Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Learning from Alma in the Tub

I have been under the weather, taking things a bit slower than usual, which has given me time to read a lot. I’ve read so much good stuff this week, I want to share some of my favorite quotes and insights.

Later I will share about the Rich Young Man and some anti-behaviorism stuff I read from Alfie Kohn, but TODAY I read “The Book of Alma: Lessons for Today” in the October Ensign and I just found it so timely (I am sure that was the intent of the editors, I’m no dummy), given that Election Day is two weeks away, and considering the tumult in the world.

The author, Elder Peiper, introduces his ideas by pointing out that there must be something relevant to us in this book since Mormon did not edit it out. There are twenty chapters dedicated to telling us how the Nephites defended their system of government (judges vs. kings) and their liberty. He distills three main lessons for us to maintain our own liberties: (1) Maintain proper desires and motives, (2) Be kind and generous to the less fortunate (my fave), and (3) Listen to and follow inspired leaders. Here are my favorite parts, quotes I think we should ponder and take to heart:

I) “Their desire was to preserve their agency—the right to act in righteousness and to answer for their own conduct—rather than have a king prescribe their conduct. Their motive was to preserve equality under the law, specifically their liberty to worship God and maintain their church.”

“There are and always will be in societies forces seeking to manipulate public opinion to obtain power for personal gain. There is a temptation to adopt their motives and turn the conflict into a power struggle. The Lord’s way is to always act based only on pure desires and motives…” –If we want God’s support, we do things His way.

II) I am particularly fond of this next story because I'm kind of an Ammon fan, and I love that the people he taught were so committed to being like Jesus that they buried their weapons of war and vowed to never fight again. And did the Nephites mock them and call them dirty hippies? NO! They defended them and supported them... 
"When their former enemies, the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, were threatened with destruction, the Nephites voted to give them a place to live and build new lives and provided them with protection. Because the Anti-Nephi-Lehies had taken an oath never to take up their weapons of war again, they provided instead 'a large portion of their substance to support the Nephite armies during these critical times. Nevertheless, there is no record that the Nephites treated these immigrants with anything other than respect and love, even though they must have been an easy political target for those who wanted to stir up dissension.

"The kind treatment the Nephites gave to the people of Ammon, as they came to be called, was reciprocated and eventually contributed to the formation of one of the most inspiring military brigades in recorded history—the 2,000 stripling warriors. Ironically, the service of these young men may have been the key to preserving Nephite society from an early destruction.

"In times of internal dissension, external attack, and economic challenges, there is a tendency to become negative toward those who are 'not like us.' It becomes easy to become critical of them and make judgments. One might question their loyalty to and value in society and their impact on our economic well-being. These negative responses are inconsistent with the Savior’s charge to love our neighbors as ourselves, and they create polarization, contention, and isolation."

III) Then Elder Peiper talks about how Moroni helped the people prepare temporally by building fortresses and armor, and Helaman prepared them by strengthening their faith and righteousness so the Holy Spirit could guide them through the conflicts. "By listening to the temporal and spiritual direction of inspired leaders, the Nephites were preserved."

“We are blessed to live in a day when the Lord has called living prophets, seers, and revelators to warn us and guide us to prepare for today’s challenges. In 1998, President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) gave inspired instruction and warning to Church members: ‘The time has come to get our houses in order. So many of our people are living on the very edge of their incomes. In fact, some are living on borrowings. …The economy is a fragile thing. … There is a portent of stormy weather ahead to which we had better give heed.’"

Did you read that? Our prophet warned us CLEARLY that a financial crisis was building a full ten years before it crashed. It is wise to gain our own testimony of our prophet and inspired leaders today so we can follow and be prepared like the Nephites.A favorite quote of mine from D&C38:30  is "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear." I add my witness to that...we have no need to fear when our hearts and minds are aligned with the Savior's. I am grateful for this article. It reminded me that there is something to liken to ourselves in every story in the Book of Mormon. I am so happy to have this book "for our day, when people hunger; for our time when good men wander--a book is designed to give help divine for our day."

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Chilly Thursday

For Activity Days last night (church group for girls 8-11) the girls took apples and pumpkin dip for their healthy snack. We had the leftovers for dessert tonight a discovered a recipe for mini-pumpkin pies. Here it is--you try, you like!
The ingredients are simple: Ritz crackers, Pumpkin Dip, Nutmeg, and Whipped Cream. Here's how you make pumpkin dip: Beat 2 cups of pumpkin puree with 8oz of VERY soft cream cheese; stir in 1-3/4 cup of Powdered sugar +2ts pie spice. We also love it on apples, pears, carrots, and Stacy's Gingerbread chips (like the pita chips).

So you spread some pumpkin dip on a Ritz cracker, top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg. If you like pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, you also might like these with a schmear of nutella first, then pumpkin, cream, and nutmeg. Tiny, tasty pumpkin pies!

Addie's friend Sarah came over to play & have dinner with us one last time before she moves to Idaho. They had a ton of fun playing make over with our new hair crimper, and then they had fun making and eating mini-pies!

Here are the girls in action (oh, Heidi...!)

Addie & Sarah

Here are Sarah & Addie up at Pine creek...I think this was 2007.
Addie, Sarah, and Heidi

Heidi with freshly-crimped hair

Oh, it warmed my heart to see my boys wrestling today! The thing that really got me through my pregnancy with Niles was knowing James would have a brother, and it's so great to see them do brother stuff!


Glimpses of Conference Weekend

LDS General Conference Weekend has become quite the holiday around our house. This conference was especially pleasant and mellow for me because I was so prepared for it. I had the food and activities all ready, I cleared my schedule, and best of all I took the facebook Conference Challenge and read a conference talk from April 2012 every day of September and wrote about them in a  journal. I was ready to listen, but also relaxed knowing I would have six months to study what I heard this weekend. Good stuff!

Conference began with a BANG Saturday morning when President Monson announced a new temple in my hometown/heartland, TUCSON; and THEN he announced that mission ages had been lowered to 18 for men and 19 for women. You shoulda heard the hallelujah's pouring from our house! As I said on facebook, "19 year old sisters is just God's way of saying 'go on, girls--GIITER DONE!" We loved all the talks & music, the press conference and the World Report and just spending the weekend together in our "chill pants" being edified. Rock on.

Heidi's notes from first session

Potato Soup on the stove for Saturday night dinner. I had some friends & their kids over during priesthood session--FUN!

Elder Uchtdorf's talk= Conference Bingo Blackout for Addie Rose! Prize: jerky/

Daddy with his boys during second session.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012


 Yesterday when the kids came home from school it was 81 degreesF and super windy. Seriously.
We woke up this morning to 29 degreesF
(I slept with my window open, btw) and THIS:

Big kids and Dad leaving for school

Niles did NOT want to come in, but he also didn't want to wear mittens.

Well...Happy Fall, Y'all!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Happy Belated Birthday to the Hausfrau

I've posted before (but I can't find the link) about how miraculously our wants and needs are fulfilled sometimes (often). So here I go again...

It is my morning routine to get the kids dressed and start a load of wash (their dressers are in the laundry room). So yesterday I started a load, saw the kids off, then went back down stairs and heard a horrific grinding noise. I followed it to the laundry room where I found the washer growling--trying to run a spin cycle, but the tub was not spinning. FRICK!

[We knew this day was coming--the washer and dryer are 16 years old and I do 10-14 loads of wash a week, so, you know, do the math. But I digress...]

So I called Richard and told him the dreaded day had come. He sighed and said he would start looking for replacements. He checked the refurbished store here, he checked craigslist, and started pricing out our options. When he went back to craigslist, there was a new post from a nice neighborhood in Bozeman advertising a set--2002 washer & dryer in great condition-- for $250!! Two -hundred fifty bucks, y'all! So Rich emailed the guy and we waited with fingers crossed all day--Rich even showed faith by picking up our trailer on his lunch hour so he could haul them. Sure enough, the man called back and we had a fun family night picking up our new washer and dryer. We've done 4 loads already and they work like a charm--so quiet, so pretty. This seems like a lucky coincidence, but we know it's a blessing and we are so grateful!

Also, may I just give an enormous shout out to my amazing hubs? In less than 10 hours I went from having the old washer break to running a new load in my new washer (in a very clean laundry room, no less). Do you see the wonder in that statement? Not that there's anything wrong with taking longer, going to the laundromat, etc...but the beautiful thing is I almost never have to do things like that because my husband is a freaking GENIUS. He is a doer, and I love that about him (it pairs so nicely with my lack of patience, lol). K, end of brag. Love ya, Richard!

Monday, October 01, 2012

Mourn With Those That Mourn

I got sucked into this 4-hour podcast interview with an acquaintance from back home in Arizona. Of course his story was heart-crushing and disappointing, but it also led me down a thinking-path I will try to put into words.

I have spent a ton of time the past couple of years talking and listening to friends who have left the church. I find a couple of common threads that make their experiences different than mine. First, the ( false) belief inculcated by our church culture the past 40-50 years in the infallibility of the prophets and apostles--believing and trying to obey every word they say without testing it with Moroni's promise; leaving their own glorious agency in the hands of general authorities, stake or mission presidents, or bishops.  Second, the tendency to live a pharisical version of the restored gospel that I believe neither Jesus or Joseph Smith ever intended...when they tell stories of their early years, trying to live the gospel, their stories often  contain (sadly...so, so sadly) feelings of unworthiness, of trying to 'earn' God's love and approval, like rowing that salvation boat in a fruitless circle,  using the "works" oar more than the "faith" oar; like experiencing only justice when Christ is mercy. This OF COURSE has led to feelings of failure, depression, anxiety, anger against the organization, sadness, loss, etc.

I want to bear my witness right now that THESE FEELINGS & PROMPTINGS ARE NOT OF GOD. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, self-confidence tempered with humilty, strength, charity, and hope. Things that make you feel contentious, "judgey", self-hating, weak, desperate, isolation, etc. come from The Adversary. THIS article helped me to understand how much Satan uses our cultural tendencies toward unealthy perfectionism and an unbalanced focus on works without faith or grace against us. My heart aches for those whom he relentlessly attacks with these stealthy, effective weapons. There is a lot more I got out of this podcast, but this is the biggest thing--recognizing this pattern and wanting to bear witness against it. My heart goes out to Eldon and his loved ones and I hope he will make room in his heart once again--on healthier terms--for the love of God.

One other thing that I think Eldon got totally right is that Mormons (in general) suck at mourning. It's totally true. We suck at most things that are not the happy part of the Great Plan of Happiness. But I think when our faith in the Savior is strong, we can fully embrace the tragic and heart-rending parts of life as an important part of our mortal experience. I am closest to the Savior in my extremities. My closest relationships are with people who have "been there" for me while I've mourned, or with whom I have mourned. The most comforting words to me in my own sorrows were not the hopeful, "we-know-the-plan", "buck-up-little-camper" thoughts (however well-intentioned those were)--they were words like, "I've been through this and I know it hurts and I am thinking of you as you go through this," or "I don't know what this feels like, but I imagine it's terrible and I just want you to know I love you," or actions like showing up with dinner, helping me find good airfares to a funeral, or throwing a birthday party for my daughter because the ground had just pulled from beneath my feet and I could barely breathe, let alone "google" or  be festive. Encouragment to stay in bed if I felt like it, to cry if I felt like it, to walk right into and through the pain rather than running from it--these are the healthy and Christlike things people have done for me. This is what I believe it means to mourn with those that mourn. I believe we can do better.

Imagine my joy when Sister Linda Reeves spoke to us Saturday night about how to be there for eachother the way Jesus would (Click HERE to watch). Her example of the story of Lazarus was PERFECT. It was validating. I thought to myself, for Pete's sake, Jesus was JESUS--he KNEW what had happened, he KNEW that Lazarus was going to rise again, but he was so crushed by seeing his loved ones (Mary & Martha) in pain that HE WEPT WITH THEM. He "groaned in Spirit." He stopped what he was doing and mourned with them. He shared this mortal experience with them, deeply and fully. And only THEN did he commanded Lazarus to rise.

To me, this illustrates that when we gloss over pain and sorrow, we miss out. We miss the chance to feel our feelings. We miss the chance to bond with and show our love for the person who is hurting. We miss an experience that will make us more like Christ. And in the process of trying to be positive, we may add insult to injury by invalidating the sorrow of the mourner (this goes for the sinner, the addict, the depressed, or the chronically or terminally ill or their loved ones, too--mortality presents us with sorrow for a myriad of reasons). I love this quote from Sister Reeves: "Dear sisters, our Heavenly Father and Our Savior Jesus Christ know us and love us...and they do not say, 'It's okay that you are in pain right now because soon everything is going to be alright. You will be healed,' or 'Your husband will find a job,' or 'Your wandering child will come back.' They feel the depth of our suffering and we can feel of their love and compassion in our suffering." Then she quotes one of my top 5 favorite scriptures: "And he shall go forth, suffering pains and  afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him  death, that he may  loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to csuccor his people according to their infirmities" (Alma 7:11-12). How can we learn to be like Him if we don't take some of it upon us, too? We can do better. I am going to try harder to embrace the hard times and not be afraid to weep like Jesus did.

September in the Rear-View Mirror

I am completely stunned that it is October 1st. September was a complete blur of back-to-school activities, getting into a groove, house guests, trying (and failing so bad)to keep up with Niles, studying lots of scripture and books, showing the house, and welcoming fall. It flew by so fast, there is a sad lack of photography, but here is what we DO have:

On Friday September 7th, I took James & his friend William on a birthday date to Museum of the Rockies. They wanted to explore the Lewis and Clark Trail first, so here is James on the Lewis & Clark boat at MOR.

William & James on the boat at MOR.

The boys ran ahead of me onthe trai and I found them holding a camp meeting. This is what I told William's mom about it:  "I have to tell you about the really super intense, cute pretending they did on the Lewis and Clark trail at the musem. William conducted a "church meeting" and "Turned the time over to our first officer" (James) for the closing prayer, after his report about "Today's journey" and the dinner they were about to eat. It was a HOOT! I took pix, but I didn't have my camera that makes videos...THAT would have been a good one! Such cute boys. Oh, and everytime they "turned the time over", they would pass eachother on the stairs to the podium and shake hands and slap eachother's backs..."

James the "First Officer" reporting on "today's journey" to an audience of...William.

Two cute dino-lovin' boys!

After the museum, we got happy meals for dinner and new sneakers at Walmart, then came home to play with birthday toys while William's family watched his big brother play football. Such a fun time with my six-year-old!

On September 15-16th, Rich had some old friends come to visit...Dana & Denise Nichols came to town. They stayed with us Saturday night and went to church Sunday morning. Here are Rich, Dana, Shaun Spalding, and Denise. Fun Reunion.

After a doctor's appointment in Bozeman I snapped this photo heading out of town. The canyon was distractingly gorgeous with fall colors, but I was driving so I couldn't take pictures. I love fall so dang much!

Here's a silly pic Heidi took of Addie adn her friend Izzi in the car on 9/22 heading to play at the park and get wilcoxson's ice cream.
On Monday, 9/24 I turned 41. It was good. Lots of sweet bday wishes, cards from my kids, flowers from Westenskows, treats from Tyners, Lunch date with hubs while Kim babysat Honeybadger, Dinner with inlaws--grilled chicken and an amazing srawberry-spinach salad from mom Melin, Target gift card from inlaws, David Sedaris tickets from hubs, and around 8pm...a 5-day visit from Gram & Auntie M!

Here we are Monday night with our birthday cake...Happy Birthday to Auntie M & Maj!

On Tuesday night, Rich took us to dinner and swimming at Chico Hot Springs. Even Gram got in and enjoyed the hot water! Niles loved it and everyone slept like rocks that night! YAY! We had a beautiful week together, including a quick trip to Helena to see Lehmans and Postums, and dutch oven dessert at the ranch on Friday. They had to leave super early Saturday morning and I was sad to say goodbye. But I had a really great night watching the Women's Broadcast. So thankful for the good Mormon Women in my life! Here's to another great year of life.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Back to School 2012

Last night after a long, fun, hot last day of summer vacation, we ate grilled brats and salad for dinner, then had baths and family night. We talked about a theme for the year and the kids got blessings from their dad.  For the theme we chose

and we read THIS (you should, too).

It was a semi-smooth bedtime, everyone asleep by nine, except me, of course, because I had 4 loads of laundry to fold by the light of The Daily Show (which I haven't watched since the first week of August; the DVR is getting full). I got settled into bed at midnight (still 78 degrees in my house, ugh, I like to sleep COLD), then Niles started wailing around 2am. He was wild, thrashing, whiny, out of control. Teething again. Or still (his little molars have been swelling like marbles under his gums all summer long, I kid you not. Cut your teeth already, poor baby!

Finally after a little milk and some pain meds, we finally got Niles (HB) back to sleep around 4. Heidi was up at 6, all excited for the first day of school. She and Addie got all decked out for school in the skirts we made at Activity Days last week. Addie helped Heidi make a leopard-print duct tape wallet in the six o'clock hour. I got up at seven, so tired from wrestling the honey badger (HB), and started making blueberry pancakes and bacon with ranch apple juice for breakfast.

James and Richard came straggling upstairs at 7:30am and ate breakfast while I got dressed and finished up everybody's last details. Then we hit the road just before 8, dropping the girls off at Eastside Intermediate School, then escorting James to meet his teacher and find his desk at Winans Primary School (around 8:15am, just in time for the bell). Rich went to his office and I came home with a VERY TIRED Niles. I put Niles down for a two and a half hour nap (which just ended) and cleaned the kitchen and started prep cooking for the rest of the week's dinners. I have time to blog again! Time to hear myself think! Time to clean and create and study and be mesmerized by the sounds of Ira Glass...it's good. School is REALLY good.

Not that my heart isn't tugged a tiny bit sending my kids off for another year, especially James, alone at his school. But that's life, right? I'm not overly sentimental and I take their independence and progress as a compliment and a reassurance that our family is on the right track. But I do get a twinge (I have a soul), so I was touched while driving home and listening to Writers Almanac on npr. I found today's poem pretty apropos:

Years From Now When You Are Weary

and worn out, wondering how you'll pay
a bill or make the rent or meet a deadline

set by some thoughtless boss—and kid,
such days will come—remember yourself

at five: hair light from the sun or just from
being young, new lunchbox pasted

with butterflies, how you hung your backpack
on a hook, then wouldn't let me take your picture

 on the first day of school, sending me
 out of that classroom, to the car, to my job

where a pair of bats flapped in the hallway.
Bats may be just bats, but one darted

into my office, quick as the boxer's head
that bobs and weaves and never gets hit.

It landed and hung from the drapes, upside
down, as you hung in my body for a while.

Bats are not the only flying mammals.
That afternoon in line for the bus, you cried,

so tired you thought you'd fall asleep
and miss your stop. Years from now, child,

in some helpless dusk, remember that fatigue
but how you made it home to me anyway

in the care of a kind farmer—bus driver.
Recall that once I arrived late, your bus

gone, and when I found you, carefully seated
by a coffeepot in a corner of a dim garage

at the school bus lot, you just said, Let's go,
Mama. Don't tell anyone about this.

-by Julia Kasdorf

I love poetry.

I also love these kids. A LOT.

Heidi (thrid grade) and Addie (fifth grade) at Eastside school...FIRST DAY...wearing their owl skirts we made last week at Activity Days.

Heidi found her friend Brittany right away. They are in the same class again!

Addie found her desk and met her teacher for the first time (Heidi got to do this on Monday night at Thirda Grade Open House).

James at his desk...FIRST DAY of the first grade!

Look at my boy, all geeked-out excited to be back in school...he LOVES it. I miss him, bt I get the feeling he doesn't miss me much at all with all those books and things to do and learn.

I wish my kids, and their classmates and teachers and school workers, a happy & blessed year of learning & growing!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

And so it begins...

After morning chores, the girls decided to ride bikes adn go to the park with friends. When they left at 10:30, I was still working in the kitchen. They told me that Niles and James were playing in their room downstairs, and they took off.

 I finished my work in the kitchen then went out back to water the plants. I found a pair of Niles' shoes and brought them in, which reminded me that it had been awfully quiet for 15 minutes. I went downstairs to put the shoes away and check on the boys. James was reading quietly on the bed. I listened for a second--silence.

"Where is Niles?" I asked James.

"I don't know. He went with the girls," James replied, not even looking up from his book.

 My heart began to race. The girls had gone out through the garage, left the door open, and rode away almost 20 minutes earlier. I checked all the downstairs rooms, including the secret room--no Niles. I had been up stairs before and had not seen or heard him come up, so my mind freaked out--had he followed me out back? Had he tried to follow the girls? Was my 15-month old baby wandering the streets of Livingston!?!


I ran up the stairs and checked the garage first. I called his name and closed the door. I called out the back door, then ran to each bedroom and bathroom. I checked Addie's room last as I prepared myself to exit the front door and run down the street calling his name. As I opened Addie's door, I found clear evidence of The Honey Badger, but silence...

(yes, that's my flute on the ground)

Not unlike Goldilocks, Niles had tucked himself right into Addie's nicely-made bed (the girls weren't allowed to leave until their rooms were perfect)and settled in for his morning nap.

And I am blogging at my desk, still waiting for the heart palpitations to stop.

I'm having 2006 flashbacks of my naughty Heidi monkey...but this time, I know something I didn't know then:  we will both survive. PHEW!

Monday, August 06, 2012

In Which I Share a Great FHE Recipe


Set up tent or blanket fort

Set up s'mores stuff for dessert, even if you only cook the marshmallows over a candle

Gather your materials:
  • Scriptures
  • THIS talk from the July Ensign
  • THIS printable page from the April Friend
  • Your family standards/rules, written out somehow
  • "My Gospel Standards" poster

Summarize the Ensign article in kids terms; read the story of Alma's people in the scriptures then discuss other groups that Heavenly Father has called out away from wickedness since the time of  Adam til today. Apply this to us and point out that even thought we haven't been physically removed from our society, we have been commanded to leave the things of the world behind and choose good things. We need to keep wickedness, unkindness, contention, etc. out of our home and keep the Spirit in. How do we do that? [This is the part where you discuss Gospel and Family standards and focus on the particular issues your family mght be having]. Set some goals, close with a prayer and ask for divine help, then gobble some s'mores. Done.

I'll let ya know how it goes.

When We're Helping We're Happy

We don't have much to blog because we've just been swimming and cleaning/packing...not super exciting, but good. Here's Niles joining in the fun on Saturday 8/4.
Niles Helping from MelinFamily on Vimeo.


Dear Loved Ones,   The New Year is off to a fantastic start. We rang in 2019 last Monday night with our Melin Cousins and the Jones ...