Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bake it a Great New Year!

Again this morning, as I have many times during the holidays, I am going through my recipes. And as I have, it has brought back so many wonderful and yummy memories.
First of all, great food. Who doesn't love that? Some amazing recipes that I treasure and do make yearly. Some from my mom, her banana bread. My grandpa, his Mexican food. My friends, cookies, holiday mix, pies, cheesecakes, breads, chicken dishes, etc.
But even more than the recipes, I remember the learning of those recipes. When Liz taught me to make her grandma's rolls. When Beth taught me how to make and can strawberry jam. When Phyllis taught me how to make awesome pie crusts. Some of these were in warm kitchens full of love and laughter at the holidays. Others in warm kitchens after hours of picking strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, or cleaning apples and trying to get it all canned.
This is one of the things that makes the holidays special for me.
I love celebrating the birth of the Savior. I wouldn't want to imagine my life without knowledge of Him. I love the giving, and seeing the joy on my kids and others faces when they get something they really like. I love hearing my kids as they thank each other and exult over something thoughtfully and perfectly chosen for them. I love hearing them talk about the birth of the Savior and being tender with the baby Jesus from the manger. I love sitting down to a good meal and thinking of the time that went into preparing something that I know my family will love.
As we close out yet another year and prepare to dive head on into a new one, I just want to say thanks. Thanks to all of you who have meant so much to me over the years. I know that the Lord has blessed me abundantly with amazing friends and family, no matter where I have been. Thanks for those who have taught me how to make, and bake, and can.  And thanks for giving me warm memories to dig through and hold on to and remake year after year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Scars and Vistas

Recently, several friends have gone through some really tough things. The death of loved ones, marriage issues, hard diagnoses, etc. It has sent me to my knees many times in their behalf as I ache for them.
I was thinking about this a lot as I was driving home from a funeral and had some time to myself.
I was driving across northeastern Arizona, which in the past 20 years or so has had its share of wildfires. Fires that have burned thousands of acres of land and forever changed the landscape.  As I looked at these areas which had burned more than 10 years ago, I noticed small pine trees dotting the space as well as grasses and fallen logs. I also noticed hundreds of aspens. I thought of something I recently learned. While in Colorado, we had marveled at these beautiful areas where the aspens leaves' had changed to yellow and it looked like rivers of gold were running down the mountainsides.

A forest service worker then told us that when we saw large areas with the aspens it was generally due to a forest fire. After fires swept through, the aspens would quickly grow and spread (they spread from massive root systems). Then, in time, the pine trees would get large enough to squeeze out the aspens and it would eventually get back to normal. I remember when these fires burned causing intense change to the Arizona landscape and thinking "those areas will never be the same". They aren't. But, the growth of the aspens and the beauty they provide is inspiring and encouraging. The forest has been changed significantly and it is becoming new in a beautiful way. As the sun set, the view was incredible, scars and all.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sound Effects

Wanna have some fun with your kids and maybe even make your day a little nuttier? Try sound effects!
This all started because my boys happen to all be sound effect masters. I think it is either inherited from their dad or it might be that whole Y chromosome thing, whatever it is they make sound effects for nearly everything. Sometimes it drives me crazy, like when they ask me to play with them and then they tell me to make the car sound a certain way. Well I try and I think it sounds the same, but clearly to them, it does not and after many tries I give up. It's kind of like me trying to speak another language. I am sure it sounds the same as the person I am repeating, but I have learned to recognize the look of utter confusion.
The other day I was listening to my 2 year old as he "flew" in and out of the room several times with an enormous number of explosion type sounds occurring in just minutes and thought, "How different would my day (and theirs) be if I applied sound effects to the regular mundane things I do, such as driving to school, doing dishes and laundry and such.
So I tried it out. On the way to school it sounded like we were in a race car, with several pretty good crashes. The dishes sounded quite disgusting in very non-typeable (have fun with that spell check) ways. And laundry was louder than usual; as were doors, books and other things.  I found myself having more fun driving and it was really fun to look at the expressions on my boys' faces as they experienced Mom's version of their day.
Then today as we were driving to school, Derek asked me to "make the sounds" as I drove and that was pretty much priceless!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The IT in Me

I happen to be an IT person. Which stands for "impaired technologically". I use a computer- while contemplating different endings to its already outdated life. Depending on the day and on what it won't do, I have daydreamed some pretty wild endings for the life of my computer. It may make me sound violent or perhaps crazy, but it is just a thing, so I'm okay with that.
It used to be that as soon as you drove a new car off the lot it was already outdated, but technology is upping the ante, it is already outdated when the "i" is dotted.
I also think there is something to be said for watches. You remember those don't you? Those single function (ok, until they made them look dumb by putting the calculator on them) gadgets that make your wrist look trendy. I personally prefer the look of a watch on my wrist to the bump of  a phone on my rear.
But really, that is not the worst of it. Here's my dirty little secret---I don't have an iPhone, or a droid. My sweet hubby does, only because he has to for work. Not me. Nope. I have-- wait for it--- a slider phone. Yep, you might remember those bad boys of yesteryear. I even somewhat know how to work the thing.
The problem with technology, at least for me is multifaceted. First of all, I don't understand it! Just tonight I was trying to access my blog, only to learn that my 'cache is full of cookies' that need to be removed. Believe me, there are no cookies here!! If there were, my kids would know.
Technology drives me crazy. I don't like it when something inanimate doesn't do what I want it to, I cannot even try reasoning with it. Which makes it way worse than a stubborn two year old who can be bought off with a sucker.
 I cannot keep up with all the changes mostly because I don't have access to Fort Knox, but also because I don't have the patience. I don't have the time or energy to find a faster browser, or try to understand why it didn't load when I followed all the steps. And frankly, it makes me nuts that computers can get viruses! Seriously?! Every time I download something new I cringe as I wait to find out if it was full of junk and messes up things even worse.
Plus, they are always coming up with new smaller gadgets that just seem like an easy way to throw another $100+ in the washing machine by accident.
My kids also seem to think technology is just another way to prove how much more they know than me. Who needs that pressure?
Just last week, I got a little lost and called my sister for directions. Yep, I actually talked to a human being and laughed a little about where I was. That quick convo would not have happened if I had an iPhone.
 I don't like how the human factor of needing each other is being relegated to a device that is worn in the back pocket of my jeans. I was reading last week how the millennial generation is having trouble dating and getting married because all they do is text and hang out. I'm not surprised. When we never have to ask another person for the time, or for directions we lose out on a little something. When we don't have to have conversations that we actually think about because we can simply pull up a photo or a video clip and then show it to the person we are sitting next to, we miss out on something vital. The human connection is important. Telling stories, relating experiences, sharing laughter  not contrived by a device is what makes and keeps us human. I am not good at telling stories or jokes, my hubby is, and I have learned a lot by watching and listening to those who are masters at it. I am good with a quick quip and usually think somewhat fast on my feet and I love the immediate reaction of making a friend laugh or my kids roll their eyes.
So for now, you may get a call from me when I am lost. You may have to listen to my real life stories of life. And I may be your only friend who still rocks a slider phone. But when the power goes out, come on over and we will have real cookies, tell real stories, talk, laugh, and play a board game or two.
Personally, I hope the power goes out soon!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Don't Forget

 I love fall!
 I love the colors of the leaves. I love the colors on crisp brilliant blue sky days when the light shines through and off of them. I love the colors on gray days when they just provide richness and warmth. I love the crunch they make when they are being walked on. I love the piles for my kids to rake up and jump in.

The smell of warming fires announcing "cozy" to the whole neighborhood. The beginning of hot chocolate and apple cider season.

 I also love the holidays. Let's face it, Halloween is fun. I love coming up with costumes and the excitement of dressing my kids up to see friends and neighbors. I don't particularly love the idea of my kids getting tons of candy we don't need, but when we turn it into gingerbread houses later, I don't feel quite so bad.

There is Thanksgiving and good food.

Then comes Christmas. Oh Christmas! The music, the lights, the get-togethers with friends and family. The amazing    Oh wait. Did you notice that?

 I glossed over Thanksgiving.

What should, in my opinion, be one of the most important holidays of the year, and it seems to get whitewashed every year.

Why is that? Is it because you can't commercialize gratitude? You can't dress it up, sit it on a shelf and take pictures of it. You can't cover it with lights. You can't pin it on Pinterest.

 Is it because recognizing The Source outside of ourselves for the many things we have, and have become, is too... humble?
 Let's face it, if we acknowledge God for blessing us with everything we have and are, it might take away from our efforts, right? Then we might not get credit for what we have done.

 Hmmm. I don't think the pilgrims ever thought there might be a book, or thousands of books, about them. They were simply trying to make it possible to worship God the way they wanted to and allow their families to live the lifestyle of believers. When they then arrived in this land and then struggled just to survive, they didn't blame God and walk away from their beliefs. They prayed all the more and exercised their faith, and when they were blessed by the goodness of the knowledge of the Natives they put forward more effort to learn from and listen to them. And when those efforts proved fruitful, they put forth a lot of effort to thank God and their new benefactors and to celebrate, truly celebrate, all they had to be grateful for.

 If we think it is a lot of work to put together a Thanksgiving Dinner now, how difficult was it to gather & grind, find, kill, clean and cook the animals, plant harvest, gather and dry, and then cook all of these things with no electricity, no crockpots, etc.  Plus they had 91 visitors who joined them for the feast.
Their lives, many had lost theirs in trying this "experiment". Their homes, simple and yet providential. Their food. They were no longer starving, they had experienced that. Not only did they have food, they had variety and abundance. Their freedom to worship and thank God for all that He had blessed them with, the good, the difficult and everything in between.

Maybe if our Thanksgiving season is more thankful, our gratitude and celebration of the birth of our Savior will be more fulfilling and genuine. When we are thankful, we recognize the gifts we receive more fully and what a great way to move into the Christmas season.

So let me just say, I am thankful for each of you! My dear family, my friends, those I have only just met, and even some I may never meet. Thanks for the part you play in my life. Thank you to those who have taught me, mentored me, forgiven me and loved me. Thank you to those who have fought so I can live to freely profess what I believe. Thank you to those who farm the fields that provide our food. Thank you to those who built the home we now live in. Thank you to those who make the clothes we wear (my kids would especially thank you because they have seen me when I sew, and what I have sewn).
Thank you to the parents who gave me life.

And especially thank you to the Father who really gave me life and His Son who gave me the chance to live again. I have been so blessed!

And a Happy day of Giving Thanks to you!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

White Flag

Ok, today I am waving the white flag. All the cushions are off my couch and currently being used as racing motorcycles. My kids already washed the car and had a water fight which ended when my youngest slipped on the slippery garage floor and really hit his head hard. The pile of laundry and dishes is frightening. I found the toilet paper roll (thankfully empty) in the toilet- why? Because "it was empty". Yes, the garbage can is right next to the toilet. I just went upstairs to find my four year old with a pile of q-tips. He had pulled all the cotton off the ends to fill the back end of his pickup truck so it would like "the hair from sheep". Some days I just have to surrender and listen. Derek was again announcing to his brothers that his name really is Fireball Derek. That is his new name for himself and anyone that knows him, knows that is completely accurate! I can hear Preston encouraging his brother to try to win the motorcycle race. I hear Brennan saying "it is time to blast off." Meanwhile, the sound effects are incredible and a tribute to boyhood. And the dishwasher and the dryer are doing their things. I can only do one thing at a time (truthfully more like 3 things).  But the most important thing today may be to surrender and drink in the sounds while they are happy and having fun. After all, too soon they will be off riding scooters with friends and doing their own things and all I will have to listen to is the dryer and dishwasher.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

My Fridge is Full

Since getting married, I have come to believe that the kitchen is the heart of the home. It is where  most of our conversations take place as we make and eat meals, play games, do homework, pray for each other and the food ( the food really needs it:). But the other day I looked at my fridge and saw it in a whole new light. First of all, the pure fact that I have this large box inside my home that not only keeps things safely cold and conveniently cold, like drinks, but also freezes my leftovers and other food to be ready to cook, well that is simply amazing! That means I have abundance!! I have food left over! My kids don't go to bed hungry (unless they don't like dinner). We have choices of what to eat and when, this week or in a month. When I think of the mothers throughout the world who have very little to no choice of what their babies eat, or if their bellies are full, well...
That is just the inside of my fridge. Now to what I noticed this week, the outside. You see the outside of my fridge is also full. I realize my friends who have magazine cover homes will cringe as I admit this, but it is full. Let me take you on a tour. On one side I have a magnetic flash light from a lesson a friend shared. We are the light of the world, let us shine our lights.
I have a magnet that says "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." This quote was used frequently during the Great Depression. It has helped me regain perspective many times when I have let my wants take a forefront over my needs.
We have an invitation to a wedding. Someone wants to share the beginning of their family with us!
I have an invitation to a baby shower. Another precious little baby has come into the world and I get to help celebrate!
There are multiple pictures made by my kids. Preston watched a tutorial on line by Jan Brett, and I have to say his picture turned out pretty amazing. Maybe he will grow up to be an artist. There is the paper plate sun by Derek, made in our co-op preschool. The sun makes me smile and so does our preschool. I wish all grades could be a co-op school like our preschool. It has been so amazing!
There is a picture of our family by Brennan, my two year old. Although no one else would ever know what it is, I do.
 There is this set of plastic magnetic gears. There is a motor in the main one and as the kids put the gears in different places they can really get things going. Nearly every kid that has spent any time in our kitchen (and they usually do, because that is where the cookies are) has spent time with those gears.That has been one of our all time favorite toys.
There are the magnets that were pictures that Garrett made in school and they turned them into magnets. I love those! What he drew in elementary school is very different than what and how he draws now, and those are glimpses back to simpler days.
On the other side of my fridge is our family calendar. Admittedly, some days and weeks, I just don't even want to look, because it is so everlastingly full. Some things I want to be at and others not so much, but each has their purpose. There are also birthdays and holidays and fun events.
My fridge is not for the faint of heart, or for the magazine cover, but it is a huge part of the heart of my home and it is thankfully, full.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Naughty Horse

In spite of my careful preparations, Sunday did not go as planned and I turned into a Momster! By the time I actually did get to church, I was thoroughly disgusted with myself and  frustrated by weaknesses that I have been trying to overcome.

Frankly, I was also wondering why God hasn't given up on me yet. Well, we go to church for a reason and I got my answer.

The story was related how as a boy, Joseph Fielding Smith, had a horse.

She was smart.

No matter what he did, she could get out of her stall. Not only would she escape, she would often turn on the water spigot and leave it running.
Sometimes in the middle of the night he would wake to hear water running and have to get up and go turn it off and put her back.
In time, his father suggested that the horse was smarter than he. So his father decided to lock her in himself and before the two of them had made it to the house, the horse was by their side! She then ambled off to turn on the water.

Most of us would say, get rid of the horse. But Joseph's mother was a licensed midwife and was often called upon to travel at all hours and in all kinds of weather to deliver babies. They knew that they could depend upon this strong horse to take her where she needed to be. She was gentle enough that Joseph could hitch her up, no matter the time or the weather to do her duty.

Her naughtiness was tempered with some very important strengths.

Isn't that how we are? At times, I can't help but wonder if I will ever be able to overcome my weaknesses, particularly on days when I have been just plain naughty.
But on Sunday, I was reminded that I have strengths that are just as strong and also important to my Maker.

He isn't going to give up on me because He sees those good qualities, the very qualities He gave me.

He doesn't condone my naughtiness, but He does know that with His patient love I can overcome them.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Show and Tell

As I sit here, I have to say I am thinking, "I've done it! I have a blog. I am a blogger!" But now the reality sets in, what on earth does that mean?   I think it means, I have something to share. Remember "show and tell" in school? Everyone had something at some time that they wanted to show or an experience they wanted to tell about. Even the kids who were really shy, if they found a special treasure or something neat happened, the wanted their turn too.  I think it is fundamental to our nature. We all have a voice and want to be heard. On second thought, not everyone has a voice. I recently have become acquainted with an elderly woman who has lost the use of most of her body including much, but not all, of her ability to speak. So I am learning to read eyes. Sometimes the depth of gratitude in her eyes is more than any "thank you" I have ever heard aloud. As I spoke with her about some life experiences I am having, I "heard" her say, "Yes, I have been there too." Some of us want to be heard and validated, some want to be heard and disagreed with, and others want to shock or surprise the world with their ideas. I don't have anything earth shattering to say, I'm sure. Yet, there is part of me that just can't help it when I see something that thrills me, or scares me, or makes me laugh, that I just have to share. So welcome to my "show and tell."