Friday, February 29, 2008

Called to Blog

I just read an awesome article about Mormon bloggers. You can read the article here. A movement was started because of a few experiences - mostly dealing with what comes up when you type in 'Mormon' on an internet search engine. Plenty of anti-Mormon web sites are out there and easy to find. The goal is to have more truthful Mormon web sites out there so that when someone who is investigating the church does some internet research, they will be directed towards sites that have strong gospel teachings - positive testimonies.

I'm sure I mentioned this movement (started in a CES talk given by Pres. Hinckley) in another post. But, I want to get back to that. I do feel some responsibility as a member of this church to put my share of the good news out there. I have a calling in the church to teach Relief Society, I teach from the Joseph Smith manual on the the 3rd week. Because of our Stake Conference, and some other factors - I taught lesson 2 in February a couple of weeks ago. I am preparing lesson 4 (the Book of Mormon as the keystone of our religion) right now - I realize that we are probably 2 or 3 lessons behind the rest of the church but I am going to share anyway.

Lesson Two from the Joseph Smith manual was called God the Eternal Father. I am including a few scans of what my manual looks like when I teach these lessons. What a testimony it is to me that the spirit really does help me teach these lessons, because, now, as I look at these scans - the notes don't even make sense to me and it has only been two weeks!

I want to share an experience that I had, that I shared in my lesson, that illustrated to me how much my Father in Heaven loves and values me as a person. Maybe some of you have seen or heard the following object lesson, but it is one that can use repeating. A couple ladies in the ward told me last night at our enrichment meeting that they have used the same illustration with their grand kids or in Family Home Evening since I told them about it.

One year in seminary, my seminary teacher held up a crisp new $20 bill and asked if anyone wanted it. Of course, everyone raised their hands. Then he squished the bill up into a little ball and said, 'now who wants it'. Everyone still raised their hands - so he threw it down on the floor and stepped on it, grinding it down in to the carpet of our classroom and asked, 'who would want it now?' Everyone still wanted it. The teacher then pointed out that we all still wanted the $20 because no matter how wrinkled the bill was, it still had the same value. Then, the lesson, that no matter what we do, our Heavenly Father still wants us - we still have value. There is nothing that we can do that will change that value in his eyes.

What an impact that had on me. For the first time, I KNEW that it was true and that God, our eternal father, loved me and valued me and wanted me to return to Him as much or more than I wanted that 20 bucks. That knowledge, though sometimes harder to access, has been with me ever since. This is my first "more good" entry. I encourage all of my fellow LDS bloggers to do the same!

Yeah! Blogger spellcheck is working again!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I just found out - while trying to do an aerobics DVD - that I can kick my own bottom.

This may come in handy when I am being naughty. I will now be able to tell myself, "if you eat that brownie, I'm going to kick your rear-end" or "if you don't clean that bathroom, I'm going to let you have it!".

My inner dialogue has just changed dramatically.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Fat Ladies

Recently my sister and my niece decided to start up a weight loss support group. They asked me to join. I was slightly offended. It is no surprise that I have some weight to lose. That is obvious to any who see me. I just didn't want to be reminded right then. They invited seven other women to join so we would have a total of 10 women (we actually ended up with 11 as one person [me] invited a friend so she wouldn't have to drive out there by herself).

Each week we meet on Wednesday night at my sister's house to be weighed in and to talk about what we are doing (or not doing) to facilitate weight loss. My two daughters that I take with me (because the husband and older kids are all at mutual) call it 'the fat ladies club' and love to come along to sample the low fat treats that people bring. My niece has one of those fancy scales that you weigh in barefoot and it not only tells you your weight but your water content, your BMI, your bone density and something else. It is embarrassingly accurate. Almost everyone in the group is doing a different program. I have started a very strict diet (although I have learned you are not supposed to call it a diet but instead a life change - because diets don't work) that has me eating a lot of protein and vegetables, carbs only at lunch and dinner, and virtually no fat, no sugar, no dairy, no bread and no salt. It is working, not as fast as I had hoped, but the weight is coming off.

I have been hesitant to blog about this because it is just so embarrassing. I regularly read a blog that I love and Cheryl, the writer, has been chronicling her weight loss here and there. I told her she was brave and she encouraged me to get it out there - so I am. I needed to lose almost 70 pounds! When I started getting serious about losing weight on January 11th - I weighed more than I have ever weighed in my life. More than I weighed at any point in any of my pregnancies - even the twins! I have a milestone birthday coming up and I just refuse to be fat - I want to be foxy! I have lost 18 pounds so far, I am averaging about three pounds a week. When you are my size - that is not a lot. I can feel a difference in how I feel and a little difference in how my clothes fit. I still have 51 pounds to go to reach my goal but I have set little goals along the way and I really feel like this program is working for me and I have the motivation to lose it and keep it off.

I never really had a weight problem before. After each of my babies I was able to lose the excess weight and keep it off. But, about 5 years ago, I started gaining weight and losing the control, will or desire to take it off. Maybe it was some kind of mid-life crisis (only I hope this isn't the middle of my life - I intend to live a lot longer than that) or maybe there is some deep psychological reason I gained weight like that but I know that I can't blame it on my thyroid or any other medical issue. My doctor was as surprised as I was at how fast I was gaining weight and did a battery of tests that really turned up nothing.

So there it is - for the world to see! Please don't tell me at church that I am looking good - I will know that you read this and I will be embarrassed. Just a little whistle or the licking your finger and touching your rump with a sizzling sound indicating that you know I am hot will do!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Last Love Day - My Friends

Friends are those rare people who ask how you are and then wait for the answer.

I kind of got off of the blogging train for a few days last week. But I am going to finish out my week of love with some love for my friends. My parents always had good friends when I was growing up - close friends that came over all of the time to swim, play games and eat with us. I think they all started out in the same ward at church and just continued to get together when each moved out of the area. I grew up calling most of my parent's friends Aunt and Uncle - when I see them now I still call them "Uncle Fred" or "Uncle John" - they all have done so much for my mom since my dad died. They are true friends and maybe that tought me how important it is to have true friends.

"Friendship is a sacred possession. As air, water and sunshine are to flowers, trees and verdure... so smiles, sympathy and love of friends are to the daily life of man. "
- President David O. McKay, April 1940 General Conference

I grew up with a great group of friends. There were six of us who all lived in the same little neighborhood - there were three girls and three boys. We started kindergarten together and graduated high school together. We didn't always hang out together but we went to church together and have kept tabs on each other since. John was my next door neighbor, our parents were great friends and we have remained friends, he is a good man. Donny (I think he just goes by Don now) and I went to a dance together, he has several kids now and is doing well. Scott was killed in a plane crash when we were all 18. That was traumatic to have someone our own age die. Julie and April and I have kept in touch, they both married boys that they dated in high school.

"True friendship isn't measured by time but by times shared."
- Kelly Eileen Hake

My oldest, dearest friend is Susie S. We leaned on each other so much during the high school/college years. We went on trips together, shopped for wedding dresses together and have since been pregnant together a few times. In our married years we have very rarely lived in the same state but when we are together it is as if we haven't been apart. By some crazy coincidence we almost always have the same church calling at the same time. We've been primary presidents together, young women's presidents together - we are always serving in the same organization at the same time. My kids call her Aunt Susie and they call her mom - Grandma.

"The most beautiful discovery that true friends can make is that they can grow separately without growing apart."
- Elizabeth Foley

I love having old friends and I love making new ones. In the last six years, since we have lived in this area, I have been privileged to become friends with a group of amazing women. It took us a little while to weed out some and fully embrace others but it is a group to be reckoned with! We don't all live in the same area anymore - one moved to Utah, another lives in Texas but we still make an effort to be together when we can. These are my true blues.

"Happiness is time spent with friends and looking forward to sharing time with them again."
- Lee Wilkinson

I love my blogging friends and my movie friends and my weight loss support friends. I love my book club friends, my game night friends and my Sunday, sit by me in Relief Society friends. I love our dinners out friends, our "sons on the same sports team" friends, our camping/riding friends and our neighbor friends. What a blessing to have such great friends.

What greater gift dost thou bestow
What greater goodness can we know
Then Christlike friends whose gentle ways
Strengthen our faith, enrich our days.
- Hymns no. 293

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Real Love Day - A Tribute to My Husband

He pretends like he likes his presents - not matter what they are.
He takes goofy golfing very seriously.
He always wants pie for his birthday - never cake.
He looks good in a new suit.
He let me take his picture next to the magnolias just so I could prove how big they really were.
He taught me how to ride a dirt bike and bought me one so that we could do it together.
He works hard for us so we can have nice things.
He is an amazing dad.
He takes us on great vacations.
He teaches our kids how to be good people because he is such a good person.

He supports me in all of my crazy whims and ideas. He reads his scriptures everyday. He likes me to try new recipes and will eat anything I put in front of him. He lets me heat up my cold hands on his warm skin. He takes me to sushi restaurants even though he hates sushi. He plants flowers in our flower bed every Mother's Day weekend for me. He gets up so quietly in the morning and never turns on lights or makes noise while he gets ready so that I can sleep until the very last minute. He tells me I'm beautiful. He makes me laugh out loud. He wants me to succeed. He cleans our bathroom. He prays for my mom everyday. He thinks I'm funny. He encourages me to have Girls Night Out. He teaches our kids to love their mother. He respects his parents. He writes me poems and makes me homemade cards. He winks at me from the stand every Sunday at church. He notices little things like clean floors, new toenail polish and when I say I like something. He has been my husband for almost 15 years. He loves me. He is my best friend.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Love Day 3 - My Family

"You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them."

~Desmond Tutu

My own little family - here in our little house - the six of us - make up more love than can ever be written on a valentine. My kids are incredible! They are smart, funny and good looking! I enjoy being with them.
"Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future." ~Gail Lumet Buckley
The family I grew up in is crazy. There are eight kids living - we are very spread out in age - 23 years seperate the oldest and the youngest. We never all lived at home at the same time. But when we are all together it is GOOD TIMES! All five of my brothers are fun to be around, some are more quiet than the others, some think that being mean is funny even after all of these years, some are just so hilarious that even thinking about them makes me laugh. I know that any one of my brothers would take me in, nurse my wounds, and make me happy just like they did when I was just the bratty little sister.
"Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family." ~Anthony Brandt
My two sisters are both amazing women whom I admire and look up to. My oldest sister, Susan, has been like a cool young mom to me. My own mom was older when I was a teenager and Susan would always let me come hang out with her and her family. She is a strong, loving and generous person. My other sister Lynda is such a good mom to her kids. All of her kids are so well mannered and talented and wonderful. Lynda has always made the best of every situation and done it with a smile and a sense of humor.
"We cannot destroy kindred: our chains stretch a little sometimes, but they never break." ~Marquise de Sévigné
My parents made for us the kind of home where we all knew we were loved. They never let us go a day without a hug or an "I Love You". We each felt like we were the favorite. We all craved their attention and somehow they gave it out judiciously. I am constantly inspired by the way they taught us that family was first, dinner together is important and making memories creates a legacy of love. When my dad died, it was my privilege to collect memories from each of the kids; we made a lot of memories together as a family.
"The informality of family life is a blessed condition that allows us to become our best while looking our worst." ~Marge Kennedy
I married into an equally impressive family. My in-laws are so much younger than my parents - they are the same age as my two oldest brothers. When we first got married, Alan had a 3 year old brother! Both my mother-in-law and father-in-law are close to their families so Alan grew up with tons of cousins and aunts and uncles around. I didn't - this was a whole new culture for me. I love it! I love all of his family. Alan's mom is a rock! He has three brothers whom I adore and one sister that I feel such kinship with - I think we were meant to be blood sisters and grow up together. I love you Jen!
"The only rock I know that stays steady, the only institution I know that works is the family." ~Lee Iacocca
When Alan's parents divorced, his dad remarried and brought even more family in to our lives. We love his wife, DeAnn and all that she has brought in to our family mix.
"In time of test, family is best." ~Burmese Proverb

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Love Day 2 - My Faith

President Hinckley spoke at a CES fireside in December and said that we should use our blogs, our web pages and the internet in general to teach the gospel and reach out in the world with a message. I am not shy about talking about church or activities in my ward or stake, but I don't know if I have really followed through on the prophet’s desires. I haven't really used this space as a means to bear my testimony, until today.

On this day of love I want to share with my limited readership my love of the gospel of Jesus Christ. My testimony of the restored gospel burns in my chest. I really feel that sometimes I could stand on the rooftops and preach repentance and the mercy of a loving Father in Heaven who hears and answers our prayers. We are his literal sons and daughters and he wants us to be happy and make the most of this time on earth.

I know that His son, Jesus Christ is my Savior. I know that He died for me and that the drops of blood that he shed in the Garden of Gethsemane were because of me. I know that He lives and that He will come again to this earth. Every time I read 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon, I imagine what it will be like when he does come. I imagine what it will feel like to be in his presence - I am sure we will feel love like we have never known before.

I know the Book of Mormon is true and that it was written by prophets who saw our time. It was translated by a prophet - Joseph Smith. I know that Joseph Smith was the one chosen for this work of restoring the Lord's church and bringing forth the Book of Mormon and other revelation that we need. We do need it. We need the wisdom of the scriptures every day.

I know the priesthood is truly the power to act in God's name and that it is restored to the earth. I am so thankful to have the priesthood in my home and to have local priesthood leaders who care for me and my well-being. I know that we have a living prophet on the earth who holds all of the keys of the priesthood.

I have made mistakes and sown some wild oats in my youth. But even when I wasn't always living the standards of the church, my testimony of the gospel was always in my heart. I never doubted that what I had learned from my parents, in church or seminary was true. I never saw for myself the kind of happiness that I now have as a woman of testimony, an endowed wife and mother, a returned missionary and faithful member of the Lord's church. What joy I feel just thinking about the blessing it is to know the truth.

I love being a Mormon. I love going to church. I love the associations I have with members of my ward and stake. I love the programs of the church, Relief Society, Young Womens, Scouts, Primary, Activity Days etc... I love having my testimony strengthened by amazing talks, lessons and activities. I love the feelings of peace the gospel brings. I love when our Sabbath day is a Holy day of worship and prayer. I love Family Home Evening. I love reading the church magazines. I love General Conference. I love special broadcasts and women's conference and education week. I love the hymns. I love the scriptures and all of the wonderful printed material out there to help us. I love having a calling and serving in the church. I love the way my home feels when I know the spirit is here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Jolene Loves...

To start off this week full of love - I am back to my favorite Google game. I love doing this!

So, according to Google, these are the first 10 things that come up when I type in Jolene loves:

Jolene loves Barack Obama

Jolene loves her role as COO of Inova, one of the premier health systems in the country.

Jolene loves Linebeck.

Jolene loves the outdoors and enjoys swimming, surfing and yoga

Jolene loves hiking the many trails around the Tompkins County area

Jolene loves you

Jolene loves how quickly she can find what she needs by a simple turn of the rack

Jolene loves what she does

Jolene loves everyone with fur!

Jolene loves performing.

I don't think we will have any grand Valentine's Day celebrations. I always buy some kind of little gift for the kids and usually something red for Alan but I don't get all caught up in the romance of it. I don't know if that is lame or not. I'm fairly sure Alan will bring home flowers or some other little gift and we will have a nice family dinner. But what I will do is dedicate this week of posts to people that I love. Having just written that - did I just start off my week of love by posting about myself?
p.s. Did blogger cancel the spell check button? Mine hasn't worked for a week or more.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Seperated at Birth?

I just saw this somewhere and laughed out loud.

If he wins, at least we know who can play him on Saturday Night Live.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

What I am Loving Right Now

Fresh delicious berries from the farmer's market. Strawberries, raspberries and blackberries for breakfast in February!

Sunny and 65 degrees in February!

The Wednesday Letters by Jason Wright. I was desperately searching for an appropriate book for my turn at book club and I think this will do the trick. Cute, fast read.

Devon (13 yr. old son) left his slippers downstairs last night and they fit me. My feet are warm.

The movie Penelope comes out in theaters this month. My daughters have been waiting for this movie for months. They can not wait any longer! The website has been keeping them busy and full of anticipation. Mr. Tumnus in another romantic role!

My friend Nic who told me about her secret combination for headache relief. I woke up this morning with a splitter but it is gone now.

I am going to Girl's camp. Every year I tell myself that it will be okay if I don't go. But I really love going and I am so glad I just got a call to go.

Today, Mervyn's is having a final clearance sale. You buy one thing on final clearance and get TWO things on final clearance FREE. Baby shower shopping at its finest! You can never have too many of those on hand!

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday is Tasty Tuesday

Today, I will go and vote. I will wait for Alan to come home and we will go together. It is no secret who I will vote for, I will always go with the business man. The man who has real world experience. I voted for Steve Forbes in the Primary in 1996 and really thought his ideas were great. I like Romney, I think he is the best man for the job. I really think it would be great if he could win Arizona (McCain's home state) so the nation would know that we Arizonans do not appreciate McCain and his Washington pandering.

I am usually an optimist. I promise! But you know that I am kind of in love with the bizarre daily holidays and according to my favorite list - today is also National Disaster Day. It truly would be a disaster if today John McCain wins more delegates than Mitt Romney.

Tuesdays are also my food group day and I like to post recipes here on Tuesdays. I thought something truly patriotic was in order for the day - this Amber Waves of Grain bread will warm you up on a chilly afternoon. It is easy to make and very delicious!

Amber Waves of Grain Bread


2-1/2 cup stone-ground, seven grain hot cereal (including cracked wheat, flaxseed, oats and other cracked grains look for products like this or this in the organic section at Bashas or at Trader Joes), not cooked

2 cups boiling water

1/2 cup wildflower or other pale amber honey

2 tablespoons instant yeast

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup of warm (110-degrees) water

4 cups bread flour


1. Put cereal in medium bowl, pour the boiling water over it and set aside to soften for 15 minutes.

2. In a bowl of electric mixer or another large bowl, stir together honey, yeast, salt and warm water. Using paddle attachment or a wooden spoon, beat in three cups of the bread flour, then beat in softened grains with their liquid, until dough is moist, soft and heavy.

3. Knead by hand or switch to dough hook and knead dough for eight to ten minutes, adding about one cup more flour, a little at a time, until dough is elastic and no longer sticky.

4. Place dough in large, oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about one hour.

5. Grease two 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pans or a large baking sheet and set aside.

6. Punch down dough and turn it onto floured surface. Knead it a few times. Divide dough in half. Shape each portion into regular or round loaf and put in prepared pans or on baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm spot until doubled in bulk, about one hour.

7. Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Bake bread 40 minutes until loaves are rich brown on top and sound hollow when tapped on bottom. Instant-read thermometer inserted into center should read 190 to 200-degrees. Cool on wire rack.

Monday, February 4, 2008

My Name is Jolene and I am a Hypocrite or Miss Ridd Regrets

For the last three or four Sundays I have watched and then posted about how much I am loving the PBS Masterpiece Complete Jane Austen series. But something happened last night that has thrown a wrench in my routine. My husband called me out on my hypocrisy.

See, we kind of have a no tv on Sunday rule. So, when the kids got home from church -- where apparantely all of their friends and Sunday School teachers (ahem) were talking about the Super Bowl -- they wanted to turn it on. Alan was busy with meetings at the church but I stuck to my guns about the game. At dinner the kids were telling Alan all about how cool it is that the Super Bowl was taking place right here in our own valley and how their Social Studies teacher was going to ask them about all of the commercials etc... I piped in with a "hey kids, I already told you that we don't watch tv on Sundays" - mostly so Alan would know that I am upholding virtue while he is out counting tithing checks.

So, kids in bed by 8:30, Masterpiece starts at 9:00. Alan has had two very early mornings in a row and is headed to bed. I ask him if he wants me to go downstairs and watch Jane Austen or if I can stay up there and watch it in our warm bed. You see it coming - he says, "I thought we don't watch tv on Sundays." I say, "but it is Jane Austen and the kids are all asleep - they won't even know." He gives me the look, I set the VCR and tape it. What I should have told the kids in the first place is that we practice more of a Jewish Sabbath - you know - it's over at sundown.

I watched it this morning in my warm bed. It was not one of Jane's stories but a drama based on Austen's life. It was called Miss Austen Regrets. I really liked it. Of course, I really liked Becoming Jane and I know a lot of Jane Austen superfans did not. It was hard to get over James McAvoy as Tom LeFroy in that film - I just kept seeing Mr. Tumnus. Anne Hathaway was a beautiful Jane Austen when I believe she was probablly more plain. For the next three weeks they will be showing Pride and Prejudice, I'm looking forward to that.

Friday, February 1, 2008

What do Nine 13 Year Old Girls Sound Like?

I can't tell you because I can't hear a thing! My ears are bleeding!

Tonight my 13 year old daughter is having her long postponed birthday party. Her birthday was January 3rd but she has decision making issues. She wasn't sure what she wanted to do... a murder mystery (kept putting it off until too late to order materials, make invites etc...) a 50's themed sock hop, take a few friends to lunch and a movie - I finally forced her in to making a decision and she had a video scavenger hunt. They roamed the neighborhood getting people to do funny things while they video taped them. Future Ward Talent Show gold right here: Bishop doing the chicken dance in his pajamas (it was 7:15?).

Right now they are trying to get settled down so they can watch a movie but they are finding that hard. In fact, it just keeps getting louder and louder.

Worst part: My friend Kelly called and wanted to go to a movie (I had to lock myself in the laundry room so I could hear her phone call). I totally wanted to ditch these girls and go see 27 Dresses with her. Instead, I will go pop some more corn for the masses.