Thursday, December 2, 2010

pretty awesome.

If you ever need a boost of faith, watch your 19-year-old son prepare to serve a mission. Then for a further boost, read his letters from the MTC. Brennan's mission adventure has just begun -- he's only been gone two weeks -- but the blessings are already coming.

Here is a picture of Brennan with David and Michael the night before he entered the MTC. He was excited and nervous! And ready to get started.

The MTC drop-off is truly just that. Keith thinks he was in the parking lot for less than five minutes. So no pictures! There was barely time for a hug goodbye before he was whisked off. Keith got a little choked up as he was driving away and seeing from a distance the hundreds of missionaries in the parking lot. The Army of Helaman!! Apparently 750 missionaries entered the MTC the same day as Brennan. I don't know if that's a typical Wednesday or not, but wow.

It was very difficult for us to see him go! Harder than I thought it would be. I realized I have been fairly unsympathetic to Missionary Moms over the years - only seeing the excitement of it rather than the misery! Having our first go represents such a change for our family. We are no longer a family of six at the dinner table, for instance. I know I will have them all at the table again in the future, BUT the 'days of six' are over. We are unbalanced and it's awkward passing over the empty place. We feel puny without Brennan's big personality.

But the flip side of this is the amazing joy I feel that he is where he is, doing what he is doing. I almost can't believe it's happening. We have always talked about a mission as if it's a given, but Brennan would never have gone if it was only to please us. I remember the day a couple of years ago when I went into his room to put some laundry away and saw a handwritten note taped to his wall that said, "Be worthy to serve a mission". I knew that day the decision to serve a mission had become personal to him. And because he didn't stray from that decision, here we are.

Here's a line or two from his first letter home after being in the MTC for a week:

I LOVE it here. I really do. I’ve taught multiple lessons already. I am learning so much! I’ve never studied harder in my life, but I love doing it. I don’t know if I want to leave the MTC!

And from his email yesterday after his second week:

I have not had that tough of a time here so sleep easy mom, your boy is fine. I know you have prayed for me because I have felt it. I have not been homesick and I've actually helped some elders going through that. My testimony is growing everyday, I know this is where I need to be without a doubt. I have never worked so hard in my life which is weird because most of the day I'm sitting down. But I love it! I have a long way to go to be the servant the Lord knows I can be and wants me to be. I love you guys so much!!! Mom thanks for everything, you have done so much for me thank you.

It feels so good to know that he is happy and finding joy in the Lord's work. He leaves for Kentucky on Monday and then the adventure really begins. We are proud of him, and thankful for the example of missionary work in our extended family -- for his grandfathers, father, uncles, and many cousins who have served willingly and faithfully. The gospel is true!

Monday, October 25, 2010

his life is flashing before my eyes

We will be having an open house for Brennan on November 7th (and for a sweet couple who are leaving on their mission the same week). We wish you could all come and eat "Sunday Sundaes" with us. In the background we will be playing this slideshow (disclaimer -- it's LONG so I don't honestly expect anyone but me to watch the whole thing, but I couldn't resist posting it!):

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Create a free digital slideshow

Monday, October 18, 2010

one more picture . . .

. . . to add to the picture theme of my last post.

Saturday marked a significant and wonderful day for our family when Brennan went to the temple for the first time. We are joined in the picture by two of Keith's brothers and their wives, as well as his parents. It was a special day!

Friday, October 15, 2010

all in a day's work (and pictures!)

It was a day of contrasts at work today. Here's one end of the spectrum: I tutor a first-grader named Anthony and today his mom came to school during his tutoring time to meet me. She told me that she had to come meet Mrs. Shaffer because Anthony talks about me all the time at home and tells his mom that tutoring is his favorite part of his school day. She sat in on our tutoring session, raved about how much it is helping Anthony, and even brought me a pretty flower! It really perked me up because only an hour earlier . . . I had a tutoring session with another first-grader named Zackery.

Zackery likes to do things his way every day. Which is fine on some days because his ways coincide with my lesson plan for the day, but sadly for him, most days this is not the case. Even after lots of patience and cheerfully using all my tricks to help him get down to business, I had to take him back to class a little early after he drew in a book and then dumped a box of crayons on the floor instead of working. On the way back to class he was so frustrated with me that he declared, "You're fired!" Oh, Zack, if wishes were fishes.

So thanks for the flower, Anthony's mom! And T.G.I.F.!!


And now for some pictures:

Kristi bought a WIG for a leadership thing, and then this happened:

Explanation: Kristi is Kristi and Dallin is willing.

But I have no explanation for Austin.

Speaking of Austin, here is how he spent his summer:

practicing for football . . .

hiking Half-Dome at Yosemite with Brennan for a scout high-adventure trip:

dear old Dad made it too!

dizzying heights at the top . . .

Then it was rafting the Merced River:

and doing a little rock jumping:

And then climbing Boundary Peak (highest point in NV at 13,700ish)

Here's Brennan, opening his mission call!

Kentucky Lousville, WAHOO!

As for Kristi, she/we had a fun time at girls' camp:

Keith was a dancing fool with the other camp dads:

And I had the good fortune of competing in a mullet contest:

But back to Kristi -- this is the picture of her that says it all:

Am I ready to face this all over again????? I'm not so sure.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

easing back in

You know how it is -- the longer you wait to do something, the more difficult it gets. And so it goes with the blog. The last few months have been pretty full, and I simply have not made any time for this somewhat guilty pleasure. Looks like today's the day to ease back in. Probably without pictures.

Quick recap of summer: it was a blur. Again! This 'blur phenomenon' quietly irritates me. I can't figure out what we're doing wrong, but we rarely have any time to just be.

Brennan continued to work at Lowe's over the summer, and got his mission papers ready to go. That included getting his medical and dental check-ups completed and getting his wisdom teeth out. There are funny stories that accompany each of those things which I won't go into, but they include fainting, a magic pill, and an attempted laughing gas overdose. And all for the cause of Zion.

Kristi got a job as a Teacher's Aid at the Child Development Center at nearby Western Nevada College. The job was a blessing monetarily, and she was grateful to get it, but the 35 hours she worked each week really added to her stressful summer. Because she had signed up for 4 AP classes and was elected vice-president of her senior class for this year, she had an inordinate amount of summer assignments due the first day of school. I am not kidding when I say it would a-m-a-z-e you the amount of work she had to do for each of her classes and for her leadership requirements. So she had no summer break to speak of. Which made me furious.

Austin is playing freshman football this year, which meant that his season began in June with the summer conditioning program. So he stayed busy with that, plus he also had summer assignments for his two Honors classes. He was busy with a few significant high-adventure activities for scouts as well (all with his dad, who is in the YM's presidency): climbing Half-Dome at Yosemite National Park, camping, whitewater rafting, and climbing Boundary Peak (highest peak in NV at 13,500ish ft). At some point I will post some pictures from those hikes because they are really something.

Dallin actually enjoyed his childhood by swimming in the backyard pool and playing with friends a lot. He loved riding his bike in the construction zone nearby in the evenings when the workers had left. Watching him made me happy because he so loved staying up late and sleeping in, eating popsicles, wearing his swimsuit all day, etc. Real summertime stuff! I did instigate "Webelos Wednesdays" and "Faith in God Fridays" because with our house running at such a quick pace, it is often easy to neglect those kinds of things in daily life. He is now working on his Arrow of Light before he turns 11 one month from today.

For me, summer was consistently busy with Girls' Camp preparations. I served (again) as the stake camp registration secretary, which sounds simple but is surprisingly involved and time-consuming! Camp was the first week in August, which meant that I spent most of the summer busy with preparations, and then once it was over, we only had two weeks until school began. Mentally that was sad. But camp was wonderful for us because this was Kristi's sixth and last year, and in addition to my being there with her again, Keith was called to be a camp dad, so the three of us were up there together and shared some fun and good times.

Well the school year hit us like a freight train with full days, short nights, and figuring out who gets what car on a daily basis. As most of you know, Brennan received his mission call to the Kentucky Louisville Mission, covering most of Kentucky, and parts of Illinois and Indiana. To say he is excited and eager to go is an understatement. He really got what he was hoping for: an English-speaking mission in a part of the US that he is unfamiliar with, with a climate and culture different than ours. Check, check, check. He reports to the MTC on November 17th, and he is counting the days. He is keeping fairly busy between work, a lot of pre-mission reading, and checking things off the packing list. He also has a darling girlfriend which he never intended to have before his mission, but sigh, what can you do.

Kristi kept her summer job and works M-F afternoons; about 18 hours/wk. As expected, she is burning the candle at both ends on a daily basis. She is constantly in motion, from trying to get to 6:00 am seminary on time, to keeping up with her homework, to serving in a thousand ways for leadership, to making it to work every day, to trying to get to bed before midnight. Honestly by the time she leaves for college we will barely notice a difference; that's how much she's NOT home now. Sniff.

Austin LOVED high school for the first week or so, and then he got used to it, and it just became school. His two honors classes are pretty demanding, and so with football, he is feeling a little too busy as well. But he's a good sport and tries his best in everything that he does. He is playing left-outside linebacker on defense, and is the back-up quarterback on offense. The first-string quarterback won't ever run, and hates contact, whereas Austin is a great runner. So the coach often puts him in when they get close to the goal line, and he scores on a quarterback keeper. Not sure how long it will take for the other teams to figure this out, but so far it's working. They've only lost one game, and Austin scores at least once in every game. Two games ago it was 4 touchdowns and 100 yards rushing. So he's having a great time.

Dallin is in the leadership club at school this year in fifth grade. He is also playing the trumpet in the band. He is very responsible about getting his homework done and is a conscientious student. He is a fun and funny kid to have around.

I am back to work as a part-time reading tutor and lunch/recess aide. There is much I could say about this experience; in fact a whole post's worth, no doubt. It really is a fascinating experience to work with kids every day. I work with 7 children one-on-one every day with the tutoring, and then as an aide I have contact with every child at the school, and know most of them by name. So both parts are interesting and have taught me a lot. I consider it a great blessing to have this job with the economy the way it is and with Brennan leaving on his mission.

About a month ago, my sis-in-law that lives nearby and I drove to Sacramento for Time Out for Women. It was so good to catch my breath for a moment and to hear inspirational and motivational messages of hope. I think it was my favorite Time Out so far (and I've been to several). I feel that I am definitely in the phase of life where I am running and planning and doing the laundry and helping with the homework and balancing the checkbook and doing my calling and cooking and cleaning and going to work while trying to be at the crossroads for my children and be a support and helpmeet to my husband. I feel like I've been in this phase for quite a number of years and that it just doesn't slow down.

I so appreciated Elder Holland's talk in the Saturday morning session of conference because frankly it's easy to feel like a blur myself, doing most things out of responsibility and few things for any other reason. Now and then it's good to be validated. And that applies to all of us! I also appreciated President Uchtorf's talk about simplifying and slowing down, and I think I practice most of those principles but I still feel breathless most of the time because even on a satisfying day when things go right, tomorrow in all of its glory is only a sunrise away. I hope there's enough of meaning in all of the busy.

I have so much to be grateful for. Too much to count, really. I enjoy being in my forties. I enjoy my growing children, and am so excited for Brennan to begin his great adventure. I will admit to being tired of this precarious economy and the effect it has had on our family, but I am determined to continue in faith and be optomistic. And to keep mixing milk, haha. I so appreciate Keith and all he is handling as he provides for us. [Another understatement.] It is through the interesting twists and turns of personal, family, and professional life that we learn and grow and become more refined, wiser, and with a more clear perspective on who and why we are. It's a fascinating journey, isn't it?

Next time with pictures.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

to everything there is a season

We have been enjoying quite a ride around here over the past couple of months. We've had some interesting challenges but have experienced undeniable blessings on many fronts and feel very grateful. On one end of the spectrum we have Keith's truck being stolen and recovered (twice), and on the other end we have Brennan graduating from high school with all that represents. And there have been a few things in between. Highs and lows, challenges and blessings. That's what makes the world go 'round.

We'll leave the lows alone for now, and mention a couple of highs. We actually had two graduations this year: Austin from junior high and Brennan from high school. Side note: I still have the earrings I wore to my 8th grade graduation. They are little half-inch diameter hoops that I thought were SO huge at the time. I remember feeling a little self-conscious as I wore them, like I was a little too bedazzled and people would notice. Austin didn't wear earrings, but he did look very nice in his shirt and tie as he accepted his "English Student of the Year Award".

and then as he strolled up to receive his Presidential Award for Academic Excellence:

Parenthood is really a fascinating career, isn't it? You strive daily to learn the job and then perform it well, and just when you think you've got it down, the job description changes, and the learning process begins again. Those whom you are working with and for grow and change and require us as parents to grow and change right along with them. The baby years turn into the preschool years, then the school and preschool years mingle for awhile, then the momentous day arrives when the last child begins school, and the locomotive picks up speed in a whole new way. The time for great parenting has arrived like never before, because now we parents are balancing our influence with that of friends, worldly distractions and interests, and increasing desires from our children to be independant. We have to learn the delicate balance of asserting control and letting go. How strict should we be? How many decisions can they make on their own? How far should I push this or that? Which battles should I decide to surrender rather than fight? Was that one's poor decision my fault? Should I have been able to prevent that one from failure? Did my influence have anything to do with that one's success? How much of my teaching went into that one's great decision? Will they remember this happy moment? Will they (please) forget that bad one? Will we still be friends when it's all said and done? Oh, it's a complicated job. Some days I do okay, and other days I just can't get anything right. And then in the midst of all of this, while the parents are still learning how to do their job, the children leave the safety of the nest and fly away, whether or not they know enough or are prepared enough. Ready or not, sink or swim. And I am somehow saying, "Could this really be happening already??" Thankfully, we've got Dallin for eight more years,

Austin for four,

and Kristi for one.

So we can still teach a little and learn a lot. But this one is almost out the door.

and he's pretty happy about it.

Something tells me that, in the eternal scheme of things, we are just getting started.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Look out, world!!

Here are three of my favorite 2010 high school graduates! Brennan has some pretty amazing cousins that he also counts as good friends. Although he has lived far away from both of these guys for most of his life, he loves and appreciates them and hopes the future will bring more opportunities for their paths to cross. Wouldn't it be fun if they all served in the same mission? Hey, stranger things have happened, right?!?

Friday, April 30, 2010

sugar & spice and everything nice

Okay, I've received some chiding about the promised-but-yet-to-be-seen post about birthday-girl Kristi. Be careful what you chide me about - this could be a doozy.

Kristi joined our family 17 years ago ON her due date of March 24th, after only 3 hours of labor. What a great beginning! To be truthful, I wasn't sure I was quite ready to have another child, as Brennan was only 20 months old and a bit of a wild and crazy guy. It had taken us over a year of trying before we were able to have Brennan, so we assumed the timing might be the same each time. But somehow, before we even knew we were trying, Kristi was already on her way! I remember clearly that the first time I held her in my arms, any feelings of uncertainty instantly melted away. As I looked at her, I was completely overcome with a feeling of peace and awe and gratitude. I felt such joy to have a daughter.

Kristi was always smiling and happy. She was an easy, delightful, sweet baby.

She was blessed to have girl cousins close by while we lived in Pennsylvania. I can't resist posting this oldie but goodie! Love you Karey and Kelly!!

Alas, time flies. Although there is much I could say about her younger years, we'll fast-forward to the present. 'Sugar and spice' describes Kristi pretty well, I think. She can be as sweet as can be, but definitely has plenty of spice to her personality too. Here are a few thoughts about Kristi at seventeen:

Funny! Kristi has a quick sense of humor, and loves to laugh laugh laugh laugh. I get regular comments about her 'bubbly-ness' or just how funny/silly/clever/crazy she is. Really, why be sad when everything is just so funny?

Smart! Underneath her general funnyness, Kristi is suh-mart. I'm not sure people appreciate just how smart she is because she does not appear very serious about it, but she is at the top of everything she does academically. She is famous for saying that she's afraid she didn't do well on this or that, but then aces it anyway. She found out last week via a letter from our school superintendant that she has made it into the National Merit Scholar program. She has wanted to attend BYU her whole life, and I think she's finally starting to relax just a little about her ability to do so.

Talented! You all know she can play the piano. But did you know she also plays the guitar, that she enjoys composing music, and that even though she can read music amazingly well, she can also play by ear? Meaning that she can hear a song on a CD or the radio, and go to the piano and play it. Just like that. To me, who can barely still play Chopsticks, it is the most amazing thing. Kristi also has a beautiful singing voice, but she prefers to keep that talent mostly hidden under a bushel. Kristi is very artistic and creative. You'd want her on your marketing team. She can figure things out and make things happen.

Competitive! I don't know how much of this is due to growing up with three brothers, but Kristi likes to win. So be warned in case you ever play a board game against her, or maybe any kind of game. She's a good sport when she loses, but while the contest is in play, look out. And wear protective gear if you play Spoons . . . or if you dare to tickle her. Tickling is not a fun or friendly or affectionate gesture. To Kristi, it's a call to war.

Normal! I don't know if Kristi would remember this or not, but one day when she was in fifth grade we were discussing some social issues at school. She was noticing and wondering about people's social status and how people got labeled this way or that way. I remember her talking about the 'popular group'. As Kristi had lots of friends, and was very well-adjusted at school, I asked her if she was in the popular group. She said something like, "Oh no, Mom! I'm not popular. I'm normal!" For some reason, I loved that. Kristi does have her head on straight. She is grounded. She knows who she is, and what her strengths and weaknesses are. She sees the big picture pretty well. And she has her priorities in order (although a little more sleep and a little less Facebook & itunes wouldn't really hurt her).

Busy! With so much Facebooking, you'd think she would have no time for anything else :), but aside from the time it takes to maintain her perfect GPA, she also teaches piano lessons, tutors 2 8th-grade boys in Algebra, attends Seminary and Mutual faithfully, serves on the Stake Youth Committee, finds ways to achieve her service hours for National Honor Society, and as the new vice-president for her senior class next year, has begun transitional leadership duties, which twice a week means she has to attend the earliER morning Seminary class. [It will be even more impressive when she makes it there on time, but at least she's trying.]

Social! She has something like 450 friends on Facebook, but more importantly to her, she has a few close friends that she loves and who love her. She is easy to get to know, and is not shy about meeting new people. She challenged herself to get some boys' phone numbers at a recent leadership conference she attended. I don't really know WHY, but she was very proud of herself for getting four, I think. She will never call them, but she got them. Speaking of boys, Kristi enjoys them. As friends. Kristi does not enjoy boys who think they should be more than friends with her. So far she has not enjoyed that at all. One day she hopes that will change. As she was talking with the missionaries who were here for dinner last night about academics and BYU, one of them asked her what she would like to get into eventually. She said in her deadpan way, "Well, eventually I would like to get into marriage . . ." which made me laugh out loud.

I will miss Kristi something fierce when she leaves next year. And even though I know there's a lot about me that she endures, I think she might miss me too. It's been lots of fun growing up together!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

you shoulda seen the other guy

Poor Dallin hasn't had much presstime in here recently. So he decided to take matters into his own hands and give me something to post about. The pictures can do most of the talking. This is what I'm used to seeing around the house every day:

And this is what came downstairs this morning:

Yesterday, 20 minutes after I dropped Dallin off at school, he had a head-to-head collision with a classmate while playing football on the playground. So home he came. I took him to the doc's office, who after checking him out, said he had a mild concussion and had to be 'under observation' for 24 hours. He improved rapidly as the day went on, passed his middle-of-the-night wake up test, and is feeling fine today. The swelling is down markedly from yesterday, although its location has changed -- now it's in his eyelid. Nice.

One more day of R & R at home!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

loco-motion, continued

As if the last post wasn't long enough.

But I don't think I ever followed up on Brennan's BYU-I vs. LDS mission decision. After he received his track assignment, his decision became a bit easier. He was assigned to the Winter/Spring Track, which puts him on campus from January to July each year. Since he wouldn't be starting 'til January '11 anyway, but he turns 19 this July, he decided that serving his mission first was the right decision. He plans to leave in the fall sometime. It was so neat for him to hear Elder Rasband's talk in the Priesthood session of conference about mission calls. For some reason we have had a standing joke about him serving in Fargo, North Dakota. It's just cool to know that wherever it will be, it will be the right place.

Next up was finding a job. I truly thought this might be a lengthy process, but without too much sweat or effort, he was hired at

in the lawn and garden section. Right up his alley, and just what he wanted. And he didn't even need to drop my maiden name to get it, haha. He is still learning the ropes, but is enjoying being a working man so far.

Finally, Brennan had some senior photos taken last week and the photographer put some of them on her blog. Check out my handsome son at;

Okay, that's it. Post about my cute daughter still forthcoming.

Monday, April 12, 2010


I am a broken record, always commenting on how busy we are, blah, blah, blah. Boring! It just seems like my head is in a jumble much of the time, and there are just too many details, schedules, deadlines, and responsibilities to process and sort through on a daily basis. We do get a lot done; I just hope most of it is good stuff and not just stuff that takes time! But for all that we get done, the list of things to do just seems to grow, or at least not shrink. Sigh. I know many of you can relate!! I think loco-motion captures the essence of what I'm talking about -- most days with the emphasis on LOCO. hee hee

Some items of note since last time --------

Brennan finished up his basketball season with a nice surprise:

Even though he had a great season, he didn't expect to be recognized as an all-league player so that made him feel pretty good. And not surprisingly, it was a little sad to say goodbye to this part of his life. He's been playing sports of one kind or another since he was six years old. So it represents a bittersweet change for him and for us! It's been a good ride.

Next up, the youth in our ward had a talent show. I took terrible, dark pictures of the event, so I have none to post, but just for memory's sake I will record that Keith (being a youth leader) played a harmonica medley of hymns which surprised us all. He was voted "most likely to show up at your next campfire"; Austin did an amazing juggling routine complete with coordinated music in the background. First he juggled tennis balls to some carnival music, both in the air and then against a wall which I really thought was cool, and then his music changed to the rap "Basketball" by Curtis Blow (remember the good old days, Deb??) and out came the big guns. He juggled three full-sized basketballs, with some bouncing in between! I had seen him practice a little bit, but was really impressed. He was voted "most likely to join the circus". He's a stud, as you can clearly see!

Kristi and her crazy friend Haydn did a strange tumbling routine, which caused much injury in our backyard during practice, but somehow on the hard stage floor everything came together and they looked quite . . . a bit more like they knew what they were doing! They did a two-person cartwheel routine, among other things, that they learned from watching some youtube videos. They were voted "most dangerously cute". Here they are doing their final warmups in our backyard before the big event. I like the suspended basketball in the background - magic!

Brennan had to say goodbye to two of the missionaries he has grown very close to, Elder Ferguson and Elder Ray. As I may have mentioned before, our family - and especially our oldest son - has been very blessed over the past several months to become very close to the missionaries in our ward. Of course the companionships have changed several times but each one has been someone Brennan has learned from and become great friends with. He's also served with them and has loved every minute.

Austin just finished playing on a traveling basketball team, made up of the best players of the two eighth grade teams in Carson. They played several tournaments in the Sacramento area, did pretty well, and had a lot of fun.

Dallin's big accomplishment lately, other than earning his Webelos badge, was taking second in his last Pinewood Derby. He would tell you that he really took FIRST, but that the missionaries who were judging gave the photo finish in the championship heat to the other boy, figuring that since they know Dallin so well, they didn't want it to look like favoritism. haha

Other funny noteworthy events -- Dallin and Austin were hired to take care of the neighbor's two dogs while they were out of town. We were given their garage door opener as the way in. Inadvertantly, on Day 1 of our responsibilities, the garage door got opened (from inside our house), and the dogs got out. It was hours later that we discovered this sickening fact. It was Day 3 before they showed up at the pound. Oh thank heavens for whoever found them and called Animal Control. Can you imagine that conversation with the neighbors when they returned? Still makes me shudder at what might have been.

Okay, this has turned out to be a novel, and fortunately for any readers, I am off to a girls' camp meeting before work, so I have gotta go for now. I will return soon to devote a post to Kristi, who recently celebrated her birthday. That deserves its own spotlight.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Is there something I should know??

Ours is not the perfect family. We have strengths and weaknesses like everyone else. But one thing I count on our 'strength' side is that we do a lot of communicating. Happy communicating, sad communicating, informative, impatient, funny . . . and every other type of communicating. Most days are loud when everyone -and often their friends- are here communicating. We usually know exactly why someone is having a bad day (no sullen, silent sufferers here), and we usually know why someone is especially happy. We are much more verbal than non-verbal.

So it was not typical for me to come downstairs in the morning on Tuesday to find a note taped (with chewed gum, I'm not kidding) to the microwave saying,

"I love you, Mom. -Brennan"

Huh. Certainly a nice way to begin my day. By the time he and the others came down for scripture reading, we didn't have time in our morning rush for small talk and it didn't get acknowledged. When I came home from work that afternoon, the paper now read,

"I love you, Mom. -Brennan"
"I love you more! -Kristi"

Wow, nice.

That evening, after I got home from our RS Bday Dinner, the paper read,

"I love you, Mom. -Brennan"
"I love you more! -Kristi"
"I love you the most! -Dad"
and in little writing in the corner:
"But nothing compares to your favorite, Austin"

This was getting better all the time. Still odd, but better.

Then this morning when I came down, another note was stuck (with more gum) to the original note.

"I love you and appreciate all the little unnoticed things you do. I want you to know I notice them and will miss them . . . Brennan"

What is going on?!?!?!? Have I somehow been diagnosed with a fatal condition? Or has Brennan done something really awful that he hasn't 'fessed up to yet? What is the meaning of all of this non-verbal kindness?????

And more importantly, WHY DOESN'T DALLIN LOVE ME??

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

who would've thunk it?

Isn't life with kids just one interesting ride after another? You think you know them and can predict their every move, and then they surprise you. And that little sequence is played out many times with every child. I can't resist sharing this one.

Since Brennan has been old enough to drive himself to Seminary, I sometimes start his car for him on frosty mornings when he is running late. More often than not, the stereo will start blaring whatever was playing the last time he was in the car. In the past, the blaring music was usually not of my liking. Often it would be rap music, which just isn't what I enjoy hearing at a high decimal level at 6 a.m. (or at any other time). And I would inwardly lament that my son felt differently. From time to time, over the years, I have cheerfully challenged him to better his music choices. But mostly I have said nothing.

This morning when he hadn't come downstairs by 6:15, I ran out to start the car. As usual, the music blared as soon as the engine started. But this time, the blaring music was the Tabernacle Choir singing, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing". I still turned it down, because it was still too loud. But no inward lamenting. This has happened a couple of other mornings and the music has been MoTab or VoiceMale. Weird. I came in this morning and had the following conversation:

Me: Gotta love it to hear MoTab blaring in Brennan's car in the morning!

Keith: (chuckling) I wonder if he's just got us fooled by switching the song before he turns the car off the night before.

Kristi: No, he listens to this music all the time!

We all shake our heads in wonder.


Switch of topics, but I can't resist sharing what I have been calling A Victory for Virtue. Last weekend, our high school had Winterfest Week. There were activities held all week, culminating in a dance on Saturday night. There were also elections of a Winterfest King and Queen. One of my favorite YW in our stake was up for Winterfest Queen. She is a beautiful girl, inside and out. She and Brennan have been friends for years.

During halftime of the basketball game on Friday night, the King and Queen were to be crowned. That afternoon, she was telling me that she felt awkward about it because she's not like the other girls and she didn't feel like she belonged in that group. My response was that she should be proud of that fact, as the other girls are far more . . . worldly. Well, Hannah won, much to her surprise, and my faith in the student body of Carson High School who voted for her was mildly restored.

Go MoTab, and Go Virtue!!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

comfort food

I haven't yet shared any recipes on my little blog, but this morning as I was re-filing a few, I thought I would share a couple. My recipes generally are not sugar-free or fat-free or meat-free. I like to cook, I like to eat, and thankfully I also like my treadmill, which at least helps me to keep things under a certain degree of control.

Last night we had the missionaries over for dinner and I made a couple of kinds of soup, rolls, and salad. And for the second time in my adult life, I made a recipe from my childhood for dessert: Chocolate Buttermallow Cake. The first time I made it was last year after requesting it from my mom, and as I was making it, I declared to whatever family was nearby at the time, "I am never making this again!" (see why below) But then everyone loved it.

I've served dinner to the missionaries so many times that I was running out of dessert ideas, so yesterday I decided to try this again. They liked it so much that one of the elders requested it again for his birthday . . . THIS Sunday. So I'm going to share. You can thank Grandma Lowe for this one.

Chocolate Buttermallow Cake

Begin by baking a favorite chocolate cake recipe in a 9 x 13 pan (Mom's recipe was too much work for me - sifting, alternating, etc. - that I use a simpler one or just a cake mix). Then when the cake has cooled, top with Butterscotch Filling and then Marshmallow Frosting.

Butterscotch Filling:
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
4 1/2 Tbsp flour
1 cup light cream (I use milk)
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
3 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional

Combine sugar and flour in a saucepan; stir in milk. cook over med. heat, stirring constantly, 'til thickens and boils. Boil 1 minute, then remove from heat. Slowly stir small amount into egg yolks, then stir back in pan. Boil 1 more minute, stirring. Remove from heat; add rest of ingredients, then let cool. Spread over cake. DO let it cool first or it will mostly run to the edges of the cake and leave the top sparsely covered.

Marshmallow Frosting:
2 egg whites
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/3 cup water
3/4 cup marshmallow whip (I didn't have any on the shelf yesterday, so omitted it and it was fine)

On top of a double boiler (or a bowl over a pan), combine all ingredients. With water boiling below, beat mixture with electric mixer 'til soft peaks form (at our altitude, this takes at least 10 minutes). Let cool slightly and frost cake. A spatula dipped in water can help spread it more smoothly over the butterscotch. Or if there are butterscotch/marshmallow swirls that's okay too.

Enjoy a la mode or with some cold milk!

The first time I made this I used a heavy glass bowl as my mixing bowl over the boiling water. After a few minutes of beating the marshmallow goo, the bowl s-h-a-t-t-e-r-e-d, and the resulting mess was epic, and then of course I had to start OVER. Hence the short-lived decision to never make it again!

The salad I made was also a tasty favorite -- with romaine and red lettuce, apples, glazed walnuts and feta.

And now a roll recipe to pass along. My sis-in-law Julene shared this with me years ago and I have probably made it a hundred times. You are actually eating the rolls hot out of the oven one hour after you start to make them, which makes this a great 'go-to' recipe.

One-Hour Rolls

4 Tbsp. yeast (yep, you read that right)
1 cup warm water
2 tsp. sugar
Mix these in a small bowl and set aside.

Put 2 cups of milk in a saucepan over high heat to scald.

Now put the following ingredients into your mixer:
2 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp sugar
1 cube softened butter
7 cups flour (this also works well half & half with wheat flour)

Add yeast mixture and scalded milk to mixer and mix well for 5 or so minutes. Fill your kitchen sink about 1 1/2 inches with very hot water. Put plastic wrap over your dough bowl and place bowl in sink for 15 minutes. When time is up, punch down the dough and form the rolls however you like. Let rise for another 15 minutes while preheating your oven to 425. (I just squeeze them into 2"(?) balls and put them close to each other on a greased sheet pan). Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes or until brown. Easy and fast!!

Have a comforting day!