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Showing posts from August, 2021

How To Make a Mum

 My audience here is fairly small, but if you're a mom in Texas, with a teenage boy who needs to present his Homecoming date with a mum, here you go. Also, if you're trying to explain this tradition to a husband who grew up in another state, just accept that he'll never understand. I referenced some of the fun fall traditions over  here  with a brief reference to mums. In short, Texas high school girls wear something huge, like this monstrosity: A new mum bouquet can cost like $150. There's a ton of ribbons and doo-dads that go into each piece. Look closely at all the different details: The general color theme reflects your high school. In addition, for senior girls, the mums need to have additional white ribbons or feather boa. My recommendation is this:  Find a friend with a college aged daughter who is cleaning out her closet and willing to sell a previous year's mum. If their daughter was in band, and your son is in band, all the better, because they'll alre

Atlas Shrugged

I've loved this book for over a decade. I've read it at least a dozen times, and it's finally time to write a book report. Once upon a time, my husband took a philosophy class in college. They read a lot of good stuff, including Sophie's Dream, etc After reading Atlas Shrugged  by Ayn Rand, he suggested I might like it, too. I took one look at the tiny font size, massive amount of pages, and even went so far as to read the first page of the book, then shrugged and said something like, "yeah right." Fast forward about ten years and my then-stagnant brain needed something to chew on. I'd taken a speed reading course at UNLV once upon a time, and it came in handy, because Holy Cow, there's a lot there. But after falling in love with the leading lady, I was captivated.  Why I Like Dagny Taggart: I'm not sure what I have in common with her. She runs a railroad, is tall and thin and angular and sleek; she wears grey business suits and works incessantly.

A Stranger

Ephesians 2:10 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God. Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. What does it mean to : love your neighbor welcome a stranger  be generous to a refugee  show kindness to an outlier The following four paragraphs are from Heidi Swinton in her biography  here  on Thomas Monson. She explains that his family had humble roots, living in the SLC area after the Great Depression. "The Monsons opened their doors- literally- to the needy. Because of the Depression, hordes of men hitching rides on the rails came into town looking for work. Living close to the tracks as they did, the Monsons had many transients knock at their door, caps in their hands as they groped for what to say. Finally, out would come, "Pardon me, but is there any work we can do to get something to eat?" No o

Seven Pennies to Spend on Candy

 Family lesson on being Generous I love this felt story for little children, my mom taught it back in the early 80's. If you're using this as a lesson with a child as your assistant, you'll use the felt pieces and have them add them to the story board one at a time. Start with the backdrop and the sunshine and tree, or use your imagination and be creative as you make your own. Once there was a little boy named John . He was a very good boy and lucky too, because he had seven pennies. “Wow,” he thought.  " I have seven pennies to spend on candy All for myself Isn’t that dandy?"   His mom gave permission to walk through the woods to the store nearby. He knew the way and promised to be very careful. It was a beautiful day and he was happy. As he walked along through the forest, he whistled to himself, admiring the trees and plants and flowers. Just then he saw a cat , and couldn’t help but share the good news. He said to the cat,   I have seven pennies to s

Palm Tree vs Aloe

 Thoughts on Death, Healing and Regrowth Today's story is about a girl who loved palm trees. In her back yard lived a sweet little one with beautiful green fronds. It was growing well until one day the temperature plummeted and Texas froze over.  ALL the palm trees across the state turned brown. Houston looked especially sad. A bit further north in Dallas and sometimes the plants can weather some  tough winter weather. As the months went by, we eagerly waited and watched and hoped for new life. One day the girl decided to experiment, and trimmed off the dead branches. It looked like a bad buzzed haircut. But Hurrah! Little green fronds began growing again. The precious tree had survived the icy blast. Until the heat of the summer came, and the new growth turned brown again, seemingly overnight? "What happened?" asked her husband. He suggested more water. The slow hot summer months were spent giving that sweet little tree more water. Meanwhile she watched her neighbor'

The Chessboard

I like metaphors. And I have a little girl who loves horses and castles and princesses and bishops and kings and queens. We talk about all of these important players quite a lot. So naturally, I'd write a metaphor about the family and how all these different roles work together. At my house we're pretty traditional as to who does what. I won't even apologize for being old-fashioned, because N and I both like our system and believe it works well for the family. N is the breadwinner, and I run the household. As our kids have gotten older, they help a ton too. So let's look at the different "job descriptions," using the metaphor of a chessboard for each of the key players. Let's say that the chessboard is our home kingdom.  King: Father Duty to God and country. Go on dates with the Queen because he's still in love with her;) Govern with good humor, justice and grace. Manage chess boards with other teams, knowing that his corporate kingdom and his religiou

Things I Know

On the border of Texas and Louisiana is a town called Uncertain. The boundaries of the town are on Caddo Lake, so I'm guessing that the loosey-goosey border yields a measure of uncertainty(?). In any case, this is a real place and I love it, so  here  is more info about Uncertain, TX. My favorite photo from this area is the sign for the local church. The church of Uncertain is poetic in so many ways. Recently my mother in law passed away. (You can read her story  here .) In reflecting on death and life and the meaning of both, I've revisited what I believe. These are core beliefs that I've held for many years, but in choosing to write them down today, it helps me crystallize and consolidate. God is my Heavenly Father. He loves me and knows my name, and listens when I pray. He is mindful of the details.  His son Jesus Christ saves me. Not past tense=saved. Present tense=saves, because I need mercy and grace every day . We call this repenting. It means I say sorry to my Heave

Grief and Gardening

  Earlier this year the Hawthorne bushes in front of my house died. They'd been alive for about 20 years, their full life expectancy, and had a fungus or disease in the soil or branches. And then the February freeze (see  here ) finished them off. I didn't know that for sure, until a few months later when they were still a bronze/copper color. Well, I love copper but they were supposed to be turning green. Research and word of mouth amongst the neighbors who actually know something about Texas shrubs= yup, they're dead. Time to pull them out. Here's a quick reminder of what they used to look like from when I wrote about Halloween over  here . So one day during spring break (2021) I hired two teenage kids for cheap (I offered like $100 to get the dead roots and branches) and had them start at the job of hacking away the dead, brittle branches.  They had a blast for like an hour and then were like, "This is lame." Okay, their language was slightly less mature th


Discipline for a child with ADHD is super tricky. I wrote this post on  Sentences  a few years ago, but please note the double entendre: a sentence  (consequence) I gave somebody was to write a bunch of sentences. So clever, eh? This particular child doesn't love writing, so it was a mean punishment. I wrote about a few of the shenanigans of one of our children over  here . But in a nutshell, elementary school for one of my boys included: swallowing a penny running away from 2nd grade (school principal at my house)* a "baseball" game with fresh raspberries in the basement walking along fencelines (he did parkour guys, it was mostly safe) climbing stuff (sometimes at a gym) fixing stuff with his own tools flag football, soccer, tennis (baseball was too tame) making paracord bracelets and selling them to all the neighbors getting bullied A LOT because he was super annoying/talkative in class* throwing a snowball at a moving vehicle with a perfect SPLAT on the windshield* MY

A church hymn I hated for five years

Hymn #223 Have I Done Any Good? 1. Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need? Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad? If not, I have failed indeed. Has anyone's burden been lighter today Because I was willing to share? Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way? When they needed my help was I there? [Chorus] Then wake up and do something more Than dream of your mansion above. Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure, A blessing of duty and love. 2. There are chances for work all around just now, Opportunities right in our way. Do not let them pass by, saying, "Sometime I'll try," But go and do something today. 'Tis noble of man to work and to give; Love's labor has merit alone. Only he who does something helps others to live. To God each good work will be known. Text and music:  Will L. Thompson, 1847-1909, alt. James 1:22, 27 Alma 9:28

Magic in the Fire

  My body responds to light. It's almost annoying to my husband, because I like leaving ALL the lights on in the house. I'm getting better at that. Sometimes I turn off the light in the laundry room or the pantry. ;) During the years when we lived in Utah, each winter my body would begin a "hibernation" phase where I'd sleep more, eat more, and basically the fire in me kinda burns less brightly. If you compare this cycle to a campfire, in the summer the fire burns hotter, and then through the winter it's like glowing embers. The other day when A and I were drawing a picture, I suggested we draw a fire. And she added the following blue "magic" to the flames. When we used to go camping a lot, see  here  (Tinney Flat) or  here  (the cabin) or  here  (scoutmaster), N would bring awesome pinecones like  these  to throw into the fire. Then you say a silly rhyme or something about looking up at the stars (to distract the kids so they can't see you add i