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    Friday, January 22nd, 2010

    Valentine’s Day is coming.

    I got to thinking about love today.  The love I have for my Mama, my Joey, my Hilary, and my (as yet unconceived) children is all so different.  I’m looking for creative ideas to express those different loves to my loves this Valentine’s Day.  Any thoughts?

    Connecting: Part 1

    Saturday, January 9th, 2010

    Do you remember that the word I chose for this year was “connect”?

    Perhaps I should say that it chose me, because my goodness, it has been an inspired and inspiring week.

    I’m going to do a series of posts on the way I’ve been incorporating this word into my life and routines, and I thought I’d start with the way I begin my mornings- connecting with my body.

    I realized that toward the end of the year I was getting really short tempered and not so pleasant to be around. And I realized that I wasn’t getting enough sleep. So I started getting to bed earlier (by 10), and as a result, found myself waking up, completely on my own (instead of by the regular alarm of “mama, mama”) at around 6. I decided to get up and actually do something with that time before the girls woke up, so I got a Kundalini yoga DVD to do in the mornings.

    Kundalini yoga is different from other practices of yoga – it’s not the style you think of with poses and long deep stretches – it has quicker movements and different breathing. It’s a perfect practice for me for the morning – it incorporates movement that wakes up my body, and meditation that wakes up my mind. (I’m using this DVD, and highly recommend it.)

    I’ve also been paying more attention to the food I put in my body; I’ve cut out all gratuitous sugar (the obvious forms of it – I’m still eating bread with sugar in it) and I’m trying to not snack unless I’m actually hungry.

    In the evenings I’m doing a Jillian Michaels workout to build strength.

    Through this process I’ve been trying to focus on working with my body, rather than my natural inclination which is to declare war on it. The concept of connecting has been key in this, and while my body hurts (oh it hurts), my attitude and approach to it are far more enthusiastic and positive than they have been in the past.

    How do you connect with your body? Are you friendly or do you find yourself feeling adversarial?

    And do you have any workout DVDs that you love? (I’m always looking for more!)

    Over and Underneath

    Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

    Maryanne posted about music today on her blog, and it got me thinking about this song.  It’s all about how we are always loved, no matter what.  I thought, “What a great message for Zoe!”, but the more I think about it, the more I see it as a great message for all of us.  Everyone needs to feel that they are loved, always and no matter what.

    How can we show the people we share our homes and lives with that they are always loved?


    Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

    A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.–definition of “Love” from the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition

    Sometimes people say that I love you is an overused expression.  I think the quality of ineffability is why we look for other ways to “say” that we love someone.  Maryanne mentioned in a recent post that giving gifts is one of her main love languages (what are the others Maryanne?).  A coworker is into big romantic gestures, like rose petals scattered throughout the house and candles lit on every surface.

    I express love by taking care of someone, and I “hear” love that way too.

    I came home today to this…


    and this…


    An empty sink and folded laundry?  Nothing says “I love you” to me more than that :)

    How do you express love to the people in your home and life?  How do you “hear” that love from them?

    Chocolate Cherry Cookies

    Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

    The best thing, well, one of at least, about being an adult is not having to wait for cookies. Right now, it’s getting late in the evening, but I just pulled a batch of warm cookies out of the oven. Baked because it’s going to rain tonight (I hope) and it’s fall and my husband and I just wanted cookies. Sometimes you have to give in and let go and bake cookies.

    To this end, I am sharing a recipe. I love these cookies. Addictive, easy, and almost healthy. But don’t let that stop you from whipping up a batch when the mood strikes. Go on. Share some with someone you love.

    Chocolate Cherry Cookies

    makes about 3 dozen

    Ingredient List:

    1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature

    1 cup packed brown sugar

    2 eggs

    1 tablespoon vanilla

    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

    1 teaspoon baking soda

    2 teaspoons cinnamon

    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

    2 cups rolled oats

    1 cup high-fiber cereal with flakes and twigs (I use “Twigs Flakes and Clusters” from Trader Joe’s. Kashi “Good Friends” is another good choice)

    1 cup dried cherries, sour cherries are the best

    1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

    Cream together the sugar and the butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, beat until well incorporated.

    In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and spices.

    In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, cereal, cherries and chocolate chips.

    Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and slowly blend (on low if using a stand mixer) until just mixed. Add the oat mixture and blend (on low if using a stand mixer) until the dough comes together and the ingredients are distributed fairly evenly throughout.

    The dough will be very soft and clumpy because of all the good stuff in there.

    Drop dough in rounded tablespoon fulls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Make sure to keep the dough mounded–the cookies will flatten out in the oven. Bake for 12 minutes or until the centers are just set but still look a bit underdone. Let cool on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

    The cookies will keep for about a week in an air-tight container. But I doubt you’ll be able to keep them around that long.

    The minister in each of us

    Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

    I read this fantastic post the other day and it got me thinking.  The whole question of what I’m supposed to do with my life has come up quite often for me, and like the author of that post, many times I’ve dreamed that my life’s mission is something huge and influential.

    A little while back, however, while talking to my mother-in-law, I started thinking about ministries.  We don’t talk a lot about ministries in the LDS church; while we talk about ministering to the sick or the poor,  we don’t refer to our leadership as ministers, or refer to our work with certain groups as a ministry. But I started thinking about those who feel called to work with specific people, to love them, to nurture their needs and weak spots – to start a ministry.

    Don’t you love it when someone else’s approach to something breaks open your perspective and helps you see things in a different way?

    The word minister has a lot of religious connotation, but in its form as an intransitive verb (yes, I did have to look that up)  it means merely to  give aid or service.  All of us do that every day. And ministry? For my purposes, this definition leaped out: a person or thing through which something is accomplished.

    I’m coming to realize that my life’s mission isn’t something visibly large and all encompassing, something impressive on a resume. The great accomplishments of my life will be in my ministering to those around me. To the little girl who woke me up at 4 this morning because there was a “monster shadow” in her closet. To the other little one currently performing an crawling obstacle course through the chairs and under the table. To my love who has to go out on a crazy rainy day.  To my friends, my family. Until earlier this week, my “official” ministry at church was with the young women 12-18. Soon it will be with another group, and I look forward to being able to dive in, give aid and service, and be a person through which something is accomplished.

    Because even though these things seem small, I know they’re not.  I’ve seen the “small” acts of those who have ministered to me, and how those acts have reverberated like ripples on a pond through the years and how they are affecting people even now.  I don’t know what effect I will have, but my heart echos this line from that post above, “Isn’t a mission from God inherently laced with magnitude?”.

    What do you feel is your ministry?


    Sunday, September 27th, 2009

    3 years ago my mother-in-law (who I adore) had a potted plant delivered to me on Mother’s Day. It was a lovely gesture, and a lovely plant. I had no idea what kind of plant it was (still don’t), but it sprouted pretty pink flowers.

    I figured it would be dead within weeks.

    I don’t have a very good history of keeping plants alive, you see. My instinct seems to always be wrong, and I overwater or underwater or give too much sun or too little. So I figured this little guy had no chance.

    I was wrong.

    Despite long periods of no watering, cold weather, inconsistent sun, being knocked over, this little plant held on. Sometimes it looked pretty sad, but it held on nonetheless.

    Back in May when we began our balcony garden, I started giving it more consistent care. This is what it looked like then.


    Still in the pot it was delivered in, it was living, but not thriving so much.  A month or so later I thought that maybe if I transferred it to a larger pot, it might do better. Breaking just about every rule about repotting plants, I moved it to its new home.

    It didn’t grow.

    For months it didn’t grow, and I was afraid I’d seriously damaged it, messing with its roots as I had.

    But then…..

    This picture was taken tonight.


    Bigger, happier! Not just living, thriving!

    And if you take a closer look at the right side of the pot:


    Two little shoots! I don’t know how this happened, maybe someone with more plant knowledge than I do can shed light? (I know you’re out there.)

    But not just two little shoots….


    MUSHROOMS??? How did a veritable fairy garden start growing in this pot? (Sorry for the blurriness of the picture, the lighting was not being friendly, and I know about as much about photography as I do about plants.)

    There’s an obvious metaphor here for my life- but how do you experience regrowth?

    Taking a gratitude walk

    Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

    “I’m just sooooo sad” has been a constant refrain in our house for the last week or so. No matter what is happening, my 3 year old feels the need to express:

    “I’m just sooo sad I don’t get to watch another show.”

    “I’m just sooo sad I have to eat my beans.”

    “I’m just sooo sad I can’t have a pirate ship.”

    “I’m just sooo sad Daddy has to go to work.”

    “I’m just sooo sad my cousins can’t come today.”

    I’m just sooo sad I have some ice cream.”

    Yes, that last one is real. That’s the point we’ve gotten to around here, everything is a cause for being “sooo sad”, even when it’s no cause at all.

    So yesterday I decided to take charge of the situation. I explained that we’re here on Earth to have joy and happiness, and that there were some ways that we could do that.

    #1 Get out in nature.

    #2 Be grateful.

    #3 Serve other people.

    I decided that we’d tackle #1 and 2 concurrently, and we suited up and went for a walk. Z was to look for anything she was grateful for, and take a picture of it.

    So here, for your edification, are the things for which 3 year old Z is grateful. (There would doubtless have been more, but the camera ran out of juice.)


    Our car, “Cool Car”.


    A dumpster. I have no idea why, but really, why not? (I think really this shows her gratitude for being able to take pictures.)


    Her lion Mimi, who helps her to be brave.


    The sun.

    On the way home Z told me that finding things that she was grateful for did make her more happy. So you’ve got a 3 year old’s word for it, and why would she lie? Head out on a gratitude walk and tell us  how it goes!

    (I’ll post on our service attempts another time. But just so you know, the 3 pronged attack does seem to be working.)

    Is the circus coming to town?

    Monday, September 21st, 2009

    Lest you begin to think that everything is always sunshine and roses here in the Martha households, let me tell you about today’s  afternoon in my house.

    My one year old, who is teething, woke up from her nap screaming. This isn’t all that unusual; what is unusual is that she continued to scream.


    Forty five minutes is a long time, people. She stopped for a little bit (half a minute or so) a couple of times, one time long enough for me to give her some medicine. Then she started right back up again, so I tried to get her to suck on a Pedialyte frozen pop, because that was the only appropriate cold thing I had on hand. She refused, and screamed some more.

    During this time, my ever inquisitive 3 year old came out from her rest time to see what was going on. She spotted the frozen pop and told me she wanted a popsicle. I informed her, over the ear-splitting screaming, that #1 we didn’t have any popsicles, and #2 she had refused lunch. She proceeded to ask for a lollipop, to which she got answer #2 again.

    A moment or so later, she started to scream.

    Now, she really dislikes it when her little sister screams, and so I thought maybe she was screaming because of that. But when she started kicking her legs (she was laying on the floor), I knew we were dealing with something else.

    Over all the screaming, I extracted the information that she was throwing a fit because : “you’re not listening to me and giving me what I want.”

    So I picked her up over my shoulder, schlepped her into my room, banging my head against the door frame in a failed attempt to keep her feet from hitting the fan (not any kind of euphemism- there’s a standing fan next to the door) , dumped her on my bed and closed the door on the way out.

    She screamed.

    The 1 year old screamed.

    I wanted to scream. (Both from the madness gripping my house and my hurting forehead. Door jambs are HARD!)

    Eventually everything calmed down, as all explosions must, I suppose. I count it an accomplishment that I didn’t run away from home and join the circus and I didn’t sell (or just plain give) my kids to said circus either. We ended up going for a walk and everyone is generally in good spirits now.

    So my question,  (if you’re still with me), is how do you nurture when you really just want to head for the hills? I’m talking theoretically, not what you would do in the particular circumstance I laid out above. Whether it’s with kids or with friends or family or significant others- how do you care for/ teach/ help the growth process in people that are making you slightly insane?

    Do you just take a time out and step back into the situation after a break? Are you one of those people blessed with inexhaustible patience? Do you pray for guidance? Read every book you can on the subject? Meditate? Just try make sure everyone comes out alive? Search the want ads for an available circus?

    Love is a Verb

    Sunday, September 20th, 2009

    Almost every time I come home from a trip to see my Mama, my kitty sitter has cleaned my kitchen.  At first, I was uncomfortable by this act of kindness.  Instead of seeing it as a compassionate expression of love, I felt judged, like my housekeeping skills had been considered and found lacking.   Over the months and years this has been going on, though, I’ve come to feel the deep care shown by the elbow grease expended on my stove top.

    I’m in a new relationship.  It’s the beginning, and I’m in the twitterpated, heady stage, and I’m head over heels “in love” :)   I spent the majority of my hours this weekend with Joey, and I realized that our “in love” has the potential to develop into real “love”.  He changed the oil in my car yesterday when I was at work.  Last night I sat on his living room floor and folded his clean clothes.  He and I showed our love to each other through action.  When he says “I love you” now, it has some weight to it…

    How do you show someone you love them?