Sunday, March 21, 2010

Something's Gotta Give

I've been meaning to find a little time to jot down some of the impressions I got at Women's Conference last week. I always love going to those. I'm not sure if the speakers are always that amazing, or if I just feel that way because I'm finally able to enjoy listening to one all the way through without being distracted by rambunctious children. I'm gonna split my vote on this one.
This year, our speaker was Curtis Jacobs, an Institute teacher at Utah State, and noted EFY speaker. Though he normally reserves his time for the youth, and various Multi-Stake functions, he happens to be the uncle of a good friend in our ward and as a favor to him, took time from his busy schedule to come speak to our somewhat sparse little Stake.
The theme of his talk was 'Balancing It All.' (For those of you who read the earlier post about me juggling my purse, keys, bowl of pasta, then tumbling down the stairs on my way to this function can now laugh at the irony.)
I admit that I struggle with balancing my life. My priorites seem to shift daily, and with each new situation that arises. Because I'm so UNbalanced, there are a lot of things in my life that lack my attention (housework, for one), and others that get too much (blogging, for one). I'm completely aware of this, but haven't had the energy or motivation to change this sad fact. I think I may have found my motivation in some statistics Bro. Jacobs gave. It was a real eye-opener.

Over 90% of members of the church believe that prayer is important.
Only about 33% of members of the church pray daily.

Over 90% of members of the church believe that the answers to life's questions can be found in the scriptures.
About 33% of members of the church read their scriptures occasionally.
About 20 % of members of the church read their scriptures somewhat often.
About 11% of members of the church read their scriptures daily.

So often, our actions do not reflect our beliefs. Me included. I think I just get so caught up in the busyness of life that I fail to do those things that I KNOW are most important. I am so good about studying my scriptures when I have a lesson to prepare or a talk to give, and at those times, I feel as though I am truly feasting on the word. But when I don't have a calling or a "reason" to study, I'm less likely to put in the time or effort. The same can be said about prayer, which is why I'm intrigued by something I found just today in a talk by Henry B. Eyring from 2001.

"If we become casual in our study of the scriptures, we will become casual in our prayers. We may not cease to pray, but our prayers will become more repetitive, more mechanical, lacking real intent. Our hearts cannot be drawn out to a God we do not know, and the us know Him."

My scripture study lately has consisted of reading one chapter each morning with the kids before school starts. That's it. Not exactly a daily learning experience. It also gives a clue as to how my prayers have been feeling lately. Clearly I have work to do in that department. I know I must do better, and I know I need to rearrange a few things in order to make that happen. I'm encouraged by this quote by Stephen R. Covey, "The key is not to prioritize our schedule, but to schedule our priorities." This really hit home with me, and I'm once again realizing that I MUST get up before the kids to pray and study the scriptures. If I don't, it WILL NOT HAPPEN. My actions must once again reflect my priorities, and I'm committed to make it happen.
I'm acutely aware that I don't have enough hours in the day to accomplish all that I would LIKE, or even feel that I NEED to accomplish. I'm willing to let some things go. The hard part will be figuring out what those things are. Martin Luther puts things into perspective in this way, "I have so much to do today, that I shall start with three hours of prayer." Not that I think all busy days require the precursor of a three hour prayer, but what a testament to the importance of communing with the Father!
I came away from Conference, knowing that the Spirit had impressed some things upon me, not just to have a nice record of, written in my journal, but to be acted upon, and I fully intend to do so.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Collateral Damage of a Working Mother

Just Breathe.

I feel like I've been swimming in ties lately, and my posts have been reflecting that...I promise to post about other things soon, but for now, this is taking over my life!
I just opened shop yesterday and today am filling orders for 8 ties! I think I hope business keeps rolling in, but at the same time, it's a whole new learning curve for me to figure out how to manage it all--and organize my life so that the things that matter the most are not in any way neglected. I went to bed early last night (9:00!) so that I could get up early and get some things done before the rest of the family was into its normal morning bustle, but Dixon had other plans for me as he was awake from 2:30 -3:30. I did manage to get up at 6:00--in time to make breakfast for everyone, which Mike normally does. Here's hoping Dixon figures out soon that Mom's not coming to get him in the middle of the night anymore.

And just as a side note, someone needs to tell the garden to hurry and get itself planted.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


So, I just published my PickleFace Place Facebook page (say that 5 times fast...) and already have fans I don't even know! In fact, I just got my first two orders from non-friends or family today, and I'm over the moon!
Guess I'll go ahead and order that new fabric I've been eying, because it looks like I may need it!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Date 5 of 52--The Home Show, Burgers, and Lots of Bonus Points

I'm going to preface this post by stating for the record, that I have the best husband in the world.

I awoke Saturday morning at 7:30, after going to bed at about 11 pm the night before. Dixon had miraculously slept through the night, and Mike had gotten up with him at 5:30, feeding, changing and entertaining him, leaving me to peacefully slumber for an extra 2 hours! (Bonus Point #1)
When I finally dragged myself out of bed, I found that Mike had made and fed the girls pancakes, and was in the process of divvying out "crusties" to them. I don't exactly know how or when it got started, but whenever Mike makes pancakes, he purposely drips little dots of pancake batter onto the griddle, and the girls go giddy over getting these little "crusties." I don't have the patience or time or patience to flip hundreds of tiny dots of pancake batter, and thus, the girls definitely favor Dad's pancakes over Mom's. (Frankly, I have NO problem leaving it that way.) Not only did I not have to make breakfast, but I adore seeing how engaged Mike is with the kids, and how much he loves to make them happy even if it means spending half the morning flipping hundreds of "crusties" over for them. (Bonus Points #2 and #3)
After eating my portion of pancakes drizzled with scrumptious blueberry sauce, topped with a dollop of whipping cream--Mmmm. I get happy just remembering it. I know. I'll post the recipe for that soon.--I got myself into the shower to get ready for the busy day ahead. I walked into the bathroom, shut the door, and proceeded to spend the next 30 minutes relishing every minute of my piping hot shower, with the door shut. I LOVE when Mike is home and I can take a real, long, hot, quiet shower. (Bonus Point #4)
By the time I emerged, Mike had cleaned up the kitchen, sent the girls off to get dressed and had put Dixon down for his morning nap. (Bonus Point #5)
I retreated to my bedroom, got dressed and started in with my hair and makeup. At about 9:15, I was reminded that I had volunteered to bring 2 lbs. of cooked pasta to the luncheon for the Stake Women's Conference that was to start at 10:00. Without missing a beat, Mike went to the storage room, got out the pasta and started cooking it for me so I could finish readying myself. (Bonus Point #6)
Without a minute to spare, I hurriedly grabbed the bowl of pasta, my purse and my keys, and headed through the mudroom. As I tried to avoid a backpack that had been left at the top step, the heel of my boot caught on its strap, and me, the keys, the purse, and yes, the pasta, went hurtling through the air, landing with a thud and a splat at the bottom. As I laid in a sea of noodles, with my legs in the air and my head against the concrete wall, I tried to yell for Mike to assist me, but I couldn't be heard over his vacuuming. (Bonus Point #7)
One of the girls happened to open the basement door right then, revealing their pathetic mother, and with a look of bewilderment ran up to get Dad. I'm pretty sure he was suppressing his laughter as he helped me up and feigned concern for this poor old bruised up body. For a moment, I considered crawling up the stairs and back into my bed, but thought better of it and decided to suck it up and go to the Conference anyway. After tending to the wound on my shin and making sure all traces of spaghetti were gone from my hair, I hobbled to the van and drove myself to the Stake building. I immediately went to the kitchen and apologized for showing up empty-handed, but as with all Relief Society functions, there was PLENTY of food there, with some to spare. My little offering would thankfully not be missed.
As it turned out, I desperately needed to be at that Conference. It deserves its own post entirely, so I won't go into detail here, but as we were getting ready to pack it up, Mike called. He asked if I needed him to bring over some pasta, because he had made another pot of it just in case. (Bonus Point #8) Seriously? Who does that? Apparently, my sweet and thoughtful husband, that's who. So now we have a whole bunch of pasta in the fridge just waiting for me to whip up some sauces for it in the coming days. Talk about your meal planning!
After I made it home, we packed up the kids and took them over to a friend's so Mike and I could go out on our date. I was very excited to surprise him with tickets to the SLC Spring Home & Garden Show, but forgot that I had posted on FB what my plan was. Surprise ruined. I love when I trip myself up. Oh well. We drove to SL in a lovely spring snowstorm, then joined 50 other drivers as we searched the parking lot for an available stall. After some swift maneuvering, we landed a spot and headed in to the chaos that is the Home Show. We wandered around for about an hour, where the only interesting products (besides the booths full of fudge) were a showerhead and a steam iron. It wasn't all for naught, though, because the best part was just walking around, Mike holding my hand, and not having to keep track of any little ones in that crazy crowd of people. (Bonus Point #9)
It was nearly dinner time, so we left the show and I treated Mike to his first taste of an In-n-Out burger. It was almost as good as I remembered them being, and certainly better than Wendy's or Micky D's. Quite a drive to Draper for them, so we won't be frequenting the place, but if we ever have a reason to head south, we may just have to put burgers on the docket.
We got back on the freeway and headed home, stopping for gas, Girl Scout cookies (Samoas and Thin Mints!), the Red Box, and a quick peek inside a local refurbished furniture store I've been dying to check out for months.
We picked up the kids, took them home & put them to bed, then vegged on the couch with popcorn, our GS cookies, and the movie "2012."
In the quiet moments before I tiptoed into our room and crawled under the covers next to Mike, I thought about what a great day I'd had (despite my little tumble), and the majority of things that had contributed to my happiness that day were because of him. I ended the day thanking my Heavenly Father for such an amazing husband, and for all the little experiences that had shown me how blessed I really am.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Come 'n Git 'em!


So I just got my first order today for 3 ties! AND a second order for one more! I know it's not much, but it feels a lot like validation to me. And this is before I've even opened up shop! So, in celebration of my first sale, I thought I'd give a sneak peek to all you dear friends and give you a chance to order before I officially open shop.

Grand Opening Special:
1 for $14
2 for $25
3 for $35
4 for $40

The Newbie—Up to 6 mo.
The Little Man—about 6 mo. to 1 yr.
The Teetering Tot—about 1 yr. to 2 yrs.
The Big Boy—about 2 yrs. to 5 yrs.
The Perfect Gent—about 5 yrs. to 8 yrs.

The ties are all ready to go, so I can get them mailed off by the following day.
(For those of you who are interested, that's in time for Easter...)

Oh, and did I mention FREE SHIPPING during the Grand Opening?

Whether or not you purchase any ties, thanks for all your support and encouraging words for me as I launch this new venture.
You guys are the best.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hello, Goodbye.

It's hard to complain that Mike hasn't seen the kids for two days when we've been praying so desperately for work, but we've really been missing him around here. I'm grateful to be married to such a good man, who works so hard for his clients. They're pretty lucky to have him. So am I.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Right Decision. (or, Date 4 of 52)

Now that it's March, I'm in charge of planning our dates for the month. I was SO EXCITED to surprise Mike with this first one, because I knew he was going to LOVE what I had planned, and I hoped it would set the tone for the rest of out dating experiences this year. Being a lover of all things BYU (and get this--he's from Wyoming!), and a lover of all things basketball (Laker fan. Ugh.), I got us tickets to the BYU/Utah basketball game last night. Nose-bleeders, mind you, but tickets nonetheless. I had Meredith lined up to sit for us, who was even willing to take the kiddos overnight! (You're all wishing she was your sister, right?) I was going to be a perfect date!

On Tuesday, Maggie came home a little distraught. She didn't pass her 7's. In order to attend her class's Fiesta on Friday, she had to pass off all her multiplication tables by Thursday, and she still had her 7's, 8's and 9's left. I knew she wouldn't be able to pass them off without some intense work, so after telling Mike about what I'd planned for our date, we agreed to forgo the game to stay home and help her study. Last night, Mike plopped himself down on the couch with his iPod in his ears, listening to the game while I quizzed Maggie on her 8's & 9's. I admit that I was pretty disappointed that we weren't at the Huntsman Center, right in the middle of all that fun.
After exhausting every brain cell, we called it a night and Maggie and I got up early this morning (5:30!) and worked some more on those tables. She didn't quite have it down by the time her carpool picked her up, but I prayed all day long that she'd be able to remember what she'd worked so hard on. I waited with baited breath as I picked her up from school today.

The giant grin on her face said it all! She'd passed!

All of a sudden, the disappointment of missing the game turned into complete joy at the accomplishment of my sweet girl. Heavenly Father surely answers prayers, and blesses us for making sacrifices to help those we love the most. Now it's time to Fiesta!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Progress & Bloom

Allow me to celebrate for just a moment.

As I stepped on the scale this morning, the numbers 1-9-9 stared back at me. It's been a while since I've seen that 'one' come at the beginning of my weight, so I'm going to try not to reward myself with a Krispy Kreme. I'm really excited about my progress so far--13 pounds in two months! I'd say that's right on track! If I maintain this rate, I'll reach my goal of 150 by October! The next big milestone will be 175, which I haven't weighed since I was preggers with Bridget--almost 5 years ago. So, here's to progress!

Hey--I'm posting again over at BLOOM today. You should check it out!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Date 3 of 52--Double Date Pinochle

Our decision to go to Kemmerer for the weekend to pick up the van proved fortuitous for Mike who got out of "planning" our date for the week.
(He claims he had something planned before our last-minute trip, but I'm skeptical. The smirk on his face gave it away.)
You see, Kemmerer, Wyoming is a place where technology ceases to exist. Frankly, I always feel a little out of sorts when I'm there and lose all contact with the outside world. There's a population of only a couple of thousand, so resources are slight. Reminds me a bit of growing up in Grand Coulee, though not as big. There's a teeny little park in the center of town that's really a patch of grass shaped like a triangle. It's called Triangle Square. Seriously. It's right in front of the first ever JC Penney store. Yeah. In Kemmerer.
We were going to go out to dinner on our date, but the rest of the fam decided they wanted to go out on the town too, so we hopped in the car and drove to what Grandma & Grandpa called the "Mexican Restaurant." The "Mexican Restaurant" turned out to be a log cabin called the "Westerner Cafe." Half the menu was burgers & pork chops, the other half was Mexican. Hmmm. The food wasn't too bad, but the creepy Mexican worker making eyes at 6 year-old Katie all night was a little unnerving. I think we may avoid dining out in Kemmerer from now on.
After we got home & put the kids to bed, it was time for the actual date to begin! Barb popped some corn and dished out brownie sundaes, while Paul pulled out the card table and we partnered up for Pinochle. (It's a must when visiting the in-laws.) It was nice just to sit around talking and laughing and joking and eating. After a few hands, Barb had to go prepare a talk for Ward Conference, so Paul brought out Farkle, and the three of us spent the next hour rolling the dice! They were not my friends on this particular evening, but it was fun anyway. We may even add that game to our stash.
So, Mike got lucky with a successful date, despite being trapped in Kemmerer. I guess the moral of the story is: If you can date in Kemmerer, you can date anywhere.

Monday, March 1, 2010


“God does notice us, and He watches over us.
But it is usually through another person that He meets our needs."
--Spencer W. Kimball

A few weeks ago, Mike's parents were in Nebraska helping Grandma Behan go through her estate before she moved into an assisted living home. She had been driven all over the place, staying with Barb, Wayne, Marlene, and Diane for stretches of time since she's no longer able to care for herself entirely. She finally got fed up with all the traveling and made the decision to find a place to stay put. She found a really nice home to go to where the ladies spend their days playing Pinochle, and welcomed her right into the group...perfect!
We got a phone call in the midst of all this, asking if we wanted Grandma's minivan. With Mike's Aunt Diane also wanting the van, it was decided that whomever wanted it would have to buy it from Grandma, with the money going toward her assisted living costs. Although we were in the market for a vehicle, it was a little more than our budget would allow, plus we REALLY didn't want to get in the middle of a family feud over a van. We were a little disappointed, but life goes on, right?
Then last weekend, Barb called again from Nebraska, asking if we still needed a van. Mike told her we were waiting on our tax return, so we hadn't bought one yet. She could hardly contain her excitement as she said, "Good. Because your Dad and I just bought Grandma's van and he's driving it home for you right now!" To say that we were surprised is a complete understatement. We weren't quite sure what to say or think at this point, because we knew we couldn't afford to pay them the entire cost of the vehicle. Then she said something even more astounding. "It's a gift from us and we won't take a dime for it."
With that news came several different emotions.

Relief. The financial burden we'd been carrying for months had been somewhat relieved by this one act of immense generosity. While we had planned on spending to purchase another vehicle, that money is now freed up to meet other needs. No more illegally or dangerously cramming all 7 of us into the truck, or driving back & forth to drop off & pick up Mike at his worksites.

Guilt. The financial decisions we'd made up until this point contributed to our situation, therefore, did we deserve a gift of this magnitude? What are they sacrificing in their life in order to meet OUR need? Will their other children harbor bad feelings in not receiving something as well? How do we make it up to them? How will they perceive future spending on our part, and will they regret their choice to help us now?

Gratitude. We are so grateful to belong to a family that sees a need and chooses to meet it. We are so grateful that we are loved enough to be found worth sacrificing for. We are so grateful that Heavenly Father has been watching over us, and is blessing us, though at times those blessings seem hard to find.

What it all comes to is the fact that helping someone (for me) is so much easier than accepting help from someone else. Especially for one as stubborn and independent as I. However, I've had the blessed opportunity of helping someone in need, with great sacrifice to myself, and I've never regretted making that sacrifice. Something profound happens that enlarges your soul when you sacrifice to help another, and that growth cannot happen by any other means. Perhaps the same can be said for those who allow another the opportunity to make that sacrifice. My soul has been enlarged and my humility deepened. Even though we are determined to repay Mike's parents in one way or another, we've all benefited from their selfless generosity. Their example leaves me more determined now to find ways that I can help another, whether by small means or great. I'm relieved. I'm humbled. I'm grateful.


Just a sneak peek at what Jen's been working on...