Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Conversation On Running


O: Can I run for miles tomorrow?

Me: What do you mean?

O: I want to run like, lots of miles.

Allen: Like, 50 miles?

O: Or 60.

Allen: So, just running all day tomorrow?

O: Sure. I can just wake up then run all day until it's night.

Me: What about school?

O: Can I skip it tomorrow?

Allen: I'll tell you what. We can get up really early and I'll run with you until you get tired.

O: So, all day? So I CAN skip school?

Allen: We'll see how much you want to run.

O: So, can we pack lunches and stuff and take them with us?

Me: You could probably swing by the house and take a little break at lunch time.

O: And then we can go run again?

Allen: If you're up for it.

O: So, does running mean running straight?

Me: Nope, you have to do cartwheels and somersaults while you run.

O: Okay.

Allen: And you can go up hills and around corners and back and forth and stuff.

O: Okay. What time will we leave?

Allen: Bright and early.

O: Okay.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Everyone Is Awesome


I was having one of my typical trains of thought this morning. 'Typical' meaning that one random thought leads to another and then I'm thinking about something completely irrelevant and strange for the moment. It kind of went like this...

I need to make a call to get some things taken care of for the wedding luncheon in a couple of weeks.

I need to look again at the list of people coming to the wedding luncheon.

I need to find out for sure if Allen's brother and his wife are coming to the wedding.

One of my best friends from high school and her mom are flying in for the wedding.

I wonder how my friend's mom's health has been.

Her dad has bad health, too. I wonder how he's doing.

He has always been kind of a tough guy to live with. Well, not just kind of. He can be frustrating and even absolutely infuriating. But when he dies I will definitely want to go to his funeral.

(That last thought brought tears to my eyes.)

What is it about him that makes me emotional when I think of his eventual death?

What kind things would I say about him if I had to speak at his funeral? 

I would say that, on the surface, he can be pretty rough around the edges. But man, can he cook! And I always love being fed by him. He loves to cook and he loves to see people enjoying his food. Food is kind of his quiet love language and he speaks it well. He has always made me feel welcome in his home. He was even ok with me living there for a while. He is a lot of fun to play games with. Usually he wants to play card games, which I'm terrible at, but when we'd play Win, Lose or Draw or Pictionary... oh, man, I don't think I've ever laughed so hard! He loves his kids and is proud of the good things they accomplish. He can be generous and even kind and thoughtful, I've experienced all of these things myself. He can be quite intimidating, but when you get to know him he's really just a big teddy bear.

And once again I was reminded that there is good in everyone, despite what is seen on the surface.

You can find the awesomeness in everyone if you look for it.

Let's be good to each other.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Power of Words

In the last couple of weeks I have noticed quite a bit of graffiti showing up around our neighborhood. But nothing bothered me more than the offensive word spray painted on the overpass near our home. Every time I drove past I would see it and wonder when it would be painted over so I wouldn't have to see it any longer.

Today I was at the Dollar Store and saw some motivational posters and duct tape. I called the city to make sure it was OK to cover up the foul language with some more positive words and they gave me the thumbs up.

I kind of love the new look.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Random Thoughts

It's LESS THAN ONE MONTH before I get to see this smile in person again!

Every time I hear the opening for Ice Ice Baby on the radio I get super excited to sing along and it's always actually Under Pressure instead. That song is such a cruel trick. So I turn off the radio and just bust out Ice Ice Baby acapella. Take that, new-fangled mashup!

Lines of songs that move me every time I hear them:

-The players tried to take the field/The marching band refused to yield

-Something has changed within me/Something is not the same

-Scarce to be counted/Filling the darkness/With order and light/You are the sentinels/Silent and sure

-You say you'll give me eyes in a moon of blindness/A river in a time of dryness/A harbor in the tempest

-His hands/Tools of creation/Stronger than nations/Power without end. And yet through them/We find our truest friend

-Eviscerate your memory...I look at her and I see the beauty of the light of music

-An angel come to save me/Who didn't even know she gave me/Something to believe in

I don't know how to put into words what a good song can do for me when sung at full volume! Music is like therapy. When I feel like a connection is loose somewhere inside of me that needs to be fixed,  music is a means of repair. Music feels like breathing when life's held me underwater for too long. When I sing a song that's right in my range with words that flow together like poetry, expressing my thoughts in a way that words alone never can, it's like I've come up for a breath of fresh air. Pretty cheesy, I know. But man, does music soothe my soul.

I subscribe to emails from a store called Anthropologie, which sells clothes that I love. Long, flowy dresses in beautiful patterns and shades and blouses with lace details and floral pajama pants andandand. The likelihood that I will ever actually purchase something from there is slim to none because I can't justify paying $498 for a dress or $188 for a blouse and feel good about that, despite how gorgeous they are. But somehow seeing FREE SHIPPING in the subject line of an email from their store triggers some kind of happiness endorphin for a millisecond and I'll think, "Maybe there's something in the sale section I could afford! And the shipping is free!" But then I go look and no, the only thing I could afford in the sale section are dish towels that cost $19.95 a piece. I can't wear those.

I obviously need to go through and cancel some of my email subscriptions.

One day this week during dinner, Little X did something that made Julia laugh. She inhaled some rice as she started to laugh and then suddenly she was struggling to breathe. Time sort of froze as she spit out her food but was still choking. She ran to the sink, struggling for breath that wasn't coming. Somewhere in all of this my mom instincts took over and the next thing I know, I'm doing the Heimlich on her. Repeatedly, as she's trying to breathe. And then finally, I see a grain of rice come flying out of her mouth and I hear her suck in some air and the world starts turning again. I didn't realize how scared out of my mind I was until the moment passed.

Man, am I ever thankful for all those years of first aid training for Young Women's camp!

Also, I miss Young Women's camp. I am going through withdrawals. (I will write my annual camp post soon. Promise.)

Whenever Allen is out of town, the kids all sleep in my room. They climb into bed with me and pull out mattresses on my floor and I sleep better knowing they are all close to me and I can hear them breathing. And talking in their sleep (5 out of 6 kids that slept with me talked in their sleep), and grinding their teeth and... I actually kind of love it.

5 little monkeys sleeping in my bed... one rolled sideways and kicked me in the head, one kept me up with all the talking in his sleep ("This spaceman is mine", "Where the heck am I?", "I have FOUR!"), one wouldn't stay under the sheets, one kept asking for me to sing a song, one was grinding his teeth all night long.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Another Z Library!

A few months ago my friend Brenda asked me if I would like to have a second little branch of Z Library in Kenya. How could I say no to such a thing?! I went through all of the books we had on hand for Z Library and went and purchased some from local thrift stores as well. I asked for donations and had a few friends donate an impressive number of books. Brenda had some friends who donated books as well. Brenda traveled to Kenya earlier this month, along with a group of youth (with an organization called YouthLinc) and they brought the library with them in their luggage.
When Brenda sent me these pictures of Z Library all set up at Kathwana primary school I just straight-up cried. This makes me so, so happy.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Three Little Birds

For the first time this summer I have had two solid days where I have not heard one kid proclaim, "I'm bored!" How is this small miracle occurring, you ask? They've been busy looking out the front window.

All-a-boy, Allen the Younger and Hubba have all had to build birdhouses for scouts at some point. And that means the younger kids see them and they want to build one, too. Some fall apart after a few days and some last for years, but we currently have 3 birdhouses in our tree out front. Earlier, in the spring, we had some doves nesting up high in the tree. That was neat, but this is even better. Some birds finally decided to take up residence in one of our birdhouses!

They brought all sorts of leaves and pine needles and miscellaneous items to the house to build a nest. And then we saw 3 little eggs in the nest. And now? Three little birds. And a busy mama bird, bringing them worms and bugs and who knows what else, all day long.



Aren't they adorable? The kids love watching as they occasionally poke their little heads out of the birdhouse and call for their mother. We love to narrate what we think they're saying.

 But moooooooom! I'm still hungry!

 Hey lady. Stop taking pictures. I'm serious.

Mooooooooom! The human keeps taking our picture! 

Leave us alone! We're hungry! 

Where's our mom?


It's like having the nature channel on 24/7, but even better. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Kid Playlists

When asked to name their top 3 favorite songs right now ("Only three, Mom?"), here is what my kids said...

Little X:
Shake It Off (T-Swift)
Boots and Cats
Jesus Wants Us For A Sun-Bean

Little O:
Scripture Power
Happy (Pharell Williams)
Everything is Awesome (The Lego Movie)

Good Time (Owl City)
anything by Piano Guys
Seize The Day (Newsies)

anything by Owl City, but especially Fireflies
Final Countdown
Separate Ways (Journey)

L (They Might Be Giants)
Apologize (One Republic)
When Can I See You Again? (Owl City)

Happy (Pharell Williams)
Some Nights (fun.)
Fight Song (Rachel Platten)

Everything is Awesome (Lego Movie)
Emmett's Morning (Lego Movie)
What Does The Fox Say? (Ylvis)

Everything Is Awesome (Lego Movie)
Separate Ways (Journey)
The Scientist (Coldplay)

Elle (still on her mission in Louisiana):
Power of a Prayer (Matthew West)
It's Alright (Brandon Heath)
Arms That Hold the Universe (33Miles)

Allen TY:
Blank Space (Taylor Swift)
Time For Me to Fly (REO Speedwagon)
I Don't Want to Miss a Thing (Aerosmith)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Oh, Happy Day!

This was my birthday ice-cream-cake. Total awesomeness! 

Allen the Younger seemed to have something of a curse on him for a while there. Every time he would bring a girl to our house she would stop answering his calls and texts. We're not sure if we scared those girls off or what. But let me tell you - good... no, AWESOMELY FANTASTIC things come to those who wait! Because once Allen t.y started bringing this beauty around, we all fell in love with her. And when I say beauty I'm not just talking about looks. This girl has beauty coursing through every ounce of her and a light in her eyes that speaks volumes.

Meet Kia! Allen the Elder and I were ready for these two to be engaged before they were and I was really proud of us for not saying anything about it. But once Allen the Younger asked us what we thought, we were ready for him! A THOUSAND TIMES YES! Every time she comes over we love her more.

They were officially engaged the first week of June and will be married at the end of the summer. And to say that I'm happy about it would be putting it lightly.

This is all so crazy-happy to think about. I am excited beyond description and can not wait for Kia to officially be our daughter!

At Kia's brother's wedding

Monday, June 22, 2015



Back in April I was able to take a quick weekend trip to California to see Newsies again! (That show never gets old, you guys.) And since I was going to be in California anyway, I made plans to spend the time there with my almost-a-sister/friend Julie and her/pretty-much-my mom and her two cute girls. When I left the airport in Utah, we were in the middle of a snowstorm. 

This created a one-hour delay while they de-iced the planes and waited for the chance to get a spot on the runway.

I sat next to two really fun and interesting women on the flight there, which made the delay insignificant. When we landed in Los Angeles the skies were (mostly, please ignore the haze) clear and the weather was BEAUTIFUL.

I was able to get in a couple of trips to the ocean while I was there. Oh, man - I forget how much I love those salty breezes and the sound of crashing waves!



Newsies, as always, did not disappoint. In fact, I had no idea that the traveling production has an EXTRA SCENE AND SONG which helps tie in Crutchie's time at the refuge. I LOVED IT!!
Newsies is a real kick in the head. See what I did there? Ha!

There is no such thing as too many pictures when you go to see Newsies.

I was also excited to visit a couple of Little Free Libraries while I was in California. I found one on the map that was close to Julie's house in Orange County and another that was close to Julie's mom's house. I brought books from our Z Library to share and brought home a couple of books from the libraries I visited.


And since we were right by Redondo Beach, the beach where I pretty much lived every summer when I lived in California, I had to stop off there to watch the sunset.

As they say, time flies when you're having fun. So I had to say goodbye to these cuties and head home to my own.

I need to get to California more often. There are so many things about that place that speak to my heart in ways that nowhere else can.

However, despite its lack of ocean breezes, there is no place better than home with my family.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Remembering Dad

This afternoon I came home from church with a million thoughts about my dad. I pulled out my photo albums and enjoyed reminiscing about his life. 

Dad played basketball and football, ran on the track team and even did cheerleading when he was at the Iowa School for the Deaf. He performed on the stages of more Deaf Clubs than I can count and was the president of numerous clubs and groups. He was a member of many competition bowling teams. He went on a tour back east when he was a young adult and has an amazing postcard collection from his trip. He lived in Australia for a year and then moved back to the states and built himself a house. He helped lead a strike when things were unfair at work. He swam across the Mississippi River when I was young as we, his family, watched from a nearby lighthouse. I remember my mom being scared that he might now make it but my own thoughts were more along the lines of, "Of course he'll make it! My dad can do ANYthing!" Despite his deafness, he supported and encouraged the love of music and singing that my little brother Chip and I were born with, often blaring the radio or MTV and dancing around the living room with us. When Dad would come visit his grandchildren he always had a treasure in his pocket for them, whether it was a quarter or a piece of candy or some little trinket he'd picked up somewhere, he was always the bearer of gifts for the kids. He worked hard his entire life to make sure that our family was well cared for and loved.

Seven of my ten kids don't remember him at all, and that is hard. But I like to think that he hand-picked the six who were born after he died, that he made sure we were sent the best of the best.

Man, do I love and miss my Pop.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Dirty Laundry

Yesterday as I was doing the laundry it took me at least a half hour to try to salvage a few of Allen's white shirts by scrubbing at various stains. And I'll admit, I wasn't exactly being cheerful about it. I kept thinking things like, "why can't he change into work clothes?" and "who gets their white shirts this dirty?"

Then it hit me.  Allen's white shirts are stained because he loves to serve people. As he walks home from church and runs into someone who needs help with something in their yard or on their car or in their house, he doesn't hesitate or worry about what he's wearing - he just jumps right in and helps where it's needed. When he's visiting someone in their home and they need help with a messy problem, he's happy for the opportunity to serve.

With that change of perspective my thoughts did a 180 degree turn and I was feeling teary and thankful to have the husband that I do. Suddenly I was grateful for the chance I had to do for him what he does for so many others. He is the living, breathing example of the saying: Service is love in action.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Smiles As Big As Texas

Yesterday I was purchasing some graduation gifts at a church book store. As I stood at the register I noticed a missionary couple that looked familiar. It only took me half a second to realize that it was President and Sister Ames, one of Allen the Younger's mission presidents and his wife! For those of you who don't know, the mission president and his wife are like the missionaries' parents while they are out serving. Allen t.y. had two mission presidents, each for a year of his mission. I felt like I got to know President and Sister Ames pretty well because I followed Sister Ames' blog where she would post pictures and talk about their experiences in the mission.       

I went over and introduced myself as Allen t.y.'s mom and got to chat with them for a few minutes and update them a little on what he is up to. It meant so much to me to be able to meet them and thank them for their love and support of my son for that year. They were in town for a training at the Missionary Training Center and were heading back out to Texas in a couple of hours so it was a huge blessing for me to be able to run into them when I did.

I still haven't stopped smiling about it.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Julia's Mission Call

Right after Julia returned home from college for the summer she told me she wanted to get her mission papers submitted so she could receive her mission call as soon as possible. Her plan was to get the call before Mother's Day, one of the two days in the year when Elle would be allowed to call home and talk with the family. She also wanted it to be a surprise for Elle, meaning I was not supposed to talk to anyone about it until after it happened. (Torture.)

Julia got all of her doctor visits and paperwork and picture and interviews finished by the last week of April and we found out that her call was issued on April 30th. That meant we had 9 days of anxiously stalking the mailman to see if the large, white envelope had arrived in the mail. It came on Saturday, the day before Mother's Day. Julia had to leave the house for the entire day because she was dying to just rip it open and see where she would be called to serve for 18 months.

On Mother's Day we went to church and then eagerly anticipated Elle's call the rest of the day. She told us in her weekly email that she would be calling some time between 3 and 6 pm so we were practically glued to the phones. I even tried calling our home phone from my cell phone to be sure it was working. That turned out to be a bad idea because Allen the Younger kept calling the home phone from his cell phone to see how we would react. Elle finally called us at about 5:45.
Once we had skype all set up Julia told Elle, "Hey! I got a letter from a friend that I want to read to you!" Elle asked, "What's your friend's name?" Julia responded, "Thomas S. Monson!" and pulled the white envelope from behind her back. (Thomas S. Monson is the current leader of our church.) It went perfectly - Elle was surprised and kept saying, "Julia! You're so sneaky!" and then...

My sweet Julia is going to be serving the people of the New Hampshire Manchester area, which includes five states in the New England area: New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, New York and Massachusetts. She leaves exactly 2 months after Elle returns home from her mission in Louisiana.

This was seriously the best Mother's Day I can remember.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Para Mis Hijas Misioneras

Hey there! So yes, you're right, it has been way too long since I have posted anything on the ol' blog. I tend to get to a point where I am so behind that I don't know where to start anymore. So, how about the here and now? 

I tried to think abut what to say. And while I was thinking, I took pictures of everyone. So, playing on the idea that a picture says a thousand words, here are a few thousand words for you...
 Julia! She's home from college and getting ready to leave on her mission sometime this fall, probably. She still hasn't gotten a call, so you haven't missed anything there, but we're excited for whatever's ahead! It has been awesome to have her home.  

All-a-Boy! He's the scoutiest scout you ever will meet. He's on about a zillion committees and going on more campouts than I can count this summer, including a Philmont trek and a stint as a staff member at Timberline. Hopefully he'll be an Eagle scout this summer as well. (fingers crossed!)

Cowgirl! She starts high school next year. What the heck? She loves to sing and be in plays and write really abstract poetry and read books and draw pictures of random things that don't really exist. The imagination is strong with this one.

Princess! She gets to be in charge of pushing a button to start the Star Spangled Banner before morning announcements at school every other week. She's a friend to everyone and the best kind of big sister. She gets frustrated that no one ever calls her to babysit.

Hubba! He gets more and more precocious as time goes by. But behind that mask is the most sweet, tender-hearted little boy. He asks to play on the computer about every other minute and tells me what he wants for his birthday or Christmas in the minutes in-between. Boy scouts is his favorite thing!
Curly! This girl is becoming more crazy by the day. She started out as this shy, quiet little person and now she's always seeking the crazy-cakes spotlight. Curly is a good friend to everyone in her class at school as well as a teacher's aide in every classroom she enters. She still loves creating numerous pieces of art and being an over-all smarty pants.
Little O! Not much has changed with this kid. He's still quite the ladies man with a new story every day about who was chasing who on the playground. He went from not caring one bit about the letters of the alphabet to reading like a champ this year!
Little X! Even with a smoothie moustache he's a cutie pie. This boy is my best buddy. We do everything together, including getting ourselves a donut or ice cream every time we go to the grocery store. He says funny things that keep me smiling ALL.THE.TIME.
More posts coming soon!