Happy October!


Happy October!  How can it  possibly be this time of year already? I do not know!  But it is beautiful, and we are enjoying apples from Grandpa Jack’s trees, making pumpkin ice cream and watching the mountains turn into what looked the other day like colorful candy, dusted with powdered sugar snow.

Time passes and we work toward the next deadline, whether it is a piano piece learned for recital or a research project a child is working on or finishing making apple sauce with the boxes of apples that are taking over the (my) laundry room.

If you’re like me, sometimes in the haste, you stop and consider if all of the busyness is really bringing you the feelings of progress and validation you expected.

I clip things out of newspapers…Obituaries that inspire me are my favorite followed by comics that crack me up.  One funny I have in my file is of a doctor approaching the nurses’ station with a parking pass in his hand, and he asks the nurse to validate his parking, to which she responds something like;

“You stayed in the lines and didn’t pull too far forward…excellent job!”

What is validation?  How do we get it and why do we need it? If I may be so bold, I’d say that I believe the only real validation we get in life comes from our family relationships, real friends and from God.  Everything else is skewed by trends, statistics and the fickle barometer of public opinion.

To illustrate: on our 25th wedding anniversary a few years ago, we had traveled a few hours to a beautiful little get-away.  While we drove, we were reminiscing about our life together and feeling overwhelming gratitude for the road we have traveled and the blessings of children and family we had been privileged to experience. Somewhere in this trip down memory lane, my husband made a comment that I will never forget. It was so profound to me that I wrote it down…..

He said that when he looks back at his life, his education and career and the opportunities he has had, the thing that he is most proud of and what makes him feel the greatest validation in his life is when someone identifies him as one of our children’s Dad.  The job, he said is just that, a job, and the purpose of it is to have a way to provide for what we are doing at home, for the people we love and for the experiences we are having together.

Does this sound like an epiphany to you?  I think that the reason it struck me so forcefully is that somewhere along the way we have collectively bought into the notion that what makes you valuable or what is validating is a “job” or the accolades or perks that come with being publicly recognized as outstanding in a particular endeavor.

I’m all for progress and “self-actualization,” don’t get me wrong.  Education and creativity and the pure joy of work are commendable and fulfilling.  Our perspective can get easily skewed, however, when we believe that we have to be all and do all…all at once, to feel worthwhile!  The epiphany for me is that the messy, inconvenient sometimes test-you-to-your-limits work of family relationships trumps any other pursuit when you’re talking about being truly validated in this journey. And that, for most of us, that intense period of time with children at home is oh-so-fleeting and worth the effort it takes to be available and present at home as much as possible.

I remember my dad saying something similar when he had a milestone birthday and all of his kids were gathered for a celebration.  I remember a few tears and the sentiment that the most important and fulfilling thing he had done in his life was to raise us.

In the delightful book “I Don’t Have to Make Everything All Better” (a must read for all family builders), Gary and Joy Lundberg teach that true validation comes when a person feels that they are important to someone and that their feelings matter. This belief is born when we listen with the intent to understand and to feel what someone is saying, to put ourselves in their shoes and have real empathy, and then to walk beside them as they work out their own problems.

It is pure magic when this happens at home.  It happens in a million little ways; when a healthy snack is waiting on the table for hungry kids (your health is worth my time and effort!), when a parent listens intently to a teenager who is working out their problems (I hear you, you matter!), or when real gratitude is expressed to your spouse for their love and help (your feelings matter and I value what you do!)

What you are doing at home MATTERS.  Doing what it takes to validate and encourage your family is worth any effort.  YOU will find great validation in the process.  I promise. The proverbial paydays are huge!

You can do this.


Let’s Eat Cake!


Hi!  I am so excited to share something new with you!  New to me, maybe new to you too…first a little background:

Three years ago this fall I took drastic measures.  I came to grips with the fact that gluten was hard on me and decided it was time to give it up.  It was a HUGE change, one that challenged me to tears on and off through the first few months. As many of you know, it is quite a shift to change your diet that drastically! Our family had made this change before, years ago,  when we (I, the girl in charge of food) cut out gluten and dairy after I attended an autism conference and learned about the possibility of such a diet helping our son.  It wasn’t easy then either, but only lasted the summer.  This time it was me who needed the help.  Thankfully, eating a gluten-free diet made a huge difference in my health within just two weeks!

Fast forward to last month when a friend of mine asked if I had ever heard of natural yeast.  I hadn’t.  I immediately went to town reading up on it.  What I discovered is that like a traditional sour dough starter, natural yeast dramatically changes the chemistry of regular wheat when it is combined with water and kept in a cool place. Ooooo.  The more I read the more interested I became.  I believe that there are ways to prepare foods that are much easier for us to digest, and culturing is one of the major tools we use to accomplish that. Could this work for me I wondered? Me, eating wheat again? Eating waffles again?  And toast and sandwiches….It was a heady thought.

After reading Caleb Warnock’s blog on natural yeast, I determined that I wanted to find out if I might be one of the people with an intolerance or celiac who might be able to use wheat prepared in this way.  Shortly after that decision was reached, my friend called again and asked what I had learned.  When I said that I wanted to try it she surprised me by saying that she had a start for me and that her daughter had baked a loaf of bread for me to try!  (I owe you Pam Thomson!) I was so hopeful that I would be able to graduate from pasty starchy gluten free “bread” but mostly to be able to get the nutrients in the seeds and grains that I have felt I’ve been missing.  I decided to try it….

(Note: We are each responsible for our own health decisions.  What works for one may not be a good option for someone else.  Caleb suggests that you take some of this bread to your doctor to lab test it and see if it is something you could tolerate if you are concerned about getting sick. For some, better safe than sorry.) I personally went with a “gut feeling” that it was ok for me to try it carefully and slowly. It was great to eat bread again.  I ordered the book!


I can’t say enough about the quality and thoroughness of this book by Melissa Richardson and Caleb Warnock. (Melissa’s Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/TheBreadGeek fantastic stuff there!)  The book is a delight in so many ways; the writing is witty and real, the pictures are beautiful and instructive and the recipes are tasty and healthy.
 Can’t ask more from a cookbook than that can you?

Over the past few months, I have devoured the principles in the book and tried the recipes, created some of my own recipes and of course learned to keep my starts going. The actual hands-on time this kind of baking requires is minimal, it’s the thinking about what you want to make a day ahead that is a little tricky.  I have baked bread, made many different kinds of pancakes and waffles (which are crispy and light and taste a bit like a funnel cake), an amazing chocolate cake and cinnamon rolls.

Holy cow!  It is so much fun to create and to try new things!  I have been tweaking the sugars (another difficulty for me, maybe you can relate) and have found that natural sweeteners work well in these recipes. For instance, in the chocolate cake, I used sucanat and agave in place of white sugar which made the cake sweet, but calmly so.  It certainly takes time, when shifting to a whole foods diet, to untrain your taste buds to expect sweeteners on steroids, but this brand of baking sure helps.  You eat a piece of chocolate cake made with natural yeast and natural sugar and wait for the blood sugar spike…..and wait…..and it doesn’t come!  And that may mean that diabetes won’t come knocking either!



 Fresh garden tomato
Fresh basil
Toasted natural yeast bread
Mustard/mayo/basil pesto spread


“Mammy’s Bread” recipe by Melissa Richardson


We think this cake tastes divine!  And wow, it’s just so pretty!!!

Please let me know if there is some way that I can help you get started cooking with natural yeast if you are interested. I have only scratched the surface of what there is to learn about this here, so please continue to read on the author’s blogs.  They are amazing.

Hey!  I can share a start!  (8 starts went out of my fridge last night for cooking class! Hoorah!)

Happy eating!


Living in Color


Living in ColorSummer is winding down, and I hope it has been a good one for you!  I can feel the energy growing for school shopping, sign-ups for football and piano lessons and, and, and…!  While you’re in the midst of this gear shifting, please consider these words, profoundly placed on a bumper sticker I saw probably 20 years ago…“The problem with life is that it is so daily.”

What does this have to do with fall time?  It seems to me (from my personal experience) that when we think of a new schedule or about what time our children have for extra activities or what time we have to accomplish x, y or z, sometimes we forget that, what it takes to live and be healthy takes time too!

By this I mean, we were created to need to eat multiple times a day, right?  (Did I just hear someone with dishpan hands moaning?  I know, I know, dishes are soooo “daily”!)  Not only that but we were created to need regular rest periods, light, exercise, connections with others, belonging to a family culture, etc.

The problem that seems to eventually throw a stick in the spokes of our finely tuned schedules is that we really didn’t factor in these realities of living….that we have to eat, rest, play, move, breathe fresh air and belong.

So we’ve usually planned in the lessons and the work hours and the school hours and the sports hours, but how about the cooking hours?  The planning-the-menu and the resting time?  When we don’t plan to take time to do the basics (cooking, shopping, eating, resting, cleaning etc.) we set ourselves up for serious frustration!  And contention.  And malnutrition.

And as we see in our country, obesity and ill-health.

There’s a secret you learn after so many years of being a mom: It is that all of the things that we do to keep ourselves healthy and enjoying life can actually BE enjoyable and health-promoting in and of themselves IF we have given ourselves the time to do them.

I mean, growing your own vegetables is a treat…when you have the time to do it and it’s not an annoying job crammed in the holes of an already over-scheduled day.  There is something so renewing about  being in the dirt, pulling weeds, watching plants maturing, breathing in fresh air and feeling the sun.  Then there’s the feeling of feeding your family produce that is free of pesticides!  It is amazing!

As a young mom I just couldn’t resist taking pictures of freshly baked bread (probably because it took me so very long to make a decent looking loaf!) or of beautiful orange and pink peaches in jars.  Nature is so beautiful and being a part of it is rewarding beyond anything I know.

Maybe the biggest issue with all of this “daily living” centers on what YOU believe is worthy of your time. What validates you as a person and as a mother?  What influences are weighing most heavily on you that may keep you from feeling that the art of living a rich and full life with your family may not be enough?  That YOU may not be enough if you don’t have more to report about your afternoon than, “today I taught my three-year-old to pull weeds and we ate fresh tomatoes on the back steps for lunch?”

There is so much pressure to be all and do it all…and decptively, all at once!

I want to encourage you to weed out the pressures and influences that may be causing you frustration and discouragement.  There is nothing you will do in this life that trumps the meaning and fulfillment of being a mother.  If you can, why not slow down, UNDER schedule, and love the things that living requires?

Yep, we can live on frozen food and adrenalin pumping schedules…but not for long and not well.
And we miss so much during a moment in time that we won’t be able to call back later. After all, life is a long time, God-willing, and there will be time for many other pursuits…

Mothers, you are needed.  Your role in the family and in society is crucial.  You cannot be replaced by anyone else.  Your love, your smile, your time, your face, your laugh…make up the memories of home, of belonging and of being loved.  Is there really something more important than that? Within the array of choice that YOU have in your life, about how and where you spend your time, is there room for slowing things down, breathing a little easier and LIVING a little more?

My hope for all of us is that when we turn and look back over the years of our lives, that we will see the fruit of our family labors and have great joy in the harvest!

I send you my vote of confidence that you are enough.  And you can do this.


Step 1: Smile and say, "Thank you!"


Thoughts on self-reliance…we women may need clarification on occasion…. as we (I) sometimes get confused.   Do you ever feel that if you let another person help you that somehow you have failed at being self-reliant?  (Might have to take the capital letter off your cape?) After a week of laying low with back problems, I came across this affirming quote:

“Self-reliance should not be mistaken for complete independence.  After all, we are ultimately dependent on  our Heavenly Father for everything.  We need His continual guidance, preservation and protection.  We also depend on one another.  Since we are given different spiritual gifts, we are expected to share what we have been given so that all may be blessed.  The key is to become self-reliant where we have the power to do so, to serve others when we can, and to allow others the blessing of serving us as the need arises.”  March 2013 Ensign, pg 65.

I have been reminded of the balance many of us are trying to achieve; being self-reliant and service- minded but also being willing to receive the service of others when we are in need.  Without receivers there are no givers.  It has also occurred to me, in my quiet-slowed-way-down hours this week that the all-powerful, all-compassionate Jesus received the precious ointment that a humble woman had saved to use in anointing him as a token of his burial.  He did not push her away or insist that she save the ointment for some other purpose, but with graciousness accepted her gift.

Because of all of the service that has been given to me and my family of late I am humbled; mostly by the warmth and compassion that has been shown in each kind gesture but also by being made more aware of those opportunities I may have missed to reach out to someone who needed some encouragement or laughter, something I could have given to them, but didn’t. And so my perspective is continuing to shift and I am learning. It is a good thing to be tutored and taught by what we experience, and certainly our learning is made easier when we are tutored by kindness and hope as well as sickness and uncertainty.

We rightly sing the question, “Have I done any good in the world today?” but we’d do well at times to add an alternate verse, something like, “Did I graciously receive when I was in need today?”

I surely hope that wherever you are on this spring day, the Son is shining in you.


My December Wish for You~


Dear Mom;

It seems that a big part of what can make life overwhelming is letting your mind think of all that you need to do, all that you want to do and all that would be nice to do, all at the same time!  Especially in December right!?  Prioritizing your time is a big deal since there are all of those need to’s, want to’s and nice-to-do’s that surround creating a memorable holiday season……

My wish for you is that if you are feeling crowded by too many to-do’s, that you will pause in what you are doing, take a minute to close your eyes, breathe deeply and take your expectations down a few notches!  And here’s why.  Your children are going to remember your smile more than they will remember the perfectly decorated tree.  They will remember hearing a story and singing a bedtime song more than getting five more gifts.

And very importantly, they will gain self-respect and consideration for others when a calm Mama holds them accountable for their behavior, (even in December!) kindly, gently, respectfully and FIRMLY.  (And you and I both know, yes from experience, that it’s nigh on to impossible to have the brain power to parent our children when we are barely aware of life because WE are running too fast and in too many directions!)

As a mother I appreciate the words of Charles Henry Parkhurst:

“The completed beauty of Christ’s life is only the added beauty of little inconspicuous acts of beauty–talking with the woman at the well;…showing the young ruler the stealthy ambition laid away in his heart that kept him out of the kingdom of Heaven;…teaching a little knot of followers how to pray;…kindling a fire and broiling fish that his disciples might have a breakfast waiting for them when they came ashore from a night of fishing, cold, tired, and discouraged.  All of these things, you see, let us in so easily into the real quality and tone of [Christ’s] interests, so specific, so narrowed down, so enlisted in what is small, so engrossed with what is minute” (Kindness and Love,” in Leaves of Gold [1938], 177).

I wish you the spiritual awareness to know when you are doing the truly important things in your home this December.  When you are wiping sweet potatoes from a little face, putting on little shoes and socks, when you are singing, when you kneel down to listen to a child, I hope you will feel God’s light and His appreciation for being a mother to His children.

I wish you joy in every small act of kindness you bestow on your family this Christmas.

You can do this.

All my love,