Thursday, March 29, 2012

controversy yet again

First it was snakes last week. Now, I guess someone has issues with religious tolerance.

Out of over 500 views to my blog yesterday, and out of the two comments expressed (which is the case most days, and is really weird if you ask me), a person going by "Anonymous"- left me this note:

"Oh my. It looks like I won't be visiting this blog anymore."

I deleted that comment on a whim because it hurt. I know I shouldn't let things bother me like that, knowing that if you put your thoughts out to the world, someone out there is going to take offense with just about anything. It's been suggested that if I blog publicly, it might be a good idea to get more "thick skinned", if you will. I guess I'm a sensitive soul. I feel things deeply. I never want to offend, and like I've expressed before, I want this space to be welcoming to all.

For "Anonymous'" sake, and for others out there who might have gotten a bad taste in their mouth about me or my son, I feel I must set the record straight. From that comment, this person, perhaps, has negative feelings about the religion of Islam or Arab culture. Maybe it's the fact that I indicated that we are Mormon. I don't know. It's baffling. I know that bias towards my own religion is real, yes, even in this very public arena of American politics.

I want to make it unequivocally clear that because my son expressed his increased respect and understanding of Islam, that in no way does it mean that he or I condone the despicable acts of violence of the 9/11 tragedy or any other forms of terrorism or oppression in the guise of this religion. Maybe some of you will remember the feelings I shared last year on the anniversary of that terrible day.

Yes, terrible things are done in the name of religion. There are wicked, vile people who use religion to justify their abominable acts. Gary, as well as the native Arabic instructors he's been fortunate to have in his university studies will be the first to admit that there are definitely problems associated with Islam and there are interpretations of doctrine that are flat out wrong or otherwise controversial to peaceful, law abiding, and God-seeking people (Including most of the worlds Muslims).

I believe there are decent people in any religion and that there are elements of truth in all religions; men and women inspired to do good, preach good, and bring people and nations to a higher level of good. I also believe that there are extremists who'll prey on the persuasive power of faith as a means to rally people around unjust and even violent causes for political, monetary, or personal gain.

I've always wanted my children to learn tolerance; to see the good in people different from our culture and religion. For three years in my youth, I was blessed to live in the wonderful nation of Portugal. There, I attended an American International school with children from all over the world. My understanding and respect for other cultures and religions laid a foundation for my life. My friendships with Catholics, Muslims, Evangelical Christians and others enriched my life in more ways than I can count. I'll forever be grateful for that experience. I always wanted that gift for my own children. How interesting it is to see my two college age children now interested in, open to, and hearts grown to love the Arab and Chinese speaking peoples of the world.

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I can honestly say that I know what it feels like to have others doubt my own Christianity. Yes, I've felt a little bit of religious prejudice in my own life. I can see it in in American society. How unfortunate. Like I've stated, I believe any intolerance is fear based.  (Like my relationship with the snakes in my yard that I fear and have even killed!) When we don't truly take the time to understand, see, or become educated, yes, it's easy to wrongly judge or form biased, uninformed opions.

I think if you say you are a Christian, you put your money where your mouth is.

Love thine enemies. Do good. Be good.

Let me tell you a little more about Gary. Just because he loves Muslims does not infer that he is anti-American or anti-Israel, nor that his Christian beliefs and devotion are questioned. He is one of the few in his university program to hold a pro-Israeli viewpoint and is one of the most politically conservative people I know. During his high school years, he volunteered for three years interning with a very conservative citizen lobbying group. He became a state delegate to the state Republican convention when he was only 18 years old. I think this shows that whatever your political leanings, be they right or left of center, you can maintain a firm commitment to your ideology and principles and still love your neighbor.

And speaking of his Christianity, he sacrificed two years working full time in order save $11,000 that will all go toward two years of unpaid voluntary missionary service in Finland.  (He leaves on April 25th.) In the prime of his life he will leave behind his car (payed for by himself), his education, his pursuit of all other interests and goals, and his love, all to be able to help spread the good news of Christ's gospel.

I couldn't be more proud of this son.

Imagine a world where others, like my son Gary, see the good in their Muslim friends, Mormon friends, or any friends for that matter, despite inherent religious or philosophical differences. I believe if more people had this tolerance and good will, there would be peace on earth. Isn't that what we all want?

Just for clarification, I respect any who respectfully, kindly, and peacefully disagree with me. I reserve the right to delete any comments that are rude or otherwise offensive to me. I reserve the right to turn off comments if I feel like it. (Like I will do today. If you really want to share something with me, I'm always reached by email.) I reserve the right to not only write about "softies" or fluff like homemaking or tree blossoms, but also parts of who and what I am on a deeper level.

Peace out.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Learn to Speak the Language (an essay in religious tolerance)

(all photos credited to Gary)

As part of my son Gary's Islamic Humanities class at Brigham Young University (a private university, owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, sometimes referred to as "Mormons"), he wrote this paper yesterday and asked if I'd proof read it. I found so much truth in what he had to say. It not only speaks of his journey towards understanding and respect for Muslims, but I think it could be applied to a much broader idea of tolerance for any religion, philosophy, or culture different from our own. Fear, I believe, is the root to all prejudice, bias, discrimination, or bigotry.

Last year while walking down Park City’s Main Street, I overheard a family talking in Arabic. When I chimed in to say hello and “Happy Ramadan”, they were a little shocked to hear a blond haired white boy speaking Arabic, but we proceeded to have a great conversation. They were visiting from Saudi Arabia and I felt that my conversation with them made their trip here a little more welcoming than it would have been otherwise.

If I hadn’t taken the time to gain fluency in the language of Arabic, that positive interaction I had with the Saudi family obviously never would have occurred. The language I overheard would have seemed bizarre and out of place. Similarly, those who encounter Islam without taking the time to develop a “fluency” in the proverbial language of the religion may be turned off by how strange some of its characteristics might seem. Those who make no effort to develop an understanding will prevent themselves from enjoying the wonderful experiences and lessons that Islam can offer.

As I compare my recent trip to the Khadeeja Islamic Center with the first time I visited a mosque, I can see how far I’ve come in my understanding of Islam. After living in the Middle East, I gained a cultural context and deep appreciation for Islam and its believers. This enabled me to enjoy this visit without distractions of fear and uncertainty. I experienced the value of what was beneath; the wonderful sense of brotherhood and love among the worshipers and the edifying message of the sermon which was quite applicable even in my own belief system.

The first time I ever went to a mosque was during my first semester at BYU as I was starting my Arabic studies. I had taken a Religion of Islam course in high school, but still approached the faith with heavy skepticism, unable to separate it from some serious political baggage in the aftermath of 9/11 and the Second Intifada. The idea of going to Friday prayer was fascinating and exciting to me, but I didn’t know how to interact with Muslims in a wholehearted way without feeling like I was giving complete tacit consent to an anti-America, anti-Israel, Hamas-sympathizing ideology.

This discomfort made me feel quite torn as I observed the prayer service. I was so intrigued and interested yet very critical of this way of worship. The tones of the Qur’anic recitations came over me with an eerie vibe and the drone-like unison of what seemed like haunting ameens during salat were discomforting. My familiarity with worship services was cut from a very different cloth and in contrast these rows and rows of chanting, prostrating, robe and turban-clad men seemed rather cult-like.

Looking back I realize that I wasn’t necessarily trying to interpret their faith and ways of worship negatively. I simply did not have the cultural literacy and context that I needed to be able to appreciate the Islamic take on spirituality in positive light. Without the materials to draw parallels to my own worldview, my first visit to a mosque was like trying to make sense of a foreign language. It was bizarre, incomprehensible, and frustrating. However, despite my inability to understand the experience and the uneasy feeling that it brought, something left me loving it and wanting more.

During the course of my study abroad in Jordan a few months after that first mosque visit, I gained a great deal of the cultural literacy that I had been missing. Rather than looking to American media and politicians as a source of information on Islam, I went to Muslims themselves. I awoke to their prayer call, ate in their homes, partook of their hospitality, danced to their music, listened to their religious and political convictions, observed their charity, and developed a taste for their art. I was able to experience Muslims in their element.

Just as learning the Arabic language opened doors for great relations with Arabs, my increased cultural awareness of the Islamic worldview gave me a beautiful context which put to rest all the uneasiness that came up in my first mosque visit. My recent trip to the Khadeeja Islamic Center was my first time back in a mosque since returning from Jordan and also my first time attending a salat service since that first semester at BYU. It was delightful how much the familiarity with and appreciation for the religious culture and community removed the obstacles that made the initial visit such a strange and unfamiliar journey. This time, without having to navigate through the uncertainty, I was able to fully experience what was at the heart of the mosque’s Friday prayer.

An aspect of the trip I was able to most appreciate was the warm sense of community and brotherhood at the mosque. Perhaps this was more apparent to me because this time I felt more a part of that community rather than an outsider observing a closed group. My favorite example of this warmth was found in an old African man. He had a wide smile, lively eyes, and a whole lot of pep in his elderly step. As everyone was gathering for prayer, he went around row by row offering each and every brother a dab from a sweet smelling roll-on perfume stick. This gesture was much more informal than ritualistic. The cheer with which he did this small service brought an uplifting feeling of kindness and welcoming. There was a joy in gathering together in religious activity to worship God. This is something that I admire about the Islamic community and feel is unfortunately fading in general American culture. I was impressed with a sense of coming together under God in an act loving communion with both neighbor and Diety.

On a more theological level, something that I was able to benefit from during this visit on a much greater level compared to my first visit was the khutba or sermon. During my first visit I had all but shut out everything the imam was saying, but this time I not only drew many parallels to my own faith, but also truly benefited from the imam’s words and received edification to my devotion to God. The imam spoke on developing a stronger commitment to mosque and prayer attendance. He placed heavy focus on the blessings and protections that come from committed devotion to following God’s will in the face of inconvenience, specifically in observance of prayer.

As the imam spoke about the great benefits and growth that come in doing hard things in submission to God, I couldn’t help but smile because this very theme has been pivotal in my own spiritual development over the past year. As I have redoubled my commitment to prayer, there have been countless times when the small sacrifice to kneel for ten minutes before bed in spite of exhaustion has yielded great blessings. The khutba’s topic brought to mind President Eyring’s priesthood session address of last October’s General Conference on stretching oneself beyond normal capacity in priesthood service to our Father in Heaven. I was glad I was able to look past the message’s strange container of a Saudi in robes and a shemagh going back and forth between broken English and Arabic and find the truth and relevance in the message itself. These Muslims are God’s children trying, as I am, to lead better lives and become more like Him.

My experience at the mosque this time around served as an indicator for the great developments that I have made in my relationship with Islam since beginning my studies at BYU. I now feel, in a way, part of the Islamic community and would much sooner be inclined to defend it and its members than to question and criticize it as would have been the case three years ago. The previously unfamiliar smells, sounds, clothing, and language of my visit to the mosque had now become nostalgic reminders of a place and people that I love and miss, rather than being barriers that distracted from the goodness of the experience.

As I talk with family and friends about Islam, I ask them to try to give Islam a second chance as I have. If at first it feels uncomfortable, approach Islam as you would approach learning a new language. Realize its comprehension requires study, experience, a willingness to learn, and development over time. Just as fluency is better obtained by constant conversation with native speakers rather than foreign speakers, the best understanding of Islam will come through interactions with Muslims and their culture rather than outside commentators. My choice to take this path has led me to an increased love for all of God’s children and has opened doors to profound cultural and religious enrichment in my life as my respect and admiration for Islam has deepened.

Monday, March 26, 2012

cozy inside

I was amazed this morning at how dark it was. Those low black clouds looked something ominous. As soon as breakfast was over, lunches made, and sending them all off, I honestly felt like crawling back into bed.

But I didn't.

The bed was already made.

Needless to say I didn't have it in me to face my Monday morning run.

I guess this changeable weather is typical of the season. One minute the sun is shining, and the next thing you know, it's blustery and snowing out. That's how today's been- even had to turn on the fireplace to warm up a little. I guess we'll see if March goes out like lamb or a lion. Isaac reminded me of this just a minute ago.

Some days I like the quiet and some days it gets to me. Now that Gary's quit his job, he's home most mornings. Today, he listened and followed along with some church sermons in Finnish. I was doing my own thing with my reading and dish washing duty. Why do I always get left with the big pans no one wants to tackle from dinner(s) the night(s) before?

I did go out later this morning. Someone took/stole Sam's school uniform tie a couple of weeks ago when he took it off in the gym shooting baskets. One minute it was on the floor by his backpack, the next minute, gone. Whoever heard of a tie being stolen? No sign of it in the lost and found, either. I guess they are a hot commodity at his school. I guess it could be worse.

Anyway, I saved the day for Sam and picked up a new one to drop off at the front office. Next to that amazingly long line of McDonald's sacks brought in because someone forgot or needed a lunch.

The weather's calmed down a bit since this morning and the kids are out riding their bikes. I've got my apron on. The baked beans are cooking away in the oven for dinner.

Nice and cozy here.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


I love spring.
I think I adore spring.

So much beauty.
Drinking it all in.
Filling my soul.

I spent most of yesterday working in the yard. First time really getting out doing this kind of stuff since the fall. It did me good.

The perfect temperatures, this abundant beauty, the satisfaction that comes from good, hard work- all of it my reward.

All of this, despite the blisters on my hands formed from raking piles and piles of leftover autumn leaves, the scratches on my arms from pruning close to fifteen rose bushes (and there's still more), my nose sniffling and sneezing from all this pollen that fills the air, the snakes that I let slither away. (Ha!)

I've still got tons more to get to. And the garden to weed, till, and plant. (Big sigh, here.)

Incidentally, Eliza, the brazen and fearless animal lover, I'm proud to say, picked up two snakes Friday next to the front door within an hour's time (another one got away)- with her bare hands, rescuing them away from her mother's fear and sight.

I have a big yard. A half an acre with a lot of landscaping. (Bless the previous owners hearts.) I've loved having all this space. Having enough roses, peonies, and flowering branches-to my heart's content- for cutting and bringing inside. The huge garden space and the fruit trees have been a blessing. Huge areas of lawn for games of all sorts.

But with it all comes a lot of work. A lot of work. I'm finding myself becoming more and more overwhelmed with it all. I can see my work force dwindling. Wishing that I can feel a little more freedom with its demanding upkeep. Especially on our Saturdays. With it and the housework and all of us at home, I wish we weren't so tied down and could have more adventures, outings, and fun times.

Work is good. I'm glad for it. And I believe it is a blessing to my children. But I think one of these days, a downsize to a smaller, simpler yard might be what's needed.

Today, I've taken it easy. Keith made dinner and I'm still in my nightgown. It's been a restful, quiet kind of day.

Since that other (dreadful) day, it's been on my mind  how much each of your sweet, generous, and supportive words meant to me, friends. Each of your comments, Facebook notes, and emails were balm to my soul. Enough to not only fill my eyes with tears, but Keith's as well. And I really, really wanted you (and you and you and you...) to know that.

I thank you for being here and for seeing the good in me.


P.S. Doesn't Eliza take such lovely pictures?
Thanks, honey, for letting me share them today.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Nurturing Creativity

Do you see yourself as a creative person?
Do you wish you had time or a means to facilitate creativity in your life?
Do you feel a lack of joy, inspiration, or fulfillment in the demands and rigors of everyday living?

I'm so pleased to bring you this resource in your quest for a more creative and fulfilling life. My friend Renee from the inspiring blog FIMBY has just recently released a new ebook called Nurturing Creativity: A Guide For Busy Moms. At $3 a pop, it's affordable for any budget. Within it's pages, you'll find varied and helpful topics including: the need for a creative life, fitting creativity in our busy lives, filling our creative wells, letting go of perfection.

I just love Renee. I love her energy, zeal, and enthusiasm for life. We were so happy and honored to host her and her husband Damien here in our home last summer when they came out west to attend the Outdoor Retail Expo. A mother of three beautiful, creative, and talented homeschooled children, a soap maker, a lover of nature and adventure, a gifted writer and photographer- her words will lift you up and encourage you to soar to your creative potential; to new heights. She's the real deal!

I can't recommend this 50 page book enough. You can find Renee's book here or over at Amazon.

This book has brought a lot of creativity feelings to the surface. If you'll indulge me, I'd like to share some of my thoughts with you.

This seed of creativity is something I believe we all have within us. It's a concept I've always felt strongly about. I believe we are literal spirit children of a loving God; our Father, the divine Creator. And as His sons and daughters, we are each inherently endowed with this eternal trait and characteristic.

But this gift comes with a price.

We have to do the seeking. We have to water, feed, and nourish that seed within us. 

As a woman, as a descendant daughter of our first Mother Eve, I am allowed to participate in her role as "Mother of all Living". I represent, create, and sustain life. Creativity is the soul of motherhood.

My own creative journey starts with those who've come before me. I've been blessed to have wonderful grandparents and parents who've joyfully modeled what it means to live a life of creativity. And through their examples, I've seen how creativity can come in a myriad of forms. How it takes a lifetime to develop these gifts and talents.

Grandpa Ellis's creativity was displayed through his beautiful vegetable garden. That black, rich soil he was so proud of and created out of his own hands and heart. Papa Reno found creativity through writing his life story and through oral storytelling, inspired from his Louisiana boyhood. A treasure passed down through generations.

Grandma Fay and Momo were gifted quilters, producing and gifting quilts for new babies, graduations, and marriages. They each had the gift of hospitality and could cook up comforting and delicious meals without blinking an eye. In her later years, Grandma Fay found creative joy in ways too numerous to count. Lapidary work, jewelry making, ceramics, learning how to play the organ, her prized jams and jellies to name just a few. All of these, as well as her love of learning, I believe,  kept her living a long and healthy life.

My father has found creative expression through his journal keeping. He has kept a record every day of his life since the mid- fifties. Watercolor and oil painting have been a source of immense joy and fulfillment.

I've always appreciated the creative mentoring my own mother has given me. Over the years, she's found ways to let her creative genius shine. In fact, I can't think of a person that is so well rounded creatively. I've loved seeing her find an interest in something by taking community education courses or developing her skills through consistent practice. She is a model homemaker. A master cook and baker. She's also graced our lives with her calligraphy, cross-stitch, oil and tole painting, flower arrangements, the lovely sound of her piano playing (mostly self taught and now passing on this gift to some very fortunate grandchildren), homemade toys, handmade clothing (complete matching wardrobes for all five daughters), doll making, her beautiful gardens, coveted jewelry, and welcomed hand knits. What a blessing her creative gifts have been for her own happiness, but to so many others.

My own creative journey has brought me so much satisfaction and happiness. It began with singing my little heart out as a child, then through my visual art work in the years of my teen and young adulthood.  And now over the last 20 years as I've become an adult, I've found joy through so many avenues:
I share this full and comprehensive list with you not to draw attention to my own accomplishments, but simply as a way to show that our lives can be so full. That our interests and talents can be so varied and unique. Life can be so exciting, rich, and rewarding. There are so many possibilities out there right within our grasp. There are some items on this list that I never thought would not only interest me, but actually become things that I could do well. You just never know what's in store for you creatively, if given a chance.

So go for it. Intuitively listen and seek for your creative spark.

And you'll fly.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

On pain, On compassion, On authenticity

You don't know the hurt
when a stranger
accuses you 
of not being a compassionate person.
Saying that she was "duped";
a person portrayed as something
different than the person she really is.
This stranger empowered by the mask of anonymity,
who cuts you to the very core.
Paralyzing pain
enough to put you to bed.

Whose judgement doesn't see the broader picture of who you are.
The desires of your heart.
When all you've ever wanted
is to be a kind person.
A loving person. 
The hidden, the countless
unseen acts of what this word
truly means.

How could she know
of services rendered,
seen and unseen.
This love in her heart
made manifest
to those immediate under her own roof,
to broader family circles,
to beloved friends,
to neighbors all around
to strangers who come in her path,
and yes, even to the animals in her care.

Love, pure charity
the motive.
her reward.

This stranger who doesn't know
of the inward
raging battle,
so much more pronounced these last few weeks,
for a sense of her own
self worth.
Her value.
Her place in the world.
If what she does

And the lifelong struggle it's been
for acceptance,
for approval,
the need to be loved.

Her desire to be authentic;
trying to find the balance, 
that fragile place
between the images she captures
of peace,
of beauty,
of inspiration
sometimes all of it coming across mistakenly as
a perfect life.

And then there's that other theme:
Much of it
the unseen and unmentionable
of what it means to be human,
and all that comes with it;
The weaknesses, 
the faults,
and frailties.
The growth,
the change.

There's vulnerability in this thing;
the personal portrait you share
opening your heart up raw to the world
and the all too often
painful feeling
like no one could care less.

But she has a story to tell,
a purpose,
(when it all comes down to it)
and she knows that through it all
she'll continue to stretch, 
and seek,
and learn,
and share,
and discover.

Come what may.

Monday, March 19, 2012

an apology about that snake post

You know, that snake post on Friday never sat well with me. It's been hanging over my head; kind of a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach ever since then. I felt like it was portraying me as a pretty heartless person. A person who delights in killing or violence. If you know me and as I know myself, I am not that kind of person. Far from it. Yes, I do have a fear of snakes. They do infest my yard and it would be my desire that they weren't around. That is something I'm trying to deal with. However, it makes me feel bad if what I said about my delight in getting rid of these creatures by killing them would be offensive to anyone of you all. Reading what I wrote those three years ago, especially now, seems pretty cruel and uncompassionate.

I want this space to be one where people find peace and beauty. That post did not coincide with that intention and desire.

Specifically, Stephanie (if you ever do make your way back here) I extend my sincere, heart felt apology. I feel better, even if you hadn't written the comment you left this morning, by deleting that thoughtless, offensive, and disturbing post.

So very sorry.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

these scouts crack me up... and a peanut butter popcorn recipe you'll love

Thursday afternoon is cub scout den meeting.

When I was asked to fill this position as den leader, I honestly had to take a deep breath and "buck up", if you know what I mean. I'd done this gig before. I wasn't sure if the enthusiasm was still there.

Well, last week and today I feel like the fire is back.

I've decided that I love boys.
I love their energy and enthusiasm.

I get boys.
I think I know how to relate to them.
Maybe more than girls.

I get a feeling that they like me and can sense that I like them. That's important.

I just have to share a few bits of conversation I had with a scout named C_____, as we were all walking around the neighborhood, dropping off bags for Scouting for Food (in conjunction with the local Food Bank). I've noticed that this one especially likes staying by my side. Out of the blue he says:

"Do you have any brothers (he's one of five boys) in your family?"

"Yes, I have two younger brothers."

His query, "Were they a pain in the keister?"

I laughed (once I registered what he was saying. It took me a while.)  and told him how one of my brothers about his age of seven or eight, took banana peels and "ice skated" all over my mom's clean kitchen floor. A real stinker thing to do, I told him.

(Long pause here.)

"I'm basically the peacemaker in my family", was his thoughtful reply.

"I'm sure your mom really appreciates that about you." I answered.

A few minutes later as we were finished and walking back to my house, M_____ loses his tooth while eating his baggie of peanut butter popcorn and C_____ nonchalantly looks up to me, hardly any expression on his face, stating:

"Once I lost a tooth and found it later in my digestive system".

This kid is so busting me up.

Before I leave you now and head over to caucus meeting- I take my citizen duties seriously- I'll leave you with a little recipe. An all time favorite with my family. And apparently with the scouts now, too.

(They tell me I make good stuff. Really good stuff.)

Peanut Butter Popcorn

10-12 cups popped popcorn
1 cup sugar (any kind will do)
1 cup honey, agave, or corn syrup
1 cup peanut butter
1 t. vanilla

In a saucepan, combine sugar and liquid sweetener. Stir constantly and bring to a boil over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Pour over popcorn and stir well. (I like to pour this onto a cookie sheet and let it set up a little.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

ABCs of Me

Running a blank as far as blogging inspiration goes these days. Here's some food for thought if you think you want to know a little more about me...

My favorite breakfast of late: a cup Ezekial 4:9 cereal with half a frozen banana, blueberries, strawberries, grapefruit, chia seeds, almond milk. Wow.
Age- 41

B- Best Feature: well...let's see...I guess I have nice teeth. Hardly have had any cavities or any orthodontic apparatus.

C- Could do without: a cell phone, rude people, fighting and demanding children. (Go here to read more.)

D- Drink of choice: water, but no ice please. (I know that's weird.)

E- Essential items: music, Internet, books.

F- Favorite flower: tulips, peonies, roses, zinnias (all of them pale pink), lavender.

G- Good at: multi-tasking, working hard, doing something that I set my mind to or say I'll do, teaching, caring for, and helping others.

H- Have never tried: snow skiing (can you believe it, me living in Utah and all), calamari, scuba diving.

I- If I had a million dollars: pay off some debts, enough money for kid's missions and college, pay off the house and cars (like a new car for me. I think I'm ready for an update from the 10+ year old, chipping off paint mom-van), go on a whirl- wind European tour/trip, be able to help out my family and others or causes I feel strongly about, maid and yard service, funding my own education.

J- Junkie for: stealing my kids Reese's Peanut Butter Cups from their Halloween bags. Red licorice.

K- Kind of car you'd like parked in your driveway: Jaguar sedan (any model), Volvo station wagon, got my eye on the Honda Pilot.
L- Little known fact: my dad used to sing a song to me called "You're Some Ugly Child". (Go here to read more little knowns about me.)

M- Most memorable moment: the births of my children, the glory of completing my marathon.

N- Nickname: Em (by those close to me, although I love it when anyone I know feels comfortable, friendly enough calling me by that name, like my neighbor Jeff down the street. Gives me a little thrill, if you really want to know.), Auntie Em (high school basketball team)

O- Occasional indulgence: taking myself out to lunch, getting a massage, begging for a head rub from one of my kids.

P- Phobias and Fears: snakes popping out when I'm not expecting it, haunted houses, advanced math, something terrible happening to my kids. I used to be afraid of driving on the freeway. Doing a twirl on the monkey bars scared me as a kid and would still scare me today!

Q- Quote: "Every day look at a beautiful picture, read a beautiful poem, listen to some beautiful music, and if possible, say some reasonable thing." ~Goethe

R- Reason to smile or laugh out loud: when someone says something funny or if I read something funny. When someone does something or says something nice or unexpected to me. It makes my day.

S- Sorry about: being judgmental at times, yelling at my kids, being impatient, my poor posture, that I didn't complete my college degree.

T- Tastes: thoughtful, communicative, humble, warm, kind, quiet, fun, intellectual, Lands' End, natural-earthy-granola.

U- Uninterested: cutesy, NASCAR, professional sports, laundry.

V- Vegetable I hate: beets, canned peas, those baby corn things at the salad bar.

W- Worst habit: I used to bite my fingernails, but broke that habit a while ago. Now, I wake up too early, procrastinate often, and lose my temper.

X- X marks my ideal vacation spot: First choice would be the United Kingdom, second would be Italy, third would be Germany and Austria, fourth Japan, China, or a romp around southeast Asia.

Y- Your favorite childhood toy: "Green Machine" Big Wheel, Evil Knievel stunt wind-up thing that would take off across the floor and even jump over hills that I'd make with rugs, my Indian Man GI Joe.

Z- Zoo animal: monkeys

Sunday, March 11, 2012

thoughts on a sunday morn

Do all the good that you can.
By all the means that you can.
In all the ways that you can.
In all the places you can.
To all the people you can.
As long as ever you can.

~John Wesley

Saturday, March 10, 2012

friday night blue house style

Everyone home last night.
All of us in the mood for cooking and good eats.
Ethnic food is where it's at.
Jane and I get busy with the sushi.
She wows us with her off- the- cuff stir fry sauce.
Gary and Ivana partner up with their Indian delicacies. 
It totally smells like the Bombay House in here.
(Knocking me out.)
Meanwhile, the Playmobile takes over the living room.
 Friday night entertainment.  

Friday, March 9, 2012

right now

Before My Eyes: bloom beauty

Eating: continual sliver slices (somehow, I feel better about this habit than slicing myself off a normal serving) off the pan of peanut butter granola bars made for the cub scouts yesterday. Pina colada smoothie, too, for breakfast. Yum-o.

Listening: Coldplay Charlie Brown

Finding My Bliss: running this morning with my face toward the warming, radiant sun. Ahhh...

Guilty Pleasure: marathon Downton Abbey viewing a few days this week. Lovely, and can't wait for season 3.

Out and About: spent the day yesterday shopping and out to lunch with Gary. Helping him get all geared up for when he heads out on his mission next month.  On my shopping outing today, I'll pick up his two year supply of vitamin D. A requirement for those the dark winter days in Finland. Tomorrow morning, we'll meet with a woman in our town whose son is currently serving there right now. This visit, I'm sure, will be very helpful to us.

Remembering: our Nana, whose sudden and unexpected passing two years ago tomorrow still leaves my heart with longing and loss.

Touched: To hear my neighbor tell me last night as we were visiting at a church women's function how much she appreciates how I never make her feel judged, self conscious, or embarrassed by her weight issue. That in my presence she can feel totally comfortable, at peace, and loved with the person that she is.

Joy Bringer: to receive an email the other day from Shambhala publishing requesting me to review their forthcoming book: The Essential Herbal for Natural Health: How to Transform Easy-To-Find Herbs into Healing Remedies for the Whole Family. Thinking that my Dr. Mom To the Rescue series I posted last September now popularized on Pinterest probably was the avenue by which they found me. Grateful for them sending me this very interesting (and free) book to add to my herbal library, as well as the little ego boost it's given me. I'll let you know my thoughts about this book when it comes.

Glad: that I get to go pick up Jane later this afternoon to spend the night here. It's been awhile since she's come home.

Wearing: magenta peasant blouse, black cords, black ballet slip- ons

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ageless Woman?

Was totally wowed this morning when I saw this news clip interview  featuring an incredibly vibrant and beautiful 70 year old woman who eats a diet of raw plant foods. Unbelievable, but not really when I can see for myself the benefits of incorporating more raw fruits and vegetables into my eating.

More and more I think it's possible to slow down and even reverse the aging process with our food choices- not just in our appearance- but in the quality of our lives. The more important of the two in my view.

Thought it was worth sharing with you all.

Monday, March 5, 2012

21 years

a man now

but still,
my child

and charity

my greatest teacher

what it means to love

Happy Birthday, Gary

loving you forever and ever,
xo Mom