Thankful Tree

A while back, I pinned a pin on pinterest.

Pinned Image
Isn’t it SWEET? I thought it was perfect. I tucked in the back of my mind as “things to do after Halloween” and I almost forgot about it.

Until two days ago.

My kids were running rampant. Kids can smell exhaustion the same way sharks can smell blood. They smelled it on me from across the house and somehow knew -without even communicating it to the other -that they could really skin the cat. Figuratively.
The neighbor’s cat is fine.

As I watched my house and yard slowly unravel, I knew I had to do something to stop it.
Thankfully (pun intended), my kids love to help. They love to be given a job that they feel only they can do.
“Kids!” I hollered, “Go get your mama some sticks. We’re going to make a tree!”
Immediately, they abandoned the pile of soil-turned-absolutely-black-from-ash (oh, their clothes!) and came running.
The boy brought me two twigs, and I thanked him.
The girl was right behind him with a ARM LOAD of sticks. I gushed all over.

The boy became jealous. He ran outside. And returned.

“That’s not a knife… THAT’S a knife.”
Anyone know it? Please tell me you know it.

Anyway, our tree is substantially less cute. But it’s not about cute! It’s about gratitude.
We don’t have any yet.

Monday night, we’ll fill our tree with gratitude.
Until then, I’m off on a walk. I need some energy to mask my exhaustion.
The predator v. prey situation just isn’t working around here.

Uncle Ben

Young girls, beware.

Someday you will grow up and enter the dating world. The young men who come into your life will have a variety of names. I plead with you to only date those who have names you would never consider for a future child. So many of us are suffering the regret of having dated a young man with a wonderful name… a name we have placed a self-imposed ban on if not for our own sake than for the sake of our husbands.

I mean, really. If my husband had named our daughter after one of his lady friends, I would be, in the very least, disgruntled.

I wish I would have known when I was 16 that I would spend the majority of my life in a mild state of obsession over a man named Benjamin Franklin. When I was 16, I dated a Ben.
I would give anything to name a future son Ben, but my husband has other ideas (see “disgruntled” above).

Last year, my Aunt Ruth and I had the opportunity to visit. I don’t recall ever having had a visit with JUST Aunt Ruth ever before. Her and I sat on my Aunt Julie’s bed, leafing through a three-ring binder she had complied. It was full of family history: pictures, stories, charts…
We talked about our ancestors. We talked about teaching. We talked about marriage.
And then she told me something that changed my life forever.

I am a direct descendant of Benjamin Franklin’s sister.
He is, in very fact, my Uncle Ben a million times removed… all the more reason to use his name for one of my future sons.
In any case, I was doing some research yesterday. I came across Benjamin Franklin’s 13 virtues.

(image via

Temperance: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation
Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversations
Order: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time
Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve
Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; that is, waste nothing
Industry: Lose not time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions
Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; speak accordingly
Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty
Moderation: Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think you deserve
Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes or habitation
Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles or accidents common or unavoidable
Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation
Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates

You can bet I’m printing several copies of his list out. I’ll put them on my fridge, on my bathroom mirror, in my scriptures, in my church binder, and in my car -forever reminders to do better.
His words next to humility (imitate Jesus and Socrates) sent me on yet another search.

Do you know who Socrates is? I didn’t. I mean, I knew OF Socrates, but I didn’t know ABOUT Socrates. He is quoted as saying “I know I know nothing.” He was heralded as the wise man -yea, even the WISEST. He denied it, insisting he had no wisdom. That simple fact alone -the fact that he was aware of his own ignorance -made him undoubtedly the wisest man.
He challenged men with questions, and by so doing humiliated a few publicly. It didn’t earn him any friends, and eventually he was condemned to die (by drinking poison).
He had a chance to escape prison, but he insisted on staying for several reasons:

(Thanks be to Wikipedia)
Xenophon and Plato agree that Socrates had an opportunity to escape, as his followers were able to bribe the prison guards. He chose to stay for several reasons:
1)He believed such a flight would indicate a fear of death, which he believed no true philosopher has.
2)If he fled Athens his teaching would fare no better in another country as he would continue questioning all he met and undoubtedly incur their displeasure.
3)Having knowingly agreed to live under the city’s laws, he implicitly subjected himself to the possibility of being accused of crimes by its citizens and judged guilty by its jury. To do otherwise would have caused him to break his “social contract” with the state, and so harm the state, an act contrary to Socratic principle.

Also: he felt like it was his time to die -that it might be better to die than live.
Isn’t his logic sound and wonderful and a little mind blowing?! I mean, given the chance to escape death, what would you do? Thank goodness Socrates wasn’t the star of “Prison Break” or the series would have been over in a few short episodes, and the public would be disgruntled.

Maybe I should have titled this post “disgruntled.”

Really I just wanted you to have Ben Franklin’s 13 virtues, and I wanted a little sympathy on the “you-can’t-name-your-son-Ben” front. That said, ciao.

(image via

In Gratitude

Last week, I attended Enrichment. The guest speaker did such a great job that her words have stayed with me, and they keep coming to mind every day.
She started her talk off by asking the question, “Do you ever lie down to bed and ask yourself why you’ve been so blessed to live where you do, in the country that you do?”
I nodded my head, yes! Yes! I have! In fact, I’ve lost sleep wondering WHY I’ve been so blessed. Have I ever come up with an answer? No. Maybe she had it! I wriggled to the edge of my seat and waited.

Instead of outright answering the question, she asked us what the answer was. People tossed out answers that didn’t really get to the root of the question: WHY am I so blessed? Of course we ARE blessed to live when/where we do, but WHY?

We finally came to the conclusion that, among other reasons, it is to bless others -the world through, if needs be.

This answer satisfies me to some extent. Does it satisfy you? And are you losing sleep because your life is so good and you can’t, for the life you, figure out why?
Surely I don’t deserve it, so why have I been handed it?

Here’s a brief rundown, I was born in 1985 to two devoted parents. They had been sealed to each other in the Temple before any children came along, making all six of us (children, that is) born in the covenant. I was born sealed to my parents -immediately promised to them for ETERNITY, not just until they or I die. My mother taught me to learn with my hands. My father taught me to work with my hands. I grew on principles of faith. I attended church. My friends were good -they’re still good, and they’re still my friends. The little hospital-less town I was literally born in helped to raise me. Without the boundaries of asphalt and fences, my imagination roamed, grew, and blossomed. I began voraciously reading and voraciously writing. I was given the opportunity to play basketball, volleyball, and softball. My coaches taught me about sacrifice, about the importance of a unified group and the difference between the power of a unified group and the power of an individual. I was able to learn musical instruments, and again was taught the importance of unification.
When a group is not in tune, it’s nothing short of harsh. And no one wants to listen to them.

I ran for class offices. I applied for Societies and Clubs. I typed. I laughed. I cried. And then, I graduated.

At graduation, my devoted parents stood by as I helped deliver our Class History Speech. They were together, as they’d always been. They were healthy, as were my brothers and sister.
And went off to college with everything I had learned burning a hole in the back pocket of my 28″ waist, 36″ long jeans.

I could have done well with just that. But well enough? Not nearly.

Of all the blessings great and small that I was simply BORN into, the greatest of all of these began before I came to earth, and it came to my family line when a young missionary touched (and thereby healed) the wounded leg of my great-great-great grandfather. Jens Hansen accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ. His son settled the area I was raised in. Eventually, my father came along and married my mother.
That’s when I was born into a life of privilege. As I attended church and was taught the basic principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I would start to think -to ponder.
I always was something of a thinker, even as a small child.
One Sunday, as I listened to a speaker testify of Christ, it suddenly stuck my mind that he might be full of absolute bull. I looked in desperation at my mother.
Were we being duped into believing something absolutely ridiculous? Were we? And what was I going to do about it? I became momentarily convinced that I was trapped in a church pew, in a dress, having a fantastical religion shoved on me.
Luckily, I was small when this happened. I was small enough to be able to turn around in the my church pew, sit on my knees, and peak around at the congregation that was being likewise duped.
My eyes landed on Paul Hatch. He lived just down the hill from us, and I knew -without a doubt -that no one could ever dupe Paul Hatch.
I turned back around and thought about it.
I glanced past my mother and looked at my father. My father was the smartest person in the world. Surely, he wouldn’t go to church if there wasn’t something real about it.

And so, for that moment, I was satisfied.
My testimony relied on others, but for the moment, it sufficed. As I grew older, I gained bits of testimony for myself, but the root of my testimony and the countless blessings that have flowed into my life because of it came because of how I was born and the way that I was raised.

My children are healthy (and jumping off of my piano bench).
There is a roof over my head.
There is food in my pantry.
There is money in my account.
There are clothes flowing out of my closet.
I’m free to do as I like.
I’m a voter.
I’m a mother.
I’m a wife.
I’m warm despite the biting cold outside.
I am loved by my Heavenly Father who speaks to me because He loves me and I’m getting to know Him.


What have I done to merit these blessings?
In truth: I don’t know exactly. Do you?

I recently read an article that was meant to be humorous about why skipping Thanksgiving was an all right idea. Thanksgiving wasn’t exciting enough.
Birthdays, the author reasoned, and Christmas had far more to offer by the way of celebration.

I laugh easily. I don’t offend easily.
But this is one instance where I will not lighten up or take a joke where a joke is meant to be taken.

Be thankful. Be less wanting.
Express it how you will, but be sure you do.

You don’t need the audience of 600 facebook friends to express how grateful you are for cell phones, running water, toilets, clothing, food, children, health, sleep, joy, laughter, Netflix…
All you need is the audience of One.


Kids are Funny

Yesterday we had some friends over.  The kids started tracing their hands and feet onto some construction paper.  They used permanent marker, but it didn’t phase me much.  It’s not like we haven’t had permanent marker chaos in our house before.

I left all of the markers and papers out for the kids while I went about my daily tasks.

Last night, I looked up from some paperwork to see my son sitting on the table next to me -his feet both out in front on him, a paper on his lap, and his head on that paper.

The thing is: he had already traced his hand. He had already traced his foot. He had even traced his arm! What was left? His face. Obviously.

Ahhhhh, my boy. I could hardly get him to look up to take that last picture. He was DETERMINED to trace his face. When he didn’t have any luck, he turned to his sister.
“Color my face, lace!” He kept saying. It sounded like a political slogan of some kind.

Kids are funny. My husband and I laughed while watching this:

Adults are funny, too.

That’s what I look like when I exercise. Thank goodness no one is around to film me.


image from

Do you know this guy’s name?
Of course you do. PLEASE don’t tell my daughter what his real name is. I’m getting such a kick out of her talking about “Frickin’ Stein.”

Thanks in advance.


I’m smack dab in the middle of an experiment.  And NO, despite the amount of candy wrappers surrounding me at present, it isn’t “How Many Days Before the Leftover Halloween Candy is Gone?”
It’s more of a relationship experiment.

Before I go on, you need to know that you’re about to judge me… pretty harshly. Wait, unless you’re Dr. Laura. I think Dr. Laura might not judge me. Maybe.

I was driving home from Wal-Mart last week, and a song came on the radio. We have a total of about 7 stations up here, and 4 of them play country. I listen to country virtually non-stop, so this works out well for me. I can flip through the country stations until I find something I DO like (Josh Turner) and avoid what I don’t (Rascal Flatts). As I drove along, a song I had never heard came on. I can’t find an official music video for it. This was the best I could find.

As I listened to it, I was reminded of how simple men can be. NOW, this is by no means an insult. I just forget sometimes that my husband has very few needs -the most of these is just to be loved and appreciated. I thought about my son. I thought about how I want his hypothetical future wife to treat him. I thought about my husband’s mother, and I thought about how hard it must be to trust another woman with her treasure of a boy… the way she pins her hopes on that woman to see the person she sees.
And then I went back to thinking about the song.

Now, please understand that what I’m about to say is going to sound downright incriminating.

I decided to take the song to heart, and in certain situations I have -in all seriousness -wondered how a dog would react.
And then I act accordingly.
This isn’t to say that I’m slobbering all over him and assuming animal-like attributes. This is just to say that I’m trying MUCH harder to be be MUCH happier when he comes home from work. I’m leaving him alone when he’s lounging on the bed playing games on his phone while I’m wrangling children and cooking and making phone calls (yes, all at once because I’m a Woman and we DO life like that).

Also: this doesn’t mean that I didn’t peel my socks off at the end of Halloween, plunk my feet on my husband’s lap and HAND him a bottle of lotion. And no, I didn’t ASK if he wouldn’t mind rubbing my feet (after a long day of cleaning, cooking, and making our home a nice place to be on Halloween while not feeling my best). I THANKED him beforehand for what he was about to do.

As simple as men are in their needs, they sometimes need a blunt reminder of our complex needs. They’re wonderful, men are, but I’ve yet to meet one who reads minds.

I didn’t tell anyone about my experiment because, let’s face it, it’s really sorta sad.
“You asked yourself ‘What would his dog do?’… you’re nuts.”
I even happened to read a facebook status from one of my friends that said, “If a man ever said to me ‘I want you to love me like my dog does’ I can’t promise that I wouldn’t knock the crap out of him.”

The last thing I wanted to do was broadcast my experiment to the world.
It’s been nagging at me. I have to share it now because you need to know the results.

My husband has been a completely different person for the last week. And when I say “completely different” I mean that he has been a constant ray of sunshine.
When he came home from work two days ago, he wrapped his arms around me and lifted me CLEAN OFF the ground. I asked him why he was so happy. He told me he didn’t know. Then he set me down and said, “you’ve been happy.”

Over the summer at my retreat for women, it was pointed out to me that women are the climate controls for the home. Is it worth it to fake happiness sometimes? Well, yeah. It is. It isn’t easy, and it can’t be done ALL of the time, but it’s almost always true that fake happiness generally turns into real happiness in a matter of a few smiles.

My husband can’t fake happiness for the life of him. He can’t fake anything which is something I really love about him. Because he can’t fake happiness, I’ve been asking him (the last few months) to try a little harder to put a smile on… to please be happy when he came home from work. I’m not a nag. I didn’t harp on him. I wasn’t sharp about it and I didn’t snap at him. He even agreed with me that he needed an attitude change.
Well he got one.
RIGHT after I did.

Funny how that works, isn’t it? And what’s it like to play puppy for a week?
Oh, it’s humbling all right.
And it’s WORTH it.
Men just want love. They just want appreciation. They want you to be proud of them and they want to feel like you need them in your life.
Can you do that? Of course you can. Love the men in your life. Tell them you’re proud of them. When they walk through the door, go bonkers for them.
And watch and see the change…

My hypothesis was that if I treated him like he was the best thing since mini-Twix bars (that may be the leftover Halloween candy talking) he might treat me likewise.  And guess what?  It really does work.  It seems so simple in theory -it even seems obvious.  So why is it we forget so easily?  Even dogs don’t seem to have a problem remembering and applying it.  What’s our deal?

In any case, our home is happier now that it was 8 days ago… all thanks so dogs.  and country music. and forced foot rubs.

If you’ve read this far (bless you, if you have) please enjoy this youtube video. Music majors will enjoy it most. I laughed for a full two days about it.
What makes it even better? My very own husband played the cello for an extremely brief period in the 4th grade.  Please note there are a few swears, for which I apologize.

Carnival Apples and Trick-or-Treating

Before my sister left on her mission, she introduced my kiddos to the movie “Rio.” In the movie, they talk a lot about “Car-ni-vall” which is the way they pronounce “carnival” in South America. I’ve had quite a time convincing them of the English pronunciation. Just when I got the girl convinced, I turned around and my son was calling our caramel apples “car-ni-vall” apples.
I finally threw up my hands. We had carnivall apples last night. Ole.
I’ve been fighting a head cold, and I absolutely shoved it to the side yesterday. I had to make Halloween fun for my family -THAT’S what mothers do, right? RIGHT?! I cleaned the house (it was Monday, after all), made dinner in a pumpkin:
Plugged in my Scentsy to get the house smelling wonderfully fallish, and gathered my chicks to start washing green apples.
I really don’t care all that much for caramel apples. But THESE? I wait all year for them. I guess carnival apples might be the appropriate term, after all… they’re like a carnival in your mouth.
I worked hard to make sure when my husband walked through the door from work that he would have NO IDEA the amount of stress that went into making our holiday “perfect.” When mom’s not feeling good AND she’s bent on a clean house, no one is happy.
But we fooled Dad.
He made jerky (so much for the fallish Scentsy smell, eh?) while we dunked apples.
As soon as the apples were put in the fridge to set, we ate dinner and then got dressed and ready for our final Halloween celebration. Do you realize we’ve had THREE this year? My kids have been in blissdom.
She insisted on a ballerina bun. Remember how she JUST had her hair cut? Yeah. You wouldn’t believe the amount of gunk I put in her hair just to get it to stay, but she was happy!
A special thanks to Laurie for noticing the boy’s furry underpants. I’m prodigious proud of them.
We stopped off at my parent’s house across town first and worked our way back.
As a special Halloween treat, Grandpa MADE doggy-doo-doo for the kids! I even got some, and I’ll attest to his cooking skills. It isn’t just any Grandpa who will melt marshmallows and butter for his grandkids, you know.
We stopped off at great-grandpa Click’s house next.
I’m a little sad that the kids have figured out that his name is “Grandpa Click” and not “Grandpa Clack.” It was so cute to listen to them call him Gwannpa Clack.
We hit Aunt Lillian’s house next. Her house is always decorated awesome, and she gives out DRINKS for treats! My husband came away the proud owner of a Dr. Pepper. He loves Trick or Treating. Age hasn’t slowed him down one little bit.
We eventually made our way to Great-Grandma Hansen’s. She always lets her grandkids have as much as they want. Every year, I try to tell them “not so much! don’t be greedy!” and every year Grandma tells my kids not to listen to their silly mother.
This year, Lacy dug her hand DEEP into grandma’s bowl and came out with about 6 mini candy bars in one tiny fist.
“Isn’t that fun?” Grandma gushed.Photobucket
She’s everything a grandma should be. Have I ever told you that? I love my grandma.
Across the street is Aunt Cat’s house. My great-grandma used to live there and hand out traditional popcorn balls to trick-or-treaters. Someone on facebook recently posted her popcorn ball recipe, and I’m so glad! I’m going to write it down and try it out.
Once home, I pulled the carnival apples out and dunked them in melted white chocolate and then sprinkled them in cinnamon and sugar. Then my son flipped them off.
Did I mention I’ve been waiting ALL YEAR for these apples?!
They never disappoint. As I sliced them up, the family snuggled up on the floor to watch “The Wizard of Oz.”
Don’t you love Lacy’s post-gunk hair?  She drew each character to perfection.
He looks a little more like a tin caterpillar…
And here’s Dorothy. Notice the BIG BOWS under her face? Just where they should be!
My little budding arteest.
It was a full day, and it lived up to the expectation I had for it! I really look forward to Halloween night when we all nestle up together, eat apples, and giggle at flying monkeys.
Isn’t that angle SCARY?!
Hope your Halloween was a wonderful as ours was!