Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Homecoming!

My youngest brother McCormack gets home today.  He has been serving a full-time mission for our church in Raleigh North Carolina Spanish Speaking.  He has been gone for two years.  We have missed him terribly, but it has been so amazing to follow him on his mission.  He has had experiences that have changed him forever.  I know without a doubt that there is nothing else he could have done at home that would have enriched his life the way this experience did.

When Romney and I were dating, I went with him to his Geneva, Switzerland mission reunion.  At this particular reunion, a member who Romney taught was there.  She was an elderly Swiss woman with a heavy french accent.  When she saw Romney, she took him in her arms and she tearfully thanked him for his mission.  She said, "Thank you Elder Williams.  Thank you.  I will be eternally grateful to you for finding me."

I was blown away by her sincerity and the magnitude of what his time as a missionary meant to this woman.

When I was on my way home from my 18-month mission in Germany, my sweet grandma Helen had a little letter waiting for me in the mission home office.  She wrote that it was to be opened on the airplane.  When I opened it, she simply wrote, "Well done thou good and faithful servant..."  (She also sent two $1 bills and told me to use the money to buy myself a Coke in for her and one for me.  It was so sweet.)

I wrote McCormack and told him that I am sure she wishes she could send him the same letter.  I have no doubt that she must be so proud of him for the way that he so selflessly gave his time and talents these past two years.  We are all so proud of him.

We are excited to have him home and finally have his chair filled again.  Congratulations to my darling brother McCormack.  I know that you too, will have many people who will take you in their arms and tearfully thank you for finding them.

See you tomorrow night!!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Never Reject an Impulse to do Something Good

We watched this short video tonight as a family and were so touched by this simple act of kindness.  A powerful reminder to never reject an impulse to do something good.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wearing one Roller Skate

Romney is having to travel a lot for work.  This is not typical, but he has been gone a lot this month.  We are talking Tuesday - Saturday, two weeks in a row.

I always hate it when he travels.  The kids and I are all off balance.  I always feel like I am trying to do my job wearing just one roller skate.  Lots of tripping and lots of wobbling.  I am never in the mood to make dinner, homework assignments always seem longer, my patience seems short lived, disciplining is exhausting and to top it off, my nightmares that have plagued me for years seem to be in full swing when I am home alone.

I have been thinking a lot about what it would be to be a single mom.  I am lucky because at least I know that things will get back to normal.  Romney gets to come home...this is not permanent.   I think of my sister and dear friend whose husbands spent months and months deployed in the Middle East, I think of my friend who is raising 3 boys after her husband Rich passed away nearly 3 years ago and I think of several women in our ward who are raising young children by themselves.

We have some friends in Boston who are really hurting this week.  The husband Mat, lost his six year battle with cancer.  He died on Valentine's Day...of all days.  Kimberly is now a single mom with two young boys.  She is now obligated to wear just one skate and I am sure that her future seems blurry and uncertain.

I have been thinking about her all week.  My heart aches as I wonder how she is going to face homework, discipline, solitary TV watching, learning how to laugh again and mostly the task of raising her boys wearing just one skate, but she is a strong woman and I know that she is already being blessed with a strength that is not her own.

So in honor of her, I have been determined to make my "One Skate" week better.  I have made dinner almost every night, homework has been done...without tears, Annie practices have been attended, Act 1 is memorized, Thomas made Basketball practices, and somehow my nightmares escaped me.

The week is almost over.  Of course we hobbled, but we did it.

Romney gets to come home tonight.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentines..Not Just for Lovers

I have a great visiting teacher.  She comes.  Every month.

Yesterday she stopped by and as we talked, she asked me if I have ever had any positive experiences with a visiting teacher.  I told her about an amazing woman named Cindy who several years ago, changed my whole attitude about the monthly visits.  She came every month.  She was sincere.  She cared about me.  She became my dear friend.  I knew that I could call her anytime and sometimes I did.  I had never experienced that before Cindy.  We moved away from that ward 2 1/2 years ago and she still sends me text messages telling me that she is thinking of me.

I also asked Linda the same question, if she had ever had a really positive experience with a visiting teacher.  She said that several years before she moved to Denver, she spent some time in Wyoming.  She said it was a very difficult move.  She was there for work and did not know anyone.  She has never married.  She was alone and she felt it.

Her visiting teacher however, recognized Linda as more than assignment and on Valentine's Day, she plastered Linda's front door with hearts.  As Linda told me this story, tears streamed down her face.  She said, "You have no idea how much that meant to me."

How simple was that effort?  And yet, how huge was the impact?

I can't help but ask myself, Am I that person to anyone outside of my family?  Several years ago, a girl made a comment in church that I have never forgotten:

"Never Reject An Impulse To Do Something Good."

It is almost Valentine's Day, how about we all go spread some love.... 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I am not a Katy Perry fan.  She bugs.

However, her song Fireworks is one of the coolest songs I have heard in a long time.  I love the message.  Thanks to the Glee episode last night, this song is stuck on the brain.

"You just gotta ignite, the light, and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July...

"Even brighter than the moon,
It's always been inside of you,
And now it's time to let it through."

I was on the phone with Romney last night and we were talking politics...(confession, we are political junkies...) and he casually told me that I should start a "Moms for Mitt" campaign here in Colorado. 


Now, this is not to say that I am going to accept the challenge...I am after all a crazy mom who can some days barely make all my appointments, make beds, successfully feed my kids just 1 vegetable and let's be honest, keep it together...but I'll admit that I have been thinking a lot about what he said. 

Mostly, because I took it as a great compliment that he thinks I still have the potential to do something on that grand of a scale.  He still sees a potential in me that I have long forgotten.  Believe me, I am right where I want to be...happily married and able to stay home with 4 inspiring kids...but thanks to Romney's challenge, I think it might be a healthy exercise to ask myself every now and then:

"Have I reached my full potential? Am I still a firework?"

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tubing Adventure

Last week was a little rough...
   2 Snow Days
+ 2 Days off for Parent Teacher Conferences
+ Unbelievably cold weather (highs of -6) 
=  Being stuck inside with plenty of together time...translated, too much together time. 

The kids were suffering from cabin fever.  The claustrophobia and boredom led to too much TV watching and computer time, which of course led to plenty of sibling bickering.  Fun.

Keystone Resort, CO
Romney decided to take a much needed day off on Friday.  To take advantage of the beautiful snow and in an attempt to remind ourselves...mostly Romney....that we "love" winter, we took the kids on a really fun tubing adventure at a local ski resort.

Keystone is about 2 hours away in a charming little area nestled in the canyons.  They have a tubing hill with raving reviews, so we figured that since none of us have any ski equipment, tubing was the next best thing. 

The drive was little crazy.  We followed the directions on Mapquest which recommended we take "Loveland Pass."  Little did we know that this pass would take us up a winding and very steep mountain climb with sharp cliffs on one side and 15 foot wall of snow drifts on the other. 

The peak was 11,990 feet.  It was a little scary as we realized we were probably in the abominable snow man's front yard....but we made it and tubing in Keystone was a blast...even Sophie was tall enough to participate.

Internet Photos of Keystone Tubing Hill
We rode a gondola to the top of the ski resort and from there we found our tubes and enjoyed an afternoon of fun.  Each person had to ride their own tube, but we were allowed to go down in groups of up to four people. 

There were six groomed lanes and a magic carpet that would take us back up the hill. 

The first ride down was a little scary and Sophie was sure that I was pulling her to her death, but we all ended up loving it. 

Not knowing how it would be, I decided to leave my camera in the car at the bottom of the hill.  Too bad because it would have been very easy to keep my camera safe, so please excuse the borrowed photos from the internet. 

Although I am not sure that Romney is convinced...yet...that he "loves" winter, we had a great day and it was a perfect winter memory.

Monday, February 7, 2011

An Attempt to Spread Some Love

In an effort to help my kids unify and become closer friends, we got together on Saturday and we did our version of a "heart attack." 

We cut out hearts.

We wrote things we love about each person.

We read our love notes to each other.

And now we have little loving reminders hanging on a Valentine's wreath in our kitchen.  It was a really fun project.  Happy February!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Tasty Recipe...(that is really good for you.)

I have made this recipe twice in the past week and let me just say that it is delicious.  I got this recipe from a friend of mine who is trying to eat a little healthier.  She makes this up at the beginning of the week and eats on it all week for lunch. (For me, anything is an upgrade to the goldfish crackers and a quesadilla that seem to be my staple.) 

It is made of Quinoa (keen-wa), a grain that is often referred to as the super grain due to its high nutritional value.  I guess that this grain has been used in areas of South America since 3000 BC.  The ancient Incas referred to it as the "mother grain" and revered it as sacred. 

Up until last week, I had barely tried it.  Give this recipe a try and I promise you won't be disappointed.

Quinoa Vegetable Salad

1 teaspoon canola oil
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup diced yellow or purple onion

Heat canola in saucepan over medium heat.  Cook and stir the garlic and the onion in the hot oil until the onion has softened and turned translucent.  About 5 minutes.

2 1/2 cups water
1 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Teaspoon black pepper
2 cups uncooked quinoa

Pour in the water, salt and black pepper and bring to a boil.  Stir in the quinoa and reduce heat to medium-low and cover with lid.  Simmer about 20 minutes.  Drain any remaining water and refrigerate until cold.

3/4 cups fresh tomatoes
3/4 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced yellow pepper
1/2 cup diced red pepper
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup frozed sweet corn (thawed)
1/4 cup diced red onion (or less to taste)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Once the quinoa mixture is cold, add the vegetables. (Add or delete vegetables based on what you have on hand).  Then drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Toss gently to coat evenly.  Salt and pepper to taste. 

This is really tasty and even better the next day.  Put it on some lettuce and add some more balsamic vinegar and your won't believe how satisfying and yummy it is.  Enjoy!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snow Day...Really?

School was cancelled today and they have already announced that school is cancelled tomorrow as well.  Ummmm....yes, this looks quite treacherous.

Oh well, no complaints from me, but if you want my opinion, in the words of King Julian from Madagascar...."They are just a bunch of pansies..."

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