Mother’s Day 2021

12 May

I’ve always secretly wished I would be asked to speak in church on Mother’s Day. At first, I wished this because my own mother and grandmothers and great-grandmothers were all such incredible, faithful, and strong women. I knew I could give the best tribute to mother’s ever. When I became a mother myself, I began to wish this because I became tired of talks that talked about mothers as if they were something other than human. I became tired of patronizing talks and condescending talks that generalized too much, made lists of what “good mothers” do and made it sound like all mothers sacrifice everything all the time. What is that cute phrase? “Good mothers have sticky floors, messy kitchens, and happy children.” Let me tell you, I have sticky floors, a messy kitchen, and miserable children, so where does that leave me?

On Thursday last week, I talked with a very good friend of mine who shared with me her dread of Mother’s Day, both because her own mother had been abusive and because of the tragic death of her own baby. These two life trials have made Mother’s Day a particularly horrible day for her. In a way I had never understood before, I understood why a Mother’s Day Tribute talk could be a torture to someone who carries hidden trauma and grief.

My husband happens to be the one who gets to ask people to speak in our congregation this month, and on Saturday morning, he told me, somewhat discouraged, that he had to find a substitute speaker, because the one he had asked was sick. Trying not to act too eager, I said to him, “Please Pick Me.” Because I did not have very much time then, this talk was born of the things that I have been recently studying and praying about for my own struggles–what has been uppermost in my mind in the past little while. Some of the insight came to me as I wrote it, which is why I love to be asked to speak. I love the extra bonus learning that God sends me when I am praying more earnestly for His Spirit to help me write something that will bless those I am speaking to. I’m sharing my talk here (I removed a couple of very personal experiences, because this blog isn’t the place to share them)


I am rejoicing to be with you today, and as my Mother’s Day gift to you, I am going to give the Mother’s Day talk I have always wanted to hear. 

Sisters, You are one of Heavenly Father’s favorites. 

1Nephi 17:35 She that is righteous is favored of God. God knows you.  He knows what you are capable of.  He knows what you need. 

Isaiah 49:15 They may forget, yet I will not forget thee. I know that what is important to you is important to God.  He knows the longings of your heart.  In motherhood, we find joy.  In motherhood, we find agony.  Through the joy and agony of motherhood, we come closer to our Savior, learn to trust and rely on him, and thus find redemption. 

            As women, we have been given the divine calling to nurture and teach God’s children.  We fulfil that calling as mothers, as daughters, sisters, aunts, and mentors.  The ways we fulfil that calling will be as individual as each of us is.  Three years ago, I was at a home school talk, and the speaker was talking about the importance of teaching Geography to our children.  She said the concept of boundaries is something that we all need to learn– that especially as Christians, we struggle with boundaries.  I thought, “Boy, I need to know what she knows.”  This year for Geography, Renata and I have been reading a book called Prisoners of Geography.  Through it we have learned how the physical geography of nations and the political geography of nations around the world affects their histories, policies, and futures.  For example, you may have wondered like I have why China is so mean and greedy to keep control over Tibet– why they can’t just leave those mountain monks in peace.  Well, it turns out that all 3 of China’s big rivers have their sources in Tibet, and they just can’t bear to let someone else have control of their water source.  Why is there so much fighting in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo? Because a colonial power far away with no knowledge of the people or the Geography drew lines on the map and made countries.  Any mom could have told them– the seating arrangement in the van can make or break a family trip.  Some kids just shouldn’t be sitting together in the same bench.

            Just as countries are both limited and blessed by their mountains and rivers and physical resources, we mothers are limited and blessed by our physical geography.  We have to do our best with the resources we have, and we can’t pretend that mountain range or that limited rainfall isn’t there.  We need to know what our resources are.  Knowing what our resources are helps us to understand what God wants us to do.  He has blessed us with the unique talents we need to be the unique mothers our unique children need us to be.  It is not a surprise to me that 5 of my brothers and sisters (including myself) chose to become teachers.  Our mother is a master teacher who not only has dedicated her life to helping children learn, but who has never stopped learning for herself. My parents gave me books and a chalkboard, and I played at teaching school from the time I was six years old.  I used to worry, what if one of my children is really a prodigy violinist, and will never develop that talent because I didn’t put a violin in their hands when they were three years old? I finally decided that if it were important, God would have sent that child to a mother who would put a violin in their hands at 3 years old.  Sometimes, the gift we are blessed with is the capacity to learn what we need to learn to help our children.  When I did have a child who at age eleven or twelve expressed a strong desire to learn the violin, Heavenly Father blessed me to be able to obtain an affordable violin, find a teacher in our town where there had been none, and figure out a way to pay for the lessons. 

            We mothers also have political boundaries, sort of made-up boundaries, and we need to pray for the wisdom to recognize when those boundaries are useful and should be respected, and when they need to be ignored.   

Motherhood is a holy calling and therefore it comes blessings of power from God.  Isaiah 41:13 “For I, the LORD thy God, will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee: Fear not; I will help thee.”  Heavenly Father has blessed us with the power we need to fulfill our calling. Bob Goff, in his book, Everybody, Always, said, “We are not held back by what we don’t have.  We are held back by what we don’t use.” 

President Neslon pleaded with us to learn more about this power from heaven in 2019.  He said,

“You have received and made sacred covenants with God in His temple. From those covenants flows an endowment of His priesthood power upon you. As a righteous, endowed Latter-day Saint woman, you speak and teach with power and authority from God. Whether by exhortation or conversation, we need your voice teaching the doctrine of Christ. We need your input in family, ward, and stake councils. Your participation is essential and never ornamental!”

            It is up to us to access and wisely portion the talents, resources, and power that God has given us so that we can be the women God needs us to be.  Julie B. Beck taught (2007):  Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all. Their goal is to prepare a rising generation of children who will take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the entire world. Their goal is to prepare future fathers and mothers who will be builders of the Lord’s kingdom for the next 50 years.

            We can be in danger of mistaking our calling.  We have not been called to make our children perfect.  We can become so focused on correcting errors that we forget to love our children.  William Shakespeare said, “They do not love who do not show their love.”  Remember the Old Testament account of manna? That bread God sent from heaven every day to the Israelites as they journeyed in the wilderness.  One of the unique characteristics of manna is that no matter how much the people received, even when it was more than they could possibly eat, it would only last for one day.  Your affection is like manna.  It is fresh, warm, and satisfying.  But it only lasts for a short time.  The people you love need to hear your affection every day because their need starts over every day.  Husbands, your wife needs to hear these kinds of messages every day:  I love you.  I’ll take care of you.  You are more important to me than any other person on earth.  I’m concerned about the problems you face.  I think you’ve done a good job today.

Wives: your husbands needs your respect and admiration every day.  He does not need you to catalog, index and report all his mistakes for him. He does need you to thank him for being capable, loyal, hardworking, and dependable.  He needs you to praise his strength, intelligence, choices, and leadership. (from Mary Hunt, Debt-Proof Your Marriage)

            Our children need our affection, too.  Henry B. Eyring (2012) said, “Above all else, children need to know and feel they are loved, wanted, and appreciated.  They need to be assured of that often.  Obviously, this is a role parents should fill, most often, the mother can do it best.”  A wise teacher (Dr. Kathy Koch) explained to me that our children’s weaknesses worry us.  Our children’s strengths get on our nerves.  If your child is making you crazy, recognize the strength they are exhibiting, and then show them how to channel that strong energy in a positive way. 

            So how can we know if we are doing a good job- especially when it is so easy to find evidence that we are just really _Garbagio_ at this whole mothering thing?  There will always be other women who are skinnier than I. Who keep their houses cleaner than I. Who succeed at cooking a dinner their husband likes more often than I.  Who throw better birthday parties for their children than I.  Boy, It can be easy to go down that vicious spiral, can’t it?  Here is the lifeline—the escape from that death-trap:  No one can ever find a woman who loves Jesus more than I.  Remind yourself of that. 

Paul teaches in 2 Corinthians 10:12-13  For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.

            This month, I will have been a mother for 21 years.  I want to have a heart-to-heart talk with you that are young mothers, and warn you away from the mistakes I made over the past years.  And those of you who are closer to or beyond my years of experience, I would say, “We are still here, so we still have time to mend our ways.”  Don’t think that because service is an important part of the gospel that every time someone asks for something, you have to drop everything and rush to the rescue.  So many times, I came home from cleaning someone else’s house or from taking dinner to someone else’s children to my own messy, dirty house and my own hungry children.  I would be tired.  I would have used up all the hours of the day and still have before me a mountain of work.  The Lord said to Joseph Smith, “I am able to do my own work.”  And so He is.  You are not asked to carry the entire work of the kingdom on your back.  Your job is to do the work He has given you, and that service is primarily in your own home.  Now, if someone needs serving, I look at my needs, and my family’s needs and ask myself.  Can I fulfill these needs and still do this other thing?  Sometimes I have to say “No.”  Sometimes I can say “yes.” It might mean that the missionaries have dinner with us, but it’s not fancy dinner, just regular old whatever we would have eaten anyway.  

            Cast your burden on the Lord.  I remember one evening I was tired all the way to my bones, too tired to even figure out what I needed to pray for, and I just knelt down and said, “Heavenly Father, I’m so weary.” The gentlest, kindest voice said to me, “Be not weary” and that voice lifted away some of the exhaustion.  More often when I pray, I need to just tell Heavenly Father what is going on, and let Him tell me what I need, instead of me giving Him a big old list of what I think need.

            Find balance between your responsibilities and doing things that refresh and rejuvenate you.  I’ve looked more closely at the Savior’s life, and I’ve realized a few things.

*Jesus sat down to eat meals. (at least most of the time)

*A couple of times, Jesus cleaned out his house with righteous anger.

*Jesus let the disciples deal with some anxiety while he slept during a storm. And when they became convinced that they would perish and woke him up, he gently chided them.  How many of you have had children who were convinced that they would die if you slept a minute more?

*Jesus relied on fasting and prayer to build his strength for the work he was called to do.  He did not try to do everything all by himself.  When his trial became more intense, he prayed more earnestly. 

*One story in the New Testament that I think I misunderstood for a very long time is in Matthew chapter 19, “Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.  But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

I thought this was an example of sacrifice on Jesus’s part.  He was tired after a long day, but he still made time for the children. But I was talking with some friends this week about how different activities are energizing and rejuvenating for different people, and how important it is that we recognize what brings us energy or strength.  So I had that ruminating in my head, and I realized something. 

Maybe after a long day of healing multitudes, being challenged by Pharisees, accused by scribes, rejected by people who only wanted more magic bread, and teaching his disciples—Maybe after  all that, Jesus really just wanted to be surrounded by some innocence, some love unfeigned.   Jesus said, “Please, let the little children come.  This is the kingdom of heaven.  Let me be surrounded by heaven for a little bit.”

Your children want you.  All those things that you criticize yourself for, or that the world condemns, or that well-intentioned but mistaken others point out—your children don’t care about all that.  They just want you, and they need you.

In 2018, President Russell M. Nelson told our youth: “You are the hope of Israel, “children of the promised day”  He invited them to join a youth battalion to help gather Israel. Our children need us to help them be ready to do the Lord’s great work.  Elder M. Russell Ballard said, “We have raised the bar. … But that doesn’t raise it just for the youth. That raises it for the parents, who have the primary responsibility for teaching their children principles. That raises it for the leaders. That raises it for the teachers. We’ve all got to take a step up.”

Last week during BYU’s Women’s Conference, Brother Steven Lund spoke about the vital role that mothers have in the new Children and Youth Program.  It will not work without us.  He also promised us that when we saw the fruits of it in our children’s lives, we would be happy to have spent our efforts there.  He said, “There would have been no Sons of Helaman without mothers who knew……and without fathers who would choose death, rather than break their covenants.”

Sisters, we need to be Mothers who know.  We have covenanted to sacrifice our time, talents, and everything God has blessed us with to build the Kingdom of God.  But let us be wise.  Let us not sacrifice our lives to the false idol of making every happy.  Let us not sacrifice just because mothers are supposed to be “self-sacrificing.” It is not asked of us to go without what we need so that others can have ease and comfort- that’s not how the Law of Consecration works.  The Law is that every man (and woman) should have as much as is sufficient.  Let us recognize and make use of the gifts we have been given. Yes, let us lay our lives, but only at the feet of God.

I have often wondered how those mothers of the Stripling Warriors knew that their sons would be protected if they did not doubt.  I mean, they could have faith that their sons would be protected, and they could have hope that their sons would be protected, but how could they KNOW?   Missionaries do sometimes get injured or even die on their missions.  Many noble  and true young men and women have died fighting in the cause of liberty.

I have come to the conclusion that those mothers must have obtained a specific promise from the Lord for their children for their day.  We also have been given promises for ourselves and for our children.  Let us treasure them in our hearts as we go forward in the Lord’s work:

President Russell M Nelson promised our youth:

Now I plead with each of you to do as the teenaged Joseph did. Take your questions directly to your Heavenly Father in prayer. Ask Him, in the name of Jesus Christ, to guide you. You can learn for yourself—right now at your age—how to receive personal revelation. And nothing will make a bigger difference in your life than that!

I promise you—not the person sitting next to you, but you—that, wherever you are in the world, wherever you are on the covenant path—even if, at this moment, you are not centered on the path—I promise you that if you will sincerely and persistently do the spiritual work needed to develop the crucial, spiritual skill of learning how to hear the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, you will have all the direction you will ever need in your life. You will be given answers to your questions in the Lord’s own way and in His own time. And don’t forget the counsel of your parents and Church leaders. They are also seeking revelation in your behalf.

Elder David A Bednar promised our youth:  I encourage you to study, to search out your ancestors, and to prepare yourselves to perform proxy baptisms in the house of the Lord for your kindred dead And I urge you to help other people identify their family histories.

As you respond in faith to this invitation, your hearts shall turn to the fathers. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be implanted in your hearts. Your patriarchal blessing, with its declaration of lineage, will link you to these fathers and be more meaningful to you. Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives.

President Nelson Promised us in 2017:  “My dear brothers and sisters, I promise that as you prayerfully study the Book of Mormon every day, you will make better decisions—every day. I promise that as you ponder what you study, the windows of heaven will open, and you will receive answers to your own questions and direction for your own life. I promise that as you daily immerse yourself in the Book of Mormon, you can be immunized against the evils of the day.

in 2019:  My dear sisters, your power will increase as you serve others. Your prayers, fasting, time in the scriptures, service in the temple, and family history work will open the heavens to you. I entreat you to study prayerfully all the truths you can find about priesthood power. As your understanding increases and as you exercise faith in the Lord and His priesthood power, your ability to draw upon this spiritual treasure that the Lord has made available will increase. As you do so, you will find yourselves better able to help create eternal families that are united, sealed in the temple of the Lord, and full of love for our Heavenly Father and for Jesus Christ.

in 2020: I promise that as you increase your capacity to receive revelation, the Lord will bless you with increased direction for your life and with boundless gifts of the Spirit. I promise that as we create places of security, prepare our minds to be faithful to God, and never stop preparing, God will bless us. He will “deliver us; yea, insomuch that he [will] speak peace to our souls, and [will] grant unto us great faith, and … cause us that we [can] hope for our deliverance in him.”


My dear brothers and sisters, as you choose to let God prevail in your lives, you will experience for yourselves that our God is “a God of miracles.”

2020 Thanksgiving

8 Dec

We finished our first 12-week term of school by the week before Thanksgiving. The kids all got a break, while I spent the week grading their exams, analyzing how the term went, and organizing everything for the next 12-week term. I think it was our best term ever. As I was planning, I realized that after four years, I’ve stumbled on solution to the January school problem. Every other year, we have finished up our term right before Christmas. Then I was supposed to plan the next term over Christmas Break and be ready to start right after New Year’s. You will not be surprised to learn that I never plan school over Christmas Break, and beginning on schedule in January is a major stress for me. This year, we finished first term before Thanksgiving. We will have 3 weeks of second term before Christmas, and then close our books for 2 weeks. I don’t have to plan because I’ve already done it over Thanksgiving week. January 4, 2021, I will just open the books and continue where we left off on December 18. It’s brilliant!! What a relief!

I did make time to play Monopoly with these four smarties (secret math class).

And I sewed a few masks, which was a fun day for me.

I’ve always wanted to cook a whole Thanksgiving Feast by myself. But I was never willing to skip out on fun family parties in order to do so (some “dreams” aren’t really worth the sacrifice!) However, this was the year for it, because we are all being careful and staying separate. I made turkey, potato casserole, green bean casserole, jello, and 3 pies (coconut cream, apple, and chess pie.)

I got this ham for the potato casserole. Zeke (blue shorts) begged to eat it all week. Finally on Thursday morning, he said, “NOW can I eat the biggest ham I never had?”

I didn’t really make the whole dinner.

Tamale Pie made the rolls, and Cherry Pie made the stuffing, because I had to zip to the store to get cinnamon for the apple pie. I had also planned to make creamed corn and sweet potatoes, but decided to save them for another day.

Chess pie is too sweet, so you can only eat a tiny sliver at a time. it does have cream in it, which makes it better than Pecan Pie, and I needed to use up pecans.

It was the quietest Thanksgiving I’ve ever had. It was also the least stressful, because I didn’t have to be anywhere at a certain time and no one was coming over. It was a great day!

After we took naps, this kids and I played Settlers of Catan, Code Names, and several hours of Pit.

Happy Veteran’s day 2020

18 Nov
Happy Veteran’s Day

Tamale Pie turns 15

15 Nov

Tamale Pie turned 15 years old this month. The year of her birth is tied to several landmarks of my life.

The year I was pregnant with Tamale Pie, I joined Mary Kay. We started building the house we are now living in. I ended my eight year career in the Missouri National Guard. (If I had not been pregnant, I would have been deployed with others my National guard unit to Afghanistan.

Soon after she was born, we had the worst ice storm of my adult life. Our house was out of power for 10 days. I learned a lot about emergency preparedness from that time.

Tamale Pie’s

Favorite color is deep Navy Blue

Favorite food: surf -n-turf burritos

Wants to be a baker and a mom when she grows up.

Has been taking violin lessons for 2 years. She practices diligently without me hounding her and paid for her own lessons by baking and selling bread for several months last year when I couldn’t pay for them. I’m so proud of her dedication and consistent work. Her goal music is “The Erle King” by Schubert

Loves all things Studio Ghibli. Howl’s Moving Castle is her favorite of Haywood Miyazaki’s films.

Tamale Pie bakes all the bread for our family, keeps the bathrooms clean, helps keep the Scooter Pies busy, and asks me several times each day if she can do anything to help me, in addition to 6-7 hours of homeschool lessons, which she works through largely independently while I am teaching math and reading to the four youngest.

She is amazing

November is the Best

15 Nov

November is my favorite month. 

It’s my birthday month and Thanksgiving.  Nothing beats it. 

Sunday, I needed to get the littles outside, into the fresh air and away from screens.  So I promised them a treasure hunt.  Luckily, I have scripture clues saved on my computer, so I could set it up in less than 10 minutes, and I have beautiful daughters who are willing to run all over the yard and help look up and read scripture clues.  Success!

Monday, we celebrated El Dia de los Muertos, The Day of the Dead.  I made Pan de los Muertos. 

Abuelita and Abuelito came over with calavera suckers to decorate. 

Abuelito shared stories about his mother and his grandfather.  We loved hearing about great-grandma Gwendolyn Campbell growing up in Idaho, and great-great-grandpa Jose Sabino Lozano who rode with Pancho Villa (according to family lore.)

Great-Grandma Gwendolyn

The truth is, I don’t really like Halloween all that much.  But I love Dia de los Muertos.   Making delicious food and telling stories about our departed family—it becomes more like Thanksgiving, and that is my favorite.

Dickerson Park Zoo

5 young pies

Friday, We finished up our 11th week of home school for 2020 and took a field trip to the zoo to celebrate with friends.  My brother’s wife and children joined us as well as our home school co-op friends.

Apple Pie and Banana Cream Pie have been reading about African animals for science, so we visited the giraffes, lions, zebras, and monkeys.  We had read there were new baby cheetas, but discovered when we got to the zoo that they were not out for the public to see.  Apple Pie was very disappointed. 

I bought zoo passes for the family in August when I discovered that the year passes only cost $3 dollars more than tickets for one day.  That is a price I can make feel like a bargain by taking the kids frequently.  Going to the zoo stresses me out because the Scooter Pies run away a lot and obey hardly at all.  Apple Pie and Banana Cream Pie complain a lot.  But I keep thinking that if I take them enough, they will start obeying, stop whining, and learn to love the zoo.  This year is the scientific test of that theory.  I’ll let you know how it went at the end of May. 

Election Night 2020 Thoughts

4 Nov

Apple Pie learned about apple stars this week. Her delight brought joy to my heart.

It is in our homes that we can create the peace we yearn for. From our homes it can flow to heal the world.

Today I am thankful for children’s hearts, for apple stars, and books that bring truth to us:

From A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeline L’engle:

“Her father said, “You know, my dears, the world has been abnormal for so long that we’ve forgotten what it’s like to live in a peaceful and reasonable climate. If there is to be any peace or reason, we have to create it in our own hearts and homes.”

“Even at a time like this?” Meg asked….

“Especially at a time like this,” her mother said gently. “We don’t know what the next twenty-four hours are going to bring, and if it should be what we fear, then the peace and quiet within us will come to our aid.””

Goodbye October 2020

1 Nov

So many snuggles

The Scooter Pies have named all their marbles after Pokemon.

My big Mom Win for this week was on Tuesday.  I had announced that “technology time” was over (as all the littles had been watching YouTube for at least 2 hours while I taught piano lessons) and was making dinner.  The Scooter Pies came downstairs howling to play with Blueberry Pie’s Nintendo Switch.  I said, “No,” but they continued to howl and repeat themselves.  Have you ever had twins howling at you in stereo?  I was about maxed out and ready to start yelling.  But I stopped making dinner and sat down, taking one twin in each arm. My counselor says to get kids to calm down by having them take deep loud breaths,”dragon breaths.”  I have never been able to get the twins to do this, but I tried again, doing the loud deep breaths myself, and saying, “It looks like you’ve turned into dragons.  Better breathe out all that fire.”  They didn’t do it, but they did stop howling, and I started calming down.  Then I remembered how much we all like The Three Little Pigs, so I said maybe they were the big bad wolf, huffing and puffing.  They started smiling, but still no breathing.  I was really calmed down by now and realized that I could let them help with dinner.  Here they are cutting up the summer sausage with butter knives for our Sausage and Cabbage over Rice.  They were so excited to get to help.  I read somewhere that when a child asks for technology, what they are asking for is connection.

We begin school every morning at 8:00 am with CNN10 Student News.  Then we sing and do our weather journals.  Nature Walk was next, but now that it’s dark and cold outside, I’ve moved Nature Walk to the afternoon.  So the big girls do piano and violin practice, and the littles and I do math.

We have calendar math all together.

Then Banana Cream Pie does a third grade worksheet, and Apple Pie and the Scooter Pies do a first grade worksheet.  On Thursday, Banana Cream Pie’s math was too fun to keep to herself, so everyone got to try it. 

After math, we have stories from the Old Testament (or New Testament, depending on the day) and then Beginning Reading lessons.  Despite my efforts to put books and supplies away as we use them, somehow the kitchen table looks like this every morning by 10:30 (Snack Time)

I’ve been telling my kids that Halloween was canceled because of COVID-19 for a month.  I said we would just get some candy and watch a movie for Halloween.  But Thursday night, I found out our town was doing a Chamber of Commerce Trick-or-Treat at 3pm Friday.  I gave in and pulled out the tub of costumes, telling the kiddie pies that we could go trick-or-treating if they picked a costume from the tub and wore a mask.  Of course, none of them picked the good costumes.  They just tied themselves up in our raggedy silk scarves that have seen better days and announced what animal they were.  Skeeter, who wanted to be a “Snuggle Bunny” was the exception.  He actually looked cute.  I drove them around town for about an hour, and they each got enough candy to be satisfied.

Saturday we all worked together for about 2 hours to wash the walls downstairs and the kitchen cabinets.  I cleaned out the fridge.  I am very happy about the shiny, clean walls.  Next week: upstairs!

Random fact of the week: I have 7 different chili powders in my spice cupboard, and I use them all regularly.  Yum!

Blueberry Pie bought these very spicy ramen recently.  They are super hot, even for us chili loving people.  After morning chores, the big kids had a hot noodle eating contest.  They only ate about 2/3 a package each, but they had fun.

Also they had pain. You can see it in their faces.

Halloween night, we roasted hot dogs at Uncle Peter’s house.  This little pink vampire is the cutest, yes? This is the only picture I thought to take all night.

Celebrating Half a Century

28 Oct

The Man of the House turned 50 this weekend.

I sure love him.

21 years ago he won my heart because he was personally kempt. All the other college boys were so slovenly in their personal dress, often grimy, and complained loudly if they had to dress up for anything. My guy was alway neat and clean, shirt always tucked in. He took pride in dressing well, and I knew I needed someone who would without complaint put on a sports coat and a tie and take me to concerts.

He valued education generally, and literature particularly, especially poetry and Shakespeare. It is really from him that I learned to love Shakespeare. Until then, I had liked Shakespeare on principle because smart people valued it, and I was smug about it because I didn’t struggle to read it the way my fellow high school classmates had.

But this guy had memorized Richard the V’s speech on St Crispin’s Day. We watched Kenneth Braunaugh Shakespeare films and every Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet movie available. I began to like Shakespeare because it was funny and real and insightful.

This guy read e e cumings and William Carlos Williams to me and wrote poetry to me in emails. I wrote poetry back to him, and he liked it.

He cared about astronomy.

We have been married for 21 years, and he is still kempt. If we are going out on a date—even if it’s just to get sushi at the sushi truck and sit at the park to eat it, he irons his shirt.

I have come to respect his integrity and honesty. He is honest even when it is inconvenient.

He quietly goes to work each day to provide for our family and encourages me to stay home with the children. He has 100% supported me in project homeschool, even talking me back into confidence when I have days when I’m convinced I failing and should just quit. When I’m worried and full of anxiety, he is great at asking me questions until I can calm down and discover a solution or realize that nothing is really wrong after all.

He is pretty great. I’ll keep him.

October is Almost Over

25 Oct

This week was busy and full with just the everyday things.

We did home school and stuck to the schedule, despite everyone feeling tired and draggy.

I realized that I have not been checking up with Tamale Pie’s assignments. sigh. Must find time to do that more regularly.

Mom!Mom!Mom! What does this say?

Thursday morning was so beautiful, sunny and warm, I threw our schedule under the couch and took all the little kids to the park. We tried to fly our kites, but the wind was inconsistent, so they didn’t stay up for long. We still had a great time.

Banana Cream Pie

I’m glad we took that time to enjoy the outdoors because it has been rainy and cold and gray since then.

Our chickens started laying eggs. So far the Man of the House has collected four.

He has been hurrying to build a chicken coop with nesting boxes for our pretty hens, but it’s been slow going, and rain and many responsibilities have limited his time. I pray the Lord multiplies his time this week because next Sunday or Monday he has to go to 2 weeks of training for his new National Guard assignment. Besides the chicken coop, he also needs to write out 2 weeks of plans for the substitute teacher, and I know that is worrying him.

As I write, it is midnight, Saturday, and the girls and I have succeeded in removing the mountain of sweet potatoes from our dining table! I am waiting for the last batch of sweet potatoes to be done processing in the pressure canner. We have 21 quarts in glass jars. I wanted to can all the potatoes that way, but sweet potatoes take 90 minutes in the pressure canner (not counting the time to parboil, peel, and chop them and the time the canner takes to come up to pressure and cool down from pressure.) Also, the canner only holds 7 quarts at a time. So as I put the current 7 quarts in, and it was nearly midnight, I hollered “Uncle” and put the rest of the parboiled and peeled sweet potatoes in quart freezer bags. I have 13 quarts in freezer bags now in the deep freeze. Adding the sweet potatoes that looked like they would winter well in cardboard boxes in the garage, I bet we have close to 50 quarts of sweet potatoes. What a blessing.

Current Family Read-a-Loud: Adventures with Waffles by Maria Parr

Poem for this week:

The Human Touch by Spencer Michael Free

’Tis the human touch
in this world that counts,
The touch of your hand and mine,
Which means far more
to the fainting heart
Than shelter and bread and wine.
For shelter is gone
when the night is o’er,
And bread lasts only a day.
But the touch of the hand
And the sound of the voice
Sing on in the soul always.

Mid-October Madness

19 Oct

This week, so many things happened. It was like a month crammed into a week. Fall is definitely here, but my rose is still blooming.

I was reading a fairy tale to Banana Cream Pie for her literature class. In the fairy tale, the prince has to find a girl to marry who is the richest but also the poorest. She interrupted to ask, “how can that be? How can she be the richest and the poorest?”

I said, “Often fairy tales have riddles like that. If we keep reading, we will find out how the prince solves the riddle.” Before I could start reading again, Banana Cream Pie jumped up excitedly.

“Oh this is reminding me of something!” she said. “This is reminding me of the widow and her two coins. She paid the least, but Jesus said she also paid the most.”

I was very proud that she made such a great connection and very grateful that she shared it with me. This is what education is about.

Our folk song for the next six weeks is “She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain.” We learned that the root of this song was an African American Spiritual song and it is actually referring to the second coming of Jesus Christ. It was then adopted by railroad foremen, who we learned were hired primarily for their singing ability because singing is how they kept the work crews working well together. Being excited for the second coming is a relatively recent feeling for me, and singing the song with this new knowledge was very poignant. What a glorious day that will be when Christ comes in glory, six white horses pulling his chariot. We’ll all go out to meet him. All hardship will be ended, and we’ll have the best food and gifts to offer him and celebrate his coming, and

“We’ll be singin’ hallelujah when she comes”

Princess Tooth

Tuesday, I took Banana Cream Pie to the dentist because she had a tooth that was hurting. The dentist assured her that she wouldn’t need numbing shots or anything and started drilling away. However, the decay turned out to be much deeper than he thought; and after she cried out a couple of times, he had to stop, give her gas, and several numbing shots before continuing. Once she had relaxed, Banana Cream became quite chatty and conversational. As the dentist was finishing up, she said,

“That took a lot longer than I thought it would.”

“Yes,” said the dentist, “I should have asked you if it had been hurting, it was worse than I thought at the beginning.”

To our dentist, who has been fixing teeth for so many years that he was my dentist when I was a kid, Banana Cream Pie said quite matter-of-factly, “Maybe you’ll learn from this, and next time you’ll be more careful and look more closely at the beginning.”

Doctor Stidham rocked back in his stool, laughing, and I told him he was lucky to be benefiting from the kind of helpful advice I get every day from this wise eight-year-old.

Jeopardy master

For Family Home Evening, we played our traditional family Conference Jeopardy. Cherry Pie has been in charge of this game for years now. She makes up all the questions, and sets up the board. We have to take meticulous notes to do well in the game. You might ask for “Sunday Afternoon for 100, please.” and get

“This color was the tie President Nelson wore during his closing remarks.”

or “Who provided the music for this session.”

or you might be brave and ask for “Saturday Afternoon for 500” and get a really tough one like

“Elder D. Todd Christofferson provided several ways that a society can be sustainable. Name 2”


“This General Authority related the firey darts of the adversary to a flaming empty microwave.”

We had a great time. I had forgotten about dessert, but one of the kids suggested apples and dip, and I have this great recipe from my sister, Katie, so I whipped it up fast.

Blueberry Pie

In a medium saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter, 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, 3/4 cup light corn syrup, and 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk.

Stir constantly until mixture comes to a light boil. Remove from heat and add 1 tsp vanilla. Serve warm.

**homemade sweetened condensed milk substitute (I used regular powdered milk)

For art, we used chalk pastels to draw apples, focusing on drawing what we see and not what our brain knows an apple looks like.

We also practiced vertical strokes for brush drawing, and had time for a free drawing session.

I drew this as a gift for a friend.


This is my practice/demo of our handicraft for home school co-op. Paper sloyd teaches so much more than I ever guessed. My students are learning how to follow directions, how to measure accurately with a ruler, how to cut a straight line, how to fold a straight line, and how to tie a bow. This is only lesson 7! Who knows what practical knowledge heights we will climb with this “non-core” subject? P.S. my grandmother was so beautiful. I love her face, and even more, I love the legacy of education that she passed down.

Sad thing for this week:

Little Aztec has passed on. We gave him a good two weeks, after Blueberry Pie rescued him, but Wednesday, he ran under a vehicle in our driveway as it was backing out, and that was the end of his mortal existence. None of the kids were very upset about the accident, except the one who was driving. She had a tough couple of days. I buried the little puppy under the big cedar tree in our back yard, and even though the ground was really hard, I took the time to dig his hole big enough that he could lie comfortably, as if in a little bed. Rest in peace, Aztec.

The resident Captain talked me into doing this Couch to 10K in 13 weeks running program with him. I haven’t been walking recently because it’s dark in the mornings, and it’s harder to make myself go alone. So I agreed, and he bought me some special running shoes to correct for my over-pronating feet. I don’t enjoy running, but I like spending time with the Captain, and I like how my back hurts less when I get out and move.  The shoes are making a big difference: I haven’t rolled my ankles once.  Also, the kind of running I am doing is called “shuffle running” and it’s not much like any running I’ve ever done before.

I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more… rather than run.

Key Lime Pie got to dissect an owl pellet Friday. It was gross and cool and took forever. She considered the bone charts carefully and determined that our particular owl had digested a mouse and a vole, at least.

Friday morning, we had our first frost. I told myself that after school we would dig the sweet potatoes. But I had to take the van to get the tires replaced, and that took so long, I forgot about the potatoes. Saturday evening, around 8:00pm (It was after dark) I suddenly remembered.

An In-the-dark Treasure dig was announced, headlamps were handed out, and we trouped out to the garden to save the potatoes. We had planted the sweet potatoes in hills of mushroom compost, so we didn’t have to dig very much. Mostly, I pulled the vines back, and the potatoes came up. Some potatoes had grown down into the hard ground though, and we had to work harder for those. It was pretty fun, and Banana Cream Pie announced that it was Family Fun Night. Wholesome Recreational Activities? check!

The dining table is now heaped with our bounteous crop of sweet potatoes, and I’m going to have to do something with them.

Sunday Morning, I discovered that someone had thoughtfully placed T-rex to guard our treasure while we slept.

Poem of the week:

Frolic by A.E. (G.W. Russell)

The children were shouting together

And racing along the sands,

A glimmer of dancing shadows,

A dovelike flutter of hands.

The stars were shouting in heaven,

The sun was chasing the moon;

The game was the same as the children’s,

They danced to the self-same tune.

The whole of the world was merry,

One joy from the vale to the height,

Where the blue woods of twilight encircled

The lovely lawns of the light.