Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Patchwork of Love

As soon as we took posession of our new home, our first thought was to paint. Immediately. The colors the house had been left in were atrocious. Everyone is entitled to their own tastes and likes, but the "unique" colorwheel we were faced with was anything but MY taste. The kitchen was Granny Smith Apple Green and the adjoining family room was Chocolate Brown (I actually considered keeping the brown, but in the end decided not to). Since the rooms are really one big room, we wanted them to be the same color. I decided on a green: "River Reed", to be exact. I love the color and was pleased to still love the color after it was up. It wasn't until we moved our furniture in that I realized my giant error. I love the green walls and I love my dark brown couches. However, I failed to imagine how they'd look together. No one else seemed to share my depressed opinion, but I hated it. I was so frustrated. I wasn't about to repaint what had just been painted and new couches were out of the question. After time, the colors grew on me a little, but I still did not love it. There's nothing worse than facing daily a huge mistake that you know is upon your shoulders alone and that you have no choice other than to live with. I needed a way to help the two colors blend.

Then I got an idea! My mom has been making some beautiful quilts. Why not ask her nicely, pretty-please-with-a-cherry-on-top if she would make me a throw that I could put on my couch to help tie in the brown and green together? Of course, Mom being Mom, she was generous enough to oblige. I told her I wanted something to help tie in the green walls, brown couches, red accents, and white entertainment center and my white/brown kitchen dining set.

Did she deliver, or what? And the best part is, it is SO ME! I love the red paisley! And the green border fabric makes me think of something from a Jane Austen novel!

Thanks, Mom! You have made me so much happier with my home by sharing your talent. Anyone who comes into my kitchen or family room has commented on my beautiful throw and the fabulous quilting!
You are always so good to endulge my "projects", which deep down we know means a lot of work for you. Especially when I start something with the phrase, "Would you mind helping me make..." Yes, I admit it. What I really mean is "Would you make for me..." Let's face it, sewing never was my forte! Thank heavens it is yours!
P.S. Brett loves it, too. It's wrapped around his legs on nearly a nightly basis! And I think it's funny that GOLF happened to be on the television when I took this picture. Really...what are the chances of that?!

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Man of Grand Character

Like other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, my heart is broken and feels a giant void after learning of the passing of the man who had served as prophet and president of the church for my entire adult life. Gordon B. Hinckley was the 15th president, but today many are comparing this loss to that of the 9th president of the Church, David O. McKay, who served for 19 years. Like President McKay, for many people President Hinckley is the only prophet they have known, or they've at least known him the longest.

And he was so easy to get to know. It is rare for a person in the public eye, a person of notability, to have the capacity to serve with such acuteness, confidence, and compassion and yet also prove to be a person of humility, someone real and down-to-earth. Someone with such wit, who could make anyone feel comfortable and at ease. I never had the opportunity to meet him in person, but I feel as though I've lost a grandfather.

In all the ups and downs of my life, no matter what spiritual plane I may have been on--high or low--the one part of my testimony I could always count on staying strong was that of knowing we had a modern-day prophet on the earth. I never ever saw or heard President Hinckley, or any of the other apostles for that matter, when I didn't have feelings of affirmation of President Hinckley being divinely called and appointed to his position. I'm grateful that I always had that feeling of warmth, of knowing that I could trust him. There have been a couple occasions, I'll admit, when my testimony in other areas was wavering and it was this feeling I'd get when I'd see the prophet of the Lord that helped pull me back and helped me have the faith that I needed to build up my testimony in the other ways.

As sorrowful as its been to absorb the news of his death, I must say that I feel a bit of excitement. There's comfort in knowing that the gospel is so organized that another prophet will be called, that the Church will once again have a leader. And even though President Hinckley has left big shoes to feel, I already have the utmost confidence in whomever will be his successor and I'm really looking forward to and anticipating offering my love and support to him, just as I felt towards President Hinckley.

In 1960, President David O. McKay was quoted to say:

"Day by day, hour by hour, man builds the character that will determine his place and standing among his associates throughout the ages.... More important than riches, more enduring than fame, more precious than happiness is
he possession of a noble character.
Truly it has been said that the grand aim of man’s creation is the development of a grand character,
and grand character is by its very nature
the product of a probationary discipline."

I think it goes without saying that President Hinckley's character was nothing less than grand and noble. His earthly life has come to an end and we certainly feel that loss and will miss him greatly. But my heart rejoices at his reunion with those that he loved and had gone on before him: his parents, his treasured companion Marjorie, whom he so obviously longed for and missed, but I especially love to imagine what a moment it must have been for him to reunite with his Heavenly Father and Savior, as well as the preceding prophets, and the welcome he must have received. I'm sure as he was embraced he heard words similar to those spoken in Matthew 25:21, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

(The above link is to a NY Times article regarding President Hinckley's passing. I thought it was flattering, especially from a sometimes more "liberal" newspaper, or at least one not as familiar with the LDS church as our local Utah papers.)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Piano Lessons

I've had a couple people email me about their children possibly taking piano lessons in the fall. To help answer their questions, I set up a second blog that is solely about piano lessons (as if I don't obsess about one enough!). If you know anyone might be interested, please feel free
to pass along the link to the "piano blog".
It is:

A Place of Love & Beauty

(pictures are from the Open House brochure)

Last Tuesday night, Brett and I were fortunate to help clean the Bountiful LDS Temple, along with about 10 other members from our ward and 8 members from another ward. I had been looking forward to this night, because we had never had this opportunity before and I thought it would be wonderful to be in the temple under different-than-normal circumstances. I also knew how rewarding it felt when we'd helped clean the meetinghouses, so I had great expectations of how it would feel to help maintain the beauty and cleanliness of the House of the Lord.

The experience did not disappoint. The day of I must admit I was concerned that my weariness from the day might catch up with me (cleaning of the temple takes place after all patrons have left, starting approximately 9 p.m. We got home a few hours later). However, being in that spiritual place, and I think also with other churchmembers with whom we felt a comraderie, erased any tiring effects the day may have had on us. As a bonus, before cleaning started, we saw our good friends Jay R & Kathi Bangerter leaving the temple. We haven't spoken with them since we moved back to Utah, so it was a special treat to hug them and catch up for a quick minute.

The janitorial supervisor was a very nice man. After we'd all changed into white jumpsuits, we received close to 45 minutes of instruction. I know the temple gets a deep cleaning something like twice a year, and the supervisor mentioned that each night a different room gets the carpets and upholstery cleaned, but for the most part the cleaning is simple maintenance (vacuuming, dusting, refilling tissue boxes, emptying garbages, cleaning mirrors, and tidying bathrooms). In a way, it kind of made me feel better about my own housekeeping because there have been several times during a session, etc. when I've looked around and thought "My house could be this clean, could have this spirit if I just kept it this tidy and polished all the time." Now that I know what a huge team of people work every night (Tues-Fri), no wonder it looks so good. Of course, no place deserves more attention and devotion than the temple, right?

Brett and I were given the job to vacuum several rooms. The best room we were assigned was the baptismal font. I haven't done baptisms for the dead for so long that I'm ashamed to admit how many years it's been. I honestly don't think it's been since I was in Young Womans! Anyway, it was special to be that close to the font again, and be able to take the time to really look at it and admire it's ornate design and detail. We even got to speak to the supervisor about it for a bit and learned some interesting things, like how a member from Germany (that's right...from across the ocean) was brought in to hand paint the marble exterior. It was gorgeous and must have been painstaking.

Nothing is spared for the temple, that's for sure. Everything is top notch and the best. It was also neat to clean the women's locker room, which also meant some rooms attached to it where very sacred things take place. My girlfriend, Heather (hi, Heather!) was also cleaning that night and she and I stole a couple minutes in the Bride's Room reminiscing about our wedding days and admiring the delicate chandelier. "It's so sparkly," was all I could dumbly muster over and over again. But it was--all these prisms and rainbows and light, they just SPARKLED! Just as Heather was asking me what it must be like to clean it, an elderly temple worker came in and said, "It's time consuming." Good job, Grandma! Not one spec of dust or fingerprint lay on any of the cut crystals!

The temple is always quiet, of course, but to be there "after hours", when you truly have the place to yourself, was a treasured experience and also gave me greater appreciate for all the work that goes into creating the sacred atmosphere I get to enjoy when I visit. Even when the supervisor was explaining the process to us, his emotions got the best of him. It was obvious he had been blessed with some beloved and personal experiences while he's served in our Savior's house. He told us that in 2007 alone, over 4,000 volunteers came to make the Bountiful temple shine in over 11,000 hours of service. I was humbled to be a part of that service, and I hope I'll get the chance again sometime this year. If you ever have the opportunity to sign up as a volunteer to help clean, please do so--you won't regret it!

(And I have to give a shout out to my wonderful mother-in-law, Dixie, who was generous enough to come sit with my sleeping kids so we could take part in this special time! Thanks, Mom!)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"I Am a Child of God": An Afternoon At The Church History Museum

Thanks to my wonderful friend, Tiffany, I heard about the new display on the upper level of the Church History Museum (just West of Temple Square). Looking for something fun and cheap (can't get cheaper than FREE) to do with the kids over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, Dixie (my fabulous mother-in-law) came with us to explore and have good a time!

The display covers nearly half of the 2nd floor and consists of several different stations, all of which reinforce what it means to be a CHILD OF GOD. This picture is of us sitting next to the stump of the infamous walnut tree grown in President Hinckley's yard, that was later used to create the wonderful pulpit of the Conference Center. I don't know why I thought this was so cool, but I couldn't get enough of it. Maybe because I love that story so much! I kept saying, "Kids! C'mere and touch the tree!"

You walk through the different stages of life. The first "station" you come to helps remind the children that we all start out as babies, innocent and ready to learn. It is set up like a hospital nursery. The kids could pretend to be doctors and nurses, taking care of the baby dolls that are waiting for love. You can weigh the dolls, pretend to bathe them or listen to their heartbeats, or as you can see here, feed them as you rock them to sleep. Wyatt named his baby "Metta" (yeah, about the name...don't ask me...I don't have an answer for ya).

When he weighed his baby--whom he claimed was a "boy baby" and yet kept referring to as a "her"--he told me Metta weighed "zero pounds"... Yeah, right. That baby doll is half as tall as you are--that's at least a 15-pounder! * Halle's favorite part of this station was writing out the birth certificate!

Next, we moved onto an area about the Savior. It was full of beautiful pictures that had a vintage feel. They were new to me, by an artist who's name I can't remember (dang it!). If I can jog my memory, I'll post his name and the paintings on a future blog. They were wonderful, though. They'd be great in a kid's room.

A stable had been builtand several costumes were hanging, invited the children to don them and act out the story of the Savior's birth. I love how the museum helped the children understand that Jesus once was a baby, a little child, like them. Halle wanted to be Mary, Wyatt of course asked to be Joseph, and they both wanted Grandma to be the angel. Since the angel dress was obviously made for a smaller angel, it was decided Grandma could wear the dress on her head and still pull of the "angelic" look they were all going for.

I wish I had taken pictures of every station, but here are our favorites:

(As long as I kept throwing Cheerios his way, Carson was a happy camper!)

A really cute activity was a maze kept under plexiglass. Within the maze were metal cars, which you could "steer" by using a strong magnet on top of the glass. The goal was to get the cars from the church to the temple. Wyatt loved this and did it over and over! I thought it was quite clever!

I was thrilled to see they had "Lehi's Dream" for the kids to act out and explore. We've just reached this part of the Book of Mormon in our family scripture study and it was fun to help explain it visually to the kids a little. They were still confused, I think, but it's a start, right? Hopefully this will be just one of many opportunities we have to help our kids understand the symbolism behind Lehi's great vision. I loved that the "fruit" of the tree were different languages of "CTR".

Both Halle & Wyatt say their favorite part was the "baby nursery" (can you tell from Wyatt's expression in the next picture?). My favorite part (which they also enjoyed) was the touch-screen television. The children could "touch" a topic on the screen (Tithing, Being a Child of God, Temples, etc) and President Hinckley would appear on the screen addressing that subject, directing his talk TO the children. He was so cute. At one point he said, "I am an old man, I was born in 1910...that was an awfully long time ago." As usual, I felt the spirit so strongly seeing President Hinckley that tears came to my eyes. Halle said, "I know why you're crying, Mommy. You're crying because you love him so much." "That's right," I said. "I love President Hinckley so much that seeing him and hearing him makes me happy enough to cry. And every time I see him, the Holy Ghost tells my heart that he really is the prophet of God. And I know he talks to Heavenly Father and Jesus about us." I was so grateful for that teaching moment, for the quiet opportunity my kids and I had to share our feelings about the man chosen to lead the world back to Christ.

After the "kids stuff", Dixie and I had a couple things we wanted to see as well. It was fun seeing Gladys Knight's grammy (she gave it to President Hinckley, who donated it for display in the museum). That was pretty cool, I thought.

And any time I am at the museum, which isn't often, I love to see the deathmasks of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. Perhaps that sounds a little weird, but seeing something that touched them, that at one point was part of them, makes me feel more connected. It helps me to better envision what they looked like and how they must have felt. It helps me remember that these were real people, who gave so much--everything, really--to bring me where I am today. If you've never seen the masks, I'd make a trip to the museum for that alone. You can see a photograph of the death masks here:

Below are some pieces of artwork that moved me:

(Halle like the 2nd one, fact, when I let them pick something out from the Museum Store, she chose a postcard with this painting on it.)

Obviously, I could go on and on (and on and on...) about how impressed I was with the museum. If you are looking for something that is free and more than worthwhile to do with your kids on a Saturday afternoon, check it out sometime!

Here's the Museum's website if you are curious:,15757,3997-1-2129,00.html

A Party with Class

I wanted to post these few pictures from Halle's class Christmas Party. It was so fun to go and help out--my first time! Halle's teacher, Mrs. Ashcroft, does a wonderful job with her. We're grateful to have a teacher that takes the time to addresses Halle's individual needs and progress.

For the party, two other mothers and myself helped the kids make refrigerator magnets that looked like Christmas cookies, play Pin the Nose on Rudolph, and read Christmas stories.

There's also a picture of Halle with her friends, Hannah & Ethan. (We hear a lot about Ethan. A LOT.)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Cranial Remolding Orthoses

I came across these pictures I took about a month ago at Carson's last "helmet appointment". Have I shared these already? My memory is so poor! And I'm too lazy to look up past posts... Anyway...Like his big sister, Carson was diagnosed shortly after birth with Congenital Muscular Torticollis and Plagiocephaly. (One side of the neck's muscles developed shorter than the other, causing the head to appear "tipped". Thus, when he lay, his head was in the same position over and over, causing part of his soft skull to flatten and the opposite side portrude.) For 8 months we did physical therapy at home to stretch the shorter neck muscle and he also wore a plastic helmet with foam lining. As his head grew, the lining was adjusted to allow for growth. It did not "push" the portruding side down. Rather it just encouraged the head to "fill in" on the flat area and discouraged the portruding area from growing out further. In short, it rounded out his head to a beautiful shape. This is Mike Beavers, the cranial specialist that oversaw Carson's progress. Mike works for Shields Orthotics in Holladay. (If any of you know of someone that's got a baby diagnosed with plagiocephaly, I'd highly recommend Shields! )There is also a picture of Carson during the head scan that took place each monthly visit. Isn't it ironic that the one time I bring my camera was the only time Carson cried? Normally, this didn't bother him at all. The neat thing about the scanning is it produced a 3-D computer image which enabled us to see to the millimeter Carson's growth and progress.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Check Out My New Songs!

I added about thirty new songs to my playlist--hope you enjoy them! Of course, there's still a lot of Mr. Benedetto (Tony Bennett), but I threw in some others...Rob Thomas, Alicia Keys, Gene Kelly, Aaron Copland, Bobby Darin, and more. You might not like it all, but at least you can't accuse me of not having a wide variety! I even found a version of Josh Groban singing the National Anthem. If you're gonna be patriotic, you might as well do it style.

(I was disappointed that I couldn't put any songs from "Sense & Sensibility"...I was in the mood to hear "My Father's Favorite" this morning. Bummer.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Abscess is now ABSENT, or at least on its way...

So this is totally disgusting, but I wanted to post a new blog and this is what happens to be on my mind today, so...consider yourself warned that what follows is gross and unpleasant (unless you are Mandy or my brother Calvin, who both love this kind of stuff).

I have always had this little tiny mole (colorless) on the top of my spine. It's been there for years. Ten days ago it felt "puffy" and tender. Brett was out of town, so one morning when I was at my mother-in-law's house I asked Dixie to take a look at it. She said it looked like a zit but it had not yet come to a head. She gave me some of her "miracle salve" made by her friend Nancy (stinky stuff, Nance!). But after over a week it still had not come to a head. Instead it felt bigger and more sore. I could feel it when I turned my head or lay on a pillow. And I couldn't quit touching it (which I'm sure only made it worse).

I made an appointment with my doctor so that I could finally identify my new friend as either a tumor or "my twin" (a shout out to all those My Big Fat Greek Wedding fans). Unfortunatly, I could not get in until Wednesday (which is now today). In the meantime, it continued to grow and mystify us.

Last night Brett and I went with other members of our ward to clean the temple (which was a wonderful experience I plan on posting about later). I touched it as I was vacuuming there and noticed that the "bump" felt harder. As though whatever "filled" it was no longer squishy. Instead it was firm and kind of "rolled" underneath my skin if I pushed it around. Hmm. Interesting. And a little concerning.

Then, when I woke up this morning, "my twin" had grown from annoyingly big to grotesquely huge! I could feel pain and pressure in a much broader area, as well as up my neck and into my hairline on the right side. I was so grateful that my doctor's appointment was in just a few hours!

Once I got to the doctor, I could tell it must have been real pretty, because both the nurse (Cindy: nice gal) and the doctor made wide-eyed, scrunched-nosed expressions upon first peek. The doctor said it was about an inch wide in diameter and upon further inspection, jokingly ruled out that I had a twin because she could not find a pulse for the infection. Most likely, what happened was that tiny little mole must have somehow got "knicked" and then infected (maybe when I shaved my back a few weeks ago? ...just kidding).

After a bit of a painful incision, my abscess, to whom I had grown quite attached, was lanced and drained, therefore history. (At least we hope!) I'll spare you the drainage visual... The spot on the back of my neck is still quite tender and surprisingly it still hurts to turn my head and stretch my neck muscles, but hopefully the three Ibuprofen I just downed will take care of my painful reminder!

There really wasn't a point to this post, other than to share my near-gangrenous experience and perhaps make your stomach churn a little. (Hopefully you didn't read this on your lunchbreak!)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Carson's first word!

Great Googily-Moogily! Carson said his first word! Was it one of affection? Yes. Was it "Mama" or "Dada"? No. No, it was something else near and dear to his heart: BOTTLE. "Ba-Ba" to be precise. He's understood the word for quite some time. We could ask him where his bottle was and he'd begin looking for it and smile. But yesterday was the first time he vocalized his admiration for the plastic container of "good stuff". He started carrying it around--all smiles--while repeating over and over "Ba-Ba, Ba-Ba"! Then he'd begin clapping because he knew Mommy was happy about this new development.

Now he is on the verge of saying "Ball". Like most little boys, he is fascinated with anything round and if he gets his hand on something of said shape, he is guaranteed to throw it, whether it's an orange, a hard golf ball, or a Christmas ornament. To him, it is round, therefore it is a ball. What else can it be? But back to his vocabulary breakthrough: now that he has mastered "Ba-Ba" we've been practicing and I think it's only a matter of time before it has evolved into "Ball". I can't wait for the months to arrive when babies seem to say a new word each day.

I do think it's interesting how children tend to lean towards certain consonants over and over in their beginning speech. With Halle, at first everything started with "G". Dog was GOG,, etc. Wyatt preferred "H". Dora was HORA, etc. If you have children, were they like that? Maybe Carson's first word begins with B simply because the true word does. But it will be interesting to see if he has a future of "B" words in the next year. Either way, I don't care. The minute I heard Carson communicate with me verbally for the first time, I knew he was a genius. And he received applause appropriate for the occasion.

Mr. Webster would be proud.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

I'm in search of healthy (low-point) recipes!

Alright-y! I'm here to announce that we're back on Weight Watchers and feelin' motivated! We did "WW" before and had great success. (Then we totally fell off the wagon and went back to our sinful, gorging, gluttonous ways!) I'm a big believer in the program, mostly because it's not a diet. It's a LIFESTYLE.

I've mentioned this before, but did not receive a good response (a big thanks to Joleen...I do have to give her credit becauseshe totally came through for me with some fabulous food!), so I'm trying again to reach out to all of you...

If you have any low-fat, low-sugar, or high-fiber recipes (in other words, recipes that would register "low" in Weight Watchers points) that you think are worthwhile, I would be so grateful if you'd share them with me! You could put them in a comment for this post or you can email me at

Don't forget to add a pinch of LOVE

A few weeks ago, my little Cookie Monster and I decided we'd make chocolate chip cookies. Halle was at school and Carson was asleep, so we were able to spend some quality one-on-one time. Just Wyatt and Mom. "No Halle's or Carson's allowed," he proudly exclaimed!

"The democracy will cease to exist when you TAKE AWAY from those who are willing to work AND GIVE to those who would not."

Thomas Jefferson