Saturday, December 31, 2011

I Am a Pinterest Addict

On vacation, this is how my mornings look:

Wake up.  Whenever (glorious!).  Let Marshall outside, then love on him a little bit when he comes back in.  Grab a bowl of dry cereal, get back in bed, and turn on the computer.

Check my work email for anything interesting.  (Hooray for Nanci!  Hang in there, Amber.  Hi, Dad!  Thanks, Aunt Cathi!)

Go to my blog and check in on my friends and the people I stalk.

Check Facebook.

Pinterest.  Pinterest for a while.  Then a while more.  Dream of all the marvelous things I can do to my house.  Consider starting next year's ornaments.  Think I should maybe get up out of bed and MOVE.  Nah.  Pin.  Pin some more.

Yesterday I thought, "I should actually do something I pinned." Spencer said, "What's a vacation if you don't do something fun with your sister?"  So Briana and I went to the craft store and came home with paper, card stock, buttons, and ric-rac.  Also glue and adhesive.  We set up the banquet table in Mom and Daddy's family room, and we made cards.  My sister didn't make a card, but she visited with us, so that counts.  Nio made a card.  Seeley made several cards.  Seeley's friend made a card.  Seeley's friend's mom made a card.  Ashtyn made some, Breezy made some, and I made some.

Now I can go on Pinterest and move a couple of my pins to the "I Did That" board.  I'm cool like that.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

There Are Times When I Can't Wait to Be Just He and Me

Landon and Taylor are tired of this trip.  They want to go home.  Taylor is quiet about it.  He just sits like a bump.  It bugs me.  Landon, on the other hand, is very vocal about it.  It bugs me more.  Today I told Spencer we should just let them go home.  They are going to leave in the morning.  Is it bad that I'm kinda relieved?  The girls are opting to stay.  I'm glad they want to stay, but frankly, it would have been OK if they wanted to go home, too.

We planned to spend today in San Francisco.  We got on the freeway at 12:50 p.m.  Since it takes close to three hours to get to SF and park, we didn't have a lot of daylight time.  We had a nice dinner together at Wipe Out on Pier 39.  We looked in some shops.  We didn't go to Fisherman's Wharf.  We didn't go to Alcatraz.  We didn't go to Ghirardelli Square.  We didn't really go anywhere, because nobody can agree.  We did drive over the Golden Gate bridge and take the northern route home through wine country.  It was actually a really fun time together, but it seems a shame to go to San Fran and not get to see much of it.  The kids thought it was great, though.  They'll tell their friends they went to San Francisco (which they did), and they will feel great about that.

On the flip side, my sweetheart took my hand in the car.  Have you ever noticed how sometimes that is all you need?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

You Know It's Time to Grow Up When

Today we took our family to the Sacramento Temple to do baptisms for the dead.  It was the first time we've all been in the temple at the same time.  It was lovely.

Afterward we had lunch together.  Five large bodies consume a lot of food.

We went to the Folsom outlets.  The boys "shopped" for about a half hour.  In a half hour, the girls had barely made a dent in the first store.  Finally we found some sensible but cute shoes for Sister Hill.  Then we went off to the next store.  After trying on approximately 15 outfits each, we finally purchased a skirt, blouse, and dress jacket for Sister Hill, a pair of earrings for Sassy, and a blouse for me.  The jacket was originally mine to try on.  I looked cute in it.  So did Bri.  She won.

I talked couponing for 45 minutes with my sister.  She is a master.  She is inspiring.  I just want her to do it for me.  :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Spirit of Christmas, the Spirit of Christ

On Christmas Day we got up earlier than we have in a while.  That is what happens when you are spending Christmas with small children.  We had a fun time watching the kids with their new toys and listening to their squeals of delight in what Santa Claus brought them. 

We opened thoughtful gifts from one another.  That is what happens when you are spending Christmas with older children.  We laughed at one another and wept with gratitude.

Then thirteen of us took turns in two bathrooms, showering, brushing teeth, doing hair and makeup, getting dressed in our Sunday best.  By 10:00 a.m. 18 of us were at Gramercy Court Care Facility, where my dad is the pastor each week in a short worship service.  We took turns singing Christmas songs to the residents of that facility.  Some hardly looked up.  Others clapped and sang along.  We passed out Christmas gifts (flashlights as a reminder to follow the Light of the World, small pictures of Jesus, and packets of Hershey's kisses) and shook hands and visited and said "Merry Christmas" dozens of time.

After about 45 minutes we changed into pants and went to North C Street, where ministries from the Sacramento area have set up all kinds of services for the homeless.  There are women's shelters, a preschool, a place for men to get clean, kitchens, medical clinics.  The City of Sacramento doesn't like this area.  They are afraid that if they create an organized place, the homeless will congregate there.  On this day, Pastor Joe's ministry was working with Loaves and Fishes to give sleeping bags and ground mats to the homeless.  There were about 300 sleeping bags donated.  We sang again, shook more hands, wished more Merry Christmases.

Then we followed Mo, who showed us the way he is spending his money, the way he chooses to minister for Jesus.  We toured the facility where homeless women can sleep and leave their children in a safe place and earn their GED, all without leaving the facility.  These women are told they are worthy of God's love, they are good, they are talented, and they are "potant!"  When they graduate, they get to go into the closet filled with formal dresses and shoes and choose an outfit.  A volunteer comes in and does their hair and makeup, and then they go downtown for a formal graduation ceremony.  They have their picture taken and their story written and posted on the wall.  (There are 800 of them!)  Then they come back and start looking for work.  Of the 41 (41!) women who graduated this fall, 22 got jobs.  When they get an interview, they go into a different closet and choose a business suit and shoes to wear to their interview.  They get a ride to the interview, during which they are told they are capable and worthy.

We saw people who were clearly mentally ill, mentally challenged, and/or addicts.  We also saw people who were good and kind and happy and, incidentally, homeless.

Perhaps most impressive was Mo, who has been involved in this "ministry" for nearly 20 years.  He, too, has seen many mentally ill people, many addicts.  He chooses, however, to focus on the people who clearly need the touch of the Master's hand--those who need to be told and shown that they are worth good efforts; those who need a little help in order to get on their feet.  He chooses to see in each face the face of one of Heavenly Father's children.  He chooses not to be jaded by those who are criminals.  He sees, instead, someone who might be brought into the fold of God.

Mo sees the truth.  I have been touched and changed.

Merry, merry CHRISTmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

In Which I Sing You a Song

Tomorrow!  Tomorrow!  I love ya, Tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

AND...

I can't wait for my parents to see the gift we made for them.  Hooray!

T-Minus Two Days and Counting

The closer it gets, the more excited I become.  Hooray!  We get to go to California for Christmas!

The Plan? you ask. 

Tonight Spencer and I will drive to Mom and Dad Hill's to pick up Dad's Jeep.  When we get home, I will start scurrying through chores.  The laundry needs to be all done before we go.  So do the bathrooms.  We will deliver the last of our Christmas gifts and anything else that comes up.

Spencer is taking tomorrow off work to do all of his "dad" stuff like checking the oil and getting out the chains and spraying Rain-Off on the windshields.  In the meantime the rest of us will pack clothes, gifts, movies, laptops (ya know, all the important stuff), and finally, the cars.  Early Friday morning we will load ourselves into the cars and hit the road.  Barring any trouble (at which event we will stop in some lovely town in Nevada), we will arrive in Sacramento on Friday night.  We will call a cheerful hello to everyone who might hear us, including the people, the trees, and the rivers.  Then we will go plop in my parents' noisy, full home and enjoy every minute of it.  Daddy will play Perry Como (yuck!) and Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole and whoever else he can find.  I hope we get out the record player, because I really want Jimmy Dean's "Jingle Bells" from childhood.

On Saturday we will work on the Christmas project we are bringing along, and on Sunday we will be involved in a couple of service projects that I can hardly wait to do.

After that, the plans are not made, but I'm sure we'll find SOME way to occupy our time.  :)

Just. Can't. Wait.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Something Magical

On "It's a Wonderful Life," we learn that every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.  My brother had a teacher who wished that every time a student passed gas, his or her hair would fly up and stay that way for a couple of seconds.  My friend says sometime when she walks into her house and it's a mess, she folds her arms and blinks.  (I keep trying that now, but it doesn't work for me.)

Today someone is doing something on their computer that makes it "bling" every few seconds.  I think it must mean SOMETHING, but I have no idea what that is.  It's probably something boring and predictable, but mostly I'm pretty sure it means Bill Gates just made another $100 or something.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I'm a Snob

There are two women who I share a wall with at work.  Since it's cubicals, I'm using the term "wall" very loosely.  These two women speak with outdoor voices, especially if they are talking to someone out of state.  It's like they don't believe their voice could carry all the way to INDIANA, so they have to yell to make themselves heard that far away.  This irritates me. 

I also get irritated with them when they discuss issues which should have been discussed behind closed doors.  They may not have walls and doors, but there are offices and conference rooms all around which can be used.  Once I was so uncomfortable with a conversation that was happening that I interrupted one of the directors (who was in a meeting with some other directors) so he could come make a suggestion that they move.  It was embarrassing, and I wonder where their brains are!

However, the thing that bugs me the most is that they CONSTANTLY talk with their mouths full of food.  It's so gross!  They talk to one another, and they talk on the phone with their mouths full.  Sick!  Imagine if you were calling from INDIANA.  Wouldn't you be 1) grossed out that they are chewing and talking in your ear, and 2) feeling unimportant because they didn't even bother to swallow before chatting with you?

In the end, this is my problem, not theirs, I suppose.  I need to not let these things bother me.

But ew!

That is NOT my favorite!

Monday, December 12, 2011

You're My Favorite

A week ago, Landon informed us that he had it figured out.  I was really looking forward to hearing "it," because I've never figured "it" out.  Here it is!

Parents have favorite children, just like he has favorite friends.  And now it all makes sense.

As much as we tried to talk him out of this, Landon was not buying it.  We explained that our favorite is usually just who we're with at the time.  Sometimes one child is easier to like than another because of the good decisions he or she is making.  But each one is unique, and it would be impossible to have a favorite.

Nevertheless, Landon is convinced (as are his siblings) that we have a favorite child.  Namely, Briana. 

Briana wasn't home when we had this conversation, but when she heard about it she said, "Huh!  I thought Ashtyn was the favorite."  Then, "Sweet!  I'm the favorite."

At first this dismayed me, and I was ready to quit my job and be home every moment, making cards and scrapbooks and doing chores to convince each of the children that he or she is my favorite.

But then I started laughing, and I haven't stopped.  In case you haven't noticed, there are many, many ways to differentiate about your favorites.  Landon is our favorite BS-er.  Ashtyn is our favorite high-schooler.  Briana is our favorite lifeguard.  Taylor is my favorite male singer.  The list has become so long that now Landon just rolls his eyes when we tell him he's our favorite.

But maybe someday he'll just believe that he is our favorite.

(P.S.  You're my favorite blog-reader!)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sharing A Memory

Sylvia Hansen was the Relief Society president when we moved into our ward. She was a former elementary school teacher--the kind that every kid and every kid's parent hopes they get. She had also been very, very ill a couple of years before, but through a miracle of modern medicine, regained her health.


That was the first year I was teaching preschool. Sylvia had been wonderful to share lots of ideas and lots of really cool "stuff" with me (my puppet show, everyone!). For Enrichment Night, Mary Ann got all the stuff so we could decorate gingerbread houses. Sylvia told me that she used to make graham cracker houses for all of her students and let them decorate. I must have looked at her like she was out of her mind, because she said, "Don't be a lazy teacher, Aundrea."

Yup, I am a sucker to peer pressure. Every year for the next six years I made about 20 graham cracker houses so that each preschooler could decorate a house. It took me (and various family members) all day on the Saturday before. We used 5 or 6 bags of powdered sugar, at least two cans of meringue powder, a couple of large boxes of graham crackers, and a couple of cake decorating bags and tips. Then I hid the houses in far places so they didn't get broken.

The kids' parents brought candy with which to decorate. I bought spray-on red and green frosting and gave each child a milk lid full of the stuff, along with a toothpick. I'm sure I sent more than one child home from preschool with a belly ache or at the very least a sugar high. But those were a huge hit every year.

My friend Sylvia got very ill again about a year after that first Enrichment Night. This time no miracle came, except the sweet release of death. She literally wore out her life in service to others, including me. I cherished her friendship and her example.

Now every year at Christmas I think of gingerbread houses, preschool children, the sweet smell of our house on gingerbread house days, and my dear friend Sylvia. Happy, cherished memories!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

There Are Some Things that Succeed in Making Christmas Better

1.  Christmas on Sunday.  It's beautiful, I'm tellin' ya.  I love it.  The Lord's Day on the Lord's Day.  I love it, and I can hardly wait for Christmas Day!

2.  Enough money to do something small for everyone.  It's just no fun if you can't give.

3.  Planning for #2.  I bought the items to make our neighbor gifts back in July.  Good call, Me!

4.  Making gifts.  I don't make all of our gifts, but it is really fun to plan and work on something (especially if it's not rushed).  I spend a lot of time thinking about the person whose gift I'm making, and it's glorious, really.

5.  Christmas music.  I'm a humbug on the Christmas music if it's before Thanksgiving, but the next day, bring it on!

6.  LIVE Christmas music.  There's no shortage.  Since I'm a sucker for any and all music, I enjoy everything from MoTab to elementary school performances.  We've already been to one of Ash's concerts.  We'll be at Taylor's (Sterling Singers) concert tonight.  In 10 days we're seeing the West Jordan High School concert choir with the Salt Lake Symphony, and a few days later we'll see all of the WJHS choirs.  As an added plus, Tay and his friends keep coming over to sing (Hi, Chris, Colton, and Logan!), and last night we got three planned, prepared songs.  Bliss!  Various high school choirs come to the COB to sing each afternoon.  There are many talented kids, did you know?  Someday our children will be grown and they will not be involved with a million performances.  Don't worry, Voice Male/MoTab/Forgotten Carols/others, we'll come see you then.

7.  Service opportunities. (Have I mentioned how excited I am for Christmas Day?)

8.  Children.  Children laughing.  Children singing.  Children dancing.  Children playing.  Children in cute Christmas Eve footie pajamas.  Kids, you tickle me.

9.  Grown-up men who are willing to go into an un-comfort zone to be Santa's helper.  Santa, did you see those kids' eyes?  :)

Merry Christmas, my friends!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lessons on Service

1.  Truly meaningful service is rarely convenient.
2.  Service is not service if you advertise that you did it.
3.  Wise parents see in every need of others a way to bring blessings into the lives of their sons and daughters (Henry B. Eyring, "Opportunities to Do Good," Ensign, May 2011).

My mother is a MASTER at giving service.  She willingly sets aside large chunks of time to do service projects (ask me about the dolls and the bags and the toiletries and the blood).  Even more amazing to me is her ability to see what needs to be done.  She walks into a home and just knows that ______ is what needs to be done.  My brain doesn't quite work that way, and when I get home and think, "I should have done ____," it seems too little too late (though I often still call and offer). 

But wait, it gets better.  Not only does my mother SEE what needs to be done, she DOES it.  She doesn't worry about spoiling her clothes or missing her show or who might or might not see what she's doing.  She just sees the need, rolls up her sleeves, and takes care of it.

Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Timothy 4:12). 

For the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified (Roman 2:13).

So here's my (very serious) question:  How do YOU see what needs to be done?  And how do you teach your children to serve?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Have I Ever Mentioned How Much I Love Our Children?

I get to give the spiritual thought in our floor's Monday devotional on the Monday before Christmas.  I asked Taylor if he would like to come sing.  So he gathered 3 other (male) friends, and they are going to come sing for us.  They bought a bunch of music, and they are letting me choose which I want.  I think I want "Away in a Manger" (in 4-part men's harmony?  Yes, please!).  So yesterday Chris and Colton were here to practice.  Since Logan couldn't come, they used me on the piano and as 1st tenor (no easy task for a second soprano!).  What beautiful, amazing, talented voices these young men have! 

So we sat in our living room with our untuned (yet lovely) piano for over an hour, picking through music.  Mmmm!  I loved every minute of it.  And I don't think I embarrassed Taylor even once.  Success!

At 11:20 I finally said, "Class is over.  I gotta go to bed."  They all agreed.

What a lovely memory to take to bed with me!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Things on My Mind Today

What should I give my brother and his family for Christmas?

My eyes itch so badly I want to scratch them out.  Which means they are horribly red.

The Vampire Diaries.  Has anyone read the book?  Is it any good Does anyone watch the television show?  I love it.

Quit school.  Stay in school.  Quit school.  Stay in school.  Etc.

Why do all of the HR employee request forms and the Purchasing requests come to me?

Pinterest.  It's addicting.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Alls We Need to Do Is...

Heard at work:

  • Alls we need to do is...
  • We heard back from the Bishopreec...
  • EVERYTHING was done in proper order, except...
  • (While looking at quilt frames):  Is someone going to make a quilt?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Best. Weekend. Ever. (Until the Next Time, I Hope!)

I love Thanksgiving.  Have I mentioned that?  I love everything about it.  I love the colors.  I love the food.  I love the smells.  I love making pies and apple salad with my kids sneaking Snickers into their mouths while Christmas music is playing.  (See, Amy?  My heart grew!)  I love listening to the kids laugh at the table.  I love my brothers teasing each other, and seeing everyone traipse outside to play Horse or Tornado, and I love watching everyone traispe back in, cheeks red and spirits high.  I love feeling full and sleepy and just overall satisfied.  I love Thanksgiving.

As if that was not enough to make this weekend glorious, today Briana was endowed in the Oquirrh Mountain Temple.  I have been so excited for this.  And I don't know why, but I was not prepared for the emotion that would come spilling out of me.  Yesterday we went to the Distribution Center, where we purchased almost everything she needed for the temple.  She chose a beautiful dress, and when she put it on, suddenly my little girl was a grown woman standing before me.  It took my breath away. 

This morning we walked in the temple door, and I told the brethren at the recommend desk that we were here for an endowment for the living.  Immediately there was a lovely sister at our side, saying, "You must be Sister Hill and Sister Hill!"  They checked our recommends, and Sister Jeanette Call took us to a verification desk for a few minutes.  She then took us back to the dressing room.  They gave Briana one of the brides' lockers, and it had a lovely calligraphic name sign on it with her full name.  Sister Call was so kind to explain everything that was going to happen (for both Briana and me). 

When Breezy was in initiatory, I got dressed, and then Sister Call took me to the new name booth.  By the time Briana came back, I was ready to be with her.  I helped her put on her white dress, and then sweet Sister Call took us to a small room.  We were met by Sister Layton, the temple matron.  Since Bri was the only sister being endowed on this session, it was just the 4 of us in this discussion (Sister Call at the back of the room, me next to Briana, and Sister Layton sitting knee-to-knee with Briana).  Sister Layton explained the temple beautifully and simply and spectacularly.  We are so blessed to have what we have and to know what we know!

When Sister Call took me and Briana to the chapel, we were thrilled to see so many people there to support Breeze:  Uncle Derek and Aunt Becky, Aunt Laurie, Grandma Glenda, Grandma Ruth, Aunt Jenny, Mike and (Bestest Friend) Brittany, Wendi (Brit's mother, "Mama Silva"), Sami, and Stacy.  Additionally, Uncle Gavin and Aunt Kimberly had told us they would be in the Sacramento Temple at the same time.  Even if they did not make it, it meant a lot to us that they would think to do that.

Briana was very calm all through the endowment session.  She participated in the prayer circle with her dad. They saved her for very last to come through the veil, and she started getting pretty nervous during that wait.  I was second-to-last, and it was sweet to watch so many friends make their way to the front of the room.  Breezy said, "I know there's nothing to worry about, but I'm kinda freaking out."  She shed some tears (no one cries alone) and we snuggled. 

Then it was my turn to leave, and I knew I was leaving Briana in good care with Sister Call. I entered the celestial room to find all of those people just standing there waiting for us.  I greeted a few people, and then I just found my sweetheart, who held me while I cried for joy.  Several minutes later, our daughter entered the celestial room, and I wish I could express the feelings of joy as she did.  There was anticipation as we waited, listening intently for the knock that would signal that she was almost there; and I thought, "We will probably be waiting with this kind of anticipation when we are all dead, waiting for our daughter to leave mortality and join us again."  Gives a very different perspective on death, doesn't it?

Spencer held Briana close to him for a very long time, and I thought my heart would burst with joy.  Next it was my turn, and I couldn't help but say, "How will I let you go away for 18 months?"  I hope that isn't discouraging for our beautiful daughter, who will be a wonderful missionary.  I could not choose anything different or better for her at this time in her life.  I'm so pleased with the choices she has made and is making.  But my goodness!  How will I survive it?  It's not just pain at having our daughter LEAVING (although I admit it, there is some of that)--but it's also the joy that fills me so full I think I might actually explode.  How will I survive it?

Briana had some time to hug each of the people who came to the temple with her, and we sat for a few minutes in the Celestial Room.  Sister Call waited patiently till we were ready to leave, then she took us back to the dressing room.  We got to go into the brides' room to fold our temple clothing.  Sister Call took Bri to a very large full-length mirror, put her arm around her and said, "Do you have any idea how happy your Father in Heaven is with you today?"  And I thought, "I bet I have an idea!"

After we left the temple (which we hardly wanted to do), Spencer and Briana and I went to lunch at The Olive Garden.  Guess what our server's name was?  Jeanette!  Isn't that awesome?  She was very kind to us, and we enjoyed ourselves completely.

And now for a memory:  In 1990 I was pregnant with Briana, and my friend was getting married in the Los Angeles temple.  It had been several months since we'd been to the temple because the Oakland Temple was closed for remodeling.  As I sat in the endowment session, I had the sweet feeling that our family was all there with us.  I could not count them, but I knew they were there.  Even though I was terribly disappointed that I could not have more children, I had that same feeling when my sweet brother and his wife brought our 3 little ones to the hospital to meet their baby brother, Landon--the whole family was there!

Oh, how I pray that someday (and maybe many somedays) in mortality, our whole family will be with us in the temple.  I know that we can be a family eternally.  But my goodness!  How will I survive that much joy?




Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Breezy got home from Far Away Logan yesterday.  This morning she and I and Spencer got up and went to run a 5K in our neighborhood.  Thanks, Ulches, for a way fun time.  Also, Suzie, we love, love, LOVED having you visit with us during our run!  No pictures, which is a real bummer.  But this is my favorite race ever!

We spent the late morning and early afternoon making pies, baking rolls, and cooking a ham.  Unfortunately, as good as I thought I was, I am not cool enough to have had everything we needed, and yes, we made a run to Walmart.  Packed.  It was packed.

This evening, we did a little bit of this:

Our beautiful daughters

At the big kids' table--where the REAL party was.  :)

Our men took clean-up duty (they learned that from Daddy)

Our children make me smile

Beautiful, beautiful girls!

All the boy cousins in Utah

All of the Utah cousins

Me, Tay, and my sweetheart
I left out the leg-wrestling, arm wrestling, stick pulling, basketball, food-food-food, ukeleles, drums, guitars, videos, visits, and massages.

It doesn't get better than this.  I love Thanksgiving.  I love my family.  I love my life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tear Jerkers

My dad sent a newspaper clipping that listed the readers' top-ten tear jerker movies:

1.  Old Yeller
2.  Bambi
3.  The Notebook
4.  The Green Mile
5.  The Champ
6.  Life Is Beautiful
7.  The Color Purple
8.  Steel Magnolias
9.  Terms of Endearment
10. Beaches

To this list we have added:

1.  E.T.
2.  My Life
3.  Return to Me
4.  Charly

Of all of these, I'd have to say the three that made me cry the most were Charly, My Life, and Beaches.  I haven't seen Terms of Endearment, but I've seen all the others.

Cast your votes for top three.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Getting in the Holiday Spirit

My friend, Shana, asked me and a couple of other friends if we wanted to host a party for our work friends.  We discussed it and decided that lunch was best because no one would have to leave their families or anything.  Then we thought What if we did a service project as part of our party?  So now the party is in the works!  Courtney is making darling invitations (I have full faith in you, Courtney!).  Kim and Annette are working on table decorations.  Shana is shopping for quilt items, and I am doing what I do best.  Everyone in the world is invited, because they are bringing their own lunch and treats to share.  What's not to love about a party where I don't have to provide everyone's food for them?  I personally will be sharing something salty-sweet, and you're gonna love it (and so am I).

It's a good thing we're doing a service project, because that last paragraph was clearly ALL ABOUT ME.

The point is that all of this festive planning has me feeling the Christmas mood more and more, in spite of the fact that I am boycotting FM100 till November 25th.

If you wanna feel the holiday spirit, come to our party.  But first, listen to David's "Memories of Christmas."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Did You Know?

Did you know that Kara Chocolates is based in Orem? 

Did you know that Kara's mint chocolate is heavenly?

Did you know that hydroplaning (and therefore spinning) on the freeway is not only dangerous but EXCEEDINGLY FRIGHTENING?!

Did you know that when you have a near-death experience on the freeway with your 14-year-old son in the car, it is possible to pray 50 times in 5 seconds, begging God to protect your son?

Did you know that in those 50 prayers you also have enough time to say, "It's OK to take me," while you're begging Him to protect your son?

Did you know that when your children's friends give their missionary farewell talks your heart will throb with emotion and your eyes might leak a little bit?

Did you know that our "son" Tanar enters the MTC tomorrow?

Did you know that Briana is meeting with her stake president tonight to have her temple recommend signed?


Did you know that our oldest child will be 21 in a week and a half?

Did you know that our oldest child is probably going to be endowed on her birthday?

These are important things, and now you know

Saturday, November 12, 2011

This Is a Test

This week my phone went wacko.  It would not send or receive text messages.  It was frustrating and annoying, because I knew my children at the very least were texting me.  It's what they do.  I got stuck on a slow-moving train on Thursday morning and was going to be late for work AND an 8:00 meeting, and I could not get hold of anyone to let them know.  (Dean!  Pick up your phone!)

I was going to call Sprint, but I'm never sure which password they have for us, so I was waiting till Spencer or Taylor was home at the same time I was.

Last night we went to Lolly's school production of Bye-Bye Birdie (adorable, BTW!).  I had turned the volume down, but the teacher in charge asked us to turn them OFF so they didn't interfere with the mics.  Here's my lameness (#1):  I didn't know how to power off my phone.  Landon had to show me how to do it.  (insert sheepish grin here)

After the play I turned my phone back on.  Guess what?  I received about 12 texts.  Yup, you guessed it.  Lameness (#2):  Turning the phone off and on fixed whatever the problem was.

What is the very first thing techs tell you to do when there's a problem?  Shut it down and start it back up.  *sigh*  I feel so stupid.

Here are my pent-up responses:

To Landon:  What movie are you watching in school?  Two days ago.
To Landon (again):  I'll be home as soon as I finish reading this chapter.  Two days ago.
To Ashtyn:  Yes, I called the attendance office and excused your absence.  Yesterday.
To Briana:  I was freaking out at 8:00, too.  Three days ago.
To Briana (again):  Gary Indiana, Gary Indiana, Gary Indiana, let me say it once again.  Three days ago.
To Briana (yet again):  Persuasion.  Yesterday.
To Stacy:  Our kids should be there.  You know--two days ago.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Heartache and Joy

In the movie Pretty Woman, Vivian talks about how she got talked-down-to by a former boyfriend.  Edward tells her that he thinks she’s an incredible woman, and she responds, “Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to believe the bad stuff?”

 
This week two missionaries in Texas were killed in a hit-and-run.  Their parents received terrible phone calls that day, and my heart aches for them.

 
Every day dozens of young men and women leave their homes, headed to a Missionary Training Center somewhere in the world.  Every day dozens of now-men and women leave the lands and people they've loved and served for 1 1/2 to 2 years to safely (and sometimes sadly) return to their homes.

 
So why does my mommy-heart latch onto the terrible?  And could I respond with the faith that these young men's parents have displayed?

 
This week, Elder Holland taught us this truth:  When we don't know the answer to something, we learn to lean upon what we DO know.
  • I know the Spirit of the Lord is bringing and will bring peace to these families, because He is real, as is God.
  • I know that God's perfect Plan will allow these families to continue through eternity.
  • I know that happiness is a choice, in spite of--and maybe BECAUSE of--adversity, trial, and heartache.
  • I know that we all have a happy ending in store, and death is not that ending.
My thoughts and prayers are with the families of Elder Trevor Reinhold Strong and Elder Derek Jason Walker.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sister Briana Hill

Our daughter received her mission call today.  She will go to Indianapolis Indiana, entering the MTC on February 15, 2012.

We are thrilled!

Bri got a call from her cousin, Natalie, today.  Natty bore her testimony to Breezy about the calling of Thomas S. Monson, who is a prophet of God.  It was exactly what Briana needed to hear as she prepared her heart and mind to receive a letter in the mail today (she hoped).  When the call came, she was happy.

Her dad and I are proud of our daughter's decision to serve the Lord as a full-time missionary.  We are pleased that she listens to the Spirit of the Lord.  We believe that she is being called to the place Heavenly Father needs her to go.

Everyone keeps asking if I am OK.  Apparently mothers are supposed to be freaked out when their children are missionaries.  Perhaps that will happen, but right now I am calm and happy and excited!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Vampires Are Real!

Remember when Taylor was shot in the neck with a crossbow?  Today my cubicle neighbor got a voice mail from my friend in the electrical shop.  The "smart" software we are using--which tries to translate what was spoken into written language--told her that he was from the "blood trickle shop."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Destroying a Boggart

There is someone here at work--one of my superiors--who I really don't like.  I'm not afraid of him, per se, but it is definitely like walking on egg shells most of the time because he is GUARANTEED to start bullying at any moment.  He's a diva.  He's a brat.  He's a bully.

But a conversation helped me figure out how to slay this boggart.  I was imagining him wearing one of those talking dog collars in "Up" that translates so we would actually know what he was thinking.  Only maybe we wouldn't want to know. 

UNLESS he could also be in the Cone of Shame.

Sorry for mixing the movies, but I can hardly stop laughing.

Ridikulus!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I Took the Week Off

So, I admit it.  The thought of someone poking needles in my neck scares me.  Know what is the most scary?  The stories of people who got their vocal cords nicked, so they (the vocal cords) were paralyzed for however long (weeks, months, years), and the person couldn't talk (or sing!) for months or years.  Can you imagine what a mess I'd be if I couldn't talk (or sing)?

Spencer's nephew offered us the use of his time share this week.  The kids don't have school tomorrow (today's the last day of the term), so Spencer and I took Friday off, and we are all headed up the canyon. 

These things, along with a bit of stress at work, made me throw my hands in the air.  I emailed my school mentor and told him not to call me this coming Monday because I am taking this week off.

Bones (I loved Hannah.  I was sorry to see her go.) and The Biggest Loser (Dolvett is AWESOME.  Anna is not.) are all I've done at home, and I don't even feel the tiniest bit bad about it.

So there.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Update

Hello, all! It’s November—sheesh! It took me till March to remember to write 2011 (instead of 2010)—how does it fly so quickly? The good news is that my favorite holiday is this month. I LOVE Thanksgiving. I love the food and the colors and the smells. Mostly I love gathering with family to give thanks. I love you all very much, and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving month.


A bit of news at our house:

A couple of weeks ago I had a physical. While I was there the doctor thought that my thyroid felt enlarged, so he sent me for an ultrasound. The ultrasound detected a cyst on the right side of my thyroid and two nodules on the left side of my thyroid. Spencer and I met with our family doc yesterday. The cyst is just some fluid, and they are not worried about that at all. But the two masses need to be checked.

The doctor is sending me to see an endocrinologist (I hope to hear from them in the next few days to get things scheduled). I will have to have a dye test, which will help them determine if these nodules are “hot” – meaning they secrete a substance and can become malignant – or “cold”. They will also do a needle biopsy of both masses.

Our doctor said that the chances of finding anything malignant in the thyroid are less than my chances of getting hit by a bus. Do I have to choose one of those?  Anyway, he said that even if there were malignant cells in my thyroid, they tend to be so slow-growing that it’s rarely a problem. In fact, he said, “I’d have this looked at within the next 3 to 6 months.” I am unwilling to wait, of course, but it is comforting that this is not a “We-have-to-move-quickly” type of scenario.

So we are calm, and we are just going to take each step as it comes. We are hopeful and prayerful that this will be much ado about nothing, but mortality happens. In the meantime, I would really appreciate your prayers as we move forward.

In other news, Briana’s mission papers were officially submitted this past weekend, so we hope to get a mission call within the next couple of weeks. She is having her call sent to her home in Far Away Logan, so we won’t be having a big letter-opening ceremony; but we will let you know the details when the call comes.

We love you all very much and pray that all is well in your homes!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sharing a Memory -- Preschool

It's been four full years since I owned/taught preschool, but there are just times every year that I think back and figure out what we would be doing.

Today is Halloween.  I won't lie.  It's not my favorite holiday; in fact, it's probably my LEAST favorite holiday.  But children's excitement is contagious, children in costumes are adorable, and I know at least two Halloween rhymes (for your reading pleasure):

***
Halloween cat! Halloween cat,
Why do you meow and meow like that?
Neither I nor the moon likes your tune,
So, scat! Scat, Halloween cat!

***
Five little pumpkins sitting on the gate:
The first one said:  Oh, my, it's getting late!
The second one said:  There are witches in the air!
The third one said: We don't care!
The fourth one said: Let's run!  Let's run!
The fifth one said:  Isn't Halloween fun?
Oooo, went the wind and OUT went the light.
Those five little pumpkins rolled fast out of sight!

***

You're welcome.  And Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sharing a Memory -- Don't Blink

Nearly 20 years ago we learned that I was pregnant.  Briana had just turned one, and we were thrilled.  Having already had a "normal" pregnancy, we didn't think a thing about telling everyone that another little one was on the way.  But just a couple of weeks after Christmas I miscarried.  In the middle of the night, with my husband out of town on a work assignment, I left our daughter in the care of a sister-in-law while my mother-in-law took me to the hospital and held my hand while I cried through a D&C.

I came home and slept for several hours.  My SIL offered to keep Briana through the day, but I was so grateful for that little girl that I asked her to just bring our baby home.  Bri was still really just a baby herself--only 14 months old, but she brought me an incredible amount of joy and peace.  She was also the PICTURE of normality, because babies don't know when Mommy's world has turned upside down; and normality was exactly what I needed.  So we spent the next days watching Beauty and the Beast (400 times, at least), eating PBJs, and having horsie rides to bed.  Daddy came home, and we moved forward.

A few months later, I was pregnant again.  This time we were more careful about announcing it to the world.  This time I waited a bit before going to the doctor so that it would be a more sure thing to hear a heartbeat. And this time the pregnancy was normal.

Our first baby boy was born just days past the one-year mark of that miscarriage.  He was beautiful and healthy, and he cried all. the. time. for four months.  But oh! how I cherished that little one.  Which is not to say that there weren't times when I wanted to run screaming from the room.  And I remember what it was like to feel like I might never have an adult conversation again.  There were days when people would say, "Don't blink," and I'd think You clearly haven't had a day like I have had or you would know that the best thing you could wish for me today is for this day to END.  I remember the diapers and diapers and diapers.  And diapers.  This is not something you forget, believe me.

Now suddenly it's been 21 years since that beautiful little girl first turned our world upside down, and nearly 19 years since that wonderful baby boy joined our family.  There have been two more beautiful babies since then (stories for another day).  There have been stitches and broken bones and broken hearts, flat tires and late nights and even move-outs.

Last night Spencer, Taylor, Ashtyn, Landon, and I sat at the dining table for a couple of hours and carved jack-o-lanterns.  We didn't have to hide the knives, and everyone (mostly) did their own work.  After I'd done some clean-up I went into our bedroom, where my phone was beeping with a message from Briana (because, remember, she's in Far-Away Logan) which said, "My mission papers went in today!"

I wish you joy.  I wish you normality.  I wish you nicknames coined by the children for their siblings.  I wish you a few stitches and broken bones and flat tires (nothing major, of course).  But let me tell you something:

Don't Blink!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Kinds of Things that Make My Day

Laughter:  Monday night I was putting together all the things I needed to be ready for the morning.  Clothes were  ready.  Lunch was ready.  Running gear was ready.  Phone was charging.  I said, "What am I going to wish I had tomorrow morning?"  Without missing a beat, Spencer said, "More sleep."

Friends:  I had a meeting yesterday on my friend's floor, so I stopped to visit with Karleen.  Carol joined us, and we spent 15 minutes visiting and expressing love and laughing.  Best 15 minutes of the day...  Until Karleen had to come to MY floor, so she stopped to visit with me.  Two visits with my amazing and lovely friend in one day--plus Carol.  Glorious!

Teacher's Pet:  Dave just came to my desk with an apple and three pears from his trees, announcing, "An apple for the teacher!"  I love the fruit.  Even more, I love the friendship.

Autumn:  It is darned cold in the mornings, but I love watching the leaves fall from the trees.  It's just therapeutic to watch each individual leaf float down, until the ground is strewn with yellow, orange, or red.  You should stop and watch the leaves.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Praying Aloud

As a child, I learned about prayer first from my parents.  We had family prayer and my parents helped me with learning to pray personally.  I don't really remember them teaching ME, but we would kneel in our living room or in our bedroom, and we would take turns saying our prayers.  They helped my little brothers and sisters learn the things to say to God.  Often for me, prayer time was just a contest with my brothers to see who could say the coolest thing to Heavenly Father.

When I got a little bit older I got to go spend time with my grandparents.  My aunt let me sleep in her pink (!) sleeping bag on the floor in her bedroom.  I liked it better there than in any other place, even though other places even had beds.  We'd get dressed and brush our teeth for bed, and then we would kneel at her bedside and silently pray.  This was my first experience with praying silently, but I liked it.  I liked feeling all alone with Heavenly Father, no one else listening.  I don't know how old I was the first time I prayed next to my aunt, praying at her bedside; but I remember it.  I remember loving the dark and the quiet and my aunt and my grandma and grandpa and my parents and my Heavenly Father.  I've had many sweet experiences praying silently in the car or by the bed or at my desk or in church--and in thousands of other places.

Lately, though, I've found my mind distracted as I pray.  It's probably a sign of age that I can't focus on anything quiet and still.  But it IS quiet, and I can hear people walking around or the TV on or or the washer finishing a cycle or a car coming into the driveway or whatever.  And I'm TIRED.  So when I'm alone (because I still don't like everyone listening in on my private conversations), I like to pray aloud.  Somehow it feels strange to start speaking--why is that?  I don't know, but I think it's like Satan trying to bind my tongue and maybe my heart.  Then I finally begin to speak, and little by little it becomes just a conversation. On my part, it's not pretty and flowery.  My language is still "thee" and "thine", but my thank yous are "Thank You"s and I say things like, "I don't really know!" and I find myself almost begging for things.  I'm not begging for houses or cars or jobs; I'm usually begging for the ability to forgive or to understand or for faith or for Him to watch over the people I love or to tell me what choice I should make.  I tell him about my friends' and family members' predicaments, and I ask Him to give them what they need. 

Invariably, I weep when I pray aloud.  I think that's because of God's side of the conversation.  I always feel loved.  I feel heard.  I don't feel dumb for the things I worry about, even when I know they are dumb.  Sometimes I have a very clear thought come to me about someone I should call or something I can do for someone or something I need to do.  Sometimes my to-do list is something big, but usually it is some tiny little thing like "Get tomorrow's lunch ready" or "You should review your Primary lesson."  It's funny how those tiny little things that are really no big deal feel like a really big deal when you know that Someone who loves you and is listening to you is willing to remind you to do something.

Pray. He is there.  Speak.  He is listening.
You are His child.  His love now surrounds you.
He hears your prayer.  He loves His children;
Of such is the kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Step One...Suzie Said So

...You must go to "Suzie Said So," where I am today's guest blogger.  I feel so important now.  :)

This is where I ramble for a minute, because you are not allowed to read further until you've visited Suzie.  It's not a chore, I promise.  Suzie is beautiful, talented, happy, and all-around wonderful.  So if you get stuck on her blog reading all of her charming posts, don't forget to come back.  I really want you to come back.

However, I don't want you to continue reading this post till you've gone and come back.

No cheating!  You have to go there first or you will ruin all the fun, you Fun-Sucker (another bonus)!

Step Two:  Check your answers

1.  Aladdin
2.  Pretty Woman -- Yes, I admit it.  I've seen it.  Unedited.
3.  Meet the Robinsons --  Another admission:  I've never seen this movie all the way through.  The trailer is quotable, though!
4.  Better Off Dead -- Totally dating myself with this one.  But, wait.  You've seen my picture.  You already know I'm old.
5.  The Incredibles
6.  The American President
7.  The Little Mermaid
8.  Sleepless In Seattle -- Still my favorite movie of all time.
9.  Aladdin and the King of Thieves --  It's been years since I saw this movie, but "Thor" has brought it back to life at our house
10.  While You Were Sleeping
11.  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
12.  Cars
13.  Sense and Sensibility
14.  Toy Story
15.  A Walk to Remember
16.  Mulan
17.  Apollo 13
18.  Finding Nemo
19.  The Princess Bride
20.  The Emporer's New Groove

Bonus:  17 Again
Another Bonus:  Freaky Friday

Step Three:  Leave a comment and post your scores. 

There are 20 points possible.  16+ is an A, and you can join our family.  Unless you don't want to be called "pathetic."  Whatever.

12-15 is a B, and you can come visit us any time.  But bring your own popcorn.

8-11 is a C.  You can visit, too, but we might send you running with Spencer.

4-7 is a D.  This is the one where you get lectured by Mom (that's me).

<3 is an EPIC (pun intended) fail.  But I still love you.

I hope you had fun, and I hope you'll join me for random fun again very soon!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sharing A Memory...Named After:

This post made me think about the discussions we've had about where our children's names came from.  Each has its own story, and Landon is grateful he was a boy, because he hates the girl name we had chosen for him.  Whatever.

When Taylor was two or three years old we asked him what his full name was.  He appropriately responded, "Taylor Jon Hill."  We asked him if he knew who he was named after.  He got a very puzzled look on his face, thought for a moment, and said, "I was named after Briana?"

Yup.  Right after Briana was named, Taylor was named.

P.S.  He was actually named after my dad.  And also, we loved that his name was almost like the prophet, John Taylor.  But, ya know, "after Briana" is also true.

Friday, October 14, 2011

It Threw Off My Groove

The director I (mainly) support is out of the country on business for a full week, beginning today.  I've been saving projects to work on while he is gone.

But truthfully?  I just really didn't want to come into work today at all.  And I don't want to come in all of next week, either.

So on the drive in I gave myself a good talking-to.  I'll spare you the entire conversation, but the gist of it is that I am a capable, confident woman who can do a good job and be helpful, even when I'm going to be mostly alone for a week. (sniffle)

And then the OTHER director called me into his office for our one-on-one. 

He threw off my groove.  Draw your own conclusions.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sharing a Memory...Taylor

In 1998, Disney released a new movie, "Mulan."  Disney movies have always been a need.  We did not forego seeing a Disney movie with our family for anything.

In 1998, Taylor was 5 years old.  He sat cross-legged on the movie theatre chairs in the old Reel Theatre in Magna. 

At about the halfway point in the movie, the Chinese army learns that Ping is actually Mulan, a woman, and they abandon her in the snow.  As they marched away, 5-year-old Taylor blurted out, "Rude!"

We love Mulan, and we watch it often at home.  There are many parts that are funny.  But nothing is as awesome as a cross-legged five-year-old blurting out, "Rude!"

Friday, October 7, 2011

PDA

Kayla probably thinks it's gross, but let me just give another shout out to Amber for her beautiful photography.  Isn't my new blog picture great?

Yes.  Yes, it is.

P.S.  I love Spencer.  I told him that when we dated, and it hasn't changed.  If it does, I will let you know.

P.P.S.  It won't change.  The end.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Along Abbey Road

My beautiful, amazing, talented cousin and blog-friend is selling some beautiful jewelry this month, in honor of breast cancer awareness month.  You can see the button to the right--isn't it cute?

As you know, my mother is a breast cancer survivor.  I also have an aunt who is currently undergoing radiation in her tooth-and-nail fight against this terrible disease.

Please consider visiting Along Abbey Road and purchasing one of these adorable necklaces.  Not only will you be hooked by Abbey's charming style and wit, you will also be benefitting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  Plus, you'll have an adorable, meaningful piece of jewelry for yourself and/or a friend.

In addition, make sure you're doing your monthly self-exams, dear lady friends.  With early detection, breast cancer is curable in 99% of the cases.

Happy Breast Cancer Awareness month!

Sharing a Memory -- Haircuts

Unfortunately, this subject is fresh on my mind.

Once upon a time I wanted layers added to my long hair, but I had no money.  So I asked someone to help me out.  She had cut hair before.  Apparently that was in the 1960's, because what I got was a terrible Florence Henderson-Brady Bunch/Goldie Hawn-Laugh In look.  It was awful!  Spencer cut another 3 inches off the bottom, and suddenly I had short hair.  Worst haircut ever.  Lessons learned:  You get what you pay for, I don't look too bad with short hair, and babies don't put short hair in their mouths.

My second worst haircut happened on Friday.  This time I paid for it, which ticks me off.  Spencer had to fix it again.  (Maybe we could send him to cosmetology school next...)  That was AFTER I made her re-do my bangs and she said, "What?  You want both sides to match?"  Not funny.

Chelsea!  Come back!  I need you!

There's a Reason I Hate Goodbyes

The main reason I hate leaving is that I am SURE to leave something behind.  If it gets left at my parents' home, it just has to stay there, unless they will mail it to me (sometimes it's worth it, sometimes it's not). 

Seriously, I can't ever leave just once.  It's maddening!  From purses left at the in-laws' to bags left at church to tickets left on our counter, leaving is a chore for me.

Yesterday I left to go to lunch.  I pushed the button and waited for the elevator to come.  At last it came, and I rode 11 floors down to where the cafeteria is.  That's when I remembered that my lunch was in the fridge.  On the 11th floor.

Grrr...!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

General Conference

In the vernacular of my friend, Pam, and her daughter-in-law:  I am a General Conference SLUT.  That's right.  I just can't get enough.

I first tried to watch Conference when I was about 12.  I watched a lot, but I understood none of it.  What the heck does "apostolic" mean, anyway?  (This is a rhetorical question, kids.  I already know the answer.  But I didn't when I was 12.)

When I was 14 I was challenged by my seminary teacher (Hi, Brother Fuelling!) to watch Conference, and that's it.  I've been hooked ever since.  Some gems in the ensuing years:  Elder Ashton's talk on gifts and talents, 1988; Elder McConkie's testimony of the Savior (1986ish); Sister Dew's talk on motherhood (2001 or 2002); Elder Bednar's talk on the Lord's tender mercies; President Faust's talk on self-mastery; Elder Worthlin's talk, "Come What May and Love It;" Elder Holland's talk on the Book of Mormon.

When we moved to California, we had to go to the Stake Center to watch General Conference, because it was only broadcast via satellite to select locations.  My friends and I would pack picnics (as YSAs) and stay at the church all day so we could watch the entire conference without having to go home (which wasn't that far, but let's face it, Conference is even better when shared with the people you love.  And partying.)

After our children were born, and we lived in Utah again, my sweetheart (who is the best man in the world--have I mentioned that?) would take care of the kids all weekend long so that I could enjoy every last word of General Conference.  One year Elder Holland gave a wonderful, amazing talk DIRECTLY TO ME about being a mother.  And I heard every word because Spencer made sure that I could.

The thing about giving Mommy this time was that our children grew up knowing that General Conference was something special.  It wasn't really too long before they would either sit and watch with us or at least go outside to play so that we could hear.  (It helped that I snapped at them, "I'm trying to listen to the prophet, if you don't mind!"  How's that for love at home?)

One year at Christmas time I bought this beautiful counted cross stitch.  I worked on it, and then it got tucked away.  But it came out every Conference.  For about 4 years.  Seriously.  I worked so long on this cross-stitch of Mary and the Christ child that it was worth every penny to have it professionally framed, and it stays on our wall year-round.  And that, my friends, is how our General Conference tradition began.

Other families have traditions that center around food.  My tradition centers around handicrafting.  It's kinda the only time I really get into it, but for 8 beautiful, uninterrupted, glorious, spirit-filled hours, I work on some kind of handicraft.  A couple of years ago Bri and I spent all of Conference weekend working on costumes for the high school play.  I've made Christmas ornaments.  Usually I do some stitching of some kind.  Breezy has now joined me in the tradition.  Remember this cute pillow?  My birthday present began as a General Conference project.

Today I spent four hours stitching, listening, and crying tears of joy.  Also, did you see that adorable Primary choir?  Dang, I love those kids!  (How about the boy whose white shirt sleeves hung clear past his fingers?  Love it!)

The only bad thing about today is that it is over, so tomorrow is the last day of Conference.  For another 6 months.  *sigh*

On the up side, however, I have some CUTE crafting to show off!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Po-Tant!

And also, I am featured HERE today.  I've never been featured before...

Today's Goodness

I took today off work because we were going to be driving to St. George.  Even though I knew we were not going, I still took today off.  The timing was awful, I have lots to do at work, and I should be there.  But guess what?

That's what!

The laundry is nearly done.  The kitchen is clean.  The front windows are clean (inside and out).  My hair is cut and colored.  The deposit to the bank is made.  And I bought 4 spools of embroidery floss (what exactly IS forget-me-not blue?) for $1.03 at Robert's, which is having EVERYTHING 50% off through tomorrow.

Breezy asked if we could all come spend the weekend in Far-Away Logan.  Tay has to work, Spencer's kind of an invalid, and I just really want to veg in front of Conference all weekend (in addition to taking care of my sweetheart).  So Ash and Lando are headed up for the weekend for a little weekend party time.  Doesn't that sound fun?  I think so, too.

Our life is sweet, rich, a tiny bit sick, full, and beautiful.

And P.S.  2011 in Utah is having THE most beautiful fall EV.ER.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hugely Disappointing

Spencer was up sick all night and ended up at InstaCare this morning.  He has been diagnosed with a terrible infection, which is going to make him miserable for several days (in spite of the antibiotics). 

Most importantly, though, it is going to preclude him from running the St. George marathon this weekend.

You might say, "Oh, there are lots of other marathons."  If you are saying that, you clearly have neither trained for a marathon nor prepared mentally for a marathon.  For the latter, timing is critical.  For the former, timing is EVERYTHING.  The two combined?  Well...

Needless to say, my sweetheart is one sad runner, which is adding terrible insult to the proverbial injury (or illness, as case may be).  Being sad myself is nothing compared to when the people I love are sad.  *sigh*

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sick, Sick, Sick

Sick:  Ashtyn got sick and missed a day of school.  It was only her 2nd missed day, and we are at Q.1 midterm.  Everyone knock on wood--Ashtyn has been well for a long time!

Sick:  Briana got sick, and she texts me heart-wrenching things from Far Away Logan, like, "Mommy!  I want you!"  What's a mom to do?

Sick:  I got sick and missed church and the RS conference (hello and thank you, internet and amazing church employees, for taking care of me) and a day and a half of work (including today).  I'm sure there's more I'm missing because my brain is definitely not firing on all cylinders.  I often wonder, is it the illness or is the drugs?

Happy fall, everyone.  It's a beautiful, beautiful time of year.

Here's hoping that this is my big cold for the coming season.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sharing a Memory -- Grandma C.

My dad's mother was widowed, and several years later she married another man who lived in the beautiful Heber Valley, so the family moved there.  After some time, Grandma became pregnant with my aunt, who, as it turned out, is only 6 years older than I am.  Grandpa built his sweet daughter a playhouse, complete with a dutch door, a "sofa" made from a car's bench seat, a small folding table, and various other wonders.

Much to the chagrin of the older children, the boy grandchildren were not welcome in the playhouse.  The girls, though?  Oh, the heaven of that wonderland!  There were baby dolls and baby carriages and purses and china dishes and a washing machine and laundry to fold.  It was glorious!  There were only a few of us girls, and most of them were much younger than I.  The next closest in age was 3 years my junior, but I loved it when both G and I could be at Grandma's at the same time.

My aunt and I were pretty good friends, too, in spite of the age difference. I suppose in many ways she was just putting up with me, but I sure loved to go spend several days at Grandma's!

Sometimes when we were playing in the playhouse, Grandma would come to the dutch door.  She always wore a house dress and an apron, but she'd come with lipstick on, and gloves on her hands, and her purse over her arm, and she would say, "Ding dong!  Avon calling!"  We'd let her into our little home, and she would open her magical purse and bring out something so incredibly mom-ish that it was all I could do not to squeal in delight.  Sometimes it was a bright red lipstick.  Sometimes it was perfume that we could "sample."  My favorite was when it was the Rose Milk.

Does anyone remember Rose Milk?  My grandma was a die-hard Lawrence Welk fan (to this day, LW reruns take me right back to the basement of my grandparents' Heber home--heavenly!), and she believed in everything they advertised.  Esoterica for her age spots, Geritol every day, and Rose Milk.  Grandma always had two bottles of lotion in the window by the sink:  the Jergen's was something we were welcome to use, but the Rose Milk was Grandma's alone.

So when our "Avon Lady" brought the Rose Milk, it was a special treat.  She would carefully remove her gloves, put a spot of Rose Milk on my hands, and carefully rub it in, all the while telling me about the special qualities of this marvelous product.

She would take our order and wish us a good day.  And then we didn't see Grandma again until she'd bring out lunch on a plate--sandwiches and a pitcher of water and usually some vegetables.  Sometimes she'd stand outside the Dutch door and "call" us on the telephone.  "Ring, ring!" she'd say, and we'd rush to answer the phone on the wall.  "Would you like your lunch in the big house or here?" she'd ask.

I once went into Victoria's Secret, and they had a rose lotion.  The moment I smelled it, the tears welled in my eyes as I longed for my grandma.  Why, when she was so ill and incapacitated, did I not think to rub lotion into her hands or spritz her with a "special" perfume or dab a bright red spot on her lips?  I don't know, but in our next life, that I one of the first things I want to do.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Public Transportation Story

I entered the train with three other people.  One was a young (20ish), very clean, very cute woman.  The other two were men, travelling together.  One was pretty shabby with dredlocks (ew!).  The other thought he was all that in his Nike shirt, with the short sleeves rolled back to show his tats.

We were heading toward the University, so the train was pretty full of young people.  Tattoo-man was sitting across the aisle from Pretty Girl and straight across from his buddy.  He was fairly pointedly ignoring his very uncool companion.  As we traveled through campus, the train got more and more empty, and Tattoo-man moved to another seat (completely ditching his buddy) so he was facing the other direction (facing Pretty Girl).

Finally the two men were getting off the train.  Tattoo-man walks up to Pretty Girl and says, "Hey, gorgeous.  You dropped something.  I think it was your smile."  Then he swaggered off the train.

Well, those of us who were left there burst into laughter.  Poor Pretty Girl turned 14 shades of pink and said, "Can you imagine if I brought HIM home to meet my parents?  Ew.  THAT would go over well."  The man sitting next to me (in his 40's, probably) said, "Please, God, don't let my daughter ever bring someone like that home."

And also, was that a cheesy pick-up line, or what?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A (Short) Story in Pictures

Today
rode
to
where I finally got to meet and hug
Both of these ladies are beautiful, so I feel
The end.

Sharing a Memory -- Landon

Landon was just 2 years old when Grandma lived with us.  The two of them were pretty great friends.  Landon LOVED to do whatever he could to help Grandma.  I would put her pills on a plate so he could carry them to her, then follow behind with a glass of water.  He loved to carry her dinner plate in to her when she was too worn out to come to the table.  She used a cane, and he would take it all the time.  Finally my mother-in-law gave Landon one of the extra canes so he had one of his own and would leave Grandma's there for her use.

One morning I was standing at the kitchen sink when Landon walked in. 

"Gomma fod," he said.

"What?"

"Gomma fod."

"Grandma fell?"

"Yah.  Gomma fod."
Sure enough I hustled into her room and found her sitting on the floor against her bed.  She had tried to seat herself on the bed, didn't get on far enough, and just slid down to the floor.  Fortunately she was not hurt.  But she would not let me try to lift her (she probably weighed 90 pounds).  So I went back into the kitchen (where the phone was attached to the wall--remember those day?) and called my brother to see if he could come help us.  When I went back into Grandma's room, Landon was plopped on the floor next to her, the two of them just waiting.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sharing a Memory -- Grandma B

Spencer's grandmother lived with us for about 6 months when she was in her 90's.  She was not a sweet, kind, Mrs. Claus kind of grandma, but I loved her very, very much, and I learned many things from her as she lived in our home.

One day, 6 or 8 months after she'd left our home, I called her and asked if I could take her to lunch.  I picked her up, and as we drove I asked how she was doing.  She was rather melancholy that day, and she said, "You know, I'm lonely. 

"My parents have been gone for years.  I only have one sibling living, and he's my baby brother, living in another state.  And every last one of my friends has died." 

She then proceeded to tell me that Addie, who was her best friend through school in small-town Idaho, had died a few months ago.  She and Addie had remained friends all through the years and had tried to get together once every year or two.  They shared letters, mostly, because neither of them could hear very well on the telephone.

There are two things I learned from this.  One thing I thought was that her "homecoming" when she died was probably very sweet. Grandma adored her mother, and I'm sure she was glad to see many of the people she knew and loved when she was a younger woman.


The other has to do with family and friends.  It has to do with love.  Grandma was never happy in her marriage, and she didn't even mention missing her husband.  Because Grandma and Grandpa were so miserable, life for their two children was also fairly miserable.  Grandma was survived by both of her children, but they were not a lot of comfort to her in her advanced age.  Grandma also never went out of her way to cultivate friendships, so she was very alone.  That's very sad.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Happy Fall

The best part about fall is the colors.



Wouldn't you agree?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Random Thoughts

Kayla, on the train the other day, this guy with a big, long goatee had a coughing fit.  He considerately covered his mouth with his hand.  Then he stroked his beard with the same hand.  I don't even want to THINK about that nasty beard!

Briana,  I love it when you come home.  I'm sorry you have to sleep in the living room.  The next time you come home for good, there will be a place for you.  And also, thank you for letting me nap today.

Amber,  I missed you all week.  I'm glad you are feeling better.

Courtney,  your blog makes me happy and giggly.  If I play with a red balloon will I look as cute as you?

Noelle, what would the nurses at PCMC do if I showed up there?

Amy, what the heck IS a funnel cake?  It doesn't look like what I thought...

Dr. Mackay, thanks for taking care of that cavity today.

UofU football team, would it be possible for you to add another version of "Shut Up!" to Jared.  Maybe duct tape, for example.  Thanks for what you did, though.  (Sorry, Cougars.)

Stacy, I loved our run on Saturday.  Thanks.

Primary class, you rock my world!  And I love you.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Did You Know...

...that noodles are the perfect comfort food?  It's true.  They are!   Especially noodles with some substance. 

Like ravioli, which is beautifully supported by yummy, soothing cheese.

Like a cool pasta salad (filled with veggies, please), which you have to chew and chew and chew, and each bite is filled with tangy goodness.  It makes you smile just thinking about it, doesn't it?

Last night I had the best lo mein ever.  Thank you Wok-King!  I went to bed a very happy woman.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

You'd Think SOMEHOW I Could Be Prepared

But no.  It just never happens.

Today, for example, dear boss asked (again), "Will these books be ready for the meeting on Monday morning?"  All I could do was shrug and say, "Hope so," because I have procrastinated.  Again.  So I spent the morning scrambling to the desks of half a dozen people, asking them as sweetly as I could (with handfuls of apologies on top) for those reports that take all day to be on my desk by noon tomorrow.

I'd hate me, wouldn't you?

So--because I work with fabulously wonderful, professional people--the reports start piling on my desk.  I could start putting them all together, except I have failed to go to office supply and pick up 10 binders.  And now I am the lucky woman who gets to cover the phones for the remainder of the afternoon.  The sad thing is that I might actually be able to get something done if only I had some binders to get started with.

Pulling it together:  It just won't ever happen.

I should stitch that on a pillow...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Seriously Ugly

It occurs to me that with a title like that, it might be fun to have YOU fill in the blank.  Go ahead, blogging friends!  What is seriously ugly?

**

And now forward to the real reason I decided to post.  Hang onto your chairs--this is gonna be exciting (That's code for "Ya Might as Well Leave Now)!

On Sunday I was cutting up veggies for hobo dinners.  I caught my thumb with the amazing Cutco knife and gouged it pretty good.  It's not a very long cut, but it's at just an angle that it catches on things.  As the skin dies, I'm cutting it back, but I still keep hitting it and causing it to start bleeding again.

The thing is, now it's healed enough that it doesn't even hurt when I pull it open.  So I showed up to work today with dried blood all over my thumb.  So far I haven't found blood spots on my clothes, but who knows?

My thumb is seriously ugly.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thoughts About 9/11

September 11, 2001, dawned like any other day.  I had been a preschool teacher for a whopping ONE WEEK.  At about 7:00 a.m. that day, my sister-in-law called me and told me to turn on the television. 

Briana had band practice that morning, so I took her to school shortly after the awful moment that a second plane struck the World Trade Center.  As we drove the .5 mile to her school, our 5th grader looked at me and said, "Mommy, what does 'hijacked' mean?"  My heart broke a little bit at that moment, as I realized that there would never be a time when our beautiful, innocent children would not know any more what "hijack" or "terrorism" meant.

But off to school we all went.  I had preschool and had to take care of a lot of 3- and 4-year-olds that day and for the next 2 days.  Parents came and went, tears and shock walking in and out of our home like ghosts.  And then it was Friday, September 14th.  Friday was when I stopped and watched the news.  Friday was when I listened to the tales of loss and grief.  Friday was when I saw the aftermath.  The rest of the world had been dealing with the horror for 4 days, but for me it was new and fresh and biting.

Friday was my day to get everything done.  I was running errands in a haze of grief.  All day. I remember crying at the drive-up at the bank, and the sweet teller shared her testimony of the Savior's loving care.  Dear sweet bank teller:  Do you know that it was you that helped me begin the healing?

On September 11, 2002, I took our children to the University of Utah to make a huge, human flag.  Ironically, it was one of the most fun things we ever did together.  But we remembered.

We still remember.

Homecoming

That's our beautiful daughter, on the left.  As beautiful as she looks in this picture, it's not as lovely as she is in real life.  She's happy.  She's talented.  She's kind.  She has balance.  She has common sense.

She also has the tremendous talent of being able to do her own hair before a dance.

Happy Homecoming!

Lucky, Lucky Me!

My friend and her friend spent about an hour with us last week.  Both of them said, "Being with your family was so fun.  I wish I had that."  I wish they did, too.  And I'm grateful we have it.

Our older son agreed to sing in church with me today.  His voice is fabulous, and it was a blessing to sing with him.

Spencer said, "That was one of the best musical numbers I've ever heard in church."  Landon said, "Not one of.  The best."

Hobo dinners tonight!

Huge thanks to Joanne, our pianist extraordinaire; Suzi, a friend of 25 years, for bringing over a sweater for Ash; Jeri Lynn, who lent me her sewing machine AND came over later in the day to make sure I was still sane; and Kayla, who brought over her bolero jacket, just in case.

Also, huge thanks to all of you (special thanks, Daddy!) who responded to my last post.  I'm still welcoming comments.  I'm still trying to be teachable.  I'm also feeling better.

I am incredibly blessed.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I Wish I Had a Big, Fat Chocolate Chip Cookie Right Now

It is amazing how people's words can affect us.  After a conversation this morning, I find myself (remember that capable, confident woman from a day ago?) questioning whether I am actually any good at my job.  I wonder if people are constantly looking at me thinking, "She's unhappy and it shows in her work."  I wonder if I really AM unhappy.  I wonder if there is something wrong with me because I consider my job a JOB in a CORPORATION, not "building the Lord's kingdom."  I wonder if meticulousness is a requisite for someone in my position.  I wonder if meticulousness is a word.  I wonder if I should be less confident--would that make me more capable?  I wonder if it's really that important to think about this.  I wonder if meticulousness or confidence or capability make me a better PERSON.  I wonder if being a secretary or a teacher or a doctor make me a better person.  I wonder if I should go home for the day, because canning peaches not only sounds more fun than PARs but might be more important and productive and person-building.

The person I spoke with used the phrase, "It is evident to me that..." and it's made me think about things that are evident to us.  For example, we see someone who is disheveled and we assume that they are lazy or they live in filth and squalor.  It is "evident" that there is something that is not right (by our standards).  What is not evident, however, is WHY that person is the way he is.  Maybe he's disheveled because he was up all night with a sick child and he overslept his alarm.  Maybe he's disheveled because he has a mental illness and it was all he could do to get dressed and get out of bed.  Maybe he's disheveled because there's been an emergency and he's trying to get there quickly.  Maybe my version of disheveled is his version of put together.  Therefore, it is evident that I should not draw conclusions or pass judgments on what I think is evident.

I believe it is my responsibility to work to become a better, more perfect person.  I also realize that my perception IS my reality, and your perception is your reality.  Now I am considering how much of this conversation I should internalize.  I'm willing (and want!) to be the best I can be in my work.  Do I have to reach a point of total fulfillment in order to be better (best) in my work?  Does it matter?  Is my perception skewed; should I try to have his perceptions more as my own?

Am I OK?

Please comment.  Pretty please?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Worrying About What People Think

I consider myself a confident, capable woman.

But yesterday I got onto an elevator (I was alone in said elevator), and immediately after the doors closed and the ride began it registered that someone with serious body odor had been on that elevator.  Recently.  (I hope.)

God answers prayers, y'all.  Cuz no one else got on the elevator before I got off.  AND there was no one waiting for the elevator when I got off. 

So no one could blame me.

But still, I wanted to put a poster up--"I DIDN'T DO IT!  P.S.  Take a shower, please."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wanna See Something Super Sweet?


Check out ambersagersphotography.blogspot.com.  My friend is wonderfully talented.

(And her subject matter is wonderful!)