Saturday, November 29, 2014

Anchors and Wings

A few weeks ago, we had a conversation in our house about anchors and wings.  I told the kids that I am drawn to people who are anchors.  You know, the kinds of people who are steady, consistent, and reliable, who are always where I can count on them to be?  I need that influence in my life because I don't have much of it on my own.  They easily identified their dad as the anchor, and me as the wings in our relationship.  

I fly around haphazardly, loving the view but not always keeping sight of the shore.  Craig, on the other hand, stays firmly planted on the ground, carefully and deliberately moving toward his life goals.  Every day is a brand new possibility for me, filled with brand new decisions that I may have already made yesterday, but will probably make over again anyway.  For Craig, every day has an expectation, a purpose and a plan.  I jump around when I'm excited.  He stands still.  I cry when I'm sad, lonely, embarrassed, frustrated, tired, angry, or joyful.  I yell and occasionally destroy things when I'm angry.  He is calm and rational in every situation.  He carefully considers his words.  He is not quick to anger.  His feathers rarely ruffle.  

For all of my moody, unpredictable flying around, Craig remains solidly anchored in place.  

I love that he has expectations and a plan.  I love that he is consistently faithful in his callings, both in church and in our home.  I love that he is where he says he's going to be, without fail.  I love that he is the same in public as he is in the privacy of our home.  I love that he teaches our kids to be all those things, and that he has taught me a greater appreciation for anchors in my life.  

Hopefully, my constant quest for the steady and reliable in my life has helped a little of Craig's solidly and happily anchored personality seep into my own.  And hopefully, a tiny little bit of my reckless abandon has made him delight in the occasional opportunity to take flight.  

We're a pretty good match, I think.  

I'm grateful for the opportunity to freely gush today over this amazing man on his 44th birthday.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


This is just about my favorite school break of the year.  There's no pressure to travel, so we usually don't, and although I love being with our Utah family for Thanksgiving, I really love just staying home, too.  We have a ton of stuff planned for the rest of this week, which I'm so excited about, but we had nothing on our Tuesday calendar, and that worked out pretty well, too.

The Temple
It was 39 degrees this morning when I woke up, and the absolute last thing I wanted to do was get out of bed.  But that little voice in my heart kept saying, "You should go to the temple today," and I could only manage to ignore it for about 20 minutes before I had to just get up already.  The temple was lovely, and not at all crowded like I thought it might be, and so much better than staying in bed.  I especially loved the Celestial Room where I lingered for a really long time, and the drive home with Diet DP and really loud Christmas music, where I also might have lingered a little.  

Turkey Hunt
I have had a little trouble finding a turkey big enough for the 11 people I'm feeding on Thursday.  So Emma and I went out again this afternoon on yet another turkey hunt...and we found it!  just kidding... 
We actually did find the perfect 19 pound bird who is happily defrosting in my fridge right now.  

The Park
It warmed up to 61 degrees this afternoon so I took my three favorite 11-year-olds to the park to play their newest obsession...frisbee.  They had three frisbees, and obstacles and invented some kind of adventure frisbee game that they played for two whole hours!  

Miraculous Ladders

About 10 minutes into our park date, one of the boys got his frisbee stuck in a gutter on the roof of the little pavilion.  Three boys and two frisbees is a slight inconvenience, although nobody complained.  I didn't even try to retrieve it because I'm only about 4 inches taller than the boys.  But just after everyone settled on a frisbee sharing rotation, this man came out of nowhere to work on something (I still have no idea what) and I asked him if he would please get the stuck frisbee.  And because he was so nice, all three boys had their own frisbee again.  

Dinner is currently in the oven.  Two out of four of my children have picked up extra hours at work tonight.  Everything is on schedule for Thanksgiving which means I can take the kids to the zoo tomorrow guilt free.  Inspiration and confidence were regained, a couple of blog posts were written, scriptures were read, thank you notes were sent, and music was practiced for DMCO.  I'm quite sure that had I chosen to stay in bed for two extra hours this morning instead of spending that time in the temple, the day would not have come together as well.  Something about making the effort to get there, and being quiet for the first few hours of the day, helps everything else come into perspective.  Ladders appear miraculously.  Turkeys are found.  Play dates fit into the schedule.  And I spend a whole lot less time running around doing things that don't matter very much, like dusting.  I'm so grateful for a temple that is close enough to get to on a spur of the moment impulse.  I'm grateful to have listened to that little voice.  And I'm grateful for all the tiny little details that made this day so much better than I anticipated.    

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dorm Room Miracles

A few months ago, Savannah met a girl from Plano at a YW activity.  They exchanged phone numbers and have texted a few times since the activity.  Recently, that girl found out that Savannah was headed to BYU in January and texted to tell her that she had also been accepted for the winter term.  She invited Savannah to come over before class and housing registration because her mom was sort of an expert at that, so around the first of November they arranged a time to have a crash course in BYU class selection.  It was immensely helpful and had Savannah not gone over that night, she would have had a hard time getting the schedule she wanted and needed.  

We've all been extremely grateful to both the friend and the mom who were willing to call and offer help that night.  

Just as the stress over registration started to die down and we started to feel like things were coming together, we realized that Savannah still had no place to live.  Housing registration at BYU occurs in a very small window and there is limited dorm availability for winter because so many of the fall students keep their housing.  

Emotions were high last week for various reasons, and that one little BYU variable certainly wasn't helping it at all.  Then on Friday afternoon, Savannah got a text from that same awesome mom who had helped her before.  She just happened to be looking on Craigslist - Provo for housing for her own daughter, and saw another room that would fit Savannah's needs.  We really wanted the new Heritage Halls with 6 girls/suite and a little kitchen.  And that's exactly where this available spot was located.  The girl who currently lives there is moving out and living at home next term so that she can save money for a mission.  Within an hour, phone numbers had been exchanged, a housing contract was transferred into Savannah's name, and she was FB and IG friends with her new roommate.  

Wait...there's more...

As miraculous as all of that was, and believe me, there were plenty of tears of gratitude being shed here on Friday evening, there were more little miracles that we hadn't planned on.  

Savannah's new roommate's name is Mallory.  She is a cute girl from Idaho who graduated HS last June and is currently a fitness/health major.  She loves adventures, and football games, sings and plays the guitar, and is obsessed with shoes and Psych.  She's the oldest of four with two younger sisters and a younger brother.  She didn't have any really close friends in HS so she came to BYU hopeful to find the BFF of her dreams.  Unfortunately she hasn't really become very close to any of her suite-mates because they're all from the Provo area and have friends and family close by.  She's never had a boyfriend.  Her goal for next year is to go to the temple once a week, she's thinking about serving a mission, and she'd she'd really like to visit every single temple in the whole world.  Sound like anyone you know?  The similarities are startling.  

Mallory and Savannah have been texting nonstop all weekend.  

It's one thing to be excited about a new start and a new school and a new chapter in your life.  But it's a whole other kind of excitement to start all that new stuff with a brand new friend.  

I am amazed all the time at the way Heavenly Father is able to weave together so many needs into one answer.  It looked like just a dorm room for Savannah, but it has turned out to also be an answer to a prayer for a girl who is trying to save money for a mission.  And a potential friendship for two girls who have been looking for a  best friend for a really long time.  

How grateful I am that Heavenly Father has a plan.  That He knows exactly what we need and how to bring us to it at exactly the right time.  And that He is so much in the details of our lives.  Even when we're not thinking about a thing, He is busy working to bring it together for us.  Even when it looks like it's impossible, He is making it possible.   How grateful I am to have a Heavenly Father who loves us so much, and that Savannah has been able to witness that love in such a deeply personal and meaningful way.  With one phone call from someone we didn't even know 6 months ago, her fears have been calmed, and she can see that this thing she has hoped for for so long wasn't so wildly improbable after all.  It was the plan.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Recap of the Week via iPhone

Since there was a big playoff football game last Saturday night, and since my Sunday School class is notoriously unresponsive on the Sunday after a late night game, I opted to toss out the suggested curriculum and have a pre-Thanksgiving mini-feast complete with "turkeys!"  I think they were happily surprised.  

McKay had his first band concert.  He's loving this trumpet thing, and his band director thinks he's so awesome that he let him warm up the entire band!  

We (and yes, I did say "we" because this was very much a collaborative effort) finished our last EVER 6th grade castle project.  After two previous 6th grade castles, I was happy to see this one delivered to the school on Monday morning.  McKay earned 95/100 for our effort...5 points were deducted because we used real food (note the sugar cone turrets,) which was against the rules.  I'm happy with a 95%.

It snowed on Sunday night.  We crossed our fingers that school and seminary would be cancelled on Monday morning, but as you can see, that tiny little...what's that word? skiff...wasn't enough to keep busses from running.     
Four days later, our cold front has passed and we are back up to balmy Dallas weather.
(I don't know if you've noticed, but I am mildly obsessed with the weather.)

Savannah and I have acquired a countdown app on our phones.  The fact that a cute little duck is counting us down to the inevitable makes it no less painful.  

Megan has taken up photography recently, and I kind of love it!  It's nice to have a companion who sees something entirely different than I do.  
Notice any resemblance?
Here's a sample of her gorgeous work...I predict there will be more of her pictures sprinkled around on this blog in the future.  

Savannah has a Dallas Bucket List, which I'm sure I'll write in great detail about next week after we complete a good chunk of it, but one of the things on that list was Sprinkles Bakery, so we ventured down to Dallas yesterday after school and had cupcakes for lunch.
from the Cupcake ATM!   Whoever thought of that idea was a genius!

And today is the last day of school for a whole week!  Hallelujah.  Thanksgiving break always comes just when we all need it the most.  

Happy Friday!    

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Having a Tribe

It's been an interesting week.  I've done the things I always do, that usually are right in my comfort zone, but this week they've felt oddly uncomfortable.  Lunch dates are usually my favorite thing on earth to do...unless they're at a restaurant I don't love, with people I'm not very comfortable around, and the food is gross.  And then all of a sudden the thing I expected to bring joy and connecting, instead becomes the source of a whole lot of frustration.  And then there was the temple.  I went on a Wednesday instead of a Thursday this week, and not with my little group.  I'm sure any other Wednesday would have been just fine, but this particular Wednesday was frustrating.  The one place I can always count on to find quiet and to clear my head of all its many distractions happened to be filled with a lot of distractions yesterday.  And I found myself hurrying to get out of there and get back into my peaceful car.  

I've been wondering how this average, seemingly unstressful week could have possibly turned into the frustrating one it has become, and here's what I've decided...  

It's opposition.  Contrast.  And although not enjoyable, totally necessary sometimes.

I have a very small group of people I feel comfortable hanging out with.  I know them.  I know what to expect when I'm with them.  They are embracers of routines and appreciators of the ordinary, like me.  They are non stressful and non gossipy, even tempered and calm, compassionate and understanding, not like me.  I am drawn to anchors.  And they are anchors for me.  And over the past few years, I have slowly and cautiously gravitated out of isolation and toward them.  But they're it.  I typically don't do anything with anyone except for my family and that small group of trusted friends.      

To have that rare opportunity to be social with an entirely different group of women was a stark contrast.  Not because those women aren't great, too.  They are.  They're just not mine.  For a little while after that lunch this week, I retraced all my steps, worried about my outfit, and re-evaluated every word I said and a few I didn't say.  And then, I grew weary of all that negative thinking, and decided to just be extremely grateful to have a little group who I never EVER feel that way around.   I love going to the temple with them.  I love that they are quiet when I want to be quiet.  I love that they rejoice in the sometimes long list of things I freely gush about.   I love that they don't mind that I ask too many questions, use way too many words, and talk ten times more than they ever do.   

And so, looking back on this week, it really hasn't been all that frustrating.  It's just been clarifying.  I think I picked well.  I think I'll stick with my little band of sisters.  

via Sweatpants & Coffee

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mothering Baby Birds

I'm not a fan of transitions.  I'm extremely resistant to change.  If given the choice, my preference would always be to get used to things looking and feeling a certain way, and then to just count on them staying that way forever.  We're going through some pretty giant transitions around here lately.  
There's a strange dichotomy in having an 18 year old child who currently lives in the nest, but is on the verge of taking flight.  Some days, I feel like I'm going to just fall apart when she leaves, and I can't imagine how I will ever get through a single day with part of my heart wandering around Utah without me.  And other days, like some of the recent ones, I'm tempted to move along the whole packing process and push her right out of this comfortable little nest.

Here are some of the things that have been heard around our house lately...
"Here's a list of all the things I'd like to do before I leave Texas forever.  I know that some of them are a little bit costly, so I thought that since the other children will still be here for a few more years, we could just leave them at home and not have to pay for their admission."  
The Allen HS football team is once again in the State Championship playoffs against a team that we always love to watch, and we are playing at Cowboy Stadium this weekend, which is always such a fun experience...especially when it doesn't have to involve any Cowboys...
"I've decided I can't go to the football game on Saturday because I really need all the hours I can get at work in the last few weeks before I leave for BYU." 
"I'm just going to leave all of my stuff in my room the way it is and you can just close the door and it will be like a little place where you can think about me when I'm not here."
"Mommy, I think we should plan a time to go through your closet so we can see what's mine and what I'm taking with me to college."
and this one I heard via Megan who was in this YW class with Savannah...
"One of the things I've learned is that when I listen to my mom's advice, I'm happier, and when I don't, I regret it.  My parents have actually done all the stuff I'm doing now.  And they know a lot."
and this one is my favorite...
"Don't worry, I know that my life of luxury is coming to an end.  I'm going to be living on Ramen noodles for the next four years."
None of us is really sure what this whole new life is going to look like for Savannah at BYU or for the rest of us at home.  She vacillates regularly between a practical, confident 18 year old, and a slightly selfish, insecure toddler.  

I am amazed on a daily basis, that after 18 years of this parenting thing, every transition is still a completely new and humbling experience.  How grateful I am to have the opportunity to sit in this front row seat and watch these little birds learn to use their wings.  I'll let you know how the actual "taking flight" part goes in January when I'm returning home with one less little bird.    

Friday, November 14, 2014


My dear friend and I went visiting teaching yesterday.  It was bitter cold and we were bundled up hoping to run quickly from the car to the warm living room of the sister's home where we were scheduled to be at 10:30am.  Unfortunately, she wasn't home.  So Jeanette and I lingered in the cold driveway and tried to quickly think of a Plan B before we froze to death.  Brunch?  Show up to the other sister's home early?  A random drive until 12:30?  

None of those ideas seemed like the best use of our time.  

We have a mutual friend who happens to love Coke from Sonic and who happened to have some exciting news to share, so we decided to drive through Sonic and pop over to Robin's house unannounced...because Robin is one of the few people who doesn't mind that sort of thing.  After 30 minutes or so at Robin's there was some question about whether our next appointment would be available or not, but Jeanette and I hopped in the car and drove over to her house anyway, and knocked on the door. 

And here is a list of a few of the wonderful things that happened because we decided to be spontaneous and let the spirit guide our day:

  • We helped someone prep a crockpot full of chili for dinner.  
  • We held a baby so her mom could get a few chores done.  (ok, Jeanette got to hold her the whole time, but sometimes I get to do that job, too, so it all evens out.)
  • We watched a mission letter opening via Facebook.  (That's where a prospective missionary opens his letter to reveal to family and friends the much anticipated mission call and to see where and in what language he will be serving.)  
  • We heard the most awesome and inspiring conversion story.
  • We shared some Diet DP (with coconut...which is my new, all time favorite drink in the whole world) and Coke.    
  • We learned about the climate and people of Mongolia (via Google.) 
  • We cried over the amazing and often startling way that Heavenly Father can change hearts and move mountains.  
  • We learned about family history and indexing.  
  • We shared family stories. 
  • We admired some beautiful sewing of Texas pillowcases in one home and a gorgeous, intricate tatted doilie in another. 

And in one short morning, we connected with not just the two sisters we had hoped to connect with, but with five sisters total...not to mention each other.  As I sat across the living room in two different homes and watched each of those sisters share a few of their hopes, some challenges, and a lot of their joys, I was completely filled with vast love for each one of them.  Some of them are my friends, and some just happened to cross our paths that day...although I don't for a second believe that was random.  But how grateful I am to have been available and willing to be in a place to feel connected to those women.  The whole experience made me think of Sister Hinckley's quote...
Doesn't that just inspire the heck out of us to want to know everyone's story?  It inspires me.  And it's so true.  Everyone that I've taken the time to get to know on a more personal level, I have come to love immensely.  Imagine what would happen if I took that time with more people?  

I'm grateful for inspired, unexpected, meaningful connections.  And I'm SUPER grateful for an awesome visiting teaching companion who doesn't let a little unanswered door stand in the way of a productive morning.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014


I have strong feelings about gratitude, in case you haven't noticed.  I think it's not just a good thing, but absolutely essential, to have gratitude in our hearts all the time, and for all things.  Because there is much to be grateful for.  

This afternoon on the way home from school (which is just about my favorite time of the day) Megan told me a great story.  She had been walking down the hall on the way back from lunch with her friends, when she decided to hang back a little and take her time.  When the friends noticed she was no longer with them, they stopped to let her catch up and asked why she was walking so slowly.  Here's what she said, "I'm just trying to soak up as much of my surroundings as possible, because I don't want to look back someday and regret that I didn't even know what color the walls were in a building where I spent three years of my life."  Her friends rolled their eyes and hurried off to their classes.  Megan then listed for me all the things she had never noticed during previous walks down that hall.  I love that Megan notices the details of her day.  I love that she never misses an opportunity to generously gush forth compliments, and I love that she is grateful from the inside of her soul.  

(People think Savannah and I are so much alike, and I suppose on the outside we are, but really if you laid my heart and Megan's side by side, they would be almost identical.  We are magnetized by the same things, uplifted by the same things, and motivated by the same things.  We stop and sniff roses, smile at babies, and take pictures of whatever takes our breath away.  We are hoarders of memories and frenetic scribblers of words...any words, all the time.  We are fascinated by animals and nature, but also miserably allergic to those things.)  

I love this time of year because gratitude is in the forefront of everyone's minds and hearts, but I always secretly hope that those November feelings will linger after Christmas has been packed up.  It wouldn't be a bad thing for all of us to slow down a little and memorize the color of a hallway or the sound of a bird.  There is much to be grateful for even when Thanksgiving and Christmas are months away.

"Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God's love." - Gordon B. Hinckley

I am grateful today for a warm house, slippers on my feet, a daughter who thinks like me, and chocolate chip cookies in the oven.  I am grateful for family and friends, both near and far, who love me unconditionally, no matter the condition of my house or the gloominess of my mood.   And I am grateful every day for a loving Heavenly Father whose hand is apparent in even the tiniest details of my life.   


Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Last week was National Adoption week, and IG was filled with lovely stories of parents who had already adopted, or are currently waiting to, adopt children.  And so, I thought that since today would have been my mom's 85th birthday, this would be a good day to share my personal gratitude for the blessing of adoption in my life.  

One wildly improbable, totally unselfish decision gave opportunity and hope, not just to me, but also to the other unselfish, amazing woman who parted with me for awhile.  I love both of these women and I am eternally grateful to have had not just one, but two amazing moms in my life.  

Friday, November 7, 2014

Finally Fall

Fall in Dallas is apparently an elusive thing.  I'm not sure if it's here and I'm missing it, or if I just haven't wanted to find it so intensely in the four previous Octobers that we've lived here.  I've been hunting for weeks for some evidence of leaves changing, and I've found nothing.  Everything I've seen here is either some shade of green or some shade of brown, which is beautiful in it's own way, but I really wanted some red and orange.  

Craig suggested that maybe the problem is that my fall hunts all take place within about a 50 mile radius of Dallas.  I needed to wander farther.  So on Thursday morning, we hurried all the kids out the door and headed toward Oklahoma!  

It took two hours, three bathroom stops, and a brief stop to admire an unexpected Eiffel Tower in Paris, TX, before we found it... Texas, or Oklahoma, I'm not sure which; we were somewhere close to the border.  I screamed.  Craig pulled over.  I grabbed my camera.  And these were my first shots of fall for the season!  It took until November to find it, but isn't it just shockingly beautiful??  Oh, I just love straight lines of trees in a long row...that are changing from spring green to spectacular orange and red.  

6 hours later, I was fully satisfied with the amount of fall we had taken in for the day, so we turned around and drove back home.  What a perfect way to spend a sunny Thursday in November.  

I'm grateful for the glorious colors in nature, for an unscheduled, spontaneous day, and for a thoughtful husband who takes conference calls from the car so that I can restock my iPhoto files.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Pets are funny things.  I didn't grow up with any when I was a little girl, except for one little dog that my parents got as I was leaving for college who growled at me every time I came home from school.  

So I'm not really equipped for pet deaths.  

Fishy (his actual name is Taquito and you can read about how we acquired him here) has been slowing down for several weeks.  He hasn't been his peppy self, and he hasn't been responding to my voice.  That's how I could tell he was getting a little tired. 

Last night he was very slow...and lingering near the bottom of the tank. And then this morning he was in a little heap underneath that green tree.  I made Craig clean out his little tank and do whatever it is you do with a dead fish.  

You'd think that a little fish who has been with us for over two years wouldn't be such a big deal, but really he's just been one more thing to make me cry this week...along with too many Jane Austen movies, two days of being curled up on the couch with some unknown miserable illness, my daughter registering for classes at BYU and therefore being one step closer to leaving this's been a rough morning.  

I thought about running to PetSmart and getting a new Fishy, but I don't think I will.  I'm pretty sure I can't handle getting attached to anymore things that leave.  :(

You know what I realized tonight?...that it's dumb to never have another fish again.  I can't just live a fish-less life because this one died and we really liked it.  What a hopeless, fearful way to live.  This fish might die, too.  Or it might live for a really long time.  Either way, I bet we'll like it.  And on the days that it swims in the sunlight and happens to be the exact same turquoise and red that I have in my living room, I'm pretty sure it'll make me happy.  And that's a good thing.  And somehow that also translates into hoping for other stuff in life and not having fear, but I can't quite make it all come out right, so you'll have to just make that leap.  

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Murder Mystery Birthday Party

Way, way back a few months ago, Megan decided she wanted to have a Murder Mystery themed birthday party with 18 of her closest friends.  Unfortunately my skills in the murder area aren't strong, so I agreed to it as long as she came up with everything.  Which she happily did.

She made the invitations herself.  Each person got a personally selected "weapon" which they had to bring to the party with them.  One person was pre-selected as "the murderer" and another was selected as "the victim."  

Emma and our cute neighbor/adopted daughter helped her label all the rooms in our house...

Promptly at 7:00 the doorbell started ringing, and kid after kid came walking into my house.  (This is the part where I mostly hid out in my bedroom.)  

There were a couple of blood curdling screams, a lot of laughing, and some teams of investigators hunting for clue in every part of my house.  Three people were "murdered" by one person whose pre-selected weapon was an Ebola-carrying fruit bat.  (ugh...intelligent humor can sometimes border on the inappropriate.)  Accusations were made, the murderer was revealed, forced to confess and then hauled off to "murder mystery jail" by that Red Morph armed guard down there in my dining room.  (I wondered how he was going to work himself into this party.)   

After all the murdering, the kids watched Clue...isn't it crazy how timeless that silly movie is? 

What a cute and diverse group of kids Megan is friends with.  I love all of them and I'm so glad her party was a success.  

Oh!  I forgot my one contribution to the party...the FOOD!  I don't usually do gross, but they turned out pretty cute for murder cupcakes, don't you think?  

The party is actually still happening down there at 10:43, and I'm about to start herding them toward the door because I can barely keep my eyes open...

In other news...Savannah had her own party to go to tonight.  It was a Harry Potter themed party, and she decided her after-work pool hair really lent itself to a particular character...
...she's Bellatrix LaStrange for those of you who aren't big HP fans.