Tuesday, January 28, 2014


I sort of hate the stigma of setting New Year's Resolutions, but I do it anyway.  I have a hard time with goal setting.  Well, it's more of the achieving part that I have trouble with, so I have set pretty attainable goals for this year.  Wanna hear them?

  1. Read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year.  Very attainable if I read just a few verses a day, especially if @bofm365 on Instagram tells me what to read every day :)
  2. Read 16 books this year.  15 books in addition to goal #1.  
  3. Exercise at least 3 times per week.  Unless I had surgery.  I'm hoping to get a lot more exercise in than this, but 3 times is my minimum.
  4. Attend the Temple.  Andy and I want to go together each month.
  5. Do something I have never done before.  I'm going out for Sushi this week...and I'm totally chicken.  I hope to do at least one new thing per month.  Mostly things I want to learn to do, like grow wheatgrass, make soap, become a master gardener, etc.
  6. Scuba dive again, cause I love it.  It's so surreal and lovely.
  7. Drink more water.  That means less Dr. Pepper, which is a huge sacrifice.
  8. Get out of my comfort zone.  I'll have to do this with my new calling at church (Provident Living) because I will have to ask people to do things, probably teach people things, and learn a lot of new things.  
  9. Nurture my relationships.  I have so many friends I love and adore so much that I rarely get a chance to be with.  I will put more effort into these relationships that I treasure, and I look forward to creating more.
  10. Go out of my way every day.  I want to make someone happy.  Every day.
There you have it.  My goals.  They are pretty general, most of them, but that will help keep me from becoming overwhelmed and giving up all together.  I will attain these goals.  I just will.
Here's to a fabulous 2014!!!

What are your resolutions?

Little Pink Heart

Today I am grateful.  I am happy.  I have everything I ever wanted when I "grew up."  I wanted to get married to a wonderful man who loves me, have beautiful healthy children, have a home and a dog and be able to stay home to take care of my children.  That is all that mattered, and here I am with all of those things.  And so much more.  

I tried something new the other day.  I was inspired (twice) to do this thing I will tell you about in a minute.  The first time was last week at the Scripture class I attend when we read Col 2:2, and then second was in church last Sunday as the Bishopric introduced our yearly theme.  Each year our ward has a theme  to unite us as a ward and give us a common cause to strive for.  This year the scripture is Mosiah 18:21 and 29.  Verse 21 speaks of having our "hearts knit together in unity and in love."
When I came home from church I made this.  
Knit Heart

I made a few of them, it took a little practice.  It's far from perfect, but I find it quite charming in it's unique quirkiness.  It's quickly becoming my tangible theme for the year.   Love.  Love is everything. Love and gratitude.

Here I sit on my (the most comfortable in existence) couch next to my husband, both of us tapping away at the keyboard.  He is working, I am getting my social media on.  Pandora is playing a mix of my favorite music in the background.  Beautiful songs about love fill the air and remind me of how lucky I am to be sitting her next to mine.  
A song comes on that triggers a negative memory and I can't stand to even listen to the song.  I choose to skip it and Pandora knows just what to play next.  

"How fickle my heart, how woozy my eyes...  ...your soul you must keep totally free, Awake my soul, Awake my soul...in these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die, and where you invest your love, you invest your life"    -Mumford and Sons

Those lyrics are so profound.  Where you invest your love, you invest your life.  Awake my soul.  I love the drive this song gives to my soul.  Have I ever mentioned that I LOVE MUSIC!!!!!!?

I'm wrapped up in my fuzzy blanket (pictured above, seriously SO soft!) with my feet resting on our old black coffee table that is filled with board games.  The paint is peeling from the top of the table because none of us ever use the coasters.  The rings have progressed to chipping paint, but just give the table character and show its use.   We spend time together at this table.  A lot of time, and usually with popcorn and Dr. Pepper (for me)...water for the man.

We have been reading scriptures as a family each night for a while now.  My dear husband is wonderful at making sure we do the important things, like reading and praying together as a family, even when I'm in a sour mood.  The end of the day is the hardest for me.  Once bed time comes around, I'm more than ready to call it.  Done.  Andy is so patient with me and with the kids.  Thanks to him, they are now asleep in their beds, they are safe and happy.  For that, and for everything else the Lord has blessed me with, I am grateful.

Friday, January 24, 2014

For Margaret

Once again, little did I know.  Last night as I was writing my post about the apples I was debating whether or not to include a tribute to Margaret Roberts, or if I should do that as a separate post.  I decided that, with the deep appreciation I have for her and her dear husband Mel, that they deserved a post all their own.

Back in September, I was walking Dallas through the neighborhood and I saw this.

Not just this, but about thirty feet of it.  The beautiful purple grapes were ripe and dropping to the ground.  This was one of the most beautiful sights I'd ever seen, but heart breaking at the same time.  Those grapes would surely make the most delicious grape juice I'd ever tasted, but they were simply falling to the ground.

After a few walks throughout the week, I summoned enough courage to walk up to this stranger's door and ask about the grapes.  I was very nervous, and I didn't even know what I was going to say, but I had to know if something could be done to preserve this precious fruit.

This is the beautiful woman who answered the door.

Margaret Roberts

I introduced myself, and Margaret recognized my last name immediately and explained how we are related!  Her late first husband was my mother in law's cousin.  Margaret's husband was killed early in their marriage, but she remained very close with his family.  She knows and adores my inlaws almost as much as I do.  Margaret has since married Mel Roberts who is an amazing man who I have really come to love.
Margaret was thrilled that we had found one another, and we talked and laughed and shared with one another for over an hour that first day on her porch.  There was an instant connection between the two of us.  
I asked Margaret if she would like me to bottle the grapes for her.  She told me to take all I wanted because she was unable to harvest as she once did, and her diabetes prevented her from being able to consume much of it anymore.  Not only could I have whatever grapes I wanted, but she asked me to please take the apples as well if I could put them to use.

It was like she'd given me the world.  This land of hers has at least 5 apple trees, over 100 feet of various grape vines, pears, apricots, cherries.  So much goodness.

I gathered up all my big bowls and headed to the "Secret Garden" to collect apples and grapes.

This is the result after one of at least 15 visits to the garden.

The door to the "Secret Garden"

I started making grape juice and applesauce and taking it to Mel and Margaret.  This made them so happy!  They had given me something invaluable.  Not the fruit, not the juice, jelly or applesauce I would make with it, but the love I felt emanating from that them and their land.  I spent many hours in that garden.  Touching the leaves.  Clipping down the grapes.  Picking the apples.  Taking in the beauty in God's creations.  Smelling the wonderful scent of the ripe fruit all around.  It was like heaven to me.

 These were the most delicious apples I have ever tasted.  Fresh from the tree, free of chemicals, and unlike my apples...NO WORMS!  Aren't they gorgeous?!

I spent countless hours in my kitchen canning and thinking about Margaret and what a wonderful woman she is as I made this delicious grape juice, apple juice, and applesauce.  You should taste it, it is absolutely divine!  No sugar added to any of it.

 Sweet Margaret passed away yesterday.  I was speaking of her and thinking about her last night, and I got news this morning that she returned to our Father at that same time.  She suffered from a stroke last week and I was lucky enough to be able to visit her one last time.  I went to her home and embraced her dear husband as he cried on my shoulder.  That man loves Margaret as much as anyone has ever loved another.  I am sure of it.  He just loves her, and he was heartbroken that she was declining in health.  I comforted him as much as I possibly could, and then I sat with Margaret for a while.  She was so pleasant.  She was very happy to see me and told me that she was so pleased that she could share her abundance with relatives, that her garden could provide for her family.  I was very proud at that moment to be considered her family, as distant as is it.

Leaving their home that day was hard.  I was fairly certain I would not see Margaret again and I wasn't sure how to go.  I simply kissed her on the forehead and told her I love her.  And then I left.

We never know when our loved ones will leave this Earth, we only know that they will.  While we have our time here, it is important that we spend it wisely.  Love.  Serve.  Give.  Margaret did this for me in ways that have changed me forever.  I only knew her for four short months, but the gifts she has given me are eternal.  I love her.  I am better because I knew her.

I will see her again, this I know. 

Little did I know.

I ran across this photo the other night while looking through my Facebook photos.   It had the caption, "It looks like I have my work cut out for me today."

When I saw this, I was blown away at just how much has changed since then, and on so many levels.
This was my apple harvest on Blayde.  I was so proud of my bounty.  Look how big and juicy and delicious those apples look!  Andy and I planted the apple tree when we first built the home in 2006, so this was a huge success to have kept it alive while I experimented with pruning over the years.  I was a novice (I still am) and searched the internet for guidance constantly to make sure I was caring for this tree correctly.  These 2 bushels of gorgeous apples was proof that I had succeeded!

I was also slightly overwhelmed with that amount of apples.  What would I do with all of them?  Surely we couldn’t eat them all before they went rotten.  After, again, searching online I decided to set aside as many as I thought we would eat and I made apple pie filling with the rest.  I think I got about 8 pints.  Again, success! 

Little did I know, this was only the beginning.  Take a look at the apples I harvested from my tree on Lincoln just 2 years later...

We got so much more than a cozy home in a prime location surrounded by incredible people when we moved to Lincoln, we also got what I view as one of the greatest gifts God has given us.  His creations.  Mr. Weight, the previous owner, spent countless hours for nearly 50 years caring for the fruit trees and the land.  I have so much gratitude to him for the way his efforts have blessed my life.  You will hear more about him another post.

See me up there in the tree?  

I climbed the tree to pick the apples that were ripe.  Well, this is a very large tree and most of the branches are more vertical then I'm comfortable with so it’s not super easy to climb.  In an effort to save lots of time and quite possibly my life, I decided to shake the apples down.  It was awesome.  
This is what I ended up with in mid September. 

 These apples were pretty tasty.  Even Dallas was enjoying them on a daily basis!

I harvested nearly this much again before the frost came.  

What did I do with all those apples?!  We ate as many of them as we could, and then I made apple juice and applesauce.  A lot of it.  Like, a LOT.  And it’s SOOOOO delicious.  

This was my only casualty.


I can't decide if I was more sad about losing the applesauce or about the jar.  I have become quite attached to the jars.
I made a few apple pies as well.  Want the recipe?  Leave me a comment and maybe, just maybe, I'll post the recipe.  :)  It's seriously the best pie ever created by anyone.  Ever!

Can you see why I thought it was interesting that two bushels seemed overwhelming just 2 years ago?  I bottled at least thirty bushels last season, and I can't wait to do it again!  
This is so symbolic of many aspects of my life since then. 

Do you see symbolism in the little things of life?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Stitches for two

Remember my post about my belly button?  Well, little did I know when I wrote that post that there was actually something wrong.  I thought it was just another battle would, a sign of motherhood.  Here is what it looked like just before going in for surgery.

This ugly growth kept growing bigger and bigger over the last 6 years, but it just started bothering me over the last few months.  I did what we all do in situations like this.  I turned to the good ol' internet, did some research, and diagnosed myself with an umbilical hernia.  I read horror stories about how these hernia's can become strangulated and die and cause emergency surgery, so I decided to make an appointment with a surgeon to get it looked at.

Dr. Benjamin Kim agreed with my diagnosis...umbilical hernia.  It was small, but needed to be removed nonetheless.  The big day was to be January 10, my dad's birthday.

I have to admit I was more than a little nervous.  I don't like needles (who does, really?) and I don't like being out of commission.  As much as I like sleeping, I don't like to be confined to the bed or the couch, it really cramps my style!  I was getting pre-surgery anxiety the day before to the point that I was sure I needed to write my kids letters saying goodbye, just in case I didn't come home.  I knew I was being dramatic because I'm pretty sure this is the least risky surgery on the planet, so the morning of the surgery my dear husband gave me a blessing.  The Lord does bless us and I see those blessings every day.  I was glad for the peace I felt.

After getting the kids off to helpful neighbors' homes, we headed to the hospital.  I changed into the lovely hospital clothes and waited for someone to give me the anesthesia to knock me out.  The only part of surgery I was looking forward to.  The deep, deep sleep where I hoped I would not dream.  And guess what, I don't remember a thing!!!  *My dreams have been SUPER CRAZY lately, but that's another subject for another day.*

First, they had to do a pregnancy test.  Thank the Lord above it was negative!  Not that I don't love babies, because I do, it's just that I don't want another one.  I'm maxed out.
With the negative prego test, the nurses got the OK to start my IV.  Well, to try anyway.  The first one didn't work, so the more experienced nurse tried.  She got it going, but it was very slow.  She hooked it all up, got the fluids running, and then they sent me up to surgery.  This is where I had to say goodbye to Andy (we got caught kissing in the hall) and he had to go to the waiting room.

After they "parked" me in a little nook, I was lying in the bed feeling super awkward, just chillin' in the hallway.  Eventually the anesthesiologist came and started some meds to get me all relaxed.  It burned like crazy at the injection site (as it normally does, but it didn't stop), and within about 5 minutes it was clear that my IV was infiltrating.  The skin was all puffy and red and the fluids were infusing into the tissue.  It was not ideal.  So, the anesthesiologist started a new IV.  Third time's a charm!  I'm sure glad I caught it before they tried to put me under.  Would I have woken up halfway through my operation?  Ahh!  That would have sucked.

I saw Dr. Kim for about 2 seconds before everything faded into oblivion.  Next thing I knew I was told I had a "cute little inny".  I came out of the anesthesia pretty quickly, as far as I could tell.  I was chillin' with Andy for a while before I got discharged and went home.  I then got to lie in bed for 3 days doped up on drugs and getting served like crazy by my amazing family.  I got breakfast and lunch and dinner served to me in bed, lots of hugs and kisses from everyone, and more quiet time than I knew what to do with.  I spent my time reading and knitting.  That was amazing.

So, while I was drifting in and out of sleep on the first day home, I overheard a bunch of commotion upstairs.  It turns out that Kayman had fallen and split his ear open.  Andy's sister (who is amazing and took the kids all day and then let the girls stay the night) was taking him to Instacare to get stitches.  What?!  He fell right on the corner of the tile and ended up with 5 stitches.  Poor kiddo!  He was very tough though and hasn't complained about it one bit.  They had to wrap his head to keep the stitches safe for a few days.  He didn't want his picture taken, here's the best I got.
Andy took 2 days off work to help me out.  He played Mr. Mom all weekend and got the kids off to school Monday, only after cooking them (and me) eggs for breakfast.  The most they get from me is oatmeal...on a good day.  He was amazing.  I sure am lucky to have him as a husband and as the father of our children.  I scored big time!

Today is day 4 and I have been up and functioning mostly normally.  Wahoo!  My follow up appointment went well and i'm cleared to resume normal activity.  I am excited to see the final result, as of now my "cute little inny" is covered in medical tape.  I sure hope it's cute.

We have some pretty amazing friends and family.  Our dear friends brought us lunch on Saturday, homemade soup!  It was nice to visit and get some very nutritious food into me after fasting most of Friday.  Sunday we were treated to delicious dinners at both of our parents homes.  Last night our  neighbors brought us dinner, and today we had 3 friends bring food!  People are so giving, and I am so thankful.