Friday, January 29, 2016

"Our" Homework

Yes, we all wish homework either didn't exist, or could be done magically!
Comic by Bill Watterson

I have six wonderful children.  Three have already graduated from high school, and one graduates this year.  That leaves me with one in junior high and one in elementary school.  I have had at least one child in school for almost twenty years, and yet it wasn't until this last year that I realized their homework isn't "our" homework -- it is theirs.  Perhaps it took this long because a lot of my kids are self motivated, and have done a good job of taking care of their work without me having to do anything but help when I was asked.

Las year I found myself telling Jake, or Dan, "It is time for us to do our homework".  My boys do not really like to do homework, and I felt like if I didn't step in it wouldn't get done.  It felt like my homework! Unfortunately, by calling it our homework instead of their homework, I was taking away some of the responsibility that should be theirs.  It is their grade.  It is their homework.  I went to school for a lot of years, and I already did my homework, and I turned it in on time too! (Yay me!)

They do need encouragement, and often they need help, but they also need to be responsible for their own work and their own grade!  I do not want them to get to college and not know how to keep track of what work they need to do, and when to turn it in!  Now the trick is to find a way to help them actually care about their homework, and the consequences of not doing it or not turning it in on time! We're working on that!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Rest of the Story

image from

A couple of days ago I was watching a Mormon Message about Stephanie Nielson, the airplane crash survivor and author of the blog "The Nie Nie Dialogues".  As I watched, and listened, I thought about what I write on my blog.  I share some of the happy things we do, and the good things I am trying to work on, or that I am thinking about.  I share songs I have written, and things I have read, but I rarely share the rest of the story.

I am a real person, and real people always have challenges and struggles and things they want to change.  I have flaws a plenty and days that seem long and hard.  I have mornings when the alarm goes off, and it is all I can do to get up so that I can see my children off to school.  Mornings when my prayers come out more whining than grateful.

I have days when Derek leaves for work, and I cry because I do not want to be left alone with just my own thoughts for company.  My own thoughts are not always so kind to me.  I have days when I feel like I say the wrong thing constantly, and when I can convince myself that even my own family would rather not talk to me.  I am sometimes selfish, and grumpy, and everything seems too hard.

On days like that I usually do not write on my blog, or call anyone for fear that my hard times might be contagious -- and honestly because I don't want to cry at anyone.   Though I don't enjoy these days, over time I have managed to learn a lot from them, and how to avoid having so many. I can even be thankful for them -- when they are over.

 One thing my experiences have taught me is that, for me, there is a danger in being too tired. It is then that I can "know" I am not good enough, and cry over the flaws that I never can seem to quite get rid of.   It is when I am tired that I forget God's grace, and the atonement that is there for me to use because I am human, and imperfect, and Heavenly Father knew that I would need it.  Just knowing that fatigue is the real problem can sometimes keep me from descending into discouragement, and forgetting hope!

When you have hard days, it is my wish that you will be able to hang on to hope, and know that eventually, things will be better.  There is help.  I know that God loves you and me, and that even the worst day can contribute to our learning if we turn to Him.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Rules to Live By

This might be odd to you, but coming up with "rules to live by" is a perfectly normal and fun activity for me.  I found this list in one of the spiral notebooks that I write random things in.  It's really just a list of good things that I want to remember.  Do you have any rules to live by of your own?

*If you notice something good about someone -- tell them.
*People are more important than things or schedules.
*If you say you will do something -- do it.
*If possible -- be early.
*ALWAYS take a jacket (this is for people like me -- who are almost always cold)
*Only say good things about people.
*Gratitude makes everything better.
*Trust God and His plan
*Choose happiness

I didn't come up with the one above on the right -- but it reminds me of me and my puppets.  I like to be silly with them, and I almost always feel happy while being the Princess!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

My Last Little Goals

Believe it or not, I haven't quite listed all of my little goals yet.  The funny thing is, I was just reading a past blog post about being careful not to have too many goals!  These are fairly little -- sort of :-)

1.  Drink more water.  Since I seem to be thirsty every minute of the day, this one is going well.
2.  Move more.  It is hard to move more when all of my favorite things to do involve not really moving much -- music, writing, reading, talking -- you see the problem!  I have started doing more tai chi again along with trying to jog -- and I feel pretty good about that.  I also move when I shop, but I'm pretty sure "shop more" shouldn't be a new goal.

3.  Finally, I have been wanting to study prayer because I believe prayers can be improved, and so can the ability to receive answers.  Tia gave me a nice little notebook for Christmas that I love (pictured above).  On the front it says, "Upon these I write the things of my soul -- 2 Nephi 4:15".  I thought and thought about what to use it for.  After all of that thought, I decided that as I study scriptures, and Conference talks, and other books, talks, or lessons, I would write any insights I got about prayer in my notebook.  If you want to share with me your insights on prayer, I would love that too.

Shockingly, these aren't the only things I want to work on, but these are all of my little goals.  If there is anything I am a genius at, it is coming up with ways I could do better.  Carrying through with those things can be a different story!  But every little move for the better is a good thing.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Dan and I Construct a Zoo

Last Monday was Martin Luther King Day and the kids didn't have school -- but Derek did have work.  Kayli, Connor, and Jake were all busy with friends.  Dan wanted someone to play with too and so I volunteered, and Dan selected the activity. We built a zoo. We thought it was pretty great.  He added a dinosaur section later.  Dan showed all of the family, and we had Jake take a picture.  He took three. Unfortunately, my phone is difficult to take pictures with, so this is the best we have!  Dan likes posing for the camera!

Friday, January 22, 2016

2016 Car Show!

Last year we missed the car show.  I seem to remember it being a bit of a grumpy day.  This year Derek and Kayli and I made it, and had a good time.

Derek and Kayli in a Corvette

I had to take a turn too!

Derek and Kayli on the really huge Maverik truck.

My cheesy grin by the Acura TLX I liked.

Kayli is always trying to dodge a picture -- she is not happy I was taking another one.
This is her in a jeep.

I had such a cheesy grin in the first picture that I was laughing about it, and Kayli caught that.
I loved the green Honda HRV.

Here's a fine picture of the whole car.

You know, when you get close enough to get a good picture of the person, you can't really tell what vehicle they are in.
This is obviously a yellow one.  No.  Maybe this was the greenish colored one that Kayli liked.

I just really like the look of this one.  I probably would hate driving it because its nose is long
but it looks fun.
I always think the car show is cold, so I was prepared.  I wore three shirts and my coat and was just right.  Kayli and Derek each wore a tee shirt and a light jacket and were fine.  It seems my internal heater doesn't work as well as theirs.  Derek and Kayli were both good company, and we saw lots of nice cars.  Connor opted out.  He so enjoyed seeing and hugging the cars last time that I was surprised, but I guess he had other things he wanted to do instead on his day off of school.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Tragedy for the Happy Ending Lover

Image result for the johnstown flood by david mccullough
For Christmas this year Santa brought me "The Johnstown Flood" by David McCullough.  Why? Because it was on my wishlist.  I'm not quite sure why I put it there since I knew a story about an unexpectedly broken dam would not have a happy ending!

The account of the breaking of the dam above Johnstown is full of tragedy, but it is also full of miracles.  It showed the worst of humanity, but it also shows the best.  This book is full of interesting little facts like what people were doing during the morning before the dam broke, and why most people ignored the warnings given that morning that it might break.

We read about people who survived the flood by sitting on, or holding onto floating mattresses.  I don't know what the mattresses were made of  in 1889 -- but I found it incredible that one mattress floated in an attic all night, keeping a whole family alive, and another served as a raft that people were able to ride to safety.  There were entire families that were killed by the flood, and entire families that survived, riding on roofs, or huddling together in the attics of the few buildings that didn't wash away.  There was even a baby born during the night while a family was riding down the flood on a roof.  Another baby was found floating down the river 80 miles from Johnstown unhurt in his cradle.

Parts of The Johnstown Flood are so sad that I cried over them, but the story is also interesting and thought provoking.  The book explores questions such as, Who was to blame?, What should have been done differently? Who sent help and why?  and, What did the survivors do in the days, weeks, and years that followed?  It also gave interesting information about the railroads and their owners, and the newspaper men, and the reports they gave of the flood.

I am not sorry I put it on my wish list even though I did have to be careful where I read it so that I wouldn't cry over the sad parts in public!  David McCullough succeeded in making learning history interesting, which is the reason I enjoy his books.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Non Fluff Books Are Piling Up!

8 Things Only Book Lovers Understand
My stack of books in the "to read" pile aren't this high.
I can't decide if that's a good thing or not.
I love books.

I love myself a good "fluffy" book -- that being books to read just for fun, with no real expectation of learning much, just of being entertained.  I like a good romance, especially if it is funny.  I like a good mystery story, or a spy novel, or science fiction, or even the occasional fantasy book. Happy endings are almost a must.  However, with very few exceptions, my favorite books are the non fluffy kind that tend to take a little more work to get through.  I like books of history that teach me about people, and events of our past.  I like books that help me understand church doctrine better, and I love the books that happen to give me an idea of how to do better myself.  Some of my challenges have been solved, or at least helped through books.  Some of the little goals I've tried, I have seen first in a book.

So, when I go to the bookstore, I tend to look on the discount table for both kinds of books.  If one seems especially interesting, or seems to be interesting and an exceptionally good deal, it might end up in my desk in the line of books that I haven't read yet.  The fiction ones, that I can whip through in a day or two, don't stack up, but the more studious type do.

This last year I had a system that has worked pretty well.  I picked a book, and read at least a chapter almost every day until I was done.  I looked at the books I've finished, and I'm pretty sure I read at least ten, and maybe as many as a dozen, non fluff books last year (It's hard for me to remember exactly when I read things -- and some of those were kind of short).

This year I decided to go back to something I did a few years ago.  I wrote a list of 12 books to read.  There is one for every month.  This still left me with one two that were not on the list, and there is always the possibility that I will find more during the year.  The idea isn't to limit me to twelve, but to get through at least the twelve on my list.  There is a problem with this method.  Sometimes if I make a goal to do something, it can make it seem like a job, instead of something to enjoy.  That's why I only did it for one year before.  I'm counting on my last years method helping me with this year's goal.

I'm not sure if this can be called a little goal.  It's more a rearrangement of how I do something that I already do.  Right?  So it should be "easy" to accomplish.  I've already finished January's book.  I'll tell you all about it next time.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Singing On My Way

Ha ha ha.  Imagine the girl in the car is me.

Another little goal I have is to use my time in the car better.  I mean, I always get where I'm going, but I've spent a lot of time punching button after button to change radio stations, and getting frustrated when there is nothing I want to listen to.  What is better than that?  Well, about anything really, but I have another little goal, and I decided I could accomplish both at once.

You see, when I was contemplating what things help me feel happy, singing is right up there towards the top of the list.  I have been that way for as long as I can remember.  If I'm feeling super down, and can make myself sing, I almost always feel better.  So I decided that a good little goal for me is to sing more.  So, instead of changing radio stations five times on the way to Walmart -- I sing my way there, and I sing my way back.  I make a lot of trips around town by myself, and it's been fun to see how many of the hymns that I used to have memorized I can still sing.  I sing other songs too, when I can think of them.

Not too long ago I took Dan to get new tennis shoes since I discovered that his big toe was pretty much walking on the snow.  When we got in the van I asked him what he wanted to sing.  He laughed and said, "Nothing!  I want to listen to the radio.  It sounds better."  Then, realizing that saying this might be insulting he said, "You know, because it has instruments to go with it and everything".  I told him I was going to sing.  I sang for about half of our trip there and then started to talk to Dan (because talking to kids in the car is a good thing to do too).

On the way home I told him we could listen to the radio, but that lasted about 30 seconds because, even though he talked nonstop in the store, he still had a lot to say, and I couldn't hear him with the radio on.  There are a lot of good things to listen to, including children, in the car.  It's not a bad time for praying either (with your eyes open).  I do that a lot in bad weather. You know -- "Please don't let any of us crash!" -- but if you see me driving around town by myself, you will likely see me singing on my way.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

I Can't Leave Out the Fruit

Image result for fruit
Jake chose this picture for me
picture from

I've already talked about my plan to eat more vegetables, but I can't leave out the fruit!  I've been only slightly better at eating fruit than I have been at eating vegetables.  That wasn't always the case.  I remember when I was little my Grandma Fuller had a grape vine that produced big, sweet, green grapes.  They were delicious and I can remember carrying around big bunches to snack on.  I was also one of the ones who would raid Grandma's storage room for the dried fruit.

My siblings and I helped bottle quarts and quarts of peaches, and applesauce, and probably other stuff too, but those were the two I liked to eat.  I also loved a good watermelon.  Unfortunately, somewhere through the years I lost a lot of my enthusiasm for fruit, and oral allergies wrecked my ability to eat any of the delicious melons that I loved, and some other raw fruits too.

My "simple" solution to getting more fruits is to make smoothies for lunch.  Derek brings home protein powder from work, and I add that to frozen fruits and juice.  I've had more fruit in the last two weeks than I probably ate in the last two, or maybe even four months!  Unfortunately, my glass blender container broke a few of days ago.  Fortunately, Derek has a wand type blender that works.  Unfortunately, I'm not so good at using it without splashing stuff all over me and the cabinets and the counter tops and sometimes the clean dishes.  Perhaps I was using too small of a container.  Fortunately, I got a new blender!  It works well, and I can make a smoothie without making a big mess.

I like my smoothies, and am looking forward to experimenting with different fruity flavors!  Feel free to send your favorite smoothie recipes my way.  That will help you feel good about yourself, because you will be helping me fulfill one of my little goals that I hope will help me be even healthier than usual!
I couldn't resist adding this picture because it is kind of awesome.
The picture is from

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Reinventing Myself

No, I'm not trying to turn myself into a vegetable!
Picture from weknowyourdreamscom

Once upon a time, at the beginning of January, I was sitting on our couch with a notebook and a pencil in hand.  Derek, on the love seat, was watching a sporting event of some kind.  After I had been concentrating on that notebook for a while he asked what I was doing.  Mostly to get a rise from him I said, "reinventing myself".  It worked!  He said, "Oh no you're not!"  He likes to tell me that I can't make any goals without his permission because I have too many.  He understandably does not want my goals to backfire and, instead of making me better, have them turn me into a blubbering mass of discouragement.  Perhaps, on occasion, I maybe, possibly could have overdone the goal making!

What I was really doing was trying to come up with more little things I could do to help me be better, happier, healthier, smarter, or any other good adjective.  Naturally I came up with a few.  Besides having a thankful Thursday, I came up with six others that I can think of right now that I have started.  (Derek is feeling justified right now about thinking I make too many goals!)

One of those goals is to eat more vegetables.  I generally think they are yucky, but I also realize that they are good for me.  Due to the fact that I have so many oral allergies, I can't eat most raw vegetables, which is how I think they taste the best.  I started out planning how to fulfill this goal by having a conversation with a couple of sister-in-laws and a brother-in-law who were sharing ideas.  I was so negative about vegetables that I'm pretty sure they were very convinced I would not succeed at this goal!  The good news is, when you hardly eat any vegetables, it is fairly easy to improve!

So we tried a recipe of baked cauliflower that Erin (Derek's sister) gave me.  It wasn't awful, but it still tasted a little too strongly like cauliflower (imagine that!) even when I kept dumping seasoning on it.  We all ate it, but it isn't on the favorites list.

Next I tried a recipe for citrus bacon green beans.  Connor had two helpings of green beans for the first time in his life, and I had three -- also for the first time.  Bacon isn't really very healthy, but it sure makes green beans taste better!  Since usually we eat our vegetables dumped out of a can and warmed up in the microwave, I decided that the best way to improve our consumption of veggies was to actually use recipes with flavor so they would taste better.  So, I have three more recipes printed out to try this week.  Feel free to send me all of your favorite cooked vegetable recipes (with no milk and cheese because then Dan can't eat it).  When it comes to eating more vegetables, I'm pretty sure I can use all the help I can get!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Thankful Thursday

Picture from
You may notice that I am writing this on a Tuesday -- so what is Thankful Thursday about?  I am one of those people who love the beginning of the year.  I think my parents must have talked about goals a lot, and I love the idea of finding some little thing to change that might make a big difference.  I am always on the look out for this kind of change!

After having given a lesson to some young women on gratitude and challenging them to say a prayer entirely of thanks, I realized how often I thank a little, and ask for a lot.  I want to take more notice of how much I have to be thankful for, and so I decided to make sure that, at least once a week, I say a prayer that is entirely focused on being grateful.

I knew this would be a good thing, but I did not realize what a big difference it would make in a very short time.  I started before December was over and noticed a change in just a couple of weeks!  Just making sure I say that one grateful prayer a week has made me more aware of my blessings, and has helped improve the gratitude I feel and express in my other prayers too.  I know from experience that being grateful helps everything, and having a Thankful Thursday is my little way of trying to change myself into a more grateful, and therefore a more happy person.  Any day and every day is a good day to have a thankful day!