Monday, September 28, 2009

I Now Have New Appreciation for Primary Teachers

I got to teach primary yesterday. I am not really a primary person so when the note was being passed around in Sunday School requesting a primary teacher for the third hour of the block, I tried to pass it off to someone, anyone. But unfortunately for me, I was sitting right in the middle of both the young women's and young men's presidency so they all had good excuses--which I did not. I even tried to pass it off to the bishop, who just laughed and wished me luck.

So reluctantly I took the note and walked down the hall to the primary room. The president handed me a manual and put me in a room with 11 seven year olds. I was then given a sign that said,, "Help Me" to put on the door if things got too out of hand. I thought "Seriously, how hard can seven year olds be? I won't need the sign." Well, I didn't use, it, but only out of pride. The class was CRAZY!! I am sure there was never a second when all 11 kids had their bottoms in their chairs and their mouths closed at the same time. I left feeling so grateful for the few challenges my 20 fourteen-year-olds give me in seminary. And I left with greater appreciation for all of you out there who teach primary.

One more random thought . . . I really enjoyed the Relief Society broadcast Saturday night but I did have to chuckle at the name change for the mid week relief society meetings from "Home, Family and Personal Enrichment" to just being called "Relief Society Meetings." Sister Beck said the change was made after consultation with the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. Now can you just picture that meeting? I picture fifteen men sitting there discussing possible names and one of them raising his hand and asking, "Umm, has anyone ever thought of just calling it Relief Society?" Great idea!!

Lastly, here is a little thought for the day. "Give yourself an award today, or even a standing ovation. Even if its just for preparing a fabulous breakfast [or any breakfast at all], getting the kids off to school on time, or just breathing. We all need acknowledgment." Loretta LaRoche.

Okay everyone, I want to hear the clapping!!

And may you always have . . . joy in your journey.

Friday, September 25, 2009

TGIF and Nine Other Things I am Grateful For

I have heard it said that a good thing to do when life gets challenging is to count your blessings. So since this past week in many ways qualifies for the definition of "challenging" . . . here goes.

I am grateful that . . .

1. Today is Friday. That means that for two days I get to sleep in past 4:30 a.m.!!

2. Our weather has finally dipped below 100 degrees!! Hooray for that!

3. With cooler weather in the morning I started taking the dog for a brisk walk after seminary and that has proved to be the secret to better behavior all day!! After the walk she is content to lounge around until Michelle gets home at 3.

4. I am going to the temple this afternoon with my sweet husband. And afterwards we will go to Rosa's for Mexican food. The food there is good, but the tomatillo salsa alone is worth the two hour round trip drive.

5. Speaking of my sweet husband, he is also incredibly romantic. He sends me a sweet love note every morning when he gets to work (via email) calls me at lunch time, brings me flowers a couple times a month, treats me to lunch every Wednesday, writes sweet notes for me on sticky paper that he leaves on my computer in the morning, gives me foot massages. And he helps with the dishes!! Am I lucky or what!??!

6. Tomorrow I get to attend a baptism and the Relief Society Broadcast. I love that meeting!! It is always so empowering and enlightening.

7. I am so grateful for friends who do not let me retreat from the world when I start feeling down. Thanks to you all for telephone conversations that make me laugh and thoughts you send that bring comfort.

8. Facebook. Okay, I really only got on to spy on my kids (wanted to see pictures of all those things they are doing while away at college) and now I love it!! Not only can I send them little messages during the day, see who their friends are, keep up with friends from high school, etc., but at 11:30 at night when they are still on FB, I can send a message saying,"Go to bed!"

9. Trials. Yes, I am even grateful for them since they make the blessings we have oh, so much sweeter.

10. We have made it through one more week with everyone healthy, happy, and employed

So what are you feeling grateful for?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Yummy, Easy "Carnitas" Also--any ideas for helping with a special needs student?

Pork Tortas

Let me explain my question first and then I will give you the very yummy recipe.

I have a seminary student who I am told by his mother has "autistic tendencies" but I do not believe has been officially diagnosed with anything. He is very smart, but also difficult to handle in class. (He is also not medicated in any way) His behavior is disruptive but I am not ready to have him removed from class as when I look into his face I see a very sweet little boy. However, I do not know how to help him learn to behave in a way that does not cause chaos in the classroom. I know he can do better, as he was a little better earlier in the year, but it is now getting a bit out of control. Any ideas? Books? Articles?

And second . . .while my daughter was visiting we made very yummy carnitas to celebrate Mexican Independence Day. The recipe is easy, it just needs a lot of time to cook in the crock pot. You can use the meat for tacos, or burritos, but it is also very good for "tortas". To make tortas buy hard rolls and make sandwiches using the meat, salsa, refried beans lettuce and guacamole. Oh so delicious!!

1 teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 (4 pound) boneless pork shoulder or butt roast
2 bay leaves
2 cups chicken broth

Mix together salt, cumin, oregano, coriander, and chili powder in a bowl. Coat pork with the spice mixture. Place the bay leaves in the bottom of a slow cooker and place the pork on top. Pour the chicken broth around the sides of the pork, being careful not to rinse off the spice mixture.Cover and cook on Low until the pork shreds easily with a fork, about 10 hours. (Okay, so I actually had it on High for about 3-4 hours, then turned it on low until I needed to take it out so we could eat on time--probably an hour or two.)

When the pork is tender (and it was!), remove from slow cooker, and shred with two forks. Use cooking liquid as needed to moisten the meat. At this point, we spread the shredded meat on a cookie sheet, poured some of the cooking liquid on it, and roasted it in the oven at 400 degrees--for about 15 minutes. I am not really sure why that is part of the recipe, but we did it anyway. I saved some of the liquid to use on it afterwards though.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Life Begins at Fifty?! Who would have thought!!

Last night I heard a woman speak whose life in many respects began at 48. I was so impressed with her story, I wanted to share it with you.

Many years ago she immigrated to the U.S. from Greece with her two young daughters. Immediately she was hired by Georgetown University to be a professor in their dental school and she had a private practice as well.

What she didn't know was her life was about to change in ways she had never imagined.

Like most Greeks, she belonged to the Greek Orthodox Church, so when her 14 year old daughter developed a crush on the Osmond brothers and decided to get baptized, she was furious and refused to give permission for the baptism. She felt that falling in love with a celebrity was no reason to change religions and insisted her daughter give it up.

Yet over the course of the next four years, her daughter persisted, and so after numerous sets of full-time missionaries, ward missionaries and bishop visits, she relented and allowed her daughter to become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On the day of the baptism the church was filled with people all over the stake, including the stake presidency, who had all come to witness the miracle of the change in the very mean mother.

Although still opposed in principle to the baptism, it was during the service the real miracle occurred. As she knelt before the font to watch, her heart turned to God in prayer for strength to endure what was happening. At that moment the spirit touched her heart and let her know that the church was true and what was happening was right. She hurried into the changing room to tell her daughter not to give away her baptismal dress as she was going to need it.

Two weeks later she joined her daughter in the waters of baptism and a short time later her second daughter was baptized as well. And that choice, made at the age of 48, completely changed the direction of her life.

A short time later, she gave up her job and her private practice and moved to Utah to work as a translator for the church. Finances were tight over the next several years as she helped translate many church publications in to Greek, including the Book of Mormon.

She also began working as a volunteer at the Family History Center and has become world renowned for her work in Greek Genealogy, having published several books on the topic.

Currently she is 80 years old and continues to be an amazing woman, diligently working to bring the gospel to her people.

As I sat listening to her, I was so impressed with what she has accomplished in her life. But what really struck me was the thought that her greatest service to others began when she was nearly 50 years old. Thankfully she did not feel at that age that she was too old to change, or to make a difference in the world. Instead she gave up everything worldly that up to that point had been important to her, and followed her heart and the promptings of the spirit. And because of that, not only has her life been a great adventure, but many people have been blessed.

What a great lesson that was for me!! How grateful I am for her example. And now I am so very excited for the next 30 years of my life!! What wonderful challenges, experiences and opportunities will it bring?!!

Ahh, there is still so much of life left and so much more . . . . joy to be found in the journey!

Thought for the day: "The first time I heard the phrase 'anti-aging formula' I thought, 'What's that? Hemlock?' Anything that is anti-aging has to kill you since if you are alive, you are aging. Learn to accept and enjoy the preciousness of life and the fun you can have at any age." Loretta LaRoche

Friday, September 18, 2009

Halloween, Watches and Hair Bands, Oh My!!

While Carly, our one and only grandbaby who is visiting from Colorado this week, was busy visiting her great-grandmother in Mesa . . .

And out in the pool swimming with her very handsome grandpa . . .
Her mother, (my oldest child), and I dusted off our craft genes and made an attempt to be creative. (I promise, Camille was having much more fun than this picture indicates.) We turned the kitchen table in to "craft central" for a two day craft bonanza.

My friend Jenny had given me a lavender watch face several months ago so I decided to make a band to go with it. (Watch on the right) It actually has dark lavender stones on it. I then decided to make a band for a watch face Camille had as well. Hers is black and silver. I thought both turned out really cute, so now we can't wait to wear them!

We then pulled out the scrapbook paper, paint and Modge Podge and made this cute little Halloween decoration. I am going to hang mine on a dowel attached to wire and tie a big bow on the top, but I haven't gotten that far yet.

And lastly, we made cute little head bands and clips for our respective "babies" Here is my baby, Michelle, with a pink flower in her hair, made to match Carly's head band. Luckily Michelle didn't mind playing along and dressing in pink.

Camille and Carly return to Colorado tomorrow and we are so very sad!! (Although we know Dave the Dad is very much looking forward to their return.) It has been such a great week having them here to play with. It has also been fun to see what a good mom Camille is! It just makes me smile every time I see her changing a diaper or making a new batch of baby food!!
Thanks for coming and spending this time with us. Dave--thanks for letting them come!! We are now counting down the days until you come back!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

We have a visitor!! And dumb state laws.

It has been very hard to find time to blog lately
because. . .
we have a visitor!!
Our daughter Camille is in town with her baby Carly and we are having a very good time!!
When your only grandchild lives in another state, you have to take advantage of every minute you get. So this week we have been enjoying our baby time.

Here Michelle (my youngest) is holding Carly after a long day at church.
Sorry, the color is so bad in this one but my flash wasn't working. Here Carly and Grandpa were having some fun playtime together before Grandpa had to run off to another meeting.

Oh, but look how happy she is to see Grandma!!
We have a couple more days, and I don't have to prepare a seminary lesson for Friday so the next two days will be action packed!! :-)
Now a couple fun things I came across on AOL the other day. Dumb state laws. Probably none of these are enforced, but that they were ever signed into law is pretty funny.

An anti-crime law in Texas requires criminals to give their victims notice, oral or written, 24 hours in advance of the the crime they're planning to commit and the nature of that crime. So how likely do you think it is that someone will send a letter, "Dear Miss Smith, I would like to break into your house Friday night and steal your jewelry."
It is mandatory for a motorist with criminal intentions driving around the state of Washington to stop at city limits and telephone the local chief of police before entering town. Obviously those who wrote this law have relatives in Texas.

Chicago forbids fishing while sitting on a giraffe's neck. While we can't imagine why someone would be riding on a giraffe's neck in Chicago, let alone fishing, it does make sense why it isn't a good idea.
No one may cross Minnesota state lines with a duck on top of their head. Is this really a problem?
In Waynesboro, Virginia, it was once illegal for a woman to drive a car up Main Street unless her husband walks in front of the car waving a red flag. Personally I think this one was put into law by a beauty queen who just wanted her own parade.
Next door neighbors may not lend each other vacuum cleaners in Denver, Colorado. Word of warning . . . if you ever move to Denver, be sure and bring your own vacuum!
Have a great week!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Temples, Desert Lilies, and Las Vegas

I recently attended my nephew’s wedding in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was so much fun to be there and share in the day with family. My husband’s siblings are strewn across the US—from Georgia to Hawaii—but they are all very close and do their best to support each other in big events like marriages. So with some degree of sacrifice, they were there, all seven of them.

I do not, however, love being in Las Vegas. I know there are a lot of good people who live there and some great shows that are fun to see, but it is still hard for me to drive around the streets and see billboards that say things like, “Biggest Selection of X-rated Actors Here” There were many other similar billboards and signs, all advertising one form of evil or another and each promising thrills and happiness for those who partook.

My daughter Kathryn made an interesting observation. She commented on how fake everything in the town is. You can pretend to be in Venice, Rome, New York City, or Egypt, but you are not really there. That seemed to me to be symbolic of the message of the city in general. People go there to find riches, short term happiness and an escape from reality. But the reality is that true wealth and happiness will never be found in evil. No one involved in prostitution, gambling and pornography will find the joy they are seeking. So the city is not only pretend, it is also on some levels a lie, and a perfect example of how Satan operates.

Our morning at the temple was in stark contrast to our evening in the city. The man who performed the marriage ceremony told us something about the construction of the Las Vegas temple that I found interesting. Aware of the spiritual dearth in the area in general, the architect of the temple incorporated the desert lily into much of the temple d├ęcor—including down the sides of all four corners of each marriage altar. He had gone into the desert once and amidst the brown dirt and cacti, found a beautiful green leafed desert lily in full bloom. To him it represented the life the gospel brought to an otherwise spiritually barren land.

So if you ever get a chance to attend the Las Vegas temple, be sure to look for the lily, a symbol of spiritual life.
Now on a completely different subject. . . . I wrote a post about my mother in honor of her birthday but here are a few things I wanted to add to it. As I mentioned, my mother is a farm girl, born and raised, and so she learned to be resourceful, as well as brave. Here are two examples.
First--brave . . . Mom loves animals and does her best to care for them, although I have thought she has been a bit extreme at times. Like the time their doberman became diabetic and mom would go out every morning and get a urine sample from the dog to test his sugar levels. Seriously!! I am sorry to say, that is where I would have to draw the line.
Second--resourceful. When I was in fourth grade I broke my arm and had to have a cast. Back then the casts were plaster, not fiberglass like today. When my six weeks were up, and I could have the cast removed, my mom did not want to spend the money to take me to the doctor so she took me into the back yard and got out a saw and sawed it off! The honest truth.
Ahh, so many stories! :-)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Looking for a great light dessert?


Last week we had a luncheon at my house and my good friend Jenny brought this very yummy dessert. If you like berries and lemon, you will love this! I am not even a strawberry fan and I loved it (I just took off the strawberries:-) It is reduced calorie and only has a 25 minute prep time. Enjoy!!

1 (14 ounce) can fat free sweetened condensed milk
1 (8 ounce) carton non-fat reduced sugar lemon yogurt
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 (8 ounce) container reduced-fat whipped topping, thawed, divided
1 (16 ounce) package angel food cake mix, prepared and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh raspberries 2 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted

In a large bowl, combine the milk, yogurt, lemon juice and peel. Fold in 2 cups whipped topping.
In a 3-qt. trifle bowl or deep salad bowl, layer a third of the cake cubes, a third of the lemon mixture and all of the strawberries. Repeat cake and lemon mixture layers. Top with blueberries and remaining cake cubes and lemon mixture. Sprinkle with raspberries.
Spread remaining whipped topping over berries; sprinkle with almonds. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

Nutritional Analysis: 1 serving equals 203 calories, 2 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 2 mg cholesterol, 181 mg sodium, 40 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 5 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 1/2 fruit, 1/2 fat

Monday, September 7, 2009

This one is for my mom

My mother turns one year older today. This past year has been a rough one for her. A year ago she was healthy, strong and walking all over Israel, but this past winter we almost lost her and now she is in the slow process of getting strong again. We are so grateful to have her still with us, and in honor of that, this post is for her.

Jerusalem, 2008
My mom grew up on a farm in Mt. Pleasant, Utah with one sister and two brothers. She left home at 17, immediately following high school graduation, and moved to the big city-- Salt Lake. At the age of 20 she met my dad, a father of three and a recent widower. After dating two years, they were married in the Salt Lake Temple, and she became an instant mother to Terri (7), Randy (5) and Ruth (3). Being the only active member of the Mormon Church in her family, (at that time) her wedding day was a difficult one for her, as her parents were excluded from the temple ceremony. I was her first born, followed by four other children, for a grand total of 8 kids, 5 girls and 3 boys.

My mother on her wedding day

When my mother was only 32, my dad was called to preside over the Central American Mission which included the countries of Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras. Although I never heard my mother complain about the time my father spent away from home on church callings, I am sure these three years were very difficult for her. Not only did she have to care for her family in a foreign country where she did not speak the language, but she had the shared responsibility of over 100 missionaries as well. Dad traveled the entire mission every six weeks and my mother usually went with him every other time. On her very first mission tour, she returned home to discover my younger brother and sister had been hit by a car while riding a bike and had just been rushed to the hospital. Luckily their injuries were nothing stitches could not repair, but I am sure she was always a little nervous to leave us again after that.

Costa Rica.
My older sister and brother had gone off to college by the time this picture was taken. My youngest brother (on my mother's lap) was born in Costa Rica and my youngest sister was born after we returned to the states.

On my mother’s 65th birthday my parents received a telephone call from President Gordon B. Hinckley, then president of our church, asking how their health was. Now you know the prophet does not call people randomly to ask about their health, so with some degree of nervousness (as in a TON) my dad told him about some minor heart problems he had, and then listed my mother’s more serious ailments. President Hinckley thanked my dad, and hung up the phone. Later he called back and called my father to preside over the Guatemala Temple in Guatemala City. My mom later said to me, “He didn’t even care I had health problems!” We laughed at that. I guess with him being much older and having so many health problems of his own, my mother’s didn’t seem like much.

And so once again my mother packed up her life and with my father journeyed off to a foreign country to serve the Lord.

In front of the Guatemala City Temple

I think the word “serve” describes her life well. She not only served alongside my father in his many church callings, but had many of her own. And she was frequently serving the neighbors through meals and other assistance. She has always been an excellent cook, seamstress and gardener, and shared her talents with many.

She also has a tender heart for animals. While in Costa Rica, stray cats always seemed to find their way to our home. After returning to Utah, a door to door salesman was traveling through the neighborhood followed by a stray dog. When he reached our house, the dog stayed. Instinctively, I suppose, she knew mom would give her a home.
Mom opened our house to people a well. In addition to the sister missionaries who lived with us while we were in Costa Rica, we also served host for several months to two young girls from Mexico City, a year to a college student from Tonga, and to her own mother during the last several weeks of her life.

One of my favorite pictures of my parents.

This picture was taken at my parent's 50th wedding anniversary party in 2008 and includes my parents, and seven of their children and spouses. One of my kids took several pictures of us while we were waiting for the official photographer to take the real picture--so we really weren't posing for this one.
Mom turned our house into a home, taught me to pray and pay my tithing, showed me how to serve those in need and how to support my husband—without complaint—now that he is the one frequently gone for church callings.

I will forever be grateful for her love and influence.

Happy Birthday Mom! And thanks for bringing so much . . . joy to our journey!

We love you!

Friday, September 4, 2009


Our dear, sweet Kathryn turns 19 today. She was born at 3:19 p.m., and has been bringing joy into our lives ever since.

She was due August 28, and the doctor told me that if she didn’t come on her own, he would induce on September 4. My reaction was, “Are you crazy!? The deadline for the school year is September 1. If we wait until the 4th it will be a whole additional year before she can go to kindergarten.” But he insisted and so on September 4, we made the journey to the hospital for her birth.

September 4 was also the first day of school and Ryan’s first day in kindergarten. And it was just a couple days after Camille (2nd grade) fell and broke both her arms. We also had a huge monsoon storm sweep through the valley the day before which brought torrential rains and flooded all the streets and my doctor’s office. So the day on its own was memorable, but Kathryn being born made it special.

And I have always been grateful for that extra year we have had with her. Her younger sister, Michelle, is very grateful for that year as well.

Kathryn has a sweet and gentle spirit. She is also my quiet daughter and the hardest for me to get to know. But she is funny and sassy, very social, smart and clever and I am missing her terribly now that she has gone off to BYU.

But we know she will have a great year and so wish her the very best and a

Between graduation and heading off to college, I have already published most of my favorite pictures of Kathryn, but here are a few more. I love her hair in this one. She is the one child who got curly hair--which she considers a curse and I envy.

Here is Wes, Kathryn and Michelle in Sydney, Australia when we went there to pick up Ryan from his mission. (I am not sure why Ryan was not in this picture.)

I always get a kick out of this picture. This was on Thanksgiving in Utah while everyone was lounging around watching the football game. Kat couldn't resist posing.