Monday, December 21, 2009

'09 Christmas Wishes

For those of you who read my blog but did not get a Christmas letter
in your mailbox this year, here's the electronic version.

Ho, Ho, Ho, and Deck the Halls, the holidays are here.
It went so fast, and looking back, ‘09 was quite a year!
The economy staggered, then fell flat; and it’s been a bumpy ride.
PEAK’s hangin’on, at least for now, awaiting a shift in tide!

Our family now has three adults, since Brennan turned eighteen.
He’s leaving soon, which is awful and great, and everything in between!
For now he’s loving his senior year, and time is flying by.
He’s an Eagle Scout, and a starting guard for good old Carson High!

Kristi’s enduring her junior year, mostly with a smile.
Tho’ proficiency exams and AP classes can sometimes cramp her style.
She played tennis again this year, and keeps our piano in song;
Right now she’s training with a friend to run a half-marathon!

Austin is growing and changing fast – that comes with being thirteen!
He’s smart and fun, and a new Life Scout, which is pretty keen.
Austin played soccer in the fall and made the all-stars, too.
But, like his big bro’, he’d rather play guard on the team at his middle schoo’.

Dallin is ten now, believe it or not, leaving childhood quickly behind.
Sometimes we wish we could freeze him in time, or even push rewind!
He is playing bball too, with his trusty Coach Dad calling plays.
Helpful and funny; pretty smart too, we hope this is how he will stay!

Keith needs a break; a nice long vacation, to unwind and renew his vigor.
Instead he says yes to all who ask, and his plate just keeps getting bigger!

He spends time with the 14 and 15-year-old scouts - camping, biking, and more;
He works snack bars, sings at church functions, and serves on professional boards.

Karen has joined the ranks of moms who work outside the home,
But only part-time, at a local school, so there’s no cause to moan.

She enjoys her job, but better than that, she’s home when the kids are home.
And that makes her happy, and feeling okay, for she has no desire to roam.

All is well at the Shaffer’s house, and we hope you can say the same.
We hope the New Year will bring your desires, be they health, fortune, or fame!

We wish you all a joyful season, full of family and friends and love
And pray that you will feel the peace that comes from God above.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Stop the ride! I wanna get off!

So life is a little crazy. 'Tis the season.

I love the holiday season, but like most everyone, I do not enjoy the stress that rides alongside. I don't carry stress around with me every minute, which is good. But I do experience stressful moments, or hours, when I want to get off the ride.

Preparing for Christmas itself hasn't been all that stressful this year:

Tight Budget + Little Time = Christmas Simplification.

That part I have liked. The Christmas cards have been sent. Most of the presents are wrapped and under the tree, with only a few odds and ends left to take care of. Christmas cookies and toffee have been baked with more batches to follow. The weather has been both frightful and delightful. We even had a snow day last week (only the second in the past 13 years), which was honestly a tender mercy from above.

The part of the holidays that stresses me out is that the rest of life doesn't stop for them. My house still needs daily maintenance, my family needs to eat, the laundry must be done, and the ironing pile continues to grow. My older kids all have finals keeping them busy, and Dallin has a biography project on Abraham Lincoln due tomorrow. [His teacher obviously doesn't have kids yet, and thought it would be just fine to give them (and their moms) something huge to do the two weeks before Christmas! He has to dress up tomorrow -- hope I have some black posterboard to make a top hat!] Oh my, the missionaries coming to dinner (again). And the tail light in the truck is still burned out. Well, at least that costs less than the fuel pump the Suburban just needed. The service project at the womens' shelter is today?!? And oh, I better pay the bills. Austin's 8th-grade basketball season is now over, but Brennan's varsity season is just beginning, and I love the games and can't possibly miss! Keith is almost a one-man show at work now, so he works long days, has meetings and then basketball practices with Dallin; we hope to get reacquainted in January?

And oh yes, I am gone at work every day from 10:45 - 3:15. A small detail.

Our ward Christmas party is this Saturday. I have to bring a batch of 'funeral potatoes', Brennan and Austin are stage hands for the program, Kristi is playing piano accompaniment for the program, plus playing a guitar duet with a friend, and Dallin is a shepherd in the primary play. It will be great. But really, I just want us all to stay home and watch a movie. Sigh.

I am really looking forward to next week. No school (or work for me). Life will slow down. The house will get messy, and we will eat too much food. Brennan will spend what might be his last Christmas with us for awhile. Dramatic pause to contemplate that. Then he will leave for Las Vegas with his basketball team. Kristi's friend MacKenzie from Oregon will come for a visit. We will sleep in past 5:00 am and stay up late. We will watch movies, see family and friends, and play games. The stress will have melted away and we will feel the holiday joy. Just thinking about that helps the stress to melt a little right now.

Take a deep breath, and have a Happy Holiday!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

a weekend getaway

Living in Nevada means we get the last Friday in October off school every year for Nevada Day, which commemmorates Nevada's statehood. This means a long weekend at a beautiful time of year, and the opportunity to plan something fun to do. One year we took an extra day off and went to Disneyland. That was fun and plenty crowded. This year we returned for the fifth time to a little place we like to call "our" cabin. It was fun as always, and not crowded at all, which is a big plus in my book. It's the perfect little getaway; about 2 hours away, over the Sierras near Nevada City, CA. The weather was perfect, there was no cell phone service, and we were able to spend some much-needed down time with each other. It was bittersweet to hear Brennan say, as we were packing up the car to leave, that this might be his last trip to the cabin with us. I know I've been on this theme a lot lately, but that's where we are. Change is hard, even when it's good!

we played a lot of cards:

Austin caught a lizard (of course!):

Kristi didn't do a stitch of homework!:

And the boys even got to watch some NBA action:

Oh, the things you can get away with when the camera has a timer:
(click to enlarge the faces of my little comedians)

Wishing everyone a wonderful November!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

ready or not

Just Yesterday . . .

And Today . . .

Times, they are a'changin'.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Me, a Working Mom?!?

Let me first say . . .

I believe every mom is a working mom.

I've been working hard for many years now in the Mom Business. And I couldn't have asked for a more challenging or rewarding career.

This is, in fact, the outfit I usually wear to work each day. It's very slimming, don't you think?

But, with my oldest a senior in high school and my youngest in fourth grade, I have entered a new and interesting phase of 'momhood', and thus have been able to join the ranks of "working moms who spend part of their day earning a paycheck".

For the past year or so, I've been looking for opportunities within the school district, since that would allow me to be home when my children are home. I could think of many reasons why I could and should become a substitute teacher, and very few credible reasons why I shouldn't (except for the giant pit in my stomach whenever I thought about it).

Thus, at the beginning of this school year I began the process towards becoming a sub. But then a delightful thing happened. I will spare you all the details, but suffice it to say that a series of 'happenstances' over a couple of weeks culminated in my becoming aware of an opening for a part-time position at a nearby elementary school. Something compelled me to drive over to the school and introduce myself to the vice principal, and within two hours of hearing about the opening, I was hired. Whew, be careful what you wish for!

I work from 11-3 each day. I have seven students every eight weeks that I tutor in reading one-on-one. The school is an "at-risk" school, which means they have grant money for a special school-wide reading program. The tutoring supplements this reading program for the neediest children, most of whom are Hispanic and therefore, mostly spoke Spanish before they spoke English. I have my own desk and computer, as do the other six tutors. The people I work with are wonderful, the children are so sweet, and the schedule just couldn't be much better.

My goal has been that this job would have a minimal impact on my family. And so far, I think that's been true. My mornings have gotten much busier out of necessity, but it's a pretty perfect schedule. The only downside is that I also have to do some playground duty each day, which is pretty mindless, but as I'm getting to know the kids better it is getting more enjoyable.

ANYWAY, I'm back in the outside-the-home workforce for the first time since 1991; wow! I am grateful it has been a relatively easy transition. A couple of days ago there was a bouquet of flowers sitting on my desk when I arrived at work. The card read:

We are all very happy that you are our wife and Mom, so don't get too attached to those other kids at your new job! We love you and appreciate all you do. Love, Keith and the kids

Life is good.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

twenty-one years, but who's counting???

Last month, Keith and I celebrated our twenty-first year of marriage. Wow, right?? Which means I have been married for as long as I was single. That is kind of a crazy thing to wrap my mind around. We have spent most of our entire adult lives together -- what a weird and wonderful thing that is.

Last year for our big 20th, we had tentively planned a trip to the Pacific Northwest. It was going to be great. Instead, Keith got (not-too-reluctantly) pulled into coaching Austin's football team, so on our anniversary he was on the sidelines and we were not in the Pacific Northwest. This year, he is not coaching, but with money tight, we took a very speedy retreat to nearby Lake Tahoe instead. We were only gone from home for about 30 hours, and although we would love to have stayed a month, it was better than nothing. I surprised him by making reservations for the Heavenly Flyer, the longest zipline in the lower 48. To ride that, you first have to take a Gondola ride up to Heavenly ski resort, then take a ski lift even further up, and then take the 80-second, 60 mph, 525 foot drop ride from there. I told him that I thought it was symbolic of the ride of marriage. It was gorgeous up there, and SO MUCH FUN; I would recommend it to all of you on your next Tahoe vacation.

Here we are, most of the way up on the Gondola (in the background). The gondola ride was way more scary to me than the zipline. I hate the bumpy feeling as it goes over the joints, so I took the chance to hop off for a few minutes and regain my courage for the rest of the vertical journey.

Here we are at the top. Pretty high!

Here we are in line for the Heavenly Flyer. Perhaps Keith was saying a final quick prayer?

And there are the sturdy, safe harnesses. Oh my.

Keith tried to take pictures of me on the way down, but as you might imagine, he had a difficult time balancing the camera from his zipline, so the pictures were all blurry. But for a quick peak into the ride, check out .

I'm grateful for the fun ride of marriage. And I think since the first 21 years have worked out so well, Keith and I might try for a few more.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

my morning musings

I just read my niece Tracy's latest post on her blog, and started to write a comment to her, but decided as it got longish that I would make it a post of my very own. Tracy, as most of you know, is a busy mom of five. She is a wonderful person, an amazing mother, and has talents in many areas. I admire her. I think I am about seven years further down the road of life from her, but I look up to her and appreciate her example. Her post talked about the delicate balancing act that is motherhood.

I'm pondering whether to even ring in on this issue -- so much to say but probably so little to contribute! I guess I am now a "middlish-mom", rather than a youngish mom. Yesterday was our first day of school, and I was standing on the playground of the elementary school with some of my 'middlish' friends after we had just dropped off our youngest children. In this particular group, we had combined mothering experience totalling 91 years. We were noticing all the young, cute moms (we've termed them the 'snowboarding moms' for some reason) who were dropping off their first children. They were eager, some looked stressed -- we collectively were . . . neither. Just peaceful, maybe a little tired (we had to get up with our Seminary kids, after all), with a different perspective than we used to have. We were chuckling about how we used to be so much better at being involved in all the school stuff than we are now. And we realized, somewhat wistfully, that none of these younger, eager moms had any idea how much we've contributed in the past. We've made many phone calls, volunteered at school events, attended countless meetings, balanced many things, and managed the chaos. Now we kiss our kids and say, "see you after school!" and politely decline when asked to be the PTSA Treasurer for the year or organize the clean-up crew for the school barbecue. Don't get me wrong, we still volunteer in our kids' classrooms, go on field trips, etc. but we have somewhat lower expectations of ourselves now. Sometimes in commercials or movies there will be someone who is standing still or moving slowly while everything around them moves in super-fast motion. That's sorta what we felt like, and in some way we felt rather sorry for the anxious fast-movers. And also very grateful for them! Somebody's got to keep up the enthusiasm and clean up after the barbecue!

The five of us decided to go out for a spontaneous breakfast at Mom & Pop's Diner where we sat, laughed, reminisced and marveled at the passage of time. One of us just married off her oldest child this summer (I taught her in what used to be Achievement Days). Another one has her oldest serving a mission (I used to drive him to Cub Scouts). My oldest is a senior in high school and counting down the minutes until he can launch, while in the meantime figuring out the ups and downs of having a steady girlfriend. The other two moms have oldest daughters who are Kristi's age, so we were discussing hormones, messy bedrooms and AP classes. Three hours later we thought we'd better go home and clean up the before-school dishes before our kids started coming home and wondered what we'd done all day!

I am not fortunate to live close to any of my family, immediate or extended. But I am fortunate to have friends who I have known since we were young moms, and who I hope to have until we are old grandmothers. When I sheepishly admitted to Keith last night about how I spent my morning, his comment was, "You guys deserved it." I would agree.

I don't think there's any way to avoid the chaos that is motherhood. And so if we continue to strive to avoid it, we will feel frustrated daily. I am definitely a control freak to some degree, and if my house isn't relatively tidy at all times I feel like I can't breathe. When the noise level rises too high, I can't think straight and I start to shut down. So the kids came home yesterday and unloaded (their feelings and their backpacks), and it was noisy and messy and there were forms that needed signing, and complaints that needed hearing, and lists of school supplies to purchase, and everyone needed my attention at the same time. And I needed a walk around the block. But we tackled each thing one by one and slowly the chaos diminished. The rest of the day included tennis practice for Kristi, soccer practice for Austin, golfing with the missionaries for Brennan (it was their P-Day and Brennan has a friend that works at the golf course that he's trying to share the gospel with), and I did get my walk around the block in, with Dallin. We managed to have dinner together, though it was short, and the house was peaceful by 9. Well, maybe 10.

And today's a new day. I'm not sure there is much better advice in the delicate balance of motherhood than to try anew with each rising sun. Pray and count your blessings. Turn your worries over to the Lord as much as you can. Read the scriptures. Have faith and see the positive. Don't take things to personally or too seriously. Today's struggles pass to make room for tomorrow's, and the same can be said of the joys. Relationships matter more than most anything else. Adversity is real but is part of the plan so have faith, not fear.

And now for my bowl of cereal. Have a great day.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Oh me, oh my!

Wow, I think I may have forgotten how to do this blogging thing. My last post was actually before the last day of school in early June?? Pretty funny. As I re-read that post, I felt quite satisfied at all we have successfully accomplished in our busy summer.

EFY? Check. Brennan and Kristi had a great time. They loved having David and Kenzie join them, and it was a great experience for all. David and Brennan didn't take any pictures of themselves on their cell phones, but the girls did!

Austin's vacation in Santa Cruz? He had a fabulous time and came back very tan and a little blonder:

Pioneer Trek? A smashing success. Once again, I think Keith is amazing. True, he had wonderful people called to help him pull it off, but he has such vision and leadership abilities. Brennan and Kristi (and every other youth I've spoken to) had a terrific experience. Keith literally couldn't talk about it for a few days afterwards without getting a little teary. Sorry, Brennan, no one from your group sent me any pictures.

The fearless leader:

NYLT for Austin? Not his favorite week. Two words: smelly tentmate. But, hey, it's done and he'll never have to go again!

Family Reunion '09 -- so great. Most of you who might read this blog were there, so no need to say much. We loved seeing you and catching up a little. We have such an amazing family, don't we??
Here are the brave Provo River Tubers!

Brennan had a great time with his terrific cousins!

So did Kristi!!

Girls' Camp for Kristi and me? Even more fun than I thought it might be. Kristi always loves it and looks forward to it each year, but while I have gone up several times over the years, it's never been for more than a night. This week I was a stake leader and stayed all week. No tent, no cabin, just a sleeping bag under the stars, right out there with all the mosquitoes. And it was super fun.

Basketball tournaments and scout activities? All good. Brennan has continued to have some foot troubles, which has made it impossible for him to play football, but he is very optomistic that he will be 100% by basketball season, which is his first priority by a mile.

Church history trip for Kristi and her dad? This is the only thing that didn't happen this summer. They have rainchecked it for early next summer.

Trips to Nevada Beach? We've been several times; not close to once a week, but several times. And it's beautiful and relaxing and good therapy for any stress. Open invitation to all of you.

School begins in about two weeks, and nobody is ready. I have nothing further to say on that subject. It's hard to believe another summer is just about gone.

And by the way, my little boy Brennan is now eighteen years old. I can't even think of what to write about that. I have so many emotions about it, I won't even try. Suffice it to say, we love him and are very proud of the man he is becoming. He just had his senior picture taken, but is already looking past graduation to college and a mission. It's all happening much too fast for me.

Enjoy the rest of summer!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

my head is spinning . . .

We are just a couple of days from the LAST DAY OF SCHOOL, which is always a momentus occasion! Usually I am anxiously anticipating a noticeable slowdown in our daily pace. However, the past couple of years have not brought such a dramatic slowdown, and this year will be no exception. And so, as I spent some time with the calendar on the eve of turning the page to June, I started making a list of things to do to prepare for all that is ahead in our lemonade-sipping, fly-swatting, slowdown summer . . . and my head started to s-p-i-n.

Here's what we'll be up to in June and July:


~ EFY for Brennan & Kristi (which includes a 5-day visit for me with my mom!)
~ a week's vacation in Santa Cruz for Austin and his best friend's family
~ Pioneer Trek for Keith, Brennan, and Kristi (Keith was the "Trek Director" this time around and wow, what a major undertaking; he is amazing)
~ Boy Scout N.Y.L.T. (Nat'l Youth Leader Training) for Austin for a week 3 hours away
~ a basketball tournament in Sacramento for Brennan's summer traveling team
~ a weekend trip to San Fran for Kristi to see "Wicked" with a girlfriend's family
~ a whitewater rafting trip on the American River for the Teachers & Priests (which will include Brennan and Keith)
~ our family's trip to Utah for a visit and for the Lowe Reunion!!


~ Lowe Family Reunion
~ Girls' Camp for Kristi and me
~ scout camp for Austin
~ 2 basketball tournaments in Sacramento
~ Keith and Kristi's church history road trip

August looks like it will slow down a bit, with possibly only a visit from Kristi's BFF MacKenzie, try-outs for tennis, 2-a-day football practices, and a canoe campout for Keith and his Teachers quorum.

In years past we spent at least one day a week lounging and playing at Nevada Beach up at the south shore of Tahoe.

My big kids have a thousand memories of those days, but as they've gotten older and busier, it is harder and harder to devote a whole day each week to that blissful leisure. How sad is that? I am planning to squeeze in as many days at Nevada Beach as I can this summer, despite everything else that's going on.

I've been working a couple of mornings a week at Keith's office lately, and although I am happy to help, it sure throws me off my groove! It helps that I have a big crush on my boss, but I really, really don't know how moms work outside the home. And some do it every day! Wow, I think I would go crazy.

Dallin is really excited to put up our backyard pool and swim his days away. I've been thinking that maybe my head will spin much slower under water, so I may have to join him.

One day at a time, and enjoy each moment. Right?!?!?

Monday, May 11, 2009

mother's day, the day after

I am so grateful to be a mother. And I LOVE the phase of motherhood that I am in. I am so sad thinking about how soon I will be in another phase, with my children starting to leave. But I can't spend all my time thinking about that, can I? There's too much to think about in the moment. There's so much going on all the time, but in such a different way than when my children were little. I am finding such joy and satisfaction in watching my increasingly independent children run their lives. Sometimes I have way too many opinions about that very thing, but I'm learning to sit back and be quiet a lot more. I was reading a book the other day about mothers, and I found this thought that jumped out at me:

God knows a mother
needs fortitude and courage
and tolerance and flexibility
and patience and firmness
and nearly every other
brave aspect of the human soul.
But . . . I praise casualness.
It seems to me the rarest of virtues.
It's useful enough when
children are small.
But it is important to
the point of necessity
when they are adolescents.
- Phyllis McGinley

I don't know who Phyllis McGinley is, but I think she has hit on something good here. My adolescents sure do seem to appreciate me more when I am casual about things. Not always easy to do, but something worth thinking about . . .

Saturday, May 9, 2009

good times

Life has been moving quickly the last few weeks, which is pretty normal I guess! We have had a lot going on, and time is just flying by. This may shape up to be a too-long post full of non-interesting-to-anyone-but-us details of our life, so be warned.

One recent event of note was Brennan's Eagle Scout project. He worked with a contractor to landscape a recreation area behind our church building. This recreation area actually provided eagle projects for three young men, which was great. One of those is Brennan's closest LDS friend, and I heard him tell Brennan one day, "It will be so cool to bring our grandchildren here someday and tell them WE did this!" Made me smile. I was very proud of how Brennan handled all aspects of the project, once we got past the "procrastination phase", that is. In the end, I think he had about 175 man-hours toward the project, and the requirement is something like 30. About 55 people showed up to help him on the day of the project, and he was humbled by such a great showing of support.

Last night our YW had their fundraiser for girls' camp by doing a dessert auction. This is something we started a few years ago when I was YW president, and it's become somewhat of a tradition! So last night we had a Mexican potluck dinner, and then the auction afterwards. Each young woman and each leader made a dessert to auction off, and it got fun and crazy, as usual. Some people (like my husband) really get into the competitive spirit of things, and it is quite the event. Kristi made a "White Chocolate Berry Pie" which looked beautiful and sold for, are you ready? $120.

Unbelievable, right??? We came home with a lemon bundt cake, but we got off easy at $42. Keith won another cake too, this time for $85, but then another ward member yelled, "I just can't let Keith win -- I'll take it for $100!" Yes, it was some good times in the Clear Creek Ward.

Today was our kids' annual spring piano recital. Dallin was so ready, he didn't need his music or anything. He played "The Entertainer" and "Maleguena", and did a great job. He's one that doesn't really get nervous, which is weird. Austin complains a bit about piano, although he's a pretty good sport. He played Bach's "Menuet in G Major", and then a ragtime version of the same song. In his practicing, he would either play them extremely well, or extremely poorly. You just never knew which way it would go. Earlier today as he was practicing, and it wasn't going so well, he asked if I would just call his teacher and tell her he was throwing up and couldn't make it to the recital. I reminded him that he wasn't actually throwing up, to which he replied, "any minute now, any minute." Well, he didn't get sick, and he played so well! WHEW. His big grin of relief as he stood up from the piano said it all.

Kristi doesn't take piano lessons anymore, so she hasn't played in this recital for a couple of years. Her former teacher always invites her to play, but she always politely refuses. This year, for some unknown reason, she agreed to play. I tried to hide my joy for fear it would make her change her mind, but she didn't! She played a song called, "Piano Fantasy" by William Joseph. If you are unfamiliar with William Joseph, then you will be glad you read this post. He is an LDS musician and Kristi just loves his music, both to play and to listen to. Here he is playing the song Kristi played today, and honestly she very nearly plays it as well as he does. Just sit back for three minutes and enjoy:

Tonight Kristi and two friends are going to the "Mormal", which is a Dr. Suess word for "Mormon Formal". They do not have dates, but since it is a regional event in Reno, they are hoping to meet some equally cool and equally dateless young men. Cross your fingers for them.

Tomorrow Keith has to speak in sacrament meeting, and then each young man in the ward is supposed to take 2 minutes to talk about their moms. Oh boy, should I be nervous to have Keith, Brennan, and Austin at the pulpit on Mother's Day? There are just so many things they could say, not all of which I want broadcast in front of the ward . . .

And one more thought on Mother's Day -- don't you think we should always sing, "We are All Enlisted" as one of the songs in sacrament meeting, or maybe it should be a special women's choir? Just check out the words in the hymnbook and see if you don't agree with me.

That's all for now. My in-laws are coming for dinner tomorrow, so it's time to vacuum!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

My Middle Child

Okay, technically I have two middle children, but with Kristi being the only girl, she's in a class by herself, which seems to suit her just fine. So it's Austin that plays the middle child role in our family. According to experts, since middle children often aren't the biggest and strongest, and they aren't the babies who get away with murder, they can feel that they aren't really anything special. Sometimes they feel invisible. They have to try a little harder to be heard or get noticed, and they may feel that they do not get as much praise as the older children for simple firsts like tying a shoe or riding a bike. But I think middle children, if they know how to play their cards right, sit in a pretty good spot. They don't have to live up to parents' expectations the same way the oldest child does, and they don't get babied too long like the youngest child. They learn to be good mediators and negotiators, and learn to be self-sufficient and independant.

This is Austin.

I just love this kid. He is kind-hearted, thoughtful, sensitive to others' feelings, helpful, doesn't complain, and loves to see others happy. And he's turning THIRTEEN tomorrow. Perhaps because he's such a sweetheart, I tend to think of him as a little kid. But as his adolescent hormones are starting to boogie, I am forced to accept that he is a young man now. He's getting muscular and tall, he leaves the house smelling of cologne, and he gives me a little less public attention. Once in awhile he even gets mad, which is so unusual that it surprises everyone, mostly him!

I remember when he began middle school, I told him several times, "Don't let middle school ruin you!" It was hard for me to let him go to middle school because sweetness and cheerfulness and innocence are characteristics that are more likely to be ridiculed instead of praised. I do think that middle school has changed him, but thankfully not ruined him. And I don't think becoming a teenager will ruin him either. I think "Awesome Austin", as we have called him since he was little, will always be awesome.

younger days:

at scout camp last summer:

hiking to the top of nearby Job's Peak:

on his way to another touchdown:

Happy 13th Birthday, Austin!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What does Easter mean to you?

Because we must need the blessings, our family was asked to "do the sacrament meeting" on Easter Sunday. Our older kids and Keith and I will be speaking, and the younger boys will be playing a piano duet. To go along with the many -and varied- thoughts bouncing around in my head about Easter and the Atonement, I wondered if any of you would like to share your thoughts on what Easter means to you.

And on another subject, wasn't conference uplifting?? Somehow I expected there to be a more serious tone, more messages about getting prepared, etc. But for me, I just felt like my understanding of certain things was expanded (Elder Holland's talk for example, wow), and I felt peaceful and not anxious. A favorite quote for me was from Pres. Monson: "The future is just as bright as our faith." Could it be any simpler?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Book Recommendation

Recommendations are risky. Whether they be books, movies, restaurants, whatever. We all have different tastes and different opinions about what is worthy of our precious time. That said, I'm taking the plunge anyway. Probably some of you are already familiar with this series, particularly those of you living in Utah.(?) It's "The Great & Terrible" series by Chris Stewart. There are six books (I know, I know), but having finished the sixth one this afternoon, I can say I'm glad I took the journey. And I read each one faster than the last. My mother-in-law has been telling me about these books for the past couple of years, but I never made any move to read them until she dropped off the first two at my house one day. Brennan is now in Book Two and is really enjoying it (if you knew Brennan better, that statement might have made more of an impact). Note: Book One, "Prologue: The Brothers", is completely different than the rest. I was a bit hesitant about it at first, but by the end was ready to see where the author was going. They've been very thought-provoking for me. Okay, enough said. Gotta go work on my emergency preparedness plan now . . .

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Little 'Crush'

I'm not ashamed to admit it -- I had a great time at the David Archuleta concert last week! Alana, a good friend of Kristi's, gave her a ticket to the concert as a birthday present, so Alana and her mom went, plus another friend Shannon, plus me of course. Like I could stay away! Our seats weren't bad, and we were also able to walk down to the front to get quite close. So we see-sawed back and forth. Here's the proof!

Waiting in line beforehand:

At our table, waiting some more:

Here we go!

What a cute kid, and wow, can he sing. He sounded amazing and we all had lots of fun. Kristi and I continue to think that after a couple of years of performing his music, he'll decide he needs to continue his education at, say, Brigham Young University. And then one day, his path will cross with Kristi's in, hmmm, the Harris Fine Arts Center, and the rest will be . . . history. Stranger things have happened, right?!?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Signs of the Times

Wow, if you just keep your eyes open, "blog-worthy" things can be found everywhere.

I could not resist sharing this, although I'd rather pretend it's not real. Austin told me last week that he had been invited to a birthday party given by a girl at school. Hmmm, a boy/girl party, I thought. My little Austin. Hard (for me) to believe he's old enough for this stuff. It was on the night we had planned to take Kristi out for her birthday, and when I mentioned that, he assured me he wasn't interested in going to the party anyway. That made it easy; schedule conflict averted; boy/girl parties for Austin postponed until the next invitation.

This morning I ran out the door with the lunch he almost forgot to take, and as he was putting it in his backpack, I noticed a bright piece of paper sticking out. He handed it to me, saying it was the invitation to that party, and that I could just throw it away now that it was over. So then I looked at it and noticed something, well, blog-worthy. See what you notice.

Let's look a little closer:

Did you catch that? My 12-year-old was not just invited to a boy/girl party (which I CAN wrap my mind around, despite my reluctance to), but he was invited to a boy/girl sleepover. Yup. This I cannot wrap my mind around. I think I may need to go lie down.

Deep breath.

The really important news of the day is that it's Kristi's 16th birthday. Perhaps I will blog more about that later??

p.s. don't ask my why the date on the pictures that I took this morning say 5/4/06!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Nevada Skies

One of the things I really love about living in northern Nevada is the big blue sky. Blue skies happen so often out here that they are almost monotonous to some. Not to me. And when the blue skies are punctuated with amazing cloud formations, then I could just gaze at them all day. Perhaps one of the reasons that I love looking at the sky so much is that looking at the ground is not very exciting. Unless it's developed, Nevada ground mostly looks like this:

And the vistas look like this:

So your eyes are naturally drawn heavenward, at least mine are.

Today has been a 'beautiful skies' day. The kind that has made me grateful for nature's beauty, the kind that has refreshed my spirits, and relaxed my mind.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Life with Copper

(First of all, don't ask me why I've become a blogging machine lately. I'm sure it's a phase which will pass.)

Some of you know that we have a dog. Some of you also know that I am not a 'dog lover', but rather a 'dog accepter'. We've had Copper for almost 9 years, and now that she's a mellow older dog, my blood pressure is usually not affected by her existence anymore. And despite the fact that over the years, other than walking her, I really spend no 'quality time' with her, she loves me and is eager to be around me.

The other night as Keith, Dallin, Copper and I were hiking up the mountain behind our house, Dallin was commenting about how he's had Copper his whole life, how great she is, and how much he loves her. It caused me to think about the vastly different perspectives he and I have about this animal. He literally doesn't remember life B.C.. They have been great friends, and shared lots of fun and mischief together over the years! He looks forward to seeing her after school every day and especially after vacations. She is a big part of his little life! And when I stop to think about that, I guess I would say am glad.

The rest of this you've certainly seen before, but here are some things that Copper has tried to teach us over the years:

"When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy..
Take naps.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently."


Monday, March 16, 2009

Girls' Night Out

Last Friday, Keith had a "camp-in" with his class of 14-15 yr old boys from church. They came over to eat pizza, play wii, and have a crazy air soft war in the sagebrush field behind our house. Kristi and I decided it would be a good time to sneak away for a girls' night out. We had a blast. I am sooooo grateful to have a daughter that I can truly call my friend. We talked and laughed and sang to David Archuleta's CD in the car (as she drove). We're going to his concert in Reno on Wednesday night!!

We ate mexican food and had to unbutton our pants in the car afterwards (hmmm, too much information?). We did some birthday shopping since her sweet 16th is right around the corner. We just had fun!

I love being with Kristi. She is a wonderful, sweet, funny, friendly, talented, lovely young lady. I've told her several times that she is what I wanted to be when I was a teenager. When she was little I used to comment to Keith that I was just so excited to watch her grow up and see who she would turn out to be. Now many years later, I can say that it continues to be a fun ride. I admire Kristi and feel very privileged to be her mom.