Wednesday, March 31, 2010


So the project to paint the bedroom "Totally Teal" was about as painful as I had feared. The previous owners had painted the room three different colors, and badly, with splashes of paint and bits of old tape everywhere. And I wanted nice crisp lines between the teal walls and white ceiling, which took a lot of work. (Involving taping, painting a stripe of white, letting it dry to seal the tape, then painting a stripe of the wall color. It actually worked pretty well, so let me know if you want more details.)
And my room has so many strange walls and corners. And then once the bedroom was done, I had to do the bathroom. And then the battered old sewing machine cupboard didn't fit in the bright new room, so I had to paint that.
This little corner is the new headquarters for my business. I know, swanky.

I was scared that I might hate the bright color, but I actually love it. It's a different shade every time I walk in the room, depending on light and shadow.

Anyway, loose ends remain. I actually don't like the color of the cupboard, so I think I'll redo it. And I need new throw pillows. And a bed skirt.

But not today.

Monday, March 29, 2010


On Friday Roscoe passed a major benchmark in his process to become a karate black belt. He ran two miles, did 50 pushups, 100 situps, and 8 pull-ups. (At this point, Mom ran to the grocery store next-door for Gatorade.) Then he took a written exam before demonstrating 6 forms and several defense techniques. It all took about three hours. Roscoe now has a black/brown belt. Here is an excerpt from the essay he was required to write prior to Friday's test:

"In elementary school every morning we were required to run/walk a mile. To run a mile we would need to around around the field 4 times. Usually I would run for a bit, and when I started to feel tired I would stop. When I stopped I would have done about one 8th (halfway around the field) of the mile. I had a friend Kyle who was a very good runner and he encouraged me to keep running even if I was tired. I tried, and when I started to feel tired I would keep on running. I realized that the next most important thing to running (after strong legs) was a strong mind. You can force yourself to run and it's not that hard. Soon after, I could run one quarter of a mile without stopping to walk. After that it got easier and easier to do. I was about 12 then and I am 14 now. Now I can run a mile without walking once, because I pushed my self.
About 6 months ago for a church activity me and my friends were going to try and run 3 miles in under 30 minutes. We went to the Jordan River and started running. We reached the half point (1 1/2 miles) without walking once. We took a break to walk there for about one minute and then ran the rest of the way. I did not walk until I finished. We did it in 28 minutes. I’m not saying it was easy, because it was not. It was hard, and there were times when I wanted to stop but I forced myself to keep ruining.
Karate has helped me a lot to keep going. When I was tired and stopped doing pushups you would tell me to keep at it. You would have us do horse stances and hot coals for long periods of time and we would get tired but force ourselves to keep on going. To have a strong body you need a strong mind. You can only go somewhere if you make yourself do it. You can only make it if you really want to."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Of Plates & Planned Obsolescence

These are the pretty plates I bought at WalMart of all places. I love them. When Roscoe was little I carefully chose a timeless Corelle pattern, thinking that I could be like my mother and have the same Corelle plates throughout my homemaking years. Then they discontinued the pattern. So then I would buy replacements on ebay for a fortune. These were cheap, so I bought plenty, and when half are lost or broken, I guess I'll get new dishes again.

Of Cookies, Spoons, & Heaven

This is the Family Home Evening we did using my pretty plates. I was getting sick of the me-me-me attitudes around here, so I put together this spread of delicious treats. You could have as much as you wanted, but you couldn't 1.) help yourself or 2.) ask for something. Meaning the more people served others, the more everyone could enjoy. Which is my philosophy of life (and the theme of my blog).

I also told the kids this story, which I had never realized was from our friend Ann Landers.

Of Plies & Industrial Food Storage

Little Miss Haley just finished her first-ever dance class. She did very well and was adorable pointing her pink-clad toes. Much to my sister Nancy's disgust, I did not ever buy her a tuu-tuu.
I never had a tuu-tuu and I think I turned out just fine, thank you very much.

Of Awards and Smirks

Yesterday I attended the assembly to award Logan "Leader of the Month" for demonstrating all of the 7 Habits of Happy Kids a la the Coveys.
This is how a big ol sixth grader feels about such things:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Notes from the Underworld

Usually the messages from the underworld that I encounter are benign evidences of the barbarian (un)civilization that shares my home. Other times they seem canny, calculated, and devious.

This morning I'm rushing around trying to find Jesse's shoes so we can get the grocery shopping done so we can deliver Logan's forgotten backpack to him before a key event so we can pick up Haley and her friend on time from school.

And I can't find those shoes anywhere. "Why," I berate myself, "can I not even manage to keep track of this child's shoes?!"

Later in the afternoon I'm collecting laundry from the kids' bedrooms. Look at the tidy laundry bucket from Levi and Jesse's room. Miraculously, it appears to contain 1.) the boys dirty laundry and 2.) nothing that isn't dirty laundry. Things may be looking up, I think.
But look again at those two white socks at the top of the bucket.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Good Gifts

Once when Roscoe and Logan were little toddlers, we drove late into the night to reach Grandma and Grandpa McGee's house. When we arrived, they had arranged little bedrolls side by side on the office floor for the boys. We carried the boys inside and tucked them in. But before they could fall back asleep, something wonderful happened.

Grandma tiptoed into their darkened room holding a can of spray whipped cream and a spoon. Roscoe and Logan sat up in their beds with big round eyes as Grandma squirted the spoon full, then inserted it in the mouth of one boy. Then she filled it again and spooned it into the other boy's mouth. Again and again. The boys sat silent and frozen, afraid to break whatever magic spell had led to this unprecedented event. They just opened their mouths wide like little birds.
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?~ Matthew 7:11
Yesterday afternoon I made Mississippi Mud Cake, a process that involves layers of chocolate cake and marshmallow and frosting. Every kid who wandered through the kitchen was presented with a bowl or spoon to lick.

Without tethers to the real world of responsibility and sacrifice, children would come crashing down like kites with cut strings. Still, it's fun to dole out "good gifts."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Who's Going to Heaven

Well, I don't have a complete list. But every once in a while, Mark and I look at someone and think, "if she's not going, I don't know what the point would be."

The woman in our ward in Logan who prayed every morning to find someone she could help, and who it appears received ample answers to her prayers. She seemed to know exactly what people needed, and she jumped right in to deliver it.

This woman from our ward in Mesa, Arizona, was not flashy or impressive in any typical sense. She was plain, her house was plain, her life was simple. But everything she did was imbued with clarity, focus, and discipleship. It wasn't that she did more than the average woman; it was that she burned off every extraneous thing and left just the righteous essentials.

This friend babysat neighborhood kids to pad her strapped budget. What makes her special is the way she made each child feel like the most wonderful, special thing on earth. They'd walk in her door and practically fall to the floor like puppies, drooling and rolling on their backs from the ecstasy of her affection. And she wasn't kidding. She really did love each one, just as Christ would have done.

For years this woman drove packs of youth to the temple in the wee hours of the morning and brought them home in time to change for school. Now she makes a point of ordering pizzas on mutual night, luring young men in the neighborhood to her home so as to more easily transition them into going to church youth activities with her sons. As a witness to what teenage boys can do to pizzas (not to mention the kitchens they eat them in), I can testify that this is no small sacrifice. Though I doubt this woman sees it as a sacrifice at all.

Mrs. D.
This is a teacher at the kids' school. On its own, teaching second grade for decades just about gets you a ticket through the pearly gates. But this woman attends her students' soccer games, activities, and baptism ceremonies. Can you believe that? She finds out which kids are doing what, and then shows up to say hello and show support. And she works at the temple.

The scriptures say the way to heaven is "strait and narrow" with but one "gate." Though different in background, profession, and lifestyle, these women share a habit of reaching out to others to show love and assistance. Why so often do we let protocol or shyness or whatever stop us from loving and serving others?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Feed Rate versus Chew Rate

Though I claim to live in hot pursuit of a "normal" week of peace, in reality I constantly devise new ways to keep myself just on this edge of collapse.

Helpful as always, my brother Joe helped me clarify my thinking to realize that my biting-off-more-than-I-can-chew syndrome is the result of "the sheer quantity causing the feed rate to exceed the chewable quantity rate" as opposed to "a situation where your mouth is so full that you physically can't move your mandible." So thanks for that insight, bro.

Here's a sneak peek as to what--given the absence of illness, travel, or foster babies--has been keeping me all a-dither this week:

It's my bedroom--with its myriad windows, planes, walls, corners, and doorways--painted "Totally Teal." A shade I pointed out to Mark should make our bedroom an oasis of serenity. Confused, and without a shade of irony, he responded, "What?! What serenity?"

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sandwich Stuff

Jesse announces one morning, "My Dad calls me sparkly orange sandwich stuff."

Any guesses what he's referring to? Here's a clue:
Honey. Sometimes Dad calls him "honey."

Only now, we just call him "sandwich stuff."

Here's some more pb&j themed entertainment. Jesse devised this cute little way to explain how he would like his sandwich served. I let him explain it to me for quite a while before I taught him the handy term "open-face."
{Translation tip: As Jesse pushes the stool to the pantry he says, "I'm strong, Mom...I'm buff...I'm tough."}

Monday, March 8, 2010

Smooth Waters and Mario Kart

Smooth Waters
We loved our weekend getaway with two delightful families. We stayed in a big cabin, outfitted with a spacious basement kid-den. Mark and I took turns outfitting in sexy Star Trek-esque dry suits and wading up the Zions Narrows.

Sloshing through and across water seemed so strange--since it often feels like my life's prime directive is to keep everyone and everything dry. Favorite moment: When, after I almost went down in a surprisingly deep hole, our friend Luana sagely commented, "Smooth waters run deep." If only that described me.

Mario Kart
For Christmas I accidentally bought the kids Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, a wii game that is rated T for Teen. Our family rules put T games on par with PG-13 movies, as in you can watch/play them only after you've turned 13 (and then only with parental clearance, and only when the younger kids aren't around). I intended to return the game, but Roscoe talked me in to letting him have it. He loved it. So much so, that he talked Mark and I into playing it with him one Saturday night. We were a little horrified. In this game, the player is a bad guy. And we ran around hacking wookies and Jedis to death.

The next day, Roscoe reread For the Strength of Youth for a Duty to God requirement. When he read the section on choosing only uplifting media, his conscience was pricked. And the next day, he asked if I would return the Star Wars game to get one all the kids could enjoy. Not being totally foolish, I quickly agreed.

And now, thanks to the awesome and virtuous Roscoe, we have Mario Kart and can all do this:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What we've all been waiting for

Okay, blogger refuses to cooperate. This is supposed to be a picture of daffodils shooting forth. I think I'm going to survive the winter!

So this afternoon we're off for a fantastic weekend in Zion's with two other families. In the meantime, my Lent observance is going well. People's good reputations are safe with me, as I just let any opportunity to bad-mouth float on by. For the rest of the month, I'm trying to expand my embargo to include just general negativity. And on my goal to finish the Book of Mormon by Jesse's birthday--I'm behind, but that's okay. I'm kind of looking forward to the blitz I'm going to have to do soon.

See you Monday!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How to Hang a Picture

This is my ingenious and low-tech solution for hanging things like this:
Things that come with two hanging brackets that are not necessarily level with each other, meaning that even if you hammer your nails along a straight line the picture will end up crooked.

Position the item where you want it and hammer in the first nail.

Hang the item on the first nail. Use the level to adjust the item until it's hanging straight. Draw a dot on the wall with a pencil to indicate where the corner of the frame should hit.

Now here's the ingenious part. Remove the picture from the wall. Get a piece of paper. Write "wall" on one side of it.
Position the paper into the corner of the frame. Make sure it's straight. Make sure you're measuring against the second corner, not the first one you've already hammered the nail for. Poke your pencil through the paper onto the bracket, just where you want your nail to go. Now you have a template.

Put the paper against the wall, with its corner right on the dot you drew earlier. Make sure the side labeled "wall" is facing the wall. Use the level to make sure you're holding the paper straight. Now stick your pencil through the little hole you made in the paper. Make a dot on the wall through the paper.

Now you have a mark on the wall right where the nail should go.

Hammer the nail, hang the picture, and everthing should be tidy and straight.
Now our little yarn family has a safe, happy home in the kitchen.