Wednesday, September 14

Birthday Rain

Today is my birthday. It's raining outside. I didn't know it was raining until my son told me when he walked in the door from Early Morning Seminary. We have had a long streak of bright, sunny days, so I was kind of expecting more of the same. But I don't mind. Rain is a great birthday present.

Seven years ago, we were in a drought, quite a bad one, actually. Everyone was praying for rain. We had been praying for months. Our church congregation held a fast. The lacking rain was all we seemed to talk about. My little children prayed for rain at every meal, and during our family prayers, and when they asked me to listen to their sweet little personal prayers.

That year, my oldest turned seven. I threw a backyard costume party, full of family and friends. It was lots of people and lots of fun, all over our yard.

And then it started to rain.

In a mad, panicked dash, we hustled all the party-goers and food and gifts into my tiny house. We crammed into the living room and had the present-opening. It was like a gift-wrapped mosh pit. There were enough of us that we started to fog up the windows, but we couldn't open them because it was raining so hard. It rained and poured and pounded.

I was cranky about it, to be honest. Here I had put all this effort into a great party for my kid, and it had to go and rain. Then my son came to me and said, with a beaming face, "Mommy! Isn't it great? Heavenly Father gave me rain for my birthday!"

And I remembered. It was raining! We needed this rain. We had been praying for this rain. My son had been praying for it, and here it was, on his special day. Best birthday gift ever: an answered prayer and a more sure testimony that God is in His heaven, and hears and answers us.

So, today, on my birthday, I am very grateful for the rain. I am grateful for cooler weather, and an excuse to cuddle under warm, fuzzy blankets with my kids. We're taking the day off from school, and I may or may not just blog all day long. Or not. I am grateful for my mom, who gave me such a wonderful heritage and upbringing, and who had me on her mom's birthday. That has always meant a great deal to me, sharing my day with my grandma. Thanks. Mom.

What are you blessed with today?

Tuesday, September 13

Holding Down the Fort

Today was a busy, busy day. I really am a home body, so it rattles me a bit on these kind of days. All of the leaving and arriving and appointments and errands gets me all turned around and befuddled.

Somehow, I managed to make it to all the meetings, and keep all the crucial commitments, and none of my children starved and all of them did school. A huge shout-out goes to my three oldest for making sure that's what happened.

I am grateful for the people who are holding down the fort when it's not me. I am grateful for my children who are thoughtful, capable people; who accept responsibility when I ask, and who take pleasure in cheering up little children and in a job well done. I am grateful that tomorrow I don't have to go anywhere in particular.

Monday, September 12

Moon Rise

It was my husband's idea to watch the moon rise. It was my idea to do it for Family Home Evening.

We were late (as in, not in place to watch it as it came over the horizon), but only by a few minutes. We took the children out of town to a perfect rise-and-set spot. We all ooohed and aahhed, the children explored, the baby slept, the toddler exclaimed in wonder, "Yook at da moon! Uh moon!" over and over. We talked a little bit about how all of Nature testifies of God, and our gratitude for such a beautiful world.

Did you know that the full moon always rises at sunset? Technically, the moon was full at 4:27 Tuesday morning, but that meant it looked full for three days in a row.

And the moon was beautiful. It looked like a pearl, rising opposite a glorious and fiery sunset.

After the sun was all the way gone, and it was getting quite dark, I walked down the hill to get a water bottle from the van. As I walked back to my family I looked up; silhouetted against the sky, I saw my girls dancing. What a beautiful, whimsical sight. The whole evening was a feast for my eyes and heart.

I am grateful for the moon rise. I am grateful for time with my family. I am grateful for a day so lovely and mild as this one. I am grateful for my children, who still retain their wonder and awe of the beauty and majesty around them.

What are you blessed with today?

Tuesday, August 30

A Thankful Little Heart

Last night, as we were all gathered in the playroom for family scripture study and prayers when I found a folded piece of paper on the floor, with "my thankfall list" written on the outside. Interested, I unfolded it and found this:

small and simple things
my dall
my family
hot gloo guns
the holy ghost
borbr shops
my stripy blanket
the gospol
Hevinly Fathr and Jesuss
the erth
smily fasis (with a smiley face next to it)
the schriptrs
the charch
calring book's
family homeivning

And then my little girl signed it.

I am grateful for my daughter's thankful little heart. I am pleased that she is thankful for at least two of her sisters, and that she notices the little things (coloring books, hot glue guns) and the big things (the earth, Heavenly Father and Jesus). I think having a thankful heart is contagious. And I am grateful for that, too.

What are you blessed with today?

Monday, August 29

Floaty Suit

My toddler - well,  I refer to him as a toddler, but really he is almost three. He doesn't "toddle" at all, he runs and climbs and jumps and does gymnastics everywhere he goes. He's a little kinetic ball of enthusiasm and destruction. He is focused and fearless.

Tonight we went swimming as a family. My fearless little man marched up to the diving board - much to the amusement of all the college students at the pool with us - and stood on the edge, gauging the awesomeness of jumping off against the terror of jumping in. He had on the floaty swimming suit, and my husband was treading water under the diving board to help him back to the shallow end.

Still, my son stood there. It wasn't long before every person at the pool had stopped what they were doing and were watching this pint-sized diver on the diving board. Finally, my oldest daughter walked out on the diving board and helped him jump in. The pool erupted into spontaneous applause.

I am grateful for that floaty suit. It was given to us by a friend, and it enables my boy to swim and splash and play with wild abandon...and hog the diving board without giving the life guards or his mother a heart attack. I am grateful for the life guards, who love my little boy and are so patient with him. I am grateful for two dozen college kids who don't know us from Adam, who clapped for my toddler when he finally dived in the pool. He was grinning like a million bucks.

What are you blessed with today?

Tuesday, August 23

Sick as a Dog

I am sick today. Not the hip sort of sick, or the mental type. No, it's the "I don't feel like I've been hit by a Mac truck, but I wish I had been, because then I wouldn't feel anything" kind of sick.

I am not grateful to be sick. Let's just get that out there. Being sick does, however, bring many things into sharp focus that I am grateful for. So I will list them for you here.

I am grateful for my older children, who help run the show while I am down for the count. They cook, the field phone calls, they fetch things, they change diapers, they entertain the wee folk so I can sleep, they even "shush" them up for me while I am sleeping.

I am grateful for my husband, who loves me and pampers me, and feels really, really, really sorry that I am sick.

I am grateful for the people in my life (outside the home) who are concerned for me, and offer to do whatever they can to lift and assist.

I am grateful for good books, that distract me temporarily from my misery.

I am grateful for painkillers.

I am grateful for a comfy bed to curl up in.

I am grateful for sleep, so I can be unaware of being sick for entire blocks of time.

I am grateful for opposition, because if I was always healthy, I wouldn't know how nice it is or appreciate it very much. I hesitate to put that on the list, because I don't want God to think I'm asking for additional opposition in my life. Ready or not!...

I am not grateful to be sick as a dog. I am going to be really grateful to get over this and get on with my life.

What are you blessed with today?

Monday, August 22

Guest Post: Going Back to Say Thank You

[from my youngest sister, who spent the first part of her marriage in a really big city, far from everything familiar.]

I am thankful for the ability to say thank you. 

When someone helps you out, and then one day you run into them again and are able to thank them for the difference they made in your life? I love that, and I think it is the most beautiful moment you can share with someone. To let them know they touched your life and to give them the courage to go on doing those small things that require us to step out of ourselves for someone else’s sake.

Last Sunday I went to church and most of the people who were there when I was living here are gone. But one lady who sat next to me every week without fail was there. 

By this small act, she made me feel accepted and more comfortable in a sea of strangers and older, more educated women. She had no idea that something so small as sitting next to me could keep me coming to church and feeling loved. 

Thank you all out there who do these small things that help each of us get through those rough moments in life.

Sunday, August 21

Eyes to See

I ran into an old friend this evening. We haven't seen each other in a very long time, and we haven't truly talked for even longer. Tonight I was able to visit with her for 15 minutes or so. It was very good.

Funny how some people always teach me. I ride around on my high horse more than I care to admit. This gentle lady, however, has taught me so much, and it shouldn't surprise me that she continues to teach me more.

During our conversation, I made a blatantly judgmental comment, sort of off-handed. Unfortunately, I do that when I'm trying to banter and be witty, only I don't realize it until hindsight. My friend didn't correct me or act shocked. She simply told me a story about her son:

Her son has spins bifida. He used to have more mobility and verbal communication than he does now. She told me how he used to wheel his chair up to the scariest, most intimidating, mean-looking person in a crowd, and say, "I think you need a hug." And, without fail, those were the people who smiled and enthusiastically accepted the offer. "It was the 'normal' people who avoided him, or ignored him, or tried to get away from him," she said.

Here I was, making uncharitable generalizations regarding the lives of people I didn't know, contrasting them to my obvious superior life choices. It was a "knee jerk" moment, and I am ashamed of it. I know my friend's son. He would never have done that. People judge him by how he looks, but he never makes that mistake.

It's because he sees a person's heart, not their appearance. I want that. I want to not be so critical, to not judge total strangers in a casual, pious way. I try, and at times I do better than others. Then, just when I think I have put that high horse out to pasture, I am given a little clarity, and see just how far I have to go.

I am grateful for eyes to see, to see things (and people!) as they really are. I get glimpses now and again. I am grateful for friends who teach me through their experiences, and who share their wisdom gently and without judgement. I want to be able to do that, too. I am grateful for this woman, and for her son. They soften the hearts of everyone they touch.

What are you blessed with today?

Saturday, August 20

Party Planner

As a young woman, it was my oldest sister who decorated for every birthday. I was the one who planned get-togethers. My mom was the one who made the food. In the family I am raising, I have filled all three of those rolls for so long, I forget how much easier it is to do fun things with family and friends when I'm not doing it on my own.

My oldest daughter wanted to have an end-of-summer party with her gal pals. I gave my consent, and she took off from there. She motivated an entire day's worth of housework, because she wanted to host it at her own home. She made cookies from scratch. She called up her friends, and then called them to remind them.

In the end, only a few of her friends made it. They had a lovely time, all the same. They played games, and played outside, and just sat around talking and visiting. The girls even stayed for dinner, and then I dropped them off back home. 

As it turns out, for one of the girls, it was the first time at a friend's house doing "normal" kid stuff since March. She has been in the hospital and at physical therapy and all kinds of craziness no eleven-year-old should have to do. She was just glad to be back in the groove of ordinary for one evening. My daughter was very attentive to her, and made sure everything they did was something this girl could participate in.

I am grateful for a fellow party planner. I am actually excited about having someone else in my family who likes to throw a good shindig, and who will help out, or even do it all herself! I haven't been doing much partying lately, or getting-together, or shindigging...just trying to keep up with the humdrum stuff, not much energy for anything else. I suspect this will change. I am grateful for people who like us enough they want to come over and hang out. We are blessed to have so many friends. And I am grateful for a daughter who is thoughtful and caring, who invests so much in making other girls her age feel good about themselves.

What are you blessed with today?

Friday, August 19

Power Down

Huge storms have been moving through our area yesterday and today, violent, destructive storms. The first one was the worst: hail, several inches of rain, winds above 80 miles per hour...lots of damage. We only lost one storm window and a side rear view mirror on our van. No trees or limbs down in the yard, no damage to our property, other than lots and lots of leaves stripped off bushes and trees. And our power was out for almost 28 hours.

So, this whole day, my children have cleaned and read and just sat around, talking amiably to each other. Crazy. They even wanted to clean, because (they said) "there's nothing else to do!" Almost the entire house was spiffed up. And they were nice to each other. All day. Well, until dinner time, then we had all had about as much as we could take. Then, after eating, I loaded them all up in the van drove them around town so they could see how the storm affected our area.

It is bad. It has been a perfect year for crops, and it was going to be an amazing harvest. All of the corn fields and soybean fields have been beaten into the ground. Almost everyone has broken windows. Many, many houses with vinyl siding look like they were sprayed with machine gun fire all along the north side. Signs down, flags shredded, buildings under construction flattened.

Even though I was really grateful for the electricity to come back on, I was also grateful for the "power down" unplug and focus on other stuff. I am grateful no one died in the storms. I am grateful to live in a community that helps out. Three different people stopped by my home to check on us today, because our phones were down. I am grateful my water heater and my stove are gas, because I could still wash and cook. I am grateful that the only thing that went bad in the fridge was a gallon of milk. I am grateful for mild weather all day today (particularly in August!), so that opening the windows and existing without our a/c and fans was not torture. I am grateful for my brick house. I am grateful for my children, who come up with stuff to do when "there's nothing else to do!", and that it's constructive stuff like cleaning and reading and telling jokes to each other. I am grateful for perspective, and safety, and the obvious protecting hand of God in our lives. My heart aches for all the farm families and their crop fields. We pray for the people affected by these storms every day. I know He will help us all pull through.

What are you blessed with today?

Thursday, August 18

Track Record

On our date last night, my husband and I sat down and wrote out one hundred date ideas, for future reference. The idea, of course, is that we won't ever waste our precious date night time doing this. It was kind of a half-baked idea when I blurted it out, based on another idea I had come across some months back.

I figured we would plunk away at it, coming up with a few ideas here and there, and come back to it over the next couple of weeks as the inspiration struck. But we sat there and rattled of idea after idea, brainstorming together and building on each other's comments...we shot out 100 date ideas in less than an hour.

It was kind of shocking how easily it happened. I suppose I thought that, since we so often can't think of anything to do, we would really have to struggle to make a list.

The truth is, we are a good team. We have a lot of practice building from each other, and talking things through, and it made a difference. Plus, we have been going out together for a long time.

I am grateful for a great track record. I am grateful for a husband who makes date night (or date morning, or date lunch hour) a priority, and makes it happen every week. I am grateful for all the resources we have to inspire us when it comes to doing things we both enjoy, that is cheap or free, that gives us quality time with each other. Seriously, 100 viable date ideas in 60 minutes? Awesome.

I should probably add that I am really, really grateful that I have children old enough to babysit for us now. Three of them, even. The track record for the first ten years was not as good as the track record for the last five. I think there is a correlation here.

What are you blessed with today?

Wednesday, August 17

A Decade and a Half

Today is my 15th wedding anniversary. I have been married to my best friend and one-man-fan-club for a decade and a half. Our life together is very good. He is my rock.

It's also a Wednesday smack in the middle of a crazy-busy workweek, so taking the day off to wander around, holding hands and gazing romantically into each other's eyes will have to be abbreviated and/or postponed.

That's fine with me. A nice lunch date and a late night stroll will suffice. Because my husband doesn't wait for our anniversary to make me feel treasured and adored. He pampers me every day he can. So I know we are going to do something amazing for us to mark this milestone when things quiet down. It might not be prompt, and it might not be spectacular by someone else's standards, but it will be meaningful and personalized, so it will just perfect.

I am grateful for the last decade and a half, and for the chance to stand by each other through college degrees and postpartum blues, bounced checks and extended family. I am grateful for the good times where we laugh together, and the tough times that have taught us to support each other and work things through. I am grateful for a husband who treats me like his queen, and talks to me like an equal, and delights to fill my wants and meet my needs. I am grateful for our seven children, and all they bring into our lives. And I am glad to know that, when the kids are all gone, my honey pie and I will still love hanging out, holding hands and gazing romantically into each other's eyes.

What are you blessed with today?

Tuesday, August 16

Open Thank You Note: Jerry & Roxanne and the Comfy Couch

Dear Jerry & Roxanne,

You are the only people I know who would go out to celebrate their own birthday, and then buy a gift for someone else. Do you remember when you went to that auction, and saw that couch and bought it? Not because you needed it, but because you thought of us. I was curious when you called to say you were on your way over with a "big surprise". I was completely bowled over with gratitude and, yes, surprise when you got here and it was a piece of furniture.

That couch was in use within five minutes of arriving, and was in perpetual use from that moment on. It was so comfy, and perfect for the space we had. An almost endless parade of children, cousins, neighbor kids, friends from many people have sat on that couch and enjoyed it. One young man sat down, and then promptly stood back up, saying "Oh man! This couch is so comfortable, I want to do that again!" And then he sat back down.

Sat on, slept on, jumped on, dined on, read on, hidden behind, cushions used for make-believe structures...that couch has been an indispensable fixture in our home.

How did you know? How did you know we needed a couch, and what size to get? You didn't, of course. You're just very good at being the Lord's hands, in this case, His furniture delivery service. It wasn't stylish or current, but it was certainly needful, and completely unexpected, and therefore it was perfect.

We - just this week - had to get rid of it. It was a victim of it's own perfection: so loved, so comfy, it was loved into furniture oblivion. I'm sad to see it go. I wish the skin horse's "nursery magic" would have worked on the couch the same way it worked on the Velveteen Rabbit, because it was loved just as much.

Thank you for furnishing my home with your generosity and thoughtfulness, and for blessing my life with your friendship.

Monday, August 15

Familiar Face

I had an appointment this afternoon that I really didn't want to keep. Or, rather, my husband had an appointment that he couldn't keep, so I got to go in his place.

Doing things in his place makes me nervous, as his areas of expertise often line up precisely with my biggest weaknesses. But weaknesses aside, this appointment had to be kept, so I went along, hoping to be effective and useful, dreading every minute of it.

It didn't help matters that I arrived a few minutes late. I checked in with the receptionist, and she picked up the phone and informed someone that their one o'clock appointment was here. Then she told me to have a seat, they would be right out. I was too nervous to sit, so I just stood there - a tad awkwardly - with my nervous self.

A few moments later, around the corner walked a friend. I just about sagged with relief. I know this person! We like each other. We are friends, and we have history and shared interests, and suddenly this appointment was less like an homage in bureaucratic paperwork  and more like a chatty visit with a person I enjoy.

I am grateful for a familiar face in an unfamiliar place, particular one I like and admire. I am grateful that when push comes to shove, I can still do forms and paperwork and regulation compliance. It was so nice to feel at ease, so I could ask questions and talk through things out loud, to be sure I wasn't messing things up. It was also nice to sprinkle the process with questions about family, and hobbies, and the whole "how I've spent my summer" discussion. I was in that office for over an hour. It's possible I could have died of apprehension and anxiety. But I didn't. I had a pleasant visit and got an important appointment taken care of. And I am grateful it's over.

What are you blessed with today?

Sunday, August 14

Dump Cake

There are a few recipes and meals that say "love" to me, comfort food that never fails to comfort. I am not surprised that most of them come from my childhood. My mom is a good cook, and there are many tasty things that were made over and over again.

Some of these good eats I have carried over into my own household, and they are loved by a new generation of family. But some have fallen out of use for one reason or another. One of these is dump cake.

I love dump cake. Just thinking about it takes me back to Sunday afternoons and dinner appointments with the missionaries and Church potlucks. I love dump cake. But I never make it. My husband is opposed to cherries and pineapple, and dump cake (the way my mom makes it) is not possible without cherries and pineapples.

Tonight, we stopped by my sister's house on our way home. She had stuff for me, I had stuff for her, it was a convenient place to potty the potty-trainer. We swapped stuff, and visited the "necessary room". And as I was getting ready to walk back out the door, she offered me some dump cake. I said, "Yes, please!"

I haven't had dump cake in years. She gave me the whole pan.

Rather, she gave me what was left in the pan (about half). She had been craving it, and so she made it, and they had eaten all they cared to eat. The pan was still warm from the oven. I carried it out the van, and when we arrived home, I put it in the (very clean!) fridge to be enjoyed tomorrow.

It's true, I was tempted to eat the whole thing right there, by myself. But that's gluttony, and I'm trying to cancel my subscription to gluttony. Besides, it occurs to me that if I blindfold my children, and give them a taste, they will be overcome by the yumminess, and then I can make dump cake for my own family, because they will actually like it. Cherries and pineapples and all.

I'm going to get the recipe (yes, sadly, I never bothered to get a copy, because I thought there was no point) and post it in the comments, if you're interested. Unless you have cherry/pineapple issues.

I am grateful for dump cake, and for a tradition of good food and happy memories. I am grateful for a mom who always fixed something tasty to eat, even when times were hard and resources were slim. I am grateful my sister had a hankering for dump cake, and that I showed up just as she realized her eyes were bigger than her stomach. And I really think dump cake could be construed as a breakfast food, don't you?

What are you blessed with today?

Saturday, August 13

Cousin Camp

When we were young, my brothers and sisters and I would watch jealously every summer as our friends went off to various family reunions. And then came back to regale us with the good times and funny stories they had with their cousins and aunts and uncles.

I went to just one reunion during my growing-up years, and it was for my father's grandmother's family. We knew hardly anyone there. I wanted cousins to play with and love and have good times with, too. But my mother is an only child, and my father comes from a family of people who don't necessarily like each other, except the one uncle with the cool kids who lived on the other side of the continent.

Jealous, indeed.

We swore that, when we were grown up and married and had kids of our own, they would see each other all the time and be involved in each others lives and love their cousins like BFFs.

To that end, now that we really are grown up, we have a family reunion every two years. It would be more often, but we are scattered all across the lower 48 states. But two years seems to be adequate. Our children really do love each other, and are so excited to see each other. And it makes me happy.

On the other side of the pedigree chart, my mother-in-law is hosting a "Cousin Camp" this week for all of her grandchildren (that can make it) ages 7 and up. And by "Cousin Camp" I mean sleeping over at Grandma's house for four nights, playing and making crafts and learning songs, and swimming and watching movies and chasing fireflies and roasting marshmallows. Seriously good stuff.

I am grateful for Cousin Camp. I am grateful for a family that really truly loves each other enough to make the effort to get together. I am grateful for my sisters, who work as hard as I do to keep our kids connected, and for my mother-in-law who goes to extraordinary lengths to grow and strengthen the connections on her side. I love our big families, and I love that we are fun to be around. I love it.

What are you blessed with today?

Friday, August 12


Last month, a pair of barn swallows started building a nest on my back porch, not five feet from my door. I was confused by birds nesting in July, but a garden-and-nature friend of mine informed me that barn swallows will hatch out three clutches in a summer, or more.

I was excited to have swallows nesting at our house, even though my friend warned me that they were messy. We all watched the nest building with interest, and then left town for a family reunion.

When we got back, the babies were hatched out (we've counted four for sure, although one of my girls says she saw five). At first it was a contest to see who could see a baby over the edge of the nest, and watching the parents feed the babies was a fascinating all day activity. We've never had front row seats to this sort of thing before. Now, the babies are big enough you can see their heads above the edge of the nest all the time, and I imagine it's getting crowded in there. It's only a matter of time before they fledge.

I am grateful for the swallows. I feel oddly flattered that they picked our back porch to nest, and pleased that they placed their nest for such conveninet viewing. I am grateful that my almost-three-year-old boy has accepted that nests and baby birds are for watching, not for touching (or aiming at). My friend was right, the swallows are messy, but the mess didn't start until the babies hatched, and it will clean up very easily once they have flown away. Until then, I am enjoying this little chirping miracle while I can.

What are you blessed with today?

Thursday, August 11

Relief Socitey

Tonight was our Branch's monthly Relief Society meeting. I always try to go, but I had completely forgotten about this one until a friend mentioned it in passing.

I'm so glad she did, and I'm so glad I went. It is really easy for me to allow myself to become overwhelmed and feeling burdened and unrewarded and unappreciated. And I love the women in my Branch and how they lift me up. I don't hang out with them much, as I am one of the Nursery leaders on Sunday, and we are all busy and obligated enough in our own lives that "hanging out" doesn't happen as often as I would like.

Tonight, we laughed and laughed and visited and laughed some more. Why was it so hilarious? I don't know. There were presentations on the Three Degrees of Glory, Family Home Evening for Different Family Structures, Family History (with a Q&A), and Crock Pot meals. Nothing really out of the ordinary. But we laughed and joked and giggled and enjoyed ourselves all the same.

I am grateful for Relief Society. It  really is a relief to me. I used to go to the meetings, and then go home feeling all resentful and inadequate, but I have learned that God doesn't expect me to run faster than I actually can, and that the whole "line upon line, here a little there a little" thing is a viable life plan. So now I am just grateful to visit with women and share each others sorrows and triumphs and laugh-out-loud personal anecdotes. And be real on a weeknight, instead of on display on a Sunday morning. And eat good food. I am grateful for the good food, too.

What are you blessed with today?

Wednesday, August 10

The Fridge

Once, I was reading about a woman and her forays into provident living and home storage. Her husband had been a real estate agent in Las Vegas, and when the housing market went south, Vegas was hit the hardest. So she was doing everything in her power to feed her family under their current circumstances.

I quite liked reading her tips and stories. She was full of optimism and can-do spirit. I wish I could find her site to link back for you, because it is very good. I read and read and read. But one little point of advice stands out. She said that when you don't have any food in the house, super-clean your fridge. It will help you evaluate what you actually have, and you will feel better every time you open the door because it's clean, as opposed to depressed because it's not bursting with yummy, easy-to-prepare food.

I am not out of food. But I am out of oomph. And every meal preparation has become a battle for motivation. I would love to just take some time off and regroup (or order Chinese takeout three times a day for the next fortnight), but my family keeps getting hungry. Like, every four hours. Seriously. What's with that? How can a gal get a rest with that sort of a schedule?

The day did not start with me planning to deep clean the fridge. It started this afternoon, as I was clearing up after lunch (what? another meal? geez louise.) That's when I decided I was just going to drop everything else and combine the three partial ketchup bottles, the four mustard bottles, the two dill relish jars and whatever duplicate items there were hogging space and thwarting order in my fridge.

It is a slippery slope, I am telling you. One thing lead to another, and soon I was pulling off shelves and washing out drawers. My two-year-old opened the fridge while I was washing shelves, and got mad. "Fix it, Mommy! A bad!" I guess it really messed with his head that the state of the refrigerator was not the solid anchor in the world he thought it was.

It took a lot of stop-and-go (and a break to feed people dinner. Again.), but I stand before you as a woman with a clean fridge. A really, really, really clean fridge. If you walk into my kitchen, you can't tell I've done anything significant. But I can. I can feel the aura of shiny cleanliness radiating from the fridge.

So, I am thankful for the fridge. I am thankful it's clean, and that I have food in it (but no duplicates!), and that after over a year, the spilled green Jell-O is finally all gone. I am grateful for good advice, and for a few hours to commit to an unscheduled but overdue task. I am grateful that my husband is steadily employed, and that oomph is the only thing missing from the pantry. And I think I am going to go open the fridge door and look at it again.

What are you blessed with today?

Cutesy Curtains

I like surprises. My husband does not. So, I am constantly trying to surprise him, and he never surprises me. It sounds worse than it is, and we're working on it.

One time I really like surprises is on my birthday. In an effort to surprise me (in a good way), my husband asked for a list of stuff I would be happy to receive. So I gave him a long list, full of practical, frivolous, small, extravagant  whimsical, or needful things. He tucked it into his wallet, and proceeded to spend the next three years whittling away at it. I never knew what he was going to do next. Christmas, birthdays, Mothers Day, our anniversary, Valentines Day...he returned to the list for my next surprise.

One thing that was not on the list was curtains. We had curtains, but they were old (possibly as old as me), and have not withstood the shenanigans of my children. I lucked out and found four matching sets for my dining room windows for a pittance (yard sale!), but the rest of the house has poorly clothed windows.

Imagine my joy and complete surprise when my husband arrived home from a store run with several packages of curtains for my kitchen. It was not my birthday. Or any other traditional gift-giving day. The curtains were not on clearance. But they were in my favorite colors, and they were the style I like and they were absolutely perfect. As he gave them to me, he said, "I overheard you telling one of the girls that you like beautiful things, and so I was trying to bring something beautiful into your every day life."

I took them down today to wash them. Being kitchen curtains, they are in need of it on a regular basis. Taking them down and putting them back up, I was reminded all over again how happy I am to have them.

I am grateful for my cutesy kitchen curtains. I love how they make my kitchen feel light and homey and cottage-ish. I am grateful for laundry detergent that actually gets all the hand mixer oopsies out of the curtain fabric. I am grateful for a husband who doesn't resent my girly penchant for pretty things, and who does his best to fill my life with beauty and joy.

What are you blessed with today?

Friday, July 15

Flower Show

My friend Melanie has a lovely yard, and she puts a great deal of effort and time into it. My daughters love to play in her yard, and help her plant and prune and pick. Because she knows this, she recommended my girls to Cynthia, the woman organizing a Junior Summer Garden Club.

The girls were uncertain at first, but now they love it. And today was the "flower show" for the regular Garden Club, and the girls were invited. We had never been to a flower show, and were unsure what to expect.

It was lovely. So many lovely things! There were prizes and ribbons in every category, and it was fun to pick a favorite, only to find the judges agreed with our taste. Even my oldest girl - who declined to be part of the Junior Garden Club - enjoyed it, and found herself scheming as to what she could enter for next year. Cynthia was pleased as punch to have them there, and to introduce some of her "juniors" to the members of the "senior" Garden Club members.

I am grateful for the pleasant diversion of an afternoon flower show. I am grateful for Cynthia, and all the effort she puts into teaching these eager youngsters about flowers and gardening and cultivating. I am grateful for interesting and wholesome activities that involve us in the community, and provide us opportunities to meet new people and try new things. I am grateful for Melanie, who thought of us in the first place.

What are you blessed with today?

Thursday, July 14

Good Shoes

Sometimes I tease my husband that to him, life is a Tetris Game: the way he puts away his clothes, how he organizes grocery items when we shop, the way he packs a moving truck when he's helping a is all done in the most efficient way possible, with no empty spaces anywhere. Just like Tetris.

It's the same way with his schedule. There are no empty spaces. Every block of time is scheduled and accounted for. He is a really busy guy. 

Last night, he was getting ready to walk out the door for the Young Men's activity at Church when his phone rang. Someone had referred him (and his talents) to someone else, and this someone else was hoping he could stop by and advise and loan his expertise. My husband pulled out his schedule, and found a flexible moment, and promised to stop by.

I listened to this exchange, and found myself wondering what I could do to help him out. There is so much he does that I cannot do, even if I wanted to (yeah, I can't go tell this random person how to integrate a cantilevered entry pavilion into the existing brick facade of their building). But I can pick up some of his regularly scheduled stuff here at home.

I balance the checkbook and pay the bills. This used to be his task, but I picked it up to cut him some slack. My oldest son and I do the trash and the recycling, also a former husband duty. I try to iron his shirts for him (not very consistently, but I do try). I'm even a pretty decent Executive Assistant and Social Secretary when he's in a pinch.

Last evening, none of those things was going to help him. So I decided to mow the lawn for him. That may not sound like a big contribution, but here, it actually is. We have a big lawn, and a little push-mower. He insists he likes mowing, it is mental downtime for him, and doesn't encourage me to do it on his behalf. In the five years we've lived here, I've mowed twice. 

But when he can't get to it for two weeks and counting, it just becomes one more thing to add to the pile of Responsibility and Stewardship.

And we live in a town that will measure your lawn if it gets too shaggy and possibly send you a letter telling you to mow your lawn or the city will do it for you and send you a bill. I kid you not. This makes my husband a little antsy about the height of our grass.

So, while he was gone to the youth activity, I strapped on my good shoes, and went out to mow the lawn. All the little children followed me out of the house to watch the spectacle of Mommy mowing. When the baby decided she couldn't be happy any longer, my nine-year-old spelled me on the mower. Between us, we got 2/3rds of the lawn neat and trimmed before my husband got home. 

I must say, it was not easy. I do not find mowing to be "enjoyable mental downtime." It makes me hot and tired and sweaty and gives me a headache. I am a round woman and our yard is mostly a hill, and I have little children who follow around like loyal puppies, which is not a safe or good thing when there is a lawn mower involved. None of these things makes mowing fun or easy for me. But I wanted to give my husband back an an hour and a half of his life, so I kept going.

I am grateful for good shoes. My hands hurt, and my legs hurt, and my head hurt, but my feet were just fine, and that is saying a lot. I am glad that, even though it's July, the evening was mild, and a cooling and balmy breeze was blowing; it made everything bearable. I probably would not have dared to mow without such favorable weather. 

I am grateful to my daughters who kept an eye on the baby so I could keep going as long as possible, and for the little girls who fetched me water and moved big sticks and toys out of my way. I am particularly grateful that there was extra gas in the gas can, so I didn't have to quit and drive to the gas station to refuel. I am sheepishly glad that, even though I am round and fairly sedentary, I can still be useful and push myself when I want (or need to). Mostly, I am grateful for a husband who works so hard and so diligently to provide for me and our children, and who gives so much service to our friends and family and in our community. I wouldn't have him any other way.

What are you blessed with today?

Wednesday, July 13

High School Memories

Today is the birthday of one of my closest high school friends. I could go on and on about the hi-jinks and inside jokes and drama and good times we had. It's really fun for me to think back, and to tell my children stories of the silly and enjoyable things we did.

One tradition we had was to go to the greeting card shop (or aisle), and read greeting cards. We each tried to find the funniest or quirkiest or most original card to show the other. And then we would buy it. And save it, in case we ever found the perfect moment (or person) to use it for.

I haven't seen my friend since her 2006. We keep tabs on each other via the Interned (we shamelessly stalk each other on facebook!) and Christmas cards. But I miss her. She has a cute little boy I have never met; I've had two more children since we last saw each other.

I meant to get her an amazing and quirky card and mail it off, but I never did take the time on the greeting card aisle to hunt one down. It's strange for me, when I think about how much a part of each others lives we were, and how little we are involved now. How does that happen? Life moves on, but looking back over the years doesn't feel like it's been that long.

I am grateful for high school memories. Of course, it was high school, so it wasn't all good times and inside jokes and hi-jinks. But that's what I remember most. And I am grateful for my friends, who have kept tabs on me through the years. Even though we aren't involved in the tiny little details of each other's day-to-day lives (what belt matches with these shoes? do you think he noticed me? did you study for chemistry?), we are still connected. I am grateful for that part of me, and my life, to remember and to share. I am grateful for those connections.

What are you blessed with today?

(Happy Birthday, Tiffany!)

Tuesday, July 12


Even though it's a Tuesday - and not a Friday - my husband took me out tonight. We didn't do anything special, we just left the children and left the house, and did something not relating to parenting or housekeeping/homemaking for an hour or so.

This was highly irregular. It was also highly enjoyable.

Summer is so jam-packed busy! Everyone seems to be going thirteen directions at once, and we're no exceptions. Sometimes I feel like my husband (who is my favorite person on the planet, no contest) and I are just ships passing in the night, exchanging signals across the bow. So, to take a break in the middle of the week to reconnect was heavenly.

I am grateful for irregular moments like that. Spontaneity is my native tongue, and Advanced Planning and Scheduled are my second languages...I'm not fluent, and I miss the comfort of my native speech. I am grateful for a husband who will ignore my protests about unfinished laundry and untidy rooms, and take me out for some adult interaction to firm up my brain that is slowly turning to mommy mush. Oh, and you must know how grateful I am for a gift certificate that let us eat out with out totally throwing off our precariously balanced budget. Definitely grateful for that!

What are you blessed with today?

Monday, July 11

Skipping Rocks

Tonight was Family Home Evening. We're not as diligent about planning FHE out in advance as we could be, but I don't let myself be bothered by it much, because at least we're having a Family Home Evening, right?

It wasn't part of any master plan, but we ended up taking all seven of our children out to a local lake to walk around the dam and watch the sun set and ... well, be together. I thought of a nice little devotional, but that didn't end up happening.

What did end up happening was this: my husband and all of my children (except the baby) skipped rocks. Lots of rocks. Their daddy took the time with each one - who didn't know already - to show them how to select a good skipping stone, and proper form for holding and throwing and skipping. It's sort of a shame that all the best skipping rocks end up at the bottom of a lake.

Some were great skippers, and some were plop-ker-plunkers, but no one cared. Even my toddler was in on the action, heaving every rock he could lift into the lake and exclaiming, "Boom,  bam, baby!" and "I win!" The children also scampered about, finding treasures of all sorts - rocks with cool shapes, or interesting colors, or crystals, driftwood, huge lily pads, cattails...the bounty of treasures was endless.

Who knew that skipping rocks was something everyone from age 37 to age 2 could enjoy? We had an endless supply of usable rocks, it seemed. The daylight was gone long before the rocks (or the enthusiasm) waned.

I am grateful for skipping rocks. I am grateful for a beautiful, balmy evening out of doors with my family, doing simple and enjoyable things. I am grateful for my husband, who is actually good at skipping rocks, because if it were up to me, we would all be plop-ker-plunkers, and that's not nearly as appealing. I am grateful for my family. They are my world. We only have so much time together before they all go their separate ways and start their own lives elsewhere. These small moments are precious to me.

What are you blessed with today?

Sunday, July 10


I am one of the teachers in the Nursery at Church. This means I spend two hours with a room full of sweet, energetic, budding persons ages 18 months to 3 years. We sing, and play with toys, and build castles with blocks, and color pictures, and learn a (very short, very simple) lesson, and eat snacks.

Sometimes there are tears ("I want my mommy!"), sometimes there are ownership issues ("I had that car!"), sometimes there are pressing emergencies ("I have to go potty!").

Usually, it all goes well. But today, I was on my own. My fellow teacher was out of town. So it was just me. And seven little children of questionable communication skills.

It could have been a horrid, miserable two hours. But it wasn't. I'm not saying it was easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy, but it was surprisingly disaster-free. There were a few tense moments, but no one was damaged or offended, or even mildly traumatized.

I am grateful for a disaster-free Nursery day. I am glad for the extra help that came when I needed it (potty emergency!), and for the inspiration to keep conflict and drama at bay. I am grateful for the new little boy in our class, and for the two girls who keep it from being all about cars and bombs and explosions all the time. I will be really grateful when the other Nursery teacher gets back from Summer Vacation.

What are you blessed with today?

Saturday, July 9

Guest Post: Be Our Guest, Be Our Guest

[from Shiloh, one of my six sisters/closets friends]

So when I got Amber's first request to share my gratitude... my hands smelled like the last diaper I changed and Anne was screaming her little head off in the other room and I was tired and the day just wasn't going my way.  Since the only thing I could think of to be grateful for was hand sanitizer I decided to put this off. So now I have something better than hand sanitizer.  

I married into a very tight knit family.  For example Sandra's Parents live exactly 1.7 miles away and Marlo's mother lives 8.7 miles away.  Also, both families (Treglowns and Stradleys) know and hang out with each other on occasion.  There are so many traditions that have been shared and enjoyed by both sides.  This post is about one of those traditions.  

The Fourth of July!  You see the Fourth of July probably has more tradition around it than even Christmas and Thanksgiving put together.  Strange right?  Not to them and by them I mean us.  

This year we started off with banana splits at Marlo and Sandra's and then a firework show put on by the kids.  This year it was Andrew and  his brother Matthew who choreographed the fireworks.  Megan, the only talking grandkiddo at this point, kept thanking Uncle Matthew for the pretty fireworks.  She even remember to thank him during gospel doctrine class the next day.  

Sunday we went to Jared and Tiffany's ward to have the twins blessed.  Then to their house for lunch and general enjoying of  each others company.  Monday morning was the pancake breakfast at Marlo and Sandra's.  We sang the national anthem and did the pledge of allegiance.  Then after everything is all cleaned up from breakfast there is always a water fight.  No one is spared.  Its always freezing.  I tried this year to hide with the little grandbabies but to no avail.  However, I still maintain I won because half of my hair was still dry.  Then we had a BBQ at Grandma and Grandpa Treglowns.  After food there we always play pickle ball and volleyball.  Then everyone heads off to fireworks at whatever local park is hosting.  That is our fun filled 4th.  

I love this family.  I love their traditions.  I love that I can not worry about my kiddos every stinking second of the fun because someone will always pitch in and keep an eye on them so I can enjoy myself too.  Anne got 6 or 7 people to walk her all over the Treglowns property.  I love that they just won't let their traditions die even when there are only 5 people involved in the water fight and their favorite firework park cancels their show so they go somewhere else.   I am grateful for family.  I am grateful for tradition.  I am also grateful for hand sanitizer.
What are you blessed with today?

Friday, July 8

Guest Post: Card Games & Root Beer Floats

[from Jennie, who is one of my favorite young ladies on the planet]

My Dad has worked the late shift for nearly half of my life. Because of this, my family isn’t often able to spend a whole lot of casual quality time together. I’m the youngest of nine children, three of whom still live at home (when we aren’t away at school that is – which is the majority of the year). Of course, getting all of the children together doesn’t happen unless it’s a big event like a holiday or a birthday, but I’m just talking about the immediate household family here. Consisting of me, my two immediately older brothers, my parents, and my grandmother. Those rare familial evenings are few and far between. 

Well, tonight was one of those wonderful family evenings. After church and dinner as a family (to the groanings of us children) my mother suggested excitedly that we all play a game together. Usually at this point all any of us want to do is take a nap. But I am happy to say that my usually party-pooper brother chimed in at that moment, suggesting that he could teach us all a new card game that he had learned the night before at a friend’s house. So we all gathered around the card table and proceeded to shuffle and deal out the cards. 

It was a blast. My normally sore-loser father stuck through the whole game even when he started to lose very badly, and my over-competitive mother’s excited squeals only made us laugh instead of becoming annoyed. After the third round, we took a break and put together some yummy root beer floats. All in all, it was about a two-hour ordeal. This will be one of the evenings that I remember. Though I griped tiredly at first
, I am so glad that we ended up doing it.

 I am so grateful for the small things that bring my family together – as small as a new card game and a root beer float. I am grateful that we can NOT gripe at each other occasionally, even if it’s only for a few hours. We always love each other, of course, but these nights truly show the eternal nature of what we have together. Someday in the eternities, we’ll be able to look back on our earthly ventures and say, “Hey, remember that time we learned a new card game and partook of those delicious earthly root beer floats?!” 

What are you grateful for today? 

Thursday, July 7

Guest Post: Tragedy/Comedy

[from the smart and funny Tapper]

It is said that all the world is a stage.
I won't argue because it often feels like my family is starring in a comedy of errors.
Every day is an act that my husband and I have to direct without a script or a musical score or a safety net!
We really aren't even sure of the plot.
We only know the ending- they all lived happily ever after.
Every day the spotlight sun fades to darkness and the curtain of night falls.
However tragic or euphoric the act has been, we settle into our beds to contemplate our roles, our performances, our tomorrows.
And after the children and breathing deep with sleep my fellow director and I retire to the couch to sigh and laugh and review our little play.
Are we failing? Are we putting on a good show? Are we building our characters?
And for that quiet, starlit hour I am deeply grateful that I cast such a good man in my starring role.
The world might roll their eyes at us, ignore us, even boo us, but when the curtain falls I will be holding the hand that steadies and uplifts me.
I am grateful that no matter how twisted and confusing the play of life may be there is a happily ever after waiting for us if we will claim it.
I am grateful for sleeping children and starlit hours and tomorrows.
What are you blessed with today?

Wednesday, July 6

Guest Post: One more day …

[from a best friend I haven't seen in half a decade, who is in a class of her own, like Wilbur's Charlotte]

Two college roommates each recently buried an aging parent and yesterday an old friend posted about a memorial service for a young child lost in a raging river; the length of one’s life is never guaranteed. Everyone knows that today could be the last, but sanity depends on our ability to set that aside and live with the figment of immortality – until reality smacks us in the face and we regret. 
My mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on Feb 4th and was told she had about  4 – 6 months to put her affairs in order.  Tonight I spoke to her on the phone about the trivial day/day stuff that good friends share,  and I realized how grateful I am for one more day.   One more day for one more phone call, one more chance to share her burden, one more chance to record all those recipes. I will never accept that cancer is a blessing, but it has blessed me with a gift that many never get - one more day.
One more day for her grandson to capture her testimony and blessing on video tape to be handed down to the next generation; One more day for her granddaughters to visit despite years of a dysfunctional family relationship; One more day for my father to move ever so slowly towards accepting that he will soon be parted from his best friend of … well a lifetime.   And one more day for me to express my gratitude for the heritage I’ve been given – while she can still hear me say “thank you.”
What are you grateful for today?

Tuesday, July 5

Guest Post: Mental Cravings

[from the feisty mom at Her Manleyness]

Often I find myself craving food for my brain, you know, food for thought. Since I've become a stay at home mom, I find myself trolling facebook and blogs, looking desperately for something to read that is worth reading. If you've shared a link worth checking out, and you are lucky enough to be my friend (wink, wink), then I've probably read it. I just can't seem to get enough! I need mental stimulation!

I started to feel nuts looking for books to read that had wonderful plots and characters, without the muck and adult content that I would rather not have ingrained into my brain. It's hard to go off friend suggestions, because I've been disappointed by what they think is a good book, or that this "good book" has parts in it that need to be seriously edited. Thankfully, I have awesome family that saved me.

Lately, a couple of my sisters have sensed my need for some serious brain food. One lent me her Kindle to read the books she has stored on it. Listed were several Jane Austin books, which I am a little ashamed to admit, I have never read any of them. The other sister has updated her blog for me to read, because I begged and nagged until she did. A third sister even sent me an email with several links to articles she had found and wanted to share, and has also made a more concerted effort to keep her blog updated for me to read as well.

I am grateful for things to read to stimulate my brain, inform, entertain, and educate me. I am grateful for sisters that understand this need for stimulation and help me feed my brain cravings. I am most grateful for sisters who have good taste in reading choices.

Sunday, July 3

Guest Post: Personal Trek

[from Kelli]

Next week is a big is our stake's youth conference. But not just a regular youth conference, but a handcart trek. And I am thankful. Because i have two grandkids that will participate this time, and i know that despite the heat and hard work and the wearing of old style clothes, they will feel the Spirit.
Four years ago our stake had it's first handcart trek. I was blessed to serve in the stake YW presidency at that time. We planned the trek for 9 straight months. It was uncharted territory for our stake. Handcarts were built, routes were planned, leaders were selected, food was planned, youth were motivated. It was hard, hard work, and i spent HOURS in communication with the other leaders pouring over details and last minute issues. (I could write another post all about how thankful i am for email.) I didn't sleep at all the last couple nights before the trek, out of nervousness.
Then, it happened. That magical moment when the assembled youth, leaders, support vehicles, and even the port-a-potties took their first steps forward onto the trek route. Much of the next 3 days still stands out vividly in my memory, and i will never forget the fun, tears, agony, hard work, sights and sounds of those sacred three days. It was collectively one of the most spiritual times in my life, as i could see the Lord's hand during the entire venture. At the final testimony meeting at Far West, we openly wept as we listened to the youths' comments and testimonies, and felt the Spirit burn inside our own hearts.
Knowing the huge amount of work it is, I am thankful for leaders of youth who will do this for my grandkids, nd for their spouses who will stay home and allow them to participate. I am thankful for my grandchildren who are pioneers in their own way, and that they have chosen to participate in the trek. My heart is full of thankfulness that we live in an area of church history, and that we have a pioneer legacy to live up to. And thankful for the restored Gospel, which makes all this possible.

Saturday, July 2

Guest Post: Nature's Roller Coasters

[From the dear woman behind My Life as Mrs. Goob]

Yesterday my family and I had the pleasure of being invited over for dinner at a friends house. On the way there my husband and I were discussing the things we needed to get done before we leave on an upcoming trip. My stress levels were rising the more we talked and realized the amount of work we had to do in such little time. 

Suddenly, without warning, our 3 year old son let out a high pitched scream. I just about jumped out of my skin!

We look back at him not really sure what to expect. But there he sat with a big grin on his face and his hands in the air. It was then that it dawned on us what he was doing. It's something we've done with the kids for years when travelling the hilly Missouri roads. 

When we see an approaching hill, we pretend to brace ourselves for the fall of the "roller coaster" and as we go down we yell "Weeeee!!" with our hands in the air. It always makes road trips a little more interesting and will keep the toddler entertained for quite awhile. 

I am thankful that my children and husband were able to snap me out of my stress bubble. (My husband joined in on the fun, which is a sight all it's own.)

I am thankful for Nature's roller coasters. 

Friday, July 1

Guest Posts

It must be summer, because the heat is on. Not just the hot and humid weather, but the pressure and business of projects and schedules and all of the stuff that comes with summer.

I am getting mildly frantic about what is coming up for me personally, and for my family, and all that is yet to be done. It's good stuff coming, but the stress and work involved is significant.

This blog means a great deal to me, and I want to stay current. Not every day (or week!) is like that, though. So, I have called upon my gal pals.

I am one lucky gal, because I have so many of them. And even though they all have busy lives as wives and mothers and volunteers and employers (and bloggers), they have agreed to share a personal moment of gratitude in their own lives.

I am grateful for guest posts. I am grateful for my friends, who do so much for me to lift and help and cheer. I don't know where I would be without them. Literally.

What are you blessed with today?

Wednesday, June 29


Today is the birthday of my grandmother-in-law, who is no longer with us. She is my husband's maternal grandma. She has been gone a tad over a year now, and it still seems like I am about to see her around the corner, or hear her voice on the phone.

I do miss her, but not in a miserable way. Her life was long and full and lived with grace and dedication. I love her. I love her for the example she was to me, and for the influence she is to my children, and for the wonderful memories we all have thanks to her.

If you must know, I knew her better than either one of my own grandmothers.

I am grateful for remembrances. I am grateful for the chance to know this woman, and to have her in our lives while she was here. I am grateful for her legacy of faith and service. I draw upon it often, for myself and for my children. I am going to keep marking her birthday on my calendar, year after year, because it is a good thing to remember.

What are you blessed with today?

Tuesday, June 28

Sincere Praise

We often feed the missionaries dinner. Tonight, one of the Elders was ill, so a young man from our branch filled in for him.

Dinner was chicken enchiladas and rice + side dish stuff. This is something I don't serve often, because I don't feel that "eat your food or suffer the consequences!" is very good dinner table conversation. When we have guests -which isn't often enough, frankly - I know I can serve more interesting food and still have people eat/enjoy it...besides my husband and myself, that is.

Well. This young man more than enjoyed it. He raved about it. He politely requested seconds. He declared it better than the food at his favorite restaurant. He said I should open a restaurant of my own. He sheepishly accepted thirds. He just about licked his plate.

Sometimes I forget the amazing power of a sincere compliment or two (or several!). At the time, it was just scattered into the general dinner conversation. And my husband and the Elder both mentioned how tasty it was to them. But it is the enthusiastic and repeated praise of this young man that keeps rolling through my head, and every time I remember it, I smile.

I am grateful for sincere praise. I forget how much I am buoyed up by it until it happens again. It's a bit of a chore for me to accept it, too, because my reaction is to point out all the flaws and reasons praise is not necessary. I'm working on it. Accepting sincere compliments and  praise is a crucial part of being whole. Giving it, I feel, is doing God's work for Him in helping His children feel loved, needed, important and unique. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of that, on the giving and receiving end.

What are you blessed with today?

Sunday, June 26


My oldest daughter gets the opportunity to spend some time this summer with one of her out-of-state aunts. This is a big deal for everyone involved. For me, I'm excited for her to see new places and have new experiences. For her, she gets to do something no one else in her family has done, and it's cool/frightening/wonderful. For my sister, she gets to have someone to "play" with (her two children are very young), and have a little help at home for a few days.

My sister was a teenager when my daughter was very young, so it has come almost full circle.

She called me, my sister, to ask about some stuff she wanted to do while my girl was staying there. She didn't want to step on my "mother" toes, and she was double-checking to make sure it was OK and all that. I gave her my stamp of approval and wished her luck and fun times and whatever.

Later, I was thinking about it, and I was impressed again with the value of family backup. My older children are moving into that realm where things will sound better coming from someone besides me: aunts, friends, whomever. I remember being the backup for my mom with my younger brothers and sisters. I am now seeing it in my children and my nieces and nephews.

I am grateful for backup. I cannot find the words to describe my relief in knowing that I have a whole family posse behind me, with the best interests of my children at heart. When I am uncool and outmoded and embarrassing, a grandmother or a fun uncle or a young, fashionable aunt can (and will, thank Heaven!) step in and back me up. I love it. I am counting on it. I am grateful for it. Also, I love my big, sprawling family. I am very, very grateful for them.

What are you blessed with today?

Saturday, June 25

Ice Cream!

Today, as a reward for working their little tails off and cleaning the entire house (no joke!), we had ice cream. I had my son walk around, taking flavor requests from everyone. Then, I took two of my girls with me to the store, and we stood on the Frozen Delight aisle to select the yumminess.

I love ice cream. So does my husband. When we were first married, I think we went a little nuts because we were suddenly the "grown ups" and we could have ice cream whenever we wanted and eat how much we wanted, and no one was there to tell us otherwise.

It was overkill.

Eventually, we came to our, ahem, adult senses. I realized we had overdone it when there was ice cream that stayed in the freezer for days and days at a time and no one cared. How had we become jaded to ice cream?

Now, we only have ice cream every once in a while. And by "every once in a while" I mean less than once a month...including birthdays. It's a good thing. So, tonight, bringing home four flavors of ice cream was a big deal.

I am ashamed to admit that we might have eaten ice cream in place of the regularly scheduled dinner. I am sheepish to acknowledge that - betwixt the eight of us - we ate it all. Except the strawberry ice cream. There's still half the container left. Someone might eat it for breakfast.

I am grateful for ice cream. I am not too old or too self-conscious to admit it. I am grateful for self-imposed rarity, because it makes ice cream even more enjoyable because of its unfamiliarity. Because you know, familiarity breeds, uh, contempt. And contempt for ice cream is tragic. I am grateful for my children who did such an phenomenal and thorough job on housekeeping today, that ice cream was definitely in order. And I am grateful that there is some strawberry ice cream left...

What are you blessed with today?

Friday, June 24


Tonight, I had the opportunity to sit in a field, and listen to birds and the insects and the breeze. We watched the sun set, and then we watched the fireflies. The weather was perfect, the field was full of was all very quiet and serene.

It was sublime.

When did this city girl trade in her bus pass and her shopping habits for wildflowers and fireflies? How did I get to where I'd rather spend a couple of hours watching red-wing blackbirds catch bugs for their babies, and talk about ordinary things and watch the sun set?

I don't care how it happened. It's where I am at, and I like it.

I am grateful for those sublime moments. They aren't at all what I thought I'd be enjoying when Young me planned my life out. What did I know back then, anyway? I am grateful for the opportunity to take a breather at the end of an intense couple of weeks, and just enjoy the simple, rural beauty of the world around me. I am grateful for the pace of my life that enables me to find pleasure in small and simple things.

What are you blessed with today?

Thursday, June 23


Maybe it's one of those things I can't change about myself - like my eye color or my height - but I am a terrible estimator of time.

Oh, sure, a girl can get color contacts and high heels, but that doesn't actually change anything for real. I can use clocks and timers and planners and calendars (or my husband's Blackberry), but it won't erase the fact that I am incapable of a) telling how much time has passed b) how much time a given activity will require and c) starting things in enough time to finish at a reasonable hour...meal prep, bed time routine, sewing projects...


My darling and talented husband has an impeccable internal chronometer. And after all these years of hanging around each other, he is starting to rub off on me. Which is not to say I am getting better, but that I am setting up time-usage safeguards as he has (gently) recommended them.

Yesterday, this meant that I started dinner at 4:30.

A little side note: It kills me to devote that much time out of my life to meals (planned, shopped for, prepared, cooked, served, eaten, cleared up), but I love my family, and they need to eat, so I have adjusted.

Starting food prep so early meant that food was actually done and ready to eat before my husband and oldest son had to walk out the door for Young Men's weekly activity at Church.

It has to be the first time in ages. Personal victory. As an added plus, it was food everyone wanted to eat, so there was no whining.

I am grateful for timing, and for the chance to get a little better at having good timing ... as opposed to terrible timing. I am grateful for a husband who is patient with the fact that he may come home after six o'clock in the evening, to find us all on the floor in the living room, playing and totally oblivious to the fact that it's after four. I am grateful for all of my chronological crutches that keep me from offending friends and alienating family, and allowing me to function in a time-sensitive society. I'm also really grateful that everyone ate their dinner. Because I would have been a little irritated if I had worked since 4:30 only to be told it was disgusting.

What are you blessed with today?

Wednesday, June 22

Push Myself

I am in the middle of doing something hard. Which is a big deal for me. Usually, I won't try anything if it's hard, or inconvenient, or if I don't know for positive that I can have a reasonable shot at success.

A few months back, I spotted a poster inviting people to join a Jane Austin book group at our local library.

I have always thought of myself as one of the "smart kids". In junior high and high school, I was friends with other "smart kids" and many of my classes were the "smart kid" classes.

But I never pushed myself.

So when I saw the poster, I thought many things, including "Oh! I've always wanted to read Jane Austin's books!" and "This would be a great way to meet new friends" and "This shouldn't be too hard...I can do this."

Whew! Either I'm not as "smart" as I thought I was, or this is hard. I mean, I am certainly enjoying it. But oh my good-golly-goodness. Fiction from 1820 England is not a breezy read. We are reading all six of Jane Austin's novels, in order of publishing.

I'm behind by a book and a half. But I refuse to give up! I am going to do this. I can do hard things. I can push myself, and learn and stretch and grow. I can contribute interesting things to the book group discussions! I can find out for myself why there is such a thing as The Jane Austen Society of North America.

I am grateful for an opportunity to push myself. It's uncomfortable (which is why I generally avoid it), but I find I actually like it. I am grateful for my (new) friend, Becky, who started the group, and who is so real and down-to-earth and intimidating and encouraging. I am grateful for the fact that I'm never too old to learn, even if it seems like all the "smart kid" stuff came out in the wash about fifteen years ago.

What are you blessed with today?

Tuesday, June 21

First Day of Summer

Today is the first day of summer. I love summer. Somehow, everything seems possible in summertime. When I was young, summer seemed to blissfully stretch on forever.

Even though it's the middle of June, today was wonderfully cool: a little bit of cloud, a little bit of rain, a little bit of breeze. And I spent it in easy summer style: visiting with my sisters, playing with kids, puttering a little, reminiscing, reading...all the good stuff. In the evening, I took my girls + a friend to see "Tangled" for free at the summer movie series.

I am grateful for the first day of summer. I am eager for the activities and enjoyment of this season, and glad for the gentleness of spring that has just finished up. I am grateful for the change of seasons; about the time I am ready to be done with one, the next one is just a short way off, full of promise and anticipation.

What are you blessed with today?

Monday, June 20

Light Show

It's been a storm-off/storm-on kind of week. Yesterday, as the day was winding down, and we were saying goodbye to family and going home from Fathers Day visiting, the clouds were huge and piled high.

On our way home, I pointed them out to our children, and they started calling out the "cloud pictures" they were seeing: a witch face with a mushroom hat, a child riding on a dragon head, a robot waving a flag, that sort of thing. This lasted until sunset.

Then the lightening started. The last half-hour of our trip was spent watching the spectacular lightening that was going on in the sky in front of us.

It was amazing. The flashes never stopped. We could see some bolts of lightening, some were just brief bright places behind the massive clouds. It was the best display of Nature's "shock and awe" I've seen in a long time.

The storm must have been moving pretty fast, because we never heard any thunder, and we never hit rain or wind, even though we were going 70 mph up the highway.

I am grateful for the phenomenal light show put on by God. I have always loved watching storms! This one was gorgeous and just kept going and going. I am also - once again! - grateful for safety. We had no sooner arrived home and unloaded our tired selves then my husband turned on the weather radio. That's when we learned we had been under a tornado watch, the town sirens had gone off, and most of our friends and neighbors had been in their basements and storm shelters.    !!!    We got in town just as it ended. So, I am really, really grateful for safety. And a beautiful storm.

What are you blessed with today?

Sunday, June 19

Dad Proxy

Sometimes Fathers Day is hard for me. It's very easy to feel sorry for myself, if I choose to focus on what is missing. I choose to focus on something else. 

My own father has not been a part of my life for many, many years. My parents separated when my husband and I were expecting our first child.

It was very hard. But God never lets me go into a dark place without someone to guide me through. 

In this case, several someones. And not just for me, but for my whole family. I'm on the older end, my youngest brother was five. When our family fell apart, Heavenly Father had more than a few "spare" parents waiting in the wings to help put us back together. 

Through the years, I have been mothered by many, many women. And just as many good men have filled the "Good Dad" role. My mother, my brothers, my sisters and I have all been ministered to, mentored by, taught, teased, counseled, and served by proxy dad after proxy dad. Each of these men have stepped up when the need was there, filled the empty shoes, and then quietly moved out of the spotlight. 

I am grateful for all of the proxy dads in my life, and in the lives of my family. I am grateful for the time and energy they have selflessly given, and for their families who have willingly shared their own dad with us. I am grateful for faithful home teachers, who go the extra mile, and for priesthood leaders who follow through on promptings and inspiration. I am so blessed to be surrounded by righteous fathers, good men all of them. It is one of my favorite parts about this Church. I am grateful for my husband who is an excellent father to my children. I am forever indebted to his father, who showed him how to be a good dad. 

Above all, I am grateful for my Father in Heaven, who loves me and watches out for me. Knowing that makes everything bearable. I know I am His princess, and that He pampers me with everything I could ever need, and so many things that I want. The list of gifts from my Father is endless.

What are you blessed with today?

Saturday, June 18

Good Team

I remember trying to imagine what it was going to be like, that whole motherhood thing. Growing up in a big family, I thought I knew what it was all about. Turns out, being a big sister and being a mommy are not the same. But I have adjusted!

One thing I looked forward more than all the rest was doing neat stuff with my kids: crafts, travel, cooking, service, good old fashioned housework. I couldn't wait.

I am there now. I have children old enough to work with me, and young enough to want to do an art project or go somewhere nifty together. 

This morning, my girls and I sat down in the living room and mapped out what we wanted to do with the day. We tossed around ideas, and decided on what sounded best. I made up a big, goofy list and pinned it to the board. Then we all dived in. Some of it was work, some of it was play, most of it got done. We all took great pleasure in each thing that got crossed off. Go, team!

I am grateful that we make a good team. I have waited a long ol' time for enough team players to make it fun and effective. I love working with my kids (when "working" actually happens). Not always sunshine and roses, mind you, but when it is, it makes up for all the times it's not. It's pleasant conversation, goofy jokes, teaching/learning moments for everyone, memories that will carry us through. Part of our team has been missing this week, due to Scout Camp. I'm certainly grateful the "away" team is coming home today. I have really missed them!

What are you blessed with today?

Friday, June 17

Open Windows

It's June, and I am into my climate control groove. When it is cool out, I open the windows and turn on the fans. It is time to air out this house! When it warms back up enough for me to notice, I close the windows  and curtains and blinds on the sunny side of the house. I'm way into that passive solar gain and loss stuff. And as a last, sweltering resort, I will turn on the air conditioning.

Rinse. Repeat.

I really like having air conditioning. I just don't like having to use it. It's one of those things where I'm glad to have it when I need it, but sure hope I won't need it...kinda like CPR training.

Of course, I am going to need it. It's summer! I would simply rather not. It's a bit of bother, that window-fan-a/c routine, but it is worth it to me.

I love fresh air. I love how my house smells with all the windows open and the breezes blowing through. I will leave windows up in the rain if I can get away with it, and I will keep them open when the temperatures dip and tell anyone who complains about it to put on a hoodie (within reason, of course).

The weather has been so lovely, my windows have been open more than they've been closed. It's so nice. It won't last, of course, because June doesn't last.

I am grateful for open windows. I am grateful for windows that actually open. Once, I lived in a house where the windows had been painted shut, and it took my husband and some serious tools to get them open.

And, while I am being truthful, I really am grateful for air conditioning. I love that feeling of "aaaahhhh, thank heavens!" when I walk from a sweltering day into a cool cloud of comfort. Even so, I am grateful for what my open windows do for my energy bill. I am a creature of comfort.

What have you been blessed with today?

Thursday, June 16

Hard-Won Perspective

I was on the phone this morning with a younger sister. Mommy-wise, she is now where I was about ten years ago. And I remembered that it was a tough place. I told her that, too, because I think validation is useful in coping.

And then I sort of went on this little rant where I lamented the fact that no one had warned me about the tough spots of young motherhood, that I was unprepared and hadn't handled it all too well. Where were the voices of experience? I wanted to know. She ought to be glad she has me, because I was doing for her what no one had bothered to do for me!

This sister of mine, she is wise beyond her years. She listened to me express my pent-up resentment about the struggles of years past. And then she said this:

If someone had told you, had just gone up to you and dumped it all out, you wouldn't have learned it, it wouldn't mean as much, and you wouldn't appreciate it as much as you do now. 

It's true, of course. Wisdom doesn't always look like wisdom. Most of the time, we have to earn the right to recognize it. It's actually possible someone did try to prepare me. It is very probable I wasn't listening, or felt I already knew everything I needed to know. I really am that sort of person.

I am grateful for hard-won perspective. That old saw about how you never know what you've got until it's gone? Well, I think you never know what you don't know until after you know it. Or maybe it's that thing about hindsight being 20/20. Yup. True for me. I am grateful for the opportunity to look back, and see real proof of change and growth in myself. I am grateful for my sisters/friends, who help my keep perspective. Not only do they help me keep it, but they polish it up for me so I can see it better.

What are you blessed with today?

Wednesday, June 15

Too Much to Remember

Not too long ago, we were all piled in the van, driving up the highway towards home. It had been a full and fun trip, and most everyone was napping. My husband was driving, and I was sort of daydreaming, and thinking about sundry things.

A thought came to the forefront of my mind, and I remember saying to myself, "This is wonderful. I ought to do a Thankful Heart post about it!" And that thought was followed by this one: "I had better write it down, or I'll forget........ [briefly casts about for a pen or scrap of paper, but fails to see anything readily available] ......Nah, this is nifty enough and obvious enough, I won't forget it."

I forgot it.

I have been trying to recall it for days, because I remember it was quite good. But nothing has resurfaced. I remember I was looking at the sky, admiring the clouds and the colors of the sunset. I remember the stretch of road we were on. I remember having my feet propped up on the dash. 

I cannot - for the life of me! - remember what wonderful, obvious thing I was so thankful for.

I am grateful that I have too many blessings to remember them all. How pampered can one woman possibly be? So much that is nifty and benevolent in my life that I can't keep track of it? It's true. Silver linings left and right. And if that perfect thought ever circles back around, I have a pen and notepad in my purse. I don't want to miss another thought of thanks.

What are you blessed with today?