The Watchman

The Watchman

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Hunter called the other night just to chat.  I love that my son will call just to talk and share his life.  He is having a harder year this year in school - harder classes, hard job, and I think a little loneliness as he watches his friends pair off, but because of his job he can't date anyone he knows and he is too overwhelmed right now to look for someone somewhere else.  He is also feeling the pressure of impending adulthood.  If he does what he really wants to do with his life, he will need at least a master's degree and probably a doctorate.  In the meantime, he will be faced funding an education without a steady income and no more scholarships.  The other option is to continue his undergraduate work for a fifth year and obtain a teaching certificate so that he could have an income, but it would prolong his graduate work and he would have no scholarship for the fifth year.  He has always thought he would enjoy teaching and he has a way of relating to others that allows him to explain concepts in terms that they understand, but his real passion is research.  We spent quite a bit of time talking pros and cons of the two options.  In the end, I asked him to consider how his education plan would fit in with his life plan.  I felt from the conversation that that is the struggle he is having.  Sometimes we all focus on the moment or the microscopic and miss the rest.

Monday mornings are met with me running to the computer to read my weekly email from Wil.  That is if I haven't waited up till after midnight on Sunday to read it then.  I am amazed at how much my son has grown. It wasn't so long ago that I had great concerns about the life choices he was making.  Rick and I shed lots of tears and offered many prayers on his behalf.  I am so grateful he finally realized that he was heading down a treacherous road.  I look at him now and the experiences he is having and the impact for good that he has had on so many people and I am truly humbled that we have been able to witness such a mighty change of heart.

Jon is thriving in college this year.  I wonder if being out of the shadow of his older brothers has finally let him blossom (for lack of a better term).  It is such a joy to listen to him as he talks about his day at school.  He finds so much joy in everyday life that it is hard not to catch his excitement.  Whether he is watching a movie with friends, attending a sporting event, working with the new scouts, playing his guitar or reading a book; he will always find something to catch his interest that he wants to share.  I laughed the other night as he was going over to a friend's house to watch a movie.  It was the night of the big University of Utah/BYU rival game.  All day, Jon had been wearing his U of U t-shirt, but as he was leaving I noticed he had changed.  When I made a joke about him not wanting to be stinky, he said the he had changed since he felt it would not be a good choice to wear red when heading into BYU fan territory.  Such a wise boy!

Lela continues to amaze me. She is so much older than her 11 years.  I love the time we get to spend together one-on-one at the end of her school day.  She wants to solve her own problems, but knows that we are there to help her.  She loves sports.  She has started playing tennis and always comes home from lessons with a funny story.  The other day, while serving the ball, the wind blew it back and into her eye.  She thought that was the funniest thing ever and it was the first thing she had to tell us.  Now she is wondering how the tennis meet schedule in high school will overlap with the swim meet schedule so that she can hopefully participate with both.  She always has a plan - whether with sports, her music, church activities or her next adventure.  It is fun to listen to her as she discovers life and charts her course.

Emily too is expanding her wings.  She came home and let us know that she wanted to be a part of the student council at the elementary school.  She designed a poster and had Rick help her put it together, then she wrote her speech and delivered it to the selection committee.  She is so excited to serve on the yearbook committee.  I still see her struggling with the idea that she is not such a little girl anymore.  Some days, she still wants to be held and cuddled and have all the oowies kissed away.  But then there are the days like the student council experience where I begin to glimpse the young woman she is becoming.  She is finding her own path separate from her sister that includes dance and art and community involvement.

Twice this week, individuals have expressed to me how much they appreciate my children.  I am grateful to know that they are having a positive impact on the world in which they live.  Being a parent has been at times harder than Rick and I ever imagined, yet it has also brought us more joy than we ever could have found otherwise.  While we have tried to raise them with a sense of right and wrong and responsibility, each one has been different.  Each child has brought us unique challenges and experiences.  None have chosen to walk the same path, but we remain united in our faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and our testimony that families are forever.  Now is a time when our lives are filled with joy and as I listen to my children, I find myself feeling oh so content.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

We Roll That Way Too

This morning I read this blog post by Stephanie Nielson.  I have so come to enjoy her blog as a daily part of my life  This morning I just smiled, because today her life so mirrored my own.

Last night, by the time Rick got home from work, I could barely stand let alone walk.  I had dinner started, but didn't know how I was going to finish.  That sweet husband of mine brought me Ibuprofen, an ice pack and my cookbook, then helped me prop the offending foot up with ice and had me show him what I had planned for dinner.  Then proceeded to make us a wonderful meal of Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas and Kale, Quinoa and Heirloom Tomato Salad.  We only had two little bumps in the preparation - the kale I had in the crisper had needed to hit the compost pile and since I need to watch my points, I had chosen not to use the heavy cream in the enchiladas.

After dinner, Rick helped Emily bake a carrot cake and frost with cream cheese frosting, then finished rearranging the DVD shelves in the family room.  He also acted as my "cute little secretary" as a friend called him, answering my phone and bringing me anything else I needed.  Yep, he was a busy guy, but he let me keep my foot elevated all evening and today I can walk again with just a twinge.

Today being Thursday, I have spent the morning posting on Social Media the latest updates/promos for the Zion Canyon Music Festival.  I am so excited for the Festival this year.  I can hardly believe it is only a week away.  The lineup of performers is amazing and I know there will be some amazing food vendors as well.  My girls are already placing special orders.  We have simplified the Kid Zone this year going solely with bounce houses, a climbing wall and games (no crafts), so hopefully I will get to listen a little more to the performances and do a little dancing.  If not, many of the groups have already ended up on my playlist, although nothing compares to the echo from the canyon walls.

The Festival Committee has worked hard to find ways to make the Festival self-supporting while keeping admission free for spectators and I think that this year they have succeeded.  The Mayor and Council in Springdale are owed a big thanks for their support of the event and their understanding that the whole Town benefits when there are quality events in the community.

Here are some photos from last year's festival:

If you decide to drop by and have some fun, you can come say "Hi" to me in the Kid Zone.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Crafty Man

I had to teach/ lead a workshop at an activity for the women in our LDS congregation today.  I was asked to help those that were interested learn to etch glass.  Sounds complicated, messy and time consuming I know, but in reality it is the simplest thing.  Bonus is that it looks so impressive when you are finished.

I learned to do this a couple of years ago but since I hadn't done any since, I decided I needed to practice a little if I was going to help others.  My always supportive husband offered to help me.  He is so crafty...

He had to make sure everything was lined up just right.
Seriously, how cute is he?
Anyway, as you can see from my table to do this project, you need some glassware, a Cricut or some other way of cutting the vinyl stencil, vinyl or we just used clear contact paper, and Armour Etch Cream.  (Warning, we did have two Pyrex dishes that would not etch, although I have never had a problem before.

I took my camera to the activity, but forgot to take pictures until we were cleaning up and I want to keep what Rick and I worked on at home under wraps literally till December 25, but you can check out the Armour webpage for some examples.

The directions on the cream say to leave it on for only a minute, but it seems to work better on the heavier glassware if it is left on for five minutes.  I followed all the other directions.  Depending on the complexity of your stencil, you can complete a project in 15 to 20 minutes and there is very little mess involved.

If you look in the right-hand side of the lower picture above, you can see my other project - polishing my silver that we found in the rubble from the fire.  It is beyond tarnished with the crusted soot, ect.  More on this project later, but I am open to suggestions for improving cleaning/ removing the hard, black crusty stuff.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Some Things That Made Me Happy This Morning......

Emily is applying to be on Student Council at the elementary
school.   Rick helped her make this poster.

New for us pans came courtesy of FedEx.  Rick and I bought our first set of RevereWare
pans before we got married.  We loved the weight, the copper on the bottom
to spread the heat, and the ease of cleaning even if they weren't non-stick.  Our favorite
was the 12" frying pan.  I was finally able to find and win the perfect set on ebay.  

Our new bird, Egg, greets the morning with a song.  She is finally feeling at home.

We also have a fish, Orem, and he was swimming happily in his non-cloudy tank.

Our beautiful morning.  Love the smell outside right after rain.

Wishing you all a beautiful day.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Real Hero

In today's world, I feel that real heroes are hard to find.  To me, this quote by Christopher Reeve is the true definition of a hero: A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.

Another thing that I believe about most heroes is that they usually go unrecognized and when the spotlight is turned on them, they are often embarrassed by the attention.

So often in today's society, the only heroes that our children can identify are those put forward by the media.  While these heroes have their place in inspiring an individual or a nation, the bar they set is often so high, that the everyday individual cannot obtain it and so can become discouraged.  Other times, it seems that the media becomes focused on identifying the clay feet of the hero and those images become more the media spotlight than the achievement that first brought them to the media's attention.  I have watched this phenomenon with my own children as they have idolized the likes of Michael Phelps and Miley Cyrus.

Rick and I have tried to focus our children's attention on those individuals who fulfill Christoper Reeve's description.  Whether they be from our own family history, our faith or individuals within our community, I have found heroes all around to lift and inspire my children and myself to strive to be better.

One such individual is Tim Harrison.  To me, he is a real hero and yes that description would make him blush if he were present when it was uttered.  It will probably make him blush if he ever even reads this.

Tim became a hero to me as I watched how hard he has worked to attain his goals.  Whether it be academic achievement, developing musical talent or most recently by choosing to serve an LDS mission, Tim has set a standard for his friends to follow, not through words or lecturing, but by his actions.  His faithful commitment to his family, religion, friends and community have led those around him to want to strive to be better.  I have never known Tim to say no when asked for help.  I have watched his patience with his siblings and know that what he has more than most "adults".  I know he is not perfect and that he struggles, but that is part of what has made him such a great role model - when he falls short, he diligently seeks to improve.  In over eight years of knowing this young man, I can honestly say I have never seen him approach work without a smile on his face and a willingness to do what he can and what is necessary.  I have also witnessed him turn down opportunities for glory and the spotlight, so that others may have a turn.  Tim's graciousness and genuine concerned for others draws others to him and he is always welcoming.  Tim's absence is felt by many.

I know that as Tim serves the people in South Korea, the people there will be truly blessed by his presence. I know that he will maintain that same commitment as a representative of the Savior to serve those individuals that he has shown to his family and friends here.  I know for his family, these next two years will be a great sacrifice and there will be a void in their family.  But I also know that through his service, his family will be blessed just as they have been blessed by his presence so far.  And by doing what he should and what needs to be done, Tim has once again set a standard that others may attain.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies

This week I decided to try a new recipe and baked Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies for my family.  As many of you know this is a major occurrence in our household.  I enjoy cooking, but the grilling and the baking are left to my sweetie, Rick.  In fact the announcement that I was going to bake was met with responses of "Are you sure?" "Do you even know how?" "Mom, you are going to need my help." and my favorite from he who controls the oven, "Really?  Don't you want to wait until I'm back from Vernal?"

See this is the new me.  I am trying to do some of the things I used to enjoy when the boys were little, and I do mean little, since Jon has no recollection of my pre-Pilsbury cooking making days.  But I had found a new recipe that I was excited to try for a number of reasons:

1. It was a "Breakfast Cookie".  I had hopes that this would be something Lela would be willing to eat in the morning, since most days she tries to skip breakfast.

2. The recipe did not contain flour, eggs, or sugar.  I am always trying to find delicious gluten-free and/or sugar-alternative recipes for my extended family members that have health related issues.

3. We have a case of oatmeal in the basement storage that no one is eating and gallons of frozen bananas in the freezer that are also not being eaten.

4. When plugged into Weight Watchers Recipe Builder, the recipe with my adjustments equated to 2 points per cookie.  This is much better than the 5 to 6 points a similar sized chocolate chip cookie equals or the 4 points per package of Instant Oatmeal.  This provides a nice alternative to my normal breakfast granola or the referenced oatmeal.

Picture taken from Watching What I Eat
I did make some adjustments to the recipe to fit my family's preferences.  (You can link to the original recipe here.)  Instead of walnuts, I used pecans and I increased the amount of cranberries in lieu of raisins.  When mixing the batter, I quadrupled the recipe so that it would make more than one batch.  I did finish with exactly four dozen 2 1/2 to 3 inch diameter cookies.

I really enjoyed the results, but the reviews were mixed from the real critics (aka doubters) in my household. Lela absolutely refused to eat them beyond one bite once she learned the ingredients.  Jon liked them, although he said he missed the texture that flour would provide and they were heavier/denser because of lack of a leavening agent.  Emily said she liked them, except for the cranberries.  I knew what Rick's reaction would be since he judges all his food by texture - too much fruit, not enough flour.

The website has some variations on the original recipe.  Overall, the response to the original was enough of what I expected that I think I will try the variations one day.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Secret Life of Mr. Bubbles

Shortly after we moved in to the rental house we used while waiting for our home to be rebuilt, my friend Linda came to visit.  Linda is the Animal Control Officer in the neighboring community of Hurricane.  During that visit she sat and talked with my girls asking how they were doing.  They both expressed how sad they were that we had lost one dog, our cat, the turtles and fish in the fire.  Aunt Linda, as my kids call her, mentioned that she had a bird at the shelter that needed a home and so soon, Mr. Bubbles as Lela named him relocated to our living room.  I wrote about that time in our lives in a previous post, you can read by clicking here.

The first Mr. Bubbles in his pink cage.  Could he died of mortification due to such feminine housing?

About a month later, we had to have our other dog that had survived the fire, Dancer, put to sleep due to cancer.  (Read more here)  Needless to say, that was a very hard time for our children.  I was so grateful to have Mr. Bubbles and another dog, Daisy, we had received from a friend to help our children through that time.

On the Sunday morning following this latest bump, Rick and I woke up to our son Wil telling us that he thought Mr. Bubbles was dead.  Sure enough there was a blue parakeet laying in the bottom of the cage.  We knew that this was not a loss that our girls would be able to easily overcome following so close to the loss of Dancer.

What then proceeded was one of the greatest operations in history.  It may be said that it could rival many of the military operations from history.  While Wil kept the girls distracted in his bedroom watching movies and having breakfast, thus keeping them from the living room, Rick made a mad dash to Petco to acquire another blue parakeet and I stayed home to aid in the distraction and in case it all fell apart.

Upon returning home with bird in box, Rick told me there was a problem, the store only had female parakeets that were blue.  Thus began the great deception that has lasted for over two years - Mr. Bubbles was really Miss Bubbles.  I did tell Aunt Linda that if they day ever came that Mr. Bubbles began laying eggs, I was bringing the girls to her for an explanation.  Luckily, that never happened and except for a select few, no one ever knew that the bird was a different one than the one we received in those first weeks after the fire.

Mr. Bubbles (aka the other)  - When we moved to new digs, his (her) quarters improved as well.
The charade ended yesterday when Mr. Bubbles again passed away.  We are not sure what happened.  Within 10 minutes, he/she went from flying around the cage to lying on the bottom unmoving.  A friend asked me if the cat may have finally got her, but the funny thing about this bird was that she was friends with the cat.

Blink's favorite snoozing spot has been the top of the bird cage where she would put her tail in the bars and Mr. Bubbles would play with it just like she did her bell.  I had never seen Blink be aggressive towards Mr. Bubbles and any concerns I had about Blink accidentally hurting the bird were eliminated when we had Blink declawed.

Yesterday after all the children got home from school, we had a small funeral for Mr. Bubbles.  Lela even made him/her a headstone.  Later that evening, she commented how quiet the house was without Mr. Bubbles' chirping and ringing the bell.  She wondered if we could go to the pet store and purchase another bird.  I asked if she would want some finches or a something else and she said no.  It would need to be another blue parakeet and she was going to name it Mr. Bubbles II.  I said it would be more appropriate to be Mr. Bubbles III.  And so the story was out.  Jon did point out that since the second Mr. Bubbles really was a girl, that if we did purchase a male parakeet, Mr. Bubbles II really would be more appropriate.

Rest in Peace our dear bird - whatever name you want to go by.  You fulfilled your role valiantly and I am only sorry it wasn't longer. We will miss you.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Then and Now

Yesterday we took a drive and found ourselves at Cedar Breaks National Monument.  If you have never been there, I would encourage you to add it to your bucket list.  It has always been one of my personal favorites.  

The last time we went with the family was on my birthday six years ago during the Wildflower Festival.  We got a bonus with some snow that day.  Even yesterday, it was cool enough that I wished we had brought some jackets.

(For those of you who have an iphone or ipad, there is a cool free app just for the wildflowers.  Click here for a link.)

Here are some Then and Now pics: