Thursday, November 29, 2007

What a Year It's Been! (Family Christmas Letter)

Note: If you received our Christmas Letter in the mail and are looking for the “real” answers, keep scrolling down on this blog entry. They’re listed under “Real Answers.” If you’ve yet to read our Christmas Letter, DON’T CHEAT. Follow the instructions for maximum enjoyment.

This year we’ve turned our Christmas letter into a fun game to play with family and friends, or you can play it by yourself. To begin with, fill in the blanks in the following column with the words called for. (You might want to write them down on a separate piece of paper.) Then, using the words you’ve chosen, fill in the blanks in our Christmas letter.

You can decide just how crazy 2007 was for us!

What a Year It’s Been!

1) verb, past tense
2) number
3) musical instrument
4) body part
5) construction job
6) color
7) color
8) color
9) baby animal
10) dog breed
11) dog breed
12) verb
13) verb +s
14) unusual vegetable
15) verb
16) verb +ing
17) bird
18) plant
19) adjective
20) adjective

What a Year It’s Been!

Our family has 1. verb, past tense another year in Northern Utah. All 2. number children have continued taking 3. musical instrument lessons. Quite frankly, they consider it a chore. But hearing them practice is music to our 4. body part !

In February we finished the basement. My husband did all the 5. construction job , and I did most of the painting. Bean’s room is 6. color . Loula Belle’s is 7. color , and Bug decided to have his walls the same color as the rest of the basement — 8. color . Everyone enjoys having the extra space.

For my birthday, I asked for a 9. baby animal . Lou Belle found a liter advertised on-line in Salt Lake City. In late February we brought home a cute, black puppy and named her Annie. She’s 1/2 10. dog breed and 1/2 11. dog breed . Pretty much she’s a bundle of energy that loves to 12. verb you. I spend at least an hour a day caring for, exercising and training Annie. Our neighbor loaned us some DVDs of The Dog Whisperer. Everyone is now working to be good pack leaders. (Note: Annie’s best trait is that she rarely, if ever, 13. verb +s .)

This year’s garden overflowed with produce! A few of the things Safety Man planted include: peas, onions, tomatoes, beets, lettuce, sweet corn, more raspberries and even 14. unusual vegetable . Last year’s raspberries came on nicely, and we even had enough to 15. verb . Safety Man lined up customers at work, and we all helped with the 16. verb +ing (some more than others). We’re loving living on Belly Acre Farm. (And the kids love bellyaching!)

Bug earned his 17. bird Scout Award (while he was still 13). Way to go Bug! His project was installing a set of horseshoe pits at our local park. Loula Belle, our platinum blonde, is growing like a 18. plant ! She just might pass up Bug. Beans continues to be sweet and 19. adjective . She kept us all in stitches on our vacation to Yellowstone by telling gross jokes. (Q: Why did Piglet look in the toilet? A: He was looking for Pooh.)

We hope this letter finds you in good health and 20. adjective holiday spirits. Merry Christmas!

The Real Answers to What a Year It’s Been!

1) survived
2) 3
3) piano
4) ears
5) finish work
6) pink
7) light blue
8) natural almond (tan)
9) puppy
10) Golden Retriever
11) German Shorthair
12) lick
13) barks
14) popcorn
15) sell
16) picking
17) Eagle
18) weed
19) funny
20) high

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Patience Report #6: Endless Weight Loss Plateau

Last night before I fell asleep I thought about my plan to learn patience this year. By and large I’ve been doing well. In fact, I’ve discovered that once you choose something to work on, to focus on, all sorts of solutions, ideas and lessons present themselves.

Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned from trying to be more patient is that it helps not to focus entirely on the here and now. When I try to view life with the end in mind, the little day to day annoyances don’t seem to niggle at me quite so much. Maybe that’s what Scarlett O’Hara meant when she so famously said, “Tomorrow is another day.”

I’m finding that I don’t lose my cool with my kids quite as much as I used to. I don’t obsess about what I can’t wait to purchase, and I’ve reduced the amount of expectations I have for almost everyone. (On really good days, that includes me.)

But I haven’t fully conquered impatience yet. Especially as it pertains to my weight loss goals. I’ve been on a plateau – meaning my weight has hovered right around the same weight (or gone up) -- for a full year. Plus a few months. I’m finding it difficult to stay motivated. Part of me wants to throw up my hands and say, “See. I told you my body couldn’t do it.” But then I’ll attend a Weight Watchers meeting and listen to others share how they’ve dealt with their struggles, and I decide to persevere.

A thought that seems to help me stick it out is, “Weight Watchers is like church for my body.” And since I’m getting a bit tired of paying $7.00 per week for the last 14 months, I’ve added a new clause: “I’ll never even come close to paying as much for Weight Watchers as I pay in tithing.” (Don’t analyze that last phrase. It just works for me.)

Part of patience, I’m discovering, is doing what you can do and living with, even accepting, what’s not in your power to change. I have a body that doesn’t function perfectly. It affects my weight loss efforts. It does not good for me to dwell on my health problems. Instead, I’ve come up with a list of “can do” phrases that I’ve written on a stack of cards. I try to review them once a day. Here’s what they say . . .
I can do this . . .

Take my dog for a walk instead of snacking.

Take the time to prepare healthy meals.

Be stronger than my carbohydrate cravings.

Forgive myself.

Make healthy choices a part of who I am.

Ask the Lord to help me transform my weaknesses into my strengths.

Pray for strength.

Eat less to feel better.

Write what I bite.

Enjoy being active in the great outdoors!


Be happy now. (Don’t put if off until I reach my goal weight.)

Ask for what I need.

Believe other when they say I look great.

Call a friend when I’m bored instead of snacking.

Look for ways to burn more calories.

Push myself further – especially at aerobics.

Become a fit woman!

Keep at it until I become a Lifetime Member at Weight Watchers.

Ask for support from family and friends.

Stay for weekly W.W. meetings.

Play with my husband and kids. (Basketball with Bug)

Plan out my day’s menu (what/quantity/points values) in the morning

Think positively and then listen and follow the voice inside my head.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

100 Things I'm Grateful For

Because the holidays are no longer creeping up on me but are launching themselves at me instead, this may be the last blog entry from me for a while. I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal off and on since November of 1996. Seeing as how Thanksgiving is practically mauling me, I’m going to share some of the things I’ve been grateful for this year. Here they are in reverse chronological order.

1. My dad – we’re a lot alike in our love for the outdoors, dogs and quality.

2. My sister. She went to the Warren Miller ski movie with me this year (2007).

3. Empire apples .

4. The smell of fallen leaves.

5. The long-billed snipe I saw at the canal.

6. Six mallards swimming (sound like a chorus from the “Twelve Days of Christmas”).

7. Loula Belle – She’s bright and sunny, has such a cute smile that can really transforms her whole face.

8. Bug – his singlemindedness. Be it basketball, golf, school or church responsibilities.

9. Beans and her friend, Mallory – cute friends who balance each other out.

10. Annie – my beautiful, cheerful, playful, smart, obedient dog and friend.

11. A loving ward family.

12. The HUGE yellow-orange moon over the West mountains on my way to morning aerobics.

13. Walking to school with Beans – getting to hold her hand, noting the sun’s rays as they just started to peek over the East mountains.

14. The beautiful roses Safety Man gave me – what a thoughtful man!

15. The song of red-wing blackbirds.

16. Sunshine on morning frost.

17. An egg over-easy.

18. Bug’s sense of humor.

19. Working with Lou on the student council.

20. Playing the piano for Helen Peterson’s funeral.

21. For piano lessons – so glad I didn’t fight taking them (not too much, anyway).

22. Heavenly Blue Morning Glory blossoms on our front porch pillars.

23. Homemade oatmeal granola.

24. Zucchini and straight-neck squash.

25. Reading and marking my Book of Mormon with my new multi-colored, all-in-one marking pencil.

26. My friendship with K’leis.

27. Samuel Wood – he’s a kick!

28. For garbage day.

29. Sun reflecting off irrigation sprinklers.

30. Swallows swooping and flying over the lawn in the evening.

31. Bean’s sunflower’s nodding.

32. Our cat resting in the grass.

33. For time, forgiveness and hope.

34. For modern conveniences such as: computers, high-speed internet, electricity, central cooling, cars, hot water heaters. All amazing!

35. For my sister, again. I’m grateful that she was adopted into our family. Without her, I wouldn’t have a sister.

36. Linda’s son’s response to the possibility of getting a baby sister . . . “If you have a baby girl, let’s name her ‘stupid head.’”

37. Linda’s own brother’s response at her birth . . . “I’d rather have a puppy than a baby sister.”

38. Thank goodness Linda’s brother decided to transform his little sister into a tomboy. It’s just one of the joys of our friendship.

39. A bi-plane flying in the morning sky.

40. Shooting shotguns and shooting really well!

41. The feel of wind in my hair as I ride my bike with my dog.

42. Seeing the beautiful old barns in the Bear Lake valley.

43. My blowdryer.

44. The scent of Russian Olive trees in bloom.

45. Getting to see snow in the mountains in June.

46. The smell of wet earth.

47. The whinny of a horse.

48. The beauty green mountains with the shadows of clouds scudding across their ridges and canyons.

49. A cool spring breeze.

50. Sun and shadow. Light and air.

51. Eyes, ears, mouth and nose.

52. Kitchen conveniences: crockpot, rice cooker, bread machine, toaster, dishwasher, running water.

53. Sweat.

54. My sweetheart – our Friday date this week was spent out in the garden weeding the raspberries. I enjoyed working together and having un-rushed time to talk and catch up.

55. Squeaky duck wings in flight. (Why do they sound like they need a little WD-40?)

56. A bold meadow lard with a bright yellow breast.

57. Dew on the tips of long pasture grass.

58. Red toenail polish.

59. My Croc-style flip flops.

60. Hearing a mourning dove as I was planting my herb barrel.

61. Semi-sweet chocolate chips.

62. My first issue of Martha Stewart magazine.

63. The opportunity of share the gospel with Jose Franco.

64. Forsythia bushes, crocus and budding daffodils.

65. The temperamentality of spring!

66. For fun neighbors who host game nights.

67. Flying the shark kite with the girls.

68. Playing a little basketball with Bug.

69. Getting to watch the YM’s basketball team play our women’s basketball team (Orange Crush).

70. Living in an amazing age when information is so readily available.

71. The words of past and present prophets are right at my fingertips.

72. Getting my mending caught up.

73. Blowing bubbles and bouncing on the hippity-hops with the Activity Day girls.

74. Getting to play in the dirt (weeding).

75. Opening windows and having the inside smell clean and fresh like the outdoors.

76. Getting counseling that’s helping me communicate better and teaching me how to be content.

77. Boy, I love a good pen!

78. It’s ugly outside, but my puppy is cute.

79. I love it when the kids laugh out loud while reading the newspaper comics.

80. Laughing out loud myself.

81. For easy access to wonderful building supplies: cultured marble, latex paints, wall-to-wall carpet, electrical systems, central heating.

82. For Patt – the effort and preparation she went to in making my birthday dinner.

83. Play four!

84. A home that is 100% finished – it’s so nice to be able to use the basement to play ping-pong and darts, and to have two televisions.

85. Snow!

86. I can (could) wear a size 12 jeans. (It was the first time in 13 years!)

87. Good books.

88. Subway sandwiches.

89. My brother’s cute little kids.

90. My own cute big kids who are growing up way too fast.

91. My local library.

92. My pick-up truck. (Doesn’t get much better than driving it while listening to country music with my puppy on the front seat.)

93. Toothpaste and a nice toothbrush.

94. Lipstick! Putting on makeup is almost like creating a work of art each morning.

95. Weight Watcher meetings.

96. Children’s endless enthusiasm and energy.

97. Fast and Testimony meeting at church.

98. The story of Esther . . . “And who knows but what thou are called to the kingdom for such a time as this.”

99. My new short hair cut.

100. Quote of the year (our son after we discovered he’s crossed his eyes in the extended family picture): “I’ve learned my lesson. I’ll never do it again. Now can we quit talking about it?”

Monday, November 05, 2007

Overweight Housewife on Wheels . . .

Don’t look now, but I dug out my pair of Rollerblades. I haven’t been on them since August of 2001. I wish I could say that it’s like riding a bike, you never forget. I didn’t forget, exactly. Instead, I tried something new. Added a challenging element. My dog. (That’s us in the photo to the left. Note my hand in the “stay” position. Yet dog is somewhat blurry due to movement.)

After a couple spins around the driveway, we were off to visit my parents – an uphill climb all the way. (I took a pair of shoes in a plastic bag so that I could walk home. It’s hard enough to stop just going downhill without adding a dog to the mix.)

What a rush!

I got a little giddy. Even found myself humming a few bars of, “I’m Alive” from Xanadu. (Xanadu is a cheesy movie from my childhood. Anyone else know the song I’m talking about?) Anyway, once wasn’t enough. Later this afternoon I strapped on my blades again. The second time was even better.

I’m seriously considering getting Annie a halter to wear instead of a collar so I can train her to pull me. (Mush, Annie. Mush!) Hey, I could get a used pair of cross-country skis at the ski swap and Annie and I could mush on the fields behind our house this winter. Or up Green Canyon. (I’ve found that running is a great way for her to burn off some of her puppy exuberance prior to obedience training sessions.) I wonder if she’ll be able to pull me in one of the kid’s snow sleds?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Sappiest Writing Takes Place After Midnight

It’s a proven fact that the sappiest writing takes place after midnight. And my watch says 12:22 A.M. Plus I just finished watching a romantic movie (The Holiday). Plus my hormones are all out of whack (have been for years) so here it comes . . .

Here are just a few things that make my hubby the greatest man on earth . . . (And don’t worry Dear, I’ll try really hard not to say too many things that will embarrass you.)

When we were dating Safety Man wore contacts. The first time I saw him in glasses was after we were engaged and on a family trip up in Yellowstone. His lenses were HUGE! When his glasses slid down his nose, he could push them back up again by winking and using his cheek muscles. (So much for not sharing embarrassing information.) I wondered who, exactly, I had agreed to marry. Since then I’ve yet to meet anyone who can push their glasses up without using their hands. If you’re single and meet someone who can perform this feat, marry them. It’ll be worth it.

Safety Man can wiggle his ears. Nothing else moves, just his ears. It makes me laugh.

Growing up I wanted to find someone who was a hard worker like my dad. (What girl doesn’t idolize her father?) I especially admired my dad for his callused and hard-working hands. I was a little surprised to find that Safety Man (who grew up as Farm Boy) didn’t have calluses on his hands? The reason . . . He always wears gloves. Which makes perfect sense now that I’ve known him for 15 years. He’s cautious and careful. And it’s made all the difference.

He uses Cherry Ice lip balm. Makes for nice, soft lips.

We once took a literary honeymoon. All day. In bed. Reading books.

He’s righteous.



Chaste. (Once you consummate a marriage, are you still considered chaste?)


He gets a little moody when the Jazz lose. (Translation – he’s even more quiet than usual.)

He wrestles and tickles the kids.

In the days before ceramic cook tops on stoves, he cleaned the drip pans. More than once. Without being asked.

He’ll always be a farmer at heart.

He once referred to me as a “low maintenance model,” and he meant it as a compliment.

We both breathe loudly when we sleep. (It’s not snoring. Despite what his sister might say after this summer’s family trip to the cabin.)

Even when I’m mad at him, I have never once lost my respect for him.

He tried my mother’s gravy at my dad’s urging.

He still wears the sweats that I bought him for Christmas in 1998. And although Linda once took a pair of scissors to the crotch of the old sweats her hubby used to wear, I have yet to follow her lead. They’re just not worn enough yet. Only a little hole in the knee. Maybe one of these days I’ll surprise him.

He’s very understanding when I have a hormone headache and take two Excedrins at 8 o’clock at night and don’t come to bed until after 1 A.M. (I promise, it won’t be much after one.)

In addition to being near-perfect, he also has enough odd-ball habits to keep him balanced: picking his toenails, not being able to find things he’s looking for, driving the speed limit, being prone to lecture.

He loves me.

Note: To my regular blog readers. (Hi, Nan!) You may not leave a comment unless you share at least one quirky reason that you love your spouse, or betrothed, or whatever.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Goofball Idea for Women's Ski Hat

Last night it took me forever to fall asleep. Just before nodding off I came up with a goofball idea for a women’s ski hat. Keep in mind that last night was Halloween. And I’m way psyched to go skiing this year. And my hair is short, short. And I only take off my current ski hat in the privacy of my car with deeply tinted windows. (Okay, my car’s windows aren’t deeply tinted. But when I take off my ski hat I wish they were.)

So here’s the idea – ski hats with cute hair peeking out from under the edges. The hat itself is pretty traditional, but I’d like to have curly strawberry blonde locks coming from under the hat and falling over my coat collar.

Know anyone with a really good looking, long, curly strawberry blond wig they’re willing to part with? I’m also in the market for a ski helmet this year. As the wife of Safety Man, it’s the least I can do to help him feel better about my ski habit. Maybe some long auburn hair cascading from under my new helmet would look hot on the slopes.

What do you think? I figure it beats those fleece hats with the mock-dreadlocks flying all over the place. At least I wouldn’t look like a court jester.

Inexpensive Care for Sensitive Skin

Last year when I was working at the university’s bookstore during rush, a student with flawless skin came through my check-out. Being the shy, backward person that I am, I asked what she used on her face to enjoy such radiant skin. (Okay, I may not have used the word ‘radiant.’ But then again, maybe I did.)

Fair maiden was more than happy to divulge her beauty secrets. And although I’ve been using her regimen for over a year now, I feel ready to share it with you. Yes, I still have freckles and occasional breakouts (mostly due to hormonal imbalances), but for the most part my skin feels younger. And my wallet feels fatter.

To remove mascara and eye make-up: baby oil gel. It doesn’t run like regular baby oil and wipes off great with those circular cotton pads. Put a small amount (less than pea size) on your left ring finger pad. Touch right and left ring finger pads together to share gel and then rub over eyes using a light, circular motion. Once eyes are good and raccoon-y, wipe off with cotton pads.

Twice daily facial cleanser: baby wash. (I use Johnson’s.) Best part of this is that even if I open my eyes while my face is good and sudsy (Yes Dear, that tie patched those pants), it doesn’t hurt my eyes!

Evening astringent: Equate-brand (Wal-Mart) astringent for sensitive skin.

Moisturizer: Cetaphil Cream

When I switched to the above products, the redness across my cheeks that I’d been fighting for a couple years went away. (Unless I’m experiencing a hot flash. Nothing works to rid the face of redness during one of those. Urh!) And these new skin care products are much less expensive than the Mary Kay regimen that I was using. Also, my skin is hyper-sensitive. Even Clinique’s eye make-up remover bothered my eyes. So if these products work for me, they’ll probably work for you. And best of all, there’s no multi-level marketing involved!