Saturday, February 28, 2009


Today was quite an emotional day for Julia.  She not only had an audition in the morning for her choir production and her very last basketball game of the season..... but she also released her pet moth.

Several weeks ago John came home with a very large, fast and furry caterpillar contained in a water bottle.  He had found it in one of the flower fields he was touring that day.  When he gave it to Julia she cried (literally) with delight.  She lovingly cared for this caterpillar feeding it different kinds of lettuce and spinach which he devoured at an alarming rate.  After days and days of ferocious eating and pooping the caterpillar (named Spike) slowed down a bit.  He started to create a sort of web on the side of his container.  Within the web he became very still and we noticed after a few hours that he had formed a chrysalis within the web.  We waited many days wondering if he had just died in there but then this past week I heard a high pitched scream coming from Julia "MY MOTH IS OUT!!!!!".   John had taken Julia to the computer to look up what sort of butterfly or moth this caterpillar was going to turn into and wouldn't you know they were pretty close.   The underside of the moth was quite interesting with a big white body and large black spots...... Spike changed his name to Pepper.  The moth moved rather slowly, almost not at all so we left the lid off of his container one night thinking he wouldn't go anywhere but he escaped into our house.   Julia was very upset and we searched all day for it. Later that evening John came home and found it on the counter top - whew - close call!  Julia was thrilled.   

Today she finally let it go.  She wanted him to have a life outside and I think she couldn't fathom finding it dead one day in the cage.  To see such love and compassion for this little creature from Julia is so sweet.  I know how sensitive she is.  Pepper is out there spreading his wings and looking for a nice winter coat to munch on.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Thank you

My dad's surgery went well.  We will know more on Monday.  Thank you for your prayers and please continue to pray for his full recovery.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Prayer request

Please pray for my father who will be having surgery tomorrow at around noon.  Please pray that it will be a successful operation and it accomplishes everything that it is intended to.  Please pray for the surgeons and medical staff that their hands be guided correctly.  Please pray that my father will make a full and comfortable recovery.  Thank you - I will gladly pray for you in return.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


It amazes me how hard it is to wait sometimes.  We have become this society of instant gratification where information is at your fingertips in a fraction of a second.  I am terrible at waiting - I am not sure if that translates exactly into patience.  I hate waiting for traffic lights.  I hate waiting for a web page to load.  I hate road trips because I can't stand waiting to get to the destination.  I do tend to have patience when an elderly person is in front of me at the grocery store though.....does that count?   The funny thing is that my Dad has amazing patience - more than any human being I have ever come in contact with and he seems to handle waiting with ease.  I inherited a lot of his traits but this one apparently slipped by.   As I wring my hands and jiggle my foot I will try harder to see the moment for what it is instead of anticipating the next one before it gets here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras

A friend of mine said "isn't it funny how Mardi Gras is right before lent?".  So it got me wondering and in case you were wondering too....

Mardi Gras is literally translated into Fat Tuesday.  Fat Tuesday is when people would tend to eat more fattening foods to store up while fasting during lent.  Mardi Gras begins the day after the Epiphany (12 days after Christmas) and ends at midnight before Ash Wednesday.  The colors that represent Mardi Gras are purple (justice), green (faith), and gold (power).  Many people make and eat a "Kings cake" during Mardi Gras.   This was a symbol of the 3 kings bringing gifts.  Mardi Gras in other cultures is called "carnival" which translates to "farewell to flesh".  Whether or not Mardi Gras is a Christian based holiday or a pagan holiday is highly disputed.  Much of the drinking and nudity that it has become known for in New Orleans is looked down upon except for in the French Quarters (where the parades don't even go).  Most people who live there view it as a family celebration and a time to see the "greatest free show on earth".   All of this info I found on the net so I can't confirm its legitimacy.  Any thought?

Monday, February 23, 2009

God and uncertainty

For me when things are going really well or really bad I turn to God easily.  It is in those moments of uncertainty where my mind tries to make some sort of sense out of the situation that God falls into the background.  I don't mean to put him there - my mind just starts spinning and running scenarios and after awhile it spins so fast that I feel completely out of control and have this urgent need to hold onto it all.  It is only when I remind myself to let it go and let God take care of it that my heart stops beating so fast and my hands begin to unclench.  So, God, I am placing my fears and uncertainty in your hands and I ask that you care for and heal those who are in my thoughts. I ask you to bring peace of mind to those reading this in their moments of uncertainty.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Choose to prosper

This was passed on to me and I thought it was worth repeating.

When the challenges are great, you have the opportunity to be your best.  Choose to make a difference, choose to create real value and you choose to prosper.

Know that the best times in your life are still to come.  Then move forward and make them happen.

Don't get caught in the trap of defining your fulfillment based on what other people say it should be.  Seek the fulfillment that you know is yours, and you will surely reach it.

In each day, in every situation, there is always great abundance and opportunity for exquisite joy.  Graciously accept the abundance that is yours and let the joy flow out from you. 

Choose to live fully in each moment with all that you have.  This is a day for making great progress.

Choose to prosper by expressing, in new and creative ways, the profound goodness that is at your core.  And show the world how very good life can be.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

I saw this very intense movie last night.  I recommend it as it is quite thought provoking and puts into perspective the life of privilege we all have.  That I am able to write this on a computer and you are able to read it is a luxury beyond comprehension for much of the world.  

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ahhhh Fridays....

I know I don't have a busy work schedule but the fact that I don't teach on the weekends is very nice.  I love just hanging out with the family.  I was very lucky yesterday and caught up on a lot of housework (it is messy again), and laundry (what? there's more?), and made a nice meal of sweet potato gnocchi in a brown butter sauce (it is gone now) so all I have left are bills and taxes (oh yeah that again).  They can wait until Monday.  I am going to try and play with the kids and walk the dog and maybe catch a flick with my hubby (though he would much rather take a trip in Uncle Rico).  Tonight I am going to eat lots of carbs (M&Ms?) and have a margarita (yeah!).  Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I love the night.  I think the night and darkness get a bad rap - I mean God made them too.  I love the quietness outside - the peacefulness of everyone resting.  I love looking at the stars and remembering how incredibly large this universe is - how small my brain is in comparison.   I love knowing there is someone exponentially larger in control.  I love that it is, for most people, a time to put work behind them and reconnect with their family and relax.  I love the softness of the light when people look beautiful and younger and spaces become more magical.   At night I feel safe - all of my family members tucked away in their beds away from car accidents and choking hazards.  

I love how in sleep there is no time - we move and in and out of moments and thoughts and our minds venture out into dreams.  I love how in complete darkness we all look the same - no black, white, skinny, fat, tall, short....  In complete darkness we are stripped of our physicality and our soul is what's left to navigate. In complete darkness we can see who we really are.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Today is my friend Janell's birthday.  I have known her for over seven year now.  She has a beautiful family of 5 children and a great husband.  Her youngest children are twins that are the same age as Jack.  Janell is extremely talented.  She is an amazing cook and entertainer and has a great eye for detail.  If you put her on a task she will conquer it and then some.  She is a very dedicated friend and is always there to help - whether it is organizing a party, or cleaning a house when someone is having a baby, or picking up a paintbrush for someones home improvement project.  She would be there first - knocking on your door - if something tragic happened and she would just work in the background making sure you were fed and comfortable and had nothing else to worry about.  She has made ridiculously perfect birthday cakes for my children and taken items back to stores for me just because I didn't think I could do it.  Janell has a very strong faith and is full of curiosity.  She always has an opinion about what is going on in the world.  I think she is actually a lot like my Mom in her thinking and way of life and how she loves her family so much.  I am very blessed to call her my friend.  Happy Birthday Janell.  You bring so much to everyone around you - you make us laugh and you bring us so much joy.  You are a true disciple and it is never about your glory.  You are beautiful inside and out.  Thank you for everything you do, thank you for being my friend, thank you for being you.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Rainy days

So today the kids had friends over.  Julia spent some time with her new friend Paris and they made "goo".  Jack had Josh over for some "wii time".  And I made more bread.  Here is the recipe I promised!

1/2 cup warm water
3 packages active dry yeast
1/4 cup bread flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 cups quick oats
4 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
2/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
10 cups bread flour

In the mixing bowl of an electric mixer, stir together 1/2 cup warm water, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/4 cup bread flour, and yeast.  Let grow for about 5 minutes - it will bubble almost immediately.

Measure oats, 4 1/2 cups warm water, whole wheat flour, salt, 2/3 cup brown sugar, and 2/3 cup oil into the mixing bowl.  Mix on low speed with a dough hook for 1 -2 minutes.  Increase speed slightly, and begin adding bread flour 1 cup at a time until dough pulls away from sides of bowl.  Dough should be slightly sticky.

Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat.  Cover with a cloth and let rise for about an hour.

Divide dough into 6 pieces.  Shape loaves and place in greased 8x4 inch pans.  Let rise for another hour.

Bake at 350 for 30 -35 minutes or until browned.  Let cool for 10 minutes and turn out onto wire rack.  

Not pretty but very delicious!

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I woke up this morning to the sound of wind outside and made myself a cup of coffee.  The house was quiet but I could hear a bit of stirring so I went to check things out.  This is what I found.  Sunday mornings are the best!

Saturday, February 14, 2009


I find this particular emotion so fascinating.  It is fairly easy to describe sadness or anger and they seem to be quite singular in nature - but love is more intelligent.   Love has so many faces and presents itself in so many different ways.  

The romantic love evolves and moves and ages - but like a fine wine gets better.  You think initially that the waning of rapid heartbeat and euphoric high inevitably mean the end of excitement but actually it transforms into contentment - which is exponentially better.

The love for family begins so early, first for your parents and then siblings and extended family.  This love is overwhelmingly strong and the bond it creates is not easily broken.  Later the love for your own children presents a deeper level of commitment and loyalty and ache as this love carries responsibility.

Then there is love for God.  If you are lucky enough to experience this intense love it produces a willingness to succumb to it.  A need to relinquish control and the ability to trust far beyond your own comprehension. 

There is love for friends and pets and even love for those we don't know but hear about.  The levels are endless.  The physical responses are countless.  You can't touch it or hear it or see it - you can only feel it - and every human longs for it.  Like the best drug on earth.  I hope you are all helplessly addicted and your supply endless.  

Friday, February 13, 2009

Strange things happen on Friday the 13th.

I am not superstitious at all, I mean at all.  So if any of you send me those ridiculous emails that say you will have bad luck if you don't forward it to 780 people be assured I will never forward them.    I don't subscribe to anything that is based completely on fear.  Anyway, that being said, we have had the strangest weather today.  We woke up to a downpour and at around 8:30 a huge hail storm that made our lawn white. Off and on all day today we have seen it rain with puffy white clouds and blue sky and sun.  Julia stayed home from school today because she was up coughing all night and was giddy at the sight of the hail storm.  "Do you think they will cancel school mommy?".  Ah the joys of being a California kid.  I had to explain to her that they only cancelled school in Colorado if the snow was so deep that you couldn't get out of your front door.
 I have a few friends that took a chance and went snowboarding this weekend and I have a feeling they might just get lucky with some epic powder - even here in Cali.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I have been putting off my taxes for a couple of weeks now.  It kind of hangs over my head from January 1st until April 15Th.  We always owe taxes so it is just a matter of how much we owe.  I think this year might be a doozy.   I guess there really isn't any hurry because we are not going to actually pay them early but I guess I should be prepared for when the time comes.  I did hear the other day that Uncle Sam will be passing out IOUs instead of real $$$ for those refunds.  Do you think they might take an IOU from us?  Say maybe redeemable in 2020?  Seems only fair to me.   Or maybe we should give them a hand and since we owe them and maybe they owe you - we should just pay you?  What do you think?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

my dream

I had a very strange dream the other night.  I was running in a race with a bunch of other people and the sidelines were packed with loved ones.  I started looking for my family - John, Jack and Julia when all of a sudden I saw my Mom and my Grandmother (her mother) standing there in the crowd.   I yelled out to them but for some reason they couldn't see me.  I reached out for my Mom's hand and came very close but could not touch it.  Then I woke up.   I have had a handful of very vivid, colorful dreams about my Mom since she passed.  Almost all of them have her hands in them.  Anyone care to interpret?  

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Uncle Rico

After yesterdays post you may be wondering who Uncle Rico is - well here he is.  He is named this because the van in Napoleon Dynamite looks a lot like this van and its owner in the movie is Uncle Rico.  I am trying very hard to welcome this new stranger into our family but it has been difficult.  First of all we are only its foster parents.  A good friend of John's "lent" it to us - or rather - needed a place for it to sleep and our side yard apparently works quite well.  Secondly there is this smell about it - kind of musty with hints of mold and motor oil.  Thirdly, it makes the most amazing squeal sound when it is started up and it lasts for several minutes.

Now don't get me wrong this vehicle has already brought a lot of joy to John and the kids.  They take it out on the weekends and camp in it and make pancakes, and tacos, and hot dogs.  They think it is the coolest thing ever.  I am a bit harder to convince.  I did  go away with the family to Big Sur and slept in it to try and get the full effect and after several hours it didn't bother me as much.  I guess the dirtier I got the better the van looked.  I guess it is all about spending time with the family so maybe I will try sewing some curtains for it or maybe a scented candle would help.  I feel I must learn to love this tattered old van if I want to connect more with John (who is like a very proud Papa to this surf mobile).   So pray for me on my next adventure.

Monday, February 9, 2009

My Husband

I usually write about people on their birthdays but I think John deserves a few more days of dedication and with Valentines day coming he has been on my mind.    My husband is such an amazing man - so much rides on his shoulders as provider for this household and it amazes me how he can hold it together - especially right now.  He works long hours either from his home office or on the road every week.  He deals with customers who constantly push him and he handles them with grace and poise.  He is VERY good at what he does and for that I am extremely grateful.  His hard work has allowed us a very privileged life.  I get to stay home and nurture our children and we have every convenience we could ever need.  He is an amazing father - a leader who shows Jack what it is to be a man, and a comforting shoulder for Julia to lean on for support.  He puts up with a LOT from me, my crazy ideas, my lack of organization, and the way I nickel and dime our bank account at Marshalls.

John, I hope you know how accomplished you are and how much you have achieved as a person.  I want you to know how respected you are and how much you are loved.  I want you to feel satisfied and happy more than anything else.  I know how hard it is to walk into that cold office in the morning when every part of you wants to grab your surfboard and Uncle Rico and take off for the day.  I know there must be days when all you want to do is quit and throw in the towel because so and so cancelled their order or the computer is acting crazy.  But you never do.  You persevere as you always have.  

Thank you Johnny.  Thank you for making me laugh every single day even though sometimes you drive me crazy doing it.  Thank you for this amazing house and these amazing children.  Thank you for sharing our faith and our values.  Thank you for your love.  You are my best friend - I can't imagine a world without you.  I love you.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Ok, ok, can we just stop it already?  What exactly is the point of worrying about ANYTHING?  Either decide to DO something about it or let it go.  I honestly think another word for worry is paralyzed.  That is pretty much what happens when you wring your hands and let your mind go places it shouldn't.  Your space, your life, is what you make it.  You can either let the media and politics dictate how your day will go or take control of your life and live it.  Yes we may have to work a bit harder in the near future - I think we need that.  Our country has turned into a society that simply expects entitlement.  Hard work creates people of character.  Laziness creates people of greed and people who lack morals.  Yes we might need to buckle down and eat beans and rice for awhile......I have some great recipes for them if you would like.   Maybe we should grow our own vegetables  and spend more time outside taking care of our earth instead of being entertained by movie stars in a dark theater.  Maybe, just maybe, we should lend a helping hand.  Maybe ask around for a friend who needs a job or spend time with someone who is really down in the dumps.   Maybe we should all get out there and exercise - our bodies and our minds - and turn the flippin' news off and recycle the newspaper.  I know it seems like I am hiding from reality but the truth is I am creating my reality - I choose the information that goes in.  Feel free to keep your feet up and watch what is happening around you and go to bed fearful of what tomorrow brings - or maybe you can take one minute at a time and change your entire world by just taking a breath and looking out the window to see your world. 

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Friday, February 6, 2009

My Sweet Boy

I can not believe this amazing young man just turned 11.  It feels like I am bailing water out of a boat with a hole in the bottom and the faster I bail the faster the water rushes it.  I guess it is pointless to try and stop time but it seem like yesterday I was writing down his first words and watching him take his first steps.  Jack has had to face a lot of firsts being the oldest child with many times his parents not knowing what the heck they were doing.  I think God was being extra nice when he gave us Jack to take care of - in fact I think the gift was so that John and I could learn immensely from him.  Jack has a grace about him in social situation that we can't even come close to.  He is compassionate and loving and thinks only the best of people.  He finds ways to touch peoples hearts.  He enjoys speaking to adults and has courage to do things other children don't -  like talking to a stranger or asking questions.  He has a sweet fearlessness about him and undying curiosity.  He makes me laugh every single day.

Happy Birthday Jack!  I love you more than words could ever express.  From the moment you came into this world with you eyes wide open I knew there were big things in store for you.  God has an amazing plan for you - I have always felt that.   You inspire and help people grow.  You show us all what true goodness is.  I love your sweet smile and the way you walk around the house yipping and singing (even though sometimes I act annoyed).  I love how you take time to appreciate things like food and tastes and smells.  I love your ever curious mind that questions and finds solutions.  I love your drive when you find something you want to be good at and the determination you have to get better.  I loved you long before you were born.  I would smile while sitting at work feeling you kicking me from inside - I couldn't wait for this amazing gift to arrive.  From the instant you were born I knew that being a mother was the best job in the world.  I would stand over your crib at night and watch you sleep not being able to tear myself away.  I still watch you sleep.  Every night I go to your room and watch you and tell you I love you - I know you don't hear me but I hope you can feel it.  You make me want to be a better person Jack.  I pray that God will continue to watch over you, keep you healthy and safe, guide you through your teenage years when some decisions will be hard.  I pray that you keep the sweetness and confidence that you have always had and that it will carry you through your life.  Nothing is beyond your grasp sweet boy, you will do amazing and powerful and meaningful things with your life and I hope and pray I will get to see them all.  I love you.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

My Mom

                   Janis Lee

Today is my Mom's Birthday.  We have been missing her for 16 years.  This picture was taken when she was just a few years older than I am now and was taken before the wrath of Cancer deteriorated her body.....but it never touched her soul.   She was a very positive person (maybe I get that from her) and an extreme fighter.  She lived beyond any expectations from doctors - I don't think she was ever ready to leave her family.  She lived a pretty pure life after marrying my Father.  When she was young her family traveled and moved all of the time so when she met my Dad all she wanted to do was stay put.  She was always a "natural" person.  She believed in organics long before they were popular and we always had healthy food to eat (I was the kid who coveted the Doritos at school).  Things were not that important to her - family was.  She loved babies so she decided to have 8 of them.  My Dad went along for the ride - I think he worried about taking care of us since he was the provider but I know how much he loved her.  

My childhood is separated into two parts BC (before cancer) and AC (after cancer).  It was always hanging over my head but that was because  I was the oldest.  My mom never wanted us to feel its effects.   She wanted our lives to be as normal as possible.  I still don't know why God took her, I hope someday I will figure it out.  

Today is bittersweet (it always is).  I try and focus on her life and what an amazing woman she was.  How she taught me to stand up for what I believe in.  The courage she had when faced with unimaginable challenges.  The love she shared with everyone around her.  But I miss having her in my life.  I wonder what she would think of my children.  I wonder how my life might be different if she were here.  I think as an adult I am actually quite different from her - I think I am a bit more like my dad in some ways but I don't really know.  I didn't get to enjoy my adult life with her at all but I am grateful for the time I did have with her.

Happy Birthday Mom.  I love you.  I miss your smile.  I miss your voice.  I miss your positive energy.  I miss your touch - especially your hands.  I miss the light in your eyes.  I miss being able to take care of you as you grow old.  I miss your advice.  I miss you being a grandmother.  Thank you helping me become the person I am now.  Thank you for taking such good care of me and loving me so much.  I look forward to when I get to see you again - when your body isn't broken and your light shines even more brightly than it did here on earth.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


These are Jack's invites to his dance birthday party on Friday!  I thought they turned out cute!  VIP passes and the info is on the back.  I just used baseball card pages, paper clips and ribbon.  That is a picture of Jack rockin' out on the front that I manipulated on this very cool Mac.  I had fun!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

For this we are grateful

Crying babies - at least they can cry
Able bodies - it could always be worse
Rainy days - so we can eat and drink
large bellies - imagine the pain of hunger
snotty teens - they will mature
free countries - before you criticize, realize 

The sun rises and sets - every morning is an opportunity for a new beginning.

Monday, February 2, 2009


There has been a lot of talk about heroes lately.  They are the focus of Extreme Makeover Home Edition.  There is a great show called Heroes (watched it last night) and there is even a character in that show names Hiro.  But what is a Hero really?

- A hero to me is....... a man who has lived a life along side his wife for many years - sharing a bed - sharing a home - sharing children as they grow up - but never really sharing their life together.  They don't speak at dinner, they never touch, they don't feel.  A hero to me is that man turning to his wife and looking her in they eyes to see her and reaching across an emotional grand canyon to hold her hand.  A hero is someone brave enough to re-connect.

- A hero to me is...... a child who is terrified of reading allowed in school and bravely raises his hand to be the first one to read.

- A hero to me is....... a mother who quits smoking and starts exercising so she can be there for her child.

- A hero to me is....... someone who knows they are sick, mentally or physically,  and is afraid to get the help they need because the battle might be too big for them but has the courage to try.

- A hero to me is...... someone who smiles at the homeless man on the corner when all they want to do is look away.

- A hero to me is...... a father who embraces his son and tells him how proud of him he is even though he came in last place.

- A hero to me is..... the person who tries something new.

- A hero to me is..... someone who takes time to see the beauty in every person they meet.

We all find ways to be a hero sometimes but not usually on a daily basis.  Heroism is rare and when we see it we celebrate.  It is the little things that truly are big things that make heroes.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


How funny it is that we are able to communicate so easily now.  Yes it might not be as personal and it may come in the form of a text but I embrace this change.  I am an information junkie - and I don't mean text books and news broadcasts - I mean information about people.  I love looking on Facebook and seeing what everyone is up to.  I love letting people know what is going on in my head on this blog.  I love getting closer to people only in a different form.  I feel I know people better because of the silly things they email me or text me or FB about.  When I was in high school I would take the phone with the long cord and stand outside the sliding glass door of our house so I could talk in private and make plans.  I would write novels to friends during classes that would bore me to tears.  I assume these high school kids do the same thing - hide and talk on their cell phones and text each other during class - but I think they talk about it later just like I did.  I can't wait to get home and check our voicemail, check email, grab the mail, etc.  I love human contact - even if it is not physical.  Sometimes I think we can say more in written word than we can verbally.  Sometimes I think we can be braver.  My family are not big talkers - I grew up in a family of 10 and we were the quietest family you ever met - but our hearts are full.  Sometimes I think the words don't come for fear of an emotional outburst.  Sometimes I think it is easier to listen when you can see the words and touch the words and re-read the words.  So long live the computer and fingers hold tight to the keyboard - you carry my heart sometimes and it is precious cargo.