Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Iron Lady - We Need Her.

""The problem with socialism, is that eventually you run out of other people's money."
Margaret Thatcher

If it looks like Socialism, smells like Socialism and tastes like Socialism, then its Socialism. These are the changes I believe in:
1. The new healthcare plan will bankrupt the country.
2. Cap and trade (don't think for a minute it's dead) will bankrupt the country.
3."Green is the new red" thinking will bankrupt the country.
4. The Progressives will bankrupt the country. 

I miss these guys!!!

My Boo-Boo

You should always read through your blogs from the point of view of others who may read it. I posted a picture of Trevor's 11th birthday, which is really September 27th, but the date of my last blog said March 23rd. I am sorry for the confusion, his birthday isn't in March, although I'm sure he would love a "half-birthday" celebration. Actually, he got one. Kent busted him out of school yesterday and they are off having a guy adventure in Duschene (I know that isn't spelled correctly, but couldn't find the correct spelling). Kent had a meeting over there so he took Trevor with him and today they are visiting Dinosaur Land or something like that. 

Back to the correction. I also said I was looking forward to his ordination, but I meant in September, not in the coming week. I am so sorry to have been so confusing in my blog. I'll try not to let that happen again. Thankfully, it's not the end of the world :) The birthday picture just happens to be one of him that I liked so I posted it. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


(Trevor's 11th birthday)
This morning as we said family prayer, it was Trevor's turn to pray. This boy amazes me. He has a depth of spirituality that constantly surprises me. He has always been this way. This morning as he was praying for Gma. McAffee, he asked that Gpa. would be comforted, that he would know Gma. was going to be okay and that he would realize God was watching over them. It was such a touching prayer and as he finished I was fighting tears. Today mom is having a consultation with her oncologist to go over the results of a bone biopsy done on Friday. We don't think it will be good news, and are keeping her and Grandpa in our prayers, asking Heavenly Father to give them peace and comfort. Mom having cancer has been hardest on dad and I think what we all fear the most is that if this goes bad for her and she leaves us, how will dad survive? He depends upon her for so much and I seriously wonder if he knows how to cook anything for himself or wash any clothes. This morning Trevor's prayer was for Grandpa. 

(Capitol Reef State Park)
A couple of years ago it was Trevor's turn to do the lesson for FHE. We usually give him a bit of help with the lesson, but this time he wanted to do it himself. He did his lesson on the prophet, Joseph Smith. As he finished it he bore his testimony, which, quite frankly, left us all speechless (next to impossible around here) and as he struggled with his own emotions, I was, again, touch at the depth he feels such things. He is sensitive to the Spirit and to the needs of others. 

Awhile ago, one of my friends told me I needed to get him involved in sports to "toughen him up". Trevor does not especially like being involved in team sports, although, he does love basketball and golf. He likes playing sports on the playground with his friends, but he doesn't like organized sports. I don't have a problem with this at all. I think my friend was shocked that I don't push him to do more sports and be more aggressive. He would be miserable if I did. I love that he isn't especially a rough and tumble type of boy. He loves wrestling around and goofing off with his dad, but that's about as far as his aggressiveness goes. I love that all his friends at school are the brainiacs. I love that he is rather academic and is inclined to appreciate the finer things in life. He loves piano and being in orchestra (viola).  What I love the most is that he still loves to give me hugs and tell me how much he loves and appreciates me.  (What mother wouldn't love that). He is a great kid and I look forward to having him get ordained this fall.

(Advancing from "Cubs" to "Scouts")

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Daunting Read

I have been struggling for the past few weeks to read/finish this book. While I am no professional critic, I do have some opinions of this book. I got it for Christmas and was so excited to read it, as I wanted to learn about the expedition and the amazing people who were involved and their histories. It has been a bit of a disappointment. I know Gerald Lund's work and should have known what this would read like, since I've read other books he has written, i.e.,"The Work and The Glory", "Behold The Man", and "Fire and the Covenant". I never finished the books from The Work and the Glory (too long, boring and too much sappy love dialogue, although I did love the historical facts). I plugged through "Behold the Man" and the rest of the books in that series, hoping to get a better perspective on the life of Christ (didn't happen, I think I'll stick to the scriptures). I got bored with them and I am bored with this one. I have been reading it for a while hoping it would get better. By better I mean less predictable, and less romantic drivel between fictional characters (do people really talk and behave that way?) and more history of real people. So far, the footnotes at the end of the chapters are the best parts, and the beginning of the book where he describes the coal mine conditions. In my opinion, this book is a carbon copy of all the other books he has written - change a few circumstances, change a few names and you have a new book. Same sappy love stories (and painful dialogue) in a new cover. I appreciate that he did a ton of research on the people and events who were real, but the main characters in this book are (I'm shouting this part) FICTIONAL, while the real people are secondary.  I'm sure their lives were much more amazing than the fictional family he made up.

When I read the dialogue between the confused courtship of Molly (who cries so much I want to slap her and tell her to buck up) and David (I like his character, but total emotional wuss) and Abby (who, if this were a play the actress would have to over-act every line) I want to gag.
At one point I decided not to finish the book, time and life are to precious to waste on a book you don't like, but I had already committed to 600 pages (trying to get to the "good part"), so I decided I could work through the last 200. (It was a liberating feeling for the few days I had decided not to waste my time on it). Plus, I wanted to write this blog so I though I should at least finish the book, in all fairness. I could be the dumb one here.

I know there are people out there who read and loved this book. I am happy for them that they found a good read. There is nothing I love better than losing a few hours a day (yes, hours) in a good read. But this book didn't do it for me. 

Here are a couple of books that I have read and loved. "The Female Brain" by Louann Brizendine, it is a non-fiction, but an easy to read and understand book about how the female brain works from conception to old age. I love to read this kind of stuff, maybe you won't. I don't agree with the author's point of view on all things, but was fascinated by how the female brain differs from the male brain even in embryo and how our brains change in chemistry (hormones) as we age (teenage brain, mommy brain, yes it is real, menopause brain).
A somewhat historical fiction I read and loved was "Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett. It is set in mid-evil times. Story about a mason who wants to build a cathedral to God. Very good, but beware of a couple of rapes in the story and a few graphic scenes. I took this book to Mexico a few years ago to read in my down time and didn't put it down hardly at all - even while on the Mexican Riviera. Good book. 
"Cold Sassy Tree" by Olive Ann Burns. This is an older book, I read it about 15 years ago and can't remember much about it. However, I clearly remember that in some parts I cried and in other parts I laughed. I love books that take me on an emotional roller-coaster. 
"Running With Angels" by Pamela Hansen. This book is a raw -life experience about a woman who had unparalleled challenges in her life, but overcame them, lost a bunch of weight and ran a marathon. I know that is not a stellar description, but it is a good book, very inspiring, quick 200 page read. 
"Left to Tell" by Immaculee Ilibagiza. Another quick read. This is the author's experience of the Rwandan Genocide, her family's murder, how she survived by hiding in a bathroom and how this entire experience turned her to God. It isn't a dark and depressing book, although the experience of the Rwandan genocide is atrocious. She doesn't dwell too much on that in a dark and negative way, although the entire book is about the murders and genocide. It is more about how that experience turned her to God and her struggle to find faith in such unhuman circumstances, and how she found forgiveness. It is hands down, the best book I have ever read. It left me with a feeling of hope, not utter despair. Everyone's probably already read these books, as none of them are hard to find. If any of you have suggestions on good books to read, let me know. I'm always looking. (Anita Stansfield and other LDS fictional authors need not apply, don't even think of suggesting any books about vampires, I can't take it).

P.S. For those who may be wondering - I am a card-carrying member of "the church" and do believe Gerald Lund to be called of God, but as a general authority, not a fictional author. I read and loved his non-fiction book "The Coming of the Lord" - excellent read. And no, apparently I don't know how to write a short blog!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Celebrating 21

I have no pictures of just Nicki, she is always with someone.

Today is Nicki's 21st birthday. As her mother, I am so proud of the wonderful person/daughter she has turned out to be. When she was born she weighed 8 lbs. 6 oz. and was 21 inches long. I thought she was enormous and at the same time so tiny, small and scary. What did I know about raising children and being a mom - nothing!!! Twenty-one years later I wouldn't go back and change anything. Raising Nicki, along with her siblings, has been the greatest blessing in my life, and also the most challenging. Today I am going to indulge myself and write about Nicki and some of her fantastic qualities:

Nicki inherited her father's gift for thinking logically. Many times when I can't see the end result of a decision that needs to be made or a problem that needs to be solved, both Nicki and Kent are able to see through all the issues and make logical, well thought out decisions. This is a blessing in her life and at times was a curse in mine. Don't ever try to argue with a logical, well thinking teenager, I promise you will lose every time!  

Nicki is tidy and has been since she was old enough to discern messiness from cleanliness. Even in her high chair when she was first learning to eat real food, she was tidy. I don't have any baby pictures of her with her bowl on her head and food smeared all over her face, she didn't like it and never did it. She also made her bed and kept her room clean from the time she was very, very small - and she always did a good job on that bed-making, always. Her tidiness extends to every aspect of her life, including her wallet. I will never forget walking into her bedroom when she was about 12 years old and seeing her ironing her paper money and placing it in her wallet, in numerical order, all presidents facing forward. I laughed at that and so did she but she was proud of her desire to have order and secretly, so was I.

Although she was a clean fanatic and very logical, she could be a real air-head sometimes (still is). Nicki started working when she was pretty young. She babysat for us and a few of our friends and our friends paid her very well. Once when we were out shopping, she left her wallet sitting on top of a clothing rack in a store in the mall. We had left the store and were in another one when she realized what she had done. I was so sick for her loss, but thought perhaps this was going to be one of those "life lessons". She had saved $70.00 from babysitting and was school shopping and I just knew that money was gone. She couldn't remember where in the store she had left it. However, we said a prayer and went back to the shop and either someone had turned in the wallet or it was siting on the clothing rack, I can't remember, but we did find the wallet and all her money was in it. Turns out that was not a life lesson, because it happened a few times after that. I think she keeps better track of her wallet/purse when she is out shopping now. 

This leads me to another of her qualities - faith. Nicki is a very faithful, spiritual daughter. Nicki has learned to pray to our Heavenly Father when she is in need, as well as most other times, and depends upon His support in her life. Once when we were traveling from California to Idaho/Utah to visit grandparents, our car broke down in Winnemucca (why does that always happen to us). She was only 5 or 6 when it happened. Kent and I were both very frustrated with a broken down vehicle and small children on a very hot summer afternoon. We had no extra funds to repair our car and during a very tense moment, with a big smile plastered all over her face, Nicki suggested we just pray and ask Heavenly Father to fix it for us. We went along with it, both of us feeling like that was just a waste of time but since she had suggested it, we would do it. We were just going through the motions. But Nicki was sure Heavenly Father would hear and answer our prayers.  As we were both over-the-top-frustrated, I think Kent asked her to pray. As I recall, we got our car fixed very quickly with little to no expense and were soon on our way. We learned a lot from Nicki that day. She just smiled and was happy to be going to Grandma's. Throughout her life, when Nicki is in a jam, she prays. When she was sick at girls camp she asked for and received a blessing, knowing that was all she would need to feel better. Brother Mattson and Brother Phillips gave her a blessing and not only did she feel better, she was so grateful to them and has felt a soft spot in her heart for them ever since, for their service to her. She also has a great capacity for gratitude and is always more than willing to express it.

Nicki is compassionate. She has always been compassionate and has always felt a tenderness to our Father in Heaven's children who came to earth a bit challenged. When she was in high school she was a "helper" to a class of Seminary students who were challenged. Her assignment was a girl named Sasha, who was very difficult. She would go to seminary every day with Sasha for the term and often it wasn't easy. Sasha spit on Nicki and would often walk away from her, or ahead of her, trying to ditch Nicki. But Nicki was persistent. After about a day or two of this kind of treatment, Nicki firmly told Sasha (in no uncertain terms, she left no doubt) she wanted to be her friend, but wouldn't allow Sasha to be mean to her. That seemed to be a turning point in their relationship. From that day on Nicki was Sasha's best friend and when the end of the term came, Nicki cried when she had to move on and leave Sasha to someone else's care. Much later, Nicki had to report on a service activity she had given to someone and decided to talk about her service to Sasha. I heard her say that when she started the term she was excited to help and teach someone, but when the term was over, Sasha was the one who had taught Nicki. She could barely get through her report for the tears streaming down her face - she loved Sasha with all her heart. 

Nicki has chosen to continue serving others in her career choice. She wants to be a nurse and as part of that choice, decided to be a CNA and worked in a retirement center here in Cache Valley for pitiful pay. But she loved her job. She spent a lot of her time working in the Alzheimer's unit because she was so good with the people there. Many days she came home with bruises all over her body from being hit, kicked and otherwise beat upon, but she always told me how wonderful those people were and how much she loved them. She knew they were not in their right mind and they were trapped. She worked hard at that job, came home exhaused every night. She spent many hours a day cleaning poop from various body parts, cleaning up vomit and wrestling tough older people into a shower or to the toilet, often getting more soaked than the patients. She also spent a lot of time painting their nails (men and women alike), doing their hair, looking at their precious family photos and just sitting and holding their hands until they felt better or happy. She always tried to bring them joy and she did. They loved her because she loved them unconditionally.  
Nicki is intelligent, smart and loves to learn. Nicki has always loved learning (she gets that from her dad). She doesn't necessarily come by it easily, but is willing to work as hard as is required to get what she wants in school. Her freshman year at BYU-I she was chosen to work as a summer scholar at Boise State on a project to come up with a base protein for a bio-genetisist there. Specifically, they were to come up with a base protein that the body would have a response to for the Black Plague. She worked with nasty things like e-coli and Yersenia pestis (the plague), both deadly bacteria and LOVED it - no lab coats, no masks, and loved it. They were to combine the Yersenia pestis with a cholera toxin combined in a plasmid, that, I think, was the base protein they were trying to build. On the first day of the program the director asked if all the student's had had organic chemistry and bio-chemistry. Nicki hadn't but decided not to volunteer that information because she figured she would just watch and catch on - which she did. That horrifies me. I would never do that, my hand would have shot up in a second and I never would have thought, "I can figure it out". My immediate reaction would have been "I'm in pretty deep caca here". But not Nicki. And guess what - her team won the competition, even beating out the Fellowship scholars (much to their shock and shame). There was a very specific and difficult protocol she had to follow and she did it. She was a stinking freshman and her team won first place in this incredibly difficult assignment, beating out Juniors and Seniors who had had organic and bio-chemistry. Nicki never gave up, she worked hard for those two weeks. Not only did she work hard, she made a party out of it for everyone she worked with (does picture #3 look like they are working with deadly bacteria???). So if we ever get bombed by bio-terrorists, Nicki, in part,  has your back!!!

As you may have noticed, Nicki is also very confident. Let me repeat that - - VERY CONFIDENT. I don't think there is anything in this world Nicki couldn't do or accomplish if she wanted to. When she was in sixth or seventh grade, after her teacher explained Darwin's theory, Nicki raised her hand and asked something to this effect, "You don't really believe all that stuff  do you? (I actually think she said "crap"). Again, I would have never questioned a teacher out loud, but was proud of her for speaking up. Nicki has no problem speaking up if she feels someone is being treated unfairly or if something said is not correct. It doesn't matter who she speaks up to. In elementary school, Nicki found a book in the library that she thought was inappropriate for kids to be reading. She took the book to the librarian and asked if it could be removed because it was inappropriate. The librarian explained to her that while that book may have been offensive to Nicki, it was perfectly fine that the library had it because others may like and enjoy it. Nicki wasn't satisfied with that, so she simply took the book and buried it behind a bunch of other books where she thought nobody would ever find it. I'm sure to this day Nicki made sure nobody would ever find it without removing every book in that library. Nicki loved being on "library partol". 
When Nicki was 16 years old, she was chosen by the local Rotary Club to represent her high school at a leadership convention at Sundance. She went to the convention, had a ton of fun, but was most excited about a group called Youthlinc. She was finishing one of her classes and the instructor told the students to file out of the auditorium-type of room using one of the doors at the bottom of the class. Since Nicki was sitting at the top of the class, she decided to go out one of the back doors at the top (she gets that non-conformity from her dad, never tell her or her dad exactly what you want them to do, rather tell them just what you don't want them to do, very effective). So while she is leaving the classroom, she notices another private meeting in another room and decided to peek in to see what was going on. Come to find out, it was a Youthlinc group. This group organizes volunteers, including a doctor and a dentist and students from 17 up through college, to work in mostly third-world type countries to bring medical, educational and dental support to villages that are isolated. Long story short, Nicki ends up going to a village on the Amazon in Peru. She spent two weeks down there and loved it. She tramped through the rainforest, caught and ate peranha, held a de-fanged tarantula, taught kids in school, screened adults for diabetes and even did a dental assistant stint. She practiced sutures on a chicken breast for a couple of hours one night, the next day she is closing gums with sutures after the dentist has pulled the rotten teeth out. Bonified dental assistant in just two hours - who knew! She loved her trip to Peru and loved working with these people. They are the poorest of the poor and she absolutely loved every minute of it. She never got homesick and wanted to stay longer. 

Nicki is a social butterfly. She is always making friends, no matter their age. She loves anyone and everyone and loves getting to know people. When she was two and we would go for walks, she would say hi to everyone, old and young alike. She has been living in New York for a little over six months and is having a big bash tonight with a dozen or so of her closest friends. When she was little and would have birthday parties I would have to cut the guests off at the number of years she was celebrating. If she was turning 12 we could only invite 12ish friends (she always talked me into one or two more). Otherwise, I would have had dozens of kids at my house. I often did after we moved here and I could no longer control the crowd size. Every where we go, she knows someone. 

Nicki's idol is her dad - always has been. People sometimes ask me if it bothers me that Nicki is so close to her dad and it doesn't. I know she loves me and we have a great relationship, but she absolutely loves being with and adores her dad. Maybe it would bother me if he were a jerk or something, but he's not and I can't think of a better person for her to admire. I swear by my life that her adoration and determination not to disappoint her dad helped her avoid some really stupid teenage mistakes. Nicki had plenty of opportunities to do the dumb teenage stuff, but I think she had such a desire to please her dad that it always came into the equation. I'm thankful for that. I love and admire him too. How could you not love that silly old guy??? Speaking of silly . . . 

Nicki loves to have fun and loves having fun with her siblings. She is the joy of their lives and they all love hanging out with Big Sis. She has been an almost-perfect example for her younger sisters and brother. Regan, especially, lights up like a Christmas tree when she gets to spend time with Nicki and has since she was old enough to conceive that she has a big sister. Nicki was only two and a half when Regan was born, but that didn't stop her from thinking she was a second mom. Many times I would find Nicki dragging Regan around (literally) and even trying to get her out of her crib when she cried. Often I have had to remind Nicki that I would be Regan's mom and she could be the sister. But Nicki takes her responsibility as a big sister very seriously. They have serious fun, serious talks, serious shopping sessions and serious gab sessions whenever they can. 

Besides being a great example to her siblings, she is dependable and responsible. She started babysitting for us when she was only 10. We would go to the movies and I would worry about her and ask Kent if he thought they were all getting along okay and if they were safe. He would always tell me, "Don't worry, Nicki is babysitting for us. She is a better parent than we are and she knows what to do. If she doesn't know how to handle a situation, she will figure it out". He as always right. Nicki was an excellent babysitter and she always felt free to share her parenting advice and observations with me.

Nicki is thoughtful. She has always been thoughtful. One day in church when I was expecting Regan it was Mother's Day. Kent had remembered his mother on Mother's Day, but I was completely overlooked. As I sat in Sacrament Meeting having a very hormonal breakdown over the fact that I had given birth to this beautiful daughter and was miserably pregnant with number 2, I started to cry. Kent was completely oblivious to this until Nicki noticed and reached over with her chubby little hand and wiped a tear from my face. Then she gave me a little hug and said, "Don't worry mommy, it will be okay". She had no idea why I was crying and I had no way to stop those tears. As soon as Nicki showed me that tiny little bit of thoughtful compassion, the flood gates really opened. But I loved her for trying to comfort me. She was only two years old. I should mention here that Kent quickly took notice and when I got home from church he had some flowers on the table for me. I think he ditched Priesthood meeting in a frenzied search for flowers. I was still ticked off that I was an after-thought, but who cares now. He has never forgotten Mother's Day since. Thanks, Nicki!

Nicki is also artistic, very independent, a devoted journal writer, adventurous, graceful and beautiful. Her outward beauty is truly a manifestation of her inner beauty. I don't take credit for any of these qualities. A very good friend of mine once said, "Our kids come to us perfect, and we do our best not to mess them up". I agree with her comment. I have never forgotten it. I look at Nicki and see all the gifts and talents she came to earth with and am amazed that despite our best efforts, she's not messed up. I have learned more from being her mother than I could have ever learned in a book or in a life time of experiences without her. She was the perfect first child for us to cut our parenting teeth on and has done much to help her siblings put their feet on the right path. She led the way for them and I will always be grateful to her for her wonderful, loving example to them. I celebrate this day as not only Nicki's birthday, but as a day God gave me a most precious gift. I am so blessed to have her in my life and I look forward to many more years of being her mom. Happy Birthday Nicki - I love you.