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Making “Frances lunches” with Sarah

Frances  lunchI have had fun making lunches this past week, since we’ve started school. It’s been a little tricky, since we’re cleaning up after having a mouse in the house (the whole pantry had to been unloaded and cleaned out completely, so everything from the pantry is covering the kitchen counters and table). But I’ve felt a special satisfaction as I try to make some lunches that have variety of flavors and textures and fresh whole foods and herbs.

I like to think of these kinds of lunches as “Frances lunches.”*

Last night, Sarah, who has a break for a couple of days from school and work and her volunteer EMT life, joined me in making lunches. She sliced and buttered some bread while I rinsed and sliced strawberries. She held open baggies while I sliced bell peppers into them. Or have her fold up napkins while I wrote on some little pieces of paper “I love you.” And we had a great conversation** together the whole time.

I love moments like those, when I get to work alongside my children and talk about life. It’s so good.

It was lots later when we finished. So much for getting to bed early! But I was grateful to have the lunches made. I knew my lambs (and ram) would be fed.

I don’t think I’ll be able to make “Frances lunches” every night or day–I’m sure there will be plenty of PB&J and granola bars thrown into the bag and handed to them as they run out the door–but it sure is a nice feeling when I can do it.

And by the way, I LOVE neoprene lunch bags. My friend Crystal P. introduced me to these. I have found them the last few years at Target for about $10 at the start of the school year.  They’re great because I can just rinse out any messes and toss them into the washer when I need to, then just hang them on a door handle or hook somewhere to dry. They don’t rip, and they do insulate.

They work great! (Especially when children remember to bring them back home…) :)

You may be wondering: *What is a “Frances lunch?” If you have never read Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban, you need to get to your nearest library and check it out! Frances will only eat bread and jam (3 meals a day) until she is so sick of bread and jam that she cannot take one more bite. When she relents to let her mother give her something else to eat, her mother sends her an amazing lunch:

“Albert said, ‘What do you have today?’

” ‘Well,’ said Frances, laying a paper doily on her desk and setting a tiny vase of violets in the middle of it, ‘let me see.’ She arranged her lunch on the doily.

” ‘I have a thermos bottle with cream of tomato soup,’ she said. ‘And lobster-salad sandwich on thin slices of white bread. I have celery, carrot sticks, and black olives, and a little cardboard shaker of salt for the celery. And two plums and a tiny basket of cherries. And vanilla pudding with chocolate sprinkles and a spoon to eat it with.’

” ‘That’s a good lunch,’ said Albert.”

I’ve yet to send a doily and violets. Maybe I should put that on the grocery list? :)

**Sarah shared about an interesting radio broadcast she heard last week about picky eaters.



I will disappoint you

Last night the alarm I’d set on my phone for 7:30 pm went off, reminding me that it was time to go. We’re really working hard at getting to bed these days, and as it takes so long, we begin early. I had forgotten about the alarm, and since I was deep in conversation at our extended family dinner, I gratefully finished chatting and began trying to gather children.

And then it occurred to me: Where is Peter?

And then I realized: I had forgotten to pick him up. An hour and a half ago!

How is that possible? I racked my mind. I had planned so carefully yesterday! Everything was ready, and we were headed out within minutes of when I had hoped to leave, on our way to drive past his soccer field to pick him up from practice. And I had sat and eaten dinner and visited with family and not even remembered him that entire 90 minutes?

I felt horrible. We hurried home, concerned when no one answered the phone. Eliza ran into the house before I could park, and there he was, with red eyes, watching The Hobbit.

I was so relieved. SO relieved.

I thought of the scripture in 1 Nephi 21:15, about how a woman might forget her child, but the Savior will never forget, because he has “graven us on the palms of his hands.”  I had been that woman.

When I went to bed last night, and when I arose this morning, I was thinking about this. Why didn’t I remember? Was I too occupied with other, less important details? Listening to other children talk about their day? Too tired from a short night’s sleep and an early morning?

I was reading in the scriptures, when I read Alma 37:17: “For he will fulfil all his promises which he shall make unto you, for he has fulfilled his promises which he has made unto our fathers.” I wanted to tell Peter, to tell all my children, that I will disappoint them at times. I am not God, and I am not perfect. They already find too many times when I am not able to do what I thought I could do. “Mom, you promised you would read to me tonight!” (I hadn’t promised, but I had said we would, which is my word, but we got back too late.) Or, “But you said we could finish the movie today!” (You are right, but we didn’t anticipate having these visitors stop by that you played with.)

I wanted to tell them that God will never disappoint us. He always does what He says he will. He never makes mistakes or underestimates or exaggerates or plans imperfectly. He supports us perfectly.

I had the opportunity to share my thought with them this morning, when we read about how Nephi’s brothers wouldn’t support him when he was supposed to build this ship to carry all of them across the ocean to the promised land. How disappointing that would have been! I told them about someone with whom I had visited with yesterday, who had a wedding reception in her backyard for a young woman whose mother couldn’t or wouldn’t help her with it. I told them that if they will do what God asks, he will help them. Either he will give them the strength and ability and resources to accomplish what he asks, or he will provide people who can encourage and support and help. Or he will comfort them.

I told them about a time when I was so worried about how I was going to get through the first few days after having (I think it was) my fifth baby. I didn’t know how the delivery would go and if I would be able to keep up with the demands of the new baby and the four younger ones. My mom was serving a mission. I prayed to know who could help. I got a phone call from my sister-in-law, who asked if I would like her to come help. She came. She was my angel. I will never forget that. I will love her forever for it!

People will disappoint us. We will disappoint people. I think it is so helpful to know this from the get go, because then when it happens, we won’t feel like life is wrong, that it wasn’t supposed to be this way. Children will disappoint us sometimes, and that is ok, because then we will remember that they were never supposed to be perfect, and that we aren’t perfect ourselves.

I’m so grateful we don’t have to be perfect! It is so relieving! I still pray that Peter will forgive me, and I am grateful for another day to try to remember the people who matter most above the details that aren’t as important. And I’m grateful for a loving Savior whose atonement will someday turn all of our disappointments and sorrows into joys. “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified” (Isa.61:3)


Getting past the back to school blues

I was feeling overwhelmed this morning at 2:30 am, when I woke and then couldn’t sleep (but wanted to!!) and felt like “How am I going to be able to support my family this year with everything we have to do?” I was writing my feelings down in my journal when a song came into my mind from when Rebecca was in One Voice Children’s Choir. It’s called “Drop of Blood,” and the line that came to mind was “once upon a time a friend of mine suffered more than you.” I wanted to remember the rest of the song, so I looked it up in Google and found this performance of it.

under-his-wing-little girl with blue scarf and Jesus
Watching it reminded me that I am not doing this alone, and that Christ has been through so much more than I have, and so he is ready, able, and wanting  to assist me with my challenges. It makes me think of the verse we’re trying to learn as a family this month about grace: “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God” (Moroni 10:32).
I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to remember that I don’t have to be perfect or even enough. I simply have to rely on Christ, and his grace will be enough to help me accomplish what he’s put on my plate. And he will help me know what doesn’t belong on my plate that is a burden, so I can toss it.

Boy, if I can just remember this each day, maybe I’ll be able to get a little more sleep at night! I’ve got to keep dipping into His bottomless well of strength and patience.

(I LOVE this painting by Jay Bryant Ward, “Under His Wing“)



Do you know about Eve?


I just was reading an article in the Deseret News (National Edition) in which author McArthur Krishna, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was interviewed about a book she co-wrote with Bethany B. Spalding called Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Courageous Women from the Bible. McArthur tells how, at one point, they had to decide about how to portray Eve.

Girls Who Choose GodDN: How have other people from other Christian traditions reacted to your Mormon roots?

MK: Mormons have a very different perspective on Eve. We talked with Deseret Book [the publisher] about whether this book should be a national title, and what it boiled down to was that we either had to water down the Mormon doctrine on Eve or we could not go national. We thought it was more important to stay true to our doctrine than to have the flair of going nationwide. So we stuck to Eve” (“Telling stories of women and God,” August 9, 2015, p.P8).

I considered how often I forget that, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we have such a beautiful perspective on Eve. (I am sure Eve is grateful to have her story told accurately, particularly to all of her billions of daughters who have since been born on earth!) Do you know what Mormons believe about Eve? I’d like to share a passage that I have not forgotten from a talk I heard shortly after Lane and I were married:

When Adam and Eve received the first commandment, they were in a transitional state, no longer in the spirit world but with physical bodies not yet subject to death and not yet capable of procreation. They could not fulfill the Father’s first commandment without transgressing the barrier between the bliss of the Garden of Eden and the terrible trials and wonderful opportunities of mortal life.

For reasons that have not been revealed, this transition, or “fall,” could not happen without a transgression—an exercise of moral agency amounting to a willful breaking of a law (see Moses 6:59). This would be a planned offense, a formality to serve an eternal purpose. The Prophet Lehi explained that “if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen” (2 Ne. 2:22), but would have remained in the same state in which he was created.

“And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin” (2 Ne. 2:23).

But the Fall was planned, Lehi concludes, because “all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things” (2 Ne. 2:24).

It was Eve who first transgressed the limits of Eden in order to initiate the conditions of mortality. Her act, whatever its nature, was formally a transgression but eternally a glorious necessity to open the doorway toward eternal life. Adam showed his wisdom by doing the same. And thus Eve and “Adam fell that men might be” (2 Ne. 2:25).

Some Christians condemn Eve for her act, concluding that she and her daughters are somehow flawed by it. Not the Latter-day Saints! Informed by revelation, we celebrate Eve’s act and honor her wisdom and courage in the great episode called the Fall (see Bruce R. McConkie, “Eve and the Fall,” Woman, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979, pp. 67–68). Joseph Smith taught that it was not a “sin,” because God had decreed it (see The Words of Joseph Smith, ed. Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1980, p. 63). Brigham Young declared, “We should never blame Mother Eve, not the least” (in Journal of Discourses, 13:145). Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said: “I never speak of the part Eve took in this fall as a sin, nor do I accuse Adam of a sin. … This was a transgression of the law, but not a sin … for it was something that Adam and Eve had to do!” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56, 1:114–15).

This suggested contrast between a sin and a transgression reminds us of the careful wording in the second article of faith: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression” (emphasis added). It also echoes a familiar distinction in the law. Some acts, like murder, are crimes because they are inherently wrong. Other acts, like operating without a license, are crimes only because they are legally prohibited. Under these distinctions, the act that produced the Fall was not a sin—inherently wrong—but a transgression—wrong because it was formally prohibited. These words are not always used to denote something different, but this distinction seems meaningful in the circumstances of the Fall.

Modern revelation shows that our first parents understood the necessity of the Fall. Adam declared, “Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God” (Moses 5:10).

Note the different perspective and the special wisdom of Eve, who focused on the purpose and effect of the great plan of happiness: “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient” (Moses 5:11). In his vision of the redemption of the dead, President Joseph F. Smith saw “the great and mighty ones” assembled to meet the Son of God, and among them was “our glorious Mother Eve” (D&C 138:38–39). (“The Great Plan of Happiness,” October 1993 general conference)

I think of Eve, the first mother of all children ever born, as someone who–through personal revelation–understood that she had to partake of the fruit because it was only way for Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness to come to fruition. I think she had a “mother heart” long before bearing children, and like so many mothers who sacrifice their own comfort and desires for the welfare of their families, she acted out of love for her children.

I am excited to check out this book! I normally don’t review books before having read them, but being an admirer and defender of righteous women, I can’t wait to see it!




After church happy hour

Rice Krispy cake Sunday

Most Sundays after church, our family will gather in the kitchen to make something to eat. It is a special, happy, funny time in our home, and when I step out of the preparation area, see the smiling faces and hear the goofy jokes, it makes me happy.

I love these daily experiences that fill my life with so much happiness. Home is the place for so many happy hours.

P.S. After posting this, I listened to a speech by Jennifer Nielson, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at BYU, with my family. In her talk, Dr. Nielson shared a story of her missionary companion from when she was young:

One of my favorite missionary companions in Brazil was a convert who had joined the Church at age sixteen. Sister Adriana had grown up in a family that owned a bar, and she had started drinking at an early age. She told me she was addicted and that giving up alcohol was the hardest thing she had ever done. When we taught investigators the Word of Wisdom, I could certainly share my witness of its truth, but she would share about craving alcohol and then testify that she would rather feel the Spirit, and she couldn’t do both. She had felt redemption from the Savior’s Atonement in this part of her life, and she could testify with power.

That is not to say that you have to have every experience in order to find truth and fulfill your potential. You don’t have to experiment with things that draw you away from God. Thankfully, our own experiences are not the only ones we have to rely on. This is one of the reasons we have family and gospel stories and pass down wisdom from generation to generation. “If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” was the acknowledgment of Sir Isaac Newton. (“Experiment and Experience,” March 3, 2015)

I was reminded of the power of having happy hours at home, to help our children learn that you don’t have to drink or use other mind-altering (and future-altering) substances to be happy.

The reason I shared this speech with my children was to share the story about Rabbi Robbie Cahana’s stroke and “locked-in” syndrome experience that Dr. Nielson recounts in her speech. It is an amazing story, not only of faith and humility and courage, but also of great family nurturance.


st-tv-launchAs a young mom of a growing family, I was pretty much always tired. I would laugh at parenting/motherhood magazine articles that talked about how I could rejuvenate, because most of the ideas were totally unrealistic: they seemed to be written for mothers of 1 or maybe 2 children who had significant discretionary spending ability! Trips to the spa were not a part of my world. I was grateful for any chance I had to rest for a minute, even if it simply meant closing my eyes and putting my feet up. Most of my opportunities to do that were when I turned the TV on or popped in a movie.*

But when my children were growing up, we limited TV to encourage reading, physical activity, and creativity/imagination development. That doesn’t mean they didn’t watch TV. I was so grateful for media that allowed me to take a shower, close my eyes for a minute, or even just have some quiet time to myself.

I tried to collect VHS cassettes (this is back in the day, folks)–later DVDs–and then finally episodes on Apple TV that I felt were worth viewing. These included PBS shows like Barney and Arthur (Sarah, Nate and Julia’s day) and Caillou, Clifford, Super Why (for Rebecca-Anna). We would purchase shows like Little Einsteins and Signing Time. We still have nearly all of the Signing Time DVDs.

There were some shows that I did NOT care for my children to watch, and they knew it. They were the ones that I called “cotton candy for the brain,” and others that were SO annoying. We didn’t collect shows with language that included scatalogical terms, too much slang or sarcasm or unkindness and none that had swear words. And I really don’t like shows with specific (political) agendas behind them!

The shows children watch really do get engraven in their brains, as we still quote phrases or used signs from the most watched episodes or educational CD-ROMs. (“And maple syrup, all the way from Ohio.”) I am grateful for those people who care enough to produce shows that are truly worth a child’s time and are reinforce a mother’s agenda!

Today I got an email from Signing Time announcing a new TV streaming subscription that you can order. My policy on advertising is that I don’t advertise to get anything or make money, and I only advertise things that I truly have used and loved. So I’m just passing this along to those who might find it useful with the caveat that I am not a current subscriber and do not necessarily endorse all the content.

By the way, I don’t regret a single sacrifice I made to be a mother of a large family. Every child I have is a treasure. They are fabulous. I am SO grateful I got to have each one, and you don’t stay in that stage forever. It does end! And for those who love a spa treatment, consider this: now my girls would me a home spa day if I asked them: they brush and braid my hair, massage my hands and shoulders, paint my nails, give me a bath bomb for a present and tell me to go take a bath!

subscription-monthly signing time
Signing time subscription-yearly


Summer in review

summer scheduleOur summer did not turn out anything like we planned.

It was better!

Anna, Jaci, Eliza

In the beginning, we made our bucket list and our weekly schedule. We planned to go to the library every week, including going to some of the special events, such as Shakespeare for Kids. We didn’t go on our scheduled day; we went when we could fit it in! We got to the library maybe 3 times and still managed to accrue overdue fines each time. We never got to the special events. We watched one of the movies we checked out (Le Petit Nicolas: it was hilarious! I need to review it!).  We didn’t end up doing cheer classes for Anna. We didn’t do Irish dance for Eliza because of her knee injury. I loved having fewer scheduled classes and obligations. (My favorite part of summer!) We never got to do our scheduled family volunteer plan on Thursday nights. We made it to maybe 4-6 music lessons each for Peter and Anna.


What did we do? We spent a lot of really fun time with family that came into town. That meant hiking, swimming, cooking and baking, watching movies, waterslides, attending a dance competition and a parade, driving children to EFY in Logan, watching fireworks, lots of eating together, shopping, gift-giving and receiving, chatting, lots of laughing, playing games, helping my mom, sharing stories, eating out, dancing, celebrating, taking pictures.


Wood familyWe finished our Livingston family reunion last weekend, which included over 2 months preparing, learning about some ancestors, attending the temple, going on a grand scavenger hunt, river rafting, having a treasure hunt, picnicking in the canyon, ATVing, swimming, playing volleyball, hearing words of wisdom from Grandma and Grandpa, eating a delicious BBQ dinner and shrimp boil, game playing, and picking prizes from Grandma.

family reunion ATVing

It was truly an extended family summer full to the brim with fun. And in between visits from family, we recuperated, catching up on the laundry, housework and appointments that we put off while we played with family. And we tried to do so fun stuff simply on our own as a family.

Lane Scout camp narrows

We also did some awesome camps: French camp at BYU (Rebecca earned a year’s worth of school credit in 2.5 weeks), Scout camp, Civil War history camp, 1-day upcycling camp, Young Women’s camp, EFY (Especially for Youth). Julia worked and earned money, and the children did lemonade stands and babysat and did extra yard work.

gardening lessons

We grew a vegetable garden, worked in the yard, tried to get rid of moles in our backyard, and built a little patio in our front yard as a family. We wanted to build a treehouse–third summer in a row–but it hasn’t happened yet. Working to prepare the area and looking for a design has been fun. We especially loved having picnics outside on Saturday work days!

chairs and table on patio

And the daily living that we love continued: exercising (I ran the longest I have ever run to date–a joyful personal victory after years of plodding along), reading, baking bread, celebrating Sarah’s birthday, holding Activity Days, and sending letters and packages to and from Elder Livingston, and rejoicing in the happy place where he is right now on his mission.


Elder Livi

hiking feet

It has been the best summer so far. And we didn’t even go anywhere on vacation!

(Note to self: as I plan for fall, life rarely goes as planned, and that’s a good thing, because it can work out even better. And next summer, do NOT schedule music lessons at 8 am!)


Bonkers!We are rounding the corner on summer, with the beginning of school and the changing of the family schedule less than a couple of weeks away.

That means I’ve already started trying to figure out what our new schedule will be.

Scheduling for a family can make a normally sane (and summer-loving) mother go bonkers.

I went to pull out my laminated SCHEDULE PLANNING PAGE (which actually I couldn’t find in the piles on my office desk, which has been mostly ignored all summer, so I’m reprinting now) so I could begin writing things down. I have started making phone calls and sending emails and texts to the places we anticipate taking lessons from. I’ve been talking to other moms about carpools and how to make Activity Days fit for many family’s schedules. Thus begins the art and science of planning a family schedule. It is beginning to take shape. At least for now.

I am such a visual learner, that having the schedule mapped out in front of me for the first month really helps. Then I can put it away until the end of the school year, because it gets transferrred into my phone calendar and into my brain.

At least it is in my brain on some days.

Others not so much.

It is so interesting the way things seem to fall into place or fall out of the schedule. There is more to scheduling a family than just signing a child up for something. I learned a while back from President Packer that “every time you schedule a youngster, you schedule a family—particularly the mother.” So I have to choose carefully. Our children can’t do everything because I do not have super powers. Grace is fabulously enabling, but God seems to extend grace sufficient to my needs, not to whatever is my whim’s desire. He’s not handing me a virtual credit card of endless energy and vitality and saying “Go spend as much energy on whatever you want.”

So I have to exercise wisdom.  I have found that when I am prayerful and seeking for the best for my children, things tend to work out. Carpools and class times seem to align themselves in a way that we are able to make it all work. It is grace at work.

When we have too much going on, the quality of peace in our home diminishes.

One rule of thumb I use is 2 activities per child (and that only if it works within our budget and the child is up to it). In our home, that means music lessons and one other activity of their choice–plus the church age-related activities, such as Scouts, Activity Days or Young Men/Young Women. That is more than enough to keep me running all week long. Children who are old enough to drive can sometimes fit more in, depending on their needs, desires, and goals, because they can often help get themselves to and from their activities.

I always invite my children to pray about what they want to do, so that they can receive guidance from the Holy Ghost to discover what will be beneficial and what is merely extraneous.

And because the children are always growing and changing, the schedule is “never the same game twice.” (Do you remember that jingle from the game “Bonkers!”?) But that’s precisely what keeps life in a family so adventurous. God helps me figure it out and if I can just take a deep breath and remember to take it all–the scheduling, planning, evaluating, and re-arranging–one hour, one day at a time, I can enjoy the adventure.




Dry cleaning

dry cleaning list

I have so many things I’d like to write about, and this one is so insignificant, but I decided to post it anyway with the thought that perhaps it may to someone somewhere.

I have learned that God supports his children in what he asks them to do (see 1 Nephi 3:7).

Just yesterday, I was listening to an amazing talk by Elder D. Todd Christofferson in which he describes God’s attitude about supporting his family members:

The Lord’s invitation to seek our daily bread at our Heavenly Father’s hand speaks of a loving God, aware of even the small, daily needs of His children and anxious to assist them, one by one. (“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread,” CES Fireside for Young Adults, January 9, 2011, Brigham Young University)

I love the phrase “anxious to assist them, one by one.”

Much of my happiness as a wife, mother and nurturer depends on my desires and actions to assist my family members in ways that help them accomplish their desires.

One time I was considering what I could do to help my husband be more successful in his job. I thought about the importance of a professional appearance. I really didn’t have time, being a mother of seven young children, to press his shirts any more, so I started taking them to the cleaners. It was a budget allowance that I felt was part of helping him be successful. Later, I found a home delivery service that saves me time and is as good as the cleaners I was going to. The cost was essentially equitable, so we switched to that. I love my home dry cleaning service!

One problem that arises with dry cleaning is that once in a blue moon, you may not get everything back that you send. It is rare, but it has happened. Sometimes, once in a blue moon, you wonder where a certain shirt or pair of slacks is. I decided, when that happened to us, that it would help if I kept a record of what I sent out and what came back, so I could know where items were. Also, I could check the returns and the invoices and make sure we were paying for what we sent out, and that everything came back.

I created a system that is simple for me now: We have a hook in a closet on which the clothes that need to be sent out are hung once they are worn and needing to be cleaned. Above that hook is a little clipboard with a list of clothes that we send out. On top of the list is a little page on which I write the number of the items that we send out that week. When they come back, I just glance at the shirts to see that everything is there and check it off on the list.

This system may be too much time or effort for some, but it works for me. It gives me peace of mind and has become a simple system for getting clothing dry cleaned.

Here are the forms I created:

Dry Cleaning Check Out List PDF

Dry Cleaning Shirt List PDF

Dry Cleaning Other List PDF

There are so many ways to create simple systems in our homes that can help us support our families. I have found that prayer and experience can help me figure out a way of doing something routine in a more efficient way. Sometimes these systems cease to be helpful and instead become burdensome or outdated, so it’s always OK to modify or delete a system from your life!



Golden Moments

chairs and table on patio

This morning I have to pause to record two Golden Moments before I carry on with my day. If I don’t, I may forget them, as life’s busyness has a way of erasing them (temporarily) from my mind. Writing them down is kind of like finding a beautiful flower, plucking it up and putting it in a vase for all to enjoy. Only memories don’t have to die like cut flowers do: they can be “June roses in…December” (James Barrie).

The first moment was waking up early and getting to study scriptures and write in my journal for a wonderful, absolutely quiet hour. My favorite way to start the day! But then all of the sudden, as I kept reading, writing and pondering, the time had leap-frogged to two hours, and I was supposed to, by then, have gone running and showered and gotten Anna up for a violin lesson.

But I didn’t want to go! I wanted to go running and skip violin. But I had paid for the lesson. Getting Anna up after a later summer night bedtime would be hard and unhappy. But there had been no other time we could schedule the lesson this week, and I had already paid for the month of lessons. What should I do?

I decided to ask her. Usually I don’t ask. I just insist that we go, bar none, to lessons because if I asked, they would most like say they didn’t want to go. So I don’t ask. But today I did. I woke her up and–not sharing more details, because the dear child is entitled to her privacy–we discussed it. I explained the situation and asked for her input. Then we had a family prayer. I prayed that we would be able to serve our missions on earth today with the Holy Ghost helping us.

After the prayer, Anna asked me a question, and then she decided she would go to the lesson if I wanted her to. I was delighted at her decision to get up when she was tired and go, so I told her “Let’s go.” We hurried out the door–late, but there nonetheless.

Madame Pamplemousse

On the way to our lesson, Anna read aloud to me from a book we had picked up last night on a trip to the library, Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles by Rupert Kingfisher. She read a chapter aloud. We were both intrigued, since we had read the first chapter the night before, and the plot was thickening. After her lesson, she continued to read. It was such a lovely summer morning, and even though I knew I should go running, I felt it was a moment not to be passed up. I asked her if she’d like to keep reading together outside on the little wooden chairs.

She did. So we wiped off the sprinkler water with my sweatshirt sleeve and read in the quiet and cool of the morning, the warm sunshine kissing and pinking our cheeks.

The story got more intriguing while the wooden seats got harder. Anna asked if we could sit on the grass. She got some beach towels to keep our pockets dry, and we moved to the softer grass to finish our story.

Not much longer and we had finished the book. It was delightful! The story unfolds of an oppressed little dishwashing girl enslaved by an evil French restauranteur uncle who is conquered with the help of a mysterious not-quite-fairy-godmother-type shopkeeper and her creepy cat. We loved it.

I especially enjoyed the way the story’s conflict resolved with Madeleine (the little girl) discovering her “divine nature” and gaining the confidence to act upon that. Here comes a spoiler– a quote I want to remember:

“Afterwards, Madeleine would think back to that moment and try to remember when she first tasted it. But she could not, because tasting was itself like a memory–all the best memories she had ever had suddenly sweeping through her like a gust of clear air. The flavours themselves, so light yet intense, subtle yet refreshing, seemed to wake her from a sleep. And all that time she had spent doing her uncle’s dirty work, acting as his spy–now seemed so far way, as if it belonged to a different person. Not that she felt different; it was rather that she now felt more completely herself. And she realised then how, more than anything, she loved to cook. She had lost that somewhere in [her uncle’s restaurant] the Squealing Pig, thanks to her uncle, who make cookery seem so depressing. Monsieur Lard only wanted to become famous, to make the whole world love him. She loved cooking for its own sake, the way you loved that person.

” ‘That is now yours to keep for ever.’ Madeleine’s eyes had been closed but now they opened to find Madame Pamplemousse smiling at her. ‘No one can take that away.’

” ‘But can I… can I really…?’ Madeleine found herself barely able to speak.

” ‘Can you cook? Why naturally,’ said Madame Pamplemousse. ‘Not only that, you have a talent, Mademoiselle. An exceptional talent. I knew it the instant we met.’ ”

A lovely culinary fairy tale. A cherished morning spent with my sweet daughter. Two prayers answered: one from this morning, and one from last night when I asked to be able to know what she needed. A beautiful summer ray of sunshine moment captured to remember always.

Golden moments.

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