Thursday, December 27, 2007


I came across this when I was cleaning out some drawers in my office and I thought it might be fun to share with my friends...I am really not a chocoholic, but I do enjoy eating it now and then.

1. If you have melted chocolate all over your hands you were eating it too slowly.

2. Chocolate covered raisins, cherries, orange slices, and strawberries count as fruit, so eat as many as you would like.

3. The problem: How to get two pounds of chocolate home from the store in a hot car...Solution: Eat it in the parking lot.

4. Diet tip: Eat a chocolate bar before every meal. It will take the edge off your appetite and you will eat less.

5. If calories are an issue, store your chocolate on top of the fridge. Calories are afraid of heights and they will jump out of the chocolate to protect themselves.

6. If I eat equal amounts of dark chocolate and white chocolate is that a balanced diet? I think they counteract each other.

7. Chocolate has many preservatives. Preservatives make you look younger. Therefore, you need to eat more chocolate.

8. Put "eat chocolate" at the top of your "to do" list today. That way, you will get at least one thing done.

9. A nice box of chocolate can provide you with your total daily intake of calories in just one place. Now, isn't that handy?

10. If not for chocolate, there would be no need for control top pantyhose. An entire garment industry would be devastated. You can't let that happen, can you?

So as we enter the next phase of this holiday season, just keep in mind the benefits of chocolate and enjoy!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Visions of Sugarplums

It has been a while since I have had time to write a new post. Now I find myself a week from Christmas Eve and the excitement is starting to build. Of course, the snow this weekend, coupled with the cold temperatures has gone a long way toward putting me in a holiday mood. I will confess that when the snow started falling Saturday morning, I was snuggled between flannel sheets and covered with a down comforter. Perfect sleeping in weather! It was quite pleasant to stop and rest. Oh, there was much I could have been doing, but taking the time to slow down really made me stop and think about all my blessings. We have a tradition in our family where we spend Christmas Eve with my sister, Margaret and her family in their home. They live in the country just outside of Greensburg, In. We have dinner, exchange presents and play some games with them. Her four children were little when we started this tradition but now range in age from 6-17 yrs old. Every year we look forward to sharing this special time with them.
Last year was quite eventful as Christmas Eve was on Sunday. We left after church and headed up I-74 toward Greensburg. Not far past Batesville we heard a horrible noise as the rear driver's side tire blew out. This was pretty upsetting to me since only two weeks prior we had replaced the front tires and had the front tires rotated to the back because they were still good. We called my sister and she had her husband drive over to help us. We got out and began trying to remove the cover from the spare tire. By the time my brother in law arrived, we were still struggling to get the zipper undone. It had been five years since it was off--so I am guessing you know what we encountered. We ended up breaking the zipper and pulling the cover off the spare tire.
As if that wasn't enough opposition(there was a cold wind--thankfully no rain) whoever had worked on the tires decided to torque the lug nuts really tight. After much struggling we managed to break all but one. It wouldn't budge.
While we were struggling with the lug nut another car passed us and pulled over. To our surprise it was Bishop Striebeck and his famiy. He and his son worked with us to try and break the bolt and the only thing that happened was we ended up with a bent tire iron. Finally, my brother in law was able to contact someone with the right tools to help us. When the Bishop was sure we had help on the way, he left us. Eventually we were able to get the tire replaced and were on our way.
This was our Christmas miracle. By the time we got to my sister's home, we were cold, hungry and tired. Margaret and the children were waiting there with warm hearts and a wonderful meal. I was truly thankful that we were protected during this experience. It could have been much worse than it was and I have been grateful that the Bishop took time to stop and make sure we were ok.
This year, for the first time in a long time, I am looking forward to having my Dad and Bobbye join us at Margaret's for our family Christmas celebration. This past Saturday morning, instead of being sad about having to stay in, I got out my scriptures and read the Christmas story. I read Luke 2 and Matthew 2 and then read in Helaman 14 and 3rd Nephi 1. I finished off by reading Isaiah 9:6 as tears flowed down my cheeks. It has been a challenge for me to get into the spirit of the holidays this year. I am thankful for the gift of a snowstorm that helped me slow down enough to have my heart touched by the scriptural account of Jesus' birth.
As we begin this final week before Christmas, may each of you take time to count your blessings, recognize the many miracles that occur daily in your lives, and find peace as you feel the love of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas to you all.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Little Things in Life

It is no secret that I hate Winter. I don't mind Fall with its crisp mornings and sunny, warm afternoons. Spring is also great because of the crisp mornings and sunny afternoons. And what can I say about is the best. Winter is my least favorite season for a lot of reasons. Yesterday was one of them...SNOW. I hate snow. If I could stay inside and look at it, then it would be ok, but I haven't had that luxury for a long time. It is more of a nuisance than anything else and I am not looking forward to the forecast for tomorrow since I leave for work at 6:30am.

It is in times like these that I take comfort in the little things of life. I am thankful that my car runs well in the snow. I am thankful that I have heat in my house. I am thankful that I have the internet, cell phone and satellite tv. Last night, however, I was thankful for a not so little thing...Eric!

He has been battling this coughing crud for over a week and seemed to be doing really well. We kept the dog inside overnight because it was really cold (usually he likes to be outside at night). Eric started with the coughing again early in the evening. I went to bed about 9:30pm and he was still up watching tv. I remember waking up at 11pm and feeling like I hadn't slept at all. I took the dog out to do his business. When I came back, Eric was fast asleep. I guess the dog was bothering us so around 1am Eric decided he would go and sleep in the recliner in the living room. I awoke about 1:30 to the sound of Eric coughing and choking.

It took a few minutes for me to calm him down enough to catch his breath. I was able to get him to the kitchen and started the hot water running in the sink. The steam helped him to cough up a lot of junk and he started breathing better. Of course, by this time it was nearly 3. I figured it was time to get him some professional help. So I took the day off work and made him an appt. with the dr.

Interestingly enough, the dr. prescribed a powerful antibiotic and suggested the same over the counter cough medicine with decongestant that I had already been giving him. This made me feel a little better about waiting so long to take him to the dr....especially after paying the $50 copay for the antibiotic! When we were on our way home, he confessed to being really scared that he was going to die. He said that he felt like he was drowning and I rescued him. His thoughts--"Well, Sylvia won't have to worry about giving me my Christmas presents this year." My thoughts--"I really don't want to pay for a funeral right now! oh, I mean....I am glad I rescued you, too sweetheart!"
He has now had some of the medicine and a good long nap. He is feeling better. I think he will survive this one. The past couple of days at work have been really difficult. Last night I asked Heavenly Father if He could help me carry that burden better. Maybe He decided I needed a day off or at least a different burden.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Taking a moment to cheer: Hooray!!

I finished my Christmas shopping today. I usually try to have it done early in the season, but this year was difficult and I don't know why. Anyway, I am pleased to say that I am finished and looking forward to enjoying the wonderful holiday celebrations ahead. Last year at this time, I was finishing up making cards and mailing them out. This year, I haven't made any cards. I just haven't had the time. I may get to it, but it is really low on the priority list right now.

The RS lesson on Sunday was terrific and just what I needed to hear. I had already made the decision to simplify my life but was feeling a little guilty about not doing all the things I usually do at this time of year. After hearing the inspired lesson, I gave up the guilt.

Eric and I did go to the Festival of Lights this year. My sister, Debra, and her family came to visit over Thanksgiving weekend and we went with them. It was so much fun. We would love to go back and hope that the weather will permit us to do that. The Polar Express in 4D was neat. Eric called it a glorified theater trailer, because it was about 15 minutes long, but I enjoyed the experience and would do it again for the thrill of racing down that hill in the train. I also liked the snow coming down in the theater. It was really "cool".

I am starting early on my new years resolution to lose weight. 2008 is going to be an important year for me. I have a family reunion to attend in July and then my sisters and I, along with Bobbye are going on a "sister's adventure" together. More details later...suffice it to say that I need to get in shape so that I can really enjoy these two events. I was explaining my plan to a co-worker today and she asked if I had a membership at the YMCA. I told her that I didn't. (I had one for over a year and never went--how sad is that?!)

I explained to my friend that I didn't need the Y membership because I have every piece of exercise equipment that a fat person could ever want...Tae Bo video, Zumba DVDs, Yogabootyballet DVDs, I have the xl glider, ab scissor, the urban rebounder complete with workout videos, a treadmill and my most recent purchase was (much to Eric's dismay--but I have until 1/31/08 to return it if I don't use it) the air stepper--which is really cool and likely to be a keeper. Eric and I even worked out every week with a personal trainer for 5 years. It was great, but I didn't make a full commitment to the process of changing. (I won't even give you the list of diet books I have purchased) I started today with a simple mile walk. My hope is to work my way up to using the treadmill. And when the weight starts coming off, I hope to be able to start using the other things that just are not easy to do at my present weight. I will keep you posted on my progress.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's Only Wednesday!

I returned to work on Monday this week after being off Thursday and Friday last week for the holiday. It is a common idea that government workers get so many holidays, but what you may not know is that we usually pay dearly for the time off. Most of the time we do double the work when we return. Monday was unbelievably crazy (I'll spare you the details), Tuesday was just crazy and today was back to unbelievably crazy.

At one point while I was running down the stairs between the ninth floor (where my office is) to the eighth floor (where our lobby is) to get my next client, the thought ocurred to me that I was deluding myself. I worked in retail stores part time for 12 years and I always dreaded the holiday season because the customers were so demanding and it was just a mad house at work. When I started working for the county, I thought "Finally, no more retail during the holidays!" And that was true until I took a promotion to caseworker six years ago.

It is funny that I hadn't really put the two together until today, but I am back doing "retail" during the holidays. The only difference is that our season is longer. It usually starts mid October and doesn't end until February. There is so much emphasis on material things during this time of year. Since I deal with many who are in poverty or close to it, I know they see what others have and want the same for themselves. Some are willing to go to extreme measures to get it (again I will spare you the details). I will admit that there are many who really just want the basics and are thankful for what we give them.

My speciality is working with individuals who claim to have disabilities. Many have nothing. Some have family and friends who will help them, but most are homeless or alone. Some have mental illness. Some have serious physical ailments brought on by substance abuse or just a rough life. Some are not familiar with how the system works and then there are others who could navigate it with their eyes closed.

Tuesday morning I awoke at 3am. As I laid there in the dark, pondering the coming events of the day and wondering how many "customers" I would have, I was particularly stressed. I got out of bed and went into the other room. I knelt down and poured my heart out to the Lord. As I prayed I was overcome with a feeling of peace and then the inspiration began to flow. I was comforted by such an immediate response to my petition. I enjoyed that feeling and wept tears of relief as again my testimony that the Lord knew me personally was strengthened. Even more than that I understood how much the Lord loves the people whom I am serving.

Yesterday and today have continued to be hectic, however the Spirit of the Lord has renewed my strength. My mind has been enlightened and I have been able to carry the burden easier. I am so thankful for this gospel that not only teaches me how to have peace admidst the chaos, but also how to receive inspiration to bless the lives of others. I don't know what the rest of this week will bring, but I do know that the Lord will be there to help me as I work to help those around me.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Me and Richard Paul Evans

This past Monday night, I went to Joseph Beth books in Rookwood with my friend, Jean, to hear Richard Paul Evans speak. I have read almost all of his books and love them. I have heard him speak several times and each time I am touched with his genuine gratitude for his readers. There were about 100 people in attendance which is a pretty small group. He spoke for about half an hour and then he allowed us to ask him questions. He spoke about his work and also gave us insights into his personal life which were quite interesting. Then he signed a whole bunch of books. Not only did he sign our books, but he greeted each one of us, shook our hands and spent a few minutes visiting with us individually. This always has impressed me because no matter the crowd, he has done this at every book signing I have attended.

Since being married to Eric--NASCAR fan that he is--I have had several opportunities to wait in line to meet famous people. I am not one that likes crowds and waiting in line for hours is one of my least favorite activities. What struck me about this particular evening was that as many times as I have heard brother Evans speak, this was the first time that he really talked about his personal challenges. The main character in his most recent book suffers from Tourette's syndrome. I was surprised to find out that he does also. I had never noticed this during his previous book signings that I had attended. He candidly shared his challenges with this illness.

In a lot of ways, I understood how it must have hurt to be the "freak" at summer camp. I have struggled with my weight since I was a child. In addition to that the psoriasis on my skin didn't make things any easier. I have been brought to tears after hearing the cruel words spoken by classmates at school. My mother took me to the doctor and he yelled at me and told me not to eat so much--like that was the real problem--then he prescribed some diet pills for me which were horrible. Obviously they worked really well. After that, my mother didn't take me back to that doctor. I am thankful that she understood how important it was that I had good self esteem. She took every opportunity to build me up. When I was a junior in high school I weighed about 200 pounds. With some hard work I was able to lose 40 pounds and managed to keep it off for several years.

This was a difficult time for me, but it was also a happy time because I had the support of my family and friends who loved and accepted me. As I look at the world today, it is still hard for those who are different. I can see that in some ways society is more tolerant of those with weight issues, because so many of us have them. I also see that we have a long way to go to be completely accepting of everyone. The last line of his book says it all... "Don't cry so much. In the end, love wins."

I know this to be true. In the end, love is all that matters. The love that we share with each other has a powerful effect on us. It heals the wounds and scars of this world. It gives us the strength to make changes in our lives. It helps us feel safe and secure. And most of all it brings true joy to our souls regardless of whether we are giving it or receiving it.

As we enter this holiday season, I am thankful to be celebrating the ultimate gift of love. The gift of a Savior who loves me unconditionally. He, who willingly sacrificed himself to pay for my grief, pain and sins. He, who is there to celebrate my triumphs and is continually reaching out to lift me higher. Because of His blessings, today I shed joyful tears instead of the sorrowful tears of my past. To you, my friends, may this truly be a season of love and joy as we celebrate the gift of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Lincoln on Leadership

I have been reading this great book about Abraham Lincoln and his leadership style (Lincoln on Leadership by Donald T. Phillips). He was the president during one of the most difficult times in this nation's history. It has been a learning experience to study his methods of leading. He had unbelievable faith...not only in himself, but in others. He understood that people were important, regardless of their station. He used persuasion rather than coercion to motivate others to action. He understood the importance of having strong alliances. As I was reading this evening, I came across a great quote that I would like to share because it fits so many situations...the topic of this chapter was on dealing with unjust criticism:

"In the later part of 1864, at a time close to an election in which he could be voted out of office, the president kept his faith in the people. Lincoln believed that, in the end, his course would be vindicated. 'I cannot run the political machine,' he once said, 'I have enough on my hands without that. It is the people's business---the election is in their hands. If they turn their backs to the fire, and get scorched in the rear, they'll find they have to sit on the blister.' "

My favorite part of that is: If they turn their backs to the fire, and get scorched in the rear, they'll find they have to sit on the blister! Now this gave me pause to stop and consider what things I have turned my back on and just how many blisters I am nursing! My next thought was, how wonderful a way to express that there are things going on around us that we cannot control and worrying over them won't change anything. I would not say that I am a big worrier, but there are things that I allow to overwhelm me. Usually they are things that are out of my control. For example, in my work, I have no control over who is going to walk through the door. I have no control over how many of my co-workers will be available to assist in meeting the needs of these individuals. I have no control over the fact that I only have 8 hours each day to devote to getting as much done as I can at a job that will never be completely done.

I also liked the end of the quote that puts the consequences squarely where they belong...on the rear of those who are turning their backs. While this may not be entirely accurate because I do believe that many innocent suffer as a result of bad judgement on the part of a few, it does give me solace to know that since I cannot change these things, someone other than myself should feel the pain. Therefore, I am resolved from this point, as we enter the season of the year when everyone wants their cash, food stamps and medicaid that I will not feel guilty if I can't get it all done. I will work as hard and as efficiently as possible without sacrificing accuracy and do what I can. I will seek for the Lord's blessings as I work. The amazing thing about what I do, is that I really do like it. Most of the time, it is a thankless job that I am thankful to have. I am thankful that I work with really great people who share the frustration. I am mostly thankful to wonderful friends who offer love and support. I know I could not do what I do without these blessings from the Lord.
So the next time you see me, if I look frazzled or stressed, just ask me how it feels to have my back to the fire...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thankful...not Ranting

So if you read Eric's blog, you know about our recent car crisis. I thought I would take this opportunity to give you the other side of the story. So the car was fixed today, thanks to my great Dad who helped us out. Now, here is my response to The Man of Steel Leg...

The top ten reasons why our Kia is better than your die casts:

10-It gets you to church without getting your clothes dirty or your feet tired from walking.

9- In the winter, there is a heater.

8-In the summer, it has air conditioning.

7-It has only been in the shop for a serious repair 3 times (including this one) in the six years we have owned it.

6-It has 4 wheel drive so I can drive it in the snow...and the rain for that matter.

5-It can carry all the groceries I buy from Costco.

4-It doesn't care about global warming or fuel economy because it is an SUV.

3-It doesn't require a pit crew to fill it up with gasoline and clean the windsheild--(This is implied since your die casts are all race cars).

2-I fit perfectly in the driver's seat.

1-It takes me to work and home every day so that I can earn the money to keep the roof over your head and food on the table, not to mention, buy your die casts!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

In the Spirit of the Season

Because the Christmas decorations have been out in the stores since September, I didn't think it was too early to do a Christmas post. We are almost to Thanksgiving and after that it is just a matter of weeks until the Holidays are over and we are left to cold, snowy January. I had considered buying a snow blower this year, but have yet to do it, so I am hoping that the drought will continue through the winter and we won't have too much snow.

Anyway, back to Christmas...a few years ago, I heard this quoted in a talk. I liked it so much that I printed it out and put it on the inside of my handmade Christmas cards that I passed out at work. To my delight, it was well received, so here goes:


"Christmas is a time for giving. Someone once said he couldn't think of what to give for Christmas. The next day in the mail he received an anonymous list which read:

Give to your enemy forgiveness,

To your opponent tolerance,

To your friend your heart,

To all men charity, for the hands that help are holier than lips that pray,

To every child a good example.

This Christmas, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again. "

(President Howard W. Hunter, Christmas Devotional, Dec. 12, 1994)

This counsel from a prophet of God is applicable to every day, not just the holiday season. We all need each other so much and for myself, I know that I fall short in some of these areas. Today, my efforts are renewed to reach out to others in love and compassion. As we enter the hectic pace of the holidays, may each of you be blessed with an opportunity to slow down and reflect on the reasons we are thankful as well as the blessings that are ours because Heavenly Father sent His son to redeem us. May you enjoy your families and friends and all your wonderful celebrations.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Fall Fell Again

Ok, so I am guessing that most of you got the idea from my last post that I was not really liking McDonald's...Untrue. I like McDonald's fine. It was just that this particular meal was bad and I thought it interesting given the fact that I had good memories of McDonalds and when I went there to reminisce, it was a bad trip....
On to something new:
Today I spent the day in a training class on Customer Service. I was not thrilled about spending a day out of the office, when I have so much that I could be doing there. However, when the employer says, "You will go" I go. It wasn't such a bad idea after all. I mean, it was a day out of the office. I did get to see some old friends that I don't usually see every day and it actually refreshed my perspective on this important aspect of human relationships.
During the workshop we talked about how in one way or another, each of us is a customer because we require a product or service from someone else. We talked about how there needs to be respect, integrity and courtesy in our verbal and non-verbal language and that this is vital to providing good customer service. At one point, the presenter even talked about how most of the time, these behaviors do not extend themselves into the home.
As I pondered that, I was thankful for the forgiving attitude of my husband. He often bears the brunt of my work frustrations. This he does with an understanding heart and when I am finished ranting and raving, he is always there to offer love and support... And a shoulder rub...Which now that I think about it, may be the reason I behave that way...Oh, we won't tell him that.
As I drove home from work, I decided that I needed to let him know how thankful I am for his patience with my weakness. I truly am blessed to have someone who loves me unconditionally. I resolved to take more opportunities to be thankful to all who render service to me because it does make my life better.
And by the way, when I got home, he had dinner ready, the house cleaned and was even talking about getting started on the weekend laundry...what a man!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Fall Fell

So last night I was channel surfing and found this great show on the travel channel about unique McDonald's restaurants throughout the world. I knew about the beginnings of the fast food chain and how Ray Crock transformed the way we think about food. The show told of a man who has eaten at almost 12000 different McDonald's restaurants. He even plans trips based on which ones he has not visited---now that is a real Big Mac Attack!

I was amazed at how varied these restaurants were. I mean, naive as I am, I thought the point of a franchised restaurant chain was so that everything was the same, no matter where you were...Sylli me! The program highlighted a McDonalds in Sweden (which was on the Arctic Circle) that the drive thru window was specially designed for snowmobiles. The customers actually preferred eating on their vehicle in subzero temperatures---can't imagine that. Another McDonalds is shaped like a Happy Meal box--I think that one was in Orlando. There was one that is set up like a diner and you are seated at a booth or table, you place your order via a phone at the table and the waiter brings it out to you. They have the regular menu and also diner style dinners. There is a McDonalds out there shaped like a big barn and in the silo is a huge tube slide as part of the kids playland. The McDonald's on Broadway is four levels and is decorated like the backstage area of a playhouse. I could go on, but I won't...

So after watching this, I told Eric it made me want to go down the street to our not so fancy McDonalds and have dinner. You must understand that a couple of years ago we watched that movie--Supersize Me--and since then, we have not really eaten much in the way of fast food. So I was waxing nostalgic for the junk food of my youth.

Tonight we ate at McDonalds and I was quickly reminded why we don't eat there. I confess, I have been spoiled by my own (and Eric's) cooking. Which isn't really saying much about the quality of the food we ate. I ordered the Quarter Pounder with cheese meal and Eric had the Crispy Chicken Club meal. In the past we would have ordered one meal and another sandwich, split the fries, and I would have had water to drink, but I wanted the whole experience so we didn't skimp. I also bought one of the Happy Meal toys because I had to have a momento from the occaision besides the extra fat that would be going to my hips.

My quarter pounder was really done. Usually I like some juice in my beef, and this coupled with the crunchy bun made me glad Eric had brought over extra ketchup packets. After a couple bites of hamburger, I decided to open the Happy Meal toy. Now that was fun. It was from the new Bee Movie and was probably the best part of the dinner except for the company. Eric said his sandwich was also dry until he got to the mayo on the other end of the bun. As for the fries, whoever decided that they didn't need salt, decided to remove the flavor...again, thank goodness for ketchup.

I was just finishing my burger when I turned over the cardboard box in which it was served and found the lovely nutritional chart. My first thought was, "Who comes to McDonald's for a nutritious meal?" After reading that I had just ingested 510 calories which had 230 calories from fat, I picked up the fry holder and found the nutition chart for those as well. I won't even go into that one!!! Alas, poor Eric had a message on his that he would have to go to the McDonalds website to find out how nutritious his food was.

As we were leaving I placed my bee toy in my pocket and told Eric that I might want to get some more of them because they were cute. He said that we could just order the Happy Meal and give the food to the dog. I told him I didn't think I wanted the dog to have it. I am sure there are some of you out there that love McDonalds and I truly hope that I haven't offended you with my story...but the next time I wax nostalgic for junk food, I think I'll go to Wendy's.

And for those of you who know the Peanut Butter and Jelly song from Inside Out-Sharing Time Eric made up this new verse:

I am cholesterol and you are trans fat

And we go together on this crunchy little bun.

I remember the first time that I saw you

Lying in the grease before the cooking job was done....

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Why I Love my Mom

Monday is my mother's birthday. In September it was 8 years since she passed away. In many ways the time has passed so quickly and then there are days when it feels like it just happened. When I think of the blessings in my life, my mother is right there at the top of the list. Some of you knew her, but the majority of you reading this did not. I want to tell you about my mother because she was an incredible woman.
My mother grew up in a home where her family was LDS but they were not always active in the church. She was blessed with immense musical talent. She would tell the story that when she was 5 years old, her mother took her to the doctor because she was not feeling good. The doctor told her mother that she was bored. She said she didn't understand why the doctor called her a board. Soon after this, she started taking piano lessons.
By the time she was in high school, she was very active in school and church activities where she accompanied choirs and other performers. She went to Ricks College where she studied music. Because her own family struggled with activity in the church, she wanted to make sure that her children did not have that experience. She married my father in the Idaho Falls Temple in 1955. Together they raised 9 children.
Our home was filled with music. Mother played the piano every day. She knew which songs to play that would draw us into the living room to dance. She taught us how to play the piano--some of us learned that better than others--(I didn't learn it so great and regret that now) She taught us how to lead music. She taught us how to sing--not just the melody--but in harmony. When a family vacation was planned, she would have us practice several songs that we could sing for our friends and family that we would be visiting. During the holidays we would prepare treats and go caroling to the homes of our friends. (I miss doing this)
Her motto was: "Practice, Practice, Practice". We practiced EVERYTHING! When the family would be going out for dinner, we practiced at home how to behave in the restaurant. We practiced how to politely answer the phone. We practiced how to sit reverently in church. We practiced how to obey.
When my youngest sister, Julie, was born, we got to learn about sacrifice. Julie had a chromosome abnormality called Tri-somy 18. She had very special needs. My father came home from the hospital and said, "We have an opportunity to care for one of Heavenly Father's special spirits." I was ten years old and will never forget how that statement set the tone for the family.
While care for Julie was then top priority for my mother, she continued to teach and train us. She helped us learn to care for Julie and we soon understood that we had to work together as a family if we were going to meet her needs. I believe this blessing is why we still have close relationships today.
My mother loved children. She served as a leader in Primary as well as RS and YW. She had a way of seeing the positive in everyone and magnifying that. She had the gift of being able to get people to do what she wanted them to do, but in such a way that THEY wanted to do it. She always used this gift for good. I am thankful for that.
I love my mother because she loved me enough to use her talents to bless our family. There is no doubt in my mind that she could have been famous and had many worldy honors. (Those of you who knew her, I am sure would agree.) She understood Heavenly Father's plan of happiness and passed up the fame and fortune to raise a righteous family. I am forever thankful for her example and I miss her soooo much.
I think of my mother every time I sit down to play the piano. I am thankful for my present calling as RS pianist because it forces me to play regularly. I know my mother has visited me while I have been practicing. There have been times that I have been playing for RS and felt her helping me because I get so nervous. She told me once that she was thankful that her daughters were her very best friends. I am thankful for this, too.
Julie lived almost 20 years, much to the amazement of the doctors. I know it was because of the love and care she received in our family. My mother served and cared for her each of those days. In her last years, my mother suffered from Parkinson's disease. Though her hands and her legs shook with tremors, she still played the piano every day. She typed letters to send to family members and friends that needed encouragement. She would review the RS newsletter each month and send birthday cards to the sisters. I will be forever greatful for the example of service and sacrifice that she was. It is my sincerest hope that I always live up to this example. I want to make her proud of me...and even if I fall short, I know she still loves me.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Thoughts for November

Last night I had the best time at RS enrichment meeting. The theme was "Christ Through the Holidays". It was so great to be together and laugh and share. As I was practicing the opening hymn this week (For The Beauty of Earth #92) I was really touched by the words in the third verse:

"For the joy of human love,

Brother, sister, parent, child,

Friends on earth, and friends above,

For all gentle thoughts and mild,

Lord of all, to the we raise

This our hymn of grateful praise."

I was particulary moved by the phrase: "Friends on earth and friends above."

I first thought "I am so thankful for you, my friends! You are all so wonderful!!!"

Then I thought about the second part of the phrase--"friends above". I wondered to myself how many friends do I have cheering me on from the other side of the veil? I wondered if the choices I make each day give them the hope that their efforts are helpful to me. I secretly hoped that I hadn't disappointed some of them with my actions. I thought about how we never know how many people are on the other side helping us to fight our battles.

November is a month where we focus on our blessings because of the Thanksgiving holiday. I want each of you to know that as I count my blessings this month, you are included. You inspire and strengthen me in ways that are hard to express. To all my friends on earth and my friends above thank you for your love, support and friendship.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Kit Kat

In honor of Halloween, I thought I would spotlight another one of my cats. Let me tell you about Kit Kat. Not only is he named after a yummy candy bar, but he is also one of the sweetest cats I have ever met. Now, if you come to my house, you will never see him. He is also a scaredy cat! We got him from my sister when he was a young kitten. He did not want to be caught and put up a pretty good fight before my brother in law was able to get him into the carrier. Once we got him home, I think he realized that he was pretty lucky. He didn't know that he had won the cat Lottery---almost! He has a comfortable home, plenty of food and a family that loves him.

Kit Kat usually sleeps by my feet on the bed. He is the first one to greet me every morning and he loves to curl up next to me when I watch TV. I tell him that he is a good cat and a pretty cat...which makes Eric laugh. He has the loudest purr I have ever heard and I must say that he is easily Oreo's favorite brother and they hang out together a lot.

Ok, so I haven't quite figured out how to get the pictures to mix in with the text...if anyone can tell me how to do this, I would love to know...because I really wanted to have a picture of Oreo and Kit Kat here, but I obviously did something wrong...because the picture I selected is of Oreo and Snickers, not Oreo and Kit Kat and I can't figure out how to delete it w/o deleting the whole blog...Also, please tell me that you get your children mixed up, too! Please!!! I mean I know that Snickers and Kit Kat look alike, but if you look closely, you can see they are different. Eric says we can just airbrush a brown spot on Snicker's nose and no one will know...

Anyway, as I was saying about Kit Kat...I am really thankful that he is part of our family. It never hurts to have an extra fur blanket against your legs on a cold winter night! Happy Halloween to you!!!!
PS--after much searching, I did find a cute picture of Oreo and Kit Kat...Sorry if they are not in order.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Why I Love My Dad

I was awake early this morning and as I laid there in the dark I was contemplating all my blessings. The past several months I have tried to focus more on gratitude and I must say that since I have done this, my perspective has really changed. This morning I was thinking about my Dad...

I was blessed to be sent to a loving home with two wonderful parents. The older I get, the more thankful I am for this opportunity. My mother was an exceptional woman with multiple gifts and talents which she freely shared. I will write about her in a future blog...My father was equally as gifted, talented and generous, however he was willing to allow the spotlight to shine on my mother. He quietly went about his business taking care of the family and didn't worry that my mother got all the attention. So here is why I love my Dad...

Dad has always taken care me. I am told---since I don't remember--that he and I have a special bond because he held me a lot the first six weeks of my life. He was finishing engineering school and my mother had to type all of his papers for him. So he held me and fed me and played with me, while she typed. As I grew up, I remember that his work (both employment and church duties) took him away from home a lot. Despite this, he was always there at times when I needed him.

At the beginning of the school year, he would give each of us a Father's blessing. Periodically he would interview us to make sure we were doing alright. I will never forget the day that I got my interim report cards and I was failing algebra. The teacher had written nothing in the comments...he said, "My daughter is failing algebra and he can't even tell my why?" He scheduled a meeting with my algebra teacher. I don't remember what he said about that meeting. What I do remember is that he took the responsibility for my education and began tutoring me in algebra. I am so thankful for this. He will never know what confidence this instilled in me AND from that point on I did very well in math classes.

I had another issue involving school during my senior year. I will spare you the details, but the situation was that I would have to meet with a member of the school board to resolve an issue. The plan was to have my mother be there as well. The night before the meeting, he sat down with both of us and explained in detail what would happen in the interview. He told us what the school representative would say and then how we should respond. The next day, I was called into the meeting earlier than planned--I don't believe this was an accident---so I had to go alone. Because my father had prepared me, I was able to speak clearly and confidently and I must tell father was exactly right. The representative recommended that the school resolve the issue in my favor---much to the school's dismay.

Over the years, my father has continued to offer counsel and support--emotional and financial when necessary. He has been there for me through many trials and challenges. I am thankful to have been able to share with him the responsibility of caring for my mother. This was particularly challenging and at times frustrating for both of us. When she died, I watched as his world collapsed. Again, he was an example of strength and faith. He fasted a lot. He studied the scriptures and attended the temple often. He petitioned the Lord in prayer to know what he should do with the rest of his life. Since we lived under the same roof, I heard him pacing the floor many nights and prayed for him to be comforted.

Then he got his answer and for the second time, married a wonderful woman. I am so thankful that the Lord directed him to Bobbye. She has truly blessed our family. She brought back the happiness in his life. I LOVE my Dad. He can fix anything...He knows everything...He loves the Lord...He loves his family...He honors his Priesthood...He works hard...He has a great sense of humor...He was crazy enough to pack nine children in a station wagon and drive from Ohio to Idaho almost non-stop many times when we were kids...(that still boggles my mind)...He is one of the greatest men I know. Thank you Dad...You are my hero!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Confessions of a "Bling" Queen

Ok. So I have been reading many of your blogs and enjoying getting to know each of you much better. I love this blogging thing! I recently read a wonderful entry from a dear friend about warts. I also read a moving tribute--or embarrassing expose'--from a loving spouse celebrating her sweetheart's birthday. So I have decided it is time to reveal a little more about myself...I hope that it isn't too shocking!

I confess...I LOVE TO SPARKLE!!! I love things that sparkle: water, pretty rocks of the colored and clear variety, elegant windows...anything that catches the light and sends it back even brighter...especially if it disperses the light into rainbows. From the time I was young, I loved wearing jewelry because it made me sparkle. Over the years I have collected many different styles and types of rings, bracelets, necklaces,and ear rings. I even own a toe ring (which I never thought I would like, but I do). This "collecting" has prompted my husband to give me such nick names as "Bling Queen" and "Nique Freak" (because a large part of my collection is Diamonique simulated stones from QVC--yes, they aren't real, but they sparkle really bright!) and most recently, I have started collecting loose gemstones in bulk parcels. I love to see them sparkle under the light. I could spend hours gazing into a stone and watching as the light plays from one angle to another. I am fascinated by how the sparkle in a stone is directly related to how it is cut or faceted.

When a gemstone is faceted, either real or synthetic, it first comes in what is known as a piece of rough. Someone who is familiar with cutting the gemstone evaluates the rough and determines the best way to cut it to maximize the beauty of the stone. Then it is placed at precise angles against a cutting blade. This process is repeated over and over again until the shape of the stone is achieved. If there is even the slightest error, the ability of the stone to reflect light can be compromised.

All gemstones have imperfections in them, which are called inclusions. Depending on the stone, these can be tolerated to a certain degree such as with emeralds and rubies. As a general rule, the cleaner or less included the stone, the more valuable and desireable it is. Gemstones are sorted and categorized based on their clarity as well as other factors.

So as not to bore you with other details related to gemstones, I will get to my point...There a many different shapes and patterns in which gemstones can be cut but the most familiar cut is the round brilliant shape which consists of 57 facets cut into a round shaped stone. Recently, some of the top jewelry designers have started using stones that are cut with 100 facets. These stones give off even more sparkle and shine. I recently purchased a pair of ear rings and a ring that had simulated stones which were cut into 100 facets. They are beautiful! They really do shine better than the others.

The process to facet a gemstone is not easy on the stone. Some stones of lesser quality break as they are cut and shaped. As I examine the challenges I have had in my life, I can see the hand of the Lord cutting facets so as to shape me into a stone which produces more light. Each time I study the scriptures, follow the prompting of the Holy Ghost, or internalize another gospel priciple, I am cutting a new facet. As I endure well the adversity that comes into my life, I am polishing those facets. Taking advantage of the Atonement and repenting of my sins reduces my inclusions. I am thankful that the Master Cutter knows exactly which angle to place me against the blade to yeild the most effect light reflecting surface. As I allow myself to be guided, I can become the sparkling and light reflecting body that I desire to be.

So when you see me wearing my pretty stones, two things are true...if they are clear they are simulated (because I can't afford the real thing--nor would I pay that much for it if I could), and...they are always cleaned so they sparkle and shine as brightly as they can. So now you know...I am a "Bling" Queen!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

He's Baaaaaaack!!!

Well as many of you know, my sweetheart has been away taking care of his mother. I will confess that Monday of this week, I was starting to get excited. By Tuesday, I could hardly wait to see him again. Wednesday at work went really fast and soon I was on the road to Indy to get him from the airport...and I must say, I really like going to that airport better than Cincinnati--so much easier to navigate and definately cheaper! I don't think I realized just how much I missed him until I saw him standing there on the curb with all his luggage!

Thursday morning he slept until almost 11am! I know he was really worn out from everything he did to help his mother. Monday was his birthday and he said that while the calendar only showed that he had aged a year, he felt like he had aged five years! Thursday was a big day at our house. For Eric's birthday, I ordered Zoomtown. He has been wanting this for a long time and I have resisted. My response was always, "I have high speed at work, we don't need it at home." His statement went like this..."but I am at home!" So then Thursday evening, we did some heavy duty work in the basement. I have hired a friend to come help me with this job for a couple hours each week and she is FABULOUS! It has been a tremendous help for me. So Eric's comment to this was, "Gee, I go away for five weeks and then come home and we have Zoomtown and a maid!"

Anyway, the time has gone fast and I will have to return to work on Monday...(big sigh). Suffice it to say that since he has returned, I have enjoyed the time together. I am thankful to have such a wonderful friend. He really makes life fun. We are planning for him to return to Utah in January, but until then, I am going to enjoy having him home.

Friday, October 12, 2007

So Many Friends...

Thank you for your positive comments and words of encouragment. I appreciate your enthusiasum and support for my blog. As you know, I have been living life as a "single" parent for the past 4.5 weeks. When we first decided that Eric would go to Utah and help take care of his mother (who ended up having to have hip surgery again), I thought..."This is going to be great...I can get so much done...he won't be in the way...I won't have to worry about what to have for dinner (because cereal is great for me)...

I figured that after 20 years of marriage, we could use a break. There was only one ther time we were separated longer and that was in 1996 when I was in Utah for my mother's hip surgery...I was out there for six extremely long weeks. It was quite difficult. Anyway, so I thought after 6 weeks, 5 should be a breeze. Well, I don't know if it was the added years together or my extremely busy schedule, but I admit that I really do miss having Eric around! And after 20 years of marriage, that is a good thing...

I can say for certain that if it weren't for you, my wonderful friends, I could not have endured. In fact, I have been so busy doing things with all of you, that I haven't really done much of what I thought I would do while he was he will be home on the 17th and I am excited to see him. I have renewed appreciation for military wives. I also have renewed appreciation for all my single friends. Cooking for one is really hard---and that is just the tip of the iceberg for singles.

Thank you for the phone calls, the dinner invitations and everything else. You have blessed my life tremendoulsy.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


As some of you know, we have been blessed with a large family. From the time I was a little girl, all I wanted to be was a mother and have many children. Of course, my idea of a large family was not the same as the Lord's idea for my large family. Not that I am complaining...because, believe me, it took me YEARS to come to terms with the idea of not having a "traditional" family. Nonetheless, I feel that I have been richly blessed. I am thankful that the Lord was mindful of my need to be a mother and made it possible for me to have mothering experiences.

Our family presently consists of four cats and a dog...Bullseye, Kit Kat, Snickers, and Oreo are our cats. Our dog is named Lad. I will start with Oreo, our youngest and the only other female in the house. As you can see from her picture, she is cute. One might even think you could pet her and make her purr...I will tell you that it has taken months for us to be able to do this. She was rescued from the wild and is the only cat we have ever had that didn't meow while riding in the carrier on the way home from Indiana where we got her. She was just too mad to make any noise!

She is about a year old now and is still quite skittish, but we love her anyway. She definately owns our hearts. I must admit that I am thankful she came to live with us. She has taught me patience as I have worked with her to gain her trust. In my heart I know she appreciates the treats I sneak her from my dinner plate! She has taught me also to hope for the future--that someday she will love and trust us just as much as we do her.

To all my friends with children...Oh, how I admire you and appreciate the sacrifices you make as you raise them. It is my hope that you understand that my intent is not to diminish the traditional family. Only to give thanks to the Lord for being mindful of my needs as I fulfill the work He had planned for me, which at this point in time does not include children of my own.

Saturday, October 6, 2007


So a couple of weeks ago I didn't really know what a blog was...I confess that I have worked around computers for several years and condsider myself quite able to handle many computer related functions. Logging onto the internet and "surfing" the web also was something I wouldn't hesitate to do on a daily basis. So I have to ask myself, "Why did I not know about blogs or Blogging?" The only answer I can come up with is...I don't know! Thanks to a wonderful friend (Maura)who invited me to read her blog, a whole new world has opened up for me.

Now you must know that while I feel comfortable with computers...the fact that I sit in front of one all day at work generally makes me not want to do the same thing when I am home. However, I can see the appeal of logging in and catching up with friends. I am amazed at the things I have learned about you! So now as I join you in this blogging adventure, please forgive me if I commit any blogging faux pas, since I am a novice. With any luck, I'll learn this pretty quick. I will do my best to keep thing up and current. And appreciate your friendship as I journey into this brave new world.