Friday, December 28, 2007

Elephant shoes to Phill

Today Phill and I have been married for six years! It's hard for me to write something great about this subject, because every word I choose just seems trite, given the magnitude of my feelings for my husband. I'm going to try, though!

I am so grateful to be married to Phill. He stabilizes me, he makes me laugh, he believes in me and supports me. I'm proud to be married to him, and I'm honored that he chose me as his eternal partner. I love how dedicated a father he is, and I love that he helps me gain perspective when I'm overwhelmed. I love his sense of humor and his willingness to laugh at himself. I miss him when he's not here, even if he's only at work, and I love how the kids yell "Daddy!" and run to him when he gets home.

Phill, I love you! I appreciate you! I'm grateful that we found each other, and I'm grateful for the life we've created together. I can't wait for our 2oth, 50th, and especially our 75th when we will be old and wrinkled and smiling with deep crow's feet, with our picture in the paper with all the other 75th-anniversary old-timers. The moment you walked into the room, I knew I was done.

Happy Anniversary!

These two pictures are from our sealing in February of 2005 (thanks, Christine, for taking these!), but I figured that they're appropriate, given that we are together and very smiley in them. (Somehow we just haven't found time to take pictures together....except as a family.)This one is also not that recent--August of 2006, to be exact. But I like it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Home....can anyone help?

We're home! Finally. It was fun, but also exhausting. And I can't wait to put away all our Christmas decorations. That kind of sounds a little cold/inhuman, but after a month of them I'm just crazy-anxious to put them away for another 11 months. Ever the minimalist! Actually, I'd describe myself more as a semi-minimalist. I just don't want too much stuff around me. It's hard enough to keep my walk-way clear with three kidlets leaving their telltale trail of toys behind.

This is ridiculous, but I'm having the worst time bringing myself to let Savanna cry it out at night. I've unfortunately (and, I thought, unintentionally) trained her to wake up a million times a night to eat. And now that she's almost 7 months, I'm mad at myself for being lazy. And in my case, it is mostly laziness. It's so much easier for me to roll over and nurse her and just fall back asleep, rather than holding her until she's sleepy enough to be put down, or putting her down anyway and trying to sleep while she cries it out....she's my third baby! Why is this hard? I know how to do this! I have done this before! But some teeny tiny voice in the back of my mind says imploringly, "No! You can't let her cry!" Anyone have pain-free or less-painful tips for helping her sleep through the night? I'm tired of sleeping in spurts; my mind is as fuzzy as a dry lion and I'm as grumpy as a wet lion. (Yes. I realize that was ridiculous. But it makes perfect sense to me. I am tired and grumpy!) Seven months of this is enough. I have to be alert with my mischievous little wild ones.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sneak peek

Hello, all my blogging friends and family! Since we're going to be in Salt Lake for Christmas, and not likely blogging for a couple of days, I thought I'd post our holiday card. I hope all of you have a joyful Christmas Day and feel warm and loved. Thanks for "listening" to me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Clementine trees

Reed just "planted" a clementine seed outside in a Tupperware container open and full of water.....I don't have the heart to tell him that it probably won't grow, even given soil instead of a plastic container of water. I told him it needed sunshine, so he put it out there, and he sat on the couch watching it, waiting, and finally said, "Mom, it's not growing!" And I said, "You have to wait a few days." His dismayed response: "A few days?! Mom, that is so long! I will put some soil in there." He's talking to me about a little tree of clementines. Oh, I just can't tell him!! :) Anyone know of some things I can plant right now, here in Utah, that will be showing at least sprouts in a little while? I think that'll ease his disappointment when he realizes there will be no clementine trees in our backyard. Or maybe I can grow something indoors in a little window box? Any tips?

I bought a journal yesterday, not because I've been needing one--heaven knows that as the Paper Maven/Office Obsessed, I have enough notebooks and paper and journals for a year--but because it was really pretty and big. And I decided I'll use it at least in part to do what President Henry B. Eyering talked about in his talk this last October (LDS General Conference October 2007). I just liked how the journal looked. So I bought it. And it was very satisfying to write in it last night.

Our ward is doing Secret Sister stuff, and last night, I got some REALLY awesome stuff from mine! I got a great wreath, and I love the color combination of the boxes I was given, the tiffany blue and chocolate brown. Oh, and they're full of goodies.

Lastly, I have to post these cute pictures of the babies at bathtime! This is Savanna's first time in the big tub with the boys--she's so tiny I can still just bathe her in the kitchen sink. And I had to post pictures (of course) of how she fell asleep two nights ago, and pictures of Phill reading to the boys. They're reading Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, which makes me cry. (I know, I know, I'm such a boob. Read it, though. It's a very tender story.) *Oh, and I had to post a picture of the kids' outfits, too. So festive--Reed in red, Jaxon in green, and Savanna in off-white. In my effort to take beautiful photos, I forget that it's okay--and necessary--to just take pictures to take pictures....I don't always have to be "on". So be proud of me, Abby. I just took a BUNCH of photos that don't have much to be said for their photographic brilliance--but aren't my babies just lovely? :)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Awesome the sandwich!! Take that, Health Inspector....

I spent the better part of the morning and afternoon putting all my energy into procrastinating the cleaning of our disastrously messy house. And so somehow the mess had not miraculously disappeared by the time lunch hungriness rolled around. I decided that a picnic in the kitchen was a great idea (because I didn't think clearing the table was a great idea), so we spread Reed's Batman blanket on the floor and sat down to pb&j, carrots, and tortilla chips. As I surveyed what I should have been cleaning for the last several hours, I said to no one in particular, "I think that if the health inspector were to show up, I would be fired." Reed (who happens to hear every single word I say to No One in Particular, that smart boy) looked at me curiously and asked, "Who is the health inspector?" I said, "It's the person who comes and makes sure that nothing is rotten and makes sure there aren't too many dirty things everywhere." And Reed said with complete confidence, "I think he would let you stay." And calmly continued to eat his carrot. Jaxon was polite enough to say, "Wow! Awesome, Mom!" upon biting into his sandwich, and when I asked if it was the sandwich that was awesome, he nodded and said, "Yes. Awesome the sandwich." Then he and Reed proceeded to shing with their carrots. (Shinging refers to the sound swords make when being used to fight. It is a somewhat-new family word, created by the boys--my boys who are impressed with peanut butter and would try to convince the health inspector to give me some slack.)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Prettiness, pacifiers, and paleontology

I've said before that I don't care for the little baby headbands that are thin and dig into their poor little heads. And I still don't. But I found a baby headband that I don't just like--I love it. And it comes with interchangeable bows. Listen to me! I'm so girly now! :) I've always thought babies don't need decoration, and I still don't think they need it. But she looks so cute with a little bit of it, I couldn't resist. So here's a picture of Savvy with the new headband, which I have put on her almost every day since I got it. She was really posey in this picture! It was cute/funny.So not only do I love certain kinds of baby headbands, but guess what? For the first time (except for four months of Reed's life when he was addicted to a little 2-ounce bottle), one of my kids has a comfort object. And it's a very convenient one. None of our kids have taken a pacifier. I'd put it in their mouths, and they'd just look at me like they were just humoring me, and then spit it out right away. I counted myself lucky that there wasn't something I couldn't go anywhere without, but it was also difficult when I was the one thing that would comfort them. So one night a few days ago, I was editing some photos and needed to just keep plugging along until the last one was finished. Phill was holding Savvy, who was fussy. After about ten minutes, I looked back, and he pointed down at her. There in her mouth was the very pacifier she had snubbed her nose at only two months ago. And she was fast asleep! I silently rejoiced and went back to my editing. And about ten minutes after that, I looked back, and this is what I saw:

This awesome little piece of plastic and rubber saved me two of my usual three trips to the nursing lounge today--yes, three--and buys me an hour or two here and there throughout the day--and my poor nursing appendages are much less sore! :) (She was nursing about every 45 minutes for 20 minutes minimum. All the time. Not growth spurt-ish. All....the....time.) And this odd little piece of semi-ingenuity has bought me a couple more hours of sleep at night. Happy mama? Oh, yes. I'm not worried about weaning her from it--we'll deal with that later. For now, it's heaven-sent.

Yesterday we had the best family-centered day! After having been told a few times by a few different people how wonderful it was, we finally decided to go see the dinosaur tracks museum in St.George. I love stuff like this! I dreamed about being a paleontologist and archaeologist when I was littler, and it was just insanely cool to see actual tracks and marks and skin impressions--*YES, REALLY!*--from something that lived on the earth so long ago. Reed and Jax loved it, too, and Jax kept saying, "Mama! Scary!" in this awe-filled voice, and all Reed could do was stare huge-eyed and say, "WHOA....that is SO cool!" We were especially intrigued by the track of a tyrannosaurus rex, in which Savvy could have stood up. (That is, if she could stand on her own, and if we were allowed to touch it.)
Afterwards, we spent some time in the little souvenir shop section. Phill and I like to make up for the fact that we were not often afforded the luxury of cool tourist souvenirs or neat road trip buys growing up. :) (Don't worry, Mom. I understand that you couldn't buy the twenty-dollar stuffed animal for each of your seven children! Those Clearly Canadian drinks were just fine.) Anyway, we tend to budget for those fun (and most often overpriced) souvenirs when we do these family outings. The prices at this shop were actually quite moderate, so we were pleased. We also saw some great stocking stuffers, which we will inform Santa's elves about as soon as possible. Reed got a small stuffed teradactyl. Did you know they could be small and soft and cuddly? Well, apparently they can for seven dollars in St.George. After about twenty minutes of deep thought and ongoing discussion, Reed finally had a name for his teradactyl--Mike Dinosaur DeVault. Mike came with us for the rest of the day to Phill's company Christmas party, to our friends' houses, and even to church today, on the condition that he be very silent in Reed's backpack. (He was.)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Happy Late Thanksgiving? Happy December? Oh, who cares? Happy!

What better way to kick off December and the Christmas season than with a very late post about Thanksgiving? :) I'm ridiculously pleased with the outcome of our Thanksgiving dinner! I think I cooked more yesterday than I have collectively in the last six years of our marriage. Phill said now that the secret's out (that I can cook and bake), I'll have to keep doing it. Hahhahha....sort of funny, but very true. I made my Mom's pumpkin pie, and it was to-die-for. I felt like I've been craving it for years, and store-bought pumpkin pies just pale in comparison. (Actually, they really are paler in comparison. Hm.) I also made Paula Deen's Crunch-Top Apple Pie which was soooooo good. It lasted about 24 hours. (And that was 95% courtesy of the eating skills of Phill.) We stuffed the turkey with an apple, half an onion, some white wine vinegar, and water, and then rubbed the skin over and under with brown sugar and cinnamon. It was delicious! Our friends the Darringtons made the potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and green bean casserole. There was a little half-disaster with the rolls not rising like they needed to, and being a tiny bit burnt on the bottom, and I forgot to put tinfoil on the outsides of the pie crusts. But other than that, it was a success! The saddest thing was that our friends the Davies family couldn't make it. Camilla, you ought to know that you were on my mind the whole time--yes, the whole time--and you and yours were sorely missed.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Big deal? Yes.

Lately my mind won't stop writing. Every time I see anything that provokes any reaction in me, I don't just want to take a picture. I want to write about it. I have to write about it. Little snippets of writing keep snaking through my mind, begging to be tacked down to paper.

We like to call it The Great and Terrible Hard Drive Crash of 2005. Amongst other things lost: 200 pictures (albeit low-quality) lost, and 200+ pages of writing (12pt. Times New Roman blood, sweat, and tears....) I haven't written (just to write--not including blogging) consistently since then. So this is a big deal for me. Which is why I thought I'd let everyone in my blogging circle know.
Three cheers (one for each child?) for trying to revive the creative drive. (That rhyme was almost accidental.)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Family Words II

I'll be posting my Thanksgiving dinner pictures (not terribly exciting, but informative) in a day or two, just in case any of you are waiting with baited breath....:) Hahhaha. Right.

In connection with Abby's recent post, I had to post some of our family words, most of which are courtesy of Reed:

amn't (also listed on Abby's blog, this is a contraction of "am" and "not", and I have to say I find it quite useful. Reed debuted this awesome concoction at age 3. He's 5, and we still use it all the time.)

benember (Reed's mispronunciation of "remember". He has pretty much outgrown it, but we just like it. It makes us happy. Do you benember?)

"Mom, your chest is chunky." (Figure out this one yourself. He says it lovingly, and to describe my womanly form, but I'm not so fond of it. And yet it sticks.)

And the last one that I can think of off the top of my head:
"Oh, chips!" (This one is the result of Phill finding Jaxon covered in dish soap--mostly in his eyes--and repeatedly saying oh-something-else in his panic. Reed was hiding guiltily, and the next morning, he said, "Mom. When something bad happens, Daddy says, 'Oh chips oh chips oh chips oh chips!!'" Of course we prefer this version of the memory.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Get ready....staggeringly happy blog ahead!

Today is November 20th, one day before my oldest baby will turn 5 years old, and he will be not-so-much a baby anymore. It's also two days before Thanksgiving, which might have prompted my thankful mood this afternoon.

I dropped Reed off at preschool, and had to drag a screaming Jaxon from the classroom (He desperately wishes it were his school, too). Then I noticed that my runny-nosed Savanna was eagerly stuffing the paper flier I held into her mouth, smearing it with the contents of her poor, red, little nose. And Jaxon pulled his hand from my grasp, crying harder when I said, "No, I have to hold your hand. We're in the parking lot." Eventually he calmed down and asked me for Daddy, to which I replied that Daddy would have insistently held his hand in the parking lot, too. For some reason, though, none of this really phased me this afternoon. Instead, it made me smile, and made me feel happy to be a mother. Why? Because I feel a strange sense of satisfaction when I have to do something for the safety of my child, even when they don't like it. It makes me feel like this:

If I never take an award-winning, groundbreaking, earth-shaking photograph, that's okay. If I never write something that broadens the mind, draws upon the emotions, and clarifies the senses of the thousands who read it, that's okay. If there is nothing to my name except "Wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend", that's perfect. That's fine. Why? Because I'm a mother. I'm doing the hardest job I could possibly do--and "job" is really not accurate. I--those of us who mother--do something that requires all my energy, time, passion, and effort. There is no break! And I am nurturing those who will forge paths and brave trials of which I never would have dreamed. My family is my legacy, my family is my honor, my family is me.

We wear our labors like medals of honor. Adopted or biological, C-section or otherwise, natural or medicated, short or long, complicated or smooth, home or hospital: Our labors, our efforts to bring these children here, are the beautiful medals we wear. Our children are our beauty, our accomplishment, our evidence of our willingness to sacrifice.

Now, of course I have difficult months, difficult weeks, difficult days, difficult moments. I would never claim that it's all smooth sailing. But the rewards are so great, and they more than make up for the times I don't know if I can keep going. Sometimes I watch my children in their sleep, their faces so relaxed and open, and I feel so close to where we come from, and I feel a mixture of homesickness and love--I think that's what it means when you say "I love them so much it hurts". I feel blessed by the experience, and humbled to have to work so hard every day to give yet more of myself. I'm happy to be a mother. I love being a mother. If all I ever do is be a dedicated mother and devoted companion to Phill, it will be the very best I could have given in this life.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thanksgiving Ideas

Calling all fellow bloggers/readers of my blog:

How do you like to prepare your Thanksgiving turkey? Or what was the favorite turkey recipe you had?

Any suggestions (overall) for Thanksgiving meal preparation?

How do you serve other (more needful) people on Thanksgiving? Any traditions?

And lastly, any suggestions to really emphasize the gratitude-focus of the day?

This is our first Thanksgiving at home, our first actually preparing the meal ourselves--actually we're having some of our dearest friends over, and they'll be bringing several dishes, too--but technically, it's our first. (We're not counting the early Thanksgiving we had when Phill was home on leave in October of '05.)

I know there are several questions here. If you want to email me your answers, if you feel like it and have time, have at it! And if you only feel like answering one (or none), that's okay, too! I'm just putting this out there, seeing what I'll get out of it.

So far, we're doing: the turkey, cranberry sauce, rolls, pumpkin & apple pie, gravy, and our friends are doing green bean casserole and stuffing, and mashed potatoes. I have good recipes for the pies and rolls. But any other recipes (for the turkey, sauce, or gravy) are welcome.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Jeans, Thighs, & Washes, Oh my.....

Okay--I have no idea if this post will be helpful. But if it is, cool! And if not, well, now you know what jeans I like. Abby, in her quest for the perfect pair of jeans, inspired me to post this.

As a rule, I usually like very dark jeans with NO whisker-washing and NO fading, preferably slightly flared legs. I recently found a pair that I'm in love with, and that's saying a LOT....I usually come home from jeans shopping quite frustrated, wondering why on earth "they" never make good jeans for my shape. (In my effort to be kinder to myself, I'll say my shape is "curvy".) So the top pair, those are my absolute favorite. And the second pair is a comfortable close second--a little less flattering, but still really cute. (I know they have a little fading, but it's so little that it doesn't really bother me.) Anyway, they're both from Old Navy, and I got them online for under $30.00 each. (One pair was on sale...) The first pair is the Mid-Rise Wide-Leg "The Flirt" Trouser Jean. And the second pair is Mid-Rise Flare "The Flirt" Jean.

My haircut/hairthin

I got my hair cut! Actually--I only took off about a fourth-inch of length, but I got it thinned, which always makes a huuuuge difference. This is kind of a weird picture. Actually I think I look REALLY weird. But it shows the hair!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Sunday the 11th is Veteran's Day


Phill is the platoon sergeant for this platoon, and so I was able to accompany him to the airport in St.George yesterday afternoon to welcome these soldiers home. (6 soldiers, I think) He called a lot of media outlets there in St.George to get the word out, and the support was awesome--notice the several Korean War & Vietnam veterans attending, and the Patriot Guard that greeted the soldiers as they exited the airport. It was nice to be welcoming soldiers home--although it was nice, too, that I wasn't welcoming Phill home. :) I don't want to have to do that again. Anyway, it was just a really uplifting time to be at the airport and see all the families and friends greet the people they've missed most for the past year.

Friday, November 2, 2007


Okay, I'm just now getting around to posting our pictures from Halloween. We went to our ward's Trunk-or-Treat, which we loved. So much safer, easier, more fun....Reed was going to be Spiderman, until a friend lent me a pirate costume, and he fell in love with that. On Halloween, I asked him, "Why don't you want to wear the Spiderman costume I got you?" And he sighed heavily and said, "Mom....the Spiderman costume is just not cool anymore."

Jaxon was Cookie Monster (a very solemn Cookie Monster, in fact), and Savanna was a pink bear. (I just wanted her to be warm, and the coat and footie pants were one thing I had that seemed costume-like enough.) Oh, and we handed out all the candy we had, and the boys got a decently small amount, so I'm happy not to be tempted by so many mini chocolate bars....but I might go buy some Kit Kats. You know....just to have the house....ahem.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sheepish Morning

This morning, as I was getting Jaxon and Savanna out of the car to go into the gym for (my) Pilates class, Reed already started running towards the gym door. I called to him to wait, and so he came back to the car. I asked him why he was trying to get into the gym so fast, and caught only the end of his sentence, "" I looked at him, then down at his feet--yep, his feet. No shoes. No socks. (And I thought I was on time. Ha....) So I piled all of us back into the car (1-5 minutes) to go back home (seven minutes), pick up his shoes (30 seconds), and come back (seven minutes). I also called the gym daycare to let them know we'd be at least 15 minutes and 30 seconds late. :)
There's a newly paved road near our house, a road that carves its way through a few hills and next to one isolated neighborhood. Well, I got on that road and was making pretty good time, considering it has no set speed limit (yet). I rounded a curve and several feet ahead were several feet of several sheep. A nice herd of sheep with one cowboy-hatted-horse-riding man (and his dog) rounding them up. And although they weren't crossing yet, they were close enough that I had to slow down quite a bit to pass. So it was more like ten minutes home, which is fine, because I had to laugh at the sheep instead of being annoyed by Reed forgetting his shoes, and the boys were delighted. Reed kept saying, "Mom, there's black sheep! Black sheep!" (Apparently this concept was completely new and exciting.)
The way back was about the same, except that the sheep had made it across and were mostly out of the way. And rounding them up in the rear was a man on a horse, with a cowboy hat and--guess!--a cellphone, from which he was texting. To who, I don't know. The herder in the front? "Dude, this herding thing is sooooo cool. Will you be my BFF? JK. LOL." What do sheep herders text? I can think of a million bad jokes. Baaaad jokes. (Couldn't resist.)
*Source of cartoon sheep:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Veterans, humanity, words for thought, words for catharsis....

I've been waiting to blog about this, partly because I've been formulating my words, but also because Phill has been gone since Monday (home tomorrow, though!), and I've been struggling just to keep our stupid kitchen table wiped down....but I'm going to see if it'll come to me now, and if I can write this thing that's been on my mind for two days now.

Since June of 2005, the summer that I was pregnant with Jaxon, busy with Reed, and lonely without Phill, there was the veteran named Lendon. I walked into our Wal-Mart, and to my left, there he was--sitting in the McDonald's. He caught my eye, saw my burgeoning belly and my bubbly Reed, and waved with an enormous smile. Then he beckoned me to come over. So, in my fascination with all people who will allow me to be fascinated by them, I went. There he sat, a very old man with tanned, wrinkled skin, white hair, and twinkling (though somewhat faded in color) brown eyes. And I noticed something else. On the dark green jacket he wore were medals. And next to him, placed carefully on the windowsill, were two pictures: One of the old man, and a black and white one of a man much younger, in full uniform, with a bright smile, holding a little black plaque with white letters on it.

He said some sweet things to Reed, told Reed that he was a soldier. Reed said with a gasp, "My Dad is a soldier!" And Lendon looked up at me. I said, "Yes, his Dad is in Iraq." And Lendon, pointing at my belly asked, "Is that one going to be a boy?" And I smiled and confirmed that yes, this one would be a boy, too. Lendon was very excited to hear this, and told me that boys are "wonderful." Then he proceeded to tell me that he was 87 years old, and very plainly stated (with a smile) that he is a WWII veteran. I have to admit that my response wasn't very articulate, given that I was trying not to cry. There are a million reasons why, and there are no reasons why....but every time I see him I feel like crying happy and sad tears.

Every time we went to Wal-Mart after that, there he was. Waving from the window at McDonald's, with a sad little breakfast and his two pictures on the windowsill. I've wondered several times if he doesn't quite have all his faculties about him. I've decided several times that he does. I have talked to him many times, and although he has told me every time that he is a WWII veteran, I don't think it's because he's forgotten my face or forgotten if he's told me this. I think it's because he doesn't want anyone to forget it, and I think it's because of course he can't forget it.

When I moved to Provo, upon first walking into Orem's seems-like-right-before-Christmas-all-the-time Wal-Mart, I involuntarily looked for Lendon, and then felt my stomach drop into my shoes. (Of course he wouldn't be there!) I didn't forget about him. I just put him aside for the time being. But when we moved back here, I realized with a start as we went to Wal-Mart again that I would probably see him. And then of course I wondered for a sickening moment if he might not be there, if he might have died in the last ten months that I had been gone. He hadn't. He was there, and he waved, and we went over to him. My eyes were watering when I said, "I remember you! I'm happy to see you!" And Lendon said something to Phill that still makes me cry even to write it--he said, "You're a soldier." And turned to me and said, "And you have two boys!" See? He remembers that. He doesn't remember it every time. But he remembered it then, the summer that Phill came home.

He's still there, Lendon Griffin. And he still says every time, "You know, I'm a WWII veteran." Every time I talk to him, if I can persuade him to talk just a little more, I learn a little more about him. This last time (Monday), he was actually in line behind me, buying Halloween candy. I learned this time that he is now 89, and takes medication for old age, and he's very proud of the fact that he doesn't shake. He showed me his steady hands. "Look! I don't shake at all." But he really surprised me when he said, "You have beautiful children! Did you know I was an orphan? I grew up in an orphanage, and when I met my wife--oh, I was not a Mormon, I was smoking and drinking, but she converted me--when I met my wife, I asked her, 'Will you give me a family? Because I don't have one.' Well, we got married, and my wife had four children, and she couldn't do anymore, and I told her that it was okay because she kept her promise and gave me a family." Not only that, but I got this from him, too: "You know, when I was in the War, we went to Italy, France, Germany....those Germans--not the Nazis, those good for nothing....--not the Nazis, the Germans. When we went there, they gave us hugs and spoke better English than we did."

Every time I look at his watered-down-brown eyes, I can't help but wonder what they've seen. And I keep hearing him ask, "Did you know I was an orphan?"

This might sound strange, but I feel blessed that he talks to me. That strangers often talk to me. Abby says I "collect" people. And it's true, in the most loving sense of collecting....people are my treasures. I love them--all ages. Their idiosyncrasies make me laugh, and sometimes I'm really laughing inwardly if it's a very strange stranger talking to me. But I'm still interested. And I still like most people I meet. That same Monday that Lendon chose to divulge such a priceless bit of information, there was someone else who happened to approach me. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I probably look rather dwarfed by my three children as I push the cart around Wal-Mart, continually saying, "Put that down. Please stop. I love you, too. No, you can't have that. I know you like it. No. NO." Or maybe I look approachable, amiable. (Or maybe my children are so adorable they invite comments from perfect strangers. Yes. I like that one.) Whatever the reason, a very old lady approached me and said, "Oh, you are so blessed. What beautiful children." And I smiled (while on the phone with Abby) and said, "Thank you." She wanted to keep looking, so I paused obligingly, still talking to Abby. Then this elderly lady began to talk to me. (I have to say I really love that she didn't care that I was on the phone. I really do. I'm not being sarcastic. I think it's great that she didn't have the sort of technology-fearing respect for it that some people have.) So I told Abby to hold on, because I knew she'd love to hear the conversation that was spontaneously happening between me and this lady. She proceeded to say, "I have a recipe for you. Are you ready? It's easy. You take three or four containers of yogurt, strawberry or something. You add a tablespoon of sugar to each container, mix it, stir it like this (and here she did the stir motion), and then put it in the oven. You spread it on a cookie sheet. It takes two sheets. And then you put it in the oven overnight at 175 degrees." I asked a few questions just to make sure I had it right, and then she told me her name. She told me her name, that I could find her name in the phone book if I needed more recipes, and lastly, "The homemakers love me. I'm a godsend."

I like these random conversations with strangers. But are they all really strangers? Certainly there have been people from whom I feel no sense of safety or friendship or kindness. Obviously I don't approach those people. But every now and then a seeming stranger will talk to me, and I get the feeling that there are those seeds of the same thing in all of us. I know what it is. We're all human, but it's much deeper than that. Don't you ever get that feeling that we come from the same source, that we shouldn't be walking around in our shy lives so oblivious to each other?

"Did you know I was an orphan?"

Saturday, October 20, 2007

6 Habits/Facts Tag

I've been tagged by Crystal! It looked like a fun use of time, so here goes:

The rules: Each player lists 6 facts/habits about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 6 people.

Fact/Habit 1: I'm a champion for the underdog. Actually, let me re-phrase that: I love the underdog. If Phill and I watch a game, I always root for the team who's not expected to win, or hasn't won in ages, etc....some of my favorite neighbors are the weirdest ones, and my favorite people are the least expected ones. I find it really satisfying to get to know someone who doesn't look interesting (sort of an underdog, you might say), and find out the interesting things about them. (Because there is something interesting about everyone.)

Fact/Habit 2: I like stories. I like to read them, I like to make them. Sometimes I imagine an entire story about a stranger, just to spice up the dusty corners of my mind. (And sometimes I do it to make me feel better if someone was highly unpleasant...."Let's she was making cookies for a party and they burned, and her hair wouldn't do that cute curl she likes it to do, and her dog pooped on the couch." And thus a comforting story is born. Sometimes.) I write in my mind an awful lot. I wake up and mentally write. I see something interesting and mentally write. I'm inspired and I have to make something of it.

Fact/Habit 3: I love (doing) photography. I like the way light makes ordinary things turn into art, or how something extraordinary becomes even more interesting when it's frozen into a picture. I love people, and so I love pictures of people, especially strange people. (And here we see the underdog fascination popping up again.)

Fact/Habit 4: I always sneeze once when I take my first bite of anything chocolate--ice cream and pudding, to be specific.

Fact/Habit 5: I like to challenge myself. Well, more specifically, I like the satisfaction of meeting a challenge head-on and succeeding. I would like to do the 2008 St.George Marathon. Just to finish it. Just to say I did. (Actually, Phill has agreed to do it with me. So it's a deal! St.George 2008!) And on this note, I like labor--yes, I mean labor to birth a child. I realize I've just said something really weird and possibly earth-shaking. But it's the truth. For me to explain why I like it would take up probably two pages. It certainly has a lot to do with the second sentence of this paragraph. But if you want to know more, I'll happily tell you (in an email, where I feel free to take up more space & time).

Fact/Habit 6: I love being a mother! I love the way my boys say "Mama". I really do relish this so-called domestic life, but it's not always domestic--it's wild and chaotic and unexpected and exciting and a hundred other things at any given time. It's hard and it's rewarding, it's demanding and it's fulfilling. I will never say "I'm just a mom." And I won't even say "I'm a stay-at-home mom." I may need/want to work one day, or I may not. What does it matter? I'm a MOM! And stay at home? Are you kidding? I'm at Wal-Mart or the gym or the library or the doctor's or the school 70% of the time.

Extra #7: I realized, in reading over this, that I seem to have painted myself in a rather favorable light. Which is fine, but let it be known, I have plenty of gross habits/icky facts about myself. But why would I post them here? :)

Extra #8: I talk like a man when I want my kids to pay attention to me. Believe me, there's logic to this: the kids tune out my mommy voice. They hear it so much, day in, day out, that when they hear any other voice, their little ears open up!

Christine, Abby, Anna, Heidi, Camilla, Melissa, and Jenn: Tag! You're it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I'm really excited about three things I just ordered from Amazon:

If You Want To Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Ueland

Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food by Jessica Seinfeld


Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Lots More Learning Fun! (a DVD based on the book, with other fun added things.)

I'm excited about these three things because:
-I love to write, and I've been writing more lately. The book will just help keep the wheels turning, and probably be very motivating.
-I heard about this cookbook from Oprah, about whom I usually have mixed feelings, but this seems to be a pretty good recommendation. The idea is genius. Oh, and I saw her interview of Jerry Seinfeld for his new movie, and he had such awesome things to say about his wife (Jessica) that I was intrigued--by both of them. So I'm buying her cookbook, and I'll probably go see his movie. :)
-Abby owns this DVD, and I've been wanting it since I first saw Reed shake his little bottom to the intro music. :)

Mmm...yay for good media.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Good food

My dinner menu has gotten more ambitious! I tried a new recipe, just on a whim, and it turned out so well that I've decided to try a new recipe once every one or two weeks. (This is VERY ambitious for me, considering I've only just gotten the hang of making dinner most every night....) Included on the plan for the next two weeks: Peanut chicken (using the amazing dressing Mom and Dad brought us from Japan--there's actually a recipe for really great peanut chicken on the Smucker's website), Noodles Romanoff (a recipe that looked really good, fast, and easy in the Betty Crocker cookbook), and Halibut fried in potato flakes (the halibut is from a friend who brought some back from Alaska!). Ambitious, indeed! :) The new recipe I tried (twice last week) was so yummy (and easy) that I had to post it. I varied some things. I put more dressing than was asked for--actually, lots more. And I just used boneless chops, not bone-in. And....let's see....oh. I used olive oil instead of vegetable oil. I do that a lot. It just tastes better. And seems less greasy. And I also used just plain old rosemary, instead of leaves. And the dressing was not reduced fat. So here's the recipe:

(by way of
Quick & Easy Pork Chop Skillet

Prep Time: 10 min
Total Time: 29 min
Makes: 4 servings

4 bone-in pork chops (1-1/2 lb.), 3/4-inch-thick

1 tsp. oil

1/4 cup KRAFT Light Balsamic Vinaigrette Reduced Fat Dressing, divided

1 small onion, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. dried rosemary leaves

1 can (15-1/4 oz.) pear halves, undrained

BROWN chops in oil in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat 3 min. on each side. Remove from skillet; set aside.

ADD 2 Tbsp. of the dressing, onions, garlic and rosemary to skillet. Cook 3 min.

RETURN chops to skillet. Add pears and remaining 2 Tbsp. dressing. Simmer on medium heat 10 min. or until chops are cooked through (160ºF). Arrange chops on platter; spoon sauce over chops.

****I also made up (well, I say made up, but I'm sure I've seen it somewhere) a side dish that was REALLY good, and went really well with the chops.

Slice about ten red potatoes lengthwise into skinny fry-like strips (okay, they're basically fancy fries). Coat them in olive oil, sprinkle with salt to taste (it's really good if you can use a salt grinder and do sea salt over them), and then either put oregano, rosemary, and garlic powder on them, or just put on some Mrs. Dash. (I recommend the latter.) Put them on a baking sheet in a 450-degree oven for 45-55 minutes, until golden and somewhat "wilted"-looking. :)

I'm actually having fun trying newer recipes. As long as they're relatively simple, and the ingredients aren't too outlandish (Spanish paprika, anyone?), I'm finding that I'm up for it.

*Just so everyone knows, I've also included several fast and easy recipes in my two-week plan....the three recipes mentioned above are really the only ambitious ones I've chosen to try. Line upon line....

Monday, October 8, 2007


Again, more pictures. I couldn't help it. I'm so enjoying being a mom of a girl, and dressing a girl....I used to hate those baby headband things. Actually, I kind of still do. But I put one on Savvy and she looked so cute I left it on all through church. So I have a picture of that. And then today it was cold, so I put a little pink fleece baseball cap on her, and of course that was so cute I had to take a picture. (Not to mention her cute striped long-sleeved onesie and khaki overalls....I know. I'm a little out of control.) And then I took some of the boys, and I also had some from my Mom and Dad's visit (coming for conference), so--that's why I have so many pictures to post. Melissa, I think Savanna looks startlingly like you. I guess I shouldn't be startled, considering you are her aunt. But it's really striking to us sometimes. (*Oh, I apologize that a couple of the pictures aren't that great quality. And I forgot to mention the one of all three kids together. It started out as only Savvy on the floor, and then Reed and Jax had to come and be next to her, sweet brothers that they are.)