Who wants Red Vines?

For all you Red Vines fans, check this one out. [Natalie, this has your name all over it.] A year's supply of Red Vines, in a myriad of shapes and forms? Who knew there were so many? Yowza.

Thank you, Woman's Day. You've done it again.


Happy Sunday

Whatever they grow up to be, they are still our children, and the one most important of all the things we can give to them is unconditional love. Not a love that depends on anything at all except that they are our children.” ~Rosaleen Dickson

Children are always in my heart when I get up on Sunday mornings. It's such a privilege to plan to spend 2 of my 3 hours at church with the children and I always feel so much love for them as I prepare.

For me, unconditional love is so essential in dealing with children. I'm not suggesting that we never correct them, or that we accept inappropriate behavior. But I do feel strongly that the love we have for our children needs to be so clear to them that they understand that there is nothing they can do that would change that love.

That's how I want to go into Primary today.

Happy Sunday, everyone.


Mortgage Comment

So that's what it takes to qualify for a mortgage these days! Sigh.



"I've come to learn that our families are a canvas on which we paint our greatest hopes -- imperfect and sloppy, for we are all amateurs at life, but if we do not focus too much on our mistakes, a miraculous picture emerges. And we learn that it's not the beauty of the image that warrants our gratitude -- it's the chance to paint." ~Richard Paul Evans [Finding Noel]

My friend Jacque has this quote on her blog and I loved it so much that I wanted to use it too. What a lovely thought -- that our family, sloppy and imperfect as it is, [and really, aren't they all?] is slowly but surely creating a wonderful picture.

Just the opportunity to 'paint' is a blessing. And that's how I think of my family -- my most precious, my nicest and completely undeserved blessing. Their love, support and ongoing forgiveness for my many shortcomings allows me to continue to paint, despite the fact that I am very much an amateur at this business of living.

By the time we're done with this artistic effort, it will surely be a most beautiful image, filled with our gratitude for the chance to paint.

**Disclaimer: not our family [picture via flickr]


Enjoy the Ride!

"Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to be just people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, and most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is just like an old time rail journey . . . delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride." [Jenkins Lloyd Jones]

This quote is often mistakenly attributed to Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley [who quoted it] but actually came originally from a man named Jenkins Lloyd Jones. He was born in Wales in 1843, brought to the United States by his parents in 1844 and raised on a pioneer farm in Wisconsin. He became a Unitarian minister, and in 1882, began missionary work on the south side of Chicago, organizing All Souls Church, of which he remained pastor until his death.

I love this message. Life is hard. Life gets boring. Life requires work. Life wears you out. But life is wonderful, isn't it? Some of it is completely, utterly wonderful. Some of it is way too exciting! But as we work our way through it all, the trick, as Jones says, is to enjoy the ride. After all, men are that they might have joy, right? [2 Nephi 2:25]

I am loving my ride today -- despite the fact that it's laundry day for me. Are you enjoying yours?



Look what arrived in my mail yesterday! Thanks, Jori!! You are a sweetheart.

And having read right through this little gem of a book, I can tell you that it's one you need to get for your collection. Right now. What a sweet message. Tears? Of course! (well, duh!)

Thanks again, Jori!! Love it, love it, love it.



Finally! Natalie has spilled the baby beans and I am free at last to express my joy at the exciting news of another baby coming to join our family.

I love, love, love babies and I love grandma-hood and I am so thrilled at the prospect of meeting another precious grandchild. I can't wait! Once again, I am filled with gratitude and anticipation of the arrival of a new little person in our family. How blessed I am!

**picture = Mason as a newborn


Thanks, Emily!

What a wonderful surprise to find a package in my mail yesterday from Emily. Even better than the cute heart-patterned bubble packaging were the contents -- oatmeal cookies! These are the very cookies that my mouth has been watering for ever since I saw them on her blog.

Delicious, of course! Thanks, Emily. Not only do I love the cookies, I love the thought and kindness behind the gift. You're the best. In lots of ways.


Happy Easter

These simple words—“He is not here, but is risen”—have become the most profound in all literature. They are the declaration of the empty tomb. They are the fulfillment of all He had spoken concerning rising again. They are the triumphant response to the query facing every man, woman, and child who was ever born to earth.” ~Gordon B. Hinckley, “He Is Not Here, but Is Risen“, Ensign, May 1999, 70

There's nothing more meaningful that could be said than this -- that He is risen. I know He is and I am grateful for it every day of my life.

I will be spending some time this weekend with my feelings, thinking about the gift that He is: His life, His example, His atonement, His death and His resurrection. We are all so blessed and I am so thankful.

Happy Easter to all!


For that Special Mama

Take a look at this newest necklace from Lisa Leonard. It's beautiful, isn't it? Such a sweet message. This one I love, but not for me, I don't think, [I still have my eye on the one with the teeny little initials for my grandbabies -- her March special] but I can think of several lovely mamas who deserve this one. Maybe I should alert some hubbies.


Happy Easter!

This one really tickled my funny bone -- because I am a reformed hollow chocolate Easter bunny popper. [ask Natalie for details on that one!]



"When we honestly ask which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not-knowing, not-curing, not-healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness . . . makes it clear that whatever happens in the external world, being present to each other is really what matters." ~Henry J.M. Nouwen

I so love this quote. So often when there is a large problem, there really isn't anything a friend can do. But deep down, all we really need or want is just for someone to be there. They don't have to try to solve the problem, cure the illness or fix anything. They just have to be there and to make their love known.

And that is what really matters. That's the kind of friend I want to be.
[photo via flickr]

Breakfast for Dinner

Big thank-you to Natalie's friend Amy, whose Baked French Toast recipe is a family favorite. As I was trying to figure out what to have for Sunday dinner [again!], I decided we'd do breakfast, just for fun. So we had hash browns, sausages, fried ham, OJ, and the baked french toast that we love. We would have had scrambled eggs if I hadn't used them all up for the french toast -- but we certainly had plenty of food. It was so good -- love that recipe. It's more like dessert than anything, for sure.

Give it a try!

Baked French Toast [Amy Elmore]

1 cup brown sugar
½ cup butter
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup

1 loaf French bread cut into 1 inch thick slices

5 eggs
1 ½ cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Place first 3 ingredients in medium size saucepan and heat over medium heat. Spray 9x13 inch baking dish with nonstick vegetable oil. Pour hot mixture into baking dish. Place sliced bread over mixture, pushing bread together closely to get more slices into dish.

Mix eggs, milk and vanilla and beat slightly. Pour over bread. Make sure each piece is covered.
Cover baking dish with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.

In morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees and place uncovered dish in oven for 30 minutes. May be served directly from dish or turned over and served onto plates. Serves 8 - 10.


What Matters Most

This past week, family has been on my mind and in my heart. We had the chance to spend a little time with everyone a few days ago, and it was wonderful. It always seems like the time is too short -- but the reality is that we all have our own lives, our own families, jobs, responsibilities and things that keep us busy. It would be so nice to have more time together.

Since that just isn't possible in this life, I think about how much I love each one of them and how grateful I am for them.

"You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them."
~Desmond Tutu

I like the idea that God chose my family just for me -- as a very special, personal gift. I also love the reminder that not only is my family a gift, but I am supposed to be one too.

Sweet thoughts for sure. ! Now I need to figure out how to be that wonderful gift - because my family is such a gift to me.


Success and Happiness

"The thing I remember best about successful people I've met all through the years is their obvious delight in what they're doing . . . and it seems to have very little to do with worldly success. They just love what they're doing, and they love it in front of others." [Fred Rogers]

Isn't that the truth? In every area of my life, when I do it well, when I flourish and have a lot of growth, and when I am happiest -- it's because I'm doing something I love.

Very simple concept and something to remember. Find what it is you love doing -- and do it.


Hey, Cupcake Fans!

Ooh, look at these! Check them out here. Cute, cute, cute. I can't even pick a favorite - I love them all. Good old Woman's Day!


As I have spent a little time in the past day or two with our sweet little grandkiddoes [those who live in town as well as those who don't] I am always reminded of how much our Heavenly Father loves them and how much trust He places in us as their family members.

"Clearly, those of us who have been entrusted with precious children have been given a sacred noble stewardship, for we are the ones God has appointed to encircle today's children with love and the fire of faith and an understanding of who they are." [Elder M. Russell Ballard]

I'm not raising little ones in my home anymore, but I have a lot of contact with children -- in the family and at church and I do feel that responsibility: to teach them, to lead them, to help them understand who they are and most importantly [to me, anyway], to love them and help them feel confident and sure in that love.

I love this quote. It says it all.

[picture via flickr]


Not to beat (or eat?) this subject to death, Natalie of Lud Letter fame sent this to me and I couldn't resist. I think I'm in love here!


Easter is Coming!

It is! Do you know how I know?

It's not the warmer weather. And it's not that we're seeing greener grass and flowers. It's not the blue-er skies either.

It's that Cadbury cream eggs are now appearing in the stores again! I love these little treats! I love the full sized ones and I love the bite-sized ones too. I love it that you not only get that great creamy milky Cadbury chocolate on the outside, you also get that sweet, gooey inside that even looks like a real egg. I just spotted something new -- a Cadbury orange cream egg. Haven't tried that one yet but you know that I will!

I need to stock up because, as the commercial says, they won't be around for long.



My friend Emily Richter tagged me so here goes:

10 Years ago I was:
Hmm. Living in Reno, Nevada. Chris and Tara had just gotten married [November '97] and Natalie and Chris were engaged and planning their wedding [May '98]. Math was finishing up High School. I was teaching seminary, doing Primary music, and working at the Reno Institute of Religion. It was a lovely time period if a bit stressful with all the wedding money issues. We loved Reno -- too cold, but a great place to live. It was a happy time in most ways.

What would you do if you had a Billion dollars:
Wow. I'd pay off our house, every bill each of my children has, pay for school (grad and otherwise) for any and all of the family who wanted it, send us all on a Disney cruise together, take a trip to see my parents and sister and her family, and then I'd bank the rest for retirement. I'd probably do some really good shopping too.

What I love to eat:
Well, this is a hard one because it seems to vary. I love me a good bacon cheeseburger, and I love the Snack Wraps at McDonalds (I have a high class appetite, right?). I also love the bow-tie pasta with shrimp that they do so well at Galaxy restaurant here, -- but really, on any given day, I like most anything. Candy for sure. I'm a big sweet-tooth person.

3 of my bad habits:
1. I get critical of others, not even knowing their situations. Thank goodness over the years I've learned to keep those thoughts to myself. But I need to be a kinder person. I really do.
2. I hate housework. I do not like to clean kitchens and bathrooms especially. I tend to just leave them to rot. Yuk. Embarrassing, really.
3. I waste a lot of time on the computer. 'Nuff said.

5 places I've lived:
1. Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
2. Colorado Springs, Colorado
3. Nashville, Tennessee
4. Boise, Idaho
5. Las Vegas, Nevada.
6. Austin, Texas
**I know that's more than 5 but I could have gone on and on and I restrained myself. So many moves!

5 jobs I've had:
1. Front desk at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton Lakes, Alberta
2. Box office cashier at a movie theater
3. Mgr. Trainee/sales person at Northern Reflections clothing store in Nashville, Tn.
4. Secretary at the Reno Institute of Religion
5. Elementary school music teacher (my most favorite!) in Nashville

Current5 things to do today:
1. Take a hot bath and hope my ear drains
2. A trip to the libary
3. Dust-mop my hardwood floors -- they're really looking sad
4. Normally there would be piano lessons to teach but it's Spring Break so I'm off. Yippee.
5. Figure out what the heck to fix for dinner and actually do it. Again, yuk.

Things people don't know about me:
1. I'm not all that interesting or have many secrets really, but one thing I'd love to do is to have my own preschool in my home. I love children and would love that. Unfortunately, this house lay-out just won't work. I guess I need a new house, right? hee hee!
2. I'd also love to get back to being a runner but with my feet issues, it's not likely to happen. So I need to find something else I love doing in the exercise area.
3. Music speaks to me. (although I suspect people know this). It really does. It makes such a difference to me in my life. My favorite calling ever is Primary chorister - -a perfect combination of music + children = happiness for me.

I'm done! Feel free to do this one if you are interested. This was fun. Thanks, Emily!


Sick of Being Sick

While trying hard not to whine, I am going to say it again: I'm sick of my right ear being plugged up. The throat is improving a bit at a time, the eyes are now officially un-pink and less goopy than before, but I might as well be deaf in my right ear at this point.

There were a few hopeful pops and crackles this morning, but no real action and I'm still deaf as a post this afternoon. Sigh.

Mark has been home sick for the past several days and Natie and the little guys are all sick as well. We all want this over with.

Soon? I hope so!


Finding Joy

Joy bursts in on our lives when we go about doing the good at hand and not trying to manipulate things and times to achieve joy.” (C.S. Lewis)

I believe this. Joy doesn't happen when we are looking for it -- it comes when we are trying to do good. Feeling congested and cranky [who, me? ha ha!], I need to find some joy. Clearly I need to do something good for someone else.

It's all about those little things.


Sick Zone

My formerly very pink eyes are starting to improve - -they are still goopy but somewhat less so which is encouraging. But my throat is still so sore. And my right ear is completely plugged up which makes me feel dizzy and off-balance all the time -- just goes to show the importance of the workings of the inner ear, I guess.

I'm trying to stay positive -- I'm not sick very often and this is minor in the big scheme of things. And I did hear (via the grapevine) that my little piano student whose 'grone-up best friend' I am is very sad that not only did I not see him last week, I won't be seeing him this week either. My theory though, is that friends don't give pinkeye to their other friends.

My biggest wish? That I could figure out how to get this dang right ear to drain! Sigh.


Disneyland -- a Happy Place and a Happy Time

Time together for hugs and kisses was great.

Snuggles and sharing ears was fun too.

Welcome to the happiest place on earth!

Our Segway boys had a ball on their tour.

Minnie and I share a giggle.

Mason loved the parade. He even tried to join it.

Be the fire, Natalie! Get down!!

Mark enjoying a dance with Cruella. Nice outfit, right?

Maya got in on the fun too -- twirling in front of the fire station.

Dad loves his girl.

The wicked witch seems to love him!

Maya loves it all. Look at that face!

Minnie heading out with Grandma.

A little Autopia action - Maya seems concerned. Is Grandma a wild driver?

Aviator ears! Every little boy needs a set of those.

Crash! Love those bumper cars. Maya is a pretty wild driver herself.

These are only a few of the gazillion photos we have -- but I thought it was a fun representation of the great visit we had at Disneyland. If I could get rid of my pinkeye, I'd be ready for a return visit now. Can't wait!


Home Again

We had a wonderful time visiting Disneyland last week, truly the happiest place on earth. I loved every minute of it -- seeing the sights (that I hadn't seen in nearly 30 years), enjoying the beautiful weather, being with loved ones, and mostly watching the joy and excitement on the faces of Maya and Mason. It was a lovely week. It really was.

Natalie has posted a lot of pictures but I, for some reason only known to Blogger, don't seem to be able to. Not sure why but there you have it. Annoys the heck out of me!! If it ever allows me to do so, I will post some cute pics of Mark and Chris on their Segway tour.

At any rate, the newest news is that I am sick. I started with a very sore throat and congestion in my ears mid last week but it got progressively worse over the weekend. Then last night my right eye become very swollen and when I got up this morning it was stuck shut (never a good sign!) so I was on the phone to the doctor at 7 a.m. this morning. She checked me out and said that I do not have strep (which I had wondered about since there's been a lot of that here and the throat has been so sore) or an ear infection (although the right ear is completely congested -- but not infected) but I do have pinkeye. Yippee.

So now I'm throwing away eye make-up, washing towels and pillowcases, and wiping down anything that might have had contact with my face in the past 48 hours.

Welcome home!