My Family

My Family

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

I have a new blog address

I have a new blog address.   The good news is that the "comment" section actually works.  You won't see it right away, but I do get them... how I wished I could have received comments during our hospital stays.  So many people told me that they try to comment often but it seldom worked.

Check it out, follow me - and read it here.

(Today is my Dad's 76th birthday - I wrote about My Dad's Dash)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Painting and Painting and Painting and...

One year ago, around the first weekend of October, Mark and I drove for three days... arriving on Sunday night.  We drove his truck and hauled a small trailer with just enough possessions to give him a semblance of comfort in our new home... and painting supplies!

Monday morning in our new home - Mark donned a tie to begin his work at his new office, and I donned my lovely painting clothes.  I knew I had just one day in town and no form of transportation, so I began to make our new house into our new home.

Replacing the built-in bookshelves would be fun, but rather a silly expenditure when they are sturdy and functional.. but what is the deal with that dead space at the top?  Anyway - I had one day to work, and it was a day well spent!  These were now bookshelves that I could live with.

Everything in our house was brown and for many people it would be beautiful.  I appreciate the style, but it is not my own.  Note: Even the ceilings were brown!!  It was very much like living in a brown grocery bag!  Made me crazy...

My sweet husband lived alone for two months.  Whenever he was in town, he was painting.  He painted the walls and the ceilings in the three main living areas.  What a transformation!!

Most of our ceilings are still brown, though very few of our walls.  This is a huge project, but we are plugging away, little by little.  It didn't help that I was gone for eight weeks this summer!

When we bought our house we thought that the trim was a nice cream color.  When we painted the walls we discovered that it was more of a tan/almond.  Yuck.  So... we have begun that process as well.

We also thought that the kitchen cabinets were a creamy, antiqued color.  Painted walls turned them a sickly yellowish antiqued color.  I will post before/after kitchen photos soon.  I love it!

My entire upstairs is covered in drop cloths and masking tape.  Raising six kids has taught me to live in chaos and to me, it is worth the chaos!  I love the transformation.  I often stop whatever I am doing to go into our latest "project room" and just breathe deeply.  It is energizing!

This bathroom is still
 a work progress...

A coat of paint on the
mantle is a quick fix
until I come up with
another idea...
Spray paint and new globes
transformed our bathroom lights.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Elephant Cookies Curing Childhood Cancer

    Elephant Cookies - we made a couple dozen last week.  They were cute, they were tasty, we shared them with friends... they will not help to cure cancer.
    Kneaders Bakery and Cafe, however, is offering an Elephant Cookie that will.  Because September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness month, these cute cookies are being sold for $2.99 and 100% of the proceeds raised will go directly to childhood cancer research at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. 
Here is more information:   Kneaders Bakery

   Elephants have always been my favorite animal at the zoo, but what do they have to do with all of this?  Apparently elephants have 100 times more cells than humans, so it would seem that they should be 100 times as likely to get cancer.  Not so!  Cancer in elephants is very rare.
   Our doctor at Huntsman Cancer Institute, Joshua Schiffman, has been conducting some very interesting research.  People have two copies of the gene we call P53 - elephants have FORTY copies of this gene!  When Dr. Schiffman taught my children about P53, he called it the superhero gene.  It rushes in when a cell is misbehaving - it either corrects the problem or gets rid of the troublesome cell.  If this misbehaving cell were to continue, it has the potential to become cancerous.  Forty Super-Heroes would be cool, something like that last Avenger movie, but all on the same side.
    Because of Li-Fraumeni Syndrome, four of my six children have only one operating superhero gene - thus the high tendency to develop cancer.  They have been behind the scenes at Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City to have their blood drawn simultaneously with the elephants.  Dr. Schiffman has shared with us some exciting possibilities for the future of cancer care - perhaps my grandchildren will have an entirely different experience with cancer than my children have, or perhaps no experience at all.
    Apparently the National Cancer Institute spent 96% of its research funding on adult cancer research.  Childhood cancer could use a little help.  
    Dr. Schiffman had cancer as a child.  His research is helping other children.  The founder of Kneaders had a grandson diagnosed with childhood cancer at age 13. Their fundraising will help other children.   Three of my children have had cancer, (more than once) and we want to help other children.  I have neither the expertise nor the money to do what Kneaders and Dr. Schiffman are doing, but I can do my part by spreading the word.  
    There are 52 Kneaders locations in the United States, but sadly, none in Dallas, TX.  So, we made our own cookies.  We did not sell them, but we did share them with friends.  Hoping someone will share this information with a few of their own friends....  
    Again, here is the Kneaders website which discusses the cookies, the research and how to donate if you cannot buy a cookie...

Nathan found a Kneaders Elephant
in San Antonio... not quite as cute
as the picture.  The stores keep
running out (which is a good thing)

Drawing blood in the elephant cage.
We couldn't take pics of the
elephants, but later that day
we found this one at a museum.

Elephants are very happy to get their
blood drawn because they are fed
through the entire process.
They tried it on my kids too.

Friday, September 9, 2016

GIFT - Part 2

My poor, neglected blog...
I have not written for several months - or so it would appear.  Actually, I wrote a draft to follow up on my last entry on the topic:"Gift,"  This draft seems to have disappeared into cyberspace and somehow I don't feel like I can move on without addressing this topic one more time... yet my head is full of experiences and thoughts regarding Loving and Laughing and Learning while I live my Life.  I want to get them recorded, so here are a few more thoughts on "Gift" so that I can move on...

It was mid-June and we were only days away from closing escrow on our home in Washington.  A Gift came our way in the form of a disaster... a man who owns the 18 acres adjoining our 5 acres delivered this gift to our title company who then informed us.  It was a spurious lawsuit contesting a 5-10 foot section of property as well as several lies and false accusations.  We were stunned.  We agreed to a quick settlement - feeling rather sick because the lawsuit was so ridiculous... yet we wanted to complete the sale.  Unfortunately, the buyers freaked out and went looking elsewhere.  Fortunately we had only agreed to settle if the sale went through.  With a multitude of damages, we reluctantly filed a countersuit.  Ugh.

We were back at square one - the house back on the market, plenty of debt, and up to our eyeballs in legal issues.  Not where we wanted to be... and yet....

Experience has taught me that trials can help us to grow.  Trials can make us better people.  Trials can be a GIFT.  I took a breath and began to try to be grateful for this Gift and find the good.

I didn't have to look very far.  Within a week I felt that my marriage was stronger than ever.  My relationship with the Lord was more dear.  We had a fresh perspective on a number of things including our future and LIFE in general.
 Almost immediately I was able to use this "Gift" and this Washington property to bless the lives of family, friends and neighbors in completely different but very tangible ways.  All of these things brought me such joy - I see that I would not have wanted to miss these opportunities.
My gratitude for our Gift situation has become more sincere.  To be honest, it is indeed a trial and certainly weighs me down - yet I believe that it is a blessing.  We have already learned so much.  I believe that we are on this Earth to learn, grow and become better people.  It is not for us to dictate what a blessing actually is - would a life of ease and comfort cause us to grow or become better?  We may desire it, but if we truly desire to improve and be more than we now are... I have to think it will come primarily through trials.  Therefore I say, trials can be blessings, especially if you make the effort to express gratitude.  Even more difficult, don't wait until years down the road to see the good and find the gratitude.  Finding it while in the midst of the trial can lift that burden even while it is weighing you down.

Here is a video of our property in Washington.  I'm sure I've posted it before... but since I still own it... I am thinking I will always own it... and what a great vacation home!  You may also notice that there is plenty of forest around - and that the man who owns almost 200 acres of property in the county could stop worrying about .2 acres of mine!

ps - I just watched the video.  I must say I really miss my front porch and the bubbler in my front yard. Also my many amazing blueberry bushes, but mostly the porch and bubbler.  Wow - it is really pretty there!  My Texas friends will like to see that even before we moved here we were flying our Texas flag!

Saturday, July 2, 2016


Summertime always brings an abundance of time on our hands and a search for quality ways in which to spend that time.  I have quite a collection of charts and books from past summers.  This summer we are reading, memorizing, doing service, working on manners, chores, eating right... etc.  The usual.
My family scripture journal
One thing that we really wanted to change was our approach to our family scripture study.  Different methods in the past have been both effective and not effective - sometimes burning us out for months at a time.  Now, with just two children at home -- two half-grown children -- we thought it was time for our study to grow up a little as well.  Our new approach is intended to last for six months before we re-evaluate.  One day we sat down and made a list of topics to study.  Kimberly typed these up and put them into a jar.  Every couple of days we draw out a new topic and each find a couple of verses in regard to the chosen topic.  A few minutes of personal reflection is followed by each of us sharing what we learned and thought about the subject.  We each have a little journal in which we record whatever we want - maybe our own thoughts, maybe what everyone else shares... it doesn't matter.
Quite frankly, I am learning so much!  Mark and I are both in awe over not only what we are personally taking away, but at what our children have to contribute!  This takes only a few minutes each day, but we are growing in many ways.  ...and no one is bored.

GIFT - this was our first topic.  I wondered where we would go with it and was so pleased with the result.
My first page of writing is shown in the photo.  If I had ever dreamed I would put it out for the public to view I would have worked on my penmanship... Oh well.  These are thoughts in general and read:  When a gift is given, it isn't always what the receiver wanted, or may be something they have never even thought of - but when given by someone who loves you it has been thought out and is something that will benefit you, perhaps far in the future.  Perfect gifts from our perfect Father may be unanticipated, misunderstood or even unwanted, but will always be for our good.

  •  We learned to be wary of some gifts which are given in the form of bribes and must be avoided. 
  •  If we wish to present a gift to the Lord (at his altar) - this could be our time, talents or any sort of service, etc... we must do so without contention in our hearts.  Harboring ill feelings toward anyone else our gift will render our gift unacceptable.
  • Everyone is given at least one gift from God.  These gifts are intended to be used to benefit others, thus all of God's children will be blessed through one another's gifts.
  • Christ is the greatest gift and his gives his life for us.  This is much more than just dying for us - He LIVED for us, there was never any selfishness.  He took his time on Earth and dedicated it to us, our greatest gift.

Another journal entry:  Gifts are talents and strengths.  They are also opportunities that come to us.  They may be in the form of certain interactions.  I think some of our greatest gifts come in the form of trials - if we grow and improve through the lessons of a trial - we become who we need to be... then these are gifts indeed.

That was just two days of reading and discussing.  Just a few days later we were presented with a Gift, an unexpected and rather unwelcome gift which we were prepared to embrace because of these two days' study.  I will have to write about it later... but I am so grateful that the scriptures prepared us to see our new situation as an opportunity to learn, grow and be blessed!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Working On My Quality

How was your day?......... Better!
What did you do? ............. I worked on my quality!

A few weeks ago I heard a woman speak of her 30-something son who has Downs Syndrome.  For 16 years he has worked at a steakhouse clearing tables and doing dishes.  Each day she goes to pick him up from work and each day they have the same conversation.  She asks how was his day and he replies, "Better!"  An inquiry into how he spent his day brings the same reply every time, "I worked on my quality!"
These responses stole my heart and have been in my thoughts ever since.  How often has my day been better than the day before?  Often enough... but what if it were consistently Better?  What if every day was better than the day before?  Granted, there are many things outside of my control which affect my day - but for the most part I am in control of what I do and how I react to situations.  In almost every way I am better than I was ten years ago... but if I could learn to work on this day by day - where will I be ten years from now?
I could work on being better in my family relationships, how I spend my free time, cooking & cleaning, coupon clipping, writing thank-you notes, smiling, keeping contact with friends,  exercising, reading, memorizing, sharing... blah, blah, blah.  Well, I could be overwhelmed and drive myself crazy and get discouraged trying to get better in everything.  Or I could not even try and just stagnate and feel even worse... 
This is where I really like the second response.  Working on my quality!  I can do this!  Instead of making a list of everything that needs to be better about my life (and feeling crazy and discouraged), I could just think about improving my quality of whatever it is I am doing when the thought comes to my mind.  If I could manage to think about it even once a day - improving my quality in that one instance ... well, I should be able to report that my day had gone "better" - and ten years from now I will have learned to seek for "quality" and find that every aspect of my life is "better"
Good plan... 

Cancer checkup - Natalie had her MRIs and received a clean bill of health.  Jacqueline also had her MRIs and though there is some suspicious activity we are hopeful that nothing is cancerous.  Of course she is a missionary and so I was unable to be with her, but the doctors are not concerned at present.  Greg is happy to have a summer without chemotherapy and is recovering from over 30 stitches he received a couple weeks ago when they removed a few moles.  Only one mole proved to be undesirable, but they cleared all margins and he's doing great.  David and Mark will have their tests in July.  My one photo today is Kimberly - she doesn't have Li Fraumeni but we were still relieved when her pathology report came back clean.  About a month ago she had a painful cyst removed from her ear canal.  Aside from eardrops and a no-swim order, we were relatively unaffected.  Nevertheless, sending her into the operating room brought back many memories.  Fortunately I am well skilled at diverting myself - Nevertheless, it would seem that my children cannot go into surgery without some sort of excitement.  In Kimberly's case, after about 20 minutes, the electricity went off!  The generator kicked right on, but I was immediately aware that she was laying there under anesthesia and beyond my reach.  I was glad to get her home again.  As for Kimberly, she was thrilled to be able to report to her siblings that she had joined their "surgery" club.  They were not too sure that 30 minutes or so working on her ear "counts" - her lesion was "unremarkable" and her scar doesn't exactly give her bragging rights around here, but as the mom,  I'll take it any day!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Texas - Update from March??

March 26 was my last blog post - It is almost June 26 and I have been very neglectful.  I opened up blogger tonight and found this draft - no typing, only photos.    What was my intent?  This will remain a mystery, but since it's here I will discuss my photos for posterity....

Here is Kimberly eating lunch in Palestine, TX.  We had a Friday off of  school and decided that we should explore.  A friend told us there was a Dogwood Festival - and I jumped at the chance to see dogwood trees.  The warm winter had brought the blooms too early, but we saw a few.  The great treat was to find a beautiful part of the state where rhodendrons and azaleas were blooming like crazy.  There were tall evergreen trees and we felt that we had taken a quick trip to our beloved ol' northwest springtime.  Beautiful!  

Kimberly and Natalie are sitting in the Texas Bluebonnets.  These flowers have a reputation for being spectacular - and they were!  Wow!  Intense color through the fields and along the roadways.  Apparently the tradition is to plop your little ones among the blooms and capture the moment.  So - here are my little ones and the moment forever captured.  The wildflowers haven't stopped either - my mind is completely blank to the name of the flowers that captivated me when I drove home from Utah in April... hmmmm.  Well, anyway - for quite some time the fields have been yellow with black-eyed Susans.  Love it!!

  All decked out in her Texas finery, Natalie has made the most of our move!  Though Texas offers a form of concurrent enrollment, it does not compare to the Washington option and would not have helped Natalie with her future plans.  Going back to high school wasn't really an option, so - though officially a Junior in high school, Natalie opted to take the GED which she passed with honors.  She was accepted to BYU and left us in April to begin Spring term classes.  To celebrate, she chose a beautiful pair of cowboy boots so she can "put her cowgirl on" - even in Utah.  

Speaking of putting on her Texas, we all enjoyed those last months with Natalie as she worked at a hamburger restaurant in a part of Texas where patrons tended to have very heavy accents.  After trying to take an order or two and not being understood - she developed an accent of her own.  Suddenly she fit right in and became very popular with the customers.

Our neighbor has the beautiful pond which attracts birds all year.  Late winter found us enjoying turkey vultures.  They are huge and graceful.  There were several of them and they would swoop through our yard as they came in for a landing.  Blue herons do this often as well.  We took this photo one sunny morning as this bird was sunning himself.  Spectacular!

My muddy kids decided to go kayaking on our own little pond with friends.  Silly kids - cold, wet and muddy.  Just like when they were little, I made them spray off with the hose before coming near the house.  Brrr.  

First Monday Market Day in Canton, TX.  This was fun, but, with the crowds and heat, I wouldn't want to come during the summer.  I think we went in March - this is a huge flea market which has been around for over 100 years.  We gave each child $25 so that they could all find their own sort of treasure.  Great memory, worth the money!
So - that's the last photo... we are enjoying Texas.  The people are certainly the best part!  I have met many fine women which have improved my life for the better. 
New friends, new experiences, new perspectives....
 Once again, an experience I would not have chosen for myself has blessed my life immensely.