Friday, June 29, 2007


I love the 4th of July - Because I love the United States of America. We are going to be out of town and away from the computer for the next 10 days so I wanted to get this all out there now. I love America!! I know my love of country comes from my Dad. I never heard him say a prayer that he didn't thank our Heavenly Father that we live in this great country full of freedoms, liberty and justice. He would get very emotional whenever patriotic things would come up - when the Boy Scouts had a flag ceremony, when the military would march by in a parade and whenever the Star Spangled Banner would be played. I get my heavy emotions from him too.

I remember one time when I was at a Phoenix Suns game - before the game started a woman came out to sing the National Anthem. She sang the first couple of notes and then her microphone went dead. She kept singing, and then the most amazing thing happened, the people close to the floor of the arena started singing with her and it just rose up the arena until the whole place was singing along. Chills ran up my spine and of course the tears started flowing - it was such an amazing thing to be part of.

While I was on my mission in the South of France, the first gulf war broke out. There are a lot of Arabs there, the South of France is only a couple hundred miles of ocean away from North Africa. Those North Africans did not really love the United States, so as a safety precaution my mission president told us to lie. If anyone came up and asked us if we were American we were supposed to tell them that we were Canadians. All of the Canadian missionaries loved that. It was a happy day when I could put my American flag pin back on my back pack.

After those 18 months of living away from home in a foreign country, I will never forget the way I felt when I came home. I had a layover in Detroit, MI. It was very odd to be there and to still be a missionary and to be able to hear English all around me. When we touched down in Phoenix, of course I loved seeing my family waiting for me at the gate (pre - 9/11 obviously), I loved the feeling of the warm, dry air hitting me, and I loved all of the American flags I could see. I never felt so much pride in country as I did on that 25 minute drive home from the airport. There were flags flying everywhere! I could see them over car dealerships and storage facilities - we started counting them and there were more than 25 flags visible from the freeway. I loved it!! I know they had always been there and I had traveled that freeway countless times, but they had never meant so much to me as they did that night.

Just one more quick story - I know this is getting long. Alan and I were so blessed to be able to travel back East a couple of years ago. We had read this series of books - A Prelude to Glory - about the American Revolution. They were amazing historical fiction books about a family during that time in our history. Although the church was not yet organized, these colonists were being moved by the Spirit to establish this great country. Alan and I walked the Freedom Trail, we visited the Old North Church, Paul Revere's home, Bunker Hill and the State House. We boarded the USS Constitution sitting in Boston Harbor and witnessed the cannons being shot. It was an amazing trip and it made me even more proud to be an American (yes, I cry whenever I hear that Lee Greenwood song).

I wish everyone a happy Independence Day!! I hope you will go and see the fireworks and hear the National Anthem being played. I hope you will fly a flag that day and teach your kids what it means to you. We will say the Pledge of Allegiance and pray for the soldiers who are defending this great country. We will also thank our Heavenly Father for allowing us to live in this great nation with all of it's freedoms, liberties and justice.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

WFMW - dressing modestly

Pants keep getting lower and long shirts that are cute are hard to find. When the long undershirts first started coming out - they were so expensive that I was always looking for alternatives. For myself and for my girls. We bought the boys/mens "wife-beater" type tank tops and they work okay - the only problem is that they are very poorly made and don't last very long.

Recently I have discovered two web-sites that I love. The first one is Shade. I think these are the original long undershirt. You used to have to buy them at parties in someones home and they were around $20. a piece. Then they started having kiosks in our local malls and even some at Costco. But - this is where the real deal comes in - on their website - they have a clearance section and it is always chock full of bargains. My 10 year old daughter can wear the XS and my 12 year old the S - they also come in my size - which is pretty big. We have stocked up - we all love them. Go to the specials heading and click on clearance - it's awesome!

This second one is new to me. It has the same style shirts and camis at a low price - but it's biggest attraction is it's FREE SHIPPING! I love that! We have tried a few of their cap sleeve t's and they are holding up great.

When I served in YW - we always stressed modesty. Modest is the Hottest!! We followed the guidelines in For the Strength of Youth - no shorts at mutual - when you sit down your skirts and shorts should cover your knees. We adapted the EFY standard of head, shoulders, knees and toes. When you reach up to touch your head - your belly should not show. Your shoulders should be completely covered. The knees covered when you sit and when you bend down and touch your toes - no back should show. Jeffrey R. Holland gave a talk in General Conference a few years ago about the same thing - it was good ammunition - one thing that he said and that really made a difference was that we should not wear shoes to church that you would wear to the beach. No flip - flops at church! As leaders we decided that we would be a good example and remember what "Sunday Best" actually means - no denim, no flip flops, and really trying hard to come as though we were invited in to Heavenly Father's house.

Maybe my Works For Me Wednesday is a little preachy this week. But it really has worked for me!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

We Survived

But just barely....

Girl's camp was great fun. I literally got no sleep - maybe 12 - 14 hours in four nights. It was hot and dusty and my allergies were terrible. As always - it was so much work - but so worth it.

It was fun being there with Courtney. I felt like there was a fine line between being her mom and being a camp leader - and I couldn't stay on one side or the other. Sometimes she was so clingy and wanting to be with me that I was pushing her away to go find her friends - and then when she wasn't right with me - I was paranoid and wondering where she was.

We did have a small miracle. A faith building incident for both Courtney and I. She kept getting a bloody nose - I was sure it was due to the dust and allergies and dry conditions in general. She had never had one before so although it was uncharacteristic - I didn't think it was a big deal. On Sunday night, the last night of camp there was a special spiritual program planned, a faith walk centering on the life of Christ. Right before our ward was supposed to leave - her nose started to bleed - bad. I stayed behind with her to wait for it to stop. Well, it didn't stop. It was pouring blood - when she gave me one wad of Kleenex to get another - it poured down her face. After a few minutes I took her to my cabin where the lighting was better. We completely soaked her towel in blood. Soon I realized that I couldn't stop it and went to get help. I found a nurse - she couldn't stop it either and since it had been 20 minutes she said we would have to take her to the Dr. to get it cauterized. The RN left to go get the information and a member of the Priesthood to drive us. While she was gone - Courtney asked me to say a prayer - she said she felt like she needed to be at the Christ night.

I said the prayer. The nurse came back, we stood Courtney up - and the bleeding stopped. It completely stopped. We talked for a minute and decided that we could give the faith walk a try. She made it through the whole program, her testimony strengthened and not a drop of blood. She had a priesthood blessing before she went to bed - and everything is great now. It was amazing to see my daughter's faith and be strengthened by it.

What a blessing to have such wonderful children. And to have a loving Father in Heaven who hears and answers prayers. I feel blesses.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday (WFMW)

I have lurked on a cool blog called Rocks In My Dryer in the past. It is a good one - but I had to start limiting my blog reading - so I stopped. But they have a wonderful thing over there called Works for Me Wednesday where a bunch of women link their blogs on Wednesdays and post about helpful hints. I don't thin that I will link with them - you now have the address if you want to go there yourself. But I think I will continue in the tradition and post a helpful hint on Wednesdays. These are not great hints - let's face it I am not Heloise, or Merry Maids or Martha Stewart - so, if you happen to read one of my Wednesday posts that just seems silly- just know that I have tried everyone of these - and it works for me!

Cleaning products I can't live without:

1. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser - this thing really is magic! One of the most magical things about it is that the kids love to use it. I just rip a piece of it off (like 1/4 of it) and get it wet and hand it to one of the kids and they will go to town on door jambs, light switches, base boards, doors - all of those places that once you see the dirt - you can't look away. We cleaned the plastic on an old motorcycle of one Alan's brothers - and he was surprised to see that his fenders were actually white!!

2. Dawn Power Dissolver - I have a gas stove. The stove is white and the trays and burners are a light grey. The minute I turn the gas on - the burners turn black. Add to that all of the spaghetti sauce, boil overs and spills (I'm a messy cook) and you get a disgusting mess. I used to use steel wool pads - but that is so gross - I hate the mess it makes. And then along came Dawn Power Dissolver. I just spray it all over my stove - or any dirty dish that has baked on crud - and wait fifteen minutes and it all wipes right off. It is great

3. Clean Shower - With our hard water in the Phoenix area - it is impossible to keep the glass in our showers clean. If you get your glass good and clean and then from then on spray Clean Shower after every shower - you will never have to do hard scrubbing on the glass again. I go through a bottle a week - but at Wal-Mart it is maybe $2 a bottle - and I can just Windex my shower stall once a month at is wonderfully clean.

4. Lemme Shine - Speaking of hard water - this will get all of the spots off of your dishes. Unlike the Clean Shower - it is more expensive ($4.50 at Wal-Mart) - but it really works. I put it in the dishwasher when I have a lot of glass in there - that is when the spots are the most noticeable. You don't have to use it in every load - but when you notice a problem with spots or with odor.

So that is it - my first Works for Me Wednesday. Not a lot of information - like I said - I don't clean that much - but let me know if it Works for You!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

How private should we be?

I have been thinking about how private I should be on this blog. I think I was thinking that it would kind of be like a journal. That at the end of each month I could print out my posts and keep it for my records. If I do that, I will talk about the things that my kids are involved in, their achievements etc... But will I be putting too much out there on the world wide web for predators and identity thieves?

A lot of the blogs I read are very cryptic with their descriptions of their families, not using names and especially not using last names. Other blogs are just right out there, pictures, plans, invitations to birthday parties with addresses and everything. They must not be having problems or they wouldn't continue to do that. I wonder what the chances are of having some random crook come across this very insignificant blog. I just read that there are over 4.5 million blogs on blogspot alone. What are the chances of someone stumbling across mine?

I had wanted to post current pictures for my out of town relatives to see etc... Of course, I haven't even told any of my relatives about this blog yet but when I do... I am just torn, I guess I will have to think about it a little big longer. In the meantime, check out some of my favorite blogs that are really putting it all out there: The Dayley News (from my ward), Jenny-ology (she is in my ward also), Kristy Glass (young mormon mom who is also an actress and model in New York City) Maaike Davis (one of my mission companions, no pictures but really puts her feelings out - people who don't know her will know her after reading her blog).

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Happy Father's Day!!

My dad passed away last year on the 5th of July. This is my first Father's day without my dad. This is also the last of the "firsts". We already had our first Thanksgiving, first Christmas etc... I don't know if this will be as hard as I thought it would be. Almost a year has passed and although there are times that I still get upset, it is not as often as it used to be.

I had a good relationship with my dad. But it wasn't always like that - pretty much up until I graduated high school I was scared of him and didn't really like to be around him. Then it was almost like someone flipped a switch, at the time I thought it was that he had changed or mellowed, but I'm sure it was more about me maturing. Before my mission I worked for him at his office. That was a good time for us - we really got to know each other. After my mission and up until he passed away we spoke very regularly on the phone. In fact, just last week, I had the thought to call him to tell me the name of a book that we both read and loved. It's funny when that happens.

Every six years - I think - my birthday falls on Father's Day. When I was a kid I thought that was so special. Sharing Dad's special day was great for me - I loved it. Now that I am a mom - I don't appreciate it as much. The kids want to make the day special for their Dad - and I do too - it's just that I feel a little bit jipped! But I guess once every few years isn't so bad.

I'm thankful that I had a Dad who taught me so much. We shared a love of books and a gift of gab. He taught me how to laugh and how to make people feel special - he had a gift for that. I am also so very thankful for the Dad of my children. My dear sweet husband who is possibly the best dad in the world. When he comes home from work each day the whole mood of the house changes. The kids can't wait for their hugs and the opportunity to tell him all of the exciting things they have learned, done or seen. And he always listens with enthusiasm, even when I know he is tired from his commute and would rather go rest somewhere quiet for a minute.

We will try and make Father's Day special for him. We will have a breakfast casserole in the morning, he will open his gifts from the kids and then we will go to church. For dinner we will have veal scallopini with pasta and a fresh eggplant and tomato sauce. Then for dessert we will have his favorite- root beer floats (to make it special we bought IBC root beer in the glass bottles). We will call his dad in California and I will think of my dad and probably talk to some of my brothers. And I will be thankful for a loving Heavenly Father who has placed very special men in my life.

ABC's of Me

I think this is a good way to start off a blog - and all of my friends know how much I love to talk about myself!!

Age: 37 and holding on!
Bed size: Queen (just like me)
Chore you hate: it's a tie between mopping and grocery shopping
Dessert you love: pretty much can't go wrong with chocolate
Essential start of your day: prayer, hugs and kisses and e-mails
Favorite musical artist: Harry Connick Jr. with Michael Buble coming in a close 2nd
Gold or Silver: white gold
Have to have: Faith, Family and Friends
Instruments you play: Is screaming an instrument? Just kidding - I play the piano and I used to play the clarinet.
Job title: MOM - which means maid, cook, washer woman, chauffeur, cheerleader etc...
Kids: twins, Devon and Courtney (12), Morgan (10) and Nicole (6)
Living arrangements: my house with my adorable husband and children
Most favorite month: May - good weather, Mother's Day, our anniversary and the last day of school!
Nickname: Honey by my honey, Jo by my friends, Lenie by my brothers except for Jeremy who calls me bene
Ordered last on the internet: camouflage cargo pants from Old Navy
Phobia: something bad happening to Alan or one of my kids
Quote: "God does not begin by asking us about our ability, but only about our availability, and if we prove our dependability, he will increase our capability!" -Neal A. Maxwell
Right or left handed: right
Siblings: 6 brothers (and 5 Sisters-in-law) - Bobby Dale (deceased), Kenny (Ling), Joe (Sheryl), Don (Donna), Lonny (Lisa) and Jeremy (Shelly. 2 sisters (and 2 brothers-in-law) Susan (Lyle) and Lynda (Marion)
Traffic tickets you've received: several, but I am not here to confess my past transgressions
Unique talent: I can put my whole fist in my mouth
Veggie you hate: I think I like every vegetable, but I will say that I hate papaya (it smells like throw-up)
Worst habit: procrastination (like reading blogs when I should be preparing lessons)
Xerox which body part: That would not be a pretty picture
Yummy food you make: shredded pork and green chili burritos and homemade salsa
Zodiac sign: Gemini

That is probably more information than anyone wants!

I'm really going to do it!

After a little bit of nudging from my good friend Nicole I have given in and started a blog! In June of 2006 I started a blog for my brothers and sisters and I to have a place to stay in touch - it is found here but we kind of stopped posting several months ago. In the mean time, I have satisfied my secret blog addiction by reading other people's blogs. After I get permission from some of them, I will link them on a sidebar here so you can see where I spend at least 1/2 hour everyday!

Welcome to my circus!!