Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Remember how I said just the other day that it's been forever since I've played the piano??  Well, guess what I did ALL DAY today??

Yep!  I finally sat down and played this thing...

The YW are singing this song for YW in Excellence on November 16th, but tonight was our first official practice and I had exactly 10 hours to learn it. 

 I love the lyrics of this song:
Remember you are greatest
When you walk with God
When his light is in your eyes
You are truly strong
You don't have to prove your beauty
In the eyes of men
You are divine within
You were sent here to become like him
I LOVE that the girls will have those words running through their heads every Sunday and Wednesday for at least the next three weeks.  Maybe I can get them to sing it in Sacrament so we have more reasons to keep practicing it.  

I'm so grateful for those little responsibilities that come just when you need to be nudged to do more.  I needed to be pushed toward the piano again, and this was the perfect way to get me there. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Today, I officially have two teenagers in my house.  Spell Girl is 13!!
I don't know why it's so hard to believe that these kids keep getting older...and smarter...and more amazing.  Everyday they're more like adults and less like little kids.

Spell Girl has changed so much this year.  She's still quirky and goofy and brilliant, but she's more interested in people than fantasy books these days.  She worries about the choices her friends are making.  She's a member of the Environmental Club.  Instead of wanting to be a dolphin trainer, she now wants to be a teacher or a librarian because she thinks that will make a bigger impact.  Incredible...

These are a few of my favorite Spell Girl pictures... 
October 25, 1998...TCD was SO excited to be a big sister.  She didn't leave that baby alone from the second we came home from the hospital.  

TCD's first day of preschool.  Spell Girl had that red binkie in her mouth, but one of the great things about having a big sister is that there's always someone to yank the binkie out right before the picture. 

In September 2000, we drove from Seattle to Utah to bless Baby June at the Gr's house.  It was almost TCD's 4th birthday and about a month away from Spell Girl's 2nd birthday, so we celebrated both.  They each asked for princess costumes that year.  This Tinker Bell costume got A LOT of use!!

 This is my ALL TIME FAVORITE picture of Spell Girl.  Totally spontaneous and totally her.

I'm so grateful that we have Spell Girl in our home.  Her naturally nurturing personality makes everyone instantly feel safe and comfortable wherever she is.  She is quiet and gentle and helps all of us to remember that people are more important than STUFF.  I love that we've had her for 13 whole years!

Monday, October 24, 2011


This week, driving to school, Spell Girl said, "Mommy, I've really changed a lot since we moved to Texas."  We talked about how change is sort of a natural thing at this age and probably would've happened even if we still lived in Mendon.  (OK I talked.  She listened.)  

But she's right.  She's changed a lot.  She has more confidence and she's much more adventurous than she used to be.  This year, she changed instruments in Orchestra.  She joined the Environmental Club (which she now lovingly refers to as "her tribe")  She's in the Beehive Presidency.  And just this morning, she joined the Cross Country team at school.  Amazing...  

She's been asking all year to take fencing lessons.  A few months ago, we found a Groupon for half off a group lesson at the Dallas Fencers Club.  So we bought it with the intention of surprising her for her birthday.  Technically this is an "off year" for her.  We do "friend parties" on even years and quieter, family things on odd years.  But we let her invite a friend to this one and we took them both to dinner and then to their fencing adventure.  

I'm pretty sure they loved it, but we couldn't get them to stop talking long enough to ask them.  :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Rod

"Every act of self discipline increases our self esteem." - Tyler Norton

Over the weekend, TCD's seminary teacher called and asked if I would substitute for him next week.  (EEK!)  There's nothing like being asked to teach the Old Testament to a group of high school kids at 6:00am to make you re-evaluate the things you know and the choices you're making.  

It's been FOREVER since I've really gotten into my scriptures.  

It's been FOREVER since I've regularly attended the Temple.

It's been FOREVER since I've regularly exercised.

it's been FOREVER since I've played the piano.

This morning the Bishop talked about the Day of Service and the youth rappelling trip.  He equated a lot of the experiences with the ability to hold fast to the rod.  When mists of darkness come, whether through circumstances beyond our control or as consequences of our own actions, we need to hold tighter, stay more firmly committed, and keep doing the things we know are right.  This isn't the time to LET GO of the rod.  

I haven't let go of anything, but my grip isn't as tight.  Things have been slipping and it's definitely time to start hanging on again. 

There are 20 seminary kids who will be looking closely at me next week.  There are 8 Beehives who regularly watch the things I do and listen to everything I say.  And most importantly, there are 4 impressionable kids in my home who notice every move I make, every mood swing and frustration, every sarcastic remark and impatient tone.  They are the first to notice when I'm not at my best.  And that feeling trickles into places that I don't want it to settle. 

One of the people I love the very most in my life is totally immovable about some things.  I love that.  I'd like to have more of that quality.  Immovable in my testimony.  Unshakable in my faith. 
Mosiah 5:15: “Be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life.”
3 Nephi 6:14: “The church was broken up in all the land save it were among a few of the Lamanites who were converted unto the true faith; and they would not depart from it, for they were firm, and steadfast, and immovable, willing with all diligence to keep the commandments of the Lord.”
I want to be willing with all diligence.  I want to be sealed His.   I want everlasting salvation and eternal life.  And I want my children and the teenagers I am called to teach to know without a doubt that I have a testimony of the gospel and of the Savior...that He knows us and loves us, that He has felt every pain we will ever feel, and that if we rely on Him to help us through the mists of darkness, the rewards will be SO worth it.   

Be Good.  Be Patient.  Don't Forget. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Guess what I got for an early birthday present???


Unbelievable.  She is lovely and gracious and sounds as great in person as she does on my MP3.  We were so close and the setting was so small and intimate that I felt like I was listening to a friend play the guitar and sing.  It was amazing.  

She starts recording her new album in January.  Can't wait!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


In the last two weeks, we've had the chance to attend an orchestra and a choir concert at the brand new, super impressive Performing Arts Center at the high school.  
Like everything in Allen, this place is phenomenal.  There is a fully functional teaching kitchen for the culinary students (seriously...? what high school has a culinary department??)  And they also have a cafe and a gift shop.  The lobby looks very much like an airport terminal.

And then you walk inside the concert hall...

It's as impressive and acoustically sound as most professional concert venues.  And this is a HIGH SCHOOL!  

But the choirs and orchestras associated with this school are every bit as impressive as the auditorium.  It's a good match.

sorry about the blurry pictures.  I had my camera for the orchestra concert last week, but just my phone for the choir concert.  :( 

Saturday, October 15, 2011


I am not a big fan of heights.  I don't love bridges, roller coasters or those death baskets that they dangle from amusements parks...

But I'm a youth leader and the combined youth activity this week was rappelling, and I was committed to go, so I went.  When I committed to be a chaperone, though, I did not intend to actually rappel.  I thought I'd just bring my camera to ensure that no one suggested it.  

We arrived at the church at 6:00am.

We had 34 youth and a handful of youth leaders (only two YW leaders). 

My great plan to hide behind my camera lasted until the Bishop said to the kids, "Decide NOW that you're going to rappel.  This is an opportunity for some of you to do something you've never done before.  And it's an opportunity for some of you to conquer your fears."  And then he roughly quoted Proverbs 3:5-6 "trust in the CORD with all thine heart..."  (yeah, he's kinda hokey, but it was effective.)  The wheels in my head started spinning and I kept thinking about that Eleanor Roosevelt quote:

"Do one thing every day that scares you." 

Two hours later, our caravan of suburbans and minivans arrived at Clements Boy Scout Camp.

Surprise #1:  We were rappelling off a tower, not a rock or a mountain...hmmm.  I'm not sure why that was a surprise.  There are no mountains in the Dallas area.  We would have had to drive a lot farther than 2 hours to find one of those.  
After 6 girls untangled themselves and their stuff from my van, we walked over to the group to listen to the safety instructions for the day.
These two awesome guys/former YM leaders (in the red helmets) spent the night at the Boy Scout camp on Friday, so that they could have everything ready for us when we showed up at 8:30am.  

After instructions, we all put on our harnesses.  I decided to go ahead and put one on with the group JUST IN CASE I decided to actually go through with this rappelling craziness.  
I hung on to that camera though and decided to just continue to take pictures and make sure every one of those kids had a chance to rappell before I went up there, just so none of them would miss out.

Eventually kids started coming down out of the tower.  There were "experts" stationed at two windows at the 24 ft level, and one window at 36 ft.
 24 feet doesn't sound that high until you're about to step off the edge of it.
 TCD gave the Bishop a big, spontaneous hug when she finally touched the ground again. 

Spell Girl, on the other hand,  is like a little spider.  She had no problem going up or down the wall.

And then finally, I could avoid it no longer.  All the kids had gone down and I could hear people calling my name.  It was my turn.  So, I climbed up the 24 ft ladder inside the tower and put my trust in the equipment and the expert/home teacher tying the knot!
It was really kind of a cool, exhilarating feeling to be totally in charge of that rope.  The hardest part was taking the first step off the edge. 
My other YW counterpart came down with me and barely beat me touching the ground.  

After we finished the 24 ft wall, I went over to the other side of the tower and did the 36 ft wall...just so that I could say I did it.  Because really, if you're gonna do it, you should do it BIG, right?

Surprise #2:  It was more fun than I expected it to be, and I'm so glad I can add RAPPELLING to the list of things I've done.  I'd do that again in a minute!

Surprise #3:  I can do hard things!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Halloween is my favorite holiday. 

I LOVE that we get to spend an entire month getting ready to throw ourselves whole heartedly into candy and treats! 

I LOVE that there are pumpkins absolutely everywhere you look.

I LOVE that for one entire month of the year, ORANGE is trendy and fashionable.  

I LOVE decorating with black frosting.

I LOVE that creepy and scary are cool.
But the thing I LOVE the very most about Halloween is that it's the beginning of the BUCKET know, the official bringing down of the first bucket of stuff from the attic.  First Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas.   

I LOVE this time of year!
someday I'm doing this...!