Sunday, May 31, 2009

The One With a Sunday Favorite

This talk by Henry B. Eyring has been one of my very favorites. It is not just about writing in a journal... it is about seeing the hand of God in your life. I love that. Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The One Where She Was Just Too Tired to Fry

I am soooo tired. I am about to take a couple of aspirin and talk DK into giving me a footrub and taking me to a movie. But first this little goodie. Since Tyler asked for it, AND Jessi asked for it, here it is. It really is so very yummy. Since I don’t have a picture of it, and there is no possible way I am making it tonight, I perused the internet to find a picture that most closely resembles it. I love this coconut shrimp, and most often serve it as an appetizer, for people I really love. I have seen a couple of recipes online that make coconut shrimp into a salad. There is also this awesome little restaurant right on the ocean near Aliso Creek Beach called the Coyote Grill where I love to eat coconut shrimp. They serve it with black beans and some chopped fruit salsa. Someone posted a yummy fruit salsa recipe recently... Our Best Bites. Check it out. Anyway, I don't need anything else to go with it. I could just sit and dip and eat all night.


Fried Coconut Shrimp With Orange Dipping Sauce

Friday, May 29, 2009

The One Where They Did it All Over Again

Catering again tomorrow... This time, a big wedding reception. I thought you might like to see a couple of pictures from last Saturday’s 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration. It was really beautiful.

These meringues are Fawn’s specialty. They are actually mini pavlovas, if you know what that is. They simply make my heart go pitter-patter. And not just in a pre-diabetic palpitation sort of way. She brought me a platter of them for my birthday. I let everyone have just one, and then I ate all the rest all by myself.

Here is a glimpse of the Shrimp Scampi Caesar Salad from the recipe I posted last week:

I also adore this punch. The trend for the last couple years has been lemonades. This is so much simpler... plus I just love anything fizzy.

I was thinking I would post a recipe for something-or-other tomorrow, if I am still alive at the end of the day. Does anyone have any special requests? Tell me your request, make it interesting, and it shall be granted. Just don’t ask me for the recipe for the meringues. I don’t know it, and I’m not asking... some things are just so magical they should remain a mystery.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The One That Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hand

Those of you who are part of Mormonland may know this man, Brad Wilcox. He teaches teacher education at Brigham Young University. He has been a mission president in Santiago, Chile for three years. But he is perhaps most sought after as a speaker for youth. I have to admit that I don’t always love those guys…the popular youth speakers. They often seem to have a gimmick that makes them popular.

But, Brad Wilcox. He came to Orange County a year and a half or so ago, and spoke to about 200 youth in our area. My own kids were there, so I was hoping that it would be good. But it wasn’t good… it was awesome! I can’t tell you what he talked about. I don’t remember. But I decided something, listening to him. I knew I needed to be more like him, because he was so good at showing how much he loved everyone. And while I am still not the best at this, I haven’t forgotten. I have been trying to incorporate some of his skills.

The most striking thing was after his talk was over. Because he had made everyone listening feel like they were his new best friend, they all lined up afterward to shake his hand. I was sitting on the stand, and I got to see close-up how this worked: A young lady would come up to him and reach out her hand to shake his. He would take her hand, open it up, and pour in some M&Ms from a giant bag in his hand, as he asked her name. M&M’s. Brilliant! A gimmick? Maybe, but M&M’s totally work on me. I don’t eat them much, but I can still remember a fantasy I had as a five-year-old playing in my dad’s glass shop in Mt. Shasta (yup, playing in a glass shop…these are the same parents that let me ride to Arizona once in the back of a pickup truck, remember… simpler days?) and my dad would get these giant boxes shipped to the shop that contained windshields. I pictured being in one of those enormous boxes, and having M&M’s poured in to fill the box. I also imagined being locked in a Mothers Cookie truck. Some things never change…

So anyway, first the M&M’s. And then Brother Wilcox threw his arms around the girl in a big hug, and told her that he loved her. And he meant it. And she knew he meant it. I watched him do it over and over. At one point he turned to me and handed me his bag of M&M’s (picture the loaves and the fishes...those M&M’s made it through the whole afternoon) and asked if I would make sure everyone got some, and he turned his full attention to the business of making each of those kids feel like a million bucks.

I have spent most of my life not being a big fan of hugging. However, since I have been working in the youth program at church for the last three years, I have stepped outside my comfort zone, and I am now officially a hugger. I have decided that it was never hugging I didn’t like. It is just that I am not a fan of the Awkward Hug. There are many versions. The particular one I was utilizing was the Overly Careful Hug, combined with my personal nemesis…the Awkward Pat. The worst Awkward Hugs come from not being properly committed to the process.

I have gotten better, with practice. The over/under question I will leave up to you. But you have to hug like you mean it. My aim is that the recipient of the hug will think to him/herself, “Wow, she really likes me.” And sometimes as a little added bonus, you hold the hug just about two seconds longer than they expect, add a completely unself-conscious I Love You, and they think, “Hmm… do you think she… likes me likes me?” No, I don’t. Not like that (except for you, DK).

I am certainly no Brad Wilcox. But I am working on it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The One With Emily Post at the Funeral

I went to Great Aunt Ruth’s funeral today. It was lovely, as funerals go. She was 83, and lived a full life. And I think she would forgive me for the things I am about to say.

I’m not exactly Emily Post, or Miss Manners, or anyone like that, but I can still tell you that when the nice bishop conducting the service asked for the third time for everyone to turn off their cell phones… I did. May I observe, hopefully without offending, that an inability to separate oneself from phone and internet service for the space of one hour to pay respects to a departed loved one might be cause for some self-examination. But I am not judging. In fact, despite the fact that multiple cell phones went off during the service, with very loud, long ringtones playing the latest Top Ten and the like, this is not even a pet peeve of mine. In fact, I am all for comic relief in a stressful situation. Even if it happens during the closing prayer. And even if the phone plays Kenny Chesney for a full three minutes from the purse left sitting on the front row by the nice lady giving the prayer. Bless her heart. I’m okay with all that.

But I would like to recommend something, if you are attending a funeral anytime soon (hey, you may be… you just never know about these things), and you know you are one of those people that simply won’t turn off the little lifeline in your pocket… again, not judging, here… for all I know you are a brain surgeon on call. You might be the one carrying the nuclear codes for the president. Your wife is going into labor at any moment. You may be the one with the key to World Peace In Our Time. You know who you are… you are not one of the little people… you are above the law. So I am just suggesting that you think ahead a little, and plan accordingly with a meaningful ringtone. For your convenience, I have compiled a list so that you don’t have to take time out of your busy schedule to do so.

And before I go, please allow me to express… my condolences.

Funeral Ringtone Playlist
Mariah Carey: I Can’t Live (If Living Is Without You)
Lonestar: One More Day
Coldplay: ‘Til Kingdom Come
A.F.I.: The Leaving Song
Norah Jones: Sinkin’ Soon
John Mayer: Dreaming With a Broken Heart
Avril Lavigne: My Happy Ending
Sarah McLaughlin: I Will Remember You
Barbra Streisand: The Way We Were
Boys Like Girls: The Great Escape
Elton John: Funeral For a Friend (or really, any Elton John song…let’s face it, the guy has a lot of dead friends; although Candle in the Wind is a little overdone, in my opinion)
Depeche Mode: Enjoy the Silence
All-American Rejects: One More Sad Song
Mormon Tabernacle Choir: God Be With You ‘Til We Meet Again
Journey: Who’s Crying Now?
Maroon 5: Sweetest Goodbye
Weezer: Haunt You Every Day
My Chemical Romance: Welcome to the Black Parade
Nickelback: If Today Was Your Last Day
Queen: Another One Bites the Dust
Bill Withers: Ain’t No Sunshine (When She’s Gone)
Ben Folds Five: One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces (hmm.)
Saves the Day: At Your Funeral
The Wreckers: Lay Me Down

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The One Where She Wishes She Could

Do I have a problem saying no? Do you? DK makes me practice saying this line: “Oh, I wish I could…” It doesn’t always work. I have a couple of issues with the whole “no” concept. The first one is that I noticed when I was a mom of many young children that I had gotten into what I termed “no mode.” You know how little people are constantly asking for things… for attention… to go places… to buy everything they see in a commercial on TV… and the list goes on. And so the word “no” became the default response to any given question. Whatever it is, NO. And I realized at some point, that while it is important to say no at times to keep kids safe, and to avoid that sense of entitlement kids get when they know that they can have anything they want, whenever they want it… there was simply no good reason to always say no. Instead my new strategy was to say yes whenever I could. That opened up new possibilities for activities to do. If there was something they really wanted to buy, then we could strategize how we might accomplish that. They could play with friends more often than not, and yes, the friends could even come in our backyard, if they could figure a way to negotiate past the badly-behaved golden retriever to reach the trampoline. So I really don’t care for the default “no” mode. I think I have solved that issue over the years. The answer is: if it is for family, I will try to say yes as often as I possibly can.

But the second and more complicated issue is when people who are not my family ask for my time. DK just sent me this quote from a blog by Seth Godin:

“If you've got talent, people want more of you. They ask you for this or that or the other thing. They ask nicely. They will benefit from the insight you can give them. The choice: You can dissipate your gift by making the people with the loudest requests temporarily happy, or you can change the world by saying 'no' often. You can say no with respect, you can say no promptly and you can say no with a lead to someone who might say yes. But just saying yes because you can't bear the short-term pain of saying no is not going to help you do the work. Saying no to loud people gives you the resources to say yes to important opportunities.”

Hmm. I see the wisdom in this. I do. And I have gotten better. I don’t volunteer to bring the refreshments nearly as often. I don’t feel compelled to volunteer for the PTA… been there and done that. But what happens when the stake presidency (the area church leader) tells me that if I won’t play for the stake Christmas music program (which involves many, many hours over a six-week period), that they don’t know what they will do, because no one else can play the music the same way that I can, and the program will suffer. My first thought is, then they should select some easier music. But my second thought is, several hundred people attend this stake concert, and it has to be held to a higher standard than a small program might. Beyond that, I have agreed to dedicate my time, my talents, and anything else with which I have been blessed. And I am not trying to brag, but it is a fact that I have been blessed with, and have worked to develop, a lot of skills that are in demand. I know that when I agree to teach a class, or to play for a meeting, that I can bring something extra…something special to the task, that will benefit and many times bring the spirit to others.

So what is the answer? How do you find balance between yes... and no?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The One With the House Elves

So, if you will remember, Saturday I was catering. I cooked in a big hurry, ran off to dip strawberries, and then back for just long enough to get ready to go to the catering job. I left my kitchen in a huge mess… garlic, bits of parsley everywhere, dirty skillets, dishes… and just hoped that the house elves would have it magically clean before I got home. I knew the odds were against that, since my family was going to a Memorial Day barbecue in my absence. I dragged through the door a little after 10:30 Saturday night, and found the kitchen just as I had left it. Actually… it was worse. I was so tired, though, I couldn’t stay up to clean it. I took some aspirin and went to bed.

At 8:00 Sunday morning I woke up and remem- bered I had the nasty kitchen waiting for me, so I combed my hair, found some shoes and headed, bleary-eyed, down the stairs. Walked into the kitchen just in time to find Elder Felkner wiping the last counter and Elder Murray starting the dishwasher he had just filled. They cleaned my kitchen while I slept! Elder Murray always says his dream is to do something that earns him a place in my blog (the guy is a dreamer, you know... being a famous singer, having a pirate-themed wedding cake... ah, yes... he and Elder Felkner both think big). I am afraid he was hoping for some outrageous prank or dangerous heroic feat to win him blog glory, but he will have to take what he gets, because as of today, they are both officially blog heroes. Of course, they don’t actually get to read the blog... heh heh... but it’s the thought that counts, right?

We don’t get to have the mission- aries for much longer. Cambria is twelve, and the bishops of both the congreg-ations that share our missionaries are looking for a new host family. *sniff* As the search is underway, I find myself surprised, and not for the first time, by how difficult it is to find them a home. Even in such an affluent area as ours, people are very reluctant to leave their comfort zone to make a place for them. We are not the typical host family. The ideal would be a retired couple, not a family with a houseful of kids. I am pretty sure that heaven and earth moved to bend the requirements a little so that we could have them for most of the last four years.

Despite the require-ments, there are plenty of people here in our area who qualify to host the mission- aries, but they all seem to have various reasons why they don’t feel comfortable doing it. One of the main ones is a loss of privacy. And okay...having two people live in your home who are not members of your family is undeniably less private. But do you know what I have decided? Privacy is highly overrated. Or maybe that isn’t even the right way to think about it. I don’t feel that our home life is less private… just that we have increased our family circle to include some amazing young men. And not only have they never breached the family’s privacy, but I have heard about how they have flatly refused to enter into gossip about our family, and have even defended family members on occasion, just as you would hope brothers would do. Elder Felkner and Elder Murray are the just the last in a long line of missionaries who have loved and served our family in countless ways.

I could make this a monster post, telling you all the ways that having the missionaries has been a blessing for my family. It would still not reflect how much I love, love, love them. There isn’t a downside, except maybe that eventually they all move on. But every missionary who has passed through our home has become a lifelong friend and beloved family member. And you tell me… who cannot use more of those?

P.S. You might notice that, left to their own devices, missionaries tend to take a lot of pictures of themselves driving. Why? I don’t know. It is one of the great mysteries.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The One With Garlic First Thing in the Morning

It is only 8:30 in the morning and my house already smells like garlic and parmesan… my friend Fawn and I are catering a 50th wedding anniversary celebration in a few hours, This is a sample of what our spread looks like… don’t we do beautiful food? And guess what! Tastes good, too. One of my jobs today is the Caesar salad. I hate to admit it, but I am not a Caesar salad fan. There are a couple of things, though, that elevate this salad to special occasion status.

The first is these homemade croutons. (Sorry no photo of the actual salad… I’m not making it until this afternoon. But I made these up fresh this morning…) With sliced baguette, olive oil and garlic, parmesan and fresh Italian parsley, they are more like little garlic toasts, really. The second special ingredient is shrimp scampi. I seldom make my own Caesar dressing. Don’t hate me, but I think that Newman’s Own makes a Caesar dressing that is very good, and when you are loading the salad with shrimp scampi and homemade croutons, you are probably not going to notice the difference. But feel free to make your own Caesar if you like… if you are a purist, you will have to make it tableside, with raw eggs and anchovies.

Now, I still don’t love this salad, even with the secret ingredients (although I have been known to hide in the pantry eating the shrimp scampi straight from the skillet). Make no mistake, though... everyone else loves it. However, there is this variation I sometimes make that I do crave. Omit the homemade croutons, place a good helping of the salad on an extra-large tortilla, fold the ends in and roll it up… and then toast it on all sides in a hot skillet. The salad doesn’t heat up…it stays nice and fresh inside, but the nice toasty tortilla just makes it taste like a meal to me. Try it… you’ll like it!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The One Where They All Look the Same to Me; or Vic On Her Soapbox

So Ethan is in his 9th week of Basic Training. We get letters a couple of times a week. Usually on little tiny notebook paper… random thoughts, etc. I have have had missionaries out in the field continuously for so long, now, that I don’t really think about this time as being particularly long. Yes, I worry about him when I hear that he has had pneumonia for two weeks. Or that he had his wisdom teeth out during one of the harder weeks. Or that he has a foot injury that might keep him from graduating on time. But all in all, I just try to write him frequently and pray for him to be strong enough to do it.

But today I went onto the message boards at a website for the families of recruits, and found that many of them (the mothers, that is) are following every single move these men make at Basic Training. They know, practically to the hour, what they are doing on any given day. They are already ordering banners and T-shirts for graduation, and planning rallies, and all sorts of things that completely baffle my brain.

This is not a new story for me. It goes back to when I was a new missionary mom. I signed up to be on an e-mail group for the missionary moms of my son’s mission. While I gained some valuable information every now and again, I also began to be annoyed, and even concerned by many of the e-mails. While it was helpful to know that a particular day was a national holiday in Argentina, and I should not expect my weekly e-mail that day, I found that many of the moms wanted to share other things. They wanted to take up a petition to send to the mission president complaining about his mail policy. Or they wanted to commiserate about how traumatic it was to drop their sons off at the Missionary Training Center. (Some changed the M.T.C. acronym to say “Mothers Torture Chamber!”) Some of the moms were hoping for sightings of their sons by church members in the area. One mother told how she had taken to crying herself to sleep in her missing son’s bedroom! WHAT? When I suggested to one of those (how can I put this kindly?) less-than-stable mothers that one way I cope with the loss of sending a son out was to provide service to the missionaries stationed in my own area (you know, like letting them live with me?), I was informed in a very public group e-mail that I could not understand what she was going through, and needed to mind my own business.

I realized some time ago that while it is not always easy to send my boys off, that they were bravely going to provide a service that no one else could perform, and that they were called to do so, and in the long run that had very little to do with me, and everything to do with the boy and his personal relationship with God. It occurred to me that every time I even considered complaining, I should remember the mother whose son was not well enough to serve. The one whose son had unresolved moral issues that made it impossible for him to go. The heartbreaking challenges of those boys who wanted and tried to go, but had health or emotional issues that forced them home early. The mother whose son chose worldly pursuits over church or military service... or, heaven forbid...last year, a boy Casey’s age was killed in a car accident while he was preparing to serve. And even beyond those circumstances, there is the fact that when these boys return home, they are no longer boys, but rather men, and they are not mine to keep anymore… if they ever were. I removed myself from those e-mail lists a long time ago, and have never looked back.

Often I have observed that my stoicism is interpreted as a lack of caring. Let me just be clear here. Just because I don’t share Casey’s mission exploits or Ethan’s derring-do in every other post, or to every person I meet, does not mean that I am one iota less proud of them, or love them one teensy bit less than the other moms love their boys. I am, in fact, trying to do my boys a favor, by giving them the gift of independence, rather than tying them down with the thought that their mother is home languishing in grief because of their absence. Am I making any sense here, people? You will have to give me your opinions on this subject, because it is one that I have faced for the last few years.

Which rant (sorry about the soapbox) leads me back to the story about Ethan. One of the Recruit moms hid on the base after a graduation at MCRD last week… behind the bleachers set up for graduation… in order to snap a few pictures of Ethan’s platoon. All I am saying is, that is probably not something I would have considered. But since she did, and shared the photos, I get to post a couple here for you to enjoy. I have been puzzling over them for two days, now… because I can’t tell which one is Ethan. While eliminating a couple of recruits for obvious ethnic reasons, I seriously can’t tell the rest of them apart!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The One Where She Fit in Perfectly

Today is Jessica’s birthday. Jessi is my perfect daughter-in-law. She really is perfect… I am not kidding! She loves animals, and worked her way through college working at her family’s pet stores. She loves people more, which I think is the way it really ought to work. But she loves Josh...and more recently, Jif, most of all. She waited for Josh while he served his mission in Argentina. During that time she took care of Tyler his freshman year at BYU. She helped him study and took him to have his wisdom teeth pulled. She even managed to talk them into letting her watch. You have to love a girl who isn’t squeamish!

Josh and Jes were married two years ago this June...and then got busy. Jessi graduated from BYU alongside Josh, and she is a Registered Nurse working in pediatrics at Timpanogos Hospital. In January she managed to give birth to a 10 lb., 1 oz. baby boy (my cute grandbaby Jif)… without a c-section… and she is an amazing mother. And she even makes stunning wedding cakes in her spare time!

I wasn’t sure what it would be like to have a daughter-in-law. But not to worry... we got the best one. It seems there was a little place missing in our family, that she fills up perfectly. This was a trip we took to Yellowstone a couple of months after the wedding…and for once Cambria had a sister along. The best part was, she was like a real sister…except maybe for the fighting. Well, and the stealing clothes... and the sibling rivalry. How did we get so lucky? Happy 23rd, Jes!

Monday, May 18, 2009

The One For Whitney and Katherine

This is Whitney

And this is Katherine (pictured on the left)

Whitney is on a nursing internship working in a hospital in Amman, Jordan for the summer… well, until she comes home to marry Morgan in July. She and her fellow interns are mentoring nursing students in a hospital in Amman. Whitney is no doubt the blondest, most beautiful person in Jordan right now.

Katherine is on an internship through her university for the LDS Church Perpetual Education Fund program (which is extremely cool, by the way… if you have never heard of it, click on the link and read!) in Guatemala, teaching career workshops (como conseguir trabajo). Katherine is definitely the tallest, most beautiful person, male or female, in Guatemala right now.

Both women are students at Brigham Young University, and this is how they are spending their summer. I love that! I thought as a little present I would post this goody that I made a couple of years ago. It is a little book of recipes I put together for missionaries, but is suitable for any intrepid traveler. The recipes are generally simple, with few ingredients. You print it out, cut it up and assemble it, and then punch a hole in a corner and put the whole little 4x5-inch book on a clasp-ring. Any of you who want to print it out… it makes a fun gift for a departing missionary. It is made to print double-sided. So print the odd pages first, and then flip the whole stack over and print the even pages (you may have to see how your printer works to decide which way you stick them back in the printer for the second go-round). Then cut the pages into fourths and assemble the book, with the basic cooking instructions in the front. If you do it right, then the two-page recipes print out properly back-to-back.

Have a fun summer, Katherine and Whitney...and let me know if there’s anything you need!

The One With the Food Challenge

Hello. D/K here with a guest blog. One of the serious short- comings of internet commun- ication is smell. OK all other forms of communication from TV to telephone also have this lack—with the possible exception of the direct mail and magazines with their perfume ads and scratch and sniff. But I digress.

Every once in a while I like to surprise Cupcake (Victoria) with a food challenge. It’s a cross between Iron Chef and Hell’s Kitchen—but in a nice way, without all the swearing. The most recent challenge was a Buxted Chicken (that’s a brand name by the way) and shallots. If you want to get technical, it was chicken leg quarters. And at 88 cents a pound, I couldn’t pass it up.

While Cupcake is always up for a challenge, this one blew me away. You know how you are out at a great homestyle restaurant? Think Claim Jumper or Mrs. Knott’s Chicken back in the day. The first thing that hits you when the meal is served is the amazing aroma. So here…in Smell-o-vision… Cupcake’s Barbecued Leg Quarters and Shallot Mashed Potatoes. I have no idea how she made them, since she didn’t use a recipe, but just started throwing stuff into pans. So you will have to beg and plead and promise to comment more often, until she posts the recipes for these bad boys. Just from my observation--the chicken starts off on a hot grill and then moves to the oven with some homemade sauce. are the recipes, folks:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The One That Killed the Cat

I have to admit, it is was a relief having you all tell me what to write about for a change. The brain cloud is receding... so without further adieu:

1. McD Three: You could ask me anything, and you want a LIMERICK? About my CLOSET? Well, okay...

There was a collector of clutter
Whose family tended to mutter
I have to confess
That she stuck all the mess
In her closet, where it couldn’t confront her.

2. Lindsey: You didn’t ask a question, so I am forced to give you dating advice. Call the cute doctor, and tell him he needs to ask you out, or he is an idiot.

3. Jan: What a lovely question! We are gypsies, are we? I have been thinking about it all day, and in preparation, I have started learning how to play the guitar. You and I are are going to be street performers...and let’s face it: the piano is just not very portable, is it? It is a good thing you have such a lovely singing voice, because mine is slightly below average. But I know I can pick up the guitar quickly. I am thinking of very folksy stuff, and since you are politically inclined, I think it will do nicely. We are going to start in your neck of the woods, because I have been having a hankering to see the stunning Columbia River Gorge again... we will drive an old pickup truck, and work our way through the Northwest. If my guitar case doesn’t yield enough funds, we can moonlight in the occasional diner...I’ll short-order cook and you can waitress (you might want to brush up on the lingo)...eventually heading all the way east, until we wind up on the steps of the White House singing one of your songs for Barack and Michelle. I think you should make up a song about her $450 tennis shoes!

4. Raechal: You are most welcome for the chocolate cakes.
Here is your wish:

5. Lisa: So many many answers.

First, you use this on just the roots of your hair before you blow-dry:

Then, try this cool stuff on your styled hair... just a little silica dust...

Second, I don’t always say the right thing in my lessons. And I don’t stress out over it like you do. You can’t hit a homerun every week. I do listen carefully (to the girls and the spirit) and make course corrections.

Third: I read the lesson, ponder, pray, and don’t overthink. Depend on discussions to provide the bulk of the lesson.

My favorite books: think hopelessly romantic, but with a happy ending. Pride and Prejudice. Little Women. And a church book that I can’t help reading and re-reading: The Infinite Atonement by Tad R. Callister, that has me thinking and re-thinking.

Thank you for asking...Casey and Ethan are fabulous. Casey is loving his mission and loving the people of Texas, and Ethan is growing up and thinking about others more than himself.

I don’t know why you don’t live next door. For that matter, Nan, get Jeff right on that. Having you next door would be ever so much more convenient.

6. Allie: What to do with the kiddies at your lunchtime free-for-all: Let them throw cream pies at Mrs. Shu! I will come and help them.

7. Rachel R: Next week we will record with my beautiful almost-new and formerly nicotine-stained microphone, and I will ply you with homemade bread and jam.

8. Catherine: Your bread sounds as though the yeast is collapsing. Try using a little more flour. Here is the consistency you are looking for in the dough: if you touch the dough and some of it sticks to your fingers, it is too moist. Add more flour. Add flour until you can handle it with very little sticking. It should be pulling away from the sides of the bowl a bit as it mixes. Then in your final rise, don’t let it rise too long. When one inch is visible over the tops of the pans, bake it! Let me know if that helps.

9. Carolyn: My favorite color, hmm? I took this one as a challenge. There are no ordinary questions, right? Just ordinary answers. I would hate to disappoint someone with artistic sensibilities. So, Carolyn, I have included a visual answer, as well as an audio one recorded just for you (this MP3 player is being very temperamental...if it doesn’t play at first, go up and click on the post title: The One That Killed the Cat. Then scroll back down and it should play. I don’t even know why!). I called this “Sea Glass.”

Okay, so guess what! I took this song I wrote for Carolyn, and it is ON MY CHRISTMAS CD! I renamed it “About the Baby,” but it is there... exactly like this:)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The One That Was Curiouser and Curiouser

Jan, the crazy lady over here, posted a free-for-all yesterday (or was that just today? it has been a long day)... everyone got to ask her questions, and she answered. Since I have a brain cloud induced by doing unaccustomed amounts of housework, I have been quite unable to think of an inspiring blog post...or even an uninspiring one. So help me out. Ask me a question. I will answer it. You can ask me for a recipe. Or dating advice. Did I tell you that one of the guys that asks me for dating advice is getting married? He says it is because my advice works. Go figure! Ask me for a poem. Or what is in my closet. Ask me anything you want to know. Except that if you ask about what is in my closet, I will probably lie. I’ll go with Jan’s rules...all she asked is just keep it clean.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The One With P-Day Tuesday

Do you remember that line in “Toy Story,” where Mrs. Potato says, “I’m packing your Angry Eyes, just in case!”? This picture reminds me of that. Not angry, though. Maybe a teensy bit tired. In the last two weeks, I have had my 25th anniversary, Tyler’s birthday, my birthday and Mother’s Day. I have baked a total of seven large cakes and 30 loaves of bread, stayed up past midnight at least eight times, gave a talk for 35 girls, and made dinner on Sunday for twenty. Two former missionaries that used to live here have come to visit. I helped the missionaries who still live here make and mail a CD for their mothers, I learned how to play Speech Therapy “Go Fish,” and attended a Mother’s Day Tea Party at the kindergarten class. There is much more…I will be merciful and stop.

In that time I have only done two loads of laundry, not once have I made my bed and I am afraid I have been on something like a fourteen-day eating frenzy. The missionaries have something called P-Day once a week. Preparation Day. I really, really need a p-day. So today I am folding laundry. On a made bed. Eating a yogurt. And working on music. There may even be time for...dare I say it?... a nap. No excitement today, please…it has been fun, but now it is done.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Mother's Day One, Last Part

This is DK holding Josh, our first baby. That was the day I became a mother. I thought I knew what it would be like, but then he was born, and I found I had completely underestimated the situation. It was ever so much better, and oh so much worse. Euphoric…and dire. It was like safety and danger all rolled into one screaming rollercoaster package. When Adam and Eve chose to eat from the Tree of Knowledge and Good and Evil, they unleashed opposition… and that is what being a parent is all about. High highs, low lows, and lot of in between.

I think one thing that is hardest about being a mother is embracing change. In some ways I love change. I wouldn’t mind moving to new places (DK is a homebody). I change my hair, my clothes, my music… but then there is the matter of the kids. I don’t like change when it involves people I love going away. It only seems like a couple of years since DK held Josh in the nursery at St. Joseph’s, but the years have rushed by, and everything changes.

This photo is from the last Thanksgiving we were all together as a family. In 2004. (yes, Ethan regrets the Mark Hamill hair-do) Then Josh left on a mission, and before he got back, Tyler left on a mission, and before he got back Casey left on a mission. Everything changes. Does that make me sad? Yes. And also fiercely happy and proud. It is that opposition thing again.

When Skippy was born, I really learned how much things had changed. I wondered when I was expecting him, what would it be like to have a baby boy again, but this time in a houseful of teenage boys. I will tell you how it turned out: Magic.

Skippy was not just my baby…he was everyone’s baby.

Everything was a little sweeter. A little gentler. A lot happier.

I remember reading about how an only child turns out to be more successful, because he gets his parents’ undivided attention. Looking at Skippy, I think how sad it would be if all he had was his parents’ undivided attention.

And so everything changes. And today I am expecting a Mother’s Day call from a missionary.

For the fifth year in a row. And if all goes well, for five more years to come.

It stabs my heart a little that I don’t have all my babies around me anymore…because they aren’t babies anymore. And at the same time, what could be better?

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!