Wash that mouth out with soap!

Driving home from church yesterday, Kate offered up what she had learned in primary.
After the usual exchange, she finally said, "And I swore in church today."
"What?!?!" I yelped.
"Well, we were playing this game where we had to come up with a word starting with the next letter in the alphabet. I got the letter 'd'. The first word I thought of was 'darn it'. "

Thinking this was the end of the story, I let out a sigh of relief.
"Kate," I said, "'darn it' is not a bad word."
She replied, "Well, I didn't stop at 'darn it'. I kept going... " then she sheepishly looked at me and continued, "I said, 'damn' next."

I know that the proper response would have been to talk calmly and rationally. But I did not respond properly. My sweet daughter, who rarely rebels or even disobeys just cussed at church.
How was I supposed to respond?!
Rather than react in a calm and rational manner-
I burst out laughing...



After taking Kate to the films in the morning yesterday, we dropped her off with Ashley so we could attend the long awaited SHORTS!
Short films are my very favorite part of the festival. I love the poignancy. There is a short time to tell a big story. Plus the filmmakers don't do it for the money, as there is virtual no revenue accumulated from short films. The people involved do it because they are passionate about the subject and art.

Upon arriving at the venue, the line was pretty long already. I had hope we would get in, but not enough to be calm. The anxiety was mounting as each pass holder stepped in the theater. That was one less seat that would be available for the rush ticket holders. I had been waiting all year for this experience. Shorts are my ultimate favorite and I had hand picked this screening. An added bonus? Some filmmakers we met last year had another film in this set. I saw them milling around and was thrilled to be able to talk to them afterwards. I remembered their film from the previous year- which is a big deal. Because we saw so many films, I can't believe I could remember these guys, never mind what film they produced.

When I reached the ticket window, I paid our fee and was thrilled to have gotten in! Not so fast... they stopped us at the door to do a head count in the theater. After a tense few seconds, we were allowed in. Jimmy and I got the LAST TWO SEATS together in the theater. It was meant to be. Then, I looked over at Jimmy and he was ashen faced. Uh oh. I hoped against the inevitable. But in this case, my hope did not work magic. Jimmy was seriously sick. He asked if we could leave. Terrible wife that I was I said, "Can't you just sleep in the car?!"

After a death stare from my beloved, I agreed to leave. While Jimmy ran to the bathroom, I went to the box office to return our tickets. So sad. My sweet husband was in the restroom long enough for me to hear the laughter coming from the theater. I was crushed. Fortunately, there was a filmmaker out in the lobby with me who was too afraid to see the audience's reaction to his film. So we got to chat a bit and he gave me his email address so I could contact him. He offered to email my a copy of his film if I promised to keep it secret. Because his movie hadn't been at all the festivals yet, the film could not be distributed. It was so kind of him to offer. And now, I have a filmmakers personal email address!!! Let the stalking commence... just kidding, of course.
This man was so kind as to check on Jimmy periodically. Honestly, Jimmy was in the can so long that I could have probably just waited for him in the theater.
But I am devoted to my husband.
Jimmy and I left the theater crying- for different reasons, of course.
But maybe I can see the shorts next year...
Of course, they will have to allow nursing babies.
Maybe two years...


A famous person knows about my baby!

This is our third year at the NVFF.
And as always we LOVED it!!
This was the first year we took Kate with us.
The first film was a special film written by a young teenager named Rena who suffered a fatal disease.
She, unfortunately, did not live to see the film finished. But the cast and crew were very clear in stating that Rena was there for it all.
Before the film was a 'making of' documentary. It was just beautiful. And I of course cried like a baby the whole time. It was just so special. I was really touched by the spirit.
After the documentary, we watched Rena's film.
We then got the joy of a q&a with a cast member and the crew.
I was really inspired by the work that hundreds of people did so Rena could have her dream.
Also, we got to meet Jackson Rathbone, who plays Jasper in Twilight!
It's funny, because Jimmy actually talked to him longer than anyone else there. Jimmy talked to him about being a new father and told Jackson that I was expecting. He congratulated us both... maybe we should name the baby Jackson, hahaha!

It was neat to meet everyone and a cool experience for little Kate.

This is a picture of producer and founder of Make a Film Foundation and Rena's mom:
 This is a picture of the casting director (who was like an incredible angel with Kate) and the directors. The man on the right also directed the Austin Powers movies, Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers and a bunch of others I can't remember right now.
 Jackson Rathbone! He was so kind and actually very witty. He looked a little Johnny Depp-ish in person. Very down to earth and talked to Jimmy longer than anyone else!
 Me and Jackson- I was the last one with a picture before he was interviewed on tv. I was pretty excited and not too shy (or 'too cool') to ask for a picture.
 We found this adorable little walkway in Calistoga. So charming!

After these pictures, we went to another screening that was less than good... We had high hopes for the screening because of its content. But the sweet horse documentaries ended up with a propaganda film as the capstone. Plus, the venue was stifling and stinky. We scurried out of that place so fast, people must have thought there was a fire...


I LOVE Elder Holland!

I got a great video in the midst of our trials that really brought me peace. In fact, in all the condolences and love expressed- this clip was revisited at least three times a day. It helped me so very much in what was a very dark time. But now that things are different, I find that it has helped me just as much. Give it a try:


I tried to embed. but blogger doesn't allow it anymore- it's worth the extra click.


The benefits of having a big gap between children

The first thing Kate asked us when she found out we were expecting:

"How do you guys have time for that?!"

So I have a daughter that is well versed in all things birds and bees.
I am a little apprehensive that I will never be able to use the stork as an excuse...


Pleased as punch

When going into our appointment yesterday, I really expected the very worst.
I had actually geared myself up for how to grieve.
In a wonderful twist of fate, Jimmy was able to be with me at the appointment.
When the doctor came in to talk before my ultra sound he asked how I was feeling. Because he is a family friend I was honest with my disappointment. He responded, "You could be wrong..."
Then he started the exam.
We continued our conversation when in the height of vulnerability he said, "I read your blog"

Awww... great. I actually thought it was just par for the course. This is my life- feet up in stirrups, emotionally spent, seriously in the worst physical position and now my doctor knows my inner most thoughts. Niiice.

And then doc says in total amazement, "There's something there!"
To be honest, my first reaction was anger.
I know that sounds silly. But really what I thought was this, "Heavenly Father- this isn't funny. Stop tricking me. I am ready to say goodbye, why this little tease?!" Then, we saw the heartbeat and it really sunk in. Then it was just pure shock. Utter amazement. And I was- if you can believe it- speechless.

After our appointment we went to my in-laws to pick up Kate. She  hadn't returned from her big appointment in Vallejo yet, so we got to be just thrilled waiting for her.
When my mother-in-law and Kate walked in the door, we eagerly asked about her appointment and how the testing went.
Then when her update was done, she looked at us sorrowfully and asked, "How was your appointment, mom?" It was so sweet and tender. The evil parents that we are played off it a little.
We acted quiet and subdued and said, "The doctor was nice enough to give us a picture."
When we presented said picture she looked at me and said, "What is this?"
Now, as most of you know- ultra sound pictures are pretty hard to discern.
So we patiently explained all the parts with a final, "And this is the baby. You're going to be a big sister!!!"

She jumped up and down squealing with delight. We all hugged and cried. It was so sweet.
And then I spent the night calling family and friends with the fun news.
It really was so special. And although I didn't get to have the great reveal the way I had planned, I am still pleased at punch to share the happy news.



My thirtieth birthday was a roller coaster birthday- not because I was turning three-oh... no, something much more juvenile than that. You see, I thought everyone had forgotten my birthday. And so, the age old story goes. I spent the days leading up to my birthday feeling unloved and sorry for myself. My sadness got to a point where I was laying in bed just crying my heart out with Kate comforting me. What my sweet daughter and I didn't realize is that there was a party in the works. A big party. My friends and family were so good at keeping the secret that I had a mental breakdown- funny, right? Funny now- not so at the time. I truly was devastated. The hurt and pain was real. I lived the reality of people forgetting me. But coming into the room to see all those who loved me yell, "Surprise!" made the heartache melt.

You may wonder why I am writing about an event that happened a year and a half ago...

Because folks, I lived through it again.
I spent the last two weeks mourning a loss.
I have spent hours praying, reading and studying.
I have sought priesthood blessings and attended the temple.
I am being honest when I say I had totally submitted to God's will.

And then the doctor found a heartbeat.


Veteran's Day

This is an amazing post that my brother Kyle posted on Facebook. I just loved everything he said and I didn't want to mess it up with my wording.
"On the left is my Grandpa (Fletcher) Smith. His mother died when he was very young and the siblings were all separated to different family members then. My understanding is that he didn't see them very much, if at all growing up. He was in
the Army Air Corps during WWII, on a campaign that would take him through North Africa, and into Italy. This picture was taken in North Africa. The gentleman next to him is his Brother, who he hadn't seen since he was a child. Just by chance, in the middle of the chaos of war, on the other side of the planet, he found his brother, who had joined the Army.

Fighting for your country is full of it's challenges, but equal or greater to that are the bonds that are formed. My Grandpa literally made brotherly bonds there, and I did too in forms of friendships that will last a lifetime. For that, I am truly grateful."



Happy Birthday, Melissa!!!

This is Melissa, Jimmy's younger sister. She's amazing! Melissa and I were born the same year, so we both enjoy the same pop culture references... it's wonderful to share the love of boy bands with someone. Missy is a great mom. Her little ones are just adorable and she is expecting a third baby this Spring. I am so excited for her!

Melissa is a hard worker and so very thoughtful. She's one of the good ones that remember your birthday and call out of the blue to let you know she's thinking of you. Even though she is busy with her family, sweet Melissa always finds time to express her love to us.
I love you Missy Doodle, have a great day!!!


Working for it

Tonight we were invited to go to a 'Friends Giving' party. It's basically a potluck in which the host makes turkey and everyone else brings the sides. Because Jimmy and I are doing Great in 8, we were probably going to have to avoid a lot of the food. However, in the rules of Great in 8, if you do a big event (i.e. a big hike, race etc.), you get a free meal. So this morning, we set out on a big hike to counter balance the big meal.

The hike was hard. Very hard. But picture the movie 'Spaceballs'  when the characters are stranded in the desert and all are chanting an item that would be salvation. You know, "water...water..."

Well, that was me. Except, rather than water, oil or room service- I was chanting, "pumpkin pie... pumpkin pie..." Honestly, I thought about all the things I would be eating that night, but what really motivated me on the hike was pumpkin pie.

After we finally finished the hike, our family went home to get ready for the party. Jimmy and I dropped off Kate and then arrived at the host's home with our stuffing in hand. The dinner was great, the conversation was fantastic and all I could think of was pie. My legs were still sore from earlier in the day and I knew that pie would ease my pain.

When dessert rolled around, there were some beautiful things that looked delicious... but *gasp* NO pumpkin pie!!!! I toyed with the idea of just eating what was there and being happy. But honestly, the whole reason I hiked was for the pie. And so, Jimmy and I left early, went to the store, bought pumpkin pie and took it home to eat it. With extra whipped cream.

I suppose if you ever want me to come and party with you, just tell me you have pumpkin pie.


Happy Birthday, Tedi!!!

This is my awesome second mama with Kate:
Tedi and I first met when I was a teenager. Most teenagers are very difficult to get along with and I was no exception. We may have  had a rough patch to get through, but it was worth it. I respect this woman so very much. Tedi (a fun nickname, although I prefer mom) is a fantastic grandmother and the hardest worker I know. She is just amazing. I cannot get over how much things are done in her home because of all the hard work she puts forth. Mom truly knows how to make a house a home. I know that all she has done for me was always because she wanted what was best for me.
I am grateful for her example and I am so glad to call this fabulous lady family!
Happy Birthday!!!



Even though my heart is still broken from our recent news.
I am at peace.
I am sad beyond compare, but I feel no anger.
Which is saying a lot... because I got pretty angry.

I spent the day thinking and praying.
And watching tv about babies.
It's not that I was trying to torture myself- I just wanted to be happy for someone. I wanted to see the miracle of life somewhere. I know that might sound silly, but I feel like it is part of my healing process. I just want to feel whole again. I know that it will take more than a day of watching TLC, but I have a great desire to heal.

I attended the temple and got some great insight.
There has to be a reason for this sorrow. I know it.
I feel like there have been so many things leading up to this that have prepared me.
I still cry. A lot. But the force behind the tears is different.
There is a strength that is not my own fueling me.

I suppose the hardest part is just waiting for the next step.
It's time for me to make the decision of how to proceed. The options of miscarriage have a wide array. So, trying to decide is difficult. I never thought I would have to make a decision like this.
Even though it takes all that's in me to leave the house, I know I can do this. Well, I can't do this- but with Heavenly Father's help I can live through it. I learned that long ago from a woman who bore her testimony shortly after her husband had passed away from a brain tumor. She said from the pulpit, "I always think, 'I can't do this!' That's right. I can't do this.  I can't do this alone. But, I can get through anything with God's help." I cannot even tell you how many times her conviction in that moment has helped me. Those words are helping me now.

Friends, I would really appreciate the prayers. Please pray for our family.


As if we're not going through enough...

So, when it rains it pours, huh?!

Jimmy called me yesterday morning because his car had stalled on the way to work. Fortunately after some time, he was able to start it back up and get to work. Because I had plans to go to the temple in the afternoon, Jimmy was going to meet me at the equestrian center and take over with Kate while I went out of town.
Just following lessons, Jimmy and Kate went to deliver bread- and his car broke down again. This time, it was in the middle of an intersection. It took 20 minutes before someone finally stopped to help Jimmy push the car off to the side of the road.
In a strange twist of irony, this is the same intersection that just a few months ago a stranger had stalled out. Jimmy was driving and the light had turned red. So, he popped out, I climbed into the driver's seat and Jimmy helped push the stranger's car to the side of the road- in his suit (we were on our way to church). I just wish Jimmy's help was as timely as Jimmy was those few months ago :)

Anyway, after the car was pushed to the side of the road, my mother-in-law came to help Kate deliver the rest of the bread. We got the car towed to a local shop and waited for the news...

Of course the cost was ridiculous with a list of repairs still needing to get done.
And so, I suppose that we will be asking Santa for some serious change this Christmas.
Pity, I really wanted a puppy...


Okay, I'm ready

Here it is folks.
I am ready to answer the question of what the big deal is here in The House of Graham...

A week ago, I took a home pregnancy test that came out positive!!!
We have not been pregnant for TEN YEARS.
Because of the surprise, we were thrilled beyond capacity. Thrilled.
We had calendared all the timing and decided that we would wait until Christmas to tell our family. Because... how awesome would have been to:
give Kate a, "I'm going to be a big sister!" t-shirt and video tape her response
and then- have her wear the shirt under a sweater to our family gathering and video tape their response when she got too hot to wear that sweater- pretty fun, huh?! I had already started daydreaming of how everything would go...

We had the whole thing mapped out.
Jimmy and I were hiding a juicy secret and called each other at least a dozen times during the day to share our excitement. We spoke in code at dinner so Kate would have no idea what was going on. I immediately made my first prenatal appointment. I swear, there was skip in my step.

The night before our scheduled appointment was the ward Halloween party.
The party where my ob/gyn was in attendance.
He was greeting people at the door and said, "You look so skinny!"
I responded with a "Thanks!" and then a whisper, "but not for long! See you tomorrow."
He got a huge smile on his face and I was so happy to finally tell someone the secret we had held in for a whole two days.

Then, when I went to the doctor, I acted a fool! I told anyone and everyone at the office who would listen that I had waited ten long years for this moment. I was like a giddy little school girl.

The pregnancy test at the dr. office came back positive and we proceeded with the appointment. When the doctor wheeled out the ultra sound machine, I was beaming.
Then, when the picture showed up on the screen, my face dropped.
There was nothing there.
It was an empty sac.
I know that my doctor is good at masking his emotions, but I didn't mistake his initial response.
This was not a viable pregnancy.

When I got dressed and met the doctor in his office, I was still too shocked to be upset.
We looked at the calendar and tried to find a reason for the ultra sound.
But, I knew deep down that there was something wrong.
Fortunately, the doctor stayed positive and scheduled another appointment for next week in hopes that something will show up on that ultra sound.

I am glad he has some hope, but I have to say- mine is dashed.
I mostly knew that something was wrong because as the doctor was out of the room getting the ultra sound machine, I said a little prayer with these words, "If something is wrong, please let me get through it."
When I uttered those words, I knew that I was being prepared for something. Something abnormal.

I just wonder...
why after going through the trial of being unable to conceive for TEN years would we be given this trial?
Why couldn't Heavenly Father just given us this baby?
Or at least not given us something and then taken it away so quickly?
I got to be thrilled for a whopping 36 hours.
It seems so unfair.

I know that everything happens for a reason and that one truth is the only thing really getting me through this right now. And tons of prayer, scripture study, priesthood blessings... you know, the good stuff.

That day was Halloween. Following my appointment, I had a few minutes to pull it together. Then I went to Kate's school for the parade, the party, the treats. You know, all these things to celebrate. I can't even tell you how excruciating it was for me to be there. Then the night is jam packed with stuff too. There was now a sad secret in place of the exciting one. It feels the same. Emotion, just under the surface- itching to get out. But this new emotion was destructive. Gosh, I couldn't even find this news out on a day when I could curl up in a ball and cry it up?

Being in public that night was the hardest thing I think I've ever done. Keeping it all in in was just...
But I did it.
I survived.
And I will continue to press forward.
Next week, I am not sure how I will handle the final appointment.
But I don't have to know that now.
For now, I am just taking things one minute at a time.


Oh Jimmy...

This morning, as we were getting ready for the day, I had mentioned that I was planning on getting some laundry done.
Sweet Jimmy said, "Remember to clean out the lint trap"
Remember to clean out the lint trap?!
Seriously, how long have I been doing laundry?!?!

I actually thought the very innocent reminder was so silly that I actually harrumphed.
I swear, I did.
Then I looked at my darling and said exactly what I was thinking.
Jimmy was just so kind in responding, "I just wanted you to remember!"

Well friends, in the House of Graham, I am never the one who needs reminding.
Far from it. That is why this morning the statement was so out of place...
Especially when we all piled in the car to leave and I had to remind Jimmy to get his lunch. The lunch that was sitting by the front door. The lunch that I put in such a place that my husband had to step over it to get outside and into the car.

And then, when I dropped him off at work, the lunch that was sitting on his lap mysteriously was left in the car. Which I noticed and went back to his work to drop it off. In which, I had to call him from my cell phone because Jimmy didn't realize he left it in the car...

And that is why Jimmy reminding me to clean out the lint trap was such an odd request...


The Mask

Today at church, I had so much turmoil...
not because of what anyone said or did- just because things have been really tricky lately.
I am sure I looked happy to be there, which I was.
But when people see me happy to be there, I bet they assume everything is great.
Do you ever feel like going out in public causes so much energy?
Because the pain/sorrow/anguish are just so close to the surface.
I always avoid people that know me well when I am in this sensitive state because I know the moment they say, "How are you doing today?", I will just break down in tears and sob on their shoulder.

Today, I wore the mask.
The mask of contentment.
The mask of happy.
The mask that everything is going just fine.
But everything is not fine.
I am a mess.

Why do I do this? Why does anybody?
Am I so afraid of someone actually caring?
I think the real reason I put on the mask is so I don't inconvenience people or make them feel bad or even pity for me. But what I need to realize is that church is the one place I should go mask-free. Those people love me. They genuinely care for me. If I had a friend in the same situation, I know I would drop whatever I was doing to help them, to hold them. In fact, I can think of more than one occasion that I have had the fortune to help. And I did not feel put out. In fact, I had a great love in my heart and was able to be strong and try my best to follow promptings to help.

I promise the cryptic manner of this post will be answered in due time. In fact, I feel a real prompting to share my struggles... but I am not quite ready. I am working on it, but the pain is so fresh that I need time to process.


Boys will be boys

After my fabulous new haircut, I had received so many compliments. My stylist is a dear friend (friend first, stylist second) and I trust her immensely. Whenever she cuts my hair, I give no direction, just tell her to do what she wants. Best decision ever. She is good, folks.

When my friend asked if I would like an asymmetrical cut, I was totally agreeable. And that trust paid off. Check out my hair:
This is the only picture I have right now, but I LOVE it!
At church last Sunday, I was pretty jazzed to show off my new cut, when I heard two old men grumbling behind me. Then I heard this, "Looks like your barber was drunk when he cut your hair!"
WHAT?! I turned around at their chuckling and gave them a look.
Then one continued, "It's not even!"
"It's asymmetrical- it's supposed to be like that!" I shot back.
Seriously, the conversation sounded like a school yard, not a chapel.
All that transpired was actually funny and I was not offended by their remarks. I actually thought it was more funny than anything. Out of all thing said of my hair, I know I will continue to trust my stylist. She's rad.



I love that November has become a widely used reason to post musings of gratitude on various social media sites.
I don't think it's an accident that the world spends a month in gratitude in preparation for a month celebrating Christ's birth.
I love this season.
The celebration season.
I love to turn on the fire, drink warm drinks and listen to sentimental music.
There is almost a rebirth to my soul in this season- A renewed faith in humankind and hope for a better world.
Wishing you and yours all the insight and perspective to truly feel grateful.


Our Halloween...This is real life!

We went a friend of ours for a barn Halloween party:
 That picture is not from Pinterest, folks. This was a real picture from that night!
Seriously, they had a blow up movie screen, amazing food AND a fire dancer!!!
It was epic. This family knows how to throw a serious party.
 Only in Napa Valley, right?
Otherwise, our night was great! We went trick or treating and stopped off at another party. I don't know how it is where you are, but here- not many people trick-or-treat anymore. It's mostly just parties. To be honest, I really prefer it that way! It's nice to be with friends and family and not going door to door begging for candy. It's cute when they're young, but when a teenager comes to the door you know it's just out of hand. I am really not knocking Halloween. But I like certain aspects better than others.

BTW- it was a rough day for our family- an experience I promise to share when I am ready, so I do not have any pictures of Kate in her costume.... but we have already planned another day to do a photo shoot. I'll post when we've got them


Halloween Party

Each year, the youth in ours and neighboring wards put on a Halloween party for the kids.
It is just adorable!
There are games, face painting, treats and so forth.
All the little kids come in their costumes and partake in all the things prepared just for them.
Kate was dressed as Hermione Granger, a main character from Harry Potter.
There was a man in his thirties dressed as Harry Potter and Kate got super embarrassed and refused to say hi. I loved seeing all the fun costumes. My favorite had to have been Princess Kate. Someone dressed in a polka dotted dress, black cardigan and tasteful hat. hen she approached me and asked if I knew who she was, I said, "Audrey Hepburn?" I failed, people. When she told me what the costume was, I saw it immediately. Now the princess will never have me for tea...

All in all, it was a good night.


Happy Birthday Kyle!

There's me with Scott and Kyle!
Kyle is celebrating his birthday today- because of him, my family actually has good photos.
In fact, the only time Jimmy, Kate and I end up together in a photo looking good, it's because Kyle took it.
 I love how selfless he is at each get together- making sure that there are great pictures taken. I am sure it must be hard to be in the background a lot of the times, but his talent is just so amazing, I am glad he sacrifices.
For the first year of Kate's life, Kyle took amazing pictures. He captured some truly beautiful moments that would have been lost otherwise. For Kate's first birthday, Kyle and his wife Lynda made a photo book as a gift. We read it to everyone at the birthday party. And we read it every year for Kate's birthday. It has been a tradition to cuddle with our girl and show her the wonderful pictures from the first year of her life. What in the world are we going to do with the next kid, when Kyle lives in Utah?!
Happy Birthday, big brother!!!


Home again, home again

Jiggity Jig!

After a whirlwind weekend with family, my mom and I drove hoe today. It was kind of like Mr. Toad's wild ride. Fortunately, we had another good book to listen to on the way home. Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke. I really like her writing style. While driving in the morning, I was so tired that my poor mother had to take my shift. When I woke up in the middle of her driving my shift, it was to snow falling. LOTS of snow. Our pace had slowed to about 20 mph. We were used to 80 mph. It was funny to see California girls driving in the snow. In fact, when we switched seats, I bet any onlookers probably had raised eyebrows because I was wearing capri exercise pants and a completely inappropriate jacket for the temperature. I think that karma felt bad and gave us a few good restrooms on the way home. I mostly think that because as soon as we got out of the snow, the bathrooms were scary again. Really scary. Maybe not as bad as the sinkless wonder, but still not up to snuff.

We did get home safely and that's all that matters.


Blessing Day!

The day was wonderful! We met in Jim and Jess' building, on old cathedral type building with stained glass windows and everything. It was gorgeous. Jim did a great job for the blessing and as always, I cried. Afterwards, we all went to Kneaders for brunch. My brother is general manager there so he was able to use it for a private party since it is usually closed on Sundays. The food was amazing.


First full day in Logan

We had only two full days to get everything in, so we started our Saturday with a great breakfast, a birthday lunch and then headed over to the American West Heritage Center. The center is a great place with pony rides, a corn maze, a train ride, animals, a giant slide and today- a wedding.

We did not get a picture of the bride and groom (mostly because we didn't know them) but we did get some fun pictures of the kids having a blast!


Road Trippin'

My mom and I set off in the smallest car known to man to drive halfway across the country.
Our Destination: Logan, Utah
Our Purpose: Visit for my niece Abigail's blessing
Our Experience: The weather was great... until we stepped out of the car in Tahoe in 24 degree weather. We determined to buy coats at DI in Utah because we were ill prepared. Fortunately, the weather in Utah did not reflect the temperature in Tahoe. At another stop, I swear it was the scariest rest stop in the world. I half thought it might be gussied up for Halloween, but I didn't think they could make it that authentic... going through the hallway to the restrooms proved to be the worst part, as I thought a rat might scurry off with me. But once I got to the ladies' room, I realized that the rat could not have carried me off because it already had taken the sink out it's fixture. It was tricky to wash our hands with the sink missing...
My mom and I listened to a great audio book on the way there, 'Princess Academy'. I have read the book before, but listening to it was a great experience. It really made the time go pretty quickly.
Our Pictures:


ADG is da bomb

Activity Day Girls is a group where Kate gets together and learns new skills with a bunch of girls her age.
Yesterday, for the activity, the girls got to go to the leader's house which also happens to be a ranch. Each girl got a chance to ride a horse, groom and feed it.
And then the leader's daughter did rope tricks for the girls.
I have to admit that I kind of wanted to be an ADG just so I could do all those fun things.
I am really happy with the activities that are planned so my daughter's life is enriched.
Thanks ADG leaders!!!!


Happy Birthday Jess!

This is a picture with Jess and her family for the Abigail's blessing!

I am terrible about birthdays... but because of my awesome sister-in-law, Jess, I know hers!

I do have to get the list again because I accidentally tossed everyone's b-days when I tossed the too small calendar...

And this year, as an ode to my lovely family, I will be trying again to mail a card to everyone. I really, really struggle with this- more than I should struggle, but it is so.



So, do you remember that our weekend was crazy? You know, because of the temple trip and reception and no nap... you know- crazy. Also because Sunday night, I was also asked to conduct the music for a stake fireside. Now, I like crazy. But I am not very good at conducting. I actually don't know how the stake knew I could conduct music.

It turned out to be a really good experience. For a few reasons, actually:
First: the pianist is someone I respect and adore who likes playing music as fast as I like conducting it
Second: the room was small and intimate, I don't like conducting in the chapel
Third: the meeting was held for all the boys receiving the priesthood this year- meaning, they wouldn't notice if I messed up

I had a grand old time conducting away.The music chosen was upbeat and just fun. I smiled the whole time and really got into it. In fact, I noticed a few of the parents had pretty embarrassed faces when they accidentally made eye contact with me- you know that's good.
To be honest, that's what fueled me to have even a better time conducting.
I will say, I am glad I did the music- but if the stake ever asked me to conduct for stake conference, I am pretty sure I'd faint.


Poor Jimmy

I always feel bad for my husband...
He's married to crazy
He's stuck with what I sign us up for
He's been surrounded by girls his whole life
Poor guy can't catch a break

Today was no different.
So, I thought of the wise idea to sign up for dinner for the missionaries AND someone in our ward who had just had surgery. You know, two birds with one stone. Which, I don't think would have been a bad idea had we not taken all day Friday to drive Mark and Katherine to the temple, Saturday and Sunday to provide for their reception and no Sunday nap, to boot.

I really should have just taken the week off, but I love to serve. And when I'm on a roll, I'm ready for anything. The operative word is: I.
Yes, I might be able to handle it all but Jimmy needs his Sunday nap. Plus, the only reason I can handle it all is because Jimmy is in the background supporting my choices.

Today, I went to Larry's, Costco, Trader Joe's, Safeway- you know, the usual loop. And then I put together some butternut squash soup, played taxi and maid. Everything was prepared for the missionaries to come to dinner. My timing was turning out to be impeccable. Successfully packing the car with the food to go to the family in our ward, Kate's bread to be delivered and a detailed agenda of how the night would go- I sent Jimmy off to deliver to the appropriate places and then pick up the missionaries.

And then I got a call from Jimmy. A not too thrilled Jimmy.
An oncoming big rig had turned into Jimmy's lane and he had to stop short in order to save his own life. But the soup was not saved. Poor Jimmy got a back full of hot soup. Plus, the interior of his car was drenched. I could tell in his voice that there was no coming back from this.

So, I quickly got off the phone and made all the necessary calls to reschedule everything. Jimmy came home sopping wet and very unimpressed with my idea to do it all. He stopped speaking to me after our short conversation on the phone.  I sent him in for a shower and a nap while warming up some soup for his dinner...


I Like Order

I cooked all day yesterday and today for Mark and Katherine's reception. They had the reception on Sunday afternoon because the vets' would have a hard time making it to the hall two days in a row. The reception was scheduled for right after church. Everything was so sweet. But I have to tell you, it was nice to be in the kitchen. I love my mother-in-law to pieces, but I don't ever want to plan a wedding with her again. I am pretty laid back because I have gotten the scheduling and lists preparing for a wedding down to a science. Our immediate family has done so many weddings that, Jimmy, Kate and I could probably do one a week without batting an eye. That is not a formal wish or request- just saying, that there is some formula to follow. However, my sweet mother-in-law doesn't really like that formula, as prevalent as it might be.
While everyone setting up was running around trying to get every last detail pulled together, I was taking my time and calmly putting together the food. Diana kept coming over and commenting how quiet I was. Apparently I am a very loud person, because she was not the only one to comment on my near silence. Regardless of my lack of speaking, everything turned out great.
We had tons of extra food and lots of happy people- I would count today as a success.


Goal Accomplished!

Our family finished reading the Book Of Mormon today!
Sometimes it is a real struggle to read the scriptures everyday, but I know we are blessed because of it. When we had the foster children, I made a promise with Heavenly Father that we would read the Book of Mormon everyday, pray together everyday and hold weekly family home evening. Things were not perfect with the boys here, we still had struggles. But, I really don't want to know how much worse it would have been if we didn't do those three things. I have to admit, I am a little sad that the boys weren't here to finish the book with us. I think it would have been fun for them to experience that little triumph.

I know this book is true, I am grateful for the peace it brings me. If not for the spiritual aspect, reading the Book of Mormon out loud with Kate everyday has made her a superb reader and taught patience. I will never regret taking time every day with my family to read. We are on to starting the Book of Mormon for the third time! We all tried to guess how many times we would read the book as a family before Kate went off to college. But thinking of that made me too sad so I couldn't pick a number. Kate chose 10. Let's hope, little girl...


A Sweet Love Story

This is Mark and Katherine:
 We have them in the back of the car to take them to the temple. You see, after 20 years of waiting, Mark and Katherine will be married in the temple. Mark is a war vet that lives at the Yountville Vets' Home. My in-laws are the coordinators for the Vets' Home Sunday Services. Those two do a great job really showering the vets with love. When they first starting coordinating, Mark approached them with a request- he wanted to marry his sweetheart. Katherine was Mark's caretaker for 18 years. He desperately wanted to marry her, and she him, but she refused to marry anywhere but the temple. Mark was not a member of the church. But Mark studied the gospel and ending up joining the church a few years ago. And then it was a matter of someone willing to help these two love birds accomplish their dream. Because Mark is an amputee, it makes travel very difficult. Not only did they need a ride, but someone who could help lift Mark in and out of the  vehicle. That's where we come in. We offered to drive the couple to the temple. With Jimmy's training as a nurse, he knew how to properly lift Mark without getting hurt.
 The drive to temple was sweet- but there are no words to compare the way I felt witnessing these two getting sealed for time and all eternity. I was a blubbering mess. The love between these that have waited longer than I've known Jimmy was palpable. I will be forever grateful to have been part of this sweet couple's special day.


Dog watching

On occasion, we watch the neighbor's dog while they are out of town.
We love, love, love to watch Maggie.
Kate and I have been watching the Dog Whisperer TV show, which we thought would make us amazing this go round with Maggie.
To be honest with you, I am pretty sure Maggie's in charge while she's here.
And we love it. At one point, our family had dogs- but I swore I would never do it again. .
But every time we watch Maggie, we always want a dog.
Until just one thing or another happens, I am snapped back into reality.
This week, Miss Maggie needed to go outside so badly that she may have jumped through the window screen. To chase a cat. At 2 am.

Another time, we got a call from the humane society asking us to pick up the dog that had run away- twice.
As much as I like dogs...
We have decided we are really good dog watchers and that's where it ends.


Music to my soul

I LOVE Pandora.
I love turning up the tunes and rocking out in the kitchen.
Because the kitchen is for dancing, you know.
I thought it would be fun to share my list of Pandora stations- you know, so you can judge me....
Because folks, I listen to some weird music sometimes.
This list is exactly what stations I have on Pandora, please feel free to point and laugh at them if you so choose (with a star by the top listened):

80's pop
Today's adult hits
Contemporary Bollywood
90's alternative/grunge
50's rock n' roll*
60's oldies
Golden oldies
Pop rock
C+C music factory
The Beatles
Mandy Moore
En Vogue
Ingrid Michaelson
Amos Lee
Justin Bieber *
Billy Joel
The Hush Sound
Mika *
Garth Brooks
Glee Cast
Lady Gaga
The Platters
Swinging Christmas
Dance Cardio
LDS hymns of worship
Taylor Swift
Jason Mraz
Love Songs
Disney Children's *
Imagine Dragons
Classical Christmas
Country Christmas
Jewel Holiday
Dean Martin Holiday
Lemonade Mouth
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Eric Hutchinson *
Hilary Weeks
The Piano Guys
Spice Girls *
Rod Stewart

After typing these I realized I have a ton of stations... and maybe a slight problem...


'poor me' post

Kate is home from school again today.
Another home bound day for us and the second riding lesson cancelled.
I am sad about that. Tuesdays are the best days. Kate and I love being around the horses.
It has been a hard couple or months for me.
Today, I just felt it all compounded.
I am especially 'poor me' over the fact that my best friend has been gone for two months.
I know that her move was imperative to her family. I am glad she is following God's plan for her. But that doesn't make me miss her any less. I hate that I can't drop by her house on a whim, call for a last minute hike or get a rarely needed hug. We still talk on the phone, but both of us are not really phone conversationalists. It has been hard for me to attend activities without her. Not because I can't talk to any of my other friends- quite the contrary. But, I just miss her experiencing the same things I experience. When you spend time with someone in many different times and places, that's one less thing you need to talk about to be caught up to date.

Once again, I know she is in the right place right now. I just wish where she belonged was closer to me...


Aww man...

I finally took Kate to school today after missing a week and a half of school.
They called and asked me to pick her up.
I just want this poor girl to get better!


Happy Birthday Diana!

It's this lady's Birthday today!
The whole family came over to celebrate.

Kate read a special story and sang a song to Nana as part of her birthday gift:

The birthday girl chose this for her dinner:
spinach salad
barbeque chicken (the kind with mustard and brown sugar- yum!)
roasted red potatoes
haricot vert
chocolate cake

You guys, the recipe for the cake- to die for
The King Arthur Flour company publishes a magazine. This publication gets all the winning cake recipes from each state fair and makes all fifty, then chooses a top recipe. The winner of the nationwide contest is from Utah. I chose to make the top recipe called Masquerade Cake. Holy Crap. It was soooo good. I was a little apprehensive because the recipe required beets. But, man oh man- it was phenomenal. And because I love you all so much, I thought I would grace you with the recipe:

Masquerade Cake
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) vegetable oil
1 can (15 ounce) sliced beets
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups (6 3/8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup (2 1/4 ounces) cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon Instant ClearJel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup (2 ounces) heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
3/4 cup (4 1/2 ounces) bittersweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups (8 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and line with parchment two 9” square pans.
For the cake: In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the sugar and oil. Drain the beets and reserve 1/2 cup of the juice. In a blender, puree the beets with the reserved liquid. Add to creamed mixture along with the eggs and vanilla. Blend well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt. Add to the creamed mixture and mix for 30 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, the turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 minutes. Divide between the prepared pans and bake for 25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from their pans, peel off the paper and cool completely on rack. Cut each cake in half to make four 9” x 4” strips.
For the filling: Whip the cream until it holds a stiff peak. In a small bowl, mix the softened cream cheese and butter together. In another bowl, whisk together the Instant ClearJel and confectioners’ sugar. Whisk the cream cheese mixture and confectioners’ sugar mixture into the whipped cream in small amounts, alternating between the two until all are added. Chill the filling thoroughly before using.
For the frosting: Melt the chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until smooth. Remove from the heat and pour into a mixing bowl. Add the cream, vanilla and powdered sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
To assemble: Spread the filling on the tops of three of the layers of cake and stack four layers high, topping with remaining cake layer. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours. Remove from refrigerator and frost. Garnish with grated white chocolate. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Refrigerate leftovers.
Servings » 16


Mediocre yet fabulous

 After so much time spent at home, my mother-in-law offered to watch Kate so Jimmy and I could go out for a much needed night on the town. As with most dates, we did our standard dinner and a movie. Which is not to say that I don't enjoy other things... but I really love the cliché of dinner and a movie. A lot. Tonight we decided to go see the critically acclaimed movie, Gravity and eat at the Red Hen. In both cases, Jimmy and I were underwhelmed.

I know many people really enjoyed Gravity. I thought the imagery was beautiful. I also felt like the premise had so much potential. But as far as character development, I wanted more. Plus, there was not enough of a break from intensity. and I know the ending was happy, but I only got a second to revel in the triumph before the movie was over! The movie was so intense that I had to sit awhile to restore my pulse back to normal. Jimmy and I thought it was pretty funny that people were milling about in the theater during the credits and nearly ran to the exits when the music started getting intense again. I don't even think people realized that they all did that!

After the movie, we ate at Red Hen, which I hadn't been to in years. The last time I went, I got a pulled pork burrito with green sauce that I just loved. And so, I was dreaming of that meal on our way there. Once we got the menus, I could not find the exact dish I had been dreaming of. I chose the item on the menu that closest resembled what I had remembered. Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed. Our food was so-so.

So, Jimmy and I went and spent the day together experiencing things that were just, eh. But, the time I spent with Jimmy was just fabulous. I think that most married people will agree that sometimes the most memorable times together are when things don't go according to plan. We laughed a lot. Don't get me wrong- I love a kick-butt date with all the bells and whistles. But more than anything I like to share it with Jimmy. It really doesn't matter where we go or what we do. All that matters is that we are together.


A week of co-pays

As most of you know, health insurance has changed quite a bit in the past few years. When I had Kate, it cost a whopping $100. That included a few nights in the hospital and all the extras she needed to be healthy because Kate was born so early. I cannot even imagine how much everything would have cost if we had no insurance. Just in the past two years, our premiums have sky rocketed and the co-pays went from $5 to $85. Also, we are now responsible to pay all tests, x-rays, labs...

We spent a hefty amount this week on Kate's medical care for her pneumonia. Not only did she have multiple appointments, but it just so happened to be my week for a few appointments of my own. In fact, I spent every day of the week at Kaiser for one reason or another.

Even though we spent more than I had expected on care, I spent the time there very grateful for modern medicine. When we were waiting for x-rays, I just ached for my daughter who was crying in pain from coughing. She is not one to complain about pain. Jimmy and I know she is not feeling well if she says so. To see tears dripping from her eyes just about broke my heart. I think all parents would agree that there is no amount they would not pay to help their child. In the midst of this time of Kate's sickness, I have found much to be grateful for. I am so happy that she is well on her way to recovery.


Confessions of a Bored SAHM

What does one do when they are house bound for TWELVE DAYS?
Oh, you know- catch up on ALL the laundry:
Get sick of looking at the laundry room the way it is and gut, clean and reorganize the laundry room:

 Read books:
 Think of how nice the laundry room looked after gutting, cleaning and reorganizing. Decide to wash, rinse, repeat on the office closet:
 Then get this huge pile plus more (not pictured) for donating:
 Think that I might also want to donate some of Kate's books and reorganize her bookshelf:
 Then go to town on her shelves:
 Bake and wrap lots and lots of bread in between all this:
 Administer medicine:
 Make homemade chicken noodle soup:
Make homemade tomato sauce (and pasta!):
And just when I thought I couldn't get any more bored I did a 1,000 piece puzzle
(That is a big puzzle with many tiny GREEN pieces. I hate that color right now)
I need to get out of this house...
p.s.- If I hear another episode of Wizards of Waverly Place in my house, I think I will go insane.