Month: May 2015

Prepping for summer vacation by repurposing space for outside toy storage

Prepping for summer vacation by repurposing space for outside toy storage

Today was the last day of school for us, so in preparation for today, I started cleaning out the mud room last week. This week, I finished. It feels SO SO SO good. It refreshes my spirit just walking through a well-ordered room. “A place 

In Summer

In Summer

On Sunday, Lane and I were sitting in the family room discussing something when Eliza, who overheard our conversation, grabbed a clipboard, marker, and piece of paper and plopped down on the couch next to us. “Let’s make our summer bucket list!” she suggested.* Everyone 

Remembering Doug today

Remembering Doug today

(We forgot to take a photo today! Unheard of at my mom’s house!)

We had a great Memorial Day today.

We were going to go clean the church this morning which, in all honesty, I was trying to get up enthusiasm to go do after a sleepless night and an aching body. Then, right at 9 am, we got a phone call from the man in charge telling us that another man in our congregation had come in early this morning and done nearly all of the cleaning–of the ENTIRE building–making it so that we didn’t need to come today.


Talk about grace.

I wanted to cry: I felt so relieved!

It also meant I would be able to respond to Elder Livi when his emails came in instead of being gone. Nate sent some wonderful recordings that just made my heart “grow three sizes.” I love hearing from my children, particularly our son who is 1400 miles away.

We headed over to my mom’s for a hot dog BBQ to remember my step-dad, Doug, who loved a good hot dog. I’ve never had a J Dawg before, but he loved them, and my mom had bought some J Dawg sauce just for the occasion. My brother-in-law fried up some onions and made his fresh guacamole, so I had a delicious hot dog smothered in onions, guac, and salsa, with a little J Dawg sauce.

After our lunch and some visiting, my mom gathered us together in the family room to remember Doug. First, she shared a story about when Doug and his parents were sealed as a family in the Cardston temple by Lane’s great-grandfather. I didn’t know this was the story she would share, but was grateful, because I had recently had a prayer to be able to find that story and read it again. My mom answered my prayer!

Then she shared a very fun recording of Doug recalling some stories from his youth about the Watkins man who visited his parent’s farm when he was little, selling soap that burned your eyes and salve that burned your chest and stuff you were supposed to drink to not give you colds but tasted awful! It was so fun to hear his voice again and hear these stories from his childhood.

Last of all, she took a framed letter from her wall (To my beloved Children and Grandchildren) and asked Lane to read it aloud. I loved hearing his counsel again and appreciated remembering how hard he tried to live those words. He was such a good man. He wasn’t perfect, but neither am I, and I learned so much from him. Just today I was saying to a friend how thankful I am that my mom married him because he loved her so much, and I wish every woman could be greatly loved by her husband.

We all went to the dollar theater to see “MacFarland USA” after that, except that I went with Eliza and my darling little niece to see “Paddington” (since Eliza and I had seen “MacFarland USA,” and my niece was really too young to see it). It was a silly show, but she loved it. I loved thinking about Elder Livi in “darkest Peru” and the Paddington Bear that sits by his Senior Portrait at home.

And now we’re heading to bed to get back to the routine again…for one more week.

I can’t wait for school to be out!



My Not-So-Fairy-Tale Life

My Not-So-Fairy-Tale Life

Let the summer reading begin! I couldn’t resist. It was a late afternoon after a super fun outing to watch a Studio C Tech Rehearsal with Peter and Anna, complete with sharing hot French toast and breadsticks at Magleby’s afterward, when Peter and Anna starting 

The Ravenous Gown and 14 More Tales about Real Beauty

The Ravenous Gown and 14 More Tales about Real Beauty

Today I spent a few hours reading a book that my friend gave me yesterday. Talk about the luxury of choosing how to spend your time, especially taking time to read! (My kitchen is a mess and the piles of laundry are still there, and there is that 

Unsubscribing and deleting (Excess baggage, part 1)

Unsubscribing and deleting (Excess baggage, part 1)

Missionary handbook

(I wish I had a photo of my Missionary Handbook, or the “white handbook,” as we called it as missionaries. This image comes from

I woke up in the wee hours one morning not long ago with a phrase on my brain, a rule from the missionary’s handbook. The rule was, ‘Do not accumulate excess baggage.”

This rule referred to not collecting stuff as a missionary, so that you could keep to your 2-suitcase limit. It sounds easy, but it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Photos, letters, an occasional momento given to you by a member or investigator or someone back home–it all added up. By the time I was ready to leave, even though I had mailed some stuff home, my suitcases were bursting.

This rule seems to have such a broad life application, particularly for me in my quest to simplify and rejoice more. Life can get so complicated with STUFF, imagined expectations, comparisons, unrighteous traditions, guilt, unhealthy habits, even excess weight. While I can’t shed everything all at once and replace all of my unhelpful habits with helpful ones, I can take little steps, one at a time, to keep me moving in a simple, unburdened, Christ-centered direction of living.

Today one of those was to unsubscribe to the Wall Street Journal.

Boo hoo.

But not really. I love reading the WSJ. The newspaper covers so many aspects of what is going on in the world. I found articles related to so many topics of personal interest! I enjoyed the puns that some of the journalists used and the humor laced in some articles. I learned new vocabulary! I cut out articles to share with family members at dinner. Really, it’s a great newspaper.

But it doesn’t fit in my budget right now. I have been realizing some things about money and myself in the last few years: I have still not learned to managed it effectively. I recognize that it is a really great skill that I really want, and I am grateful that for some years, that money has been limited so that I have to really decide what is important. I feel like I have been learning to sacrifice a little. It is good for my soul! I notice that when I sacrifice something good for something better, I still never lack.*

Case in point: I decided I would only buy up to 2 books a month this year and give up my Audible subscription. That felt significant to me because I LOVE books, and I love to buy them like some people love gadgets or chocolate. It can be an addiction. But I realized something. There’s a point when you can only store so much, even something you love so much. SO, I needed to adjust my accumulation so that my intake was equivalent to my outtake. Buy a new book, give one away.

OK, I’ll be honest. I’m not QUITE to that point yet.

But I need to get to that point, because even with books, stuff is just stuff. And too much stuff is a burden. You have to manage it, clean it, store it, move it. You get the idea.

SO. Today I unsubscribed to the WSJ because I had my 12 weeks for $12 and then paid for 2 more months. Or something like that. See, accounting is not my forté, yet.

And I started using a free budget app that I like. It’s easy! I’m recording each purchase I make, and it has helped me not get lost by the middle of the month and just watch my account balance until it gets frighteningly low.

OK, I’m still watching my balance, but I have grips on managing my spending better as I allocated amounts into categories in the beginning of the month. It was a free app, and it’s easy to use. Thank goodness.

Here’s the other thing I have done that felt good: Erased 5,000 emails in my trash and gmail archive. I have been hesitant to erase emails sometimes, because I’ve been worried that I might erase a personal correspondence that I might need 5 years from now. It’s not happening, folks. I almost never go back to read emails! So I just went and erased a bunch. Woowee! That felt good. Gotta keep going.

I let Lane go through some piles in the office–stuff that I had been saving to be able to blog/scrapbook about someday, LOL. That was an easy purge. He was super nice to do it for me, and very little was left at the end. I got into the action a little, but mostly I didn’t want to. Talk about pure love on his part. SO thankful for him!

My goal is to have the office as lean as it can be with only things that we use and only essential stuff stored. My feeling about all of my life is to be “more fit for the kingdom”–to be a living plant that brings forth good fruit, not just some old deadwood tree that birds just build nests in or a diseased tree that only creates bitter fruit or no fruit at all. There’s so much more joy in doing than in saving or storing.

As I was just making my lunch (pausing between the many lines of this long post), I thought of how unsubscribing to the WSJ is a gift of sorts. Well, actually, having a limited budget is God’s gift to me because it has been helping me decided what is most worth saving or spending for. As an example, I’d much rather spend the $30/month that would go to the WSJ on mailing a package to Nate, which costs at least double that.

Simplifying has brought more sunshine into my life. I feel freer to serve and appreciate more. I am learning to recognize how much God has given me that I didn’t notice before. Like children who get good grades because they want them for themselves. Talk about a gift! Or a husband who will clean a tub for me. Or flowers or grape vines that come back every spring. Or birds that sing. And so many blessings that money can never buy!

Enough about this today. I have spent too much time on here! But one of my goals is to be authentic on my blog and share my challenges as well as my triumphs, and the stuff in between. That way, when my daughters read this someday, (I hope they will–I’m keeping this in hopes that they will!), they will know some of the struggles I had and how I felt about them.

*I didn’t quite finish this thought that I wanted to share. After I made the goal to not buy certain things, I’m finding that the Lord still provides things for me. I have been so surprised by His generosity! (I shouldn’t be, but I forget.) Or helps me feel peace. Even today, when I was unsubscribing to the WSJ, and the nice woman on the other end of the line asked me why I was cancelling my subscription, I told her I had a large family and it didn’t fit in my budget with one daughter in college and a son on a mission. She was so kind and nice and didn’t try to change my mind. I was so grateful!

Want dates? Have a slice of Grandma’s recipe for love

Want dates? Have a slice of Grandma’s recipe for love

This post isn’t about a dating service. It is about the month of May, my mom, and a slice of my grandmother’s date bread. You see, May is a CRAZY time of year for families. Teachers, coaches, directors all schedule their year-end recitals, concerts, performances, tests, races, 

Lego Temple sets

Lego Temple sets

Well, techincally this isn’t LEGO® brand–they are “Brick’Em” sets. But fun stuff! Click on the photo to find out more. My and Lane’s ancestors who worked to help build this gorgeous building (that we love) would enjoy these.

A good post-gardening soak

A good post-gardening soak

Dr. Teal's Epsom Salt Soak mint rosemary lavendarLast Monday I worked in the garden for about 2 1/2 hours. I loved it! Classical music playing on my phone, I weeded out Common Mallow, Purslane, Morning Glory, and grass, cut back the dried out tulips, and planted some lovely Montego Blush and Purple snapdragons. It felt sooo nice to have the sun on my back and the breeze in my hair.


That night, my expression changed to “Uhhh.”  As my muscles started feeling the bending, reaching, and squatting I had done for a couple hours in the garden, I began to walk slower and more carefully. Lane looked at me funny as I gingerly walked along, willing my legs to move when they wanted to stay put.

He suggested I soak in the tub. “It’s not clean!” I lamented. “I just washed it!” he replied. “That was last weekend. The children have had 20 showers in there since then,” I retorted. He went and looked at the tub.

And then he did what any exceptional husband would do: he got the cleanser and scrubbed the tub.

I know.

Let me say that a solid 20-minute soak in a hot bath with rosemary mint Epsom salts does a sore body good.

Even with teenagers knocking on the door asking if you are going to be done soon so they can take out their contacts and brush their teeth. Even then.


Play an instrument? Fireworks in your brain

Play an instrument? Fireworks in your brain

Love this video. “Playing music is the brain’s equivalent of a full-body workout.” If you liked this video, you may really enjoy this book: The Power of Music: Pioneering Discoveries in the New Science of Song. (Recent research in the combined fields of music and neuroscience.) I listened to