rest later

My days have been filled with merry and bright for the past few weeks.

 Temple Square visit in early December
 Geo reading or traditional Christmas story to the boys
 #4 as Joseph
 Our flamingo at the nativity
 Making room for the grandkids and the great grandkids in the nativity
Braided bread I make for neighbors

A field trip to the mall for a Christmas scavenger hunt with the special kiddos, a class program where a few of us cried a little, family get togethers, a nativity scene that involved a flamingo and a unicorn, surprising our two teens with a big plasma TV for the family room, and a phone call to Monterrey, Mexico to talk with our son who reeeeally struggled with his English, I might add).

I understand the concern about forgetting the meaning of Christmas.  Keep it simple, we hear all season.  Remember the reason.

I get that.

But I love the hubbub.  I love finding that last cool thing to buy.  I love the full calendar and the visiting and the parties.  I love all of the things that make these few weeks really stand out from the rest of the year.  I can stick it out, even though I may crash in January.  What else is January for, except recovering from December?


Why is it that I get all mushy and nostalgic during the holidays?

Yesterday evening I sang in a concert where a little nine-year old brunette played a snare drum while we sang of princes and fifes.  The least emotional of our 20-piece program, yet I could hardly get the words out because I thought of my own little drummer boys and how they are turning into men.

my son, Perry

And when Sister Cutler handed me a list of songs and asked if my husband could play them for the ward Christmas party next weekend it hit me again.  There on the list was "When Joseph Went to Bethlehem" I went back 20 years in my mind to when my first-born would sing this song.  Each line went up in pitch until his neck was stretched out and his voice cracked and his dad and I would smile and ask him to do it again.

I am home today, taking a sick day.  I will be blowing my nose and napping after I write to my missionary son.  And as I walk back and forth past my Christmas tree I will see the handmade ornaments and the glittery stars cut out with six-year old hands and I may get a little misty.

Though we celebrate the birth and life of the baby Jesus on this holiday season, I find myself thinking of my own baby boys.  Swaddled in my arms, with their own futures to face.  And I love Him, and them, even more.

two 47-year old songbirds

My friend DeNae Handy came all the way down to Springville from the big city in order to sing with me. We had a blast singing and talking and hanging out.  This lady is a professional.

How cool is the blogosphere, helping us to make great new friends and share our talents together?

Click on the titles below and enjoy.

We Three Kings
What Child Is This?

knowing my place

Know your place.  

We've heard it from parents, maybe teachers.  Interesting to note that in this context "place" has nothing to do with physical space and everything to do with social behavior.

We all need our own places.  In THIS context I mean both physical AND social.

I have my places.

I have my dining room and the table in it.  Around this big slab of pine many great conversations have taken place with my children and good friends.  Lots of food has been served at gatherings where we invite friends over and cook Indian food and talk and laugh.  At the right angle you can see scores written from when we have played cards or Boggle or other games.  Pine is good that way.  It holds on to things. I may refinish this table in the Spring, but it is staying in this house because it has become an important place to me.

The den.  This is mostly my husband's space that we designed and decorated when he was bishop, so that he could have people over to talk.  But I like that it has that kind of history.  It has become, since that time,  the refuge.  When the kids come in they are a little more careful to keep it clean and to even speak a little lower.  We write in here.  We sing and record in here.  We read and gather our thoughts.

There are other spaces away from my home that I crave as sanctuaries (North Carolina sandy beaches, the Duomo in Florence, Italy, the temple).  Physical space matters.

Sacred groves, if you will.

Then social places.  I can lead.  I can follow.  I can sit.  I can do.  I can be the chameleon I sometimes need to be.  That little voice tells me, Know your place.  And I try to respond appropriately by following instinct.

Places matter.  Stand in holy ones, but help people out of ones that are not.  What good is a place if it is never shared?


Tomorrow I will start the day by rolling over and giving my husband a big ol' smooch, because I am thankful that he loves me so much and treats me so well.

Then I will get my exercise on at my Zumba class, because I am thankful for a hard-working body that has responded well to my efforts during these past months.

I will then come home and hug my kids (including my married son and his wife who are sleeping over), because being a mom has helped me to realize what life is all about.

Later in the afternoon I will visit and eat and laugh with extended family members who have grounded me during all of these married years.

And at the end of the day I will kneel down and make an accounting of these things, because being thankful means you count and recount all of the ways you have been blessed.  I will use my fingers and my toes.  My life is good.  Real good.

low and comfy

"Sometimes the low, comfortable notes are the ones we go the flattest on," she said, as we stood at the mic recording some music.  So true, I thought.

So we sang and sang until we felt spent, and I found myself making a little secret fist beside my leg when I had to hit anything besides middle C, which, after a few hours, is my most comfortable place.  The place where I feel true and wholly me.

Today my son was unhappy with himself for a B in an easy computer class, so I told him, "Sometimes the low, comfortable notes are the ones we go the flattest on."  And he looked at me and nodded.

mean old me

Coming home from lunch today I was behind a thirty-something-year-old guy at a stop sign when I saw him chuck a Big Gulp cup out his window.  This a total trigger for me.  And knowing that it is a trigger I heard myself say, "Oh, dang it," because I knew I would have to follow him and confront him about it.  Yep, I just knew that about myself.

I hate confrontation, really, but as I get older I realize that sometimes you have to say things that need saying.  Like when I hold parent/teacher conferences, and after I inform the parents that their son is not cutting it on letter sounds the mom looks at her son (her 5-year old special education son), points at his chest and says, "You need to study more!"  At this moment I make sure to say that thing that needs saying.  I say, "Actually, we can't expect him to take the initiative to study on his own.  He needs you to guide him through it."

Confrontation doesn't always need to take the form of yelling or arguing.  It can be a calm interaction where you state your opinion, which is opposed to the other person.  Unless you throw garbage out your window in my town.  In that case you may get an earful that sounds a little something like, "Was I mistaken when I saw a big cup flying out of your window back there?  I will chase you down again, you better believe it."

my reasons to make it work

Tag-team parenting.  Yes, that is the new popular sport at the Burton house.  A little two-ships-that-pass-in-the-night action too.  But somehow we have been able to stay afloat because we love each other and we love our life together.

I have too many friends to name that have had their marriages fall apart lately.  I won't pretend to know the details or the reasons why, but I do know that a mid-life crisis is a real thing.  Men can feel trapped.  Women can feel invisible.  And often once one of them feels a chance for change they think it has to be done without the other person.  My life can only be different if I start all the way over.  Sometimes this may be true.  In extreme cases.

I love my husband.  I love my kids.  That's it.  No preaching.

1. My roller derby profile pic for Halloween (47 and proud of it).
2. My attentive husband.
3. #3 and #4
4. Lola, our new bunny
5. My misionario Mexicano.
6. My sweet DIL and #1 son.

musical monday: fly me to the moon

google image

I heard this song during the week and knew I wanted to record it right away.

A little Frankie to start your week off right (click below).

Fly Me To The Moon

unconditional handsomeness

one of my handsome nephews
I am a people person. But who wouldn't be, with a "people" like this in the family?
I spend 6 hours a day with little people that teach me about unconditional love, patience, and hard work.
Little people know what counts.
My own children also taught me truckloads about life, and even though they are growing up now, they are still little people to me in many ways. Maybe because unconditional love is the mortar that still holds us all together.
Right before my sons left for a camp out this morning, my #4 bear-hugged me and called me "mama", which I love. And my #3 promised me he would not do anything stupid, like take dares or melt his shoes in the fire, or break his pelvis. Again.
But really, adults are cool too. Just not as cool as little people. Or as good-looking as that hunk in the photo.

because some stories really matter

Sweet breads, kale and sweet potato soup,  and chourico.  These are the things I could expect when my family and I would drive from Virginia to Massachusetts to see all of my grandparents.  My grandmothers would speak Portuguese to each other as we all sat together in one of their living rooms eating and visiting.  I can smell the food and hear the language when I close my eyes and remember those days.

When your parents are the first generation in your family born in this country, you have stories to hear.  You have stories to TELL.  I want to tell my story.  And this is why I am excited about the Story @ Home Conference that will be held March 9-10, 2012 at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City.

The event will be sponsored by Family Search and Cherish Bound and will be all about getting your story told.  No, it is not an event solely for LDS people.  There are already people from all over that are buying tickets and planning to come.  It is going to be so worth your time.  Look, I am a very busy person (like many of you), but when something just feels right when you hear about it, don't you want to be a part of it?  Getting those stories told about your family is like figuring out who you are.  It is meaningful stuff, and I am excited about attending.  If you are a family historian, a genealogist, a blogger, or simply someone who wants to become one of these, please mark your calendar now.

For more buzz about this wonderful event click here to visit the facebook page for the conference.

looking at my hand

The other day I came home after work and crashed, which I do sometimes after a long day with the special kiddos. When I woke up I stretched my vision down my arm and looked at my hand. Totally relaxed, it was slightly curled and wanting to grasp. To hold on. To offer something.

I find it interesting that a hand at rest is not wide open and stiff, but soft and curved. No deep thoughts beyond that. An observation of my God-created body.

wet stones

sudden cloudburst on 10/1/2011

I ran out for some alone time while all of my men were off at the LDS Priesthood session of general conference on Saturday night. After stepping into a little boutique for some browsing, the heavens opened and God sent shiny down upon us.

The cobblestones, the railings, the passing cars. Everything doused with rain and left cleaner than it had been just minutes before.

Like me. Renewed. Cleaner. Washed after the heavens had opened for me. Through living prophets' words.

menopausal roadkill

yup. sometimes I am roadkill.
often i allow it.

when did i start letting my emotions get the better of me?  although I have always been a heart-on-her-sleeve kind of girl, it seems like I have this need to bubble right up to the surface lately.

such and such is starting to really get under my skin
time to be honest (cry cry cry).  i am unhappy with this situation...

not a bad thing, honesty.  but i am ragged out after all of those feelings leave my body, sometimes like a slow leak, but lately more like an all out explosion.

this premenopausal state is a tough place to live in.  

on the way home from dinner with my husband tonight, i had a total flashback to our first few dates.  we were byu students.  it was Fall.  25 years ago.  it was like i could smell football and leaves and apples and all of the other symbols of the season.

and even though i was jamming to some loud moroccan music as i reminisced, the little spicy tears welled up.

courage, kazzy.  courage.  it will all be over in a few years.


Six eyes to look outside and check the weather. Come back and report to the class.

Then those same eyes stare up at me asking,

"How will you teach me today?"
"Will we sing?"
"Can I paint my picture of the fish?"

You pull off your shoes and put your socks on your hands and wave to me from your seat, and I just smile, because really, who wouldn't?

You are my morning reward.

review of Melanie Jacobsen's Not My Type

WhAt TyPe ArE yOu?

I just finished reading Melanie Jacobsen's Not My Type, and I gotta tell ya, it feels pretty appropriate to sit here at my computer and write a review about it, considering that the main character, Pepper, does the same thing at her job as a grunt journalist.

I haven't read a book like Melanie's for so long, that I felt like a sponge, soaking up the language of teen-twenties' sarcasm. And the identity crisis that comes with a broken engagement?  Been there.  Done that.

As Pepper is trying to re-enter life as a single adult, I found myself pulling for her to hold on to her quirkiness (which she does), and reshape her attitude (which she also does).  This character is real and independent, and she grows with each chapter, as she follows her therapist/father's advice to show more gratitude in her life. I could have used that advice 25 years ago.  sigh...

The supporting characters in this book are fun and affirming, and the best part is that they each, directly and indirectly, play a part in Pepper's life getting back on track.  I am a supporting-cast kind of reader.  If a main character is developed fully that is well and good, but texture comes from everyone around her/him.  Texture galore here.

I found Melanie's voice on every page, having spent time with her before.  It was an honest book and one that will have mass appeal. Such a fun read!

hail to the queen

I couldn't help myself. There we were at the wedding dinner last Friday night and I was seated right behind Aunt Larene. The 88-year old woman who never changes. Who always has a sweet smile. Who has taken great care of herself. Who has the most brilliant white hair I have ever seen. I had to snap a photo so that I could remember that it's ok to get old. And maybe one day I can be a silvery queen too.

memories of the desert

1400 miles in 48 hours. Throw in a wedding dinner, wedding, and a couple of great hotels. This was my weekend.

Geo and I had not driven to SoCal since we left there over 17 years ago. We had had a great experience in LA when he attended USC for his PhD, but time marches on, the family grows, and priorities shift. So an invite to a wedding was a great excuse for a getaway, just the 2 of us.

I was really struck by the Mojave on this trip. Interesting in its own way, but dry and scratchy and lonely. We made that trip twice a year between 1989 and 1994 when we would drive from LA to Salt Lake to visit family. Before cell phones. With 2 babies. Yikes.

So now, as we are 120 miles from home, I glance up from my iPad and over at my husband's face. A little drier and scratchier than it may have been 17 years ago when we left California for our new home in Utah. But not lonely like the desert. Not lonely at all.

We are two cedar trees sitting side by side, ready to withstand this life. Together.


One thing we hear over and over again in special education is that for kids with special needs direct instruction works best. Direct instruction is where the teacher explicitly teaches and students watch as she takes them through a lesson. As opposed to exploratory learning, where a concept is introduced and the students do a lot of self-teaching, through group activities, trial and error, etc. I even had a special ed professor who said this latter type of teaching was the "hippie way." you may as well sit around smoking something and talking about your feelings with the students Ah, I loved that professor...

In my class you hear a lot of this:
"This is a seven, class. What is this?"

And the students give the choral response:
"A seven!"

My response:
"Yes, it is a seven. This is an eight. What is this?"

Their choral response:
"An eight!"

Etcetera, etcetera.

I was a skeptic at first, I will admit, but I have become a believer. I even have a sign up on my board that says RESPOND, and by the second day of school my special little kiddos can tell you what the word is and what it means. It is that important in my class. The only time my kids raise their hands is when they need to share a personal comment or ask a question. When it comes to giving answers we do it all together. And believe me, Miss Karen is a stickler, asking the question over and over until every student is answering with every other one.

How much stronger do you feel when you get to answer together with other people? When you say "amen" together? When you sing together? There is power in unifying our voices.

"This is called MORE POWER TO THE PEOPLE, class."

his eye is on the sparrow

it toils not.
neither does it spin.
yet it is watched.  protected.  cared for.

how much more care for us?  how much more flight can we take?  with His breath under our wings we fly and sing our sparrow song.

(click on song title below to hear me sing)

His Eye Is On The Sparrow


My oldest son, Perry August Burton

If you are lucky your 23-year old son comes to your house with his sweet wife to visit and eat your cooking. He hugs you and talks to you about important things, like school and money and church. He sits on the floor and plays with your dog and goes downstairs to bang on his old drum set, which now belongs to his 15-year old brother who is too cool to admit he idolizes him.

If you are lucky you exchange texts and follow each other on instagram. You are real-life and virtual friends.

And the best thing is that he is your boy. Forever.

with one hand

My net is shrinking.

Maybe it is the stage I am at in my life.  Maybe it is the limited amount of time I have for extra things.  And I am not ruling out impatience.

I have fewer things as Geo and I are in a complete thinning-out frenzy around here.  Every closet has been sliced and diced.  We do not have a garage.  Not a scrap of stuff in the attic.

This has translated into my personal life.  Family, church, work, friends, exercise, and writing here on my blog.  Not much more than that is needed, I find.  A good small collection of what matters.  And even within each category I feel like there has been some dieting.

I like a  more  minimal  life.   It feels fuller, ironically.

Less me.

Less stuff.

Less navigating through stacks of things wondering if they are worth keeping.  What is worth keeping finds its way into my life without so much work, because it isn't hidden behind things.

I can pull my own net with one hand, even when it is full of everything I value.

and miles to go before I sleep

Some days I live off of the buzz of being swamped with so many good things. My mind is so crammed full that I can forget about the gaping hole in my bank account or the other things I am worried about, like job security or other mid-life do-dads. The high blood pressure I live with adds to the buzz and often seems to help me. Weird, huh?

I had 20 little cuties show up in my classroom today. One cried when he didn't get to play with the cars and trucks. One left the bathroom door wide open while she was taking care of business. And one couldn't cross his legs for a million bucks. It. Was. Awesome.

green on my walk

With my beloved Zumba on hiatus, I took to the road today, walking my stake boundaries. I try and do that with an open mind and heart so that I can get inspiration and peace for my church calling as stake young women president.

When I walk with a purpose my breathing is different. I have silent prayers and then a little conversation with myself. Decent company most of the time. I wish I had pulled out my ear buds and stopped to talk to the 2 blonde girls talking in that front yard. Probably a real missed opportunity there. Next time.

Shared protein shakes with neighbor friends on the front porch as we talked about movies and kids and being CEOs at home.

A life with no reflection is not worth living.

trust me on this one

I am a friend-maker.

This is not true because I have any special skills in the area, but because it matters to me.  Creating a net, a safety net, of women that I love and respect seems almost as important as nurturing my family.  It adds oxygen and vitality and nutrients into my life.  And I don't feel like I am speaking metaphorically here.  I really really mean it.

I know a great lady who is moving this week.  Her life has changed and she is taking on some new challenges and opportunities, and moving is part of the deal.  She arranged a last-minute late night for all of her close friends the other night, where we ate and sat in a big circle and laughed and talked.  We offered up personal anecdotes about life and shared common experiences with mothering and wifing.  Boy, was it food for this soul.

google image

Little micro-lessons.  Little validations.  Little hand-holdings.  Being a woman with friends like this rocks the party.

results of a day at the office

full sink I came home to after work today

As I was sitting in my quiet classroom today, planning and organizing, I realized how good I have it.

During the 18 years of my 24-year marriage that I was home with my children, I loved it. I am not a perfect housekeeper and homemaker (I give myself an A-), but I am a nurturer, and I fully enjoy making my home a comfortable place where people want to be. Where meals are cooked and books are read and music is played. It mattered so much to me that I was able to be home with my kids all of those years. Even with the days of anxiety and claustrophobia, which surely show up here and there, I think of those years with all of my boys home with fondness. It was sweet and sugary and yummy.

But now, as my life is changing in its demands on me, I enjoy the time I spend at my job August-May. The kids are squishy and loving and brimming over with potential, and the progress they make is so satisfying it is hard to put into words. I love my technicians that work with me, my other coworkers in my school.

I count my blessings backwards and forwards when I reflect on the serendipity that allowed me all of these blessings. My first choice? Home. Even now with almost grown kids. It is the absolute best place to be. But while we have a need for me to work, I will go the half mile to my job with a thankful smile and ready heart.

waiting for that change

I went to see "The Help" last night, and all day I have had this song stuck in my head.

I recorded this one a year ago, but as a tribute to the theme of the movie I wanted to repost it.  

Here's to all of the people who are still waiting for that change in circumstance.  Prayers.

**Click on the song title below.

A Change Is Gonna Come

modern flirtation

When I first met my future husband, way back in 1986, I would hope to run into him on campus. If that happened, I would do the best I could to drop every hint that a phone call would be nice. Welcomed even. And oh, he was good. He would call on a Thursday, after days of me emotionally pacing around my apartment. Old-fashioned me would never consent to call him.

Now I don't only call and flirt in the middle of the day, but I send little smoochy face messages like this.

And then later we usually kiss.

Much better than the dance of '86.

furry medicine

After all of the daily logs I published during my month-long therapy vacation, I came home a little drained and a little nostalgic.  It was a tough re-entry this time.  The ocean, the family, the seafood, the squishy new little nephew.


So, in the middle of my melancholy, which included a couple of days of slumped shoulders and deep breathing, I decided to get me one of these.

Meet Chachi 

The mixture of my return to reality and my kids turning into grown ups has led me straight into a mid-life thingy, and this puppy makes me feel better.  Two dogs and a bunny are good medicine for a lady that finds herself wanting to take care of someone.  Who knew?  My husband just smiles and holds the little guy and we are all a big happy family.

Plus the ears just got me as soon as I met him.  The dog, I mean.


Luckily, divorce is a totally foreign word in my family. Among my extended family I only have one uncle that was divorced. He has been remarried and happy for twenty-something years now. I don't mean to say this in a bragging way, just to emphasize that I am somewhat naive in this area. I realize that divorce is definitely the answer sometimes, no doubt.
On Saturday we were at a gas station in Colorado, on our way home from our cross-country drive, when I witnessed something that really choked me up. My husband and son had run in for some snacks, but I had stayed in the car. And glad I did.
A car pulled up next to an SUV and parked. Out of the car a well-dressed man about 40-years old jumped out, followed by the boy in the SUV doing the same thing. The boy threw himself at the man, who hugged him right back. Hard.
Next, a man and woman also got out of the SUV. They went to the back door and got the boy's bag out. The well-dressed man put his hand on the woman's shoulder and shook the other man's hand. There were smiles and affection all around.
Then it was over, this exchange of exes, I assume. It lasted 5 minutes, but I have had the picture in my mind ever since witnessing it. It warmed my heart and made me feel hopeful.
In a world of fighting and name-calling on Capital Hill, I am glad to know that there can be love and civility in smaller arenas.

road trip day 29: two homes

I can't remember if we had ever done the trip in just three days before, but we were like horses at the end of a long race this week. We plowed through the 2100 miles in three days, instead of the usual 4 we take. And now I write from the comfort of my bed. Sweetness.

The last 2 hours of the drive Geo drove and I sat in the back seat. It was tough. I had these little flashbacks of walking on the sand with my daughter-in-law, laughing with my sister, hugging my adorable nieces and nephews, and playing games late into the night with my folks. It was a balm for this over-taxed soul. I have gotten so used to being the long-distance family member, but in a short amount of time I slip right back into family mode, enjoying the closeness of everyone.

On I-70, through the mountains west of Denver, I started to feel home again. This home that I share with my husband and kids. This one where I have responsibilities and a job and a yard and pets. This home where I have built my own family.

But part of me will always be in the cicada-filled trees and humid air of Virginia.

road trip day 28: i've been thinking

With just the three of us in the car these past couple of days I have been able to have a little meditation time. I spend some of the time reflecting on the family I just left, and some of the time looking ahead to things that I will need to tackle once I get home. In the weeks left before school starts back up I have a few meetings, but mostly I need to get us back home and get busy on some church responsibilities that are waiting. Isn't it strange the way we kind of miss those things that tie us down after we have spent a long time away from them? The routine can be good.

We spent close to an hour at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis today. It was 103 degrees. No lie.

We are driving to Liberty Jail in Missouri as I type this post. I just read Doctrine and Covenants 121, 122, and 123 aloud, and in doing so was moved by the persecution, both in body and spirit, that Joseph Smith suffered while in this prison for those 5 months. I would encourage you to read these passages if you have not done so recently. Humbling stuff.

On a secular note, I heard lyrics today that seemed connected to the suffering of the Prophet Joseph.

"I swam dirty waters that you pushed me in."

I guess I would rather do the swimming than the pushing.