Resolutions, Anyone?

"A man should never be ashamed to admit he has been in the wrong, which is but saying in other words, he is wiser today than he was yesterday." ~Alexander Pope

I happened upon this thought today and it struck a chord with me. I think I'm getting better at this as I get older, but it's still something to work on and I love the perspective given. I'm going to make sure it's on my list of things to improve on this next year.

Others? I want to do better with scripture study [not reading, study], put more effort into my Primary calling and develop more love and patience for all the children I associate with.

What about you? Any thoughts for 2009?


Christmas Has Left the Building [almost]

We had a wonderful family Christmas, including [but not limited to] the Christmas Eve buffet [with more food than any 12 people could ever begin to take down], the famous Mason pajama race [Natalie won the race for the adults, for the first time ever, and the childrens' race was won by Ben!] and of course listening to the Christmas story and singing songs together.

Christmas morning was wonderful. It was great just watching the faces of the children and the adults as everyone realized [through the thoughtful gifts they received] just how much they are loved. A sad/happy part for me was when Mason finished opening his last gift and totally broke down: "I want to open more presents!" -- it was the saddest yet funniest thing I've seen in a long time. Christmas really is for the children.

We did fun things together: played some in-home laser tag, we bowled, we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows over a campfire at a small-town trail of lights [and loved it - -this will be a regular Christmas event from now on] and we hung out at home, talking and spending time together. We watched the cousins enjoy each other and we shared time and feelings with each other.

I don't think I ever remember seeing as much trash and recycling build up in such a short time! Today is trash and recycling day and we still have trash bags in the back yard as well as recycling sitting in the house because the [huge] bins were both full. Someday we'll catch up, I'm sure of it!

I remember reading a bumper sticker that said something along the lines of this: "A cluttered desk is the sign of a creative mind" -- and if that's true, my house must be the home of a genius.


*[picture: not my house, we have much more trash than that!! Via flickr]


Almost There!

With all the hurry and rushing I've been doing, I was grateful yesterday to recall a thought that I had saved some years ago:

"For most of us, sadly, the spirit of Christmas is 'hurry'. And yet, eventually, the hour comes when the rushing ends and the race against the calendar mercifully comes to a close. It is only now perhaps that we truly recognize the spirit of Christmas. It is not a matter of days or weeks but of centuries - nearly twenty of them now since that holy night in Bethlehem. Regarded in this manner, the pre-Christmas rush may do us greater service than we realize. With all its temporal confusion, it may just help us to see that by contrast, Christmas itself is eternal." ~Burton Hills

I need to take a moment in this frenzied last period before Christmas to stop and consider and be thankful : for that miraculous birth so long ago, for His life and example, and then for the ultimate Christmas gift -- the gift of eternal life.

Christmas is eternal. I know all of us will receive wonderful gifts this year but my Christmas wish is that we all find a quiet time and place to stop and reflect and be grateful for the one gift that we all share in.

Merry Christmas!


A Smile for the Day

I don't spend much time at Starbucks -- [one thing I do know is that they have fabulous caramel apple cider!] -- but this one gave me a smile today.

Hope your day is smiley too!


Christmas Surprise

"I truly believe that if we keep telling the Christmas story, singing the Christmas songs, and living the Christmas spirit, we can bring joy and happiness and peace to this world." ~Norman Vincent Peale

Oh, he's right!

Last night, as I was home watching TV [with all the outside lights on, the inside all decorated and the Christmas tree lit, the combination making me feel Christmassy], the doorbell rang. When I opened it, I was surrounded by 15 of our Primary Activity Day girls and their 3 leaders. They were singing Christmas songs, and began with my new favorite, one we have learned in Primary, "Baby in a Manger".

Mark joined me at the door while they sang several more songs, and we stood there [of course] with tears in our eyes. What a perfectly beautiful sight, these sweet girls that I have been with in Primary for 3+ years now and their leaders whom I love equally as much as I love the girls.

After they sang, they handed me a beautiful plate of Christmas goodies, and then decided we all needed a group hug, right there on my doorstep.

What a lovely way to finish a day -- Christmas music, much-loved children and Primary leaders, and a group hug.

A perfect way to end a day. Thank you!!


The Best Gift

'The giving of gifts is not something man invented. God started the giving spree when he gave a gift beyond words, the unspeakable gift of His Son." ~ Robert Flatt

I did some more shopping this morning, then came home to go back through my lists, checking to see what more there is to do. Christmas is less than 2 weeks away and I'm starting to feel slightly stressed about getting it all done. In my mind, I was frustrated over what is still undone -- until I remembered what it's really all about.

It's not about finding the perfect present. In fact, it's not really about the presents at all. It's not about the lights, or the buying. It's about love. It's about sharing. It's about kindness and friendship. It's about Jesus, that baby in the manger, literally the greatest gift ever given.

My thoughts slowed me down. There's still a lot to do, but now I'm thinking of the poem by Christina Rosetti -- "What can I give Him? I give Him my heart." And that's what I can give my loved ones and friends. My heart. Sure, I will give them the gift I picked out, bought and paid for, but mostly what I want them to know is how much they are loved, and how important they are in my life.

Jesus was the perfect example. He was a teacher, a doer of loving deeds, and a friend. That's what I want to be to my loved ones.

And that's what I want them to receive this year, along with their gift. The knowledge of that love and the remembrance and gratitude for that miraculous birth and life, so long ago.

That's Christmas.


Snow -- in Austin?

"Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together." ~Vista M. Kelly

After a day with near record-breaking temperatures [I think we were in the high '70's yesterday], last night it surprised all of us by getting dramatically colder very quickly -- and even coming up with some sleet/snow.

When I got up this morning, the house was freezing, and outside, there really was some snow on the ground. Still is, actually. If I had a camera, I'd take a picture. But just imagine it: yesterday, a high in the mid '70's, and right now, it's 34 degrees, aiming for a high of 52. And snow on the ground.

I guess it is December after all!

[photo via flickr -- actually taken last night, just not by me]


Christmas Gift-Giving

"A gift is pure when it is given from the heart to the right person at the right time and at the right place, and when we expect nothing in return." ~Bhagavad Gita

Gift-giving is hard -- I always want to give the perfect gift but this thought has stuck with me and I really believe the most important message appears at the end: that we expect nothing in return.

The gift itself probably doesn't matter, as long as it comes from the heart and with no strings attached. I love it. [the above pic made me smile -- that's Mark and I for sure!]

picture via jasonlove.com


"My" Children

"Let your eyes light up when your children are around. Laugh more. Tell them how empty and quiet it is when they're not there. Enjoy the things they bring to your life." ~Valerie Bell

This is a beautiful quote. It uses the words '
your children' but I think of it in terms of grandchildren and Primary children [and really, I guess I think of all of them as 'my' children because of the love that I feel for them]. I missed church Sunday because of the flu, and what I missed the most was being with the children. I love each of them so much and I love having that weekly opportunity to let them know that.

Primary is a gift. It's a chance to share my testimony, my love for the children and the gospel, and to open my heart and life to a whole new group of children.

I will be back there on Sunday and I can't wait!


Feeling Better

I'm thankful that this flu both Mark and I have had doesn't seem to be as long-term as the strain Mason has had.

We're both starting to feel better. Finally.

[picture via flickr]


Shop, Shop, Shop!

'Nuff said!


Making it Count

"Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend - or a meaningful day." ~Dalai Lama

This beautiful thought has inspired me today: to really make sure my friends know how much I love and appreciate them. I have wonderful, loving friends and family and I'm so grateful for them.

I need to make sure my days are meaningful as well: full of fun, service, love, and staying open for inspiration. There is so much to appreciate and so much still to do.

Happy Thanksgiving week to you!


Finding the Light

"I believe in Jesus Christ like I believe in the sun at noon day, not because I can see it, but because by it, I can see everything else.~C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis really speaks to me. I love the way he puts things. In his words, it's all so simple and easy to understand. For me, this is clear. To find the light, just look up. Stay on the path and follow the Son.



"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." ~William Arthur Ward

I had a really sweet experience last week and this quote expresses it beautifully. I have been teaching an adult Institute-type class [scripture based, just like Institute only with no official Institute credit given] in our ward building on Tuesday mornings for about the past 10 weeks. We have been studying the life of Christ, using the four Gospels in the New Testament.

I was a little nervous to agree to take this on -- for several reasons really. First and foremost, I don't feel like a scriptorian. I really don't. I have learned to love the scriptures through baptism by fire: I admit to having taught [and loved] seminary for 15+ years, a total of 19 classes. I have also taught several Institute classes at the Institute in Vegas. But do I know enough to teach adults and feel confident about it? No. Not at all.

But I love to study and I love learning and I love teaching more than anything. And the person who asked me is someone I love dearly and would do pretty much anything for. So I agreed. And I have thoroughly enjoyed it but still, when Mark asks me how class went, my answer is always the same: "I don't know!! I guess it was fine. Ask someone who was there!"

Last week, a sweet lady in the class called me about mid-week to express her gratitude for the class. She said she had gotten up that day feeling like she was never going to be good enough, that she didn't want to make the effort to go to the class, and why should she bother anyhow. But she did get up and she did go. And she told me that the class that day had made all the difference in the world to her and thanked me for my efforts.

It meant the world to me to hear that someone really liked the class. [shades of Sally Field, right? "You like me! You really like me!"] I shared with her the conversation that Mark and I have every week -- and she told me that my response needed to be that Phyllis had loved it and it had made a world of difference to her.

Mark smiled when I told him that. And I was so grateful to Phyllis, for taking the time to call and let me know that what I did really mattered to her.

And now, I need to do better about expressing the gratitude that really is in my heart for many things. I just need to make sure that I let people know.

Because it matters.


We did it!

Today was the Primary program -- really the culmination of the time we've spent this entire past year, studying the theme "I am a Child of God."

Our children were wonderful. Most of them sat on the stand the entire time and were reverent and quiet. The singing was great, probably 95% of the parts were memorized, and despite a few Sunbeam tears [utter fear, I think], it went smoothly and ended right on time.

I was so proud of our children. We had a fun, low-key Sharing Time and had our traditional after-program Rice Krispie Treats. It was a wonderful day -- maybe even autograph-worthy!


This Is Us

People often comment that Mark and I are pretty much opposites, and we really are in most ways. If he likes a certain piece of furniture, you can be nearly 100% sure that I will not only dislike it, I will hate it. If I love a picture or some decorative item for our home, you can almost guess that he won't. When we go shopping for large items, it's high-stress. Our house is pretty much furnished in what I like to call 'early compromise' furniture. Neither of us ever gets what we love -- we end up with what we can tolerate.

The only things we both really like are each other and our family. Apparently it's enough.

He's pretty spectacular -- and the cartoon really is us.

There's my smile for today.



"A babe in the house is a well-spring of pleasure, a messenger of peace and love, a resting place for innocence on earth, a link between angels and men." Martin Fraquhar Tupper

Having the chance to sit and hold baby Simon is like experiencing a little bit of heaven. There is a special feeling in a home that has a brand new baby -- a little glimpse of eternity, I think.

As baby Simon looks up at me, I feel that he is really looking beyond me, at people and places I can't see and I wish he could tell me about where he's been and how well he was loved there. I imagine how nervous our Heavenly Father must be as He sends these precious little people down to us, and am so thankful that sees fit to entrust them to our care.

Ah, babies. Such a gift and such a trust is placed in each of us that has any part of the life of one of His precious little ones.

As a grandma who loves her 'job', how grateful I am for that trust. There is so much joy in our family right now.


Happy Birthday, Natalie!

I've often read that one of the sweetest things that happens in a family relationship is when your children grow up and become your friends. I'm here to tell you that this really is true.

I have three wonderful children and two equally wonderful in-laws now and I am so thankful for the friendships that we share. It's a great gift to have your children grow up to be the kind of people you have hoped they would be, and in the end, not only your family, but your friends.

My daughter Natalie is a wonderful daughter to Mark and I, a loving and supportive wife to Chris, a tender and wise mama to Maya, Mason and Simon, and now a dear friend to me as well. I love her dearly and will always be grateful for that friendship and love that we share.

Happy birthday to one of my nicest blessings!! Love you, sweetie!

Four Seasons

For my birthday in August, both my parents and Mark's parents gave me money. This year, I was determined to hold onto it all until I decided exactly what I wanted to do with it. You know how the money so easily gets assimilated into the family budget -- well, for once I wanted something significant to show as their birthday gift to me.

I love James Avery jewelery and wish they would bring back their "tree of life" charm. It's beautiful and it's something I'd love to have -- but it's been retired. So I browse through their stuff off and on and found this beautiful "Four Seasons" charm that I fell in love with.

I love it not only because it is so pretty and depicts the four seasons in such a lovely way [and since we don't really have four official seasons here, it's fun for that reason alone], but I love that it reminds me that life is lived in seasons as well.

I need to remember to not wish away the season I am in, but to live in it fully and love it. This necklace is a beautiful reminder for me and I find myself wearing it nearly every day.



I'm so non-political that people probably hate me for it -- and I have to admit that I'm relieved that this election process is over. I'm just done with all the political ads, phone calls and TV coverage.

This one tickled my Canadian funny bone [as Mason would say, "tickles my bone!"].

Maybe we could convince Celine to run next time.


My hairdresser Jake is the best. He really is. He's been doing my hair for a couple of years now, and it's amusing to me now to look back and realize how worried I was when Monica, my former hairdresser, had moved permanently to a salon fairly far away from our area.

Jake really gets it. He has a gift for hair, a fun sense of humor and is an all-around nice guy. And he really gets that hair matters to women. What more can you ask?



"Where there is great love, there are always miracles." ~Willa Cather

I feel like there are miracles all around us right now. Nature of course is an amazing miracle. And, [well, duh!], a new baby in the family is probably the biggest miracle of all. Baby Simon is the greatest gift we've been given since Mason, Ben, Maya and Daniel arrived. He is sweet, calm and loves to snuggle -- what's not to love, right? He really is a miraculous blessing. I know his mama and dad would agree. We are so grateful.

And then yesterday, in Primary, we really had another miracle. We were in the 2nd week of rehearsal for our Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation. You know the drill -- when the kids sit in the chapel for 2 full hours right after they just finished sitting through Sacrament meeting. [I know you are nodding and grimacing right now. It's what I think of in my mind as the 'Great and Dreadful Day'].

Normally, we would only have had one hour [or less] for practice, as we are the 'middle' ward and the other ward needs the chapel for their Sacrament Meeting. But yesterday, the ward that meets last wasn't in the building as they had Stake Conference held elsewhere. [long story there: just know that this ward used to be in our stake till very recently, when a brand new stake was created. So now they are working on building a stake center, but till that happens, we still share our building with them.]

At any rate, we were given the huge gift of having the use of the chapel for the full 2 hours yesterday and we took advantage of it. I was concerned about it, since last week all we got done was seating. But our Primary kids and their teachers really are miraculous. By the time the chapel was emptied out, they were all in their places on the stand. I had anticipated spending a lot of time reminding and it just wasn't necessary.

Then, Kristi, who is my counselor supervising the program, was out of town for a family baptism. So I sort of stepped in and ran the show -- and was amazed and thrilled when I realized that a good 80% or more of our Primary children had already memorized their parts. Some of the parts are pretty long, many are straight from the scriptures, and I couldn't believe how many kids were totally prepared. "Goodly parents" indeed.

The singing? Like angels. Antsy kids? Sure, a few. But not as many as I expected. Most were so quiet and attentive that we were able to get a lot done. Next week, we'll get them seated, run through the entire program [without stopping!] and hopefully feel ready for the final performance for the ward on November 16.

Miraculous? I think so. Grateful? Oh, yes!


Look Who's Home!

And is everyone ever happy!


Fingers Crossed

The plan was for Mama and baby Simon to be home some time this morning -- but because Mr. Simon is now dealing with jaundice issues, it's unclear when he will actually take up residence in the Cottam household.

They will be doing another blood draw at 5 (in 1 hour!) -- and if the numbers line up, Dad, Mama and baby could be home by the time Grandma, Grandpa, Maya and Mason return from the ward Trunk or Treat.

Keep everything [fingers, toes, eyes, whatever!] crossed. We have 2 sweet kiddoes who are in love with their new baby brother and would really like to have him home with them tonight.

Not to mention Mama - - she is done with the hospital!



Natalie called early this morning from the hospital with the news that the baby is doing well. The pneumothorax seems to be doing what some of them do -- which is responding to the oxygen the baby has been given, and resolving itself. What a relief!

So this morning, I dropped Miss Maya at preschool for her Halloween party, and Mason and I went over to really meet baby Simon for the first time. Mason was very taken with him -- couldn't get over his tiny hands and feet, enjoyed holding him, kissing his soft little head, and generally marveling over what a sweetheart his new baby brother is.

I had my chance to hold him as you can see [shiny forehead, yesterday's clothes and all] -- and he is beautiful. He's a calm, sweet baby so far and once he learns to nurse a little better, he will be perfect, I'm sure. They will keep he and his Mama in the hospital till tomorrow as they are still keeping a close eye on him but at this point, I know your prayers have been heard and answered.

Thank you!


Baby Simon is Here -- Prayers Needed!

Just a quick note -- baby Simon arrived sometime around 6 p.m tonight. Natalie was induced this morning, but was in a triage room for some time due to emergency C-Sections at the hospital. When they got her into her own room [finally!] sometime around noon or a little after, they broke her water and between that and the pitocin, the baby came fairly quickly after that. She said the pushing seemed to go on forever, but ended up with no tearing or stitches and feels really quite good.

We got to take Maya and Mason to the hospital to see the baby -- he weighed 8 lb. 11 oz., and was 21 1/4 inches long and is completely adorable. He looks a lot like Mason and Maya did as babies, I think.

We did not get to hold him or even see him except through the nursery window as he has had trouble breathing. Natalie just called me from the hospital to tell me that he has a pneumothorax -- they are treating it with oxygen and are watching him carefully. If it improves [he's already had several x-rays and will have more] then they will be able to have him with them and all should be well. If not, they will move him over to the Dell Children's Hospital [in north Austin].

We are all hoping and praying that this is just a little glitch and that he will be well and happy very quickly - -but we could use all the extra prayers we can get for this precious little boy.

Natalie sends her love to all -- and we will keep you posted as we know more.


Hope + Faith + Work = Primary Success

"Hope is putting faith to work when doubting would be easier." ~Author Unknown

Our Primary Children's Sacrament Meeting presentation is coming up and we had our first practice yesterday in the chapel. Because we are the middle ward in the building schedule, we don't get much time in the chapel before others need to get in there, so we have scheduled not the usual 2 weeks of practice, but 3. Yesterday we got the seating assignments made [Kristi is a rockstar and had it all mapped out - perfectly!] and ran through a few of the songs in the chapel, giving the children an idea of what it will take to really fill the room with their voices.

Next week, we'll get them seated [quickly, I hope] and then run through the program, letting each child take their turn at the pulpit, giving them a feel for what that is like. Then, the final week we'll just go straight through the program, time it, and be ready for the actual presentation.

I was pretty doubtful before we got started yesterday but the children followed directions beautifully, sat quietly, sang like angels [even in the chapel -- usually it takes a few weeks to get them adjusted to singing in a room that size], and even the Sunbeams did pretty darn well.

So I'm going to keep on hoping, praying and working -- and it will be better and better every week! Oh, how I love our Primary kiddoes!



That's me today.


Senior Moments?

Today my new visiting teachers came, and it was great fun to get to know them a little bit. One of them is someone I've always wanted the chance to know better, and the other is a sweet new lady in our ward who is now a Primary teacher [yay for Primary!]. We visited and chatted and then I did something that I hate doing -- got off on a story that really did have a connection to the topic at hand -- then couldn't remember why I had done it.

Sigh. I hate that. Eventually I did remember -- but the above spoke to me today. Loud and clear.

At least if you're in the bathroom, the choices are easy.


How to Live

"People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It never was between you and them anyway."
~Mother Teresa

How I love reading the wise words of Mother Teresa. The last line says it all: in the end, it's between us personally and our Heavenly Father. Our job is to do good, love others, and be happy and in the end, He will judge. Life is between us and Him, no one else.

Knowing that, then, my responsibility is to do what I think He would do if He were here. That knowledge makes life's choices simple and clear.


Roses in October

"God gave us our memories so that we might have roses in December." ~J. M. Barrie

A few months ago, we [OK, Mark] dug up our front flower bed and redid it completely. When we moved in, there were bushes, but they had become completely over-grown. I understand what was done, I think. When the former owners planted, it would have been impossible to foresee those tiny bushes taking over that flower bed. Which is exactly what happened. We had a jungle in our front yard.

There was one rose bush there to begin with and it's the only one that is original. It's a crazy one -- Mark prunes it way back periodically and before you know it, there are a zillion more beautiful pink roses again and branches everywhere. So we figured it was a no-brainer to fill that box with rose bushes. And that's what we did.

It's not December yet, but I know there will be roses in December because I've seen them here in the past. But this is what we have in mid-October. I smile every time I walk past.

Beautiful, no?


Catching Souls

“Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.”~Mother Teresa

We have had a 2 week hiatus from 'regular' church -- first we had General Conference and then Stake Conference. That's given us 2 weeks off from the routine of weekly Primary, with the accompanying Sharing Times, talks, scriptures, etc. -- all the stuff that goes into doing Primary every Sunday. Someone asked me after our last week of 'regular' church if I was ready for my vacation.

I really wasn't -- I love Primary: being with the kids and seeing their spiritual lights that shine so brightly. I miss it when I don't get to be with them, hear them sing, give their talks and feel the spirit with them. My gospel fire is brighter because of theirs.
I also know how hard it is to step back into the routine -- it's much easier for me to just keep going than it is to stop and then start up again.

So as we met as a presidency last night, we were all a bit tired, I think, and with the Trunk or Treat and our Sacrament Meeting Presentation staring us in the faces, there's a lot to be done right now. I think we all felt it last night -- and honestly, for me it would have been easier without this 2 week 'vacation' that we're coming off of.

I loved the above quote by Mother Teresa [who else? She's the one who knows all about loving, isn't she?] -- that's what I'm fixing my sights on this week. I'm going to go into Primary on Sunday feeling joy: joy that I'm back with the children, joy in our wonderful teachers, joy that I get to share the gospel with all of them, joy that we have both fun and important Primary events coming up. Mostly just joy in their presence.

With that joy, we can do just as Mother Teresa has said -- we can catch their souls. It doesn't get better than that.

And now I'm not feeling so tired anymore.


I Can Skip!

As a brand new owner/operator of a DVR, this one tickled my funny bone today. I am proud [and happy] to say that not only can I skip with my feet, I can skip with my remote too.

Progress!! AT&T U-Verse is awesome.



We had Stake conference yesterday, where our former Stake presidency was released and a new one sustained. We listened to the humble, overwhelmed comments of a new Stake president and his counselors and the grateful comments of the stake presidency that had been released after nearly 10 years of service.

I loved hearing all that was said, but what struck me most was what our outgoing Stake President said: how he had been unable to sleep and was up at 3 a.m. thinking. He said that he realized he needed to re-commit himself to do and to be better and made that commitement as he spent the middle-of-the-night time pondering and praying.

Bear in mind that this is a good, good man and one who probably has very little to regret or repent of in his life. But he felt he needed to re-commit and do better-- which, as I apply that to myself, means that I have much more to do.

But he inspired me. He really did. I too want to do and be better. And I too am committing [again] to try harder and improve myself.

At least with me, there's lots to do and lots to choose from! Maybe that will make it easier!


Happy Birthday to Mark!

"Mix a little foolishness with your serious plans. It is lovely to be silly at the right moment." ~Horace

Today is Mark's birthday -- and as I think about him, I realize one of his best qualities [and he has a lot of them!] is that he is able, at a moment's notice, to be silly and to find the silliness in just about anything. We joked yesterday about how we look at everything in life in an opposite way -- we like different things [and we have strong feelings about them], we have very different tastes in just about everything and we are amazed after all these years that we are still together. Really, the only things that we both like are each other and our family. But that's the gift, right?

I met Mark when we were both really young and dumb, we survived lots of years living at poverty level [at least that's how it felt], we have moved together all over the country and back, raised a lovely family together and now are enjoying very silly moments with the most beautiful 4 [nearly 5 now!] grandchildren you can imagine. Every one of those precious little ones adores their Grandpa and wants to spend time with him.

He's wonderful. He's funny, he's spiritual, he's the hardest worker I know, he's pretty dang cute, and he's a wonderful head of our family.

Happy birthday to my sweetie!


Picture Tag

I've been tagged! [I think what really happened is I've been ganged up on -- Sarah, Rachel and Renae all called me out.] So here's my 4th picture in the 4th folder of my pictures file.

And look who it is: Baby Masey, the dinosaur! I have to say that I thought the chances of ending up with a good picture were pretty slim but I got lucky with this one. Clearly, time has marched on: this little boy is now a tall, funny 2 1/2 year old instead of the baby you see here.

How can this be Mason?? Mason is the boy who loves Cars, likes to pretend he is a doggie [or a baby!], and loves to tease his Grandma. "Masey, are you going to kiss me or not?" "I not!" Which is my cue to grab him, tickle him, and cover him with kisses while he roars with laughter.

What a fun trip down memory lane! Thanks, Rachel, Sarah and Renae!

Tag? Anyone who wants to try it!

Making Me Smile Today

I'm slightly cranky -- Time Warner Cable [which we have, for one more day] has not picked up the local NBC station - they've had some issues and haven't been able to resolve them. Which means, to those who don't get it, that I can't watch 'Jeopardy' or 'The Biggest Loser'. Sigh. This feels unheard of -- not to be able to watch the local NBC station. Just plain weird.

But tomorrow? We become subscribers to the new ATT Uverse which will include their high-speed internet, TV [more channels -- not that I need any more, but I do need NBC!], and digital phone as well. We are moving into the new milennium.

Yay for us. And yay for AT & T -- they carry the NBC station. Now is that so hard?


What I Learned

Oh, how I loved General Conference. My favorite? [could I really pick just one?] Well, I think it would have to be Pres. Monson's Sunday morning address when he talked about loving people and letting them know it. As I listened to his words, I realized that there are way too many occasions when I do appreciate something or someone, I do have those loving feelings and thoughts in my mind and heart, but never articulate them. I am going to do better because I know from experience how much it means to have someone let you know the feelings of their heart.

Mother Teresa said it this way: "Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor... let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting." She really knew how to get to the heart of things, didn't she?

Now I am impatient for the church to get the talks online so that I can re-read and re-think about many of them.

Combine a wonderful General Conference with some family time, a good soccer game, and a sweet husband who remembered family tradition and brought home not only donuts but ice cream as well after the General Priesthood meeting -- and it doesn't get much better than that.


General Conference

The above made me smile -- I know that has to be how Heavenly Father feels about me sometimes -- He just wants to box my ears and make me listen. And this weekend is my big chance to do just that.

I'm excited that we get to experience General Conference again. It's a unique feeling, knowing that so many people who share my beliefs and values will be gathering, literally all over the world, to hear the words of our living prophet.

I'm grateful for the chance to find some great insights, some thoughts that I know I will feel are just for me, and for the chance to slow down and really feel the spirit.

Have a lovely weekend!


The Big 8

8 Favorite TV shows...
1. The Amazing Race
2. Project Runway
3. Jeopardy
4. Cash Cab
5. Survivor
6. Dancing with the Stars
7. House Hunters
8. The Biggest Loser

8 Favorite Restaurants...
1. In-N-Out Burger[absence makes the heart grow fonder, apparently]
2. The Melting Pot
3. Willy O's [fabulous burgers and fries]
4. Pei Wei
5. Chuy's
6. Pok-E-Jo's (BBQ -- really, almost any Texas BBQ place is a favorite]
7. Popeye's Chicken
8. Thundercloud Subs

8 things that happened yesterday...
1. Taught an adult class on the Sermon on the Mount
2. Laughed at Mason: when I called his name, he said "That's my name" -- cracked me up
3. Was amazed by Mason when he managed to call me on the phone all by himself. No one knows how he did it.
4. Had a sub from Thundercloud. So yummy.
5. Looked at Maya's amazing growing/shrinking horse
6. Drove down to the temple in San Antonio -- barely made it in time.
7. Forgot to get my white chocolate raspberry bundt cake from Natalie. Sigh.
8. Drank Diet Coke too late last night and then couldn't sleep.

8 things to look forward to...
1. A new grandbaby -- soon! Can't wait to meet baby Simon.
2. General Conference this weekend
3. Stake Conference the next weekend
4. Maya's birthday & big party on Monday
5. My sister's BD on October 8
6. Mark's BD on October 9 [October is a good birthday month for us!]
7. More beautiful Austin weather. I love the warmth here.
8. Trunk or Treat -- Seeing our Primary kids all dressed up for Halloween makes me happy.

8 things I love about Fall...
1. The color change -- which we don't see here, but I am enjoying it via the blog world.
2. Watching Miss Maya play soccer. She's awesome.
3. Slightly cooler weather. I guess everything is relative!
4. Halloween - the enjoyment of the kids is infectious.
5. Holiday shopping (& sales!)
6. Just the feeling of change in the air. I'm all about change.
7. School being in session -- the feeling of routine and scheduling. I like that.
8. Our upcoming Primary program -- I love those.

8 things on my wishlist...
1. For baby Simon to arrive safe and healthy, and for the birth to be easy, easy, easy on his Mama.
2. A new kitchen table and chairs
3. Someone else to clean my bathroom. I am not into cleaning and our bathroom is bad.
4. A new house -- sometime. This is a good house but it's not 'my' house.
5. Time with family. So many of them live way too far away.
6. That my family is all safe, happy and well.
7. That I get to stay in Primary forever.
8. That Mark's spots would fade away completely.


She's not quite at this point yet, but she's close!

Me? I can't wait to meet Baby Simon. Hurry up, little boy!


What Really Matters

"It is difficult to know what counts in the world. Most of us count credits, honors, dollars. But at the bulging center of mid-life, I am beginning to see that the things that really matter take place not in the boardrooms, but in the kitchens of the world." ~ Gary Allen Sledge

Oh, how I love this quote. For as long as I can remember, my only desire and goal was to be a mom. I love all my other roles in life, to be sure, but the bottom line is and has always been the gift of mom-hood and home life. Without question, my most important [and most rewarding] role is the one that plays out in the home. It always has been, and it always will be.


Fathers and Daughters

"There's something like a line of gold thread running through a man's words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself. ~John Gregory Brown

There is something very special about the relationship between a little girl [and a not-so-little girl] and her daddy. I have been blessed with a lovely relationship with my own dad: he's the one I would run to as a child, and even as an adult, for any reason at all. One of my most comforting memories is of climbing up into his lap, burying my face in his shoulder [which generally was clothed in a fresh, clean, white shirt] and crying out my frustrations. He was always willing to be covered with tears, and in my later years, mascara as well. That's something I still like to do -- climb up into his lap and snuggle with him. I have always felt peaceful, safe and loved there.

It's been wonderful to watch my own daughter with her dad. She still [at age 30] calls him 'Daddy' and there is a deep and precious line of love that runs between them. It's been fun to watch their relationship settle into a cherished friendship.

And now, what a gift to watch Miss Maya with her own daddy. They adore each other, and I see much of my own relationship with my dad as I observe the love she and Chris share.

It's wonderful to see boys and dads too, but there is just something tender and sweet in the love of a girl and her daddy.