Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Job Chart

So I have to sound like an infomercial for a bit. See, I stumbled across this website while blog-hopping, and it has become my fast favorite. I can't tell you the number of chore charts I've started...and not stuck with for one reason or another. I think mostly because I hated the stickers that ended up on everything BUT the chart. Anyway, we've been doing this for the past week and the kids love it because they can log on themselves (They love having their OWN password!), click on the chores they did, and choose their rewards, which includes anything from story time to a new book, to a camping trip. I love it because I can keep track of everyone, customize jobs as well as rewards and their corresponding points. And I don't really have to do anything! Yeehaw! I hope the kids remain this enthusiastic about keeping up on their chores. Maggie cried the other night because she didn't have enough time to do the dishes before bed, so she didn't earn her points. If that's not success, I don't know what is!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wow. The last few posts have sure been downers, huh? How about some happy news?

If you know of any, I'd love to hear it...


After the accident, I was eager to find out how the driver was doing. I had no idea if he'd even survived, so I sent an email to the last people I knew were taking care of him--AirMed. I knew they wouldn't be able to offer much information, but I hoped they could at least tell me if he'd made it, and possibly refer me to someone else with more info. This is the email I received this morning:

Thank you for stopping. Not many people are willing to do that. Unfortunately I can't give out much information because of all the laws governing privacy of medical patients. I will say he was in very critical condition with a head injury, but is now doing much better. He was taken to Ogden Regional Hospital. To the best of my knowledge he did not have children. I'm only basing that on the fact that when the police notified his family his home address took them to his parents house and they talked with his parents and not a wife. There was a second person in the car who I was told was a hitch hiker. He is also expected to do fine. I'm very sorry I can't tell you more but again I do want to thank you for stopping and helping. Often the first to to arrive can mean the difference between life and death. He was a very lucky guy to have survived and I'm sure you were a part of that. Thanks Dave

That's all I needed. I'm so relieved that the kid is going to be alright. Thankfully, we are too.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


First, I want to start by saying everyone is fine. That's what my dad says whenever he's about to reveal some terrible thing that happened to someone in the family. Not comforting at all, is it? But really, everyone is FINE, and nothing happened to anyone in our family. See, that's called compassion. Now, on with my post.

Thursday was Brooke's 7th birthday. (I know. I can't believe it either. But we'll save her birthday photos, etc. for the next post...) I still had some shopping to do for her party, and since Katie starts school at 12:00, I decided we should leave early so I could spend a little one-on-one with her before dropping her off. We jumped in the truck and I pulled out onto the road, headed toward the freeway. I almost sped up to get in front of another car, but for whatever reason, I waited for him go by, then got over into the turning lane. Once we were on the freeway, I was driving unusually slow. By that I mean, I was going the speed limit. I even remember thinking, I should just start driving the speed limit from now on. It's really not that bad... (I know, I know. I don't need a lecture--I just gave myself one.)

Anyway, we were almost to our exit on Antelope Drive when off to the left, about 4 car-lengths ahead, I saw a puff of white and saw a white Jeep kick up gravel in the median then turn 90 degrees, cross all three lanes of traffic right in front of me, and slam squarely into the 20 ft. concrete wall at about 50 MPH! This is something you see on police dashcams on the news, not right in front of you in real life. It was unreal. Of course, I immediately slammed on my brakes, pulled off the road, grabbed my phone & called 911. I was hesitant to approach the vehicle--guess I've seen too many movies where crashed cars blow up--but I saw someone waving out the blown-out back window. Two other witnesses stopped, so we all ran up to see what we could do. Through the side window I could see a car seat, so my heart just sank. The guy in the back said it was just him and the driver. Whew. The driver was really, really bad, though. I went back to the truck to make sure Katie was okay. Poor girl saw the whole thing. She was really worried, so I climbed in and shut the door, and we said a prayer together. It definitely helped us both to calm down. I went back out to the Jeep to see if there was anything else I could do. (Talk about feeling helpless! Telling someone not to move, and to just keep breathing seems so silly now.) After what seemed like ages, officers, EMT's & firefighters finally started to show up. I think there were about 4 UHP's, 2 fire trucks, 2 incident management trucks, 3 Layton City police cars, and 2 ambulances surrounding me. What relief I felt! As I retreated to the warm truck where Katie was, to fill out my statement, I had a front row view to the rescue that took about 40 minutes. It was like watching a synchronized swimming routine. I was struck by the ease with which everyone seemed to move around each other, all the while getting their job done without hindering the next person. I was amazed. Katie and I sang songs.

The next thing I knew, the entire freeway was at a stand-still. As the guy from the back seat got loaded onto an ambulance, the descending AirMed helicopter landed about 5 yards away from us. I almost thought the truck would blow over. The poor guy had to be really bad off to be literally 100 yards from Davis Hospital, but being loaded up on a chopper headed to Salt Lake. I don't think I've ever seen so much blood in my life, and the smell is still stuck in my nose. An hour after the initial accident, and after an impressive extraction, AirMed took off, and the freeway started flowing again. The officer in charge gave Katie a little badge for being so brave, took my statement and thanked me for helping. One of the DOT guys stopped traffic for me (Where's HE in real life?) and we continued on our way.

We no longer had time to do any shopping, so I took Katie to school, then headed back home. As I passed by the scene where the Jeep laid in a crumpled heap, I couldn't help but think of the choices I'd made earlier. What if I hadn't let the car go ahead of me? What if I decided to go my usual zipping down the freeway? If we had been even one second ahead of where we were, that jeep would've pinned us to that concrete wall.
All I could do was thank my Heavenly Father, and sob the rest of the way home.

Here's the article written up in the Standard Examiner. You can actually see our truck through the back window of the helicopter in the first picture.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Funny Thing About Hope

From the time I was a teenager, I can think of a handful of talks that were so memorable, I can recall where I was, who was with me, and what was going on in my life at the time. The very first of such talks was given in a Sacrament Meeting in my Grand Coulee ward by Sister Lyn Strocsher. While I don't remember the details of the talk, I remember her topic of Hope hit me really hard, and I left that meeting with an inexpressible feeling that has followed me to this day. Whenever I approach the topic of hope, I can feel its importance. I can feel myself on the precipice of putting together all the pieces of the puzzle that make hope so important. In fact, I crave that understanding, but my muddled mind keeps understanding just out of arm's reach.

Tonight I feel as though I'm bridging that gap.

Life has been tough lately. I don't mean that it's hard having 5 kids to take care of (who aren't always well, really). I'm not talking about the 5 loads of laundry I do every other day, that clutter my living room because I don't have the time to fold it and get it put away because I'm cleaning up one of the other 5 messes scattered about my house at any given time. I don't even mean all the running around I have to do between carpool & errands & appointments, or the fact that I haven't had a decent night's sleep in over a year.

I mean life has been really hard.

I'm by all accounts a control freak. It's something I'm trying to curtail, but it's difficult to try to manage something so innate. So, when Mike wakes up every morning for the last 2 months with no job to go to, my natural inclination is to freak out. I hate feeling helpless. I hate feeling like I'm just holding on by the skin of my teeth. I hate feeling out of control. But...I can't help but believe that the Lord is trying to teach us (or maybe just me) to be more faithful.

To trust in Him more.

To let Him lead.

It's a difficult thing to do when feeling stonewalled at every turn. We've been trying so hard to do EVERYTHING that we ought to. We're magnifying our callings, we're praying & reading our scriptures individually and as a family, we're paying our tithing & fast offerings, we're serving at every opportunity we get, we're holding family home evenings, we're attending the temple monthly, and we're honestly searching for job opportunities. We're doing everything we know to do--we've even started hocking stuff on the internet just to bring in a few dollars to pay bills--but nothing seems to have changed our situation. So where does that leave us?

I found a talk from the Oct. 2008 General Conference by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf called The Infinite Power of Hope, and this excerpt eerily correlates with my feelings as of late.

"The adversary uses despair to bind hearts and minds in suffocating darkness. Despair drains from us all that is vibrant and joyful and leaves behind the empty remnants of what life was meant to be. Despair kills ambition, advances sickness, pollutes the soul, and deadens the heart. Despair can seem like a staircase that leads only and forever downward."

When I read this, my first thought was, "That's me!" Then my second thought was, "That's me." Wow. I really let him get to me this time. My inability to trust in Heavenly Father has allowed the adversary to plant that seed of despair, and he got me good. He got me good.

Fortunately, I do have quite an arsenal at my disposal to draw from, now that I'm keenly aware of this attempted siege taking place. I keep coming back to the scripture in Abraham 3:25

"And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them."

I know we're going through a refiner's fire right now. We all know this world is getting scarier by the minute and the Lord needs "the best and the brightest" on His side. We are definitely being proven right now. And it's hard. And it hurts. And it's strangely exhilarating.

After a long conversation tonight with Mike about our future and where we're headed, for the first time in months, the despair lifted and I truly felt hope. It seems as though our life's path isn't what we'd pictured at all. The Lord seems to be taking us in a whole new direction, and that realization has brought an ounce of peace to my soul.

Pres. Uchtdorf continues, "Hope, on the other hand, is like the beam of sunlight rising up and above the horizon of our present circumstances. It pierces the darkness with a brilliant dawn. It encourages and inspires us to place our trust in the loving care of an eternal Heavenly Father, who has prepared a way for those who seek for eternal truth in a world of relativism, confusion, and of fear."

That's the funny thing about hope.

Even before the change has come, hope is the bridge that connects you to the light on the other side of despair.

Now it's faith's turn to make that first step.

And it's a doozy!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Upcycling, My Way

My story begins with this cardboard box. It contained 8--48 oz. packages of spaghetti, and I purchased 5 boxes. I've already done the math for you. (Though you just might want to double check...) That's 40 --48 oz. packages of spaghetti, or 160--12 oz. portions. Just the size to feed my little, but growing family. (By growing, I mean announcements here.) I'd say that's a respectable dent in my food storage for one trip to the grocery store. While I'm stoked to have just upped my food storage by 50%, that's not the purpose of this post, nor the real purpose for the purchase in the first place.

No, that little cardboard box is actually the star of the show!

You see, with all this purging going on at my house, I literally stumbled into a mess of papers and paintings and macaroni art that I'd stuffed away with the intent of sorting through after kids went to bed, so as not to cause any meltdowns when I chucked 95% of it. Of course, the last thing I wanted to do at the end of the day was pull out another mess when I already had 15 others to attend to, so it has all piled up on me over the last few years. I needed a better way of keeping their "treasures" organized, but with funds pretty much non-existent, I had to get creative. Enter Mr. Box, Mrs. Box and the whole rest of the Box Family. They are the perfect size to fit neatly side-by-side on the big black shelf in Dixon's new room.

How convenient that I have just recently discovered the miracle that is Mod Podge, because Bridget, Dixon and I made a little jaunt to the fabric store to purchase the perfect fabric to cover the Box Family for only $8.00. Here's the result...

I love how these turned out! Seriously! I admittedly hate crafty stuff that looks totally crafty, but I think these look like I bought them that way. And let's be honest, there's no way you could find these 5 boxes for $8. Anywhere. Thank you, Box Family. I shall enjoy looking at you everyday.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Restoration Project #1

So, I mentioned a little restoration project in my resolutions post, so I thought I'd post some before and after shots of the dresser. This was my Grandma Martindale's. After she passed away, it ended up with my Uncle Kim. Then it got passed on to his daughter Courtney and sometime last year she no longer had room for it, so she called and asked if I wanted it and the matching vanity. HECK YEAH! I'm kind of nostalgic, so I was thrilled to get something that belonged to Grandma.

I think I've been blessed to be able to see potential. Some people would look at the sorry state this thing was in and banish it to a life of servitude in a hidden closet somewhere full of other forgotten stuff. Or maybe to a landfill, or the woodpile...but not I! No, I knew from the moment I got this little diamond in the rough, that it was destined for greatness. It's taken it's place in that hidden closet full of forgotten stuff until this week, when I finally got the gumption to rescue it from its anonymity. I haven't quite made it to the vanity yet--now that I know how much work it is, I'll make sure I have nothing else to do for 3 days before starting on it. Also, better ventilation. I'm pretty sure I've been high for the last week--which wasn't altogether horrible until the headaches started...but I digress.
This was the result of the stripper I put on it. Nasty stuff I tell ya. Oh, and just so ya know. It burns. Bad. I had to use a toothpick and a needle to scrape everything out from between those little ridges.

This was after the first coat of stripper. I got down to the original finish which was very exciting!

This is after I got all the original varnish off and sanded it down to reveal the natural wood veneer. I was surprised to find the pattern on the drawer faces. I thought it was beautiful!

And of course, the (almost) finished product. Originally the drawers had no knobs, but after many reincarnations, holes were drilled to accommodate some. Now I need to do a little searching for ones I think are just right and will do the dresser justice.

Through this process I learned some valuable lessons:

1. You have to see the end from the beginning, even if the picture isn't entirely clear.
2. Restoration is a difficult process. It requires attention to detail which is especially hard for me.
3. There are no shortcuts if you want to truly restore something.
4. There are always surprises along the way. Good and bad.
5. The more prepared you are, the smoother the process will be.
6. What was truly restored surpassed my capacity to envision initially.
7. The result is worth the effort.

I Have Read the Book of Mormon

We did it! It took us two full years, but we were able to finish reading the Book of Mormon as a family on December 31st. What a great feeling of accomplishment! It was difficult to figure out what exactly would work best for our family, at first. We tried reading at night before family prayer and bedtime--that was a disaster. Kids were either way too tired or too wound up to sit still enough to get a verse out, let alone a chapter. We also tried getting up early to read before school/work. The kids already have to get up at 6:00 to be ready in time for their carpool, so between their exhaustion and my eyes not focusing yet, plus morning gym visits for both Mike and I, early mornings didn't quite work either. What we ended up doing was getting the girls all settled in for breakfast, then postponing ours until after they were out the door. Mike and I would take turns reading the chapter as the kids ate. It was perfect! They were a captive audience who were too busy eating (and let's be honest--tired)to talk & be disruptive. It only took us two years to get it all figured out, but it was worth it to read that last verse together in Moroni Chapter 10. Now as we begin the new year with 1 Nephi, Chapter 1, Verse 1, we ought to be able to finish it for the second time in a lot less than two years! Here's hoping!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I love lists. Ask Mike. Ask the girls. Everything important, or even unimportant, always begins with a list.

What do I need at the store? Let's make a list!
What should we plant in the garden? Let's make a list!
Who has ideas for Family Home Evening? Let's make a list!
What projects need to be done around the house? Lets make a list!
What should I do today? You guessed it...Let's make a list!

I'm NOT exaggerating.

Unfortunately, just like Danielle, I'm a great starter, but a lousy finisher. I think that's why I felt so drawn to her notion of New Year's resolutions. No lists. (gasp!) Nothing to fail to check off...yet again. Just a simple theme. A way to live rather than living by specific details that tend to be overwhelming, at least for me. Perfect. Now, what should this theme be? What do I really want to accomplish this year, and how do I embody the intent of my resolutions for 2010 in one word?

I started looking for inspiration in some of the changes we (our family) and I have been diligently trying to make over the last couple of months.

Just like last year, Mike's work has slowed to a halt during the holidays, so we've really been feeling the pressure of having no income other than the mortuary since before Thanksgiving. I went through my couple of days of deep depression, and plead with the Lord for some direction. The next day, Mike came home from a sweet lady's house with a book in-hand. Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey. I'd heard of him. I'd heard great things about him. But I had never taken the time to listen to him or read his book. I sat on my "spot" on the couch and proceeded to read the entire thing in one fell swoop. It was like drinking water after crawling through Death Valley. I knew this guy knew what he was talking about and I knew we had to follow his program if we wanted our life to change at all. Once again, I felt impressed that we should sell the Expedition. Up until this point, I had rationalized keeping it every time I got that impression. This time was different. We immediately cleaned it up and put it up for sale. It was gone within 2 days. The timing was impeccable because the kids were out of school, so I didn't have to worry about carpool for a while. We've figured out that the truck will do until next month when we get our tax return and we'll buy an old used van for a few hundred bucks. (Fingers crossed it will not turn out to be a lemon...)

Our next step was to start selling stuff. We've been taking an inventory of the things we own and have realized we simply don't need it all. has become my new best friend and everything I've posted has sold within a day. Providential? I think so. Even without an income, we've been able to meet our financial obligations thus far.

The old addage, "Fix it up, wear it out, make it do or do without," has become somewhat of a mantra for me as I've reorganized, purged and cleaned with a fierceness I haven't felt before. Dixon's crib has gone from girly white to a deep espresso that looks fantastic against his newly painted sage green walls. My Grandma Martindale's dresser and vanity have become a labor of love as I've stripped and sanded and scraped and stained and varnished for 3 days to get them back to their former 40's/50's glory, and it can now be passed on to my children and their children as a kind of heirloom.

Not only have we been giving ourselves a financial makeover, but Mike and I have resumed our morning gym visits and are overhauling our meal choices. We're certainly feeling better because of it.

So, with lots of time spent away from the internet over the last couple of weeks, I've pondered deeply what kind of life I want to lead in 2010. I really couldn't have encapsulated what I envision my year to be like any better than this:


1. the act of restoring; renewal, revival, or reestablishment.
2. the state or fact of being restored.
3. a return of something to a former, original, normal, or unimpaired condition.
4. restitution of something taken away or lost.
5. something that is restored, as by renovating.
6. a putting back into a former position, dignity, etc.

I will live a life of restoration this year, and I can't wait.