School Girl

Last night, as we were getting ready to have Family Home Evening, my husband took me off guard by saying, “Grab your lap top.  Let’s see what it would take to get you your bachelor degree.”

Um, what?  I was thinking more along the lines of “let’s all sit in a circle and sing” NOT “let’s get the lap top and start changing your life.”
It is time. I know it is. I’m starting to feel the twinge of having only one “baby” home with me, and it’s time for me to finally do what I’ve been saying I’ll do for a few years now. The only obstacle standing in my way is finances and, well, brain power. My brain has been out of student mode for over 5 years now. Just looking at the curricula made me a little dizzy. It looks like I’ll have to take a few more courses from a community college before transferring to a University.
And yeah, I DO have an associate degree. But it’s in music. I don’t want a higher degree in music. I want a higher degree in Englishy things. So it’s sort of like going back to the drawing board.
And taking two Spanish classes and three literature courses (one world, one English, and one American).

I’m scared.

Also: I have no direction. It’s high time to call a counselor and figure out how to proceed and find out if there’s any scholarships out there for returning students who happen to be stay-at-home mothers.

If any of my awesome readers have any insights or advice, I’d love to hear them. I’m like a lost kitten. A dumb, dumb lost kitten.
If I don’t enroll in the near future, I’ll most certainly end up no better than a LOL cat.

Bad grammar, fat, and all.

Demmed If He Does…

May I first start out by saying: we went out of town for the weekend, and I was mildly afraid we were going to die in a car accident and my last post would be about poop. People would go to my blog to read about my life and they would say, “And look, the last thing she wrote about is… poop…”

Thank goodness I didn’t die.

Because I have something to say about ice cream.

This weekend, we met up with my brother at a mall. While waiting for him, my husband bought me a small soft serve chocolate ice cream cone from Dairy Queen. I haven’t had a soft serve chocolate ice cream cone from Dairy Queen in ages, and oh man! They are SO good! I may have mentioned it eleven million or so times…

On the drive home, my husband stopped in town along the way to use the bathroom. He just so happened to stop at Dairy Queen. And he just so happened to come out with four cones and (what I HOPE were) clean hands. He had two small vanilla cones for the two small welfare critters in the backseat who depend on us for basically everything (and we love it), one dipped chocolate cone for him, and one gigantic chocolate cone for me.
I was touched.
It was basically soft-serve love in a cone.

I stared at it for all of three seconds before my brain went all female.
“I can’t eat this. I’m trying to lose weight. He knows I’m trying to lose weight. Why would he get me a giant cone if he knew I was trying to lose weight? He WANTS me to lose weight. I wish he would have gotten a smaller cone. Then again, if he HAD gotten a smaller cone THAT would have meant the he couldn’t stand the THOUGHT of his FAT WIFE eating a GIANT chocolate ice cream cone, but he could somehow stomach her eating a SMALL cone…”
And then I quit thinking and ate the bleeping cone.

Because sometimes having a female brain is just SO…

I want to type “ridiculous” but it seems miles of insufficient.

And the ice cream was amazing. This morning’s workout? Wellllll, let’s not talk about it.


As I’ve mentioned many times before, I have the greatest in-laws in the world… and I’m talking about ALL of them on both sides.  The people who have married my siblings: I love them.  The people attached to my husband?  I love them.

My husband has two brothers.

One of them is named David. I love David. Everyone loves David. David is behind Danee who is behind Lacy.

Awhile back, we were all sitting in my mother-in-law’s living room. David spoke up and said there was one word that no matter when you said it, the person you said it to would laugh.
What word? We asked, staring at David and waiting in anticipation…

he said.

And the entire room erupted in giggles. I still laugh when I think about that, and in very fact, we use the POOP trick to get my son to smile in pictures.
Like this one:
If you know my boy, you know what a tough nut he can be to crack when it comes to taking his picture. That smile you see? It’s HUGE. We can hardly EVER get him to smile for the camera, but thanks to poop, we prevailed.

I come from a teasing family. I think my mother came nigh unto insanity over hearing me whine over and over, “Mommmmm, the brothers are teeeeasing meeeeeee.”
Well, of course they teased me! My Dad is the king of teasing. It’s his way of expressing his love, I think. If he didn’t love you, he wouldn’t tease you.
I’ve heard him lovingly speak of the time when he was dating my mother and she brought him lunch at work. He thought she was so thoughtful and wonderful… until he drank the beverage she left for him.
“It was buttermilk,” my Dad almost shudders when he tells the story, “I spit it out all over the ground and before I could get after her, she was halfway down the road.”
Dad LOVES that story. I think he fell more in love as he watched my mother screeching away, dust flying behind her car. She knew full well that he hated buttermilk.

Humor was the pinnacle of our home. Okay, okay. CHRIST was the pinnacle of our home, but humor? Right up there. Even when we were reading scriptures in the morning, we found some way to laugh. And prayer time? Well, with six kids all down on the their knees at the same time, someone is BOUND to fart. And then we were lucky to eek out any kind of prayer at all. There was early morning jokes, butchering jokes, brothers imitating old people to a perfect T and making us all laugh so hard our cheeks hurt. There was Dad jokes and Mom jokes and younger siblings that made jokes without even trying.
We weren’t a perfect family, but we laughed our way out of the home, and that was enough. Laughter has sustained us all through the hard times, the painful times, the good times, and the dark times. It keeps us afloat.
Since I’ve been married, I find myself cracking jokes when I should be crying.
Years ago, I was in the hospital with a painful infection. I had had my blood drawn so many times I wanted to cry. I HATE needles, and I had been pricked almost every. dang. hour. on account of my just coming out of gestational diabetes. I had an IV put in my hand because my arms were all poked out. I had just gotten an IV out a few days before. I felt like a human pincushion, ready to be used any time of the day or night.
One morning, a man came in to draw my blood. Like I had so many times before, I grit my teeth, clamped my eyes closed and curled my toes up tight.
“You hate needles?” He asked.
“Yeah,” I said without opening my eyes.
“Me too,” he said, “I find it easier to just look away right before I put the needle in the patient.”
And I laughed.
And laughed and laughed and laughed. And suddenly I didn’t mind having my blood drawn again.
“I can only use that joke with certain patients,” he chuckled, “You can always tell which ones have the sense of humor to take it.”
Oh, how I needed that joke.

Naturally, I annoy my children to DEATH.
“Mommy, can we look down that hole?”
“I can just throw you in. That would be fun!”

“Mommy, can I play with my puzzle?”
“Oh, shoot. I thought you hated it so I threw it away yesterday. It’s at the dump now.”

And that was just yesterday…

A few days ago, I was in the kitchen making something. I don’t remember WHAT exactly. I remember it was something sweet… but that’s all I got. The girl wandered in the kitchen and asked me what I was making.
“Poop,” I said, not cracking even the slightest grin as I stuck my finger in the bowl and licked a chunk of food off.
“Can I have some?” She wasn’t even a little bit fazed!
I was disappointed. I was expecting her to be grossed out, confused… something! And I got nothing.
“Fine,” I stuck my finger back in the bowl and stuck it in her mouth, “Here ya go.”
“Mmmm,” she cooed, “I like poop.”

And here’s my problem: she keeps asking for poop. I have NO IDEA what it was I made. Our conversations go like this.
“Can I have some of that poop you made yesterday?” She’ll ask (yesterday is all encompassing. It means “in the past.”)
“I don’t remember what it is.” I’ll shrug.
“Yes you do! It was just good…” she tilt her head and raise her eyebrow as if she’s just given me a dead-on clue as to what poop is.
“I don’t know.”
“Make it again! You can!” She pipes up enthusiastically.
“If you want poop, you can get it in the potty.” I say because I don’t know what else to say.
“Mom. Not THAT poop.”

My son is more than confused. I was in the bathroom yesterday and he perched himself outside, shouting out instructions.
“Don’t eat your poop!!!” He called out.
“I’m not going to.” I say back.
“It’s not for eating!!!!!!!!” He yells.
“I’m not going to eat my poop!” I say, hardly believing I have to speak the words out loud and knowing full well it’s my own bloody fault.
“And the toilet paper is not for eating wecause it’s not!” He keeps yelling.
“I’m not going to eat the toilet paper!” I yell back.
“You’re done now, Mom! I need to pee standing up!” He yells back.

And yes, he was pushing his little hands under the crack in the bathroom during the entire conversation.

I’m still at a loss. What was the poop I made? It wasn’t brownies. My best guess is oatmeal raisin cookie dough. I’m going to make it today and see if it passes the test. The POOP test.
Geez, I hope I’m not messing my kids up too badly.

If I do, I’ll pass the blame onto my teasing parents. It’s the acceptable thing to do now, right?

Mark of Love

Yesterday I cleaned up the BOMB that went off in my laundry room. And by “cleaned up” I mean I separated it into neat little bomb piles, lovingly washed it and then set it all on my living room couch while I bounded around the house fielding phone calls and feeding my children.

Last night, my husband helped me clean the BOMB that went off in my laundry room and was carefully moved to the living room couch.

After dinner, we sat on either side of the couch with a pile of clothes betwixt us and we folded clothes while we watched a movie. What movie? Mark of Love.


We’re funny about watching movies together. It’s something we LOVE to do, but it takes about half a century to agree on one. When we were first married, we were better on finding something we both liked. Maybe it was because we were nicer to each other then. Maybe it was because we were SO in love that all we wanted to watch was romantic comedies. Maybe it was because we were both young and were into youngish things.

Fast forward 7 years and whaddyagot? Two happily married people with two VERY different tastes. It isn’t as if we both have wills of IRON and refuse to bend. That’s not it at all. I’ll watch his shows now and then, and he’ll watch mine now and then. Lately, it has sort of bothered me that my husband doesn’t “get” my stuff. There have been many-a-poem read by me to him where he just sort of nods along. I get giddy over single sentences written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and when I audibly SQUEAL with delight and my husband asks why… I read the sentence to him, my voice fairly rife with anticipation, and when I’m done and my eyes are beaming expectantly up at him, he looks back and smiles in a way only a loving husband who doesn’t completely not care could. He cares in the way that he’s glad it makes me happy, but it just isn’t his thing. The movie situation is another thing entirely.

I love old movies. I LOVE them. The sense of humor, the wit, the plots, the characters… talkies are superior to freshies in every way except graphics. And even then, I sometimes prefer the giant mutant ants from “Them” to a modern day blue Avatar.

Old movies really DO something for me. I love the way people used to talk -it is, well, it was like people actually CARED what they said. Again, it’s just not my husband’s thing. He begs, “No more old movies. Pleeeease.” And I wonder WHY he doesn’t GET it. They’re amazing! They’re great! My Netflix queue reflects my love, as does most every “suggestion” list I have. My disgruntled husband once slipped from his ivory tower and condemned my habit of exclusively watching old movies. He was surfing through our Netflix Instant Streaming and nearly every suggested movie was an old one.
My Netflix GETS me.

“Arg!” He said, “You’ve got to watch something else!”
I was unduly hurt, and I let him know in what turned out to be one fiery spat of a sentence about how I wasn’t going to change something I love about myself just so Netflix will suggest movies that may or may not be more fun.
Also: I don’t usually fire back at my husband, but he really hurt me. I think we all have silly things that touch nerves, and we know they shouldn’t, but they do.
I can’t stand it when anyone down plays the hard work of stay-at-home mothering. It wouldn’t bother me so much if I didn’t feel like my job was sacred. But I do. Don’t make it less than it is, and if you EVER joke about it being easy or posh… I’ll leave the room because I hate confrontation. BUT AFTER I LEAVE, I’ll come up with something awesome in my head that I’ll never, ever say out loud. And that will suffice.

I also firmly believe that individual personalities are sacred which is why when my husband gets irritated with mine and SAYS something, it hurts.
It took me a few weeks to get over it.

ANYWAY, there’s a scene in Mark of Love where Mark (who is an idiot on every count) is watching an old movie with a girlfriend, Claire. Claire and Mark plays word games together and they have so much in common that they can’t get enough of each other. Later in the movie, Mark is dating Jess. He puts on an old movie and she just complains.
“When does it switch to color?”
“It doesn’t…”
“The Wizard of Oz switched to color. Did you know I played Glinda in High School? I had the coolest red shoes and they actually used them for Dorothy’s part…” And she rambled on and on while Mark stared blankly at her face and longed for Claire. Claire GOT him.
During that scene I looked over at my husband who was voicing his support for Jess and her loathing of black and white movies.

And I was struck with a yearning… a dangerous yearning that rears it’s ugly head every time I read a line Dickens out loud to my husband.

I wish he understood.

I went to bed wishing, and I woke up to run. As I ran around and around and around, I listened to a talk by Sterling W. Sill that I’ve listened to only eleventy billion times, and while I listened and mouth the words to the poems and quotes he read, I realized something. It wasn’t anything Sterling W. Sill said.
I rather like to think it was a combination of a good night’s rest and the crisp early morning air.

If my husband got my crap, I wouldn’t be attracted to him.

I’ve met many-a-man who really did get the humor in old movies. They get the beauty of classic literature and they hmmmm in deep respect after a philosophical quote HITS them where it counts.
And (here’s the ringer) I am NOT remotely attracted to a single one of those men.

My husband is proficient in slang, and it’s something I absolutely adore about him. A few weeks ago, I posted a facebook status update that demonstrates this:
“Wait, which one’s Claudio? Is he the dude that shafted that chick?” ~Danny Deets on Shakespeare

I wrote that one night where he sat patiently through one of “my” movies, “Much Ado About Nothing.” Much Ado is one of my all-time favorites, and I can’t watch it without emitting at least 25 of the aforementioned squeals. So much wit it should like to kill me.

But I will tell you this: after my husband says stuff like that, I’m all a-mush. If anyone ELSE said something like that, I’d cringe. But the magic of my husband is that when HE says and does stuff like that, I can’t get enough of him.

And as I realized this and continued my trot (because, who are we kidding? I can’t actually RUN run) around and around around under that stars, I felt FREE. I was finally free from my dangerous yearning that had plagued me for -dare I say it? -YEARS.

If my husband GOT my stuff, he wouldn’t be my husband. And all the jewels in heaven couldn’t make me give that man up.
Not for all the talkies, all of Dickens’ archives, and every Bonanza episode ever made… including that one Easter episode where Hoss dressed up like a bunny that I can not find ANYWHERE no matter how hard I look.  And anyway, his individual personality is as sacred to me as my own is.

These little revelations probably seem absolutely ridiculous to most everyone else. I think I’m on the caboose end on the Common Sense train.

As it is, I’m grateful for the morning run that gave me clarity, and I will say this: my husband’s patience with me knows no bounds. Bless that man and his crime shows.

The Things We Say

My kids are in a sort of honeymoon phase when it comes to helping mom. Because we took Monday off and went to the city, I cleaned all day yesterday. I said something in the middle of cleaning day that made me laugh out loud.

I know I’m not the ONLY one who laughs at themselves around here…

“You can’t peel the potatoes until you vacuum!” You should have seen them scramble, fighting over the vacuum, begging to peel potatoes.

It was so cute that I had to snap a picture of them peeling potatoes. I told them to look at me and smile which ALWAYS merits my son looking away and my daughter making some cock-eyed facial expression.

I love my job.

Jillian, Cake, Burials… In that Order

Life has been blazing by me lately. My days are so blessedly packed full that I’ve hardly had time to sit and write. I finally MADE some time this morning by waking up at 4:45 in the AM.
Yeah, I thought I was crazy too.

A group of friends invited me to train with them for a 5K coming up in March. They warned me I’d have to get up early. I told them I would. On Tuesdays.
I’m hardcore like that.
“Sure, I’ll be there for you. ONE day out of five, I’ll be THERE!”
True to my word, I was there. I was 15 minutes late, but I was there.

Before charging forward, I must say (and it pains me to; watch me as I choke on my own words), “Thank you, Jillian Michaels for being SUCH a FRIGGIN’ Nazi.” Did you know I jogged 1.5 miles today? Never mind about how fast I jogged it because, honestly, I haven’t the faintest. But did you hear me? I jogged one mile! And then a little more!  I haven’t done that since that one time I took freshman PE as a sophmore! I did have to break after jogging the full mile because my jacket came unzipped, my shoe came untied and my music stopped playing all at once, BUT once I fixed everything I picked myself back up and jogged the rest out. When I got up this morning, I told myself I was an idjjit.
Oh, and by the way, while I haven’t been blogging I HAVE been watching a couple of movies that involve Irish accents. Ever since, I’ve been pronouncing “idiot” as if there’s j’s involved.
I started my car and hated it.
I slovenly dressed myself in approximately 22 layers and hated it.
I drove to the secret meeting place and hated it.
And then I warm-up walked.
And then I jogged, fully aware that I was going to make it MAYBE, if I was terribly lucky, one lap. I did make it one lap. And I kept going. and going. and going.
My pace was something of a solid mix between a train (steady on, chug, chug, chug) and a snail.
But I DID it. What’s more? I’m 100% convinced that I’m not an idjjit! Getting up to run under the stars was heavenly. So Jillian, while I hate you and take nothing but absolute GLEE in muting your voice while I do your unrelenting, heinous workouts… thank you. I jogged a mile and a half this morning, and the thanks goes to you.
Now please excuse me while I warsh my mouth out with soap. I can’t believe I just DID that. I’ve sworn on the grave of my first parakeet to loathe that woman throughout all eternity.

Onto something radically different.

For those of you who are rendered uncomfy by overshare, please navigate away from For everyone else: I get the worst PMS ever. I mean, as if the crankiness and crying isn’t enough… I get sick. I get SICK! I lie on the couch with a heating pad (for added comfort), tissues nearby, peppermint water nearby, chick flicks nearby… and I sit there on the tip top of mount couchette, hating the blues.
While perched thus, I perused Pinterest (ahhhhh, alliteration!) and someone I follow (Lizzie, dahhhling) pinned a cake.
I’m not huge on cake.
Cookies? Brownies? Sign me up. Cake? Eh. I’ll eat it.

But THIS cake?

Chocolate Sour Cream Cake
Any woman with a hormonally induced bloated abdomen who had this picture PLOPPED in front of her would be brought to her water-retaining KNEES. As I was. It was a recipe from Better Homes and Gardens. It is titled “Chocolate Sour Cream Cake.”
I read through the ingredients, and while there was a nagging sort of voice telling me that I probably didn’t have enough sour cream to make it… I forged my way to the kitchen in spite of it. I began tearing at my fridge, and you know what I found? Well, you might call it 24 ounces of sealed sour cream but I call it PROVIDENCE.

And so: despite my good sense telling me that I had JUST been to the doctor the month before and had my weight taken and came to the knowledge that if I were but one teeny tiny inch shorter I would be, in very fact, overweight. And despite the fact that I’ve been busting meeee britches! to remedy that situation, and despite the fact that I knew my PMS would radically improve if I would drop the sugar business all together… my hands moved methodically.
They tied my apron on.
They stirred, they melted, they molded…
As the scent of made-from-scratch chocolate cake wafted through my house that was rapidly falling apart around my swollen knees, I stared at my computer screen and wondered if I was so ridiculous as to even CONSIDER making the frosting it called for:

Do you see that there is 555 PER SERVING?
I did. I even stared at it for about 10 full minutes, willing it to decrease. I began a destructive cycle, common among premenstrual females.
I told myself I could have the frosting.
I should have the frosting.
Just a few slices of cake spread out over a few days…
And I’d work out.
But think where’d I’d be if I went with a less fattening frosting and STILL worked out.
I deserve NOT to make that frosting!
I deserve to be healthy!
But I WANT the frosting.
You shouldn’t want the frosting.
Then I’m a horrible person.
You ARE a horrible person.
I FEEL like a horrible person.
I should have the frosting…

And so it went until I finally made an executive decision.

And oh sweet poison, if it wasn’t the BEST mistake I’ve ever made. The frosting tasted like softened fudge, and I absolutely slathered the cake in it. My children, enticed by the aroma, wandered into the kitchen and found me hovered over my double-layer cake, Quasi-style.
“Is that for me?” my daughter asked.
“No…” I said.
“Is for ME?” My son asked.
“This one is for Mom,” I said, “It’s my PMS cake.”
“Oh,” they pretended to understand.
“Can I have some of that PMS?” My daughter asked.
“Yes, and someday when you REALLY have some PMS I will make you your own big, fat chocolate cake.”
“Okay!” She cried out, ecstatic at the notion of growing up and having cake.

Word to the wise: this cake can not HAVE any other frosting. The cake itself is not overly sweet. The sweetness factor between the frosting and cake is absolute perfection. There can not be one without the other.

I stuck a fork in that slice, planted myself back on the tip top of mount couchette, streamed The Seven Year Itch and laughed by brains out. I realize not everyone gets up in hysterical goo over old movies like I do, but if you DO please watch that movie! I busted a gut just TELLING my husband about it who, when I was done, said something amazing like “Steve Sarver has totally ruined the Suns.”
Ours is a love like no other.

Thanks to my vooonderful PMS, I missed two days of work out (and took Sunday off as I normally do), and in addition to it all, I gobbled three slices of that cake over the course of three days. If you’re acquainted at all with my sweet tooth, you know that three slices in three days is the very picture of restraint for me. What’s more: I shoved the cake at anyone who happened to pass by. Coming by for piano lesson? Better eat cake.
And finally, to add glisten to my medal of honor, I phoned in a favor to a friend and had them come and TAKE the remainder of the cake.
Then, and ONLY then, did I finally “repin” the cake recipe.
I changed the title though. What was once Chocolate Sour Cream Cake is now PMS cake. How blissful was I when I saw a friend repin in (and not from me) as the PMS cake. I pray the name continues to stick as it is fully deserving.

In other news of “What in the World have I been doing while not blogging,” my husband got a hankering for whimsy and set up our gigantic camping tent in the living room so we could all have a slumber party. As he was setting up the tent, I was helping the girl with her nightgown.
“Are we going to sleep in the tent?” She asked.
“The FOUR of us? Me and you and Daddy and Trent?” She asked.
“Why don’t we have another baby?” She asked, all curiousness.
“Maybe we do,” I shrugged, “There’s always a chance there’s one in my belly! Do you think there’s one in there right now?” I asked, thinking fondly of friends who have told me that their older children have known about their pregnancies before they did. She gasped in glee, clutched my shirt, lifted it clean up, and examined me.
“Maybe!” She looked up at me, her eyes shining, “It’s kinda fat!”

Ohhhhh, deflate. At that moment, I regretted ever parting with the cake. But, remembering the 555 calories, I quickly recovered.

In other other news, the children broke the camera. It’s miracle it survived the 5 years that it did with my two children. I bear no ill will toward Sony, but I DO feel a sort of something that tells me my printer is about to die. And something else expensive.
Probably two expensive things.

And now that I’ve been up for just over three hours and gotten positively nothing done but 1.5 miles and a chapter of scripture read, I’m getting with it because I’ve got a house to clean today. I spent all of yesterday (cleaning day) in the city, and ended it by cooking up a ready made chicken alfredo dinner, courtesy of Sam’s Club. As I pulled it out of the oven and dished some up for my kiddies I dabbed a small bit of blood from the corner of my son’s nose where I had accidentally scratched him while trying to corral him into the house for dinner.
“Well, you’re dying,” I sighed.
“NO!” The girl cried, “He can’t DIE! That would be so sad and TRENT!” She turned to him, “That would be so sad and we would have to BURY you.”
“Not really,” I explained gently to her, “We just bury his body, that’s all.”
“Oh,” she nodded, “What do we do with his head?”

I was laughing so hard I couldn’t finish up what SHOULD have been a touching teaching moment. Maybe, just maybe, we watch a few too many crime television shows around here…

Boutique Day!

The day we’ve been waiting for has arrived! I’m so grateful my aunt invited me to sell some goodies at her boutique. Today I set up camp on her day bed and enjoyed the atmosphere of her home. I snapped some pictures before people started filing in the door -and file they did -so you can get a feel of what I’m talking about. ALSO, I MIGHT have snapped some pictures for the sole sake of pinning of them.
Okay I did.
You would too.

There’s a sheer apron on a dress form and a display of some of the greatest necklaces you’ve ever seen. Seriously, they’re amazing.
And to answer questions: use the sheer aprons to cook at your own risk. Remember: bacon splatters.

There’s my once-was Halloween costume. It was a dress, now it’s a vintage-style apron. It’s amazing what a little rick-rack can do! And take a look at that pearl necklace: it’s one popular item!
Printables, one free with every jewelry purchase.




Hanging on an old coat rack:

Bracelets, earrings, and so on and so forth…

Couldn’t you just DIE over those mini dress forms? Love, love them!

Hot pads, hearts and a cozy fire burning:

And of course, no boutique is complete without a little indulgence:

Tomorrow is the LAST day of the boutique, so make sure you stop by!

If I Die Before I Wake

A few weeks ago, I attended a funeral. It was for my grandmother’s sister -Aunt Sis, as we affectionately called her.

If you want to talk about living, REALLY living, you can talk about Aunt Sis. She always had life around her, and it seems surreal that she isn’t… here anymore. She’s always been here, you know. Then she had the audacity to up and leave.
For a few years now, we’ve known that Aunt Sis had cancer. Cancer is such an awful word. There’s so many words out there that might be absolutely darling if they didn’t have horrendous meanings attached to them. Syphilis, for example.
Anyway, I was grateful to be able to attend Aunt Sis’ funeral. The program was perfectly put together, the programs were LOVELY, and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed her funeral.
Then it dawned on me: it’s because she PLANNED it.

Earlier that week, I sat next to my Grandpa Hansen on a Sunday evening as he finished off a bowl of ice cream.
“Are you going to Frances’ funeral?” He asked.
“Oh yeah,” I nodded.
“I’ll be there. Playin’ the organ.” Grandpa has a wonderful way of pronouncing it “arr-gun” that I just adore.
“Oh yeah?”
“I saw her a while back. I didn’t know she had the cancer. She stopped me and asked me if I’d play the organ at her funeral. I says, ‘If you’ll sing at mine!’ because I thought she was making a joke. Then I saw her a while later and she asked me again. She didn’t look sick. I didn’t know… and then your Grandma G.G. called, said Frances had passed, you know.”
“Said she left a paper with a note written that I was supposed to play at her funeral.”

Grandpa and I had a good chuckle because that is just SO Sis.
And so he played, and I sat in the congregation and listened. I love to hear Grandpa play. There’s really something about his big fingers going over those keys.
–On a side note, a few weeks ago my mother and I were talking about music. I remarked that, if she promised not to tell any of piano students, I’d tell her a secret: I could hardly stand listening to piano renditions of basically anything. She only laughed and told me Grandpa Hansen was the same way. Oh, how I love Grandpa. He’s my bud. —

I’m getting off subject. But as long as I am:

And before we get back:

As I curled up in bed last night next to my favorite person in the entire world… we naturally began planning our funerals.
It's funny because it's true.
We want our funerals to come off as smoothly as Aunt Sis’ funeral did.
“At mine, I want two songs sung for sure. ‘Simple Gifts’ and ‘For the Beauty of the Earth.’ And if you can somehow make it happen, I want the youtube video of “The Lord’s Prayer” projected onto a big screen. Julianne can’t be asked to help do anything at the pulpit because she’ll cry and she’d hate that. Maybe you ought to ask Steven to handle the life sketch…”

I’ve always been attached to Simple Gifts. I happen to detest Allison Krauss, but it seems a combination of Yo-Yo Ma and Shaker lyrics can almost redeem her.

The song speaks volumes about my feelings. It’s a GIFT to be simple. It’s a GIFT to be FREE… ahhhhh. Perhaps when I’m dead, my children will belt those lyrics. “It’s a gift to be FREE!”
And then there’s For the Beauty of the Earth. Why do I love this song?

Gratitude. Gratitude is why I love it. There should be gratitude at my funeral. Har, har. Also: please don’t misinterpret my wanting “For the Beauty of the Earth” sung at my funeral to mean that I’m so arrogant as to presume my being buried in the earth MUST improve it’s beauty.
It would be a lovely thought, though. Plant me and watch flowers spring up!

I then asked my husband if he had any “switches”… something that got him instantly feeling the spirit when he needed to -even in the STARK middle of chaos. He said, “I dunno. Some songs, I guess.”
Ah, HA! Some songs! I then asked, “Why IS that? I mean, I know scientist have proved that music excites certain parts of our brain to react the way they do to music. Blah, blah, blah. I don’t want the scientific reason… I just want to know WHY, really WHY, music touches our souls the way it does. For that purpose, I’ll be glad to die. I somehow feel like being down here and being mortal is like a long drawn-out state of perpetual stupidity. When I die, I’ll KNOW things I can’t know here, and that will be so nice! That, and I’ll be able to finally see.”
My husband laughed because he knows JUST how blind I really am.
My husband also knows that I listen to this song at least once a day, and every day it takes me RIGHT to the peace I need.  It’s my switch.
I know I’ve posted this before, but please: if I die, see if there’s some way we can blast it at my funeral. There’s nothing I’d love more. Nothing at all.

The extent of my husband’s planning went something like this:
Me: What was that song you wanted sung at your funeral?
Him: I have no idea.
Me: YES! Yes, you do!
Him: I don’t think so.
Me: YEEEESSS because you TOLD ME you wanted it sung. What was it?
Him: Babe. I don’t know.
**I think I must be something of an irritation to my husband at times. Particularly when he’s trying to sleep and I’m prattling on about how stupid mortals can be.**
Me: It was a song. It’s your favorite, and you love it and one day it hit you hard and you told me about it and I fell asleep while you were telling me…
Him: I Need Thee Every Hour.

THEN he remembered! He’ll never forget my falling asleep in the middle of him sharing something special with me. And I’ll never forgive myself.

Me: That’s it. Okay. I’m going to write it down. I’m going to write mine down too because if you can’t even remember what you want for your own funeral, how are you supposed to remember everything I just told you?

Hence: a blog post titled “If I Die Before I Wake.”  All thanks to Aunt Sis.

May your pillow talk be just as sweet.

(**incidentally, facebook suggested I add Aunt Sis as a friend the day after I attended her funeral.  I had no idea she was on facebook, and of all the days facebook picks to suggest her?  Ah, the irony of social media…**)

Feasting on Lemons

As I’ve mentioned before, last year wasn’t my best. BUT I learned a whole heck of a lot. By far, one of the greatest things I learned was how futile whining can be, and BELIEVE ME I did my fair share. It isn’t like I didn’t already KNOW whining was a stupid thing to do, but it seems like we have to learn the same lessons over and over again. We’re human, after all, whether we like it or not.

In any case, I phoned a friend last summer and she listened patiently as I whined away. Even better though: I actually HEARD MYSELF whine away and that was horrid. I got off the phone, hated myself for a solid month and then I scooped myself up, put my big girl pants on and… ate my lemons.
You know what I mean.

The internet is abuzz with lemon quotes. When life gives you lemons…
make lemonade!
take them because hey, free lemons!

And on and on and on.
A little while back, my aunt posted my favorite rendition of the lemons quote on Pinterest. Here it is in jewelry form:

Now this MIGHT sound crazy to you, but I think about this quote all of the time.

You should know that I absolutely hate working out. I HATE it. My pants fit better, and I still HATE it! But I DO it because I NEED to. I absolutely need to. Vanity aside, my health requires me to work my body. I wake up in the morning and the first thing I do is say a prayer to help me eat my Jillian Michaels Lemon. or my P90X Yoga lemon.
I like the product.
The process? Bleck.

The same applies to my home. I’ve never been a stellar housekeeper, just as I’ve never been a stellar athlete. I don’t necessarily want the body of a stellar athlete, but I wouldn’t mind having the home of a stellar housekeeper, SO I work harder at housekeeping.

There’s a scripture in the Book of Mormon that tells us the Lord gives us weaknesses so that we may be strong. I love that scripture because when you read it you can practically HEAR the words shouting at you to get off your excuses and get to work.
“Eat them!” The words shout from the pages, “Eat the lemons and be DONE with them!”

A few years ago, my house was an utter. wreck.
It’s hardly a stretch to say I spent every waking minute either cleaning, thinking about cleaning, stressing about cleaning, or escaping into the media to avoid my housekeeping weaknesses.

You know the old saying, “If you don’t like where you are, change it”? Don’t you hate it when people say that to you? Like it’s the simplest thing in the world? Well, of course it is for THEM!
Oh, your pants don’t fit? Eat better! Go running! Just… change!

It’s true in theory, I know. But we all hate to hear it, particularly if the person saying it fits in their pants just fine. Again: we’re human.

I made very. slow. progress. as it pertains to housekeeping. I tried this and that. I worked harder, not smarter. But little by little, I became better. I changed.
Am I a good housekeeper now? Oh no. Not by a long shot, but am I a better housekeeper than I was 4 years ago? Yoooou betcha. Granted: I was sick, pregnant, and plastered to my couch 4 years ago, but hey. Don’t rain on my parade here.

I’m learning my limits. My strengths. My process. My routine. I’m learning what I need to stay sane, and I’m learning how to not only GET it but KEEP it.
I’m learning that having a clean house is LIFE CHANGING. It isn’t spotless, but it’s clean.  What’s more: it’s been deliriously satisfying to WORK HARD to improve.  I’m not satisfied while I work, but when I’m done? Oh, it’s like basking in Utopia.

Now: I clean on Mondays. I clean all day Monday. The past two Sundays have been cleanliness slaughter baths. I woke up yesterday morning and it took me thirty minutes to get the courage to GET OUT OF BED to face my very own home. You know what got me out? A little voice whispered to me, “If life give you lemons… just shut up and eat them.”
So I got up.
I worked out to Jillian Michaels.
I crawled back into bed and crocheted.
Then I got back up and cleaned my filthy, dirty, rotten house.
I wanted to text my husband and whine. I wanted to scream. I wanted to go back to bed and crochet some more, but if this last year has taught me anything, it’s that you have to do things you don’t want to do.
If you want the product, you have to endure the process.
You don’t have to enjoy it, mind you. Nevermind Mary Poppins’ spoonful of sugar, just down the medicine and be done with it.

Pinterest has been a great help to me in this area. A very great help indeedy.
I created a board I titled “A House of Order” to echo our family scripture, D&C 88:119.
CLICK HERE to see it.

Thanks to my board, my cleaning day goes by much faster. I don’t buy nearly as many cleaning products because I make my own, and my family life has improved significantly. The spirit is much stronger in my home, and THAT’S what I love most of all. I’d eat a bloomin’ crate of lemons to get that.

Today I’ll be sewing, something I enjoy doing. Because I used yesterday to clean, I’ll be able to get so much more done in the way of making aprons. Dinner will get on the table easier because my dishes are done. I’ll have the energy to stick next to my machine, thanks to P90X yoga. The house can take the mess of my fabrics because it’s ready for it.
It’s the product, people.
The product.
I enjoy the product.

The process can very well stuff it when I’m done with it. I could care less, so long as the product stays to play.

By the way, I found the above necklace on etsy.  It has since sold out, but HERE is the shop.


Waking Up

Last night I had THE most perfect dream. Every blessed once-in-a-while, I have dreams that read EXACTLY like a movie plot, and I’m not involved at all. Last night was one of those nights.
The past few nights, I haven’t been sleeping well. I’m a light sleeper -a natural byproduct of motherhood -and the past few nights have been noisy. I don’t need total silence to sleep… on the contrary, I actually sleep better with white noise, but once I’m out cold… any little cough, sneeze, sniffle, creak… and I’m up checking the kids’ breathing, making sure the doors and windows are locked, and getting a small drink.

It all caught up with me last night, and as I lay me down to sleep, I prayed the Lord to let me ACTUALLY sleep.
And I did.
For nearly an hour.
Then I was up with my daughter. She had spilled some water all over herself at midnight, which as you can imagine, was really uncomfortable for her.
After I had her situated and had checked that every household appliance was off… I went back to bed.

Aaaaaaand I dreamed. Of what? Of Margret. Margret was a college student circa 1965. She had a little money, and used it to take a hold of her freedom and go abroad to a place she’d dreamed of going all her life: Italy.
—It must here be noted that I’m DETERMINED to learn Italian, and I practice it with my daughter using a Learn Italian App on my phone. We’re getting very good. And by “very good” I mean… we can say “thank you” and “you’re welcome” back and forth all the live long day. Can you do that? Grazie. Prego.—

Margret only had enough money for a plane ticket OVER to Italy… not enough to fly home, but her independent spirit reigned the day. She flew over and took what little money she had left to feed herself and find a humble bed for the night. The next day, she set out to do what she’d dreamed of doing for YEARS:
PAINT. In Italy.
So she did. She gave little care to the world around her, and she painted. She had no idea that a local was watching her -a local MAN, of course. He tried to introduce himself, but he had a hard time seeing as how Margret’s Italian was even worse than broken. He was able to convey to her that his name was Roberto. She was able to convey to him that her name was Margret. He took her under his wing and introduced her to his mother, taught her the Italian word for “ice cream” and in due time (which is to say somewhere between the hours of 12 midnight and 4 am) Margret fell in love. She knew her Italian vacation was going to end soon, and she tried not to think about it.
But the day finally came. She dreaded it. Roberto dreaded it. They never spoke of it until they day they spent together picnicking by a lake. Even then, it wasn’t outright mentioned. Margret just started sobbing in a very brokenhearted manner, and Roberto UNDERSTOOD EXACTLY why she was crying without her having to SAY anything.
Because it’s a dream, right?
Her picked her up.
(It’s a dream)
And walked back to his home where he lived with his mother who was also 100% in love with adorably, artsy Margret.
Margret realized then what she’d suspected but I knew all along: she was in love.
“Is it possible?” She asked Roberto, as silent tears slid down her perfect face.
He didn’t answer. I’d LIKE to say it was because he was touched, but I’m more or less certain it was because he had no flipping idea what she’d just said.
I mean really: she’d only known Roberto for a small time. They didn’t even SPEAK the same LANGUAGE. Was it possible?
Once back home, Roberto’s mother was busy talking to the house help about how she wouldn’t be needed. Incidentally, I understood everything they were saying because my brain was the author of the dream. She told her she wouldn’t be needed anymore because her son Roberto was destined to marry the American Margret and that the only help that they would need would be The Mama.
As Roberto, The Mama, Margret, and The Lady Helper Girl sat in the kitchen together, they didn’t say much. They all knew Margret was hours from leaving them for good.
Roberto abruptly got up and left.
The Mama took Margret’s hands in her own, and they shared a tearful moment.
After a time, Roberto came back. He was riding a bicycle and carrying a small white box. What was in the box? A set of designer painting brushes (and, thanks to my brain, a random crochet hook). Roberto jumped from his bike, neverminding that it crashed into the side of the family barn, and with shaking hands pried open the white box. He pulled the brushes out, haphazardly arranged them in the shape of a bouquet, ran his fingers through his thick, dark hair and walked back into his kitchen.
Without a word, because even if he HAD spoken it wouldn’t have mattered, he got down on one knee by Margret’s side. She was stunned. She was afraid. She knew she had to be crazy to accept his proposal.
But she knew, deep down, that she’d be even MORE crazy to refuse. So she embraced him, and I assume they went on to have a lovely wedding with a large Italian reception where they served (what else?) ice cream to their guests.
I wouldn’t actually know since I was roused from my picturely perfect lush Italian dream where romance blossomed with every ticking minute… by my husband’s snoring.

Talk about OUCH!

I mean: don’t get me wrong. My husband is amazing, but to be roused out of such a perfect story by SNORING?! Damper!

So I did what I’ve done at least 6 times before, I got out of bed and I wrote my story down as quickly as I could so I wouldn’t forget it, and then I went back to bed. I was disappointed. We never want a good story to end: but this was especially awful on account of their being absolutely gone. Forever. At least when The Princess Bride is over I know I can pop it in on any given Tuesday and revisit it again.
But Robert and Margret? And The Mama? They’re gone. So I went to bed with a mixture of a heavy heart and a euphoric feeling -the kind that sweeps you over when the boy gets the girl.

It reminded me of church yesterday. It was my turn to do Sharing Time with the kids, and I spoke to them about their Heavenly Father. We talked about trusting in him because he is the SMARTEST. He knows more than we do which is why he asked Noah to build the ark and why he gave Sister Deets a baby boy when she thought she didn’t want one.
Heavenly Father knew what was best.
“I’m going to tell you a secret,” I said, leaning down into the microphone, “Are you listening?”
The kids nodded.
“You have people in your lives right now that love you. You will have more people in your lives when you get older that will love you. You will love them too, but you know what? They won’t mean to, but they’ll disappoint you. They might hurt you and they’ll let you down from time to time. But guess what? Heavenly Father NEVER will. You can rely on him because he is the smartest, he loves you, and he will never, ever, ever let you down.”
I poured my heart into my testimony, sharing my very soul with those kids. When I finished, a little girl in the front row raised her hand.
“Yes, Kellie?” The little girl pulled her top lip to the left and her bottom lip to the right.
“When I do THIS,” she said leaning forward so I could see, “I look like an elephant.”

I just had to laugh.
And just like my husband’s snoring that brought me back to earth, Kellie’s elephant lips pulled me right back as well.

In the meantime, I’ll have to immortalize Margret’s story so I can pick it up and read it whenever earth gets too… real. That means I’ve got to work beyond Grazie and Prego.