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Real dinner, real fast

May is such a busy time of year, and dinners often get lost in the shuffle.

Grocery store and Costco to the rescue!

I was so tired the other night, and in my hurry I stopped by the grocery store and picked up some pre-made veggie shishkabobs and pre-made salad mix. I went out to the freezer and found some pre-cooked chicken kabobs from Costco. VOILA! Dinner is ready.

(OK, well, we did cook the veggies on the BBQ and heated up the chicken in the oven, but that was the extent of it. And it was delicious!)

I know this isn’t an inexpensive way to go, but it was a healthy and fast way to go, and cheaper than a restaurant for 7 people, so it was a WIN!


Once There Was a Mom

Today I received a surprise in the mail: a children’s book! Someone who loves me (I still haven’t found out who sent it yet) must have known I would love this book–and I do!

I can’t wait to thank them!

Once There Was a Mom is akin to Five Minutes’ Peace, in that it is a book both for children AND adults. It is comforting to the mother to read it and empathy-enlarging for others.

The story tells about how a woman became a mother and discusses what she loves about being a mother, what she worries about in being a mother, and an epiphany she had when worrying about how much of an impact she is making as a mother. It is comforting to read. (I don’t want to give away the ending!)

It is definitely a new favorite.

My heart beats with happiness thinking of this surprise!



got poetry?

There are so many poems that I love, and since I was thinking about poetry today, I looked at the page I created a long time ago on my blog for poetry. I saw that there is just a skinny sliver of the poems I love represented in my list–not much for someone who is hankering for a mouthful of tasty poetry!

So I decided to create a link on my sidebar so that I can remember to add the poems I love, as they come to my mind, to my blog.

Mother’s Day is in coming! Here is a poem that I had our older children memorize when they were younger. I used actions to help them learn it. I wonder how much of it they would recall today? One thing I know, they have learned the essence of it because all of our children have found beautiful ways to show me they love me. I think they learned that from their dad.

“Which Loved Best?”

“Which Loved Best?” by Joy Allison

“I love you, Mother,” said little John;
Then, forgetting his work, his cap went on.
And he was off to the garden swing,
And left her the water and wood to bring.

“I love you, Mother,” said little Nell;
“I love you better than tongue can tell.”
Then she teased and pouted full half the day,
Till her mother rejoiced when she went to play.

“I love you, Mother,” said little Fan;
“To-day I’ll help you all I can;
How glad I am school doesn’t keep!”
So she rocked the baby till it fell asleep.

Then, stepping softly, she took the broom,
And swept the floor and tidied the room.
Busy and happy all day was she,
Helpful and happy as child could be.

“I love you, Mother,” again they said,
Three little children going to bed.
How do you think that Mother guessed
Which of them really loved her best?

(in McGuffey’s Third Eclectic Reader (1879), 146–47.)

To learn more about the poetry I love, go here.


Spring weather-inspired poems

I went for a walk with Rebecca on Sunday to a young women meeting. The weather was so joyful that I had to share a poem that I love with her, an excerpt, actually, from a longer poem:

And what is so rare as a day in June?
     Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries the earth if it be in tune,
     And over it softly her warm ear lays:
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
     An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, grasping blindly above it for light,
     Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers;
The flush of life may well be seen
     Thrilling back over hills and valleys;
The cowslip startles in meadows green,
     The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice,
And there ‘s never a leaf or a blade too mean
     To be some happy creature’s palace;
The little bird sits at his door in the sun,
     Atilt like a blossom among the leaves,
And lets his illumined being o’errun
     With the deluge of summer it receives;
His mate feels the eggs beneath her wings,
And the heart in her dumb breast flutters and sings;
He sings to the wide world, and she to her nest, –
In the nice ear of Nature which song is the best?

Now is the high-tide of the year,
     And whatever of life hath ebbed away
Comes flooding back, with a ripply cheer,
     Into every bare inlet and creek and bay;
Now the heart is so full that a drop overfills it,
We are happy now because God so wills it;
No matter how barren the past may have been,
‘T is enough for us now that the leaves are green;
We sit in the warm shade and feel right well
How the sap creeps up and the blossoms swell;
We may shut our eyes, but we cannot help knowing
That skies are clear and grass is growing;
The breeze comes whispering in our ear,
That dandelions are blossoming near,
     That maize has sprouted, that streams are flowing,
That the river is bluer than the sky,
That the robin is plastering his house hard by;
And if the breeze kept the good news back,
For other couriers we should not lack;
     We could guess it all by yon heifer’s lowing, –
And hark! how clear bold chanticleer,
Warmed with the new wine of the year,
     Tells all in his lusty crowing!

(from “The Vision of Sir Launful” by James Russell Lowell)

Talking like the rain

And when the raindrops were pittering on top of the picnic table outside earlier in the week, it just felt like a poetry moment as well. I pulled a few books (okay, 5) off the shelf to open up and see what I might find. I thought of “Daffodills” by William Wordsworth, and I wanted to see what Emily Dickinson had to say to me. I also plied a favorite children’s poetry book, Talking like the Rain, to glean some poetic inspiration.


“Daffodills” carried me back to the Lake District, just as the image in Wordworth’s mind of a field, gloriously laden with daffodills, transported him back to the place.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
But today, in the warm drive home from poetry group, I wished so much for time to sit and think, write, read, and write some more. So I decided to write a poem as a drove. And I had to write it down as soon as I got home–even though I was very hungry for something to eat–because although the poem isn’t very good, it’s how I felt, and I may be the only one who ever wants to recall it!
For more posts about poetry, go here.

Poem, 27 April 2018

Upon returning home from poetry group

I long for time to think and write
the musings of my soul–
For time to read and write some more,
a poem or a goal.


Two years later (#thisisreallife)

Nearly two years ago, Julia and I squeezed in a photo shoot for some Senior portraits, just barely in time to get her graduation announcements ordered.

Life was so full then (as it has always been and probably always will be with a large brood) that I didn’t order any photos to hang in our home or put them in a special file or even upload them to Costco.com. So off to college she went for her freshman year.

Then we had the crazy marathon of happy events from April 2017 to October 2017: Sarah’s graduation from college, our half marathon, the trip to Europe, her month working at the refugee camp and writing medical school applications while there (and me working in the afternoons online with her to help discuss and suggest edits for her essays), re-doing the backyard for Nate and Hunter’s wedding reception, Julia deciding to go on a mission and submitting her papers, our family reunion, the wedding, the reception, getting Sarah moved back east to grad school, getting Julia ready to go on her mission, sending all the other children back to school and then sending her off to the MTC. In all of that I didn’t get any great photos taken of her before she left. (Or at least any photos that didn’t have tears streaming down our faces as we said goodbye!)

So, as is typical in most Mormon congregations, they hang plaques of each missionary (who is serving from that congregation) in the foyer of the church building. Each plaque has a photo on it. They have been asking me for a photo of Julia for 6 months now. 

I searched in all my photo library for something. Nada. One of my daughters suggested I use one of her senior portraits. YES! I contacted the photographer to see if she might have her photos still. She did! And joy of joys today, I got to see those photos again.

Oh how I miss this bright and beautiful young woman. She is SO wonderful! She has such a radiant, joyful, fun spirit! I know she is spreading light and love in Serbia right now, and I’m happy to lend her for another year.

But then I want her home so I can give her a hug again!


Quotes from good reads journal

Once upon a time, I wanted to remember parts of books that I loved or found fascinating. So I started a “Quotes from good reads” journal.

Later upon a time, I wanted to get rid of stuff, and so I decided to enter the quotes from this journal into my blog as part of book reviews. That time is today!

(Keeping journals encourages the skill of writing. For more ideas on nurturing writing in others, or just to see how my writing has changed since I was 8, click here.)


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Don’t ever give up (lol)

Notice how he remembered, in that brief moment of panic, what lessons his parents had taught him?


We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a meal a day late. On March 17, some of us were gone to a hockey tournament, others were fasting, and some were at friends’ homes. Sunday (the 18th) was a perfect day for this dinner anyway, because it when we can all gather and enjoy each other’s company without (usually) having to rush off somewhere.

Anna set the table so beautifully, and Eliza made a fun meal of mostly green food. She didn’t want the lime jello “jigglers” that we traditionally make, so Anna took over against her will and made them. LOL.

We had shamrock-shaped ravioli (VERY Irish, don’t you agree?) for dinner, and Anna said it would be the first time in years she wouldn’t be throwing up after a dinner of corned beef and cabbage. (Never knew that! Yikes!) We also enjoyed green raw veggies: celery sticks, sugar snap peas, and cucumber rounds. Eliza also toasted some French bread and made some bruschetta to go with the ravioli–all in the spirit of the luck of the Irish!

And not to be forgotten, because it is Sunday dinner: dessert! Eliza made a fabulous key lime pie using blended up Nature Valley granola bars (12 of them!) instead of graham crackers (since we didn’t have any). I prefer her crust! She also added a couple of drops of green food coloring for the occasion chopped up kiwi to go on top of the whipped cream dollop. She soaked the diced kiwi in lemon juice to be sure it was tart enough! SO good. The recipe we used was essentially the same as this one from Epicurious.com: Key lime pie.

I loved my niece’s explanation of shamrocks to her children: the leaves are like hearts, each one representing a member of the Godhead: Heavenly Father, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost. If you are lucky enough to find a 4-leaf clover, the fourth leaf is YOU, to remind you how much they love you! 🍀