Friday, October 31, 2008

Where are my children and how did Hannah Montana, Super Why, and this Cuddly Little Elephant get here?

Our first "candy pitstop" was GSL where Daddy had
a bowl-full of goodies waiting for his favorite costumed kids!
Co-workers Lance & Bob had some tasty treats as well. THANKS!
Then we picked up some warm and saucy pizza from Pier 49 Pizza (mmm...)
and joined Grandma and Grandpa B. for dinner.
We had some fun conversations
with them--they can be so funny sometimes!
It was a blast. By the time we'd finished eating,
it was almost 6:00 so we figured we'd better head on home
so our neighbors wouldn't feel neglected.
When we got home, who showed up a few minutes later?
Grandpa John & Grandma Dixie!
They came to a few houses with us before saying their goodbyes.
As a whole, our Halloween candy-hunting night
proved to be very "lucrative".
Or shall I say a "sweet success"???
After only a couple houses, poor Carson
was ready to ride his way through the neighborhood.
(Thanks, Ash, for loaning us this adorable elephant costume!
Carson was unforgettable in it!
My favorite part was the back--it made his bottom so wide.
And check out that "butt-crack"! It was a hoot and got
a good-natured chuckle from everyone
who watched him waddle down the street!
I hope Jace enjoyed the lion costume
and I can't wait to see pictures.
It was great to swap!)

bewitching memories

Our annual "pilgrimage" to West Jordan for the frightfully fun Witches Night was again a success...even better than last year! (Part of it's improvement, I think, was the fact that we ate dinner at 5:30 instead of 9:00. No hunger pains interrupting our good time!) Enjoying a deliciously Italian meal at Macaroni Grill was only the beginning of our girl's night out. Heidi brought Ally and Janae (sp?), two people who the Taft family all adore, and of course Grandma, Ashlee and Lindsay were there. Halle looked so cute! To dinner she wore the sweetest, most "grown-up" outfit that my mom had bought her for her birthday--a brown fitted shirt with brown plaid gaucho pants. Seriously, she lit up the room! Once we got to Gardner Village, she donned her witchy uniform...a black & purple dress with matching hat. (I had bought her the neatest spider hat last year, which she wore in '07, but this time she told me she wanted her "accessories to match". Hmph. How can I argue with that, I guess. Pick your battles.) Either way, she got a lot of compliments on what a wonderful wee witch she made. Halle joined Aunt Lindsay and Aunt Heidi in rockin' the dance floor. As Halle would say, they were "shaking their booties". I tried to videotape them, Heidi especially, as she was excellent in getting her "groove on", but it was too dark to really see anything. Too bad. Everyone would have loved seeing that! But once the dance floor had been worn out, we moved along to the shops! In some ways, it can get tricky to do a girl's night out...being the only woman there with a young daughter, the things Halle and I want to do can be different than anybody else's. So we spent some time on our own. While the rest of our witch clan was hunting for bargain shoes, we hopped on our broomsticks over to the Day Spa, where Halle got the star treatment with a sparkly red manicure. Then we caught up with the gang again, people-watching (or should I say "witch-watching"), which was half the fun! After enjoying a crisp yet gooey caramel apple, Halle and I headed home. That was another help making this year more fun...we brought our own car. When you're 7 years old, the novelty of the night ends earlier than it does for an adult. It was nice to be able to get her home and in bed before too late without ruining the fun for the others. All in all, it was another fun night of Halloween memories. 'Can't wait to go again next year!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

at one time, I genuinely considered jumping on the Obama bandwagon. In the end, I simply could not.

This video (link below) explains one of the biggest reasons I could not vote for Obama. Do I think he is an evil man like so many of the circulating emails claim? Absolutely not. And I feel that anyone who whole-heartedly believes those accusations to be ignorant. I think he is in general a good person with generally good-intentions. I even considered voting for him early on in his campaign. However, the Democratic Candidate and I have a severe difference of opinion regarding several moral issues. One of which being: at what point a "baby" becomes a human being; at what point that child is of worth or of value. It is not above my paygrade to know, to feel within my very core, when a baby deserves human rights.
Don't understand what partial-birth abortion really means? Click here. Any human being with a scrap of decency or compassion will feel ill at the description, but you owe it to yourself to be informed.
A baby isn't a punishment. Perhaps some have a baby as an unexpected consequence resulting from their actions, but there are alternatives one has if she does not intend to keep the child she is expecting. And yes, some women, some girls, become pregnant as a result of being tragically violated. In cases such as those, I do support very early termination in the form of the morning-after pill or early abortion methods.
Now, people, people, people...I don't want a bunch of comments expressing anti-McCain or pro-Obama. I am not interested in debating, only sharing how I feel. You wanna share your opposing feelings, I welcome you to do so on your own blogspot. This is my blog and I reserve the right to use it to express my views. And my view is that Mr. Obama does not fully value the gift or responsibility that is human life.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Totally STOKED!

So I just found out from some news that has made my year! Brian Stokes Mitchell, along with Edward Hermann (remember him? The rich husband of Goldie Hawn in "Overboard"?), are going to be the guests of honor performing at the Mormon Tabernacle Christmas Concert. If you are a broadway buff when it comes to music, you'll no doubt recognize the name. If you are not familiar with Brian Stokes Mitchell, I'm honored to be the one to introduce you to him. (Click on his name above to hear him sing from last year's Tony Awards. Or, listen to the second song on my playlist "Some Enchanted Evening".) I first heard B.S.M.'s clear baritone voice when I was a 17 and I bought the soundtrack to the broadway play, "Kiss Of the Spiderwoman". I had bought it because I was a big fan of Vanessa Williams, but soon found that the tracks I played most were those with the handsome, charismatic Mr. Mitchell taking the lead. Seriously, his voice makes me nearly weep. His velvety pipes are so rich, so smooth, so distinctive, so smart. He has a sound that touches me very deeply--causing me to close my eyes and get wrapped up in it all.
I enjoy the Christmas Concert every year, and always want to go, but this year...this year my desire is tenfold! I am determined to get tickets to the MoTab concert. You have to register here (or call 1-866-LDS-TIKS) between this Saturday (Oct. 25) and Nov. 4, and then registrees will be chosen at random. If you have no interest in attending the concert yourself (to which I say, "WHAT?!") and you wouldn't mind helping me out, please register (only one registration allowed per household) and should you be the lucky duck that gets tickets...if you're not going to use them, I would love them! Seeing him, hearing him, in person would just be...sigh...I can't even describe it.
P.S. PBS has a DVD version of "South Pacific" starring B.S.M., Reba McEntire, and Alec Baldwin. Seems like an odd combination, I know, but trust me: if you like musicals, or good music in general, you'll love this production! Don't beleive me? Click on the link and put it to the test. So entertaining and top-notch!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Just do it.

Thanks to Ashlee, my wonderful sister-in-law who let me take complete advantage of her staying with us for a couple days, I had a babysitter for my kids while I made a stop at the Bountiful Library to vote early. Even if you don't have a sitter (you can call me), I want to encourage everyone to get out there and VOTE. Don't vote? Then don't complain. Make it easier on yourself and do it now--then on Nov. 4 sit back, relax, and cross your fingers that your candidate is the one with the most tallies. It felt good to have my say and even a relief to know I'd said it--only taking a short twenty minutes out of my life. I know some people feel their vote doesn't count. But I disagree. I'm not naive. I know there are flaws in the system, and I understand why some people might feel their vote is pointless. But have your say. Let America know what you want, what you feel you deserve to have. I almost wanted to cry walking back to the car afterwards, because I felt honored to live here, in a country that lets me say what I think, pray to Whom I choose, and do whatever the heck I, as a law-abiding citizen, want to do with my life and my family's lives. So no matter who your candidates of choice may be (let's hope they are the same as mine), you owe it to yourself, your kids, and the country, to do your part. Just do it.
You'll even get a neat little sticker to show for it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Progress. Patience. Perspective.

Yesterday I read a new post on "C Jane Enjoy It" that changed me, inspired me. Many of you might be familiar with that blog, so you'd know that many of the words posted there, poignant and hopeful, inspire readers everyday. But this was especially altering. My entire perspective on myself, making progress into the person I'd one day like to become, has reached a new light. And so, as to not completely plagiarize, let's be crystal clear that what is about to follow was in no way written by me (which will be painfully obvious as it is so well-written). It was written by a woman named Lisa, who was (thankfully) open enough to see the possibilities. Lisa is a sister-in-law to Stephanie Nielsen, who is currently in a medically-induced coma as her body tries to survive and recover from severe burns received after a plane crash in Arizona. Stephanie's husband, Christian, also suffered burns (fortunately not as severe as Stephanie's). You can imagine what it would be like to visit a burn unit, especially one housing dear loved ones. I think this was a tender mercy for Lisa, and now, because she has shared it, it is also mine. Maybe it will be yours, too.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Last week I went to Arizona to visit Stephanie and Christian, both recovering from major trauma. I’ve had a week now to reflect on what I saw and what I learned, and most of it is very sweet and tender to me, and only a little bit horrible. Surprising to me, however, is what has stayed with me the most is the idea of perspective. I haven’t been able to get it off my mind.
Everyone who had gone down to visit them before prepared me for what I was going to see. For the sights, feelings, smells, and all the logistics, but walking down the winding hallways through the burn unit, I knew that no one could fully prepare me for what I was about to see. Despite understanding that, I found myself walking faster and faster, wanting to be there with Stephanie, as if in the back of my mind I knew it didn’t matter what I thought about the whole experience of being there and seeing her like that, wrapped head to toe on beeping machines of every sort. What mattered is that she wanted me there, and, suddenly, I wanted to be there.
While she is sleeping, we, as the family, have had time to adjust–to think about what life will be like for Stephanie and Christian and their children. We’ve formed opinions, thought about all the possibilities, ramifications, choices, difficulties, and processes they will all face, particularly for Stephanie. There are countless decisions that she and Christian will need to make together. So much of her recovery is still unknown, and we are so encouraged and hopeful by every report, but it is a long road of progress and setbacks, and we have to be patient. We. Have. To. Wait.
Through all of this, I kept thinking of all the possible outcomes. All bandaged, without a medical degree or crystal ball, I couldn’t tell. Will she be able to tie little shoes again? Pick up children? Make a meal? Type? Paint? Turn the pages of a book? Make a craft? I asked this really energetic nurse, after I listened to her give this week’s update. I knew she not only had the experience and knowledge of a seasoned nurse, but that she had compassion and real love for each one of her patients. I knew she could answer my question in a realistic way, so I asked her what the most likely outcome would be for Stephanie. I was expecting a specific list of what she would and would not be able to do, but what I got was a 30 minute explanation that has changed my way of thinking.
She explained that there’s no way of knowing what the future will be, and that, basically, I was asking the wrong question. She spoke of other burn victims, how well they’re doing now, what they’re doing now, the successes and happiness they’ve expressed to her. She told me that everything is different now and that things will never be the same. Ever. If we, as her family and friends, are constantly comparing her to the way she used to be, then we’ll never be satisfied. It will never be enough. If, however, we compare her to how far she’s come, each step of the way, and see the miracle that her body is in surviving and changing, then each success will be a leap, not an inch, forward from a devastating moment. If we say, Look how much better she’s doing since September!, we’ll be encouraged. Or, at Christmas, if we say, Look how amazing she is since Halloween! , we’ll find joy in her success, not frustration. It reminds me how the Clarks, on the 4th of July, always say, Before you know it, there will be snow on the mountains, and it will be Christmas! and on Christmas say, Before you know it, it will be hot and we’ll be celebrating the 4th of July! It’s right around the corner! We laugh about it, but we’re always really thinking that. From holiday to holiday, that’s how we mark time.
I’ve been thinking about how I mark progress and how often my perspective, although linear, is off. I’m frustrated when I think of the ideal in my head, whether physical, spiritual, mental, or even emotional. I think I have unrealistic expectations sometimes, mostly in how fast I think I should be progressing. If I evaluate myself in terms of an ideal, I will never feel a period of rest or success. When I look at myself, in all aspects of life, all things considered, from a different perspective of several years ago, a few years ago, or a month ago, and allow myself to see how far I’ve come, then I can see it. I can see what difficult experiences have taught me–what knowledge they’ve given me and what incredible value they hold for me. And any progress, no matter how slow, is progress. But. I. Have. To. Wait.
I spoke with two of my sister in-laws whose fathers both died when they were young, and Topher’s grandma who lost her husband when she had a house full of little kids. They all made the same four points, individually, to me this week: 1. We all have tragedy in our lives–no one escapes it. 2. Looking back, I can see so many blessings coming out of the tragedy. 3. We were meant to help each other amid tragedy, and 4. We can be in the middle of a tragedy and still be happy. Somehow, these points help me see how far Stephanie has really come, and how truly inspirational her healing is. It makes me think that when we think we’re waiting, we’re really progressing.

Monday, October 20, 2008

chilly weather, warm hearts * General Conference Weekend

We so enjoyed our G.C. weekend in Vernal! After the Saturday morning session we took a beautiful fall drive up to Flaming Gorge Lodge for a tasty lunch. I love their Navajo Tacos!

(Dad loves 'em, too.)
Then we came home and relaxed for the rest of the weekend.
Colette, Jo, and Kelly came over to show mom the scrapbook they've been
working on for her birthday. They had the decade "2000+".
Great job guys! How's everyone else's decade coming along???

Nothing like Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
on a chilly day to warm up the soul!
Halle loved helping Grandma make
the noodles from scratch.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

mysterious halloween sweets make for happy ghouls and boys...

A special THANK YOU to the "Phantom Ghost" who left a tray of goodies on our doorstep last night. The kids were so excited to hear the doorbell ring only to find deliciously frosted cinnamon rolls waiting for them on the porch. They made a yummy breakfast this morning warmed up in the microwave, chased down with a steaming mug of hot chocolate!

So, whoever you are, Phantom, thanks for thinking of us! We'll be sure to the "ghost" keeps making its rounds...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

i believe in miracles.

I know no one but me and my brood are going to be interested the below slideshow, but after listening to this song for the first time on Brady's blog ("Miracle" by Celine Dion), I was moved to tears and couldn't resist putting together some pictures of my very favorite little ones.

The very fact that Heavenly Father would trust me to care for these three incredibly special, beautiful spirits, is truly a miracle. They are a reminder to me everyday of all the good to be found in life.

I love my miracles.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

Proposition 8.

What is it, you ask? Click on the link in the top right of my blog.

What is the stand that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is taking on it? Click here.

If you are a member of the LDS Church, did you know you are being asked by our church leaders to actively support Proposition 8? This is an opportunity to make known your opinion in something significant.

I believe that every human being is a child of God, worthy of His love and my respect. However, I also believe that in these latter days, the adversary is cunning in his design and in the name of "equality" seduces good men and women to condone behavior which is immoral and offensive to God.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I can be "visited", too...

Brett got me new scriptures for my new calling (Young Womens...Woo hoo!) and I just love them. It's the snap-button kind, so I'm happy I don't have to carry around a case anymore...I already have too much to carry at church!
Check out those crisp new pages!
The best part is that it has made me excited about reading them again. For some reason after having kids it was just so difficult for me to do that. I wanted to, but it seemed I could never stay awake once I'd opened them. I remembered back in high school having such a love for the scriptures. In my journal from those days I talked about reading them nearly every day--the testimony I had of them, the hunger I had to read them more and more. I wanted to feel that way again. When the new Young Womens presidency members were set apart, each blessing was different. But the one common thread was the promise given to each of us that if we would incorporate the scriptures into our daily lives, we would be blessed with inspiration and peace. When I left the bishop's office, I felt motivated and had a desire to do everything I could to invite the Spirit into my life so that I could truly be a tool in the hands of the Lord for our young women as well as my family. I'm proud of myself and happy to say that I've been reading them everyday for a week now (that might not seem like much to some, but for me it's more than I've done in a very long time). I truly have felt a difference in my life. I'm a more patient mother. I'm prioritizing other aspects of my life better. I feel as though I'm more in-tune. And it's fun to have new scriptures that aren't so "marked up". I'm able to take a fresh approach to scriptures I've read before and find new meanings. Kind of like a clean slate that can inspire my life as it is now. Does that make sense? One scripture I read in a new light was:
2 Nephi 2:16
"...having great desires to know the mysteries of God, wherefore,
I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me,
and did soften my heart that I did believe all
the words which had been spoken..."
For some reason, in the past I had always interpreted this scripture to mean that the Lord actually physically visited Nephi. Perhaps it's probably obvious to most that He didn't, but until I read it last week, it never occurred to me that the Lord "visited" Nephi in the same way he can and does visit me and the majority of other people: through the Spirit. I read the footnotes in Alma and Doctrine and Covenants. I think that before I almost felt like, "Yeah, but Nephi was the son of a great prophet. And eventually he was a prophet himself. His spiritual level was that of someone whom the Lord would visit. I'm just me. I'm not a great spiritual leader." Somehow, knowing that Nephi's prayers were not answered in some grand vision, but rather, through the spirit, made me feel less insignificant, less unworthy of the Lord's attention. And Nephi made it sound so large-scale. He made it sound as though he and the Lord had an actual conversation. Maybe I need to have a different perspective with my daily prayers; I need to recognize that communication through the spirit is something I've taken for granted. It made me realize that I need to treat that blessing of the Holy Ghost as more of a 'big deal', looking at it as though the Lord and I are having a verbal conversation One-on-one. Anyway, like I said, this may be simple-minded, but I just found it interesting how one little scripture could come across so new to me and bring to light these thoughts and feelings.
P.S. Is that a buff Nephi picture, or what??? I found it on a Janeen Brady website.
"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