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.