day 134: the weather outside is frightful, but...

It is so fascinating, the way it gets just a little warmer after a snowstorm.  Almost like the air is tired and will stop blowing and freezing for a bit while it rests from sending down the white stuff. 

I hope my suffering friend can remember this while his storm is finishing up its latest outburst.  It will feel warmer soon.  The storm will miraculously offer some insulation once it stops coming down, and you will feel blanketed, ironically, by some of the remnants.  They will help you to determine who you are and what you believe. 

And G and I are standing by with snow shovels.

day 133: evidence

Yup.  The older boys are back home.


day 132: vocal vacay

Over the Christmas break I am taking a hiatus from my usual Musical Monday post in order to rejuice my ideas and recover from my busy December.  I will be back to singing on Monday January 11 with some non-Christmas tunes.  Remember I am always up for requests (and collaborating with local blog friends).

Today it seemed like I spent the entire day getting paper work and leg work done for my pre-missionary son.  In and out of the car.  Back and forth with passport and visa applications.  All of the busy work kind of stuff.  We are in that limbo period where #1 is in transition as he readjusts and preps for BYU.  #2 is in the limbo period before leaving for Mexico, where it's hard to find such a short-term job and he has one foot out the door.  The other boys are enjoying the break and seem to be enjoying hanging out together, which is always a nice thing. 

Geo and I have been spending lots of time playing games and sleeping a little longer than usual in the mornings.  It's been just what the doctor ordered, and I am predicting a hard time getting back to the rigorous routine come next Monday.  But life is good and the cycles come and go in order to help us count our blessings.

day 131: middle eastern me

I put a new profile pic up of me wrapped in a scarf my son bought me in Africa (see it to the right there?).  With Provo Canyon in the banner I think it looks like I am an Afghani and this blog is all about my life in the rough mountains of that elusive middle eastern country.

In actuality, I am a transplanted Mormon and this blog is all about my life in the rough mountains of the western state of Utah.

But the picture is staying because I like the scarf.

day 130: eradicating disease, going 3D, and musing


Our good friends came over to play games tonight. We got the board game PANDEMIC for Christmas and we spent hours trying to cure the entire planet of four deadly diseases.  Hey, it's tough to heal everyone in the world!  We laughed and worked together.  We suffered through multiple epidemics and outbreaks until we finally found success in our scientific endeavors.  Great game that was a real challenge.  I highly recommend it.

Last night we went to see AVATAR on the IMAX screen in 3D.  I thoroughly enjoyed this one.  The visuals were unreal, and the CGI characters beame so real to me that in only a few minutes I found myself thinking of them as actors with make-up on.  Really really beautiful to look at.  Some of the characters were cliche, but I enjoyed the plot and thought it was masterfully done.

My two sons have introduced me to the band MUSE over the break, and I must admit that I think they are extremely talented.  Great vocals by the lead, and thoughtful lyrics that are carried off so well.  These guys have been touted as one of the best live bands around right now.  Yeah, I am 45, but good, well-executed music is fulfilling across any genre.  I am thinking of getting theier newest CD off of iTunes.

Just some random discoveries over the past few days.  Hope your hoidays are also going well.

day 129: the wall

Every year since we have been in this house (10 now) my kids have built a wall at the bottom of the stairs on Christmas eve. Their bedrooms are downstairs. They use pillows, blankets, couch cushions. There have even been years when they pulled the mattresses off their beds and used them to fortify the wall. On those nights they slept in sleeping bags, side by side, acting like sentinels guarding the gate. But the thing is, they were guarding it against themselves, keeping themselves away from the temptation of sneaking upstairs prematurely.

Sometimes walls can be good, even critical things, when we know ourselves well enough to pick the right materials. We also need to know when we are allowed to kick them down and run through them with enthusiasm and trust, like all four of my blessings did this morning once we stood at the top and welcomed them.

day 128: wet on my face

I was out doing some last-minute Christmas shopping this morning and found myself so choked up I nearly had to pull over.  Everyone in the family home for Christmas.  Everyone healthy.  A warm home.  Great friends.  A husband who loves me.  Faith that my Heavenly Father loves me enough to send his Son.  For me.

After I left the first store I threw a bag in the back of my car and climbed into the driver's seat to head to my last stop.  In the short 5-minute drive between stores it happened again.  A lump in my throat the size of an ornament on the tree as I silently contemplated my life.  I am humbled, humbled and humbled again as I count my blessings.

day 127: embracing rituals

Dinner at 530

More homemade rolls than there are people in Wyoming

Grandkids acting out the nativity

Family recital

Grandpa handing out candy canes to each family member (this includes a quick sit on Grandpa's lap for a photo taken by Grandma)

Singing with Grandma at the piano and either me or my niece Aisha leading (we alternate years)

Grandkids in a circle to do their gift exchange.


Downstairs for some pretty competitive Musical Chairs (kids and then grownups) (grab a gift from the big bag when you get out!)

Round-the-world ping pong (grab another gift when you get out)

Clean up, dishes, put furniture where it belongs

Hug everyone

Drive home

Go to bed happy that you love your extended family, and they love you.

day 126: forever

The roads were slick.  I put the car in 4WD, turned on some nice music and drove myself to Draper, where I would meet Geo, and my two oldest children.  Up a mountain side, toward that place that changes lives.

One more son.  One more son.

Tonight we took my second son to the temple in preparation for the two years he will spend as a missionary in Mexico.  I felt the Lord smiling down on me as I saw my husband and our boys (they will always be my boys) there together, arms around each other.

I am blessed.  I am blessed.

Musical Monday: Baby, It's Cold Outside

My goody-goody husband and his not-so-good wife are happy to present this tempting little tune.  Enjoy!

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Kazzy's voice has been silenced by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act(see the details here). Sorry you can't listen to her sing directly. But send her a message and she'll try to work something out.

day 124: she is

My mom turned 70 today.  We were joking yesterday about avoiding mirrors, especially those of the full-length variety, going gray, and getting dressed in the dark.  She's a little hot tamale, my mom.  I just wanted to list a few things I appreciate about her.

* she is fiercely loyal to her family
* she likes to take care of people
* she trusts me
* she creates a homey atmosphere wherever she is (even when she is a guest at my place)
* she is a fun-loving grandmother
* she always protected us when we were all kids
* she has great taste
* she is a great cook
* she thinks I have a terrific husband (and she is right)
* she loves my dad
* she enjoys laughing
* she has a huge heart in a little body

I am grateful for my mom, for her example of strength and devotion to our family.  What a lady.

day 123: foody feelings

Today there will be a 9x13 of manicotti that will be devoured after church.  Some broccoli and bread on the side.  It is so easy to make.

1 lb ricotta cheese
8 oz shredded mozzerella
box of manicotti shells
2 cans of spaghetti sauce (easiest, but use something homemade if you do things like that)

Mix the cheeses together in a bowl until creamy and smooth.  Using a butter knife, stuff the uncooked shells with the cheese mixture.

All shells will fit side by side in a 9x13 pan.  Generously pour both cans of sauce over the top and cover with foil.

Bake for 45 minutes in 375 degree oven.


day 122: good enough

In my behavioral analysis class we talked about the principle of "good enough" as it applies to expectations during a learning curve.  For example, a student has been asked to sit at his desk for 15 minutes every time he is in his science class, instead of wandering the room, getting up to get a drink, etc.  Each day of the week he is able to sit between 13 and 14 minutes.  Am I, as a teacher, going to white knuckle it until he reaches the 15 minute goal perfectly, even if I have seen major improvement?  Probably not.  So easy to talk about in an assignment, theoretically.  But in real life?  Away from the lab?

For myself, and for my children especially, I sometimes struggle with the learning curve idea.

They have lived in this house for years now.  
They should know how things are done here.  
The expectations.  
The system. 
MY responses.

There are some black and whites in life that I see, in my mind's eye, running along a straight continuum.  But that dreaded learning curve is filled with color that varies from deep intense shades to pastels that sometimes are hard to see.

Finding the soft spot where my job as a mother includes BOTH holding on AND letting go.  How do I hold my arms out just far enough to be helpful, but not so far that the curve doesn't get a chance to bend and form a tall arch? 

In this whole process, when do I accept good enough from myself?

day 121: by voice

I'm sitting here in my living room by myself in the morning and realizing how much I like to wake up to Christmas lights on the tree and on the front porch and I find that I keep the lights on all day so that there is no chance of forgetting to plug them in. I don't like waking up to complete darkness in the Winter. Lights are hopeful.

I used a dictation program to make this post and this was done all by voice command. How cool is that?

Sent from my iPhone

day 120: to your corner

I officially finished my first semester of my special ed licensure program at BYU yesterday. Finals done. Notebooks tucked away. It has been fun to be a student again.

Here are a few things I have discovered about myself:

I have a decent memory

I like meeting new people

I enjoy my profession on a pretty deep level

day 119: i. can't. hear. you!

google image
When do you ask your special ed. class to stop yelling the lyrics during singing time?  Never!  You roll with it and smile as their faces are turning red and the veins are popping out of their necks.  Because they are participating and they are happy.  And so are you.

Musical Monday: Blue Christmas

And don't think I didn't try a few impersonations of the man himself on my first few takes!  Lip curl and all.

Blue Christmas

Kazzy's voice has been silenced by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act(see the details here). Sorry you can't listen to her sing directly. But send her a message and she'll try to work something out.

day 117: pay day

There are days when it is hard to imagine feeling any better about your life.  The birth of a healthy baby.  Landing the job you have always wanted.  Today was a day like that for me.  A day where I got to hear my oldest son speak about things of God that mattered to him, and how people he met in Africa, and experiences he had there helped to shape his testimony of the gospel of Christ. 

Here are some photos from the day as we celebrated, with a couple of other ones thrown in.

day 116: not a creature was stirring

As I lie here in my cozy bed, blogging from my handy-dandy iPhone, I feel content and secure knowing all 4 of my sons are nestled all snug in their beds. Right downstairs in our house. It's been a long time, and will be short-lived as things will get changed up again very soon. The changes will be right and important, but tonight I lie here with a smile on my face. We are 6 again.

day 115: house swap

I want to go somewhere. I am not really sure where, but I would like a little getaway. Wouldn't it be fun to do a blog house swap?

Of all the blog friends you know, which one lives in a place you would like to swap with?

day 114: two-way mirror

This morning I observed a reading recovery lesson taught to a first-grader at an elementary school in my district.  I watched through a two-way mirror as the teacher and student sat facing me only a few feet away, unable to see me looking right at them.

It was fascinating to see the little girl looking directly into my face, without knowing I was there.  She made silly faces at herself in the mirror and struck a little pose here and there.  I giggled as I watched her, enjoying her ease as she enjoyed her own reflection.  It was an almost spooky experience, but at the same it was enlightening.

What would someone think about me if they watched me from behind my mirror as I brushed my teeth or put on make up?  Would He see me comfortable with my own face?  Would I come across as insecure?  I look at myself, first thing in the morning especially, and think, "Where am I?  Who replaced my face in the middle of the night?"  In general I am fine with me.  Often when I lean in close to look into my own eyes I see myself.  Deep in there.  And I say, "There you are.  You are pretty cool."

day 113: whole again

At this moment my life feels very complete. 

day 112: duck and cover

Do you ever feel a wee bit victimized when someone drops a bombshell on you and asks for your support? Even when there is genuine love there?

Musical Monday: Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring

day 110: snickering and singing

I have snickerdoodles in the oven for a reception I am attending tonight for a chorus I have been singing in for 12 years.  We gather from Oct to Dec and then put on a concert that always includes Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols, along with ten or so other new pieces.  It is always a mad rush to get it learned well enough to perform, but we somehow manage to pull it off.

There goes the timer.

Come back tomorrow for my amateur attempt at Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring on my Musical Monday post.

day 109: wishes

One little girl wants a Barbie.  Another wants a fairy.  A third one wants a dragon.  Pretty cool, I thought.

One boy wants a transformer.  Another a remote control jeep.  A third one wants a pink bike.  Okay...

Dontcha just love the tolerance of little kiddos? 

They have no idea that they are in a magical time when most 5 year-olds don't judge each other over things they wish for.  It is impossible to recollect that kind of innocence. I do remember my youngest walking around in my high heels a lot when he was about that age, but now it is starting to be about image, and the thin little veil has been lifted and replaced by commercials. 

Can innocence be regained, really?

day 108: coming

Today boys 3 and 4 helped me make a few posters for our little trip to the airport on Wednesday.  How about this one?

KENYA believe it has been 2 years?

day 107: leah and rachel

I was reading in the Old Testament the other morning about the story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel.  Of course, I already knew the story, but as I pack in life experience and read the same scriptures over again they seem different.

Jacob works for 7 years for Rachel, only to be told at the end that it would be against the culture to have the younger daughter marry first.  So after marrying Leah he works an additional slew of years for the privilege of having Rachel, finally, as his wife.  There are so many things to think about in reading this story, like the ages of the people, the circumstances in the family, etc.  But I was taken, reading it this time, by the persistence and love of Jacob.  So I asked my husband if he would work 14 years to marry me.

Geo's answer:  No, I would steal you away in the night.

What a romantic... sigh

day 106: nodding off

I remember when I was a freshman in college and I could (and often did) stay up until the wee hours studying or talking.  It was fun and a kind of initiation into that new stage of my life.  I bounced back quickly and became used to the thin fog I often lived with.  Yeah, not any more.

During this same week where I find my self yawning all through my assessments class, I find out my own freshman son has been going over to the library at 2 am (open late until Christmas break) with his roommates to dance to the music they play as they are shipping people out and closing the doors.

Just a funny difference between these 2 BYU students in the family.  OK, time to sleep.  I'll dance tomorrow...

day 105: starstruck

NieNie hugged me tonight and said she was looking at me because she thought I had a cute haircut.

I was a little giddy, I must confess.

Musical Monday: Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming

My friend Cherranne asked me awhile back to do this song as part of the Christmas cycle for Musical Monday.  It has special meaning to me because it was an a cappella piece that I did in high school when I was just catching on to singing in a small group.

I am an easy mark for these old pieces that have awesome harmonies and poetic lyrics.  I hope you like it.

Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming

day 103: african anticipation

I heard about Kenya today as a member in our ward spent the final hour of church talking about his experiences recently on a humanitarian medical expedition there.  My heart hurt a little, but it is allowed to hurt now since Elder B will be home in just ten short days.  I am glad I was spared from sad feelings for 23 3/4 months.  I feel very blessed.

day 102: sharp ice

Tonight I hung lights around the front porch.  White, red. Some winding around posts, and others coming down from the top in small crooked white lines meant to resemble icesicles. 

I have had some icesicles in my life.  They have also felt jagged and white cold.  And I have strung them up and looked at them as if I were a bystander on the front sidewalk looking at a lit up house.  They have, not in a good way, lit my way.  And I have held these icesicles in my hand and somehow they have not melted. 

But today the red lights win.  Today the warm red has worked its wonderful Christmas magic and thawed out my hands.  My hands that were getting tired of holding sharp daggers.  And as the ice melted I opened my hands to find them softer and more relaxed.  Ready to do other things as I released my grip.

day 168: remade

I am a little hooked on make-over shows. Maybe it's because it feels like virtual shopping for me. Or because it is like a virtual trip to a salon. I just get a kick out of seeing someone light up when she looks in the mirror. What starts as a little defiance and stubbornness about cutting her 3-foot long hasn't-been-cut-since-4th-grade mane, turns into a little vogue-ing and hair flipping.

Then as I am brushing my teeth before bed I look in the mirror and call to my husband, Hey Hon, will you call Clinton and Stacey and turn me in?"

day 101: kidless

It was nice to have our boys all sleep over at their cousin's place last night so that Geo and I could have some time together. With our completely hectic lives it often feels like we need to get reacquainted on a regular basis. Not that that is a horrible thing.

I am not sure what got into me this morning, but I got up around 7:20 and started to really scrub the kitchen. I think with my oldest son returning from Africa after two years, and the holidays coming, I am feeling that old familiar nesting feeling coming on. It feels good to do something tangible and obvious after all of my theoretical undertakings this semester.

After spending the afternoon getting some shopping done, G and I stopped for a soda and then headed to SLC to pick up the guys. Pizza on the way home, and now some quiet time with my shoes off and my computer on my lap. The tree and the bazillion nutcrackers come out tomorrow.

Fa la la la la la la la la. :)

day one-hundred: lip-licking and lip-syncing

A terrific day at the in-laws today with cousins and food and great conversation.  It was nice to get out and away from the books and to just be with people that I like a lot.  Man, I love the holidays.  And this 6-week stretch from Thanksgiving to New Years is like magic as we get the occasion to count our blessings, remember the Savior and look toward a fresh beginning.  The three go together so well, don't you think?

My youngest and I were watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade this morning and I commented on the lip-syncing of all of the musical numbers that were highlighted.  #4 said they were still singing, we just were hearing the recorded version, so what's the difference?  He was right.  We could see their strained neck muscles and the effort on their faces.  What WAS the difference?  It made me think about all of the times that the real me is somewhere in there, but maybe the person that has actually shown up is the one that has been prerecorded with all of the mistakes edited out and the shiny best on display.  Maybe we all lip-sync most of the time.  And maybe that is just fine.

day ninety-nine: public promises

it was important for me to make a promise to a room full of women
to give me a little accountability

it was important to show a weakness
to admit to soft spots

so now there is a deadline to meet
to meet myself somewhere in the middle

and i will try and mend things
like i promised

and those friends will be behind me
and i will return and report

day ninety- eight: four hours in a booth

I met up with three of my friends from my old BYU days today. I ate chipotle chicken penne and sourdough bread and talked and laughed and remembered. It was like yesterday with lots of new things (read: husbands and kids) thrown into the mix.

I am such a sucker for nostalgia. Really. An easy mark.

Musical Monday: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

This has always been a favorite Christmas piece of mine because of its simplicity and cathedral-like vibe.  It is a prayer for the Messiah to come and rescue His people from captivity of body and soul.  I hope you think about the Savior while you enjoy this week's offering.

 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
The guitar is from a karaoke track by Rosalie Glemann.
I use Audacity for sound mixing, and a Blue brand Snowball mic.

day nintey-six: i seeee you

My sister, who is one of my besties, has finally joined the 21st century and gotten converted to video chatting.  This is web 2.0 in its glory, people, and she is into it.  Finally.  I use Google chat, which is so easy. 

How about a monthly video blog post?  Anyone interested in giving that a test drive?  A short, one-minute video post where you talk about your day/ week/ month?  Who is willing to get out from hiding behind the keyboard?

day ninety-five: a no-no

Ancient Burton proverb:

Men should not buy their wives clothes for Christmas unless said wives pick the clothes out.

day ninety-four: spear and magic helmet

When our kids were all little we (OK, Geo and I) always cracked up over Bugs Bunny classics.  The Barber of Seville was a favorite, along with the parody of The Flight of The Valkyries. 

Kill the wabbit!  Kill the wabbit!  Kill the wabbit! Kill the wabbit!

We accidentally ran across it online tonight and got almost teary with nostalgia as we watched it.  Bugs dressed as a woman to distract Elmer from using his spear and magic helmet.  Elmer falling in love with Bugs as the Valkyrie on his (her) white horse.  Good, classic stuff.  Good, classic stuff the six of us used to laugh at together. 

Maybe we will watch it over Christmas.....

day ninety-three: friends who knew me when

Last week I spoke to my roommate from back in the day.  Her oldest son is getting married in Salt Lake next month and we spent an hour chatting it up about letting kids go, the changing role of being a mother, and trying to find our way once there are fewer demands at home.  It was good to talk to her, both because she is a sweetie and because she knew me when.

On Saturday my second roomie will be in town introducing her daughter to BYU, and we will get together for lunch.  We are going to laugh our heads off and eat wraps and reminisce.  She is important to me.  And she knew me when.

Next week my third roommate will be in Utah to visit her in-laws for Thanksgiving and we are getting together on Tuesday for lunch (yeah, lots of lunches).  She is a Texan now and has a houseful of blond daughters, which of course is foreign to me.  But we are from the same hometown in Virginia and have a good connection.  And she knew me when.

By "when" I mean the period between living in some bad apartments to each of our wedding days, as we split off from each other one my one.  By "when" I mean late late late nights talking.  "When" means the day my fiance decided the spark was gone and my roommates later helped me to hold a ceremonial bonfire on the front steps where we incinerated most of the memorabilia I had saved for 5 years.

I love those ladies.

day ninety-two: hoorah for israel!

I was just about ready to leave work this afternoon when each of my younger boys called to say Adam's mission call had arrived. "I am being very careful with it and putting it right on the table, Mom," said boy #4.

We ended up with 35 people over, all dropping their guesses into the silver bowl, which sat next to the apple pie and cheese and crackers.

Mexico Monterrey East mission. He leaves for the MTC February 24. We are thrilled he will get to speak Spanish, after taking it for four years in high school.

I am ready to pass out. I love my son. I love the church. Hoorah for Israel!

day ninety-one: i wanna eat him up

I know this cute little photo flashes here and there on my flickr ribbon to the right, but I thought it deserved a small little post all to its self. 

This is my sweet husband at three years old.  I have caught myself numerous times over the past week looking at this shot when I have had a free second, which is easy since I have it bookmarked on my iPhone (have I mentioned I am completely enamored with it... in this case I mean my iPhone... even though I am enamored with the boy/man too).

It gives me perspective to look at this cutie patootie and to remember that he wasn't always someone who was so hard on himself.  There were many years when he just played and had fun and wore bow ties. 

We all start somewhere innocent.

Musical Monday: Breath of Heaven

This one is for my compadre, Miss Connie. 

I love this song, and the way it makes the listener put herself in Mary's place.  At least just a little bit. 

Christmas is coming... enjoy.

Breath of Heaven

day eighty-nine: random memories

random memory #1
When I was a little girl I loved to sit on the floor of my BFF's walk-in closet and play with Barbies, or with the Sunshine Family.  A blond mom, a brunette dad, a couple of kids (and maybe a dog... I can't remember).  The shelves acted as floors to the homes and my friend and I sat back-to-back for hours playing happy family.  There were the typical wardrobe changes every five minutes, the cool cars each family would drive, and the constant rearranging of the plastic furniture.  It was glorious.

random memory #2
My black and white checked polyester pants with the permanent creases down the legs.  They also had cuffs and were bell-bottoms.  Man, those were cool.

random memory #3
Walking to 7-11 in third grade with Kathy Green and hearing her swear like a sailor.  I always felt so gross once I got home, but I was wimpy then and never said anything to her about it.

random memory #4
Helping my friend Karen clean her house and listening to Cheap Trick turned up so loud that we had to yell to talk to each other.

Why are there so many little memories like that that stick to the mind and heart like glue?  And so many things I should remember, but can't.  It is so random what we hold onto. 

day eighty-eight: welcome to the couch

Saturdays used to be a great day, but I don't like them so much anymore.  They are either filled with tons of homework or housework or home repairs or, ironically, none of these things.  The lack of a routine can be hard once you have lived the life of someone who is totally addicted to the rigidity of a strict schedule all week.

The mind can play tricks on us and we fill any free time we find on a Saturday with too much hashing things out.  Too much analyzing of our lives.  Too much talking things through.  Even though I am a girl I must admit that I am not big on these skills.  I prefer to just be busy and to take care of the things at hand.  I guess I don't dream big or have huge needs.  I can be happy with my little life the way it is.  It seems to work for me.

Add all of the putting-our-lives-under-a-microscope healthy reevaluating together and you get a tired lady at the end of the day.  But I always look forward to Sundays and the chance to think about bigger things.  The two days seem to really cancel each other out.

day eighty-seven: i have become the old person

Tonight we went out to dinner with three other couples, two of whom are moving within the next month.  We wanted to have a fun night out before they left, so we piled in and rode to a neighboring town together for some steaks, some sweet potatoes, and some salad.

We have now been in our neighborhood for 15 years.  Where has the time gone?  I can remember like yesterday being the new family on the street, and now my husband and I we are the old ones (all three of the other couples are in their 30s) who look at the younger incoming (and outgoing) couples and say,  Look at that cute little family.  Or, They look like they are 15!  Scary.

Somebody pass the Polident and Bengay.

day eighty-six: talking out in class

Today when I reminded T that since he was the helper he got to hand out towels to all of his friends after washing for snack, he said I already know that, Miss Karen, in a kind of "duh" way.  I laughed.  In my class it is not uncommon to have a kid that is strong-willed.  We also have kids that are weak-willed.  To be honest, the stronger ones are usually easier to move along and to see progress in.  At least I know there is some gumption in their sweet little bodies and I just need to figure out a way to have it propel them forward.

Working with special needs kids reminds me everyday that I have my own disabilities.  I have my stubbornness. I have my disappointments.  I have lots of things.  And sometimes I have my own moments of saying I already know that.  Even when I don't.

day eighty-five: social eating

from google images

I am a social person.  I kind of thrive on interaction, and everything that comes with it.  And sometimes what comes with it is food.  Whenever we have people over for dinner I always make too much food, and while we are all sitting around the table talking after the meal I substitute that glass of wine or cup of coffee with nibbling.  I put more salad on my plate, or butter just one more piece of french bread, even though I am not hungry. It goes together for me- good conversation and food.

Tonight we went to a wedding reception, right after dinner with the kids, and I found myself doing it again.  We had just had dinner before going to Mapleton to attend the reception, but I ran into many many old friends and immediately wandered to the buffet table while we talked and picked up some chicken salad and a piece of pumpkin pie.  We sat around the table and visited and ate.  And now I am going to bed full, not just from food but from a lovely evening with old friends.  burp.  Excuse me.

day eighty-four: them, me, them

Lately, I find I am either in a state of thinking 100% about everyone else, or 100% percent about my own "things".  I don't like the extremes, but that's what I seem to be facing lately, and I am trying to deal with it.

I sit at my desk at work while my kiddos are in PE or at the library and my mind goes straight to my two older boys as I think about their life changes they are facing.  One of them will be coming home and needing a job- to pay his own way, to hit the ground running.  The other one will be leaving, to... somewhere.  He will be so good at meeting people and following rules and doing what he is asked to do.  And mostly, at sharing his huge heart that somehow he fits into his scrawny, freckly body.  I love those guys.

#3 is healing up really well, and is on his way to getting his 13 yr-old life back to where he wants it to be.  It's all good there.  And last night my husband and I both wondered out loud if our youngest is feeling like he is getting enough attention and nurturing.  We are doing our best to spread the love around, but you know how it is. Sometimes the weight needs to be shifted to one side. 

And just when I put all the kid things to rest my mind does a 180 and I start to think about my own progress, or maybe lack of it.  I am not a self-loather, seriously.  I just feel a little bit tired of myself.  What I need is to do some recreational reading and get inside someone else's head.  It's getting crowded in here. 

Musical Monday: A Merry Little Christmas

Faithful friends who are dear to us, gather near to us...

Merry Little Christmas

day eighty-two: the 80's rocked my world

I am now on day 82 of consecutive blog posts, and being that 1982 was the year I graduated from high school I thought it would be fitting that I sing praises to this greatest of great decades. 

It would take me multiple posts to just get started on the great music, but I will say that I was a total Journey junkie, and that I attended 3 concerts in DC during the early 80s.  Man, I loved those guys...

Here are the reasons I look back on the 80s with love in my heart (a lot of firsts):

1981 Homecoming court (no, I didn't win)
1982 Graduated from high school and led my choir at the ceremonies
1983 Joined the LDS church
1984 Transferred to BYU
1986 Met Geo
1987 Got engaged
1987 Went through the temple for the first time
1987 Married Geo
1987 Graduated from BYU
1987 Got my first teaching job (fifth grade)
1988 Gave birth to my first baby boy
1989 Moved to LA for Geo to attend grad school at USC

day eighty-one: how goofing off saves our marriage

day eighty: curry and conversation

I fell asleep on the couch from about 3:45 until 4:30 this afternoon in an effort to regenerate before cleaning and making dinner for me, Geo, and four friends.  I woke up to HGTV and the sound of my kids out front in the yard visiting with some of their friends, and then I got busy vacuuming and dusting and unloading the dishwasher, knowing it would be filled to the brim twice more before the night was over.

Geo entertained the gang while I finished up in the kitchen.  They talked about new media, rhetoric, writing, as I made naan, broccoli, rice, sliced tomatoes, and curry chicken.  I thought I would share the easy- peasy chicken secret with you.  Please excuse the loose measurements, but I only cook with a recipe when it is something that will be baked  :)


  • cook boneless, skinless chicken breasts in crockpot
  • dice into bite-sized pieces
  •  in pan, heat a few tablespoons of oil, a big pinch of coriander, 6-8 cardamon pods, and a few teaspoons of curry powder
  • add diced chicken and cook over medium high heat
  • after chicken is coated with spices turn heat to low and add a large container of vanilla yogurt
  • warm through and serve alongside rice

day seventy-nine: fair is fair

Seek first to understand,then to be understood.

I have been spoiled by a good husband.  From our very first date he has been a listener, and we have been talking and listening to each other for 23 years now.

I love meeting people and caring about them, and I actually think I am decent at it.  However, I have made a recent rule of looking for and keeping in contact with friends that live by the rule at the top of this page. 

If it's all about them, no good.  If it's all about me, no good.  But a little back and forth, that works.

Just sayin'. 

ps  I miss my sister.  :)

day seventy-eight: butch payne and the school bus kid

I liked rules when I was a kid.  Now, that doesn't mean I was inflexible or judgmental, but some nice, well-placed rules were comforting.  I guess I am still that way. And once this almost got me into a humiliating situation, until I was saved.

Mr. Ashby, the hey-walk-all-over-me-kids bus driver, was driving the bus down Smithfield Road in my old neighborhood one afternoon.  I had seen Butch Payne and another boy throwing things out the window, and being only a few seats from the front decided to make my move to Mr. Ashby to report the offense.  After turning around to get back to my seat Butch started forward down the aisle calling me a goody-goody and, I am sure, other things which were not quite so innocent.  All of a sudden he was grabbed from behind by a much shorter boy who laid him flat on the floor of the aisle and proceeded to punch him a few times in the face.

Now, I don't promote violence, usually, but Butch was gunning for me, and I am not sure that decking a girl was out of the question.  So to this day I am grateful to the young man who stood up for me.  My brother Robert. 

There haven't been many occasions where this has been necessary over the years, but it is nice to know that as a family we don't let people come down the aisle after us.  We are there for each other.  Isn't that what it's all about?

day seventy-seven: the dairy group

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with my whimpy problems. And then I remember that halfway across the world in Kenya there is a handsome young man that sometimes has had to choke down curdled milk. 
I'm good, thanks.

Musical Monday: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

I took this cool instrumental by Eric Essix and just used a 2-minute clip to do a short riff on this piece.  It has a great vibe and I didn't want to mess with it too much.  Fun stuff!

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

day seventy-five: forgiveness

I just walked home from church, on this beautiful Fall day, with nothing but the lesson I just heard on my mind.  Sister Bate rocks the party in Relief Society, today being absolutely no exception.  She taught us about forgiveness, and the power it holds in our lives.  We talked about the Savior's example, about The Law of Forgiveness, about letting things go and letting the Lord handle it.  It was bonding and powerful and full of the Spirit, and I hope to never be the same.  Man.

day seventy-four: slow and steady

I watch my son now trying to stand.  He leans on his crutches like they are his friends and enemies all at the same time.  He fills the hallway as he makes his way from the living room to his makeshift bedroom which has been temporarily transplanted to the den across the hall from me and Geo.  Labored breathing and a stubborn, dragging right leg that is resisting work. 

Today we went out for a couple of hours.  A nice sunny drive in the car to let some living air brush against him.  Two weeks indoors can almost turn someone stale, and even a little mad. 

Tomorrow a bath and church.  A little nourishment for the patient, to help him grow again.  My heart hurts for him, but the healing is coming along, and my boy is starting to percolate again. 

day seventy-three: grannify

I put this sweater on when I was working alone in my classroom today. It usually hangs in a closet there.  Without the dozen little kiddos heating up the place it was quite chilly.  Cold, rainy, dark.  I had my leather jacket, but it gets heavy and hard to move around in.
I accidentally wore it home, in my post-work trance.
When my boys saw me they said I looked like a grandma.  So true, guys. 
Now will someone please get me some herbal tea and a nice piece of toast?

day seventy-two: doppelganger

 photo by Luann Hawker at

With boy #3 out of commission due to his broken pelvis and foot, boy #4 borrowed some of his hospital supplies for Halloween.  Gruesome of us, dontcha think?  Pretty handsome patient though, if I do say so myself.

day seventy-one: bypass

11:24 pm and I sit in the dark on the couch as my house sleeps.  A day of wheelchairs, warm soapy water, Halloween costumes, cupcakes, parades, studying, and now unwinding.

Generous family members who visited and gave.  And gave again.  I am thankful.  I am tired.  I am unworthy.

Tomorrow I meet with parents of my little kiddos, to tell them happy things about progress and newly-made friends.  Letters, numbers, colors, shapes.  Like 3 hours of candy.

And in the middle of it all I think of my own children.  How does God do that?  Dripping down into the cracks of an insane day are thoughts of brown eyes, crutches, red hair and Africa.  When I think I can't stuff one more thing into my head He allows feelings to seep into my heart instead. 

day seventy: clarity

Sometimes I sit and look at you and we are talking and it hits me
Like I have been dunked in warm water and am now dripping dry

It is true
What you are saying and what you are being and what you are meaning

And there is this invisible tunnel from my beating chest to yours
Where interpretations happen in whispers and nobody else hears

I open up right at the top
And understanding pours in

And clear smooth clarity runs down
Until it reaches the tips of my toes.

Musical Monday: We Three Kings

I sorted through all of my options for Musical Monday today based on the requests left by the first and last commenters last Monday, and I decided this would be a fun one to do.  Haven't we all been intrigued by these kings that came looking for their own king?  I find it one of the magical parts of the Christmas story.  

Remember to be the first or last commenter if you would like to have your request considered for next week.

We Three Kings

day sixty-eight: I will not come down

Sometimes I find that I look for a reason behind each thing I do, and granted, some things better have a reason or I am not doing them (think meetings, housework).  I like reasons.  I really do.  I was reminded today in a lesson at church that we have a purpose in what we are doing in our homes, and during the entire lesson I had a scripture running through my head.  Be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation for a great work.  And out of small things proceedeth that which is great. 

As a wife and mom primarily (and everything else secondarily), I know this principle is beyond true, even though it sometimes takes years to get that testimony.  As my children have become adults the payoffs have started happening, in the way I see them embrace kindness and service as a way of living.  Some of these lessons they may have learned from me and my husband, but many of these things they have learned through their own experiences and through their own communication with the Lord.  We teach both directly and indirectly as parents, and we hope and pray and cry and reteach over and over again, crossing our fingers that we are helping to shape these little spirits into people that can go out and do the world some good.

So whenever I feel that tug to put something else ahead of my family I will try and remember the foundation I am trying to lay.  And I will slap that mortar on really thick and hang around to watch it dry.

day sixty-seven: tangled up

I have inherited my husband's older iPhone, which was replaced by the newer and better kind this Summer.  I like figuring out how to work techno stuff.  How to mess with all of the settings, how to maximize every potential the little machine offers.  So tonight I sit here in the tangle of cables as I get coached in uploading audiobooks, like The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, podcasts, and French music.  And I have added my blog and Google Reader as separate buttons so that I can quickly access my blog and every other one I read.  So cool.

Sorry, but back to my tutoring session... 

day sixty-six: re-nurturing

It's time to start the transfer process around here.  One's coming home and one's going away.  It will be a mixed emotional bag once the news comes about the departure.  How do we make sure the leaving boy gets as much attention as the arriving one?

I am getting excited to see the interaction among my sons in 6 weeks when the return home happens.  Two years make a big difference in the growth of younger brothers, and I think #1 will be shocked.

I think about the September days in 1990 when it was so hot in our LA apartment, and I would take a cool shower and sit in front of the fan to cool off.  My big pregnant belly full with my little redheaded boy.  And #1 rubbing it and calling his brother Adam-baby.  I am anxious to see some quick, time-efficient nurturing again during the Winter when #1 will pass on knowledge again to this same brother.  Instead of fetching his pacifier or covering him with his blanket, I will see hugs and I will hear advice.  And I will watch and feel warm again, like those September days 19 years ago.

day sixty-five: getting girlie

Living here with my guys is both what I always wanted AND what I always knew I would have. From the time I was in junior high I had dreams about having 6 sons, so every time the ultrasound technician would say It's a boy I would say Yup, I know. And then I would smile, because between the dreams and the whisperings of the Spirit, I already knew.

That being said, I feel a bit of a responsibility to exercise a little estrogen around here every now and then. And yes, I mean in addition to the involuntary exercise of it (and you know what I mean here). So the cravings come for a trip to the salon, for a manicure or pedicure, or window shopping, or time with girlfriends.

You know those people who have to carry oxygen around with them in their little tanks? And every 30 sec or so you hear a gentle puffing sound as it is pushed through the tubes into their noses? Yeah, it is kind of like that for me. Little installments, somewhat regularly.

It has been two nutso-crazy months around here, between returning to school, starting a new job, shipping off boy #2 to BYU and now working with him to get mission preparations going, the recent accident with boy #3, getting home late M-Th, being the bishop's family, etc. We are beat. We are happy and grateful for many many blessings, but we are beat.

So, I am trying to squeeze in some of that girl time (wish I could have a girl's weekend where I got to physically meet all of you) so that I can regenerate. But I keep finding myself wanting my guys to join me. Think that would defeat the purpose?

ps I almost went into panic mode last night when I was unable to access my blog. Some weird error kept appearing and I had to put off my Thursday posting until now, early Fri morning. But for order's sake I have changed the date stamp so that I can have my days and dates line up.

day sixty-four: referred pain

Today a neighbor (that I think is as distinguished and genuine as any man has a right to be) came over to visit my convalescing son.

As he stood beside boy #3's bed during our visit he shared with us an experience he had years ago. He was using a paper cutter to destroy some old check books when he accidentally sliced the very tip of his left thumb off. The weird thing was that he immediately felt pain in his right thumb. His right thumb. We stood there after he told the story, for just a few seconds, and thought about the implications of that.

I felt like that other thumb this week when I heard about my son's accident. Let me take the pain. I can handle it.

I feel this way when I know my husband has hit a spot that is especially tough for him. Or when my African son has gotten sick, so far away.

That referred pain in my life has been a sign to me that I love someone. It is an echo echo echo of the pain that He felt for us hundreds of years ago, kneeling in a garden. We copy it. We emulate it. We feel it.

day sixty-three: silver underneath

I got my hair trimmed yesterday. I am completely converted to short hair, btw. I feel so liberated, both in my time and in my identity. For me it works. I have never been too attached to my hair, though.

But yesterday as I pulled down my visor in the car I noticed the grey. It is starting to show up more and more as I keep it short and get a monthly trim. So, what to do? Back to the liberating argument... no updating the color, no root touch ups, no worries. But all of a sudden I am itching to young it up a bit. Advice?

Musical Monday: What Child Is This?

Yes, Christmas has begun here at The Ponderings. With only 10 weeks left until the big day I thought it would be fun to start the holiday tunes.

So this is how we will do it. The song requests made by the first AND the last commenters on each Musical Monday post will be considered for the following Monday (the polls will close at midnight on that Monday). Please remember to limit your requests to Christmas music.

What Child Is This?

day sixty-one: blessed

Thanks so much to everyone for your well wishes over these past 24 hours. I appreciate it, and I really felt the love. You are the best. #3 will have a sore road ahead of him, but he is on the mend. Now, besides the miracle of my son's limited injuries, let me share with you one other little miracle that has occurred over the past day.

As mentioned in a previous post, I suffer from high blood pressure. A genetic flaw passed to me from my parents (still love ya, folks). In the past 5 years I have forgotten to take my ten pm pill maybe three times. One of those times I went in the kitchen on a Saturday night at 11:30 pm to take it and found the bottle empty. I am still not sure how I let that happen, but I did. So I not only skipped it that night, but the entire next day, being Sunday. On Monday morning I shakily drove to the pharmacy and filled my prescription and was soon happy and relaxed. But let me tell you, my heart pounded and I became completely distracted with the banging feeling in my chest on all three or so of these occasions within a matter of a couple of hours of missing my appointment with my little white pill and my glass of water. It was bad news.

Flash forward to today. In my rush to come home and shower and grab a few things before going up to the hospital in SLC last evening, I forgot my pills. But I was already later than I wanted to be and knew I wanted to be with my son as he was getting admitted after being pulled off the ambulance. I asked for special help on this one, and my prayer was answered. It has been 48 hours since I last took my meds (just took one now) and there were zero side effects the entire day. Nothing. I was calm, with no pounding or anxiety. I was looked after for a full day. Thank you, thank you, thank you, I say. It was a miracle for me.

day sixty: beside a hospital bed

I am sitting here listening to boy #3 snore, finally, after a day of feisty fury at himself and at doctors. He is at Primary Children's Hospital in the trauma unit after spending the entire day at one hospital, then an ambulance, then finally here.

After a day of biking, and hiking, and barely sleeping on the cold ground alongside his scouting buddies, he climbed a little hill and cracked a boulder off of it. Said boulder then chased him down and pinned him. And now I sit here and look at my handsome guy with his neck brace (just for precautionary reasons), and his splint on his foot and his cute body all hooked up to... things, and I just want to take him home and take care of him.

But it could have been so much worse. He could have hit his head, or broken his back. This will be a teaching and a learning time for him. He will learn something about himself as he sits and waits to heal. Sometimes a 13 yr-old needs to slow down and to listen to himself, his parents, and to the Spirit.

This time of healing could be just what the doctor ordered.

day fifty-nine: with roses bedight

I have never been one of those people that has remembered her dreams. I mean ever. I would say maybe ten times in my whole life have I woken up and remembered something that happened while I slept. But not lately.

Lately I wake up completely stunned that I am remembering every single dream in pure technicolor. It has been amazing. Geo, and boy #4 and I at the beach, a high school reunion, visits with family members I haven't seen for awhile. The list goes on. I am not able to retain the feelings or even the bare details for longer than a day or two. I have not written them down. Somehow I have felt that these dreams were meant to be brightly burning experiences that stayed for a bit and then were no longer necessary. Like little showers on a hot day, that do the trick but then evaporate. It has been a cool thing.

day fifty-eight: family time

We cancel other things.
We plan.
We hurry through morning duties.
We pile in and drive.

day fifty-seven: pass the pan-fried noodles

Tonight my BFF and I went out for some girl time. I don't get much of that, as you might guess. So we headed out to a furniture store and walked around for a bit before getting a craving for linens and kitchen gadgets and such. We drove across the street and had some fun sifting through marked-down duvet covers and comforters, until said BFF found a great deal for 75% off. We picked it up and then found the next craving to be of the Occidental persuasion.

At PF Chang's we had a sweet but mostly inept waitress that brought water when I asked for Sprite, forgot to put an order in for our pork dumplings, then when the dumplings came forgot our utensils, 20 minutes later brought out the wrong dish, and later gave us a dry pen to sign the receipt.

But it was girls' night, and I didn't care.

day fifty-six: 21 years of mommyhood

big brother



'05 NYC vacay

'06 high school grad

'04 in the canyon

Happy birthday to my oldest, missionary son. You hear it all the time, but it is so true... it seems like yesterday. He is affectionate, handsome, a leader. Always has been. I like him. I miss him. I love him.

day fifty-five: no-music monday

Today will have to be a musicless Monday, because I have been buried in . . . various things. A test on Saturday, two drives to SLC this weekend, boundary changes in my ward this weekend (which required me acting as consultant to my bishop-husband for, hours), a rehearsal last night for a chorus I am in, and an observation I had to prepare for today from my principal.


At what level of your education do you think teachers should allow you to make your own educational choices? Such as, disregarding attendance as part of your grade, being less surgical in the grading of assignments, etc. I will fill you in about my thoughts after I have received yours.

And remember, this is not for a grade.

day fifty-four: realignment

We had our ward boundaries adjusted today, as did 6 of the 8 wards in our stake. Ours was the only ward to lose nobody and gain a lot of new people. We feel blessed and excited to welcome new folks into the ward, and I am already planning some serious hugging once next Sunday hits. Change is good. New friends are good.

And then when I hear myself typing that (wink) I wonder if I could say the same thing if it were me and my family being realigned into another ward. Change seems to be really good for the soul when it is not my soul being changed. Isn't that usually the way?

But today I realized that I can be my own change. I can realign myself. And I know that is an ongoing process.

day fifty-three: test day

I woke up this morning with the gnawing feeling of my behavioral analysis test looming over me. I had been to classes regularly. I had taken notes. I had studied. I thought I was mostly prepared, but I had gotten out of the habit of taking tests. It's been 22 years since I graduated from BYU, back in '87, and frankly I was pretty shaken up about it. But I plugged myself in and took my test online and feel good about it. I would say 92%.

Test #2. Out to lunch with Geo so that we can reevaluate our schedules and make sure we are spending enough time, with our crazy-busy schedules, to be together as a couple. We do well, I think, but my overly attentive husband wants to ramp it up. The test? Not feeling completely defensive and overwhelmed. My score? I would say 85%.

And the final test of the day. Going to an open house for a remodel my friend had done on an old home in Salt Lake, and looking at my tired kitchen cabinets and feeling like I want to rip everything out and start over. My house is 67 years-old, and some days feels like it. We have done some nice improvements here, like paint, carpet, furniture, appliances. And most of the time it is exactly the way I want it to be, but then I go and do something irresponsible, like attend an open house of a beautifully remodeled home even older than mine. Ugh. Score- 74%

day fifty-two: lamb's cafe.

day fifty-one: strangely sacred

One of my close friends is Samoan, so while we were out having breakfast this morning I had to ask her about the recent tsunami and earthquake, and if her family was all safe there in her homeland. Luckily they live up in the hills, so the water was not a problem for them. The earthquake did have an effect, but it was structures that were hurt, not family members.

However, she said that the old ladies in her village who went daily into town on a bus to participate in a craft market were sadly swept away by the water as it carried the bus off. I was heart-broken as I had the image in my mind of old women dying in such a dramatic way. But my friend said that when they found their bodies they were all together, leaning on each other in a group. It was a sacred moment, to be together when they left, she said. And I realized she was right.

day fifty: half dollar

50 straight days of blog posts. I thought it would be fun to list 50 things that I like as a small way of celebrating.

florence, italy
soft carpet
heated seats
green olives
my laptop
meryl streep
Geo's lips (2)
chocolate raisins
chicken korma
mint shampoo
mike & ikes
people over for dinner
modern architecture
foreign languages
knee-high socks
meeting new people
board games
flannel sheets
teaching sp ed
shopping for furniture
freshly mowed lawn
popping bubble wrap
full moons
barber's adagio for strings
sleeping on my back
lip gloss
christmas trees
sarah brightman
honey dijon
being an easterner
biggest loser
leather jackets

day forty-nine: day's end

I go from a long day at work, including a 90-minute IEP mtg at the end

To an abrupt visit to campus, late for my instructional technology class

Back home to leftover lasagna with the guys

To cub scouts, where everyone piles in my car for a trip to the library

Kick off my shoes as I walk in at 8 and get a text that the bishop would like to see me

Shoes back on for the short ride to the church building

Sat in the lobby for an hour because of a miscommunication

Back home to tuck kids in

And what am I thinking about right now? The sweet little brunette that fell asleep on her mother's lap during those 90-minutes of talking, and planning, and reading test results, and talking, and tests. And talking. That is what I am thinking about. Her angel face right in the middle of my day. The face that said, "Can I rest now?" That snuggled up to her mama while the grown-ups talked about her. Hasta manana, I said as her mother woke her to walk out to the parking lot. Then we will start all over trying to do our best for that little sweet girl. And that is what I am thinking about at the end of my day.

Musical Monday: Praise

Nothing fancy here today, folks. Just a 43-second testimony.

I grabbed the hymn book for some inspiration this morning after everyone left for the day, and I thought I would just do something short, but powerful. Amen.

Praise God, From Whom All Blessings Flow

day forty-seven: october snow

From nine to noon today Geo, boy #4 and I all went for a drive around the Nebo Loop. Color and lush for the first quarter and then snow and hail the rest of the way. Still gorgeous and huge and western.

And we listened to a prophet's voice. And I was very happy.

day forty-six: howling

My guys were all gone for the evening, so I crawled into the hot tub and cranked up the jets. The jets speak to me sometimes.

And as I sat there with my head back looking straight up into my gorgeous mammoth cottonwood tree I noticed the huge harvest moon peeking over the roof of my house. It was seriously... wow.

I made a decision to not think too deeply about the moment. I just sat there and stared.

And then I howled, silently.

day forty-five: the ol' ticker

Five years ago my blood changed. It became more impatient as it raced through the miles of tubes in my body.

I was out shopping with my mom, who was visiting for Thanksgiving, when I felt nausea, pain, and an incredibly loud banging-in-my-ears heartbeat. I was at the doctor's office in an hour running on a treadmill with ten electrodes stuck to me, only to be told I flat-lined on a few of the readings.

Prepare for probable angioplasty in the morning. Keep these nitroglycerin pills near your bed.

No blockages. No cholesterol problems. No heart attack. Metabolic, they said. Like faulty wiring, they hinted.

It has been a blessing to be more aware of my heart. For 40 years I knew it was in there, but I didn't think about it much. Now a day doesn't pass that I don't stop here and there and feel it. I measure it. Monitor it. Not always with my little cuff I have at home, but with my surrounding body. I say to it, Relax. Breathe. Everything will be ok.

And this has helped me to be more aware of my own mortality. I hold things in there. I love with it. I fill it up.

I heart my heart.

day forty-four: thanks, man

Our principal took control of our collaboration time after school yesterday to spread some of his enthusiasm around a bit. He had recently been to a principals' academy and came back on fire about inclusion (keeping kids with special needs in the regular education as much as possible, seeing potential in all children to learn, etc). My thing. My thing.

Today my student T didn't have a meltdown.

Today S talked (and talked).

Today G wrote the letter "B" all by herself.

Today I was a teacher.

day forty-three: fox trot, and rising from the ashes

Tonight we went to SLC to be with my nephew as he opened his mission call. It has been a bit of a long haul for this darling guy, and so it seemed appropriate that he would be called to the AZ, Phoenix mission. The Phoenix being a symbol of rising from the ashes. It is a rebirth. And it certainly is for my nephew, who is as close to a son as possible, without actually being one.

His dad, my brother-in-law, is in Michigan for law school (comes home every few months to be with the fam) and he watched from a laptop, through a video chat, which was set up on the counter while the envelope was sliced open and the letter read. It was so great to be there.

There was soon food put out on the table and people hugged and back-slapped the new missionary. Apple cake, ginger cookies, tuna-filled croissants, lemon water.

And then my BYU freshman son announced he has a test in his social dance class tomorrow on the fox trot. In a half-second my niece was jumping off the couch, away from her conservative dentist husband and into the arms of her red-headed, quirky cousin. A cha cha and a fox trot ensued, and the crowd (about 15 of us) clapped and laughed. There was a small snapshot moment of a family that loved each other and wanted the best for each other. There was joy in that room, and I felt it twirling me around on a dance floor.

day forty-two: what doesn't kill you...

Yesterday I got a tetanus shot as part of my annual check-up. No, I didn't step on a rusty nail or get bitten by a wild animal. My doctor told me that a tetanus shot also carries some properties that can fight pertussis, which is a coughing disease.

"This will keep you from coughing all over kids and maybe killing 'em."

"Well, by all means, Doc, let's get that shot."

But today my left arm has a huge red knot which is very hot to the touch, and the pain is also under my arm and a bit down my side.

I'm just glad I won't be spreading any deadly cough germs, mostly because when I cough it now hurts all over. Now I see how the shot works...

Musical Monday: Garote de Ipanema

The Girl From Ipanema was originally done in Portuguese, but found a great audience again and again as it was covered by Frank Sinatra and others. I studied this beautiful language while a student at BYU in the 80s as an homage to my grandparents who all spoke it. But, according to my grandmother, who was from the Portugal Azorean islands, my Brazilian professor wasn't teaching me all of the right words. I hope they would like my attempt here!

I decided to not put up a translation. Just listen and sway to the Bossa Nova beat.

Garote de Ipanema

day forty: put a ring on it

I have slipped a ring on the finger of my commitments.

This door swings open and shut a lot during each day. We each go to school or work, come home, go back out to other engagements. Back again. Go out to check the mail or to talk with neighbors out in the yard. And back.

But each day when I leave to head out to work with my special kiddos I know I am doing good. And the BYU thing? I enjoy it and want to do my best with those commitments too. But family first. Always first. The ring is big enough to encompass all of these.

day thirty-nine: my brain

The retraining. The loosening up. The stretching.

Years ago when we were still trying to recruit people to join our book club there was a woman who asked if she had to read the books in order to come. At the time I thought it was an almost rude question, but now I can look at it differently. She was looking for more of a social experience than a mind-bending one. And that, friends, is why I attended book club the other night.

I have been booked out over the past month, holed up either at class or doing homework. Don't get me wrong, I am really enjoying it all. But I was ready for some sitting around, some heavy-duty snacking, and some girl time. And when I got home at
eleven o'clock I felt so much better. A little balance.

Now I am back at it, today spending three hours studying about behavioral objectives while the family buzzed about my head doing all sorts of other things. But life is good, and the old brain is getting some great workouts, including dusting off my Portuguese tonight as I recorded my Musical Monday post.

Obrigada e boa noite!

day thirty-eight: sleep lines

I talk in my sleep, so I've been told.

I have always just believed my husband when he tells me I mumble and go on and on. I have never questioned him when he has told me that I laugh in my sleep, and sometimes even cry a little bit. I have chosen to believe that maybe I am just a dynamic person that can't squeeze enough living into my waking hours, so they spill into my sleeping ones as well.

And he snores. My husband, that is.

He takes my word for it. A few times he has woken himself up snorting his own little accidental alarm, but for some reason he can never remember that in the morning. He laughs when I imitate his little sounds and gurglings. A couple of times I have grabbed my cell phone from the night stand in an attempt to record the evidence, but he either stops right when I finally find the voice record option, or I am choking down laughing so hard that I can't get any accurate data.

But hours later I wake up and see that there he is. My friend. My confidant. And I know that even with our quirks, we fit together.

Now, if I can only figure out a way to tell him to roll over as I talk in my sleep...

day thirty-seven: parts of the whole

eat, pray, read, kiss, read, write,
watch, dress, eat, teach, drive,
listen, drive, eat, hug, read, write,
eat, pray, sleep

that about covers it.

i am a happy doer.

day thirty-six: explosion

My people come from the Azores, which is a group of small islands one-thousand miles off the European coast. Volcanic islands. Exploding magma from cracks in the ocean floor. Spitting up future farms, mountains, and coastlines. Lush. Green.

I am a volcano. It is where I come from. It is in me. I am creating. I am raw materials.


ps next musical monday in the language of my grandparents

day thirty-five: wife of a preacher man

I hope it doesn't sound blasphemous to say that when I hear my husband being a firm-but-gentle problem-solver on the phone, helping someone who has called in a panic, that I feel anxious to give him a big juicy kiss. After he hangs up, of course.

day thirty-four: passing through zanzibar

Every now and then my son sends an email that sounds a bit like an Indiana Jones movie.

We got a good one today that I thought I would share.

The first thing I remember on Friday morning was Elder Papworth (the
new AP) stumbling into the room talking to himself at how we were
going to be late. I rolled over and looked at the clock. 6:00. Yeah,
we were not going to make that 8:00 plane. So, just as in countless
mornings from the last six months, I got ready for the day in less
than 10 minutes. Threw the rest of my lugauge in my suitcase and ran
out to the van. Elder Paulo was already out warming it up, I along
with Elder Papworth coralled the other two elders who were traveling
with me and off we went. Thanks to Elder Paulo we made it to the
airport in about 10 minutes (which, if you know the city, is
incredibly fast). I quickly ran through all the security checks to the
check in desk to plead our case. Check in time was one hour before the
flight, unfortunatly by the time I got there on my knees it was
already 40 minutes 'til blast off. No sanctuary was granted. So I went
back out to the others who were waiting and told them the news. We
went straight to the ticketing office to see what could be done. They
offered us an alternate flight that left in a few hours' time. The new
flight however was quite longer and went via Zanzibar. Pretty cool, I
don't think many missionaries have seen Zanzibar. So we agreed to it,
Paulo took off and there we were. Waiting time. Eventually our
prop-plane showed up, we filed inside like sixlets in their package.
The whole journey took a little over two hours in the air. We finally
landed (got to walk out to the plane and off the plane on the tarmac
on one of those old-school staircase things) and the first thing we
had to do was fill out a paper about swine flu. Then passport control,
then bags (the usual regimine). Finally we stepped out onto the
Tanzanian soil of Dar Es Salaam. I have been assigned to be a district
leader here (there are two districts in Dar) with an Elder Engida
(from Ethiopia) as my companion. Dar is a costal city, very much like
Mombasa in climate and culture. Tanzania is infamous for it's Swahili,
which is kept in it's pure form and is spoken as the official
language. Sun, heat, and humidity are abundant. So are Muslims. I
happened to arrive the last week of Rahmadan, their 40 day fast (I
think I described it more fully when I was in Mombasa this time last
year and had the same experience). The weekend was filled with
celebrations (outside our house it was sounding like a concert). The
branch and the area (both named Kinondoni 1) are less than perfect, we
have much work to do in helping to revive and rejuvinate what is here.
But I am excited to be out and about doing the Lord's work on the
ground level. It's going to be tough but I think it will be a good way
to spend the last 3 months of my mission.
I'll have more experiences (and hopefully some pictures) next week.
But I'm here and I'm finally at work again. Thanks to all you that
wrote! Love you all,

Musical Monday: Blackbird

Here's a fun little Beatles vibe. Have a great Monday!