Monday, July 27, 2009

Doing It All

"I can't have anyone over. My house is way too messy! You must be so organized to do all the things you do with your children! I'd like to but I have lots and lots of things that have to be done first. I don't know how you do it"

Hearing comments like these on a regular basis has prompted me to share my secret.

Tonight I'm having friends over in one hour. I'm celebrating Little Mother's First Day of School. (detailed on here on the dinner blog) I'm decorating. I'm creating. I'm loving sweeties.

We just returned from our camping/backpacking trip. We left it here to attend church and honor God. Here is the view from the hall into the family room.

Briz is preparing to leave on a 6 day 50 mile hike with the boy scouts tomorrow morning at 5 a.m. I'm looking for rubber bands and travel sized toothpaste. This is the view on our kitchen table.

To camp with my family, I left a pile of clothing ready to hang on the laundry room counter. Briz, in a frantic search for sock liners or other such thing, stuffed the load from the dryer on top of my pile.

Life goes and goes, people come and go. Some grow up and move away, others move on, others pass on. The first day of school will not wait for my laundry to be neatly folded and put away. Friends left without time wither like plants without water. People with needs never seem to wait till I find it convenient and I am on top of my ball game. Opportunities come . . . and I can take them . . . or wait until the children are grown and gone . Usually by the time I am on top of my game, the opportunity to celebrate, to love, to bond, to enjoy has passed and I am left with sparkling floors. Hour by hour, minute by minute, I ask myself, "what pressing task matters most?"

Oh yes. I fantasize about going to bed with a pristine house. I wish my entertaining were Marthaesque. I have hundreds of ideas my time will not allow into reality. No, I'm not thrilled about my friends possibly looking in on my laundry. But, if they do, I hope they realize that they and the opportunity of time with them always comes first. People, my sweethearts, others, take priority. My time for memories comes and goes. So fleeting, so fast.

I do the best I can with the piles, shut the laundry room door and answer the door. "Jodi, Christian, kids! I am SO glad to see you." And I am.

Now you know my dirty little secret. I really can't do it all. I really mourn what I cannot and choose not to accomplish. Do you still respect me?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Rock Creek

When temperatures rise over 100 degrees, we head for the hills. Blacksmith Fork Canyon this time. Up at the top, past Hardware Ranch is a little used hike / creek called Rock Creek. A bit up the trail next to a peaceful beaver dam is a small meadow where you can set up camp undisturbed. So undisturbed in fact that all of us took advantage of the more secluded sandy bottomed second dam to wash away the day's grime and sweat. This is the first time I've indulged in a Romanesque female group bath. I wish I could have taken a picture. When the men went in, they whooped and hollered till Deonne and I almost leaped out of our seats to see what crazy things they were doing. CRAZY Sunshine went in the ice cold water as often as we'd let her. Little Mother had her heart's desire in her two baby cousins. She rocked, carried, and snuzzled most of the time. The rest of the time was spent with Josh, who was a treat to be around.

We hiked to the top of the mountain, babies, young ones, middle ones, and adults. Part way through is a mud patch where hundreds of male butterflies gather to drink liquid nutiants such as amino acids and salts. I sent the others ahead and sat in the middle of the brown, orange, yellow, blue, and purple flutterfest. Up further I found thousands of gooseberry bushed and began dreaming of gooseberry fool, tart, pie, crumble, jam, and sauce for pork. Toward the top of the hike, Josh picked a plant and asked, "What's this?" "Smell it." I replied. "Now put it in your mouth. Chew it slowly, then take a drink of water. Isn't that the best water you've ever had?" As we walked side by side down the mountain he sighed. "Why don't they just make water with mint in it?"

At night as the fire crackled and glowed, I sat quietly in my chair and gained a new appreciation for my brother in law Greg. His brilliance, his kindness to his wife, and his kind heart was more visible to me than it has been in the past. Sleep that night was . . . swear word bad. Little Mother has night terrors and acted possessed the entire night. She kicked, hit, screamed and clawed her way out the tent every fifteen minutes. In the morning, she kissed me as I lay exhausted next to her and left the tent quite unaware of the trauma she had caused.

As usual, I crept through the underbrush alone on overgrown game trails that wound up the hill next to the creek. A bird called, then moved a tree ahead. Called then moved again. I sat in a grassy spot, determined to see my shy little friend. Success! A kestrel! He looked soft and puffy, not at all like a small soaring predator. After we enjoyed each others company for a time, I crept off, to keep his nest a secret.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Two girls and I have been with our friends at their cabin. Sweet husbands had to work, so while we missed them, it was fun to have a real girl's retreat. We sat on the deck surrounded by woods and mountains, breathed the smell smell of wildflowers, pine, and sap while reading. We poured over the catalog for Education Week and starred potential classes. We solved the world's problems and felt the joy of like minded individuals. We hiked Fish Lake trail with our troopers.
After the worn out little ones fell asleep, the four oldest girls (myself included) practiced the moon walk, played cards ate popcorn, and giggled.

With no time lines or restrictions, the children flopped in front of the TV for many movies. Copious amounts of sand made it down their fronts and hair. Pleased with themselves, they made up a "new game", Annie I Over. Songs were sung (with their imaginary guitars, tennis rackets), battles were fought, with sticks, treasures were found, and friends bonded for a lifetime.I drank in the moment. No worries, no pressures or commitments. Just a couple of days with people I love and am completely comfortable with. Though we did nothing earth-shatteringly memorable, I realize that this moment in time will be a golden one for all of us . . . for life. I was having admiring feelings about my friend and wishing that my children could have such a wonderful mother. It occurred to me that in all this time we spend together, I give them the next best thing. I recall the profound influence my mother's friend and family had on my life and I am so grateful for friends that give my little ones examples, opportunities, and traits that I can't offer.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

All is Well

The chorister asked us to stand and sing . . . in honor of the pioneers.

I stood and thought of them. . . Many stories of individuals crossed my minds as I sang. I was urging them, comforting them, commiserating with them. How is it I felt they could hear me, though one hundred years in the future?

Come Come ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear,
But with joy, wend your way.
Though hard to you, this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day . . .

Somewhere, my vision changed. Those I was singing to were singing back to me . . . I heard them.

And should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
Tis not so, all is right.
Why should You think to earn a great reward
If you now shun the fight.
Gird up your Loins, fresh courage take,
Your God will never you forsake. . .
And soon You'll have this tale to tell,
All is Well, All is well.

My exhaustion of the past month, my discouragement over my little trials, my self pity for my circumstances washed away with my tears as I struggled through the remainder of the song.

From their perspective they spoke with power to my heart. Some died on the plains or in the windy high dessert of Wyoming. Others continued on without children, parents, or spouses. They continued the fight they were called to climb. Their comforting words, All is well, warmed me like a crazy quilt. I knew that I must continue the fight as well. Continue to get up in the morning and make each day, each moment glorify my God and King. It is said we cannot remember the stories of the Pioneers too often. Today, I agree.

To see how we prepared for Pioneer Day, click here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Play

Exhausted, I crept upstairs for a quick nap. The children were playing at the neighbors and I couldn't keep my eyes open. Deep into blissful sleep, I was awakened by a pounding. "Mom, you've slept for HOURS. It's time to get up. We have a surprise for you."

"Just let me have a moment guys. I need to get up slowly." The bed means everything to me at times like this. They return. "One more minute!" I beg. "I can't get up like this! I need time."

They are back. "Now Mom." They flip open my covers. Each grabs a foot and they haul me off my bed. I am so clever. I grab a decorative pillow from the floor and snuggle up with it. "Not yet!" I wail. "Give me time!" They stomp out in complete indignation.

Reluctantly I open my eyes and crawl down the stairs. My way is barred by handmade chains, balloons and other pieces of decoration.
"This way." My torturers lead me to my table, which is complete with party attire and ambiance. "Now for the show."

I watch three plays in which I am the recipient of a gift. I eat my snacks. I watch as little fingers do the final drum roll where they will present me with my annoyed cat hiding under a garbage can. I clap enthusiastically. I am fully awake now and quite touched.I ask you, Where else could I go for such personalized love?


Neil is from the Philippines. Some people found him homeless and brought him to my father. He moved in with my parents and worked the farm to earn money for his mission. I have never had more tender feelings for my father than while watching him with Neil. He senses his need, not only for stuffed pigs to sleep with, but for human touch. I watch him doctor a small cut on Neil's hand. A nineteen year old is perfectly capable of caring for his own cut but my father understands the power of his touch, and his nurturing to this hungry spirit. In the absence of any other family my father leaves his livelihood to bring him to the MTC along with 2 other young Filipinos he has taken under his wing. We tour the city, the sights, go through the temple . . . At night I find my exhausted father sitting under the stars helping these beautiful young men process their experiences. They share and laugh.

Briz, the girls and I try to help him with his self imposed task for a day or two. I watch the Lord reach out his hand over and over in small ways in the hours we spent together to touch the lives of these young men. I see and feel his love for them in the smallest act. "How strange," I think, "that the God of the universe gets involved with tiny details such as bringing all the Filipino sisters to talk with these boys." Yet he did. "Why then am I in such current crisis and turmoil? Where is the small act for me?" I ask. The answer comes immediately. "First daughter, when I don't act it is because there is always benefit in the experience for you. Second, Can't you see my hand?"

Oh. yes. I feel rather small. The best thing you could have done for me was done by my earthly father. You are there. I am just too wrapped up in my pain to see what you have done to help me regain my strength. Thank you.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Birthday Love

Surprise!!! A good friend always knows just when you need a little extra TLC.
The uninhibited uncontrollable smile is worth every minute for Jodi and is the highlight of my day.
Breakfast in bed, a movie IN THE THEATER, sisters buying you gum and candy, a party, a favorite grandpa, a butterfly cake made of ice cream sandwiches, crushed Oreos, and chocolate mousse, and a choice of dinner.
Happy Birthday Little one.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fish Tales

Filled with fish and fish tales, Briz and Ladybug returned from their adventure. Confidence and happiness radiate from my little one. Two uninterrupted days with her dad and uncle learning new skills in the mountains she loves, gave my little one peace.

They backpacked in to the Joan and Gem lakes high in the Unitas's. Armed with "suffercated" worms, a whistle/emergency kit, and her rod, Ladybug became a proficient fisherman under the tutelage of two of her special men. Her excitement spills out into words.

"I can cast now Mom!" she reported with great pride. Her dad confirms it to be true. Wanting me to understand her weekend but not wanting to talk as usual, she demanded, "Tell mom about the fish with the big head. Now tell her about the fish you dropped. Tell her how you forgot your long pants too after you got mad at me. Mom, you would love this place. The fish tastes like cantaloupe or candy."

"You wouldn't believe our backpacker." Her father reported. "She outdid both of us up the mountain."

I look over. The exhausted backpacker has fallen asleep as we talk. Needs were met by two unselfish men. Peace once again reigns in our home.

Candy Creativity

Briz and Ladybug are on a fishing trip. We at home must find a way to feel that our time is special too. After a movie, we created with edible Candy Play Dough from Chef Tess. Little Mother made Cherry Vanilla, and Sunshine built with Coconut Tropical Punch. The scent was intoxicating, and I kept snitching bits of it to taste. It made our creativity that much funner.

Candy Play Dough
2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 Kool Aid packets
3 T oil

Mix flour, sugar, and Kool Aid packets in bowl. Microwave water and oil till boiling. Mix with flour mixture. Cool and knead 3-4 minutes. Store in the fridge. We added extracts to the mixtures to give extra scent and flavor.

Friday, July 10, 2009


"Mom, What is this? I found it under our porch!" Little Mother's big eyes showed the shock she was feeling. A little while later, "Sweetheart? Do you know where this came from?" My family is shocked by my uncharacteristic behavior. But retribution is an insidious thing. It leads us to acts we feel we must explain, even to an unknown store clerk. I justified, "the unfeeling creatures have eaten my hollyhocks, devoured my petunias, and left unsightly holes in my Swiss Chard and Basil. I am determined to have justice.

Under the full moon, I crept out in my pajamas and laid out a party for my unwelcome guests. I dug small holes throughout the yard to anchor my pie tins. I gagged with the smell as I filled each watering hole with Miller Premium Beer. The party goers were quiet that night, I slept quite well while lured by their weakness and greed, my nemesis es became quite drunk. By morning, some had drown in the beer, others lay so drunk that the early morning birds made a feast of the "sluggish" treats.
I still feel bad as I dispose of them. I understand quite well how one can be lured. I am not attracted by beer, but by a 6,000 square foot short sell home with inlaid marble starbursts inlaid in knotty wood floors, master closets each larger than my children's rooms, a pantry to get lost in, and a creek running through the back yard. Lured by my greed, I could destroy myself by making an unwise choice to posses my lure. We can all be destroyed by different things. I take a healthy dose of gratitude. It cures what ails me.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Jungle Exploration

Tempers rose along with the temperature. Summers together bring out the beasts in all of us. After completing morning chores and each weeding a vegetable bed, we found things to fight about.

We pulled into one of our favorite haunts and noticed that the parking lot was FULL. We couldn't even get a spot in the shade. We slipped over the river into the undeveloped part of the park and like magic, all people and vestiges of civilization vanished and we entered out own world. Tuna fish sandwiches and cherries taste better in the wild and we ate till our bag was empty.

The River ran too high and was channeled into ditches that overflowed. Magical and mysterious with spinning twitter-pated dragonflies and nesting birds, our surroundings were transformed. Four jungle explorers crept through the Amazon, watching for alligators.

When the occasional human was sighted, we hid in the undergrowth making no sound till all was safe once again.

Our scout climbed trees to find our way out of the jungle, and two designated chefs rolled and patted elaborate cakes and delicacies for us to try.

AAAAHHHH! I felt something slide by my foot. Immediately Ladybug KNEW something large bit her leg. "Maybe it is an underwater eel that lives in small meadow puddles."
Our mandate included a rescue mission so we saved hundreds of roly polys huddled around microscopic babies and 11 fat earthworms. Sadly some of our rescues could not be revived so we buried them with pomp and circumstance. The roly poly mothers were relocated to higher ground that our explorers found to be just right.

Now wet and filthy, I lay my team out on the picnic table to dry. We loose ourselves in Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. "More! More!" they cry.

Three hours later, we leave the park, animals mostly unseen. The cool water on our toes must have cooled our tempers because we giggle all the way home.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Do you ever feel like your responsibilities keep you from creating, from creativity? Do you ever feel blocked? I sometimes feel guilt that taking time away from my number one most important job would be selfish. I drank in this talk from a man that really knows women. I gave myself permission to create, to change my surroundings. My it feels good to experiment, to let loose to create beauty where none existed before.

My laminate counter tops are ugly. I cannot afford granite so I jumped when I read the hundreds of online accounts that detail how to paint laminate counter tops. I started with the worst two, one green and one pink, and experimented with different techniques. Next I'll move to the laundry room, the main floor bath, and finally, the BIG KAHUNA, the kitchen. I discovered many things that don't work so well, but I am not discouraged, they look better than they did and I HAD FUN creating. So it's not perfect. But it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.

Kid's Bath Before
Kid's Bath After with rock surface
Basement BeforeBasement After with marble type finish

God creates, granted, he's beyond painting laminate. He's really good at it. I want to be like him. Tomorrow I'm going to create with my little ones. We are going to continue our team theme from the dinner blog. How can you make the world a bit more beautiful today? Start by creating a smile on the next person you see.