Saturday, December 31, 2011

curlin' up

Cate and Maddie slept over for a Grandy over nighter, Meghan came down with flu/food poisoning? yesterday and the tree needs to come down today. We are settling back into a somewhat slower paced routine. Which means my ipad came out of its month long retirement and is getting some needed use. ld loaded this onto it. Some marked passages that resonate:

p. 8
Nobody worked harder than Mozart. By the time he was twenty-eight years old, his hands were deformed because of all the hours he had spent practicing, performing, and gripping a quill pen to compose. That's the missing element in the popular portrait of Mozart. Certainly, he had a gift that set him apart from others. He was the most complete musician imaginable, one who wrote for all instruments in all combinations, and no one has written greater music for the human voice. Still, few people, even those hugely gifted, are capable of the application and focus that Mozart displayed throughout his short life.

p. 39
I don't mean to get too caught up in observational focal length. It's one facet of many that makes up an artist's creative identity. Yet once you see it, you begin to notice how it defines all the artists you admire. The sweeping themes of Mahler's symphonies are the work of a composer with a wide vision. He sees grand architecture from a distance. Contrast that with a miniaturist like Satie, whose delicate compositions reveal a man in love with detail. (It's only the giants like Bach, C├ęzanne, and Shakespeare who could work in many focal lengths.)

p. 64
Metaphor is the lifeblood of all art, if it is not art itself. Metaphor is our vocabulary for connecting what we're experiencing now with what we have experienced before. It's not only how we express what we remember, it's how we interpret -- for ourselves and others.

p. 101
If you're like me, reading is your first line of defense against an empty head. It's how you learned as a child. It's how you absorb difficult information. It's how you keep your mind disciplined. If you monitor your reading assiduously, it's even how you grade your brain's conditioning; like an athlete in training, the more you read, the more mentally fit you feel. It doesn't matter if it's a book, magazine, newspaper, billboard, instruction manual, or cereal box -- reading generates ideas, because you're literally filling your head with ideas and letting your imagination filter them for something useful. If I stopped reading, I'd stop thinking. It's that simple.

p. 165
Confidence is a trait that has to be learned honestly and refreshed constantly; you have to work as hard to protect your skills as you did to develop them. This means vigilant practice and excellent practice habits. You've heard the phrase "Practice makes perfect"? Not true. Perfect practice makes perfect. The one thing that creative souls around the world have in common is that they have to practice to maintain their skills. Art is a vast democracy of habit.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

things have slowed down. for now.

Emerson came home Christmas Eve. Christmas Day arrived with every single present wrapped. Ha! The next day we pulled off the wedding. Haven't got the pics back yet, will post them when available. Here are a few of the bridal shots.

Thanks fam for all your support, it was lovely having you share the day with us. Jiao had JLW snap this pic right as they were ready to leave. Love this girl.

I look like a big pink marshmallow here and this was even before I started snarfing leftover wedding cake.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

arnett wimmens

Something really tender about a family shower. Women folk coming together to welcome a new bride with gifts, good wishes and love. Thanks to the Larry Arnett gals for hosting such a nice evening. Ladies, you are awesome and so appreciated.

Potato leek soup, artichoke dip, french bread, lemonade cupcakes. Oh. My.

Good food, good company. The evening could not have been nicer.

Chatting it up.

Lovely Jiao.

Good times. Love, love the wimmen in this family.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

the days are long but the years are short

Oh, I am living through an emotional time. Yes, yes. I am. I am filled with worry for those I love and wish I could make everything better.

When Meghan returns from her morning hospital visit and Faye is down for her morning nap, I often plop down beside her while she does her pumping. We visit and talk, mostly about her frustration that Emerson is not yet home. She vents and cries. I vent and cry. It is one of the tender highlights of this crazy time we are all living through.

I've explained, but she already knows, that a little perspective and patience is helpful in times like these. It is a painful lesson to learn to surrender to events, to learn to go with the flow. I have not provided a very good example. At times, I still think I control the universe.

Anyway. How to turn over our heart worry? How to do that exactly?
Interestingly, this morning while thinking deeply about all my worries and concerns I came across a blog post I had started last year. I never finished it, but it fits my mood today.

Here. From deep in my computer files:

The title of my blog “Fighting Against What Is” refers to some pop psychology guru (I can’t even remember the name) who gave this saying as the definition of stress. “That’s what stress is”, this wise person said, “it’s fighting against what is”. That was memorable to me because it described/describes exactly how I find myself most of the time. I rant and rail and rave, whine and complain and cause myself untold misery by fighting against the circumstances and events of my life.

Lately I have been reading the teachings and philosophy of Eckhart Tolle. I know, I know Oprah loves him. That alone gives me cause for pause. Still. Even though I don’t agree with everything (okay a lot) of what he espouses there are kernels of wisdom in his teachings. I have been giving it a lot of thought and trying to make it all jive with my understanding of the plan of salvation and restored teachings. Which means I have to toss out what is bunk. But his thoughts about mental noise and pain bodies, while all very new agey, are true I think.

"To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease, and lightness. This state is then no longer dependent upon things being in a certain way, good or bad. It seems almost paradoxical, yet when your inner dependency on form is gone, the general conditions of your life, the outer forms, tend to improve greatly.
See if you can catch yourself complaining in either speech or thought, about a situation you find yourself in, what other people do or say, your surroundings, your life situation, even the weather. To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself a victim. Leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness".

This, too:
"Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists. Then the implication, of course, is there is another way of dealing with things, with situations. Make peace with it. And then action - Take action. The action then comes out of a different state of consciousness. The action comes out of presence. Presence. It’s no longer reaction. It comes out of presence and not out of you being defensive about it. And the action is much more powerful and effective when it’s not defensive and not negative".

I relate to this, too:
"Patience is tied very closely to faith in our Heavenly Father. Actually, when we are unduly impatient, we are suggesting that we know what is best-better than does God. Or, at least, we are asserting that our timetable is better than His. We can grow in faith only if we are willing to wait patiently for God's purposes and patterns to unfold in our lives, on His timetable."
--Elder Neal A. Maxwell, "Patience", Ensign, Oct. 1980, 28

Yeah. Ideas to chew on. Patience, surrendering to what is. Hard stuff. But as my mother used to frequently say, 'This too shall pass'.

Friday, December 2, 2011

only 23 shopping days left! Eek. only 24 days until the blessed nuptials! Yikes.

Flowers, menus, wedding dress. Check. GAH! My head is swimming.

And Christmas? What's that? Christmas will come whether I feel ready or not.

I helped Meghan set up her tree yesterday. Faye loved the lights. When I came back in the evening to sit with her, Megs told me that for about a half hour or so she and Faye lay close to the tree with pillows, just gazing at its magical brightness. Made me smile. That is something my own children and I did when they were small. I let them grab their pillows and sleep out by the tree.

We are holding up fairly well, people. Our days consist of wedding planning, internet shopping and tending. It's basically helping Megs and helping Jiao and for all the rushing to and fro craziness, it's a sweet time. We are all alive and well and making progress. Everything else pales in comparison.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

you are what you learn

Not a Dilbert fan at all, but so loving this:

“You are what you learn. If all you know is how to be a gang member, that’s what you’ll be, at least until you learn something else. If you go to law school, you’ll see the world as a competition. If you study engineering, you’ll start to see the world as a complicated machine that needs tweaking. A person changes at a fundamental level as he or she merges with a particular field of knowledge. If you don’t like who you are, you have the option of learning until you become someone else. There’s almost nothing you can’t learn your way out of. Life is like a jail with an unlocked, heavy door. You’re free the minute you realize the door will open if you simply lean into it.”

-Scott Adams

Yup, yup.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

what we had for dinner tonight

Seriously. This girl has got skills.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

name them one by one

My list then. Notice it includes only people this year. Fitting.

*ld. After almost a week of technological frustration, he painstakingly fixed and restored my computer. Voila. Love of my life.
*Jiao - She's here and she is as wonderful as she seems. Really.
*JLW - for being smart enough to marry her.

Also grateful for:
*Sisters in law who come in, muck out, scrub down and shine up. Brothers who show up, stay late, and are there when you need them. Brothers who call repeatedly for updates and to offer support.
*Nieces who bring in dinner, vacuum, text and call on the phone.
*B. Gomer and Keny. They can prep and paint a room quicker than you can say 'Jack Sprat'.
*My Cate, Madeline, and Faye. Gamma loves you. So. Much.
*Kody. For not cowering in the face of trauma.
*Meghan. She's alive and growing stronger. What more can I say?
*Emerson. He's alive and growing stronger. What more can I say?

And so grateful for everyone who joined us in fasting and prayer. It was a gift you gave to Meghan and Emerson, it really was. And it made all the difference.

Today there has been a lot of talk generated by scientific studies and popular media suggesting the value of keeping a gratitude journal, or making a list of things we’re grateful for and that’s not a bad idea.
Whether we write how blessed we are in our journals everyday or not, we should be in the habit of expressing thanks when we pray and also when we come to partake of the sacrament every Sunday. Those are both quiet, reflective times that lend themselves to being spiritually aware. And that’s really what gratitude is - being spiritually aware of our relationship to God, being aware of all He has given us.

The way we become aware is when we pay attention to the details of life and living. Paying attention is therefore the key to gratefulness. Its hard to be thankful when we walk through life unnoticing, unaware, unconnected. We know we are supposed to count our blessings but first we need to see our blessings. Then name our blessings. Then acknowledge our blessings. Then count them.

If we don’t do this, then we run the risk of taking many things for granted.

And then later this:

• In Mosiah 2:19-21 we learn better how we can show our gratitude.
19 And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your heavenly King!

20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—

21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.”

What King Benjamin is alluding to here I think is that people who live out of gratitude, who pay attention to the good things that come their way, who count their blessings and express their thanks to the Lord daily - these people are also more apt to want to help others.

Living our gratitude does that. If we’re grateful we listen to friends in need, pay our tithing lovingly instead of begrudingly, we serve in callings and also volunteer. If we’re living our gratitude we are less concerned about material goods, less likely to judge others and more concerned about the well being of others. Not only does gratitude feel good, but it causes us to do good.

And then this reminder:
Now comes the challenging part.

We are to feel gratitude not just in the wonderful happenings in our lives but also in times of adversity, trials and afflictions. This is where it really gets hard for some of us.

I don’t know about you but it’s sometimes difficult to express gratitude when we are under stress, yet it is often such situations that permit significant spiritual growth.

This is illustrated especially well in a story related by Elder Marion D. Hanks about a boy and his mother, who knew the value of expressing gratitude:

“I sat at a stake conference where a returned missionary bore his testimony. He had but a short time and he chose to use one idea. He thanked God for a great, humble mother, and gave his reason. He said that as a high school boy, he [had] been sorely tried by the illness and then death of his little sister whom he had loved greatly and who had been the darling of the family, being the last of them. Their father had died. The little girl grew ill, and in spite of prayers and administrations and fasting and much concern, worsened and died in the night. The boy went into his room, locked the door, and sobbed out his broken heart to the walls because he was not willing to do it to the God whom he could not now honestly approach. In his rebellion and anger at a God, if there were one, who would permit such a thing to happen to them, he cried out in rebellion. He said he would never pray again, would never go to church again, and could never have any confidence again in a God who would permit this to happen. And in his immature but sincere sorrow, he made some rather serious covenants with himself. He stayed awake the rest of the night, apprehensive about an experience he anticipated. It was their custom, as it is in so many Latter-day Saint homes, to kneel morning and evening with the children around the mother, to thank God for the goodness of his blessings.

“He waited for that moment, knowing what he had to say, but fearing it. When his mother said, ‘Come, children,’ he said, ‘No.’

“She said, ‘Kneel down, son.’

“He said, ‘No, I will not kneel down, and I will never kneel down again.’

“She said, as I remember his words and I was deeply touched as were we all. ‘Son, you’re the oldest child in this home. You are the only man in the house, and if I ever needed a man, I need one now. You kneel down.’

“He knelt down, still rebellious, but because his mother needed him, and he began for the first time to think in terms of her broken heart and her sorrow. So he knelt, but he said to himself, ‘I wonder what she’s going to thank God for this morning.’ And his mother, knowing as she must have, the questions in his mind and the minds of the other children, taught them the gospel on their knees that morning. She thanked God for what the family knew, for the blessing of eternal ties, for direction and purpose and guidance and convictions as to the future. She thanked God that they had been blessed with this wonderful, angelic child who had brought so much to them and who was to be theirs, always. And out of her mother’s heart, knowing the desperate, critical nature of the moment, taught her own children what there was to thank God for under conditions of such stress.

“As the boy stood... he thanked God for a mother who was a heroine” (Heroism, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [25 Mar. 1959], 3-4).

This mother’s prayer of gratitude to Heavenly Father was an example to her son and to us. It illustrates how gratitude is a condition of the heart - and if expressed and felt and lived - even at such a high cost as adversity - it can purify our souls, sanctify us and develop in us a celestial character.

President Howard W. Hunter observed: “Life—every life—has a full share of ups and downs. Indeed, we see … many blessings that do not always look or feel like blessings” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1987, 68; or Ensign, Nov. 1987, 54).

On sunny, smooth sailing days I like to think of myself as an optimist. I think I have an advantage over some people. Someone once said that the reason why short people tended to be optimists is because they can only see the part of the glass that is half full, not half empty...

It’s hard to be a full time optimist in our world, though. We are so full of aches and pains, so tired and overworked, so stressed out about time and money, that the glass looms large and to fill it seems nearly impossible. To get up in the morning and to exclaim, "Zippedee do dah! It’s a fine day, bring on the challenges!" seems hokey. Especially when some of us truly struggle with adversity.

I know there are people sitting here today who have been dealt an unfair hand: they or someone they love is suffering from terrible illness, or has sustained a tragic loss, or can't get back on their feet, or can't find work or make ends meet. Their sorrow is real.

But the gospel teaches us that we find the path to gratitude even within our sorrow.

And that is tough. It’s tough because it doesn't let us feel sorry for ourselves, no matter how little we may have or how much we may have lost.

When a person is able to whisper, in the midst of pain and loss, a quiet “Thank you, Heavenly Father” this is where we see the spirit pour down. It's not a matter of giving thanks for the suffering itself exactly, but giving thanks for something that goes deeper than the suffering, giving thanks for the experiences of mortality, all of them. And when we can do that the spirit dwells with us, teaching us and helping us to cope.

To live a life of gratitude does not mean you compare yourself with those who seem less blessed or less fortunate. It isn’t about comparison. In fact, being a grateful person doesn’t spare you from adversity or sadness.

What is true, though, is that a person who lives gratefully will continue to be grateful through the darkest and most trying of times. Gratitude will buoy you up when everything else seems to be falling. It will help you see the good in the midst of tragedy, even when you cannot see any good in suffering. To be able to give thanks in the midst of aching loss is a transforming experience. There’s a wisdom that comes from that kind of attitude and we are blessed with a more open, softer heart and with an outpouring of the spirit.

To live in thanksgiving daily is an attitude that is critical to our spirituality. It is a state of being. The Lord knows this, this is why he stresses its importance.

--excerpts from an old talk I wrote on Gratitude, many moons past.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

more makin' the rounds part 2

Jiao and I rode up to the Chinese market off 90th south in SLC. I could see the relief in her face, they have almost everything there. We bought ingredients for her to cook with, should keep her from starving. She is brave and adventuresome in trying American food but let's face it, familiar foods are such a comfort.

We picked up Faye around noon and headed over to HB and Penee. So it's 2 down, 2 more brothers to go. She already knows quite a bit about my family, JLW has informed her. Let's just say their reputation has preceded them, so no great shocks. he he he

Thursday, November 17, 2011

makin' the rounds

Introduced Jiao to the Larry Arnett fam last night. She loved the brownies and ice cream:)

We were planning on visiting HB's family today but Jiao has been having a wee bit trouble adjusting to American food. Our cuisine is so different from what she is used to and her stomach wasn't feeling well this afternoon at all. Trying to remedy that by stocking up on ingredients familiar to her and letting her cook for herself. Everything is so unfamiliar and will take time to adjust.

Jiao is a delightful person and we are so happy she is finally here. Jantzen especially:)

guadium #99,990

As we move through life we collect spiritual experiences that stretch us and sustain us and leave us better equipped to handle whatever else may be thrown at us in mortality. I know this. But once again, like so many other crucibles I have experienced personally, the events from this past week have left me sobered, grateful and in awe.

The Lord hears and answers prayers and we’re blessed beyond anything if we know and experience this. Routinely my prayers include gratitude and acknowledgement and mindfulness. But this week they included pleading, too. Oh yes. In times such as this past week prayer is asking, and asking is faith.

And the Lord always, always responds to faith. And then later when gratitude and relief flood us because what we want and pray for aligns with what God wants, well that is indescribable. Still, there have been times in my life when my prayers have not been answered the way I want. In those times faith becomes trusting.

The asking, the trusting. Such important factors in our relationship with our Heavenly Father. My life teaches me that God exists, and He has responded in both quiet and subtle ways. And then sometimes, for whatever His reasons, He grabs me and those close to me by the collar and intervenes directly and in dramatic ways.

Whatever way He chooses to show He is listening and in control I am so so grateful that He is there.

Feeling alittle exhausted. And feeling so much love for my beautiful daughter and our new little grandson.

It’s like every now and again we need reminders of our place in life, and just how fleeting life is.

Some pics from little Faye’s birthday party. I’m posting them because they are proof of a creative and loving mama who worked her guts out on this party. The untouched cake is sitting in the fridge, the decorations still hang, the presents unopened. A gentle reminder that things can change on a dime.*

How precious and tenuous life can be.

*See Megs own account on her blog.

Monday, November 14, 2011


JLW sent these this morning. They are pics from the wedding celebration (even though they're not married yet, weird I know). They will both be here tomorrow. Yikes! So much to do still. Brig and Keny have been frantically painting in preparation.

These pics make me cry. They look good. And happy.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

i can breathe again

We received our miracle. Megs blood levels are normal, her bleeding is under control and they are saying they will try her on solid food this afternoon. Considering where she was and where she's been this is a miracle. As ld posted over at the Grandparentals, they surprised Meghan by bringing her baby up to see her. Truly a tender moment, not a dry eye to be found. He could only stay for 15 minutes before they whisked him back to NICU, but for both mother and baby this was a definite morale booster.

Can't thank you all enough for your fasting and prayers. Our pleas were heard and she has according to her Doctor, turned the corner.

please join us

We are starting a collective fast for Meghan and her baby today. Please family and friends join us. I know for a fact that there is strength and efficacy in combined faith, fasting and prayers. I will update and keep you all posted.

She continues to be upbeat and we are confident with each passing hour she will get stronger and her blood levels will rise. They are taking out the balloon this morning, pray all goes well there and she doesn't lose any more blood.

Baby boy started on some meds to help his heart. Kody said nothing wrong structurally but the valves of his heart still think he is in the womb and not opening right. Doctors said meds will help with this. He is 7 weeks early, but really doing well considering.

Kody's parents drove all night and arrived in town around a couple hours ago. So grateful as I think Kody is a bit 'shell-shocked' and needs them. Faye is being well taken care of, we've managed to keep her at home as routine is best for her.

Thanks to all of you, we feel your prayers. Your support and strength has been such a blessing.

And to my dear brothers, you are simply the best.

This is all a bit too much deja vu, but I know God is a god of miracles and can intervene. He already has in so many ways.

Friday, November 4, 2011

grammatically correct

In college my Mom used to send back my letters with the punctuation and grammar corrected. She took her red ink teacher pen and circled inaccuracies and spelled out any misspelled words. About once a week, when I received a new letter from her, my last one to her would be tucked in. I never thought this was odd as she was a grammar nazi and well it was just Mother.
Woo whee she must be rolling her eyes now. Sorry Mom. I'm letting everyone know you taught me better.

A reminder then:

Your vs. You’re
This one drove her insane, so I don’t make this mistake too often.

“Your” is a possessive pronoun, as in “your cat” or “your blog.” “You’re” is a contraction for “you are,” as in “you’re showing how dumb you are by using your when you really mean you are.”

It’s vs. Its
This used to drive her bonkers too and she would always say it’s easily avoided by thinking through what it is you’re trying to say.
“It’s” is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.” “Its” is a possessive pronoun, as in “this blog has lost its charm.” An easy rule of thumb—repeat your sentence out loud using “it is” instead. If that sounds weird, “its” is likely the correct choice.

There vs. Their
“There” is used many ways, often as a reference to a place (“let’s go there”) or as a pronoun (“there is no Halloween candy left”). “Their” is a plural possessive pronoun, as in “their bags” or “their opinions.” Do the “that’s ours!” test—are you talking about more than one person and something that they possess? If so, “their” will get you there.

Affect vs. Effect
Ld is always hollering to me from his computer on this one. Candy, which one do I use?

“Affect” is a verb, as in “Your ability to study will affect your grades immensely.” “Effect” is a noun, as in “The effect of a parent’s education on a child’s future is well documented.” By thinking in terms of “the effect,” you can usually sort out which is which, because you can’t stick a “the” in front of a verb. While some people do use “effect” as a verb (“a strategy to effect a settlement”), it’s usually found in legalese, so ignore, real people don’t write like that.

The Dangling Participle
Whenever I made this error I could count on my mother writing in the margin “try to be more clear, dear”
Ha! Your opening phrase should always modify what immediately follows. If it doesn’t, you’ve left the participle dangling, and will confuse your readers.

I think the reason why I have poor grammatical and punctuational discipline is because I am lazy and relied so much on my mother. I could always count on her to know the rules. Lame excuses, I know.

And I am the worst at periods. They always go within quotation marks. Which means I need to seriously comb over this blog and correct all my inconsistencies on that score.

Sheesh, Mother. If the rules of heaven allow you to read my blog, perhaps you could leave any needed corrections in the comment section, eh?

Until then, I'll have to consult this:

Wait here’s more:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

have you seen this?

One of my moms notebooks, filled with thoughts, stories, poetry. Some of it cheesy, some of it not, clipped from random places and pasted onto the pages. An assorted collection of things she thought interesting or helpful and wanted to remember, for whatever reason. It makes me smile.

Mother was a blogger, a paper one, long before computers. I love looking and reading and flipping through her pages and wonder with each entry what prompted her to save this or what was she thinking that made it important enough to make the cut. And that’s the point. She was thinking, all the time.

What we choose to read and the voices we allow to influence us, well they are such an important part of our growth. And sometimes we come across little gems, ideas or thoughts that we want to tag or underline in our memory.* Those little nuggets that speak to us and resonate quite often reveal where we are at the moment in our thinking.

I use my blog in much the same way my mom used her pasted up notebooks. It is helpful to me to catalog snippets here and a link there, helps order my ‘rumble tumble pell mell’ thoughts.

Blogging can be another window, another glimpse, along with journaling and life histories and other personal writings, into the heart and soul of a person.

So, again, all 3 dear readers of mine, the sermons and the quotes and the lists and random stuff found on this site, they are all for me. And even though there is vulnerability in my sharing, I can’t stop. Just like my mom and her ‘paper notebook blogs’ I have some genetic need that compels me to document what I read and see and learn.

It makes me cry a little, seeing how close that little apple falls toward the maternal tree.

Mirror, mirror on the wall
I am my mother after all.

*Pinterest, Megs?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

guadium #99,991

The big day is tomorrow. We had a dry run tonight.

Faye in all her pumpkin-ness. Years ago her mommy was a baby pumpkin, too. I'll have to find the photo and post it.

Madeline as Madeline. Her coat is made out of an old and worn out blanket, happened to be the perfect color.
And Astrid? An awesome viking dragon tamer. Sadly, she left her weapon at home. She'll be sure to have it tomorrow night.
And those shoulder thingys, can you guess? Yup, it's an old bra that I cut up and painted. No harassing comments, please. It works. She is an awesome Astrid.

More over at GP.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

china again

JLW flew out early this morning. He'll be back November 15, bringing Jiao with him.

Whew. Lots of frenzied activity ahead. Birthdays, holidays, a wedding, Meg's new baby. Haven't got time or tolerance for any more sickness. Beat it, I tell you.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

happy birthday, bird

You never had much fashion sense when you were small. Used to wear your swim suit over sweat pants or moon boots with shorts. Years later you would ask me, "Mom, how could you let me dress myself?" as if I had any say. I always started out the day with you looking cute and presentable but before noon you had changed into some other odd combination. In fact, some days it was hard to keep any clothes on you at all.

I think of all this now and it makes me miss that quirky and endearing little girl so much. In a blink, you were all grown up. And now it's you (and your sister) who give me fashion and style tips and save me from my old lady self.

Happy Birthday, Kenzie. You're pretty great.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

pig pig gets sick

Going on day 4 here with my self-diagnosed swine flu. Today is the first time I've been able to crawl out of the covers and face the day.

Fever, chills. Check.
Vomiting. Check.
Killer sore throat. Check
Headache. Check.
Extreme muscle aches. Check.
Runny nose, fatigue, feel like death. Check, check and check again.

Ld has remained patient and not said anything when dinner has consisted of leftovers and fast food tacos this whole week. He has allowed me space to suffer, occasionally offering up his usual, "I feel bad you feel bad". Last night I told him I was totally convinced I did in fact have the swine flu. The internet said so. And to his credit, he took me seriously. Without missing a beat, he replied, "I have no doubt about it. All through your sleep you have been snorting up a storm".

Men are so nurturing.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

How far that little candle throws his beams! - William Shakespeare

Remember a couple of weeks ago when you came home from church all distraught because the soles of your Sunday shoes had worn out and separated? You tried to convince me to take them to the repair shop and get them fixed. I said it would be better to just buy a new pair. And then you did. Those old shoes had seen many churchin' days.

And the other night. Remember when you were telling JLW with so much sincerity that marriage brings a lot of responsibility. I overheard you say that 'you are responsible for your wife and children. Your life is not your own anymore'.

I remember, just like I remember and observe, so many of the good and decent things about you.

A man who wears out his shoes in service. A man who has kept his family afloat for many, many years. A man who gives his time and money and days to the things that matter most to him.

Happy Birthday, ld. It's a good time to remind you that your life and example has touched us all, me especially.

Carrot cake and chocolate you don't have to share, then. Very glad that you were born.

the only way to do great work is to love what you do--Steve Jobs

It's all over the news of course. Weird to feel so sad for someone I never knew personally. But his genius is evident everywhere in my house. We own and have owned so many of his products and ld raised our children strong in the faith 'Macs are the one and only true computer'. Oh and the ipods and ipads, what was life like before?

It's a sad day. He was a genius, many people say. Interestingly enough, I read his famous (and now quoted and linked everywhere in his passing) commencement address a couple of weeks ago. I liked when he said:
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.

only I would add 'don't waste it wanting someone else's life', too.

The link then:

His passing is a good reminder to try, as he is famously quoted, 'to make a dent in the universe'.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

head up, arnett

We are the orphaned children of Howard and Ethel. In our veins course their resilient and believing blood. C'mon, if their good and hard lives taught us anything it is to hang on and hang tough.

I want to go on the record here and say that I refuse to give up on myself and those I love. That means I have to work hard to keep pessimism and bitterness in check and on especially tough days I have to make a conscious effort to speak words of encouragement and optimism because hope, like so many other attributes, is contagious.

Don't talk to me that 'we aren't making it'. Don't speak to me that our lack of socio-economic status determines in any way our worthiness to be redeemed. Stop it.

If you want to commiserate with me that life is full of problems, that our personal demons sometimes discourage and trip us up or that our children have challenges, then okay, I can relate. But no matter how dark, discouraging and depressing our circumstances there is always hope. To say 'there is no hope for me and for mine' is to say there is no Savior and I do not believe that.

As a child I was always proud to be an Arnett, the HMA variety. It's true we have all had crushing disappointments and sometimes even been our own worst enemy. I call that 'mortality 101'. I am not trivializing our personal sorrows and private pain. They are real. But part of being an Arnett, to me, has always been about steadying ourselves in the Savior when those tough times come.

Our parents have long since gone, but I know they would tell us to have hope, to love and lift each other. They would tell us to put our faith where it is supposed to be - squarely relying upon our Savior.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

saturday doings

Megs and I threw our first and possibly only garage sale yesterday, and we were pretty well pooped by noon. At 4:30 we headed up to the Conference Center in SLC to support our Keny, who was singing in the choir. As far back as we were it didn't take us long to spot her. Front row, middle section, 6th person in from our left. We could hear her singing above all the rest:) Man, we love our little songbird.

We parked about three blocks away and trooper Meghan hobbled along with her swollen pregnant lady feet. She finally removed her shoes and we were able to quicken our pace.

Other highlights, apart from the excellent singing and blistered feet, of course:

The gal sitting next to Megs in the conference center who decided to clip her toenails with her fingers and flick them on the carpet. Eww.

President Uctdorf's wonderful talk about the little blue flowers. I leaned over to Meghan before he was even through and whispered: "How long do you think it will take Deseret Book to start merchandising and stocking all things related to Forget-Me-Nots?"

After the meeting, we hobbled back to the car and drove home, straight to WinCo, where we purchased a few things for Sunday dinner. Exhausted as we were, the whole trip a thumbs up. Sweet little memory, a 'forget-me-not' occasion. He he he.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Grandy's SRC Bookworm Party

Bookworm Bubbie, she heard 3 little girls were celebrating a big achievement, so she popped in for a visit.

Some achievements are worthy of a certificate, eh? 100 books read for Cate, 50 for Maddie and Faye.

Their very own bookworms. Thank you All A Dollar. Yes.

Balancing a book on your head is trickier than it looks. But toss the worms off the blanket parachute style, well, that kind of fun is addictive. Just ask Maddie Sue.

Roll the dice, match it to a circle and build your worm. Such fun for the 3 and under crowd.

Bookworms love sugar, dont'cha know?

Reading is FUNdamental. He he he.

Children are made readers on the laps of their parents. Yup.

Monday, September 19, 2011

claim to fame

Added to this months MoDa selection, a wonderful short story, just recently published in 322 Review:

Yup. The author of A Thousand Distant Cousins is our very own Lacy Lee.

Love her writing. Love her.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

internet i love you

You’ve heard of the Khan Academy, yes?*
It is a godsend for math dummies like me. Seriously, I don’t want to die so stupid.

And just look at all there is to learn. Even a G-mat test section, Kody & JLW please take note. It’s a little weak in the humanities category (like none) but promises to be coming soon.

Seriously, go check it out. You don’t want to die so stupid either.

*Click on the link and then scroll down to Khan Academy news reports and interviews. There’s been quite a bit written about it, I am late to the game. And before you pooh-pooh it consider that BYU-Idaho’s Kim Clark has been given a charter to develop just such a radical new education model. They are starting to assemble a global online adjunct faculty that doesn’t need to be full time, or reside in brrrr cold Idaho. It’s possible Khanacademy will render Math (and others, too) departments obsolete.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

de fam

When Chea was here last month she asked me where I wanted to go to take photos. I showed her my favorite spot and she said she could make it work. I love this view driving from Kenzie's back to Orem. Thanks fam for braving the weeds and tall grass. It was worth it.

Time never changes,
The memories, the faces
Of loved ones, who bring to me,
All that I come from,
And all that I live for,
And all that I’m going to be.
My precious family
Is more than an heirloom to me.

--Amy Grant

Saturday, September 10, 2011

hard is good

Went out to cheer H and Lexi on today. They both ran the Spanish Fork Half Marathon. They are some kind of awesome.

Here’s Lex, tired but triumphant. 13 miles and she ran the whole way.

And here’s H.B. Gotta say, it was inspiring seeing him push himself across that finish line.

Here I was losing faith in human nature and bemoaning the aging process, then here comes H being so inspiring and all. Luckily, I wore sunglasses so the leaking tears wouldn’t show, eh? Anything is possible and it’s not too late. To run a half-marathon or to achieve personal goals. I needed the reminder.

He wasn’t in much of a talkative mood right after. I think he was hurting and just wanted to get home.

"There will be days you don't think you can run a (half) marathon. There will be a lifetime of knowing you have."

Nicely done, good brother and lovely niece. Nicely done.

Friday, September 9, 2011

guadium #99,993 an outing with the grandies

1. SLC and Trax. A new experience for Cate and Maddie.
2. Gateway Olympic Fountain. The dancing waters are magical. Citius, Fortius!

3. Bubble gum and Mike & Ike's.
4. Children's Exhibit at the Church History Museum.

5. We were hungry from all that fun, luckily J.B's is just down the corner from the Museum. Spaghetti, French Fries!, Sprite & Chocolate Pudding. Yes, I felt sorry for the waitress who had to clean up after us.
6. Rode Trax again to where we parked the car. The girls were zonked out not 5 minutes into the ride home.

We were originally hoping to visit the Discovery Children's Museum but found out when we arrived they were closed for seasonal maintenance. Some guy in the elevator felt sorry for us and secured us some free passes for next time. But the Interactive exhibit at the C.H. Museum was more than a suitable replacement. We've been to several in the past and I think this one is very well done. The girls loved it.

More info if you go here:,16116,4089-1,00.html

More pics at the GP.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

happy birthday mr. jlw

A beautiful, wonderful man. Knows what it is to fight his own personal monsters and demons, just like we all do.

A grape juice toast then: To Janny. Here's to all your hard work in overcoming your Goliaths and here's to a bright and hopeful future. Clink.

Close your eyes,
Have no fear,
The monsters gone,
He's on the run and your daddy's here,
Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful Boy,

Before you go to sleep,
Say a little prayer,
Every day in every way,
It's getting better and better,
Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful Boy,

Out on the ocean sailing away,
I can hardly wait,
To see you to come of age,
But I guess we'll both,
Just have to be patient,
Yes it's a long way to go,
But in the meantime,

Before you cross the street,
Take my hand,
Life is just what happens to you,
While your busy making other plans,
Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful Boy.

Keep your fingers crossed for him. Jiao has her exit interview on September 28th.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Unkulele has inspired me

So here’s the deal.

After much tinkering and fiddling around, we're almost ready to go into mass production with the, drum roll please …Aunt-ordian.

What’s the difference between an Aunt-ordian and a regular accordian, you say?

Well, the sound for one thing. Water damage and mold produce a truly unique squawk, er sound. The Aunt-ordian has been aged in a temperature uncontrolled, damp garage for like, 30 years. Sort of like a fine wine, you can’t rush the process.

And if you tape down the F# it creates an outer spacey mood.

Oh, and here’s where the biggest difference comes. Through a lot of trial and error I figured out how to tone down that sometimes big and annoying accordian sound. Yup.

By putting a pillow muffler on the back of the instrument it significantly reduces the volume. Which is useful when you want to go for a more mellow and romantic mood. Like if you want to be one of those strolling guys who play in restaurants for people in love and such. Or if you need to play in church.

But here is the biggest selling point, people. When you get tired of wandering around playing for lovers and church goers and need to take a nap, well you can just turn your dang Aunt-ordian over and Presto! Your instrument turns into an amazing pillow pet.

Yup, yup. I know. Genius.

Selling for $899.03 plus tax.