Saturday, November 29, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 29

I'm grateful for my good, kind parents.

I've already talked about my dad, but he and mom came up last night to see new baby Evelyn, and we were able to spend a few hours together today. This made me very grateful.

When I count my blessings, being raised by goodly parents must come in near the top of the list. I have learned many important lessons from these two: that debt is to be avoided, that an education is to be gained, that family is dear, that playing games late at night is memory-making, to never give up, to work hard and play hard, that popcorn and orange frosties are delicious, to encircle yourself with friends who love you, and always to love the Lord. Are my parents perfect? The short answer is, of course, no, but also yes.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for all you have done and continue to do for me and my family. I love you.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 28

I'm grateful that I don't stay up all night shopping any other night of the year.

(Can I just ask, What was I thinking?)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 27

I'm grateful for a beautiful Thanksgiving day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 25 & 26

Day 25

I'm grateful for David's relaxed attitude today.

When he came home from work, David did not even mention how crazy it is that our downstairs is still covered (COVERED.) in papers, pictures, concert programs, childrens' artwork, and I'm not even sure what else. What a good man. What a patient man.

Instead, he made a big deal about how great my grocery shopping bargains were and how much money I saved. This is a man I'll keep. (Oh, and he also said I'm getting skinny...My oh my. I think my brain may explode.)

Day 26

I'm grateful for seeing my family room floor.

I'm getting closer to finishing my organizing. Oh my goodness. I had no idea how long this would take. I pictured ample time pre-Thanksgiving to polish the baseboards, re-cover the kitchen chairs, make new kitchen curtains, and of course by now I was planning on freezing my homemade rolls to pull out of the freezer tomorrow morning, finishing up the final touches on the yams, and making jam to go along with dinner.

Ha ha ha. Did I mention my optimism is sometimes inaccurate as far as results are concerned?

Time to get back to the paper madness...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 23 & 24

Day 23

I am thankful for Thanksgiving!

I've been planning our feast for this Thursday, and I'm so excited to have some of our family gathered with us to celebrate gratitude. And food.

I love food.

I love sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, pie, stuffing; oh, I'll admit it. I love it all.

And sharing Thanksgiving with people who are dear to me is great, too.

(Have I ever told you about the first Thanksgiving at our house? The one to which my cousin invited a girl suffering from anorexia? Yeah. It's a good story.)

Day 24

I'm grateful for getting to start over every day.

I like to think of the night as my reset button. I seem to need that reset button every single day. Didn't quite help the kids well enough with their practicing. Didn't study my scriptures. Got sidetracked on the computer (what? Who, me?). Didn't spend enough quality time with David. Didn't find someone to do something for. Read too much. Didn't practice. Ate eight cookies. Didn't run. Couldn't get myself focused on organizing the house.

And so, every morning, I get to Try Try Again. That sometimes feels overwhelming, but I am the eternal optimist, after all, so I often think, "TODAY is the day I'm going to get it right!"

Somedays I get pretty close to right. Most times I don't. But every day I get to try again, and that is a blessing.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 21 & 22

Day 21

I'm grateful for my new niece, Evelyn Rose.

How truly wonderful to have a new baby to love...Evie is a beautiful baby with a beautiful name and a beautiful mom and a beautiful family. I'm so thankful for her safe arrival, and that she's just around the corner when I start needing a baby fix.

Day 22

I'm grateful for David's help organizing our under-the-stairs closet and desk area.

Oh boy. Paper clutter is my nemesis. (So is chocolate milk.) I can't tell you how many preschool pictures, receipts, vacation memorabilia, and just plain junk I have had boxed up under the's just too overwhelming. So we've spent all day today cleaning out, and I am at the So Done I Want to Cry stage. Well, maybe not cry, but at least take a hot shower and pretend that my entire family room downstairs is not covered in piles.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 20

I'm grateful for my dad.

It's his birthday today! Happy birthday, Dad.

My dad gave me more than his white skin and quick temper. He gave me a love of friendly competition, a desire to learn, a loyal heart, and a love of family. I hope I also got my love of a good time from dad plays as hard as he works.

I also learned about sacrificing for the Lord from my dad (my mom, too!). My dad and mom always had callings that often called for much time and effort. I never once heard either of them complain about what they were asked to do. They simply did it. I am grateful for this example, and have come to realize just what an amazing gift that was for me.

So thank you, Dad, for honoring your priesthood, teaching me about working hard, and letting me live to adulthood. I know I tested you. You needed was too easy before me. Ha ha.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 19

I am grateful for other peoples' talents.

I just tried to sew doll clothes with Kate.

Nuff said.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 18

I am grateful to be a stay-at-home mom.

I have worked part time my entire adult life. I wasn't sure if I could give up my profession and still feel like myself. I have identified myself as a musician for as long as I can remember, and that label seemed to be my biggest identifier. I also have a great affinity for teaching and grow to truly love each of my students and their families. I care about their progress as people as well as musicians, and have enjoyed the opportunity to be a part of a child's growth from early in their educational lives until graduation. There aren't many professions that enjoy those kind of long term relationships, and I loved that part of teaching piano.

I was also happy to be an accompanist for Viva Voce, a women's choir that I have been a part of since January of 1997. I had the opportunity to perform and record in many different venues, and it helped keep up my reading and playing chops. I loved the women I worked with and, again, especially was thankful for long term relationships that often buoyed my spirits. (And to be quite honest, it was nice to be appreciated. Moms don't get the same kinds of acclaim as women can in the workplace.)

But it all got to be too much. Too much time focusing on other peoples' children. Too much time worrying about what I needed to do to become an even better teacher, an even better pianist. Too much stress, trying to figure out how to get my kids where they needed to go, how to help them finish their homework, how to get dinner ready after hours of teaching, how to be unfrazzled in the evening so that we all could feel peace in our home, how to get my OWN kids to practice after trying to convince all my STUDENTS to practice. It became clear that something had to change.

So after months of agonizing, praying, fasting, and worrying, David and I made the Big Decision.

And now it's done. And life is beautiful.

Well, a lot of the time it is.

The house isn't always clean. But it's cleaner. Dinners aren't always fancy. But we have dinner on time almost every night. I'm not always a paragon of peace and tranquility. But the kids are happier. Much happier. I don't know how we would have survived this year if I were still trying to keep all the balls in the air. I am truly truly grateful.

We couldn't have made this decision too many years ago. My income was vital for a long time. I have so much empathy for moms who work, and I'm downright blown away by those who work full-time. It's HARD. I respect moms everywhere who are trying to do the best they can with whatever hands they've been dealt. But I'm grateful that I was in a position where sacrifices could be made so that our family could be in a better situation than we were.

Am I still a musician? Yes. But I'm a mom. For now, that's my priority. And, surprisingly (to me, anyway), I love it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 17

I am thankful for Family Home Evening.

No, really, I am.

Disclaimer: We are not great about having FHE. We go in phases. Sometimes we do a story and a game. Sometimes we just have a treat. But since I quit teaching, we've had many more "typical" Family Home Evenings than ever before.

I even made an FHE chart. I'm so home-makery, it kills me. (But I just made it out of badly cut pieces of cardstock stuck together with a push pin. It's a 1 (lame) on the crafty meter.)

Tonight was a SUCCESSFUL evening. My sweet kids, my sweet husband, ALL of us participated, and voices were only raised once or twice. Hooray for mostly happy family time. Josh taught us from the Doctrine and Covenants, we read a story to Ben, the girls sang a song together, we talked more about gratitude, we had pumpkin shakes, and we played Modified Boggle. Whew. (I love Modified Boggle. Experts have to find words with 4+ letters, intermediate players find words of 3+ letters, and Kate can make any word she wants with any letters she sees. Good times.)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 16

I am grateful that my parents are safe and that their house didn't burn down yesterday.

Yorba Linda was on fire yesterday, did you hear? Scared me. Scared me more today when I couldn't reach my parents on the phone and worried that they might have been evacuated, like so many thousands were. Every time the answering machine answered, I was grateful, though, because I figured if the answering machine was still working, the house must still be there.

My heart aches for my family's friends who have lost homes. I hope they had time to get important things out of the house. I am so grateful for my safety, and I guess this a good reminder to get my house in order just in case something tragic happens. Pictures on DVDs, important papers in a fireproof safe, maybe..., oh, and make sure our 72-hour kits are updated.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 15

I'm grateful for date night!

Woohoo!!! 007 and Citris Grill and happy kids with our wonderful babysitter, Katee...

I love date night! We need to do it more often.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 14

I am grateful for grace.

I need it daily. I don't ask for it as often as I should. I'm afraid that I can't do the topic justice in a short little gratitude post, but suffice it to say that I have felt the power of Christ's grace, and I know it has changed me for the better.

I know God offers it to me with open hands. It's for me to decide whether or not I can accept it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 13

I am grateful for my Nana Paullin.

It's her birthday today.

She is an amazing example to me of kindness, generosity, graciousness, hospitality, intelligence, dedication, service, and love.

She's a California girl through and through, and still can't quite believe I consider myself a Utahn.

She has passed to me her love of reading, her sweet tooth, and her tendency to think liberally, along with her respect for people of all faiths.

She loves me, she loves my family, and we all love her back.

Happy birthday, Nana.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Giving Thanks, Days 11 & 12

I'm grateful for so many things that seem insignificant, but are remarkable.

I am thankful for hot water that comes on when I turn on the faucet. I'm thankful that I can take a hot shower every day.

I am thankful that I have a home that is palatial when compared to the average home size in the rest of the world. I am grateful for windows with screens. I am grateful for a furnace in the winter and an air conditioner in the summer.

I am thankful for a grocery store with an enormous variety of food to choose from and that I can afford to feed my family well every single day.

I am thankful that we have enough clothes and blankets and shoes.

I am thankful for access to modern medicine.

I am thankful for cars that run and telephones that work. I am thankful for modern communication.

I am thankful for libraries with their access to books and information.

I am thankful for the public school system, where the majority of teachers are dedicated, talented professionals.

Sometimes I forget how amazing it is that we have all of these blessings. It's so easy to take daily life for granted. But we are SO BLESSED. (Seriously so blessed. Ha ha.) Any of these things would have been considered an unimaginable luxury 150 years ago, and yet I still FORGET to be grateful.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 10

I'm grateful for my family.

My own family:

Some of my mom's side:

Some of my dad's side:

Some of David's family:

As evident in the above pictures, I have many people to love who also happen to be part of my family. We have varying political, social, and religious views, but I adore them all. I laugh with them (a LOT), learn from them, I am thankful for their kindnesses and care for me.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Giving Thanks, Days 8 & 9

I am grateful for David's decision to run the Snow Canyon half marathon with me.

WE DID IT! We ran together, and I loved it. The race was gorgeous, the weather was beautiful, the experience was unforgettable. I think we'll run this race every year. Anyone want to join us?

I'm so grateful for Lyndsey.

We love my niece Lyndsey so much. She sacrificed her weekend to take wonderful care of the kids. Art projects, late night movies, and a CLEAN HOUSE...amazing. My kids were NOT thrilled that we came home in the early afternoon today. They wanted her to stay forever.

I am grateful for Liz and Jeff.

We are blessed to have amazing neighbors all around us. Liz was one of my training partners when we ran our first half marathon. We've had hours of wonderful talks on the road and I am so thankful to have a friend like her. She and Jeff are funny, kind, and loyal friends who have helped me in my life so much. Liz ran the race in 2:02! Woo-hoo! She is amazing (I already said that, didn't I?)

I'm grateful for the earth and its glories.

Seriously. I got to spend a morning running in this majesty. The world is a gift.

Oh, and I'm really really thankful for ibuprofen. And so is David.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 7

I'm thankful that I'm getting out of Dodge!

David and I are leaving in a few minutes for St. George! Our wonderful Lyndsey is staying with the kids! I get two nights with David! No kids! No stress! Just a half marathon and lots of unscheduled time!

(Was that enough exclamation points?)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 6

I am grateful for a healthy body.

I am so thankful that I have been given the gift of health. I am aware of how tenuous that claim is...disaster could be just an hour, a day, a week away. The very fragility of health makes it even more precious to me, and I want to be grateful for it every day I can.

It rained all day Tuesday, a cold, sleety, miserable rain. I was supposed to run, but didn't feel good about sticking Ben in the stroller in that miserable weather. (I know. I need a weather cover.) When David got home, I put dinner on the table, then put on my running clothes and left. It was dark, cold, and less than two minutes out, it started to sleet. I had to think, "What on earth am I doing out here? This is ridiculous. Running is a stupid time-waster. And why do I ever say I like to run? I hate it. I can't stand it."

Many of my runs begin this way. You'd think my mindset would change after so many months/years, but there is something about Newton's First Law of Motion that fully applies to me: a body at rest (Mine) tends to stay at rest. Getting it into motion takes physical and emotional endurance.

The pouring sleet turned to snow (I tasted some of it), but after a mile and a half, it began to clear. After three miles, the clouds began to part, the crescent moon appeared through them, and a few stars began to twinkle. My body was mine again, not some obstinate other being, and I felt one with the world around me. I was full of gratitude (thank you, endorphins) for David's willingness to support my run, for my sweet family, and for the chance to run. I ended the run with a smile on my face and was able to reenter family life with more grace than I left it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 5

I am grateful for optimism.

I had the rare privilege of being raised by an optimistic mother, and I am so glad she passed on her gift (or her genes) to me. Do I sometimes lose my optimism? Sure. But overall, give me a chance and I will find the silver lining. It makes David a little nuts, especially when I'm absolutely sure we'll be on time to something, despite the fact that we left 15 minutes late. But believing that something better waits around the corner has given me hope time and time again. And more often than not, I'm right!

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "Cultivate an attitude of happiness. Cultivate a spirit of optimism. Walk with faith, rejoicing in the beauties of nature, in the goodness of those you love, in the testimony which you carry in your heart concerning things divine." I say amen. The world has its glorious beauties, the hardest trials have their benefits, things are rarely as bad as you think they'll be, and most people mean well: My optimistic viewpoint in a nutshell.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I voted for a president who WON!!!! What?!?! This NEVER happens. And I mean never.

I'm so excited.


Giving Thanks, Days 1-4

My friend Jessie posted something she was thankful for every day last November, and I loved it. She just started up again, which reminded me that I had planned to copy her (imitation is the highest form of flattery, after all...)

So, here are my first four days:

Nov. 1

I am grateful for David.

He is an amazing man. He has a remarkable will and so much strength. He is funny, (sometimes ridiculously so), he is kind, and he loves me with all his heart. He is a tender and sweet dad. I knew he would be an amazing father even before I ever knew I would marry him. He works extremely hard. He has an amazing artistic eye and ear. When I was getting ready for recitals, I could always count on him to give me his honest (sometimes hard to take) opinion and that my playing would improve as a result. He makes up crazy songs. He is a loyal friend, and I have never doubted his faithfulness. He is a good man to the core.

Nov. 2

I am grateful for my children.

Being a mother is a beautiful, difficult, amazing role. These four people are full of life, energy, wisdom, and curiosity. They teach (and test) me every day. I believe we have known each other for eons, from time before this world, and I am grateful to be their mother. It's not an easy task. I don't always think I have what it takes, but I am grateful for their goodness and their humor and their intelligence.

Nov. 3

I am grateful for this amazing world.

I love our world. I love the seasons. I love the wild open spaces around me.

Nov. 4

I am grateful for America.

Having just returned from voting (Go Obama!) (but it's ok if you say Go McCain. We can all be friends.), I was reminded how amazing our country is. We get so caught up in the negative aspects of modern life in America sometime, and it's easy to forget that we live in a truly amazing country. I walked into a polling location, gave my name, received the chance to vote my mind without pressure of any kind. I didn't wake up nervous that there would be violence at the polling location, or that someone would try to pressure me into voting for a certain candidate. Those who have fought for my freedom are dear to me. I'm so thankful that I have the opportunity to speak dissenting words without fear of persecution or imprisonment. While I wish we would be kinder in the election process, and certainly less divisive, I'm very aware of the beauty of what we have.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy Halloween

We had so much fun on Halloween. I loved having Halloween on Friday. It felt so much more relaxing, especially because Kate and Sophie get out of school early on Fridays. I set up my backdrop for Halloween pictures for our friends again (sorry, Liz!) and had a lot of fun trying to get decent pictures. They didn't all turn out great, but they were fun to take.

Here are our family's Halloween pictures. I decided to dress up. Can you guess what I am?