Monday, December 29, 2008


I have so much to say, so much to tell, so many pictures to post! Like, our big Mathewson Christmas party, or our fun Christmas Eve activities. I am dying to post about Christmas Day, about what fun presents we gave each other, and how fun it was to have my family over that night. I even have a few movie reviews to give! But big changes are about to happen around here, and instead, I must focus all my attention to preparing for these changes. Once we get all settled, and since I'm sure I'll have plenty of spare time on my hands, I hope to get all caught up on blogging!

Have a safe and Happy New Year! I'll say "hi" to the duckies for ya!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


The following is a true account of a Christmas Eve many, many, years ago. "Dar" in this story was my Maternal Grandpa, and was one of the loves of my life. We were always blessed whenever Grandpa Dar was willing to share with us any of the colorful and sometimes sad stories from his life... and we are lucky to have a written account of this particular story thanks to his son Gary (and my uncle).


It was Christmas Eve 1931. The cold winter wind blew the falling snow into Dar's face as he walked along 31st street toward town. A passing car had cut two tracks in the snow that stretched before him like two ribbons under the street lights. He tried to walk in one of the car tracks so his bootless feet would not get so wet. Dar was eleven years old, but he felt much older. Being a child during the depression years was hard. Instead of playing baseball or cowboys and Indians, Dar was trying to earn extra money to help his family.

He felt very cold as he walked along the street. The lights in the houses were dimmed to conserve on energy. The streets were nearly deserted, as most of the residents of Ogden were home with their families. Suddenly, a feeling of warmth ran through his body as he turned the corner onto Washington Boulevard. The street was lined with shops brightly lit with Christmas lights. This season was Dar's favorite time of year. Christmas always filled him with feelings of love and giving. He did not worry too much about receiving gifts because his family was poor. There was not extra money for gifts.

Dar peered into the shop windows as he passed by them.. He thought about the 79 cents he had in his pocket. He had worked very hard to earn this extra money. Dar gathered firewood and tied it into bundles. He sold the wood to his neighbors for extra money. He also sold magazines on the street corners to help his family get through the hard times. This money in his pocket represented his savings over the last year. It was getting late, and Dar had a cold three-mile walk back to his home. He needed to find a toy shop that had what he was looking for. As he approached the shop, his heart raced with anticipation. There in the brightly lit window was what he wanted more than anything else in the world. A shiny new red truck! He gave the shopkeeper the money for the truck and turned to leave the shop. He had hoped for a penny in change, so he could buy a candy cane to eat on his way home. "This is going to be the best Christmas ever," thought Dar as he tucked the new truck under his arm and went out into the night. Three miles to town and three miles back home is a long walk for an eleven year old boy./ Especially on a cold, snowy, Christmas Eve. His feet hardly seemed to touch the ground as he walked the distance back to his home. The joy the new red truck would bring on Christmas morning made even his wet, frozen, feet feel warm.

The reason Dar felt so good as he walked along that Christmas Eve was because he was filled with the true Spirit of Christmas. The shiny new red truck he carried so carefully under his arm was not for him. He had bought it for his little cousin Bobby who lived down the street. Dar knew that Bobby would have nothing under the tree Christmas morning except the new red truck. The thought of the excitement and happiness in his cousin's eyes on Christmas morning gave Dar feelings of joy, love, and giving that have never left him.

Dar was cold and tired as he walked up the sidewalk to his cousin's house. The surprise in his uncle's face turned to deep gratitude and respect when Dar handed him the shiny red truck. "This is for Bobby," he said, and turned to leave. "Merry Christmas Dar," said his uncle in a huskier than usual voice. Dar turned to go home. He knew he would have nothing waiting for him under the Christmas tree the next morning, but he knew he had received something much more valuable himself that night. Dar stopped outside his home and looked up into the Christmas Eve sky. As he turned to go inside, there seemed to be one star which shone brighter than the rest.

"Merry Christmas Bobby," he said... and closed the door.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Dont' worry, I'm not going to put two tear-jerking, mushy, posts in a row, but it just so happened that I had dinner with the girls in my book group last Tuesday night... one of the most emotional and vulnerable days of my year. So I think between all the emotions I was trying to conceal, and the arctic temperatures, I was bound to feel pretty delerious as soon as I walked into the restaurant (late) and saw all my sistas sitting there waiting for me. We get together each month to discuss the book we've read; we also talk about our kids, our husbands, our mothers. We talk about all the good things we've done, and the bad things too. We share each others' happiness, but we share in our sadness nearly as often. We can vent to each other just as easily as we can compliment a new pair of shoes. I don't think any of us really knows how important we each are to the group as a whole because I think we get stuck on thinking about how important the group is to us, individually. It has taken me a long time to realize how important girlfriends are. I don't feel like I'm missing anything in my relationships with my kids or with Jeff, but it doesn't mean that I don't need my girlfriends, each one. It's different.

It was Keri's turn to choose our book for January... it looks pretty good. You can check it out over there (look right ->). She also sent us this:

Oooops! I mighta lied. But, there's nothing wrong with shedding a tear or two.

(You might want to pause my music while you watch it)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Another year's gone by and here I sit thinking about you on your birthday. You'd be 32 today and of course I'm doing like I always do, going over the things I would say to you if you were here. I'd want to tell you how much I miss you, and how you are still a part of my day, everyday. I wonder what your life would be like. I'm sure you would be married with kids of your own. How many? Two? Three? Can't imagine four! You would be a good mom, a fun mom, and I'm pretty sure a bossy one as well. I would tell you that some years are easier than others and that this year is harder. I see so much of you in my Kaylee. She loves to be outside, just like you, having (or making) an adventure out of everything. She is independent, sassy, and sure of herself, just like you. The older she gets, the more I feel you around us, in our lives each day. I'm grateful for this, but it makes having you gone even harder. And Brit... you wouldn't even recognize Brit! He still remembers you a little bit. He remembers when you would sit him on your lap and put your hand out like a lever. Then tell him to flush the toilet while you let him fall through your legs, and catch him at the last minute. He has your same hands, and your nail biting habit! If you were here I'm sure we'd talk about all the funny stories we have together. The kids love to hear those stories. I'd remind you, of course, about how you would sneak out of the house stark naked when you were three and run around to your heart's content (or until you got caught). Your long, blond, hair trailing behind. And I'm sure you'd remind me of my less than humane babysitting tactics. And I'd want to tell you how much I cherish the hundreds of times I had to get up earlier in the mornings to do your hair for school. I know at the time I complained, and maybe even pulled your hair too tight on purpose a few times, but it was a time for us to have together. And when it came time for me to do your hair that one last time, I was so careful not to pull, I was so careful. I'd tell you how I've felt cheated sometimes that we never got to be moms together. I don't get to hold your little ones. But mostly I feel like you got cheated. I know, I know, you wouldn't want me to be angry after all this time, but I don't always get to choose what emotions I have. I know you wouldn't like it that I get sad and cry when it's your birthday, but if you were here, I think you would know that it's just part of what we do... the ones left here to miss you. Besides, I'm not always sad. I think you would be happy that I have such a great life and a great family. So many times I've thought about how easily life just flowed for you, and how much more good you could have done here. While I've spent countless years trying to come to terms with my limitations, and overcome my many demons, I've thought about how the world needs more people like you still in it. But maybe you would take small comfort in knowing that when you left, some of you stayed here with me, and I've tried to cultivate those parts in me. You have helped me to keep moving forward. And your leaving taught me to cherish every day I have with my kids, and Jeff, and the other people I love. I believe I am a better mother because of it. Before you left, I couldn't have imagined anything worse. Although I still don't think there are many things worse than losing you, I have come to understand that I am stronger than I thought. And I am always going to miss you, I am always going to cry on your birthday, but I am okay.

If you were here, maybe we'd lay upstairs in that big bedroom, on the full-sized bed and just talk... you know, like we used to? About boys, and school, and clothes, and horses, until I finally realized that I was the only one still talking, and you had drifted off to sleep at some point. And then I would pull the covers up around you to make sure you were not cold. And I would reach over at least a dozen times to pinch your nose closed so that you would stop snoring. Then finally I'd roll over, and we'd sleep back to back, me always having to touch some part of you, to make sure you're still there. My little sister.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Jeff likes to plan our dates for week nights because of his social disability (Shhh! Don't tell him I told you) so we usually go out on Thursdays. Tonight we decided to eat at Macaroni Grill because Jeff had a $25 gift card we could use at Chili's, two other places we don't even have in Utah, or Macaroni Grill. It was the better choice for me since I'd earlier eaten a frozen bean and cheese burrito, and that was already pushing my Mexi-food limit for the day (if ya know what I mean). To be fair, Jeff would have taken me wherever I asked him to for dinner because he is trying to buy back all the love he's lost over the past three months due to excessive weekend hunting. But, I have my own vices, and spending boat-loads of his money during the holidays is one of them, so I agreed we should use the gift card tonight. And had he not spent waaaay too much time with the duckies and the dudes, and had I not spent boat-loads of money, we would not have had our dinner with Rainman. I'm not talking about Dustin Hoffman, no, no, I'm talking about the real Rainman! Mr. Kim Peek was sitting at the table next to ours. The reason I can claim we had dinner with him was that Macaroni Grill had all it's patrons snugly smushed together and Jeff's chair was literally inches from Mr. Peek. He was dining with a pretty big group and it was so cool to listen to him answer questions about dates and times and other facts that he has stored in his amazing brain! My favorite thing about Mr. Peek is that he apparently carries his Oscar with him wherever he goes, and it was so cute to see him show it to his server. He even let her hold it... for about a half-second before he took it back. I guess Mr. Peek was never awarded the Oscar himself, it was given to him by Barry Morrow, who won it for scripting the movie Rainman. Mr. Peek was the inspiration behind the screenplay. If my mama hadn't taught me to be a good girl, and to mind my p's and q's, I would have asked to take a picture with him. Instead, I have this pic I pulled off the internet.


I was tagged by my sis-in-law (at least I think she meant me) for this really, super-duper, unusually long Christmas tag. I've been a bit more grumpy lately due to a a condition I like to call COLD/PMS Disorder, so it was best for me to wait to do this tag. Otherwise questions 1-30 would have all have the same response: BLAH!

1. WRAPPING PAPER OR GIFT BAG? Both. I use what I have handy.

2. REAL TREE OR ARTIFICIAL? Artificial. Because it has it's roots in Art.

3. WHEN DO YOU PUT UP THE TREE? I TRY to get it up over Thanksgiving weekend.

4. WHEN DO YOU TAKE THE TREE DOWN? I TRY to take it down before summer break starts.

5. DO YOU LIKE EGGNOG? Yes, but I like SilkNog better. It's not so thick.

6. FAVORITE GIFT RECEIVED AS A CHILD? I honestly cannot remember!

7. HARDEST PERSON TO BUY FOR? Jeff. He always buys whatever he wants, whenever he wants it, and leaves the rest of us wondering what we could possibly get him. Stinker!

8. EASIEST PERSON TO BUY FOR? Kaylee. She loves everything!

9. DO YOU HAVE A NATIVITY SCENE? Yes, two. One is a Precious Moments Jeff gave me one year as a gift, the other is carved olive wood from Brazil. Both are cool.


11. WORST CHRISTMAS GIFT EVER RECEIVED? The year my parents gave all of us kids towels and lightbulbs... to prove a point... use your towel more than once, and turn the lights out when leaving the room. Can you imagine a suckier Christmas? Pretty sure we learned our lessons though.

12. FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MOVIE? I could never choose just one!

13. WHEN DO YOU START SHOPPING FOR CHRISTMAS? As early as January, but mostly sometime in the fall.


15. FAVORITE THING TO EAT AT CHRISTMAS? Sugar cookies. I don't really eat them any other time of year.

16. COLORED OR CLEAR LIGHTS? Both. Clear on the house, colored on the tree.

17. FAVORITE CHRISTMAS SONG? Again, I can't choose just one.

18. TRAVEL OR STAY AT HOME? I've only ever traveled once and it was pretty fun :)

19. CAN YOU NAME ALL OF SANTA'S REINDEER? Sometimes I can't get their stupid names out of my head! Once I hear the song, it's days before I quit replaying it in my mind.





24. FAVORITE FOOD FOR CHRISTMAS DINNER? Crepes are a Swensen tradition that I love.

25. WHAT DO I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR? Well I know I DON'T want towels and lightbulbs!

26. WHITE OR WARM CHRISTMAS? Mmmmm... our warm Christmas last year was really nice. But if I can't have warm, I'd rather have snow for Christmas rather than just cold.

27. FAVORITE THING ABOUT CHRISTMAS? How Christmas brings out the sweet in people.

28. FAVORITE CHRISTMAS TRADITION? One of my favorites is making treats with kids for all our neighbors.

29. FAVORITE CHRISTMAS LOCATION? Anywhere as long as my little family is there too.

30. WHO DO YOU TAG? Whoever feels the urge to do a 30 question long Christmas tag!

Monday, December 8, 2008


We decorated the house over Thanksgiving weekend and I am finally posting the pictures...

The tree doesn't really have a theme since we've been collecting decorations for the past 18 years.

Part of my Christmas Village

If ever there were a "shady" side of town in my make-believe little village, this would be it. I'm a little suspicious of the guy in the boat. And you really have to wonder what's in that bag slung over the weary traveler's shoulder!

Over on the other side of town, proper folks are exchanging pleasantries...

...Singing and making snow angels.

I don't have as many decorations as I used to. It's a lot of work to get everything out, but it seems like more work to put them all away after the holidays, so I had to scale back. To be honest... I'd probably still have all of it if my complainy family hadn't given me such a hard time about the tree still being in the family room for Easter. I still don't see the problem!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Today this kid, this 15 year old kid kept bugging me about how he's done all his studying, and now he's ready to take his tests for his Learner's Permit so he can start driving me to the grocery store, or on short trips around the neighborhood. This is not my child, no, because there's no way I'm old enough to have a kid who will be driving ME around! But he kept on bugging me, and so to prove to him that he was crazy in the head, I took out his birth certificate and showed him that HE was born in 1993. Ha! See, that means he is only 1,2,3,4,... well it still can't mean he is 15. Because there is just no way I am old enough to have a kid that age! And he said as long as I was looking at his birth certificate I may as well get out his social security card cause we were gonna need that too... later when we went to the DMV. He said he learned all about what he'll need to bring to get his Learner's Permit. So now he's a Mr. Smarty Pants too! So I said, "Fine, we'll go all the way down to the DMV, and we'll stand in all those lines, and we'll show them all your papers, and then you'll see that I can't possibly be your mother because I'm just not old enough to be a 15 year old, Mr. Smarty Pants' mother."

So we went all the way to West Valley City to the Driver's License Division, and we filled out the papers, and we stood in line to get our number, and then we waited again to be called up to our window again, and then we waited while the kid took his tests. And you know what they told me? I AM old enough to have a 15 year old kid who, now, can legally operate a motor vehicle with me, a licensed parent in the front passenger's seat!

And he was pretty excited that he passed his tests and got his temporary permit. And he was all smiles even when I MADE him stand out in front of the Driver's License building, holding up his permit so I could get pictures of it. He tried to get out of it, he pointed out that none of the other moms were torturing their kids this way. But all the other moms WERE old enough to have kids that age!

Congratulations Brit! And... for the record... I am so proud and grateful to be your mom.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Main Entry: de·press
Pronunciation: \di-ˈpres, dē-\
Function: transitive verb
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French depresser, from Latin depressus, past participle of deprimere to press down, from de- + premere to press — more at press
Date: 14th century
1obsolete : repress , subjugate
2 a: to press down b: to cause to sink to a lower position
3: to lessen the activity or strength of
4: sadden , discourage
5: to decrease the market value or marketability of
— de·press·ible \-ˈpre-sə-bəl\ adjective

No, I'm not going through a time of uncontrolled sadness. I am just so slow! Everything about my daily routine is "depressed." It takes me twice as long to do my regular stuff and to be honest, I don't have that much extra time! Anyone else feeling this way? I get this way when the weather starts to be below 50 degrees and so here's my theory... I was a bear in a former life.
Yep, that has to be it. That must be why I spend the entire summer and fall eating everything in sight, and then by December all I want to do is sleep until spring. If you do happen to see me in the next few months, I'll be the one in the shaggy fur coat, (not real fur of course) stumbling around stupidly, and growling at people. Sorry, but you can't fight nature!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I decided to get my Thanksgiving grocery shopping done early this year, so I went today. Two days before the holiday IS early for me and it took a real effort to make my goal. You see, I don't like shopping much in any form, especially grocery shopping right before a holiday- or the Superbowl. Is the Superbowl a holiday in our Country? Anyway, so I anticipate how horrible it's going to be and usually put it off for just one more day, until finally it's the morning of, and I have to get up extra early (like all the other losers like me) and hope I don't forget anything. But this year is different, and I got my shopping done early. Yay me! But I spent sooooo much money! I spent more money than I've ever spent in one shopping trip at a regular grocery store. I decided Costco doesn't count since everyone spends way more than necessary when they go to Costco. We are making the yams and two pies this year. Kaylee wanted to make everything from scratch so I had to buy a bunch of ingredients that we don't keep on hand around here. Things like flour, sugar, lots and lots of butter, and more flour and sugar. Which begs the question, what kind of household doesn't have flour and sugar? How lazy does that mother have to be? Actually, I blame Oprah and Dr. Oz. I already felt guilty about eating sugar, drinking soda pop, and eating meat. Now I'm not sure if there's anything I should keep around the house besides brown rice, apples, and leafy greens!

So I got my stuff, spent a crap-load of money, and I'll be going back tomorrow for the things I forgot. The lines were not too bad so I'll be calling it a success. Now if I can only get my Christmas cards out in time, and then... ugh!.. get all my Christmas shopping done. Wish me luck.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


This is a weird time of year for me. It's the time of year when I'm reminded more to really look at how much I have. I feel grateful pretty much 365 days a year for my family and my cushy life, for the choice I have to be home with my kids, and for a man who is willing to work long and hard to provide us with these comforts. But this is the time of year when I'm reminded of how much I have in so many other ways. Things like the freedom to blog whatever I feel, and not fear being arrested for my thoughts and expressions. Or the security of knowing that my government and law enforcement agencies are set up to protect and provide for me (most of the time :). During this time of year I remember how lucky I am to have the abundance of food and necessities that cause me to curse those extra pounds I'm carrying around the rest of the year. It's that same over-abundance of good, healthy, food and water that keeps my kids thriving and happy. And I'm grateful for Community and the goodness of Humanity that really shines during these few weeks each year.

Then there are all the smells, the Holiday foods, the music and lights. I love all those traditional symbols of Thanksgiving and Christmas. I like to make candy and treats for our neighbors with the kids. I like to decorate the tree and house, and I like to watch all the traditional Christmas shows on t.v. It's just not Christmas without Ralphie and his Red Rider b.b. gun!

But this is a hard time of year for me too. Right around Thanksgiving time I start to be reminded of who will not be with us for the Holidays this year. All those same traditions that make me feel connected and familiar are also a reminder of sister who is missing from these celebrations for the past 13 years. It's harder this time of year to forget the memories of that terrible night, to forget about the regrets that followed, and to ignore the obvious gap her passing has left in our family. I cry more, I have a harder time controlling my emotions, and my thoughts and feelings about the Holiday Season are bittersweet. So much has changed over these 13 years. Not only do we mourn the untimely loss of a sister and daughter in my family, but we mourn the loss of our traditional family unit. My extended family has changed, is not the same in many ways, and we are still trying to feel our way around all of these changes. Certain traditions have had to fall by the wayside. Yet, we still have many things to be grateful for. We have added some very special and valuable new members to our "untraditional" family, and in the process, have added new traditions and (my personal favorite) new Holiday foods.

This is the time of year that reminds me most how little real control we have over certain circumstances. And that we really need our traditions, and our foods, and our gatherings, to help keep us all connected and grounded during the times of change and difficulty. Change and loss are an inevitable part of living, and mourning is just a normal part of those inevitabilities. But this year is a good one. My parents are both happy and content, my siblings are ALL doing relatively well, and we've added four beautiful new members to our family in 2008. I'm sure I'll have my darker days, but that's why I'm blogging today, a good day, to help remind me how there's more light than dark to enjoy this time of year. And it just barely occurred to me that is exactly what Christmas is meant to remind us of... the Light.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Have you seen it? I have. Just got home in fact. And I'll just say this... so I won't be the spoiler... This was the first time EVER that I have liked the movie better than the original book, play, or musical. I read the book way back before the whole Twilight mania thing took hold and I didn't love it enough to finish the series. Blasphemy, I KNOW!!! But my kids have read all four books and although they were not standing in line all night, wearing "Team Edward" shirts, excited for the movie, they did want to see it. And since Jeff had the afternoon off we thought, heh, why not? We saw the 1:30 show mostly because anything later was basically sold out. It was still kind of a frenzied atmosphere at the old Jordan Commons, and the only thing further I will say is... if you plan to see Twilight this weekend anywhere in Utah, don't wait till you are on the verge of peeing in your pants to find a ladies restroom! Because there will be gobs of people, and there's just no dignity in having to shove old ladies and little girls out of the way to get to a stall in time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


The barn has been on my list of things to fix since, well, FOREVER!

See the insulation all dirty and hanging down?

And the garbage laying around...

And muddy stalls because the roof has been leaking!

So we have been working on it for the past five days, non-stop, and we've fixed the roof, we've painted, and put the walls back up that had fallen down. We have worked hard! And working hard hurts! And the barn is not even close to being done. But I feel better about it already. I love the Dutch-door we built, just the kids and I, all by ourselves! It's so cute!

But my most favorite part of this HUGE project is my little red shed. There's something about a red barn or barn-shaped shed that really gets me happy. Even better that I turned this old, crappy, falling apart, shed into the cuteness it is now! I've been looking out at it all afternoon just to get that warm, fuzzy feeling all over again.

Now before you go judgin' me, and thinkin' I'm bordering on obsessive, you think back to the last project you completed that you were really proud of. And then once you've re-lived that, and you still can't relate, well then maybe you were right about me. And then maybe real soon an intervention may need to be in order.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


It's probably not a good idea though. Today was our big "going out" day. We had tickets to the matinee showing of "Noises Off" at Pioneer Theater at the U. I love that we have these great opportunities and they help make homeschooling easier on me. The part that is NOT easy for me is the going downtown part. And it's not even that I don't like being in the city, it's more that I don't like driving in the city. I am not good at it! Not one bit good at it. So today I was going to take a different approach... public transportation. Trax is the name of our light rail system in Salt Lake County and we've taken advantage of Trax a few times with relative success. Today was going to be a little more complicated because we had to exit one train and then catch a connecting train to the University, and walk the rest of the way. A few things I should have considered more carefully before putting this plan into action. 1) The weather 2) Things may not go to plan, and 3) What if things DON'T go as planned.

I think things first started to go bad when I decided to skip the gym this morning in favor of a few quiet minutes to myself at home while the kids were at art class. It would have been fine to take a day off, if only I didn't let myself feel guilty about it. One bad decision tends to lead to a chain reaction and I found myself un-showered and unready to go with only 30 minutes to get to our Trax station on time. Rush, rush, rush, and we barely made the 12:34 train. Whew! Okay, now I could finally relax and enjoy the rest of the day. I studied the routes on the wall of our car as we bumped along and felt relief that I was not driving on this blustery, rainy day. "Brit, do you have the umbrella? No?" When we left home we had clouds and the temps were around 55 degrees. This seemed like jacket weather, so we wore jackets, not coats, hats, and gloves. When we got off at our transfer location we had rain, wind, and temps in the low 40s! Our connection came, we stood their stupidly watching people board, the kids asking if we should get on, and then missed our train! What was I thinking? Well, the train came from the north, and was headed south. In my mind we needed to continue north. My faulty, frozen mind. We stood for 15 minutes in the rain, wind, and coat (not jacket) weather until the next train came around. I told the kids to hurry up and get on because if we missed this one we would not make it to the play on time. I grabbed Kaylee's hand and headed for the nearest opening. Lots of other people must have felt the same kind of urgency to make this train because they were pushing and shoving their way on. We made it though... most of us... then Kaylee screamed, "Mom! Brit didn't get on!" And then she fell apart completely. That was about the time those pushy, selfish people who had shoved Brit out of the way to get on train started to grow a conscience. One guy tried to stop the train by opening the doors, that didn't work, another guy tried to help Kaylee calm down by telling her another train would come by and Brit could catch that one, and another guy gave us his seat. Nice gestures, yet not really much consolation for a little girl who honestly thought she'd never see her brother again, and a mother who just watched her baby boy disappear from view. Kaylee was sobbing and I knew I needed to call Brit's cell to let him know he could catch the next train. At the same time, Brit had the same idea and called me to say he was fine. I gave him instructions on what to do and then put a call in to Jeff to let him know our situation. Jeff was working downtown today and decided to call Brit and offer to pick him up and bring him to us. Kaylee was squeezing my hand and crying, I was trying to make her understand that everything was going to be okay. I wanted to cry too, but that's not really an option when you need to be the strong one. We got off at the University and sat down on the benches in the rain, and wind, and freezing cold temps to wait for Jeff and Brit to find us. Kaylee was now to the point of heaving and shaking uncontrollably so I just sat and held her close. She said, "Mom, I just want Dad to come and pick us up and take us home!" And as much as I really wanted to see "Noises Off", I knew it was too much to ask of my little girl to suck it up and forget that just minutes before she honestly thought she would never see her brother again.

Brit seemed to get through the whole ordeal without much trouble. The worst part for him he said was that he knew how worried we were about him. And in the parking lot when we all got out of the car, a miracle happened... my 15 year old teenage son gave his little sister a big, giant, hug! Oh, and I got a hug too.

I told Brit that this whole thing could have been avoided if he hadn't been so stubborn about holding my hand in public!

Monday, November 10, 2008


Camas Lilies

Consider the lilies of the field,
the blue banks of camas
opening into acres of sky along the road.
Would the longing to lie down
and be washed by that beauty
abate if you knew their usefulness,
how the natives ground their bulbs
for flour, how the settlers’ hogs
uprooted them, grunting in gleeful
oblivion as the flowers fell?

And you — what of your rushed
and useful life? Imagine setting it all down —
papers, plans, appointments, everything —
leaving only a note: "Gone
to the fields to be lovely. Be back
when I’m through with blooming."

Even now, unneeded and uneaten,
the camas lilies gaze out above the grass
from their tender blue eyes.
Even in sleep your life will shine.
Make no mistake. Of course
your work will always matter.

Yet Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these.

~ Lynn Ungar ~

Don't you wish sometimes you could just go out to the fields to be lovely?

Friday, November 7, 2008


So guess who is in the hospital again? No, not little Sammy (thank goodness), it's my grandma... in the hospital again. She is almost 88 years old, born in 1921, so she's been here a long time, and done a lot of things. Her body is wearing out and that is just what happens when you live to nearly 88 years of age. So while I want to sit around all day crying about the fact that sooner or later she's not going to be here to answer my phone calls, or to patiently show me how to end my knitting, again, I'm going to blog instead.

Since I am her oldest grandchild, I've been able to spend lots of time with my grandma. Even though my grandparents lived in another state my entire childhood, my parents made several trips each year to visit them. We were always excited to visit my grandparents, but it was Grandpa who really got the "hero worship" early on. If he was home, he would wait for our arrival outside in their long gravel driveway, his pockets full of candy. He called me Kimilee and my brother B.C. which stood for Baby Clark, but then was later changed to C.B. (Clarky Boy) after much insistence from my brother that he was a big boy now! Grandma was never out to greet us in the driveway, or to take us for ice creams after dinner, that was Grandpa. Grandpa was the one who pushed us in the swing, took us to the chicken coop to gather eggs, or to the dairy to buy milk. Grandpa let us ride with him on his old riding lawn mower, made up bedtime stories for us, and held barbecues at Butte Ridge (a made-up location from his stories that was actually the fire pit in the backyard). Grandpa would take time away from one of his two or three jobs to spend with us while we were there. Later when there were more of us, and more nicknames to make up, more kids to vie for his attention, that was when I started to notice what Grandma was up to. Grandma was up early every morning. I noticed the reason she was never waiting in the driveway for us was because she was busy making something for us to eat in the kitchen. While Grandpa was pushing the swings, Grandma was weeding the garden or picking raspberries for our lunch. In the afternoons when we were hot and tired from playing outside with Grandpa, I noticed Grandma was inside working on her sewing or knitting of future Christmas gifts. If we were lucky enough to visit during early fall, Grandma would be busy all day with her canning and pie making. The older I got, the more she would let me help her with these things, and the more I learned about Grandma. One visit, Grandma had purchased a canvas, some paint brushes, and paint, it was time for me to learn about oil painting. Grandma is a fabulous artist, and she wanted to share her talent and knowledge with me. One visit, she said it was time for me to learn to make pie crusts, another visit it was freezer jam. Next I learned to crochet, then to knit, and sew. I learned how to make a bed properly from my grandma, how to make those hospital corners. I learned how to hang laundry on a line, how to grow a garden, make food from scratch, and "do-it-yourself."

I was born in love with my kind, gentle, permissive grandpa. The kind of intense, unabashed love that makes you cling to that person without shame, knowing they will return your affection, but not exploit it. When Grandpa left us so suddenly and without warning, I fell apart, I couldn't imagine life without him. What Grandpa gave me was everything I needed as a child... unconditional love, and I still miss it so much. With Grandpa gone, things changed with Grandma too. I wasn't just her student anymore, in my mind, I needed to step up a little bit and try to give back to her. She had given me, after all, everything she felt was important for me to carry on. And I wasn't a child anymore. In fact I had a child of my own by then, who needed to know his great grandmother, who needed to learn from her. But Grandma wasn't finished teaching me. She taught me how to pick up the pieces, how to start a new life, how to find a new purpose. She taught me that happiness is something we work on each day, and that we don't stop worrying about our kids and grand kids, no matter how old they are. She taught me that even the people we look up to, our heroes, are not perfect, make mistakes, have regrets, and that is okay. And, she started teaching my kids all those things she feels are important for us to keep, to carry on. And I love my grandma, with everything I possess, with all my heart. My Grandpa taught me a lot about being loved, Grandma taught me what love is. Grandma showed me that Grandpa can still be here with me as long as I keep him that way, if I take what he gave me, and I keep teaching it to my kids, grand kids, great grand kids, and teach them to pass it forward. And because I love my grandpa, and because I love my grandma, I will do it. Not just the crocheting, the knitting, the pies, or the stories about Trigger and Pal on Butte Ridge. I'll pass on their stories, their legacy. I'll do my best anyway. It won't be exactly the same, it never is, but it will hopefully be beautiful, and worthwhile, and maybe one day they will stand together and look at all of it from where they are, and be happy that they can be where they are, but still be here with us too.

The latest lesson my grandma taught me was today. We were talking on the phone, me at home, she in a hospital bed. After giving a brief explanation of what she is dealing with, she needed to know how I am doing and how the plans for my winter in Arizona are going. I told her I've nearly chickened out several times in the past couple of weeks. Why? She wondered. Because I fear the unknown, I lack confidence in myself and my ability to do this on my own. "Yes" she said, "I've been having some anxiety about the unknown lately myself." I remember wishing after Grandpa died that each person who loved her could take a little piece of her grief away so that it would be easier for her to bear it. I found myself wishing the same today about her fears and anxieties for her future, if each of us could just take a piece of it away from her, wouldn't that lighten her load. I guess that is what we are trying to do when we tell another that they will be in our thoughts and prayers. Today Grandma taught me that we are all in this together. And that maybe she can forget about her own problems a little easier, by carrying concern for ours. You can bet that while I am finding my way this winter in a strange place surrounded by challenges and new experiences, that I will be thinking about my grandma, and how if she can be strong, she'll be expecting nothing less of me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


It's November 5th Ya'll!

That has to be at least six inches.

Dogs didn't seem to mind.

I guess it's time to say goodbye to fall and hello to Old Man Winter :(

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Can you feel them too? There's electricity in the air tonight... some of it fueled by excitement and hope, some by fear and dread. Either way, it's thick, tangible, and fully charged.

I liked things about both candidates this time around. I read and re-read their platforms and watched their rallies and debates when I had time (usually at the gym while walking on the treadmill) and I have to admit I was captivated by Obama's public speaking skills and compassionate demeanor. But we don't want to cast our vote based on emotional response alone, now do we? So I studied both sides and for the first time ever, really looked at who I thought was willing to tackle the issues that are most important to me. I didn't vote this year based on party bias, or on sheer emotion. I didn't let fear of certain alleged outcomes drive my decision either. And once I made my choice, and because I had really looked at what was good about both candidates, for the first time ever I was able to cast my vote and then finish the day without a shred of anxiety about the outcome. I felt like whoever was needed most by our bruised and broken Nation would be the one elected. Now of course I voted for one person over the other for my own personal reasons, but I was okay with the fact that my choice may not be the winner.

We all know that progress is what our country needs. And I think we all know deep down that the kind of progress we need cannot be accomplished by one man in the White House. What we do need from the White House is a strong and brave leader who will coax the best out of all of us, who will encourage us to get up and help ourselves out of the slump we've so easily let ourselves fall into. We need someone who will help keep us focused on what the real issues are, and not let us get distracted by issues that will continue to keep us divided as a Nation. It's going to take all of us to keep moving forward towards a better future for our great country. I think both candidates were acutely aware of how much is at stake for our Nation right now, and I believe they were both prepared to do their best to rise to the challenge. We are ready to stretch and grow. Are we ready for the growing pains yet to come? Anyone who has been married knows that real resolution to disagreements only comes when you put aside the notion of being the winner, and decide to work together to solve things. But, you also understand how much hard work is involved, and how much courage it takes to see another's side. I think we can handle it. We are a strong, stubborn, and ambitious bunch. So to quote President-elect Obama... "Yes we can."

Congratulations to our new President-elect. I don't envy your position, nor your immortal place in our Nation's history. But I will give you my hopes and prayers to live up to the responsibility you've won yourself.

Monday, November 3, 2008


So I guess most of you know what I'm talking about? The problem here is that I don't know what I'm doing!!! I've had a Facebook account/profile/whatever for... I don't know... a year or two, and when I first signed up it was at the request of a childhood friend. I created my profile (and yes I know it sucks) and then kind of forgot about it. Every once in a while I'd get requests to be friends with people, mostly people I really didn't know, but that was about it. But all of a sudden my friends have exploded! What's up? Is everyone in some kind of Facebook competition to acquire the most friends? Do you all talk to each other? Do you all have really cool profiles? I'm starting to feel like a huge Facebook loser now that I have all these friends and I don't even know what I'm doing! I barely have time to keep up with my blog. So Facebook friends beware... I may just be the biggest "friend" mistake you ever made!

Okay, now if you are really my friend, you will know that I can't just let this thing die. It's gonna bug me until I update my profile. Then it's gonna bug me when I don't update my profile often enough. Then I'm gonna think about what I've put on my profile and it's gonna bug me that I said something wrong, or I added too much. See the twisted mind we are dealing with here? So fine. I'll update my profile, I'll check my account more often, I'll read my "friends" profiles, and I'll try to find new friends. But there is no way, no how, I'm gonna have time to keep up with my Goodreads account!

Crap! There's that little voice in my head again...

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Halloween is one of our favorite holidays. It might even be our very favorite holiday of the year. Since we homeschool, we can choose just about anything we want to learn about, and so we've been able to study many of the cultures and traditions that have contributed to what we call Halloween. Like most holidays, Halloween has it's roots in ancient Pagan traditions, traditions that were celebrated based on the earth's cycles and their very survival through agriculture and healthy crops. So we've had fun researching why we carve pumpkins and light up our jack 'o lanterns, to why we bob for apples, to why... ooops..! Did I just accidentally treat you all like my students? So sorry! Anywho, for all those reasons, and because we looove candy, Halloween is the best!

Jeff and I had a costume party this year with friends. Can you guess who we are?

Jeff would add that he likes Halloween because he loves to scare people. And it's true! I hardly ever let my guard down around here. On Halloween he can scare people without it becoming a police matter.

This year Kaylee wanted to dress up as an '80s popstar. Brit had taken a couple years off from wearing a costume, but decided to dress up as a hobo this year.

We like to wait until later in the afternoon on Halloween to carve pumpkins and this year we had some visitors to help us. My dad and Diane came to see the kids' costumes and Devin and Addy brought their little cuties to help out. So here's how it went down. Dad and Diane ooo-ing and aaah-ing over the kids, taking pictures. Addy carving a pumpkin, and Devin trying to manage two babies, changing diapers, giving bottles, adjusting costumes.
Devin is a really good dad and Addy is a great mom... and as it turns out, she's also great at carving pumpkins! Alias was dressed as a German Shepherd and Jacoby was dressed as a giraffe. So cute!

After pumpkin carving it was time to visit Jeff's parents which has also become a Halloween tradition. My parents usually make the rounds to see all of the grandkids, but Jeff's parents have been living in their home and neighborhood for over thirty years and many of the neighborhood kids look forward to trick-or-treating there. Jeff's mom is very creative and always makes something special out of her Halloween candy and this year was no exception. After our visit we were ready for dinner, but the kids still wanted to do some trick-or-treating of their own. We decided Jeff would pick up take-out, I would man the door for trick-or-treaters, and Brit and Kaylee would hit a few houses. We ordered Chinese/Vietnamese from Cafe Trang (one of our favs) and then watched a scary movie to finish the night.

Another great year! Now I can't believe it's already November!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


No, not me... Jeff. On this milestone in his life, Jeff had to work a full ten hour day, but still left some time to have a birthday dinner at Tuscany Restaurant. I had been planning a big, fun, party with friends and family for a few weeks, but Sandy City decided otherwise, and my plans had to change at the last minute. We were going to gather funeral style to pay respect to the "nearly departed", with a Eulogy and a nice musical number, Dust In the Wind, played on kazoo by Mindi and Kaylee. I guess this is one of the hazards of renting a place for a party instead of having it at home! Apparently refinishing the floors was more important than taking my money (yes, I'm bitter). After a a tantrum or two, and some tears of frustration, I decided to reserve a table for dinner instead. I also decided to whittle the guests down to just Jeff's parents, his brother and wife, sister and husband, and Brit and Kaylee. Tuscany has fabulous food and a nice atmosphere so I was pretty sure nothing too big could go wrong.

Jeff got a few funny gifts this year including adult diapers, a can of pork & beans labeled "Over The Hill Bubble Bath", a Bingo game, and some cute homemade things from Kaylee. Instead of one birthday cake, we got everyone a bundtlett from Nothing Bundt Cakes- so yummy!

Happy 40th birthday old man! We love you!!!

Monday, October 27, 2008


Disclaimer: girlie post.

I'm probably not going to blog about all the books I read in my book group, I am going to blog about "Peony In Love." Peony was supposed to be September's book and we finally had our discussion of it last Thursday. When I started reading, I thought we were reading an epic love story, based on true events (as true as any historical account can be), and when the main character dies after just a few chapters, I put the book down in disgust! To be honest, I'm not a fan of romance novels to begin with, so ghost romance is way down there on my list of stuff to read. Luckily I decided to pick it back up again and finished it anyway. Peony was not the best book I've ever read, but it reminded me of some really important issues... namely the struggles we face/have faced simply because we are born female. It reminded me of how far we have come, but also of how much things haven't changed over the ages. Peony is set in 16th century China just after the Manchus invaded in what they called the Cataclysm. Women had been, for centuries, valued only for their beauty and their ability to produce sons. In order to be considered beautiful and refined, they had to start mutilating their bodies at a very early age. Foot binding was practiced and continued to be practiced in China clear into the 20th century. Yet, women had been writing poetry and had been published by men in China for a thousand years before this time. A strange juxtaposition I thought. So it got my mind turning in a couple different directions.

How much different are we today? What are we, as women really valued for in our "modern" society? If we have become so enlightened and liberated, why do we still continue to mutilate our bodies in the name of beauty? Especially when we know that beauty is so fleeting. True, we don't bind our feet, but we all know what I'm talking about here. And is it possible that our obsession with physical beauty has been our own greatest enemy on our path to equal rights? These are just questions I've had, not conclusions I've actually come to believe. I'm also not absolving any other party from their blame in the oppression game.

Yet, I think we women know that only a handful of us will be remembered through the ages based on our physical beauty. Often those are the women who die young. I believe what we really want in the end is to be heard. Whether it's through the stories we tell our children, our writing, the canvas, in song or deeds, we want to leave something behind. So it made me think that if we are going to continue to push for anything, maybe it should be for our freedom of expression. The freedom to be the women we each WANT to be. The freedom to put our desires into action or art.

Reading Peony reminded me how many women who, at this very moment, still do not have a voice. It reminded me how much I don't say because I'm afraid somebody may not like it, I might offend someone else. Well, at least I have that option! And if I did decide to voice my opinion (and don't get me wrong, I voice it often enough) the worst thing that would happen is that someone might disagree, someone might not like it. So keep talking ladies, keep telling our stories, and keep your opinions coming, because these things will be our legacy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I should WANT to blog about our trip to Moab last weekend. It's only my favorite place on Earth, except maybe the Caribbean, I think I'd have to visit the Caribbean several more times before knowing for sure (for Jeff in case he's reading). But I'm typing this post simply to record that we made this trip, for later remembering. I think my reluctance is mostly due to writer's block. Do you have to be a writer to get that? And maybe because I'm dog tired this week. As I type, Brit is watching 2001: A Space Odyssey in the same room. Has anyone seen this movie? Who made this crap, and what were they on? I'm just saying that it's done nothing but add to my distraction.

Last Friday we hitched up the new trailer and headed for Moab, Utah for a short weekend with Jeff's brother and family. In the past we've always had a Jeep and spent most of our time Jeeping with some eating and hiking mixed in. Well, that's not entirely true... our first year or two we also did some gnarly mountain biking trails. This trip we were Jeepless, bikeless, and showing our advancing age- I guess, because we spent most of our time eating and sitting around playing games at the campground. And you know what? It was a perfect weekend! I think I needed a nice, relaxing, day or two away from the house and my regular responsibilities. It was nice to have time to spend with Scott and Polly and their kids. We were able to leave the kids at camp so that the growed-ups could have a quiet, growed-up kind of lunch. On Saturday we hiked and scooted our way through the Watering Hole hike (the trail is unnamed, so we gave it that name) with six kids and two dogs.
The weather was perfect for hiking... not too hot, not too cool. The only two issues I had with our weekend in Moab were that it had to end, and that the lense on my new camera has crapped out on me, so I didn't get many pictures. And isn't Moab one of the most picturesque places to visit? Kaylee got a few with her little camera so that I could have some filler for this ill-constructed post.

Monday, October 20, 2008


I think I've been tagged for this... right Amy? And while I really quite like being tagged, it also reminds me of how boring and small my life is! Crazy sounds right, but crazy threes tag would probably have been just about right! I'll give it my best shot to fill in all eight without having to make stuff up :)

Eight favorite t.v. shows

The Office
My Name Is Earl
CSI (the Las Vegas one)
The First 48
Dr. G Medical Examiner
The Soup
No Reservations w/ Anthony Bourdain
Little People Big World

Eight Favorite Restaurants

Chez Betty
Cafe Trang
The Melting Pot
Pasta Jay's
Blue Bayou
Gual Bertos

Eight things I did yesterday

Ate breakfast outside looking at the red rocks of Moab
Packed up our trailer
Spent four hours driving home from Moab
Watched "Uncle Buck" in the car with the kids
Opened several Vanilla Cokes for Jeff
Ate a frozen burrito while feeling sorry for myself for having to leave Moab
Watched t.v. while feeling sorry for myself for having to leave Moab
Finally snapped out of it and went to bed

Eight things I love about fall

I love that it's not winter yet
All the fresh harvest foods
The turning leaves
The smell of smoke in chimneys (yes, even in the city we still have it)
Weather that's cool enough to be out in during mid-day
Getting back into a routine after summer break
Celebrating Jeff and Kaylee's birthdays

Eight things I'm looking forward to

Our next family vacation
Getting into better shape
My next lesson learned from one of my kids
Going to "The Secret Life of Bees" with Kaylee
Costume party with friends this Saturday
Jeff's birthday on the 27th (the old boy is turning 40!)
A big Mathewson Christmas party this year (hint, hint)
A better ecomonic outlook

Eight things on my wish list

A healthy family
More simplicity
More love, forgiveness, and acceptance (globally speaking)
A good singing voice (sorry kids, for now you're stuck with what you hear)
A happy ending for Clark and Tif and baby Emily (or Sadie, whatever they decide)
I wish for my kids to follow their dreams
I'd like to conquer more of my personal obstacles, and...
I'm wishing for some REAL solutions to the real issues

Eight people I tag


Monday, October 13, 2008


Do you ever feel like your life is dull? Like you're doing the same old thing day in and day out? Like you wish you could have a little excitement once in a while? This weekend was a break from the same ol' thing! Jeff's sister and family made the trek from Phoenix to S.L. on Friday. Lucky for Jeff, his sister married his soul mate (not in a Brokeback Mountain kind of way ;), and her husband Nate (said soul mate)
decided to come up this weekend for some Utah duck hunting action. Before Jen and Nate relocated to Phoenix, Jeff and Nate took it for granted that they would always be together during hunting season. I guess I always took that for granted too, and it left me guiltless for not tramping around after him through marsh, and mud, and all kinds of terrible weather!
The boys planned a fun weekend of nothing but hunting and invited anyone who might have a yearning for marsh, and mud, and all kinds of terrible weather. There were actually some takers... if you can imagine, so early Saturday morning a group of six brave (crazy) souls set out for duckie domination. Oh, but I am getting ahead of myself. I should first explain the dynamics of Jeff 'n Nate. See, Jeff is the Jeff we all know and love most of the time. But when it's Jeff 'n Nate, well that there is an Entity all It's own. Still mostly human, but also a little different species altogether. It's not really something you can explain, more something you have to experience. Friday night Jeff 'n Nate went to Cabela's to pick up a few last minute items, and then the kids and I went to dinner with Jeff 'n Nate. Jeff 'n Nate had to get up early again Sunday morning for more hunting, and It was taking my nephew Tanner with It, so both Nate and Tanner had a super fun sleepover at our house Saturday night. I was thinking hard about it, and I can't remember the last time we had an all dude sleepover at our house! They were good boys. Nobody put anyone else's hand in warm water while they were sleeping, or wrote on their face with permanent marker. They even remembered to make their beds in the wee hours of the morning!
Tanner's was more of a "try" to make his bed, but I'm still giving him the credit for it. I think they had fun hunting, even though they didn't get to kill many duckies. I'm told that the killing is only half the fun of these hunting weekends.

Besides the hunting, there were some really fun (and very noisy) family parties. Sunday night Jeff's whole family gathered at his parent's house for Megan's (my niece) early birthday party. We had yummy food, thanks to Jeff's mom Linda, and presents, and cake, and lots of kid fun! Tonight we had a birthday dinner for Jeff's brother Scott at Bonsai with Jeff's entire family, and my brother Joe, as a tag-a-long. It was the perfect place for 22 people to gather publicly because no matter how noisy we were, it was just as noisy at the next table!

Tomorrow Nate goes home, Jeff goes back to work, and our lives become boring and ordinary again... until Friday... when we take our new trailer on Her maiden voyage to Moab! I have to remind myself to be careful what I wish for!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


There's a chill in the air, the leaves are falling from the trees, I'm back to sleeping on a heating pad, and what do you think I'm craving? Ice cream. I'm picky about my ice creams though. Not just any kind will do and since I'm presently boycotting Haagen Dazs after they cancelled my favorite flavor of all time, Mayan Chocolate, Baskin Robbins has my business. Kaylee calls it Baskin 31 Robbins and I have to chuckle a little each time she says it that way :) My favorite flavor of the 31 they claim to offer is Peanut Butter 'n Chocolate. Jeff doesn't really like ice cream, I'm still not sure how I feel about that. It's almost like when two people get together from two opposing religious backgrounds... how do you make things work? He'll have a shake now and then, maybe just to appease me, but it's not the same. In fact, we normally can't agree on desserts in general. Oh we can discuss politics and religion without things getting weird, but don't even get us started on Skittles vs. M n Ms!

Sunday, October 5, 2008


We bought a new 5th wheel trailer this weekend after many months of looking and negotiating. The reason we've been looking at 5th wheels is a pretty long story, that I will tell in parts.

PART ONE: anyone who knows me well at all knows that I have ALWAYS had a hard time in the cold months. Some years are better than others depending upon how well I am managing my Fibromyalgia. But, for as long as I can remember, I have been a human popsicle for about four months out of each year. *Side bar: when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia about 16 years ago, I had never heard of it, and I thought my doctor just made something up because he couldn't figure out what was really wrong with me! The name probably makes sense medically, but it sounds like a made-up disease to me. For years I never talked about my health issues much because I was embarrassed to say I had this made-up disorder. Okay, moving on... so I don't do the cold very well, but I just deal with it because this is where we live.

PART TWO: Last winter we started talking about putting our house up for sale. We had several reasons for wanting to sell and these are those in order. 1) This place consumes too much of our "fun" time, and we wanted to have the freedom to "play" on the weekends while our kids are still around. 2) We have 4500 square feet, 6 bedrooms, and four people. Now that we don't have any of my family living with us, we don't even use half the house. 3) Last winter was so cold, and so long, and from a health standpoint, I barely made it work with all the outside chores we have on our little farm. At the time, I didn't really acknowledge that I wasn't doing well because I love living here with all the animals. I really don't want to have to give that up. But, my most important job is to be a good mom and wife, and to manage my health accordingly. 4) We have been taking little steps towards living more simply, or leaving a lighter footprint, as some would call it. I am more into that kind of thing than Jeff is, but he has come around a bit. We think a lot about how we can conserve, and living in a smaller house, with fewer utilities is just one of the ways we felt we could do that.

PART THREE: we all know that all eco and no play makes anyone a dull boy (or girl), so in March of this year we took a fabulous Caribbean cruise. It was, among other things, just the break from the cold I needed. About a week after we got back from the cruise I started to have some weird things happening to my hands and feet. Whenever I would go outside, or wash my hands, or even just get my adrenaline pumping, my hands and feet would sting and turn white. If I would bump them on something they would hurt way worse than was normal for simply bumping them. I thought it was strange, but I've had all kinds of weird issues that I've felt must have been a product of having Fibromyalgia. If you think Fibromyalgia sounds like a made-up disease... try Erythema Nodosum, or Costochondritis. So I just kind of "went" with it, thinking my body was angry at the joke I'd played by taking it to a warm tropical paradise, and then bringing it back home to the cold. Weeks went by and instead of getting better, the symptoms were getting worse. Even though the weather was warming up, I was still losing feeling in my fingers and toes whenever I put them in water that was not at least 100 degrees, or when I was at Home Depot with their industrial air conditioning, or at the grocery store in the meat and dairy depts. Anywhere, really, where the air was below 75 or so. And by that time my fingers and toes would go from white to blue. The worst part wasn't the freezing... it was the thawing out that really hurt. You know how it feels when you've been out too long in the snow or freezing temps. and your fingers and toes freeze? That's what mine were doing! So when they would decide to thaw out, they hurt like crazy, and then started to itch like crazy. Before we knew it, I was going crazy! Long story short, I have something called Raynaud's Syndrome. At least this time the disorder has a halfway believable name. On the upside, I've dealt with so many strange health issues for so many years, that I feel like we will find ways to cope with it, and it will be okay. The biggest concern with Raynaud's is to keep the flare-ups or "attacks" to a minimum. How do I do that? Apparently attacks are precipitated by prolonged exposure to cold, and by lots of stress, so attacks are limited by eliminating cold and stress as much as possible. It was easy to eliminate cold during the summer, but we've had to start formulating a plan for winter. I've been nearly attack free since the beginning of August and I'd like to keep it that way! Raynaud's is not life-threatening unless attacks cannot be controlled.

PART FOUR: we began talking about a plan to help me stay warm this winter. We talked over so many different options from selling our house and buying a small place here and a small place in Phoenix, to renting an apartment in Phoenix for the winter months, to staying with relatives (since I have an open invitation to stay with the Woodards whenever I need to). In the end, fall was coming and our house has not sold, and probably won't sell anytime soon, so we decided to go with our best plan B. We bought a bigger truck, a 5th wheel trailer, and the kids and I will be migrating south for the winter. The reasons for why we chose this plan are a little more involved than all that, but I've decided this post is long enough already, so I'll save them for another time.

I have to admit, I've been like a kid since we got it home. The kids wanted to sleep in it Friday night, and then we all slept in it last night! We've been hanging out in it, playing games and watching movies. It's like taking a vacation at your own house! Kaylee took a few pictures.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Today was October 1st, the first day each year that I start to feel a little bit of dread. Dread because I know that winter will soon be here, and I am not good at doing cold. We had a busy day with art classes and then "My Fair Lady" at Pioneer Theater so I didn't get to be outside in the sun as much as I'd have liked... unless you count the sun beating down on us through the windshield of the car. We are lucky enough to have season tickets to the Pioneer Theater Company's afternoon matinee through their educational outreach program. A really smart homeschool mom was able to reserve seats for a certain number of homeschoolers in the first three rows. Our seats are on the third row, right at center stage! The best part about all of it is that we pay $2 a ticket. So for three season tickets, we only had to pay $36! Yes, we have to sit with a theater full of jr. high and high school students, but it makes for a fun kind of energy with all the extra enthusiasm (pent-up teenage angst, coupled with an afternoon spent out of classes) and the kids always give a standing ovation at the end. Today was our first play of the season and I thought the cast was fabulous and the set was amazing.

Today was about as good as it gets where weather is concerned! It's just a beautiful time of year here in the Wasatch Mountains and we have been gifted with a mild, and warmer than usual fall so far. When the weather cooperates like it has this year, we get enough moisture to keep things alive and green, and enough warmth to make those trees turn colors slowly. It's about as pretty on the hillsides as I've ever seen it. All day I was in kind of a fog of weather bliss, soaking up the sun and warm, forgetting about what lies ahead. I mentioned this to Jeff when we got home tonight and he quickly reminded me that I only have a couple more days to bask in it. Saturday we are in for rain and cold and that first smack in the face that winter is coming soon. He said this with an evil grin and I just knew that he had somehow willed this new weather pattern. He is a duck hunter and everyone who hunts ducks knows that the first Saturday of October is the annual opening for duck carnage to begin. Any duck hunter also knows that nothing gets those ducks flying low enough to be pelted with thousands of bbs like stormy skies! I have extra sympathy for those little duckies because they, like me, just want to make their annual migration to someplace warm and sunny before the snow flies. For the ones who make it, I envy you :) It looks like he'll get his glory day on Saturday, but for now, I still have my sunny skies and warmer than normal temperatures, at least for a couple more days. I think because Mother Nature must have been so pleased with herself for producing such a gorgeous day, she decided it only fitting to end the day with a bang. The sunset tonight was a perfect end to a perfect day. If I was a better blogger, I would have taken a couple of pictures to share. Instead, you get the one I found on the internet instead.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


I just wanted to let anyone who is following my posts for information on Clark and Tif's baby know what is going on. A week ago they brought Baby Girl home. Today, due to custodial issues with the birth father, they don't know if they will be able to keep her. They've had what must have been the worst week of their lives and they are completely exhausted physically, mentally, and spiritually. I got just a quick glimpse of her Saturday night when we picked up my neice Tiani for mini-golf. They are still not up to taking visitors. She is a beautiful little girl with tiny features, lots of brown curly hair, and a cute little mouth. Their little family has been the focus of our prayers and good thoughts this past week.

It stinks that we can't control every situation, or predict the outcome of our choices, especially the ones we make that feel like they are for all the right reasons. Whatever the ultimate outcome may be for my brother and his family, their lives will be changed irrevocably. I also believe that no matter how difficult certain experiences are, time and distance helps somehow, and life has a way of becoming sweet again. Hopefully someday really soon, we will get word that little Sadie will be a permanent part of the Swensen Family.

Monday, September 22, 2008


It's been around three weeks ago, I think, since my brother Clark and his wife Tiffani were contacted by a friend of a family member, about a girl she knew who was due to have a baby. This girl was planning to place the baby with an adoptive family, but the family she had chosen fell through, and were Clark and Tif interested in meeting her. They did meet with her along with other prospective couples. According to Tiffani, during these past few weeks she has had daily conversations with the birth mother and the decision had been reached that if the birth mom decided that adoption was what was best for her baby girl, Clark and Tif would be her choice. Last Friday was the big birth day! The weekend for Clark and Tif was spent primarily at the hospital with so many ups and downs and emotional unrest that I can't even imagine how difficult it has been. Birth mom went into labor still unsure of her decision. Then the birth father showed up at the hospital in violation of birth mom's instructions to the hospital staff, and in violation of the terms of his parole (as I understood it).

Tonight after three sleepless nights, many heartfelt talks and decisions, birth dad's arrest and trip to jail, new Baby Girl is on her way to her new home with mom and dad, big sis Tiani, and little, big brother Sam. All this family has asked for in the next couple of days is a lot of time to rest and sleep, and for a couple of days to just be by themselves together. I have not been able to talk to them directly, but got word from my dad. I am inclined to honor their request (even though I'm dying to see her) to have some space and privacy. As soon as they are up to visitors though, we will meet our new neice and cousin, and I will post some cute pictures of her. Oh, and I'm sure I will have a name to reveal! I do feel for the birth mom tonight too. I really believe that the choice so many young mothers make to let go of someone so connected to them, because they feel their baby will have a better life, is incredibly brave and selfless. Clark and Tiffani are great parents and they will give this new baby a wonderful life. I am so happy they were able to bring her home tonight. I know they are so grateful for the wonderful gift they've been given.

Congratulations you guys! We love you!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Friday night we had tickets to CATS! at Capitol Theater. This is one of the Broadway Across America plays that we've wanted to see. Ummm... I didn't love it. Has anyone else seen CATS!? Did you like it? I spent the whole first half trying to figure out where the whole thing was headed, and liked the second half okay. But it was a little strange because I've never been to a Broadway quality production that I didn't totally love. I kept asking myself questions like, "How can this be one of the longest running Broadway productions?" And, "Am I the only one here that doesn't get it?" At intermission I switched seats with Jeff because I was sitting behind the tallest elderly lady I've ever seen, with the fullest, thickest, poofiest head of elderly lady hair. I thought a better view might improve things. Moving seats did improve my view, but sadly, did not improve my ability to grasp the point of the whole thing.

Maybe it's just me?

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Another tale from the little farm we call home. We have been keeping a gym bag by the back door to grab when we are going out, and we keep it stocked with the stuff we will need if we decide to play tennis, etc. Tuesday was Kaylee's birthday and she wanted to play tennis in the morning, but instead of taking the whole bag, we just grabbed a couple of energy bars and our water bottles. In our rush to get out the door, we left the gym bag unzipped. When we got back, we found wrappers for Luna bars, Cliff bars, well... lots of different bars scattered from room to room in the house! Dumb dogs!!! It was annoying, but our own faults, so we just cleaned up the wrappers and hoped the dogs wouldn't suffer ill effects from too much fiber ;)

Later as I was making my bed, I found an uneaten granola bar under one of the pillows on my bed... weird. I picked up the bar and finished making my bed with all the hundreds of pillows, both practical and decorative (it's quite a process to make my bed). I mentioned to Kaylee that I'd found the granola bar under my pillow and she said she'd found one under one of her pillows when she made her bed! Getting weirder! We didn't have time to ponder the situation too much because we were going out to lunch at Kaylee's request. She wanted Chinese for lunch which meant that as soon as we got home, we were all running for a bathroom. As I ran past my bed to get to the toilet, I noticed it was completely trashed!!! After closer inspection I could tell that somebody had been desperately looking for something in my bed. I called the kids up to see if they had done it, I mean if someone really wants to mess with me, moving my pillows after I've spent the 30 minutes to arrange them just so is a great way to put me in the fetal position. (Maybe a slight exaggeration) It wasn't them, and I pretty much knew that before I asked, so it had to be one of the animals. Kaylee's bed was messed up too, although that damn dog left hers only slightly damaged, so the logical conclusion was to blame Jasmine. Of course it was Jasmine... Dodger never does anything naughty. I guess she must have found the granola bars in the open bag, eaten as many as she wanted, and then tried to "bury" the rest. Of the two dogs we have left, she is the digger, and the one with the most feral tendencies. We've all heard about dogs burying bones, but I had just never had a dog who actually did it. I guess Jasmine felt that burying her booty under pillows was the next best thing to dirt!

Two days later, and we are still finding hidden bars throughout the house! Jasmine is a bonehead.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Dear Kaylee,

Today I thought about what an amazing person you are. Eleven years ago today, you came into this world, and our family, and we have been better each day because of it. I still remember so well the first time I looked at you and saw sweetness and even wisdom in your little face. You didn't cry like many babies do, in fact you seemed to take to this mortal existance without much struggle at all. I was worried because we'd had a few weeks on pins and needles, not knowing how long you'd be able to make it, still inside of mom. You were healthy and strong, and even though you were two weeks early, a whopping 8 lbs. and 21 inches long!

In your younger years I wasn't sure how I'd keep you on the ground. You've been a dare-devil and an adventurer since day one. There were so many years that we didn't go a day without some kind of boo-boo or injury. In fact, for a while there, you were averaging 8-10 accidents a day. But I've watched you as you've worked so hard to temper yourself. You've also been strong willed and independent. I used to wonder during those "terrible twos" if you'd ever be able to have friends... what with all the bossiness and biting. I've loved watching you grow into a caring and empathetic young lady. You are such a sweet friend, sister, cousin, and daughter. It amazes me how thoughtful you are, how much you care for others and their comfort.

I love that you are able to "talk" to cats. I love your natural desire to become better and better each day. You are a gifted reader, and a wonderful student.
I love your daily hugs, your concern for me when I'm not feeling well, and your natural ability to nurture. I know that you will be a wonderful mother someday, if you choose. I am grateful that you are an independent thinker, that you have many questions, and that you will come to me when you need answers (at least part of the time anyway). I love spending each day with you, you are my bestest girl in the whole world! My greatest wish for you on your 11th birthday, is a life filled with happiness and purpose.