miles per hour. His air bag deployed. He had passed out and was just coming to when I got out of my car. I'm sure he about croaked when he saw my seven-months-pregnant body.

As soon as I got out, a man approached me. He told me that he was an under-cover narcotics officer (flashed his badge) and said he'd help get things under control. He got the tow truck there and started directing traffic. My van was a mess in the back. I had a difficult time getting it farther onto the shoulder of the road. Our former bishop drove by, pulled over up the road a ways and came over to help me and make sure all was well.

So, does anyone else see the distinct tender mercies in this?


The other thing that was amazing to me was that I was completely unharmed. At impact, I felt that I had been lightly tapped in the back although I heard the screeching tires. As I recall, when the accident occured, the other driver was attempting to light a cigarette. He didn't even know I was there until it was way too late. I know my car felt the impact much more than I did. The dent in the back proved that along with the large bucket of Costco laundry detergent that had overturned and rolled to the other side of the car.




Here's what makes this a Twilight Zone moment....

That evening, we went to a car rental agency to rent a van. As we walked around to the front door, we were greeted by a van-full of kids calling us by name and inquiring as to why we were there. We knew them from church. They were also there to rent a van.

Ends up that their mom, also named Julie, also seven months pregnant with her fifth child, which was also a boy, and also driving a Mazda MPV minivan (which, as I recall, was the same champagne color as ours) was hit by a black vehicle. She was just on her way home from taking her kids to the dentist; I was just going to the dentist, and thankfully, had no children in my van. We had both spent a portion of the day at the hospital having our unborn babies monitored. Both MPVs were totalled as a result of the accidents.

Amazing, huh?

So, today's accident was in the Suburban that we purchased to replace that MPV. Everyone's okay. It was a really dumb circumstance and just too bad it happened at all.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

T is Three


This is my favorite picture right now. My little boy's getting so big so fast. This was taken after returning from the pumpkin patch on his 3rd birthday. The motorcycle (which is sadly no longer pronounced "modycle") was one of his birthday presents.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Goods with the Bads

I'm giving myself ten minutes to blog today. Unfortunately, this is a topic that I could probably write about for much longer than that.

I put on my favorite pair of jeans this morning. They actually (almost) fit me again after having L. Yay! It is a jeans and comfy sweatshirt day. I'm trying very hard, in every way I know, to see myself through a very hard time. I honestly wish I didn't have this to go through, and I know I could just back out and avoid it altogether, but I won't do that. The consequences of that are much too far reaching and painful to even consider, so I know I have to get myself through it.

About three weeks ago, something happened in my life that shocked my socks off. For any of your concerned, no, I'm not pregnant. Someone very dear to me made a very selfish decision that affects me directly. Because it is this person's bad move, I can't really do anything about it. I can only watch this person suffer and try to respond appropriately with love, support and forgiveness. I'm not doing very well with this. My impulse is to condemn and berate; I want to punish. But, I know this isn't my place.

I mentioned, on facebook, that I was struggling. This issue has been so HUGE on my mind for the past weeks, that at this point it's consuming all of my thoughts. I had nothing else I could write as my status. It was so encouraging to feel the love of so many friends as they responded. Some of the responses seemed to assume I was struggling with my kids. Thankfully, no, the kids are not the cause of my struggle--any more than any other day. So many wrote asking how they could help. Believe me, I would gladly give this away, but I wouldn't wish it on anyone. There really is no way to help. A rough part of my character has been rubbed and needs to be removed, so I am the only one who can deal with it, and God is the only one who can help me. It's so nice to know that I'm not alone in this.

There have been a number of tender mercies through all this. Yesterday, our bishop spoke in sacrament meeting. This is kind of a rare occasion. He based his talk on the story from Genesis 18, in which Sodom and Gomorrah are going to be destroyed and Abraham asks God if He will spare the cities if there are fifty righteous people found there; when there are no longer any righteous there, God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah. The bishop encouraged us to be among the righteous that saves those around us. As he spoke, I realized that God is aware of me and my plight. I could see that this was Heavenly Father's way of telling me to do what is right no matter what. I have to stay on course for the sake of others.

You don't know how badly I'm struggling with being Christ-like in this situation. I know I need to be and that I must be forgiving because I know that I too need to be forgiven, but the inward struggle is terrible. I'm not all that that I can condemn someone else. I'm not worthy of casting stones. But, my trust has been shattered toward this person. So, I'm wondering, is my lack of trust also a sign of lack of forgiveness? Is it just making the whole forgiveness process more difficult?

Another of the tender mercies I received was last night as I read the scriptures. I came across Alma 31 verse 31. It was exactly the prayer I needed. I am grateful that I'm not the other person in this situation, but the words of Alma here until the end of the chapter help me know that I shouldn't give up on this person, but that I MUST lean on the Lord to guide me through what lies ahead.

I know that riding through the storm will only make me stronger and more fit to deal with other things in the future (I started to write "worse," but I hope that I don't have to go through anything worse). I'm wishing that time would pass quickly so this will all be behind us.

Late last week, I drove by one of those loving, reassuring messages on a church message board. It read, "Tough times don't last; tough people do." I am determined to be tough.

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