Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Interview by Sher, Part 1 of 5

Sherrie, over at Sher the Love!, has sent me 5 questions for an interview-style tag.  She answered all of the questions she'd been asked in one fantastic post, but my editing skills are not so finely honed.  I will therefore complete this tag in five separate posts.  I first want to take a second to tell you all how much I adore Sher and her blog.  She's talented, open, honest, funny, and thought-provoking.  And those are all qualities of a blogger that really attract me.  This month she's been doing daily bucket-fillers, and she's done a fabulous job.  So go check her out, after you read and comment here, of course.

The first question is:  What is your life's passion?  Tell us about why, and how you came to love that thing.

This question intimidates me a little.  Especially because of who's asking it.  Sher has a passion for music and running and has accomplished much with both. 

I'm not certain that I have a life's passion.  Is that horrible of me?  I don't think I have the patience or focus for one.  Larry suggested that he was my passion.  True, I adore him.  But he got lots of bloggy love in my last post.  He then suggested that blogging was my passion.  Ugh.  I'm just not even going there with my ambivalence toward this enticing compulsion in which we all indulge.

As I thought, I decided that while I may not go so far as to label the following "passions" I certainly have a category of things that I really love.  I love the arts.  In nearly all of it's forms.  I figured out too late in college that humanities is the study of exactly that.  I would have minored in it.  

I love music.  I love listening, I love singing, I love playing the flute and the piano.  I'm not fabulous at any of it, but it makes me happy.  When I'm feeling discouraged, music lifts my spirits.   The iPod is one of the best technological advances ever.  It makes it so easy to listen to anything at any moment as the mood dictates.  I also love the Hymns.  The song of the righteous is a prayer unto God.  And I often communicate my feelings to my God best through song.

I love visual arts.  I love going to art museums.  I love the Impressionist movement particularly, but seeing anything is amazing. I also dabble in this.  I've been interested in paper cuts lately, and love to incorporate meaningful words where possible.  I paint a little and draw a little, and do calligraphy a little.  Again, I'm not brilliant at any of it, but I have fun.  I like to teach basic art lessons to elementary and middle school kids.  I had a great opportunity to learn to do this in the last community we lived in.  Here I've used this new skill to do some art projects with #3's school class, and they're hooked.  

Literature.  I love to read.  In fact, it's about time to pack up the books so that I won't be tempted as we try to move in the next week or so.  I love to write and you all see some of the products of that hobby here.  This post isn't my best sample, I fear.  It feels too much like a list.  I'm sure there is a way to improve on it.  I am also sure I don't really feel like figuring out what that is at the moment.

There was no big journey leading me to the arts that I can pin point.  I've been singing since I was two, making intricate construction paper masterpieces since not long after that.  As a teenager I listened to the Beatles and Pink Floyd and Bach and Handel.  My walls were plastered with Cassatt and Degas prints. (Though at age 12 it was kitties and Rick Springfield.)

I think that the arts speak to many, if not most, of us.  They touch our souls and evoke emotion.  So not only am I not quite passionate, I am also not original or unique.  But, like Popeye, I am what I am.  And aside from the occasional desire to be the master of one rather than a Jack of all trades, I'm happy with my interests and talents.  Maybe someday I'll find the desire to apply myself and find that passion.  In the mean time I'll go finish that grocery list that I started this morning, brush my teeth, and get to feeding my family.

Note:  Please be patient with me over the next few weeks as I visit your blogs a bit more sporadically than usual.  Once we're settled in the new house, I am sure I'll be back to my regular stalking habits.  Thanks, Mina

Friday, January 23, 2009

I have the awesomest awesomey awesome husband in the whole world!

Well, he's perfect for me, anyway.  He's funny and smart.  He does the crossword with me.  He always checks for which exhibitions are running at the local art museum of any city we'll be visiting--for me.  Lots of years he gets me rings for our anniversary, because I have a thing for them.  He loads my iPod full of soft hits of the 70's, he warms up my side of the bed before I get in it.  And when I'm 20 pounds overweight, he's just happy because that means bigger boobs.

This year for my birthday, my awesome husband got me the awesomest gift EVER:

That's right!  Tickets to see:

Jerry Seinfeld was playing Thursday night at BSU.  The show was fantastic.  Larry and I are huge fans.  It's almost embarrassing how we relate his show to life around us on a nearly daily basis.  It was surreal to see Jerry on stage.  I know that face and voice so well, it felt like I'd seen him hundreds of times.  Like this was somehow no different than watching him on TV.  Well, different than watching the sit com.  But no different than, say, the Larry King interview.  We had 4th row (after the orchestra pit) seats, so we could clearly see every expression.  I guess I was expecting something different.  To feel something new in seeing him in person.  

As for the performance, he was hilarious, of course.  He gives a clean, well delivered show.  And his observational humor just nails it every time.  He nailed the way I imitate my husband's voice when I'm irritated with him.  He nailed the way some people need to bring their @$$ into the conversation any way they can.  He did a funny bit about "great" and "sucks" and how those two states of being are much closer than we may think.  They may be, in fact, the same.

It was a memorable night.  Thank you, Larry the Great!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

And the Winner Is ...

Well, this drawing drew in more folks than I ever would have imagined.  There were an astounding 77 comments on that post, which I realize however may be small potatoes to some of you, and a total of 63 entrants.  Among those 63 people there were a grand total of 152 separate entries in the give-away.  

I am especially grateful for those of you who have stuck around and continue to read and comment.  I hope I am getting around to all of your blogs.  I am trying, anyway, and I have found some great ones.  And really, that is what this was about, getting to know more of you wonderful fellow bloggers.

With 152 entries, #2 and I decided to assign each entry a ticket, which took a while longer than one may think!  Tickets assigned, they were put into a 40 oz peanut butter jar that had been finished off and washed out just last week (fabulous timing!).  Now, I must admit that #2 decided to do practice drawings all afternoon, letting me know who won each dry run.  I won't sport with your feelings by letting you know the outcome of those drawings.  

At 8:00 we checked my email to make sure there were no stragglers.  #2 held the tub while I pulled out Ticket # 286 677.  We checked our list to find that number belonged to a fellow knitter ...  Annette at The Lyon's Tale!!!  Congratulations, Annette.  I will be in touch about where to send your purse and chocolate.

If any of you have not been over to The Lyon's Tale, please go check it out.  Annette is an LDS fiction author, and she's lately been blogging about her journey to publication.  It is fascinating to read.  I also appreciate that Annette is one of those girls who signed up for the give-away but has returned and become a genuine reader, always with a comment or an email.  

Thanks, Annette!  Thanks, everyone!

Aw, Shucks!

Well, it's been pretty good for a Wednesday.  I actually will have more to post about my birthday on Friday, but I wanted to get a couple of thanks out there today.  

I got the older girls up for school as usual at 6:20, and then since it was my birthday I curled up in my favorite chair with my warmest blanket and snoozed until it was time for them to leave.  When they opened the front door they found this:

Which had apparently by delivered the night before by my sweet sister-in-law Kim and her family.  The note under "We love you" is letting me know that she'll be bringing dinner by tonight.  Score.  a)  Kim is a brilliant cook.  Yum!  b)  My girls had wanted to make tacos for me tonight for dinner, and when they saw this said, "Good, we can make the tacos Thursday.  That's two nights off!  ThAnKs, KiM (and Eric and Kids)!

Also, a package arrived last week from Shauna, who is so incredibly sweet to keep track of her bloggy friends' birthdays.  (I'm lucky I'm keeping track of all of your blogs.)  Since I'm a little mental about not opening presents early, this afternoon I opened a talk from President Hinckley called "In the Arms of His Love," a picture of the Savior, and a card and magnet that read, "The most precious things are not things."  Shauna also posted on her blog about my birthday.

ThAnKs, ShAuNa!!

Larry and I went to Subway for lunch, and I came home to sixteen Facebook birthday greetings and seven new birthday comments on my last post.  Thanks to everyone for contributing to a great birthday!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cyber-Walk of the Stars ...

A big THANK YOU to a big friend for a big award.  Erin, over at If you Give a Mom a Moment, has graciously bestowed me with the Super Stalker Award.  I'm guessing most of you stalk her blog anyway, but if you don't ... head on over.  She's funny and honest and entertaining.  And she's a great stalker and commenter herself.  She has become a good friend.

This award is presented to a Super blogger. This person is not only a terrific person, but a great bloggy friend. More than just a Stalker, they are a loyal reader who cares. The comments that they leave in their wake are sincere and heart-felt -making it apparent that they are truly interested. That someone cares. To which we reward them by saying:

This award belongs to YOU!

All we ask is the following:
1-In your own time, share this award with ONE other blogger who you feel is worthy of the Super Stalker title. This award is not to be handed out freely, but deliberately given from one Super Stalker to another -Making the recipient deserving. Keeping the award true to its form and the reason for its beginning.
2-As you award that one Super Blogger, include this message in its entirety along with your acceptance speech.

Well, I do try to care about the people in the blogs I visit.  I read their entire post, and I leave comments that usually show that fact.  (I will always have an opinion.)  I figure that's how I want people to treat my blog and that is how they will get to know me a bit.  It won't be by skimming.  Of course, I'm not perfect, and I do have this thing called a family that I'm supposed to be taking care of ... so before I start to wallow in my distress over these conflicting pulls on my time, I will announce the recipient of this award.

This Super Stalker Award goes to someone who faithfully reads and comments on my blog and has spread her blogging wings with great rapidity and flair.  I now see her all around "town."  The best thing for me is that this stalker lives close enough that we are able to use this tool to make a real, live, face-to-face friendship out of it.  And I'm grateful, because otherwise she'd still just be "that beautiful Valiant 9 teacher who teaches with her husband."  This is for YOU, Heatherlyn.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Well, before the actual post begins, I need to take care of a little bloggy business.  

First off: ThAnK yOu!!! to all who voted for me over at Mormon Mommy Blogs.  I came in third of nine, which I could hardly believe, and which may have had something to do with my husband, an employee of whom started talking to me about my blog the other night.  Anyway, thanks everyone!  It sounds like they are going to run spotlights on the top three blogs.  Cool.  (I probably would have known this is how they roll if I headed over there more often.  Sorry, Motherboard!)

Secondly: Less than 2 days left to enter my GiVe AwAy!!!  If you have left a comment on the original post, you are entered.  Many of you are entered multiple times.  I'll have to count, because I'm unsure if there are enough BINGO numbers for all of the entries.  If there aren't, we'll have to change plans just a tad and use tickets instead.  (Which I have on hand as a few years back I had a great plan for doling out TV watching privileges.  I never did it.  Don't ask me why those aren't in long-term storage, like the photos I'd love to scan in for the following post, because I'm not sure.)  Deadline= Tuesday, Jan 20th, 8:pm MST.  The winner will be posted Wednesday night at 8:pm.  Good luck!

Every year, as the date approached, my mother would begin to tell again the story of the most special birth we knew.  I learned the events of the weeks preceding, those of the birth itself, the visitors to the baby, and the gifts they brought.  I knew all of the details as if it were the story of my own life.

Wait a minute.  It was the story of my life.  Forget the birth of the Savior (although I knew that one very well, too) when I was growing up the most important holiday of all was my birthday.  I won't bore you all with the story in the detail that I annually heard it recited, only with the most important fact that my dad had been drinking Dr. Pepper at some point that morning.

With that kind of build-up, you may imagine the day itself.  It was always  over the top.  Even if I wasn't having an actual party there were flowers and streamers and balloons and once little silk flowers hanging with the balloons.  Always my favorite dinner and always a chocolate swirl cheesecake.  My birthday was just a huge deal.  And it was my favorite holiday.  

Then came my 18th birthday.  I was living in the dorm at college.  My mom had made me a cheesecake over the Christmas break, just so that she wouldn't miss it.  I was afraid my big day would be not so special at all.  Then came the box.  Jenny, you'll remember.  There were not only presents, but decorations and plates and forks and napkins.  And it was good she included those paper goods, because she used the BYU food department's service of sending me a chocolate cake complete with balloons.  Not only that, but that day on campus there was a guest speaker--Rosa Parks.  So I went.  That was amazing.  She was living history, and I got to hear her speak.  What a birthday!

Then came my 19th birthday.  Six of us girls were renting an apartment off campus.  My mother had sent me back on the airplane with pink carnations (among my favorites).  I can't remember if she'd made me a cheesecake, because I made one myself for the actual day.  I got a big package from her on my birthday, balloons from one of my roomies, a dozed beautiful red roses from a, ahem, friend in the Navy, and chocolate turtles from Larry, who wasn't sure what message he was trying to send with them.  That day, I'd had to see my social psych professor about an assignment I needed some guidance on, and he told me that I could be a mouth model.  Again, if I had to be away from home, I couldn't ask for a better day.

Then came my 20th.  I'd been married for three and a half weeks.  I wasn't yet as good as I am now about bluntly telling Larry my expectations for any given event.  In fact, I wouldn't do it at all.  Because that's not romantic.  (Don't worry, I've learned!)  So we went to a play that I had to attend for a humanities class, and I think I made myself dinner, and Larry got me the movie "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead."  Have you seen this?  It's great.  It's Hamlet told from the perspective of, obviously, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.  I love it.  And I loved it then, which he knew.  Um, but not for a birthday present.  I think I cried that night.  I learned that birthdays are not such the big deal for every family that they were for my mother.  My husband began to learn that he'd need to put a lot more effort into holidays than he thought if he wanted a happy wife.  I say "began" because this was a lesson years in the learning.

Now?  Well, now birthdays are not the major holidays for me that they once were.  And I say that entirely honestly.  I sometimes don't even have any dessert at all.  And I don't care.  Rarely flowers and never balloons.  And that is fine.  As long as I don't have to cook dinner.  I don't care if Larry takes me out or brings home take-out, I am happy.  No cooking, no dishes, happy birthday to me.  And as for my kids, I certainly try to make a special day for them, but I'm also trying to not set them up for disappointment on that first married birthday.  If they're having a party, though, I do tend to go all out.  But that's a subject for another post.

This year I will turn 35.  I am teaching an art lesson to #3's class in the morning, and I'm going to see if Larry will then meet me for lunch.  #3 also has a guitar lesson to go to and that night #s 1& 2 have Young Women at church and Larry has Scouts.  I'm guessing I'll need to remind him that I don't want to cook.  And that's fine.  It's certainly better than being pissed that he forgot.  I'm not seeing cheesecake in my near future.  I'm getting an awesome present though.  (I'll tell ya how it went later.) 

And, maybe, if they're interested, I'll tell my kids the story of the birth of their mother.  In detail.  Just this once.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Flashback: "Cookies, Conversation, and a Little Celebrity"

Welcome to my first Friday Flashback.  When I wrote Monday's post, I had an older post from the first year of my blog already in mind.  When I went to look it up today, I found this one and changed my mind.  I worry that this may not be my most impressive piece, and I really wanted to start off with a bang.  So why this one?  Well, I think it comes down to the fact that I'm really missing my husband while he's in CA this week.  I know I'm blessed because he is returning, and also because we have a relationship that makes him so miss-able.  But for tonight, I'm still kinda lonely, and reading this cheers me up.  Enjoy ...

Thursday, May 24, 2007
Trying to get back into more regular date nights, Larry took me out for Chinese last Friday night. I love Chinese food. And I have to say, it's not just the food, it's the whole experience. Our little Chinese restaurant up here is no exception, although in a quirky sort of way. 

There are several celebrity photographs gracing the wall, taken at the restaurant with the owner. The one that stands out, for various reasons, is of Dolly Parton. Over the PA system croons a recording of a female vocalist doing Beatles covers who sounds a bit like Vikki Carr which seems like it would play more easily in a bakery in Little Italy. The waitress/maitre'd tends to seat folks just a little too close together for the number of parties in the place. There is an art to spacing. I tend to require as much of a buffer as possible.

Dishes are plastic versions of the Asian-inspired china one might find elsewhere. This bothers me, I have to admit. Good plates are a one-time investment, unless you have a careless dish-washer. Perhaps that's their problem. The glasses are also plastic. Water, even with ice, seems warmer if you drink it out of plastic. Larry ordered a 7up and was served a can along with a plastic glass of ice. I noticed the trio seated next to us ordered beers and received glass glasses. They couldn't put a name with Dolly's face, and got a couple of photos of themselves seated around the table.

We ordered a family dinner with sweet and sour shrimp and beef with black mushrooms, then chatted over some great fried won tons, egg rolls and duck sauce served with our soups. We talked about important things, and things with almost no significance at all. We had to chat quietly to compensate for a small buffer space. Our food came a little slowly, but we weren't in any big rush. This restaurant is odd to me in that they seem to skimp a little on the rice. Most Chinese places serve enough rice with your meal for a small army. That said, we always have left-overs to bring home.

And, of course, who doesn't like fortune cookies? My brother used to recite a funny SNL bit about the people who make up the lucky numbers for the fortunes. "4? What the hell kind of lucky number is 4?" That's all I can ever remember of it. When I was a teenager the cool thing for me and my geeky friends to do was to add "in bed" to the end of our fortunes. It can get pretty darn funny. But being grown up now and married . . . it's even funnier. It may even pan out. But not this time. I got, "You love playing to a crowd."

Larry opened my truck door as we left. I was thankful that chivalry is not entirely dead, and Larry was thankful that I appreciate such a gesture. Maybe the greatness of the night wasn't the restaurant at all. Maybe it was being with my sweetheart, with no one needing a drink filled or more ketchup squirted on their plate, or beans picked out or chicken cut up. Yeah, I think that was it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Happy Birthday, Cave Cousin!!!

It's Lisa's birthday!  (I'm not sure if she's as comfortable as I am just rattling off her age, so I'll leave that to her.)

If you have not been to Clan of the Cave Hair, go now.  Lisa is funny and articulate and always just a great read!  Lisa also has a site, Fit for Service, which deals with becoming fit spiritually and emotionally as well as physically.  She posts some very inspirational things there.  She makes me think, and I love to think.

Many of you have figured out that I am currently mid-move.  We moved into a temporary rental house in August and looks like we'll be in the new house the first week or two of February.  2/3 of our stuff has been in storage with the moving company this whole time and will be delivered there.  Which is awesome, because I don't have to pack it again.  But it also sucks when I want something like ... a photo of Lisa and I as teenagers or maybe toddlers.  So I'll have to find an excuse to do that another time.  

Please go visit her blogs, read some of her stuff, and wish her a happy birthday.

Happy birthday, cousin!  I love you.  -min

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

This is NOT a photo of the purse you could win:

It's a photo of a green one just like it that I made for my step-mom's birthday. I finished it on the 10th.  Her birthday was on the 8th.  It's wrapped and waiting for me to mail it.  And that's how I roll.

This design is taken from my dear friend Leslie, who introduced me to hand-felting.  She made a purse like this for me a few years back, and I've wanted to try it since.  I'm just now getting to it.  I probably should be more original, but I don't think she'll mind.

I thought I'd take another photo with my hand, to show size better.  The  green yarn (and my hand) are reading a little washed out.  Oh well, you get the idea:

And finally a shot of your purse in progress.  (Again, this yarn is reading slightly lighter than it is.  But it's close.)  You can see that I'm about 1/2 way done with the first side as of Monday afternoon:

I'd have gotten further Sunday night during 24, but I couldn't find my red yarn and Jack Bauer was being all Jack Bauer-y so I didn't have patience to look for long.  I should be able to get the purse almost knitted during 24 tonight (well, last night as you read this).  

Don't you love 24?  I was so bummed last year with those selfish strikers who thought nothing of ME and what I was missing out on.  At least he's back in action now.  My husband seems to think he's heard this is it's last season.  Could that be true?  I certainly hope not.  I do love House, but he's nothing to drool over.  I used to pride myself when I was newly married on not lusting after TV and movie stars like I did as a teenager.  And I didn't.  I guess my head was elsewhere.  Like nursing and diapering and all of that great stuff.  But now, I might as well be 15.  I don't even mind admitting it.  Funny how your outlook changes like that.

So where was I?  Ah yes, the contest.  Entries accepted up to a week from today.  If you're interested, please comment on the ORIGINAL POST, or I may think I've already entered you.  I'm astounded by the number of entrants I'm getting.  I was figuring I might pick up a couple of new readers who were friends of friends who might be kind enough to post my mug on their sidebar.  I assume it's because of all of the unanticipated traffic from Mormon Mommy Blogs.  I'm not sure how I am going to keep up with everyone.  I guess I'll just say that if you begin to be a regular commenter, I'll be sure to read you, too.  Maybe only a few days a week, (I've got to find some balance here!) but I'll be there!

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Little History ...

**Please remember to give me a vote at Mormon Mommy Blogs, if you haven't already.  Tuesday is the deadline!**

I began this blog in April of 2006 when I tried to comment on the new blog of an old friend and somehow didn't see how to do it without creating a Blogger account.  This was, clearly, back before Google owned Blogger.  I saw later how to just comment, but I'd already taken the plunge.

My blog was never meant to be an actual journal of daily life, never really a way for friends and family to keep track of us.  I wasn't interested in that.  I wanted only to write.  

A few years before I made a list of things from my childhood that I wanted to write about.  I think I wrote two essays.  I emailed them to my dad (and probably also my mom) to read.  He's not an easy critic, and he was impressed.  But I never did more.  So I saw this as an opportunity to continue with these stories.  I'm not sure that I've actually blogged anything off of that list, but I've been inspired by my thoughts and feelings and other memories that have arisen as I went.

I used to post about twice a month.  That was my goal, at any rate.  But sometimes it was less.  My audience of 6 consisted of my dad, my mom, my college roommate Jenny, sometimes my HS best bud Kelly, a dear friend from forever Laura, and the occasional person who actually followed the link that is at the bottom of all of my emails.  Jenny used to comment on each post.  Sometimes I'd get an email from my mom or Laura about a post.  Once my dad emailed me that he thought I should have a much broader readership than I did.  Laura emailed me that she thought I could write a column.  But really, it never mattered much to me.  I was writing for myself.  And I read my posts much more frequently than I wrote them.

Then this summer I moved to Idaho after 14 years in Southern California.  And I am glad, but I have felt very displaced.  For some reason, at this same time, one of my sometimes-readers who many of you know as Clan of the Cave Hair seemed to be visiting my blog a little more frequently and I was checking out hers more in return.  I was impressed with all of her readers, all of these friends that she had in the blogging world.  For a while I really assumed that these were all people she knew in real life who happened to blog.  I'd been "blogging" for two years, but had never really entered any portion of the blogging community and did not understand how it ticked.  

So, being lonely, I started peeking in on some of these blogs of gals who commented on Lisa's posts.  But I would never presume to comment.  These people didn't know me and would probably be annoyed that I was invading their privacy.  But then on Brittany's blog (an author, WOW) there was a post or two about a meet and greet.  After a couple of readings I realized that everyone was meeting each other.  Like, for the first time.  I think Brittany was the first person who's blog I commented on.  She loves Jane Austen books, and so do I, and I thought that might give me an in.  She didn't seem to mind, so I continued.  

I can't remember all the details of how this blogging experience blossomed for me, but it gradually did.  And I came to understand that most of these girls (and men, Ca-Joh) were a lot like me.   Not the kids at the cool table, as I'd originally assumed,  but misfit kids and insecure ones and funny ones and sweet ones and neurotic ones and pretty normal ones.  I found that I could make friends.  Not fake friends.  Real friends.  Just on-line.

I also realized that I'd need to post more often than twice a month to keep an audience.  Figuring out just how to do that continues to be a challenge for me.  I don't want tons of fluff on here.  I don't mind and even quite enjoy reading it other places, but I want to keep the purpose of this blog largely in tact as a place for me to write.

That is not why I want begin to post the occasional "Friday Flashback."  I want to do it because I've written some pretty good stuff in the past nearly three years, if I do say so myself, and I'd love to have more than 6 people read it.  (I may even get 12 people to read it now!)  Look for my first flashback on the 16th.  I'll pick a good 'un.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Nothing Says "Celebrate" Like Bribing Bloggers to be Your Friend ...

... and I'm not proud.  (Vain, but not proud.)  So that's just what I'll do.

This is my 100th POST!

Can you believe it?  After a short 2 years and 9 months I have finally pressed "publish post" 100 times.  And what do folks here in bloggy-land do to celebrate 100 posts but have a cool GIVEAWAY!!??

And what, you may ask, am I giving away?  A beautiful felted purse!  Lovingly knitted and expertly hand-felted by yours truly.  (It will be ready to go in denim blue or choose your favorite color and wait a couple of weeks for production.)  The purse will likely contain some chocolate, which every giveaway should include.  It's perfect for times when you (or your wife) just need enough space for your cell, lip gloss and ATM card.  You could even fit in some mints or a mini-pack of tissues.

The Method:  I realize that there are marvelous, fancy-pants tools out there for finding winners.  But that is not nearly as fun as assigning each entrant from 1 to 5 BINGO numbers, putting the balls in the cage, and giving it a spin. (Also, this way, I can get the kids involved in my blogging, which will make me feel better about repeatedly putting them off to post and read my blog-list.  I'm a thoughtful mom like that.)

How to Enter:  You earn your first entry by commenting on this post.  Pretty typical.  You may earn additional optional entries, up to FOUR MORE,  by:
  1. Being or becoming a follower or being Kristina P.
  2. Mentioning my giveaway on your blog in a post or on your side bar, linking back here. (You'll need to let me know you've done this.)
  3. Reading a past post from September 2008 or earlier, and commenting on it. (If you're Jenny W., comment on newer posts!)  Read as many as will get you to a grand total of FIVE.
The Deadline:  Get all of this done by Tuesday, January 20th, 8:00 pm MST. 

The Drawing:  Wednesday, January 21st.  I will announce the result at 8:00 pm MST.

Good luck.  And YEAY ME!

Thursday, January 08, 2009


Wow, I just found out this morning that I am on the ballot for the January Spotlight Blog over at Mormon Mommy Blogs.  I'm totally honored.  Thank you, thank you, to whoever nominated me!

So if you have liked what you've read here, please take a second and pop over and give me a vote.  Tell your friends.  Tell your coworkers.  Tell your husbands (or wife).  I don't even really have to win--although that would be cool.  I'd just like to make a decent showing!

Polls close Tuesday,  January 13th.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Simply Said

Nothing is simpler or more potentially powerful than one well chosen word.  

Apparently there is an idea circling the blogoshpere of using one word to inspire one's year in terms of improvement (I hesitate to use the "R" word).  I've now seen it a few times, some posts serious and some in jest, but I got this idea initially from Octamom.  While I'm rarely known for my brevity, the idea of a single word directing my progress appeals to me.  It seems more achievable than a laundry list of all of the areas in my life which I feel are lacking.  Finding that word, the one word that will make a bigger difference than any other, that is another story.

I think that people are drawn to different words the way they are drawn to colors or symbols.  Words are in fact symbols, often, of deeper meanings.  Many of the words that seemingly appeal to the masses have little pull on me.  They seem broad in meaning, trite, pedestrian.  Words inspiring change and improvement often fall into this category for me.

So change.  Looking for change, for improvement.  I thought about "skinny," but that sounded crass.  I've seen "simplify" and I can appreciate that, but my problem would then using that simplified time and space wisely, which does not necessarily follow.  "Blog less, Mother more" is a phrase rather than a word, and something I'm not sure I'm ready for.

This then, for me, came down to identifying my biggest challenge, or at least the most meaningful.  That is easy.  It is in my spiritual health that needs the most attention.  I attend church meetings more than regularly.  I fulfill my callings with thought and organization and care.  When the compassionate service leader calls, I am there.  I am a decent Visiting Teacher.  I hold regular Family Home Evenings, family prayer and family scripture study.  I also feed my kids breakfast and make their lunches.  But I often don't eat myself.  And I generally don't read my scriptures on my own, and my prayer habits are not regular.  

I do think a lot about my relationship with God, and my inadequacies there.  Because I like to think.  I don't need a schedule for thinking.  So if some of that thinking can count as having a prayerful heart, maybe I'm not quite as bad off as I think.  Taking an honest inventory, it seems I do best at personal spiritual health habits when I have made a project out of it for one reason or another.  Because I also like a project.  Or at least I am good at getting a project done.  

So my word for the year is "Discipleship."  I think discipleship is what is most important for me to develop, to focus on.  Maybe a year-long project will turn into something more permanent, some changing of the hard-wiring in my system.  I hope and suspect that other problems I see in my life will then fall into one of two categories.  They will either naturally improve as a function of trying harder to follow my Savior or they will not matter so much.  And I think I am at a stage in my life where I at least have the desire to let go of the things that matter less.

Now, first thing's first.  I need to find a super-cool quote for my blog and contact my local vinyl lettering sales woman.  Well, maybe not.  But I do need to go have a morning prayer.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Back to Normal

There is a photograph of Larry about 14 years ago to the day, sitting in our stark living room, glasses on, feet up, casually reading a history text.  It is pasted into one of the few scrap books that I started early on in our family life on a page following the documentation of a very merry Christmas spent in Massachusetts.  The caption reads:  "Back to normal."

Every season of the year I greet with the gladness of anticipated joy and then bid farewell to with eagerness to be done with it, to move on.  The Christmas Season is similar.  There is something comforting about decorations that brighten the corners and soften the edges of the home, about smells of baking goodies reserved for December, and about music laced with joy, deep love and gratitude.  I deck my halls Thanksgiving weekend, generally on Friday or Saturday.  There was one year, however, that I did it gradually over that week.  We were at my in-law's on Thanksgiving Day, and the rest of the week-end was free of the stress of cleaning and sorting and placing and hanging.  

Ah, and the music.  I love music.  Years that have been particularly stressful of chaotic I find myself digging out the Christmas tapes or CDs or now just scrolling down my playlist and playing carols to myself, when no one else is around, as early as November 1st.  This was one of those years.  So as blogging friends complained about premature jingle bells heard after Halloween, I secretly crooned "White Christmas" along with Bing, and roasted chestnuts with Johnny Mathis.

As seasons change in nature, there is no normal.  Well maybe in some places there is.  In the southern California valleys there is the rainy season and the rest of the year.  But in general the cycle of seasons keeps all transitions special and unique.  When Christmas is over, however, life returns to an easier, neater, slower pace.  Our Christmas Tree meets the curb on the 26th.  (I must admit to being late this year.  I de-decorated on the 27th.)  Treasured items are carefully wrapped, packed into large Rubbermaid containers, and hoisted into the attic to the tunes of Led Zeppelin, Heart, and Journey.  Or Paul Simon, Hootie, and the White Album.  Depends on my mood.

It's fitting, I think, that we usher in the New Year with a natural de-cluttering of home and schedule.  Maybe that helps us feel inspired to make those resolutions which are rarely kept.  Sometimes I am anxious to say good-bye to a particular year, thinking that somehow the passing of the 31st, the flip of this particular calendar page, indicates a renewal, a washing away not of sin but of trial.  1998 was such a year.  Larry had experienced some major health issues, #1 had had her first seizure, and maybe a second, and I declared that no one could get sick in 1999.  It would not be allowed.  But they did, of course.  

This is another year like 1998.  Some would try to read into the decade relationship, but there have been others in between.  While we have on one hand been very blessed, we have on the other been very tried.  I will not miss 2008.  And deep inside, I wish that this man-made demarcation of time were more powerful than it is.  I wish that this year could be void of heartache and worry and stress.  But it won't even be free of moving and change.  It won't be free of hospitals.  It won't be free of budgetary concerns.  It won't be free of diets.  And these are just the problems that are foreseeable.  Scheduled, even.

That knowledge notwithstanding, there is a certain comfort to getting up at 6 am this morning to wake the kids, make their lunches, and argue about the necessity of snow boots.  Today I'll be driving the little kids to school.  I'll make beds and fold some laundry.  I'll vacuum and empty the dishwasher.  I'll put the chicken on to marinate.  I'll keep felting and I'll even pack a box or two.  

This is about as normal as it gets.