What are we Busy About?

"It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?"
Henry David Thoreau

I too am swamped this week. But as I've said before, it's a good busy. Last night at our "Savior of the World" week kickoff fireside, our director Tasha said something that has stuck with me. She said that we will be over our heads busy this week, but we must remember that we are on the Lord's errand. That's what I am busy about this week.

It overwhelms me when I see what I have to accomplish and where I have to be. But I know I can do it all because I am busy about something that matters. This is a message that is going to reach out to our community, in places we can't even begin to imagine. What a gift we are sharing. And we're going to do it in a way we and the Lord will all be proud of.

It's a good busy.


Please Bloom

As I was browsing Etsy, I happened upon a shop that I immediately fell in love with. With a name like Please Bloom, they had me hooked right away. Upon further browsing, I realized I'd found stuff that I love, love, love. Take a look.

And there's more. Much more. My favorite? Well, I just ordered the cherry blossom pebble pendant, but I'm still way in love with the flower bud necklace. It just seemed like too much to get both at the same time. But my birthday's coming up!

Everyone hear that? Hee hee!

Peony pendant
Flower bud necklace
Kimono pebble pendant
Mini flourish pendant
Organic ring necklace
Pebble ring necklace
Bamboo necklace

Chrysanthemum disc necklace
Daisy pebble pendant


Be Happy

"If you observe a really happy man you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias in his garden, or looking for dinosaur eggs in the Gobi desert. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that has rolled under the radiator. He will not be striving for it as a goal in itself. He will have become aware that he is happy in the course of living life twenty-four crowded hours of the day." ~W. Beran Wolfe

Oh, how I love this statement. When I am busy, deeply involved in something that speaks to my soul, doing things for others, spending time with loved ones or just working at home is when I am happiest.

Happiness is to be found in the doing, not in the searching. I'm so busy doing, especially this week and next. My twenty-four hour days are crowded. And it makes me happy.

Tired, but happy.


Grandparenthood Rocks

Daniel - age 5

Ben - age 3

Maya - age 4 (actually she will tell you that she's really 4 3/4)

Mason - age 2

"Grandma always made you feel she had been waiting to see just you all day and now the day was complete." ~Marcy DeMaree

Surely this quote could be expanded to include Grandpas as well. I know very well that when our kiddoes call just to say 'good morning' or to tell us their latest news, when I pass the phone to Grandpa for his turn, his voice just lights up. It really does. It's fun to hear that he's as happy to hear from these precious little people and to have some time to chat with them as I am.

I'm spoiled because I get more day-to-day time with them, but I know that he has the same feelings as I do: the day really is better when we get to hear from them.

Grandparenthood is even better than it's been advertised -- and I knew it would be great. My expectations have been repeatedly surpassed.

How lucky am I?!


It's Friday!

I think tonight our rockin' will take place out at our Stake's Pioneer Day celebration. What's not to like about some great Texas BBQ, a family pioneer costume contest and some music and games?

Happy Friday!


Mark's Spots Update

Several comments on yesterday's post made me realize I've never updated the story of Mark's mysterious spots. As you can see on his arms in the pictures below, he still has some but they are definitely improving.

He's had a really rough time. He was literally covered in these raised, itchy, hive-like spots that seemed so random and mysterious and the doctors [he saw 3 different doctors, all from different specialties] couldn't seem to pin it down. It was pretty awful as the itching was terrible and then most of the spots turned into what looked like giant, weepy, gross blood blisters.

The dermatologist drew 7 vials of blood and did a biopsy from one of the sores [and they were sore!] and was not willing to commit himself to a name of any kind until all the test results were back in. The blood tests all came back negative, which was a good thing, because they those tests were for what the doc called 'bad stuff'. The biopsy results were slower to return but finally, we were given the name of "Sweet's Syndrome". I can tell you that there's nothing sweet about this infection, but that's the name.

It was interesting to read up on it and to discover that it's very rare, sometimes viral or can be a reaction to a more serious condition, like leukemia or cancer. As I said before, thank goodness for those negative blood tests!

They are healing now but it's been quite a process. The skin that was affected [and there was a lot of it] has all dried up and peeled off and now there's new, soft pink skin. There are some spots that have just faded down so that they aren't raised anymore at all, but just look like a red spot [on his arms and neck area, front and back especially] and they seem to just be gradually fading out.

The doctor told him that his feeling is that it will never happen again, that it was just some random viral 'event' that somehow Mark ended up having to endure.

He endured very gracefully - much more so than I did. I was mad. Really mad, that someone as kind, generous and good-natured as Mark had to deal with something as ugly as this. Rest assured, I know that being nice and kind doesn't guarantee you anything, but I can tell you that I was not happy about this happening to him. His attitude was much better than mine was.

But things are looking much, much better and I'm so grateful.



"Love at first sight is easy to understand; it's when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle."~Amy Bloom

Amazing how the time has flown. I look at this picture [taken last week] and wonder when we got those wrinkles. We have been looking at each other for a long time now -- maybe we are a miracle!

Isn't he cute? And his spots are fading!


Blueberry Muffins

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I'm not very interested in cooking. Never have been and probably never will be. But I'm trying to do better about eating in instead of out and I do clip recipes that look good to me. I ran across this recipe in Wondertime Magazine and was intrigued. The author called it "The Best Blueberry Muffins" and while I like blueberry muffins, I was a bit skeptical that they were the *best* ones. They aren't difficult to make, but they aren't the easy, throw-together kind of recipe I tend to stick to which was another strike against them.

But they sounded good -- so yesterday I made sure I had the ingredients, gathered them, and made a batch. And guess what? They definitely are the best blueberry muffins, and worth every second it took to make them. Give them a try!

The Best Blueberry Muffins

2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

4 large eggs
16 ounces sour cream

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter (*I used regular salted butter and omitted the salt listed above and it worked fine)
2 c. light brown sugar, packed.

2 c. old fashioned rolled oats
2 c. blueberries (if frozen, do not thaw)
2 Tbsp. sugar

Line muffin tins with muffin-cup liners (I ended up with 30 muffins). In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt (if used) and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs with sour cream until thoroughly combined. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and brown sugar together, about 3 minutes. Cool slightly, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, then beat this mixture into the egg mixture. Stir in oats.

Fold in flour mixture and then, very gently, fold in berries. Fill muffin cups about three-quarters full and sprinkle a pinch of sugar onto the top of each muffin.

Bake for 25-28 minutes or until edges are medium brown and tops are firm. Cool for 5 minutes, then remove muffins in their papers and finish cooling on a rack.

For me, this recipe is a keeper despite all the steps involved [I'm much more of a 'throw it all into a bowl and mix it up' kind of cook, I'm afraid] because the end result is yummy.


A Simple Thank You

"Gracias, danke, merci whatever language is spoken, 'thank you' frequently expressed will cheer your spirit, broaden your friendships, and lift your lives to a higher pathway as you journey toward perfection. There is a simplicity even a sincerity when 'thank you' is spoken." ~Thomas S. Monson, "The Profound Power of Gratitude," Ensign, Sept. 2005, 3

If you read my Natalie's blog, you will know that the play has kicked into high gear. There is a lot going on, and my 'jobs' as asst. choir director and accompanist have kept me very busy as the other accompanist has been gone for over a month, and the choir leader left town a couple of weeks ago. So, busy times for sure, and an aching back as an added bonus.

And church yesterday was busy and a bit stressful as well. Both my counselors were gone, so it was me and my super-duper secretary, Kristi. And we both worked hard, I can tell you that. Always plenty of action! That's why, when Primary [which actually went very well] ended, I breathed out a big sigh of relief. Just as we finished up, and were straightening the room, one of our wonderful Primary teachers came in with his class, and handed me several thank-you notes they had made for us. Can I just say that it was the sweetest thing ever? And especially on a busy busy Sunday. Those little ones made my day. They really did. I loved the picture they drew -- not sure if it's an angel, a bug, Jesus, me or a butterfly. And I don't care. I loved their sweet, sincere thank you.

And it reminded me [again] of how important it is to say those two little words.



What a fun idea! Seems to me this would be a fun way to get kiddoes to enjoy their snack or lunch. Every one likes a bear, right? Find the specifics here.

Yay for Mama Says!


Being Clean

It rained here yesterday -- kind of a quick, breezy rain shower. We needed it, and it made me think. I thought about how clean the earth is after a good rain, and how fresh it feels and smells. That sent me to some ponderings about real cleanliness, inner cleanliness -- and reminded me of this quote:

"There is a strange glow on the face of a guileless person. Inner cleanliness has its own soap and water -- the soap of strong faith and the water of constant practice." ~Sri Sathya Sai Baba

I love it that we have the opportunity every single Sunday to take the sacrament and reflect on our lives, to really clean the inner vessel and make a renewed effort to do better and to be better. What a gift.

And I love the way the above quote puts it -- 'the soap of strong faith and the water of constant practice.'

We need the strong faith. And thank goodness we get the chance for constant practice and the hope of being guileless ourselves someday.


My Dear Sisters

My friend Mariann [she was our Primary secretary until very recently -- she and her family will be moving to Arizona soon] gave me a sweet gift this past week. The book "My Dear Sisters" by Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley is a new addition to my bookshelves, and I love it already.

There are uplifting thoughts by both Pres. Hinckley and his wife, Marjorie. And it's filled with really beautiful art work by over 30 LDS artists. It's a small book but a lovely one. Check it out here.

Thank, Mariann! You made my day. You're a dear friend and I already miss you.



Those who know me know that there is a part of me that will always be Canadian. I'm the person who has played obscure Canadian patriotic music on the organ every July 4th weekend for as long as I can remember [and was only called on it once in probably 25 years]. I get lonely on Canadian Thanksgiving, knowing my family is celebrating and no one here even knows it's a holiday there. On July 1 I get homesick for Canada Day celebrations.

So on July 1, Mark and I were eating dinner together and he [who usually is on top of these Canadian-isms he is married to] hadn't commented on the date. So, to help him along, I casually asked "Is there anything you wanted to say to me today?" Clearly I was hoping for "Happy Canada Day!"

Nope. Nothing. He got this panicked look on his face and I could see him thumbing through his mental calendar: "It's not our anniversary. I think that's in December! Is it Mother's Day? No, that's over with. What about her birthday? I'm sure that's in August sometime." He couldn't come up with anything.

So I helped him along and said, "Maybe you wanted to say 'Happy Canada Day' to me?" And he immediately lit up and agreed that he did want to say that [and then he said it!]. He also added that he hadn't written the date on anything at work that day and if he had, it would have alerted him. And to be fair, I wasn't wearing my Canada t-shirt either.

To give him credit, he is pretty good about remembering stuff. But the above cartoon made me smile today.


The Way God Works

"When God wants a great work done in the world or a great wrong righted, He goes about it in a very unusual way. He doesn't stir up His earthquakes or send forth His thunderbolts. Instead, He has a helpless baby born, perhaps in a simple home and of some obscure mother. And then God puts the idea into the mother's heart, and she puts it into the baby's mind. And then God waits." ~E.T. Sullivan

You can never ever underestimate the responsibility and power that belongs to a mother. I will always remember a poem by William Ross Wallace that contained the line, "The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world" -- and I remember it because it's true.

I was always the little girl who only wanted one thing when she grew up and that was to be a mama. It's the most important, fulfilling job any woman could aspire to.

So, mamas, hang in there. On the bad days, remember these thoughts and continue on. On good days, drink it in because it will pass all too quickly.

Yours is the most important job in the world.

[photo by Robert Duncan]


Thank You, Holly!

My book swap book just arrived -- and it's a sweet, sweet story about friendship called "The Lonely Moose". The illustrations are lovely, and what is really fun [something Holly does not know] is that my sister and I have called each other 'Ox' and 'Moose' for as long as I can remember [flattering nicknames, no?] And yup, I'm Moose.

Love it. I can't wait to share this with some little friends of mine. Thanks, Holly!!


Happy Canada Day!

"Where we love is home: home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts."
~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Homesick in Heaven

Today is Canada Day, a day when my heart goes back to the place that I still [after all these years] call 'home'. I grew up in a small-ish city [Lethbridge] in Alberta, Canada, surrounded by a good-sized extended family and lots of church and family support. It was the perfect place to grow up: a place where we could go out on our own on Hallowe'en with our empty pillowcases and return hours later, safe and sound. I have memories of riding the city bus downtown to the library and feeling so grown-up and independent that I could do that all on my own.

There wasn't a McDonalds, a Burger King, or a Wal-Mart there when I was growing up [there are now] but I have clear memories of Burger Baron, A &W, Woolworth's, Eatons and Kresge's. A lot has changed about Lethbridge as time has passed, but every time I go back there, I feel the same pull. It's home. No matter how much has changed, how much the city has grown [and it has more than doubled in size since my growing-up days] and how many more things are different there now, it will always be home.

There is a part of me that will always be Canadian, despite the fact that I am now legally a citizen of the United States. My heart always lifts at the sight of a maple leaf, at the sound of 'O Canada', or when I hear someone say [in the uniquely Canadian accent that now I recognize, and didn't when I had it] 'out' or 'about'.

So happy Canada Day! If you're not Canadian, it won't mean much to you, but take a minute today and let your own heart be drawn back to where you came from. Think about your home, your heritage and your family traditions and go back in your thoughts and remember and be grateful.

Sometimes we just need to go home to remember who we really are.