Saturday, December 4, 2010

There's No Place Like Home...

I woke up yesterday in a tiny town on the west border of Kansas where the cattle outnumber humans 1000 to 1. I'd been staying with Ry for a couple days while he worked. He drove home to Utah for Thanksgiving, and then I drove back with him to Leoti.  It was wonderful to see him, and talk and laugh with him.  We definitely needed the time together. While I may be used to having him gone for long periods of time, it is an understatement to say that I am certainly not cut out for a long distance relationship.  Alas, all good things usually come to an end, and so after eating breakfast together, I drove home yesterday without him.

Driving long distances doesn't bother me, in fact it I actually like driving alone for long distances as long as the roads are dry.  Give me a great audiobook, a roadmap, a pack of gum, some snacks and I'm good to go.

Vail pass was icy and snowy when Ry and I drove out on Wednesday night so going back, I decided to take Highway 50 across Colorado.  Sayanora Dorothy.  See ya later Toto.  Goodbye Kansas.  I miss you already Ry.

The drive went well and the roads were dry. The long, flat roads out of Kansas pass by peaceful fields of dry, brown sunflowers with drooping heads bereft of their fullness. Tall grain silos and small clusters of farm houses and aging barns along the way gave a feeling of warm, rich life in contrast to the silent, empty fields. I found my self wondering about the people who lived and worked there, what patterns their daily living followed, and the fabric of their family's lives.  I also wished I had my camera with me.

The cool weather turned warm as I sped across southern Colorado where the once straight roads now twisted and curved as they began to wind along the Arkansas River.  As I climbed up Pauncho Pass, snow appeared along the sides of the roads, and ice crackled over the bluish-gray water.  The car followed the curving road up and then back down the San Juan mountain passes, the wind whipped and the sky began to darken with sullen clouds. Sunlight faded, and inky darkness prevailed.

It was cold, dark, and windy when I stopped to refuel in Grand Junction.  I looked forward to crossing into Utah where the silent mountains formations that make up Central Utah would surround me as I traveled across to I-15, and then finally south, and home.

It was refreshing to me to just be alone for a long time. Perhaps I'm a bit odd that way, but driving alone calms me. No expectations. No requests from kids. No dishes or laundry staring me in the face. Just me, my thoughts, and the open road.

I watched the gauge showing the outside temperature climb as I dropped down past New Harmony and into Toquerville, and then into town. It was about midnight when I pulled in the drive, parked the car, and carried in my bags. Mercy was stretched out on my bed snuggled next to Jonnie, and as I put the bags down on my bedroom floor, I noticed a package and a handmade card sitting on my nightstand.


I hope you have a great birthday. 
It has been fun getting to know you and your cute family. 
I have enjoyed your friendship. 

Happy Birthday!


Inside the box was a beautiful "WillowTree" figurine, a brown haired woman breathing in the aroma of the bundle of flowers in her arms.  Graceful, simple, and perfect.

My eyes misted as I read the card, but when I opened the box, I sat and cried for 20 minutes. How did she even know when my birthday was?

Thank you Camille, more than you know.

And thank you to all of the rest of you who sent me such wonderful birthday texts and messages as I drove.  I had a nice birthday chat with Danielle and Mom, and one with Joe the night before. Plus Amanda sang me a Happy Birthday song on my phone messages, and Mercy, Alex, and Kenzie sang to me as well.

The kiddos must have missed me too, because before the morning light filled the sky, there were four  of my kids in my bed, and I had to get up and move to one of their beds to get any sleep!  They showered me with wonderful homemade cards and notes this morning when I awoke, and later Amanda and my sweet friend Sheila both gave me gifts as well.

Thank you all for being a part of my life, and for touching my heart.

It was definitely a Happy Birthday.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Mercy

Braelin fell asleep early tonight as I stroked his back in front of the fireplace, and later as I snuggled Jonnie up in his blanket and laid him down to sleep, he asked me to sing to him. And so, of course, I did.

I love singing to my kids. Ryan told me years ago that the kids would never remember if Mom sang a bit off tune to them, but they would always remember that she sang to them. For a very long time when we lived in Roosevelt, I would sit out in the hallway between their two bedrooms after evening prayers and sing hymns and lullabies. Many times Ry would come home after working into the evening and sing with me.  Good memories.

Tonight after Jonnie went to sleep, I kept on singing a few more hymns and Mercy grabbed a book and started singing with me. All the rest of the kids are up in Salt Lake with Amanda, so it was just me and her, singing away. No piano, no audience -  I loved it.  I hope that she does remember that we sang, and that I love her.

Thanks for being my Mercy Angel.


Monday, November 15, 2010

11:00 and All's Well!

Do you remember watching Disney's Robin Hood as a kid?  Ry's sister Barb bought it for our family when we were little and it never ceases to entertain me.  I don't know how many hundreds of times I have watched that and still love every bit of it.  Okay, so that has nothing to do with my post except for the part where the Nutsy is on guard duty and yells out "All's Well!"

Everything IS much better today.  I only got woken up three times last night by the kiddos, took another nap this morning, and another this afternoon. Sleep always helps.  And a nice conversation with my man helped too.

And I realized that it might be helpful for y'all to know really where I'm at. On a scale of 0-100, with 0 being no depression whatsoever and 100 being properly diagnosed as clinically depressed and in need of intervention.... I was at about 1,000 for 18 months after Jonnie was born and my anxiety levels were at 10,000.  Yesterday -- I was about 20. Today, I'm at a 1.  No big deal.

Today I laughed, I joked, I sang. Three songs in fact -  all with my kids. We played Boggle and listened to Carolina give her oral report on the Statue of Liberty for Family Night, after reading the prophet Joseph Smith's teachings on prayer. I played hide and seek with Jonnie and his blanket before bedtime, went shopping with Tali and Ty, and bought posterboard to make Daisy's student of the week poster with.

And,  I got a call back on an application and set up a job interview for tomorrow. Wish me luck, I might just get it.

Life is good. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Taliesin had another seizure yesterday morning. Many of you might remember that he had some about a year ago, and after mega testing, nothing could be found wrong.  The doctors decided that it was his response to injury or perceived trauma.  Gratefully, that's all it is.  No major medical issues, he just goes into a seizure when another person might get a bit dizzy or possibly faint.

It stresses me out. Big time.

I remain calm, take care of him while he is convulsing, and reassure him when he comes to again.  This time he went into shock afterward, and I even dealt with that calmly too.  After he was stable, I smiled, told him everything would be fine, reminded him that he is okay, and babied him for a bit until he felt better and was back up playing with the kids and reading books.

I'm grateful I know how to help him when this happens.  I'm grateful we still had insurance to do the testing the first time this happened. I'm grateful that the burns on his fingers yesterday were minor and easily treatable. I'm grateful it's such a minor thing to deal with.

But while it might be minor physiologically, it is major stress on me emotionally, and I wish someone were here to reassure me.

You see it's not the only seizure I'm dealing with. Depression is seizing my heart again today. I can't let it. I can't give in.  I'm fighting it. I'm not going to cave. I won't let my life go back to that sinkhole. I refuse to let the stress and discouragement take over. I will claw my way out of its grips fighting tooth and nail. I won't go back there.

I'm filling my life with service and gratitude and hope. I'm insisting on being better. But I'm also angry. I'm angry that I'm fighting this right now after I've made so much progress.  I'm angry that I can't curl up in a ball on Ryan's lap and have him tell me everything will be okay, and that I'll get through this.  I'm angry that I can't change the fact that he can't be here right now.

I know this is temporary. I know that it is just a new twist in the road and that I'll straighten myself out.  It's just the stress of the last couple days getting to me. It's just for today. Tomorrow I'll be find. I know that I'm being a wimp. I know there are millions of people dealing with something so much harder and bigger than my temporary grief. I know that I will get through this.  I'll be okay.  I just miss having someone here to help me through my seizures, today.  I miss him so much.

Typing and writing it down helps though.  I don't need anyone to listen, just expressing it helps.  I have God's grace and love and reassurance that I will be okay, and that with His help I am stronger than this. And I'm grateful.  Ever so grateful.

I'll sleep. I'll eat better. I'll drink more water. I'll take my vitamins. I'll serve others more thoughtfully. I'll pray for my children. I'll pray for my man. I'll be okay. I'll throw myself into my projects and find more trust. More patience. More love. More empathy. More kindness. More temperance. I'll push the emptiness out of my heart and fill it with gratitude and joy.  It's Thanksgiving. I am thankful. I won't let today become me. I am better than this.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Falling Leaves

Outside, the leaves are falling. Of course, you know this. Who could not notice the brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and red that are beginning to cover the leaves. Well, I suppose for those of you up north you saw all this long ago and your trees are bare... but down here in the land of sunshine, it's still happening. I love autumn leaves and autumn colors. I love that the change is so visible, and so beautiful. From a distance, the whole tree is alive with vivid color. Mountainsides look warm and bright with clusters of flaming autumn leaves.

If you walk into our house and look into the family room, you'll see great big paper autumn leaves hanging all over the wall.  It's our family project for the next two weeks... not letting helpful things people do "fall" unnoticed. We are to write down anything those good deeds we see others do on the big leaves for everyone to see. It's kind of fun to see what the kids notice. My hope is that this will begin to effect a change within our family that is also visible, and beautiful.  Not that my kids aren't great and helpful already, but our family is ready for a new season. I hope it is one of brilliant shades of giving, loving, and helpfulness without being asked.

I'm also ready for a change within my own heart.  One with more temperance, more patience, more compassion, more smiles. One with fewer loud voices, fewer demanding tones.  I hope the summer shades of rich green life mellow to warm tones of sweet honey, glowing amber, soft brown sugar, and rich cranberry.

Walk with me through the autumn time with warmth in your heart for all mankind. Be good and kind, and helpful, and true. May there be peace in me, and peace in you.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Friday comes too fast.

It should be no surprise that I'm not the most excited person to dress up for Halloween.  If I am going to draw attention to myself -- I'd rather not be dressed up as a clown while doing so. There's also the whole part about Halloween that I just don't see anything positive being celebrated by people walking around as witches, skeletons, and zombies. It's also silly to tell your kids all year not to take candy from strangers, and then send them to as many houses as their little legs can carry to ask for candy from strangers.  If I really am in the Halloween Grinch mode, I could also go into the history of the "holiday" and how it really started.... but I don't want to be too preachy. 

Suffice it to say Halloween is not my favorite holiday. 

And therefore, I have not been ultra prepared for it.  On Thursday night, Carolina starts asking me to come to the Halloween party at school tomorrow, and do we have any crowns she can wear as part of her costume. It's 8:30 at night and I am working on editing the photos of a wedding that I've promised will be ready for proofs this weekend. 

As Carolina is talking, I am thinking"Why are they celebrating Halloween in the middle of the week?  I don't understand why they would have the kids dress up already? Tomorrow is Wednesday, this is crazy.  Why don't they wait til Friday for the Halloween parties?"

Then, the kids all clue me in.
"MOM!  It IS Friday tomorrow.  Today is THURSDAY!"

News to me!  I don't know where my brain has been all week but I am completely thinking that I still have 3 days to figure out costumes AND finish editing several hundred photos I've promised would be ready. Why am I always doing stuff like this???

Gratefully -- Amanda came to the rescue!  She turned my little girls into fairies, and hot glued smarties to pants for two of the boys turning them into "Smartie Pants". The other three went as cowboys and a cowgirl. All while I edited away.  So -- thanks Amanda!!

And here is a sneak peak of Shawn and Ananda's very non-traditional wedding.


Family Medallion

Remembering Mother...

Saturday, October 23, 2010


You know the Alice in Wonderland "Teacup" ride at Disneyland?  The one where you sit in the teacups and they spin one way real fast and then the larger part of the ride that the teacup is sitting on is spinning the opposite way? It's supposed to be fun but really it isn't because your body and head get so confused that just from looking at it - your lunch wants to revolt and your stomach turns inside out.

Well, that's how life feels lately.

Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of really good things happening lately. And there are a lot more great things coming our way, I'm sure.  Just like the ride LOOKS pretty and fun when it's holding still and you really are able to stand in one place and look at the different parts of it.  There are good things with Ryan's job, sheesh, the fact that he has a job is a good thing. Amanda is here, and that's a great thing! Let's face it, I have some pretty awesome kids too, and all of them are healthy and doing well.  I have friends and family who love and care about me, I have nothing to complain about, and I'm not complaining.

The teacup ride in my life is more coming from inside my head.

My heart is reaching in one direction, my life is spinning in the other, both seem to be going positive directions, and I have no control over changing the direction of either, though I'm not necessarily sure I want it anyway. Strangely at times, they seem in synch with each other, simply because I feel my Father's hand guiding each. But here's the deal...

I'm really more of a rollercoaster girl than a teacup rider.

I'd just rather be moving forward instead of spinning round and round, even if sometimes I'm holding on for dear life.  Partly I'm scared. Forward in either direction takes me farther from the other direction.  And yet both paths take me where I want to go. Still, while I shouldn't feel conflict over the choices before me - I do.

And while my life is spinning, my emotions ARE on the rollercoaster, and that's that part that's hardest to take. I'll be energetic and capable one moment, and deflated and weighed down the next. I'll be filled with encouragement and hope one moment, and paralyzed by inability and concern the next. I'll be enjoying the kids and happy at the interaction one moment, and overwhelmed and needing a minute to myself the next.  The teacups I know, need to spin a while longer.  If I try to speed the process up, I'll just end up with flying saucers and broken glass, and that's no good for anyone.  I trust that before too long, everything will be sorted out. I won't be left spinning forever.  But the next moment my heart seizes with fear that I will be spinning for what feels like forever even if it isn't -- or that I'll at least be dizzy.

Move forward in this direction? Or that direction? Sell the business? Or give it time hoping something else will work out? Pursue another job? Cut back on the ones I've got? Continue the long distance but more stability? Or have him working closer to home, but who knows for how long before the work runs out? Put effort into particular friendships? Or let the house go and move back near the friends who I miss so much?  Pay this bill? Or that bill? Let this one go? Or that one go? To curl up in a ball on the couch? Or push past that instinct to become something else?

I don't know.  I'm tired.

Maybe the teacups will stop spinning while I sleep.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cake Boss

Ry's been out of town for most of the past month. And when he's gone, I'm not really myself. Or maybe I'm my true self... hmmm.  Either way -- I have let stress take over my life and heart and I have not been ready yet to sit down and do some introspection and sort out my heart and mind.  Instead, I've watched both seasons of Cake Boss on Netflix.  Yes, every episode. Pretty interesting show - although I am a bit of a baking addict already -- he definitely has some stuff I'm going to try.

I have done a couple good things though.  I went through the kitchen, dining, and family room and deep cleaned and dusted. A chore long overdue.  We weren't sure if I had a grey fan or a white fan in the kitchen! (It's white again. Yay!)

Well -- that's my boring blog post for the day. Someday soon I'll get back into a good blogging mood. Maybe it will be the same day I want to pick up my camera again :) 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

As a child

My heart is filled with gratitude at the un-ending mercies and grace of God in Heaven above. When I get done being in emotional upheaval and just focus on what is good and right and remember the many prayers that have been prayed and sit in awe of the many prayers that have been answered, my heart swells and my eyes weep.

It's so easy to feel like there are so many things I can't fix right now, so many worries that I don't know how will ever turn out, and yet with one blink of an eye or motion of the hand HE can make everything work out. Too often, I forget. Too often, I rely on myself instead of on Him.

I am still His child and I'm not sure I ever want to grow up. I love His warm embrace when I run to Him. I still need His arms around me when I hurt. At His feet I kneel to pray. It is His loving face I always want to see when I look up after the tears, and He is there for me. It is eternal hope in Him that I trust and rely on. How can he be so gracious and kind, when I am just me? I can breathe when I feel the burdens lifted on my chest, after finally remembering who is in charge.

He is my Father. I am His child. I am blessed.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

in my own little hole

Sometimes I just want to curl up in my own little hole, and stay there.  I know I should write it out instead, but I don't want to, so I'm not going to. Too much, too hard to articulate, so much to process. Maybe another day, but today, if you need me, I'll be in my hole.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

White Day

If you've ever been to our house before and taken a tour through the basement, you know already that it wasn't pretty.  It has been beat up for nearly a century, rooms built, then torn apart, projects started, never finished, half the walls are covered in plaster, the other half have layers of peeling paint.  It's generally a mess!

When we moved in, I painted over the worst parts, but the big playroom downstairs was more than I knew what do to with or had money to fix up.  Well finally, we are ready to paint the walls and stain and seal the cement floor.  But first - we have to paint the ceiling.

I picked up a gallon of paint last week, and decided today is the day.  I'll get it done.  I park the boys in front of "Nemo", get Tyler doing his schoolwork, and Daisy follows me downstairs and begins to sing me all the "Color Songs" she's been learning in kindergarten.  She starts telling me that today is "White Day" and gets pretty excited when she realizes that I'm painting white paint on White Day.  "Yay!", I say.  "I love white too!" She walks out of the room and I'm painting away, looking straight up as I do since my pole is short and my ceilings are high.

Daisy Delicious Horsey Jessop - or at least that's what SHE says her name is!
10 seconds after she walks out of the room my paint pole snaps and the roller falls straight on my face.  And yes, my mouth was open.  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry so I was doing a little of both as she walked back in the room a minute later and sees me trying to spit the paint out of my mouth. 

"Mom?" she asks.
"Yes," I say. 
"Did you dip your face in the paint?"
"Nope," I reply. 
"Oh. Well you have white paint all over your face," she says. 
"Yes dear.  Thanks for letting me know."

Well, it is White Day. But I'm pretty sure I'd rather find another way to celebrate.

I'll post some pics of the basement when we're done :) 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Peach Days

Eliza and Eric came down to visit this weekend. It is so much fun to hang out with my sister!!  She and Eric were kind enough to be my models. These were taken impromptu, they didn't expect to have their pictures taken until later, but I thought they both looked great and so I grabbed my camera and asked them to take a few minutes with me. The "Hurricane Peach Days" Parade had been held that morning, and some nice farmer with really cool trucks had taken the liberty of parking them in front of my house (fine with me!) We grabbed a few shots there before we went down the street to the Heritage Museum.  I'll post more pics of my beautiful sis after I get more edited... but here's a sneak peak.

Before they came down, I was busy making Butterscotch Peach Pie. Ry doesn't like a "regular" pie crust, and I'd been thinking about making a crisp, sweet oatmeal crust and adding caramel to the pie for a few days. After combining a few recipes and taste testing three pies, we liked this combination as the best result.  Warning -- best eaten fresh and hot with some Breyer's Natural Vanilla ice cream - or sweet cream whipped at home.


Oatmeal Cookie Crust
1 cup oats
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 c. butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp white sugar

Butterscotch Filling
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 c. butter
2 tsp lemon juice
dash salt
1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla

Prepare the pie crust. Pack it in thick in a 8-9" pie pan and bake til slightly golden. (Approximately 400 degrees for 8 minutes?)  (If you'd like some extra oatmeal topping for the top of the pie - make an extra batch of oatmeal crust to sprinkle on top of the pie.)

While the crust is cooking, grab a saucepan. Combine all the ingredients for butterscotch filling except the vanilla and lemon juice. Continuously stir with a wooden spoon and cook until bubbly and all the sugar is dissolved. It may look a bit too thick - but never fear, add the lemon juice.  Dip a spoon in, let it cool a bit, and taste it -- then add the vanilla (optional). Does it need another sprinkle of salt to bring out the flavor? Cook until it's a rich caramel color and you can tell it's the consistency of a heavy syrup or thicker.  Pull off the heat and let it sit for a minute while you peel and slice the fresh peaches into your baked pie crust.

To assemble the pie, place the sliced peaches into the crust and pour the butterscotch all over the peaches, taking care to cover all areas. Your butterscotch and crust should still be hot, so no need to rebake the pie.  Enjoy it with ice cream or whipped cream on top!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Aches and heartaches

So I wake up in the middle of the night with a mean stomach-ache. I just want to sleep. I'm so tired I can't tell you how tired. I need my sleep. But no - I have a stomach-ache, and sleep is not easily coming.

This morning, I am finally sleeping, for a while at least. The little boys stayed home from church with me, so in between sleeping, I am also feeding Jonnie his Cheerios and milk. I finally drag myself out of bed when the bowl he brought me is emptied but I still don't feel like doing anything at all. Daisy has turned on "Cheaper By The Dozen" - the old version - which I love, so I put my contacts in and curl up on the couch to watch it with her.  I love the look on his face as he holds baby #12 and his wife looks over his shoulder down at the baby.  Such a precious picture of love.

When the movie is over I spy my computer. I feel like someone hit the back of my neck with a very big stick and my whole body feels swollen, but I can lounge on the couch with my laptop right?

Really, I feel awful, and want to do nothing but go back to bed. But as awful as I feel, I feel lucky too. My sweet friend Sheila told me yesterday that her daughter's husband is facing lymphoma. Cancer is such an ugly form of torture, and having the body aches is such a minimal thing to deal with when others face such life and death illness. I look at my husband sitting on the couch and think how blessed I am that he is healthy. And happy. This year has definitely had some major life changes for us both, but especially for him. He has struggled and it has been so heartwrenching to watch him.

And lets be honest. Sometimes I've just been super angry at him for the way he has dealt (or not dealt) with certain things.

But all of that doesn't matter when I see him crawl around the floor, laughing and chasing Jonnie.  Or when he wakes me up with a kiss to tell me goodbye before he leaves for work.  And the things I get upset about become completely insignificant and outright stupid when I think how it would be to face having him ill with cancer, and staring death in the face.

He's not. I'm grateful more than I can say. And my heart aches more than my body right now for my friend Camille and her family and the reality they face. So say a prayer for Camille and Ralph, and for their family.

I'm going to snuggle up on Ry's lap right now and enjoy the time I have with him.

BTW, the photos is from a day when he was being an impromptu model for me as I scoped out decent angles at a difficult location where I'll be shooting an upcoming wedding. He didn't realize I was taking a photo just at this moment though, and I liked it. SOOC without any editing, and horrible lighting, but it's a picture of him and I love it just for that.  He's so completely supportive no matter what hair-brained idea I come up with or new adventure I start out on. Thanks Babe!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Tuweap overlook of the Grand Canyon, photo by me, of course.
Fun fact for you - I'm afraid of heights. 

No, that's not true. 

I'm petrified of heights. Yes, I think that says it a little better.  

Have you ever driven on a mountain road when it's zig-zagging up the side of the mountain and one side is up against the side of the cliff and the other side is a sheer drop off and every time the wheels on the car spin they shoot a bit of gravel off the side of the road and you can watch it fall gently down the side of the mountain as though it hasn't a care in the world nor does it know that in a moment it will be pummeling into the earth below and as a result will probably no longer even be a rock but a bit of powder for the wind to blow away? (And yes I know that was a run on sentence but that's about how much goes through my brain every time the wheels on the van turn, so pretty please, bear with me.) It scares me to pieces and I really prefer that Ryan drive on these roads, when I am asleep, and never tell me we ever drove on that particular road in the first place. 

But I'm straying. Fear of heights is not what this is about today.... it's about our outing to the Grand Canyon, which thankfully did not entail a drive up a zig-zaggy cliff. 

So, lucky us - and I mean that - we had friends and family come visit us for the weekend and they took us on a drive out to Tuweap (or Toroweap as you sometimes see it spelled).  This particular view of the Grand Canyon is stunning, and totally worth the long-ish drive to get there.  The pictures I took really don't do it justice. 

Ryan and Jonnie, overlooking the Colorado River

So imagine this. Me - petrified of losing someone over the edge, and 15 kids -  7 of whom are mine, all running loose at the edge of a 3000 foot drop off. My idea of a fun time!

For the first 20 minutes, I panicked. A lot. And told myself to breathe. A lot.
Because otherwise I was a little bit out of my mind.

But after they got all their wiggles out from the car ride and got tired of looking over the cliff, they started running around inland. Then, I was finally able to enjoy it. 

The Grand Canyon is breathtaking, to say the least. I simply cannot wrap my brain around 
how this river cut so deep into the sandstone, and between the wind and rushing water, the canyon was 
formed.  It's incredible. 

It's also peaceful. And still.  That is probably what struck me most - the stillness.

After the kids all went back to the truck for lunch and I knew that Ryan had Jonnie, I had a few moments to just sit. And look. And as I sat on the ledge looking northward, I knew that somewhere down below branches were rustling in the wind and a bird was fluttering by. There were probably even chipmunks running around, or a lizard lying in the sun. But I couldn't see any of it. Everything was still, and being there helps your mind become still too. 

Enjoy the pics.  I hope that just for a moment, you can imagine being there, and enjoy the peacefulness and stillness that we need in our lives every once in a while. 


PS... there are some other shots of the kids there.  Thanks for coming to visit us y'all!
Laura, sitting at the edge of the drop off.

See the boat in the water near the bottom of the picture? Yes, it's there. Look again.

Here it is "up close". Now, I have a super zoom camera, and this is as close as I could get to the boat. 
Hopefully this gives you a perspective of how deep and wide the canyon and river are at this point. 
(There are deeper sections of the canyon.)

And a few more just for fun. 

Ty, Ta, Ash - three buddies.

Boston, enjoying a nice cold root beer. 
Jonnie and Braelin in the "peek-a-boo" rock.

My cousin Kaitlyn stayed the weekend and went with us.  Fun to see you Kait!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Red Headed Angels

I thought about what to post today, what in my life is interesting enough to share right now? Which workouts we did this morning?  (Pilates for muffin tops and Kickboxing). The stress about how to pay the bills?  (I don't want to think about it much less write about it!)  Job interview yesterday? (Blah!) My cute kids and how adorable they are? (Every post could be about that!!)

But then I remembered, it's August 17th! And it just so happens that today is the birthday of not one - but TWO amazing red heads!!  So, this post is for them.

To my beautiful niece Jerusha on her 17th birthday - you are an amazingly talented artist with such a giving heart.  You look at things with such wonder and see beyond the color the eyes see to the color the heart sees. You find beauty and inspiration in the people around you as well as the world around you, and you have so much to give.  Your personality pops and your smile can't help but make others smile with you.  May the next year bring you happiness and ever closer to our Savior.  Happy Birthday!  (And I don't have ANY pics of you, so next time you come down..... lets go take some :)

Best buds!  Jaden is a miniature version of her mom. 
To my dear friend Tiffanie who I miss so much - Tiff is just one of those people that make you say "I want to be more like her when I grow up!" I prayed that Glen would marry an angel and he did.  Tiff, you have one of the most kind, thoughtful, and caring hearts I know.  Your strength of heart is exceeded only by your beauty and talent. I don't think you know still how much your phone calls and visits and hanging out with me helped me not to go crazy with PPD after Carolina was born. Your support and love have been so helpful over the years. If I had a tenth of the energy, compassion, devotion, consistency, and preparation that you have, I'd be so much better off! You are amazing and hold a special place in both mine and Ryan's hearts. Your kids are beautiful, and funny as well.  I'm glad Tali will always have his special Jaden friend.

I hope this year you will embrace your talent with photography and not only have fun with it but be confident enough to make some money with it because you certainly have the talent and ability for it!  I hope also that I'll be able to come up for a bit and visit, or that you'll be able to come down here. I truly do miss you.  Happy Birthday!

Lots of love to you all...


Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Fave

It's Friday, and I decided that I would post one of my favorite pics from each week on Friday. Now, the picture I wish I had to post, is one from last night. You see, we went to the county fair, and the kids all entered the ice cream eating contest.  Anyone who knows Ryan and I should not be surprised to hear that four of the kids won either first or second place in their age group on how fast they could down a bunch of ice cream.  Even little sweet, innocent Carolina -  my dainty princess - shoved those ice cream sandwiches in her mouth as fast as possible, and with ice cream dripping all over her face and hands, she stood up and won first place.

But alas, I forgot to grab my camera as we walked out the door. So... here is my Fave Friday pic.

It's of the monument at Mountain Meadows here in Southern Utah.  Not the most pleasant event to remember... but the field trip out there was a neat experience and I love that the feeling of the place came across in the photo.


Sunday, June 13, 2010


Originally posted June 13, 2010

The photo is of Tyler with my brother Jason when he came down last to visit.  I sure have enjoyed the friends and family who’ve come, but I have to say one of the visits I’ve most enjoyed has been Jason, Eliza, and Eric the last time they came down. Maybe its just that they are the last to have come, maybe its something else. I can’t pinpoint exactly why, but it doesn’t matter does it?  I really enjoyed having them come.  The kids did too.  Jonnie hasn’t stopped talking about the “cycles” every time he hears something with an engine racing by. I hope they come back again soon, and I hope J is able to stop by again before he leaves for Costa Rica. 
Family is a precious thing though. I find myself in tears more often than not anytime I see a movie, hear a song, or anything else having to do with family.  Not always sad tears, more thoughtful and appreciative tears.  Sometimes they are sad though. 
Yesterday we spent time with the Kelly and Sheila Dutton and their family at their place on Kolob. Can we say beautiful?  The whole drive up was lush and green, with wildflowers and beautiful pastures mingled with red rock cliffs and layered sandstone formations. We wound in and out of Zion’s National Park on the way up to their pavilion near Kolob Reservoir, and marveled the whole way up at the beauty surrounding us. 
But the real beauty was seen once we arrived.
Sheila and Kelly had 12 children and their spouses all together to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Nannette kept everyone in line and organized the entire affair, Daphne and her girls brought in a beautiful wedding cake, a near replica of their first. Camille, Myrna, Jamie, Diana, Brenda, Kelly Sue, Shaynie, Lora worked together seamlessly with Nannette preparing 28 dutch ovens full of cobbler, chicken, and potatoes. Ted, Willie, and Cecil kept briquettes hot, fires going, heaters lit, and had the whole pavilion arranged with chairs and tables for a crowd. Tom, Elliot and Stan rocked the babies. Kevin, Terry, and Steve took care of Great Grandma Dutton and Kevin setup for the slideshow celebrating Kelly and Sheila’s life. Roxie put together salads, and in general, everything was taken care of wonderfully. 
About a million children and grandchildren milled around, going in and out of the camp trailers setup, running around in the loft area, and generally keeping things interesting.  It didn’t matter whether it was my kid needing help going potty, dishing watermelon, or getting the right piece of cake, a baby tottering down the gravel slope, someone else needing another twinkie, the mud needing to be swept off the cement, or somebody else needing a hug... everyone jumped right up to make sure everything, and everyone, was taken care of. 
There was laughing, joking, and smiles aplenty. I don’t remember a cross word being said, an angry glance, or a frustrated look.  It was family. One big, happy, pleasant family working, laughing, and playing together.
When it was time for the slideshow, I just sat with tears streaming down my face as photos of young Sheila as a bride, and young Kelly as a father flashed on the screen. Their family grew bigger and bigger with every shot til all 13 children were numbered. Then the came the grandchildren. Kelly and Sheila know every single one, their birthday, their personality.
The harmony of the family was beautiful to behold. It was a day that my Dad only dreamed about. But they took his dreams, and made them a sweet reality.  It was family, and up there on that freezing cold mountain top with the wind blowing and the smoke from the fire billowing, that sense of family, of love, felt like home.
So a shout out to all of Sheila and Kelly’s family -- job well done. 
And a shout out to all of my family.  I love you all.  Please know that you are all important and special to me, and that you each have a place in my heart. 
Love,  Rachel

PS... here are a few pics of Jason I took while he was down here.  Good looking brother!! You can see a few more on my photography website. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Who is your family?
Who is my family?

Are family the ones you share a past with? or those you share a future with?

Are family the ones who see you through thick and thin? or the ones who don't see you often enough to know whether you're thick or thin?

Are family the friends who know your family "skeletons" and love you anyway? or are skeletons the family and your friends just your friends?

Is family created through friendship and love? or is family created through birth and blood?
Are family ties the ones that hold you together? or are family ties the shoelaces that won't stay tied?

Is family found along the path of life? A sister here, a brother there, as though you knew them all along? Or are they the ones who turn you around to realize your family is behind you, and your paths in life will always be connected?

Is a sibling the one who understands all your fears, shares your laughter, and tears, and is there by your side? or is a sibling just a sibling, because they are, they always will be. And whether fears and tears come, whether there's laughter or song, they are your brother, your sister, and they're there all along?

How much do you miss them? And do they miss you? Do you know what you're missing? And do they know you? Does it matter at all, they don't know your kids name? Just as long as the blood runs through both of your veins?

If the invitations to party, to play, and to come, come seldom, if ever, does that change the name? Are the invites what matters, though from friends they surround? If the invites don't matter, do they want you around?

If acceptance is futile, is sporadic, or nil - if acceptance is vital, will friendship be there still? If family is accepting, does it erase all that's ill? Correct all that's missing? or is it a need you yourself can fill?

Family is six letters. Six letters, and yet, they're the best part of life, or - have you even met?

We say "reconnect" but whence does it come? If love was always on the tip of your tongue, is it really re= connecting, if it was there all along?

Random thoughts and minds musings have nothing but fluff. 
So I'll go back to sleep now, I think I've thunk, enough.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


A mother’s love, it knows no bounds
And yet it’s selfish in its rounds
A hug, a kiss, upon the cheek
A palm apress the forehead, weak.

Each day she toils for her brood
She works and struggles, if only they knew
Her heart she gives with worries worn
Her life is riddled, wounds open, torn.

And yet a joy and peace prevails
Her struggles, sorrows, and travails
Are yes, a labor, long of life
But with them comes her breath of life.

She hurts and yet, there is no pain
When once they succeed, joy doth reign.
Her children fill her heart sincere
With love and gratitude that she’s here.

Her job is light, her step is quick
When their arms fling around her neck
She smiles and bright the sunshine rays
When their smiles lighten up her days.

She makes mistakes, she has regrets
Her love is not perfection yet
But while she labors, while they grow
Endeavors fruits will not yet show.

When they embrace the grownups’ land
When the enchantress finds her man
When they become fresh parents new
When they realize their mistakes anew

Appreciation grows within their breast
Their hearts may not be put arest
But as the seeds of understanding lie
Beneath the shadows of their life

They’ll grow in love and gratitude
And temperance fan their hardened mood
They’ll one day sit and watch anew
Their memories of her now reviewed

Will see the efforts, some in vain
Will see her life, see past the pain
Her heart may yet be beating still
Or ‘haps she stands hid by the veil.

Her tears now stream down cheek and cheek
Her joy filled heart no longer sinks
Her memories of those toil worn days
‘Haps enveloped with understanding’s rays.

And as the new babe b’gins to grow
From tooth to tooth, then to lasso
Mistakes afresh they too will strew
And ample tears, frustration through

Their paths will be one circling round
Their feet will walk a trampled ground
Of parents near and parents far
All trying their best, all baring their hearts

And in the softened time worn frame
Where love entwined with children reign
The babe will reap the love unbound
Of parents’ love, perfection unfound.

But at the Master’s piercen feet
They’ll all be met, they all will greet
Aft long review of each their lives
Their judgements, efforts, and their strifes.

The Saviors love and grace unbound
Will encircle them around
They praise and thank, humility shown
Their Savior while knelt at His throne.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fresh Basil

Originally posted March 25, 2010

If you’ve never eaten fresh basil and don’t already know the sensuous aromatic flavor those tender green leaves hold - let me be the one to tell you it is delicious. 
My sister Danielle used to say it was “food of the Gods”. And every time I eat it, I think of her - and that she is right.  It is heavenly. Few things can hold up to the simple yet ethereal combination of toasted sourdough bread with a thin layer of cream cheese, fresh basil leaves, and sliced tomatoes - topped with a sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground peppercorns.   If you have a better cheese than cream cheese -- by all means substitute that instead. 
Sandwiches aside, basil holds so many memories for me. Strange that a green leaf with a decadent aroma can be nearly as comforting as chocolate... but it is. It reminds me of cooking with friends, of eating meals with a huge extended family, of working side by side, and of learning.  And even though there are times when learning is painful, the work was stressful, relationships with extended family and friends are strained... basil brings me to a happy place. 
It also reminds me of going to the opera with Danielle. Walking side by side with my graceful, tall, and beautiful sister. Proud that she would invite me to go with her.  My heart was filled because she chose me as a friend to spend her season ticket with. Though the opera should have been a memory in itself, I don’t even remember the name of the opera we attended. I do remember the opening chorus of mens voices piercing my soul, but it is the stillness of the moment walking up main street by her side that I remember.
And that memory, is part of why basil is so sweet.
BTW... Jonnie Bear is the one in the picture.  It has nothing to do with this blog entry -- but since I’ve skipped for the past year I thought you might like to see what he looks like now. 
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