...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Friday, July 31, 2015

When my flighty mower went all diva on me

Yesterday, the lawn needed to be mowed.

Now, I have a tumultuous relationship with our lawnmower.  In fact our backyard neighbor (who is a seemingly ornery teddy bear of a man) likes to tease me about how I have to coax and cajole the machine to get it going.  He isn't wrong.

After I finally get it running if for some reason I have to let the engine stop I know the lawnmower will spend the next hour plus pouting and whining and refusing to cooperate so I might as well go do something else for a while before I come back and try to talk it into working again.  

We really don't get along well at all.

Still, I need his help as scissor clipping the yard is not on my list of "fun things to do in the summer."  So we put up with each other.  

But last night my yard trimming "friend" refused to even get going.  He decided to be a diva and sit around expecting pampering rather than working.  He wanted to lounge in the cool of the evening air without pulling his weight when it comes to yard chores.  Lazy sack of metal!

Anyway, he wouldn't start.  He refused to help with his job.  He was throwing a quiet tantrum.  I didn't love it.  I might have glared at him and muttered rude things under my breath.  I tried and tried and tried to get him going, but no luck.  He ignored my every attempt.  Spoiled brat.

Since Josh is working nights much of the time he wasn't around to help, so I called my other favorite source of helpfulness -- my father.

He suggested the air filter might be clogged and that might be the reason the mower engine would sputter but not turn all the way over.  Truth be told, I never really realized a lawn mower had an air filter (I guess it makes sense being and engine and all, but my mind rarely wanders through the workings of machinery so there you go).  

Anyway, I decided if I was going to learn to deal with the temperamental lawn mower engine then so were my little ones so I dragged my two oldest male smalls (my oldest female small was otherwise engaged or she would have been forced into the fun as well) out into the yard and the three of us tore into the cranky engine (ok, there really isn't a lot of tearing just to get to the air filter, but you get the idea).

Sure enough, the air filter was clogged with grass and muck and who knows what else.  It was a crusty, matted mess.

The boys cleaned it out and put it all back together and our grouchy little machine started with the first yank of the pull start.  Success!!

That's when I had to apologize to my machine for being rude and annoyed with it when it wasn't feeling well.  I guess I really wouldn't be willing to work much if I couldn't breathe either so I couldn't keep up the grumpy at my flighty lawn cohort.  Sigh.  

We did the job together (although neither of us said much to the other as we went) and all was well.

Hooray for problems we can fix and for learning new things and for wonderful fathers who have lived enough of life to know just the right answer when their daughters are in need.  It turned out to be a pretty good evening after all.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Last Weekend: in which Ellie nearly became a criminal

Last weekend we continued on our Utah temple quest and ambled our way to Ogden to visit the Ogden temple. 

Part of the fun of this visit was remembering our tour through the inside of the temple last year during the open house.  Logan recalled the "big cows" in the baptistry of the building, Aubrey recalled the crystal loveliness of the celestial room.  Ellie lamented about having to wear paper shoe covers while she walked through the beautiful building(she really really hated those things).

But there were new adventures to be had while at the temple this day...like this one.

"Mom, watch, I can fit through those bars really easy...oh wait...no, actually I can't." (And that's how she was saved from a life of crime beginning with trespassing on temple grounds.  It was a close call, but we just barely skirted through that one.)

But was that all the fun the weekend had to give us?
  Oh no!

My friend had offered us the blackberries on her bushes so on Saturday we took her up on picking berries and on Sunday we mooshed them and turned them into jam (after we ate a good number of them raw because they are sooooo yummy).  

And my sweetheart brought me flowers when he got home from work around Midnight on Saturday.
He is the best.
I love him more and more all the time.

But then it was Monday and the check engine light came on in the Suburban to let me know that the wonder of the weekend really is through.  Back to real life.  

But even real life is a wonderfully fabulous thing.

Temple Update:
Jordan River
Oquirrh Mountain
Salt Lake
Mount Timpanogos
Provo City
Saint George
Brigham City
Cedar City

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Of chickens and repentance

On July 18 we hosted a family event at our house for my parents and brothers and their families.  For dinner I cooked up these two beauties (with the help of my lovely oldest daughter).  

(FYI: They were very very tasty...the chickens, not the daughters.)

After dinner and fun and after everyone went home, the kids helped me clean up the kitchen and put everything away and life went back to its regularly scheduled level of crazy.

As the week plodded on, I began to notice and odd smell in the kitchen.  I took out the garbage (which normally remedies any foul scent in the kitchen area) and went on with my day.

But the smell didn't leave.  In fact, it continued to get worse as the days went on.  I sniffed under cabinets and washed every rag, towel or sponge I could find but I still didn't locate the offending party.

Finally, on Saturday afternoon (one week after the party), I decided enough was enough and I was going to locate the source of the scent or else!

So, as I stuck my nose in corners and crevices and tried to follow it to the stench I was surprised when the trail led to my fridge.  I had cleaned out the fridge a couple days before thinking maybe something had gotten knocked behind a shelf or was stuck in the back of a drawer.

But then, surprisingly, my nose led me to the top of the fridge.  And as I explored further I removed the lid of the roasting pan pictured above and was assaulted by waves of grossness.

Someone had put the roasting pan back up on the fridge where it rests when it isn't being used without making sure the pan was clean...and no one realized the foul trouble until a full week later.

There was vile chicken juice and bits of rotting fat and all other kinds of ugh clinging to the inside of the pan and I had to hold back the dry heaves as I took the whole thing outside to spray it with the hose.  So disgusting.  After scrubbing it with soap and running the inner pan through the dishwasher on high heat (twice) I think it is finally back to a usable state.

But all of this revolting, filthy mess could have been avoided if we had just take a moment to clean the thing the day we used it instead of putting the lid on, pushing it aside and allowing the muck to hang out and make itself at home for a week (inviting it's horrid, putrid friends over for tea and crumpets in the mean time).

And that's when I got to thinking about repentance.

Too often, I think, we do this exact thing in our own lives.

No, I don't mean we leave chicken remnants around to rot, but we do this same thing in another way.

We make a mistake -- do something we shouldn't, hurt someone, cause a mess, sin or whatever else -- and instead of dealing with it right then and there, cleaning it up and trying to scrub out the trouble and wipe away the hitch, we let embarrassment or pride or fear or guilt or anger talk us into pushing our failing into the corner of our soul where it isn't easily seen.  There it festers and grows -- slowly, mind you -- but it always grows. 

I heard a statement from a political type this week (yes, I do have a political side) where the man said something like he didn't think he had ever really repented or asked forgiveness from God for things he had done wrong.  He just tried to recognize problems and move forward in a better direction.  

And I agree that that is an important part of the process, but what about the pungent mess we are already standing in?  What about the tiny seed of grime we have planted in our heart and left to rot and decay and warble its rancid aroma all through our soul because we didn't bother to clean it out.  

In time it becomes very very wretched.  It stinks so badly it hurts.  Eventually we either can't take it anymore so we vomit it out and finally choose to address the issue, or we try to put a lid on it and pretend it still isn't there.

But like the stench in my kitchen, ignoring it won't make it go away.  

Why so many deathbed confessions and sobbing, long overdue admissions of guilt if removing the grunge is of no real value?

And that is why God gave us repentance.

When we choose to repent of our failings and do our best to sponge out the sludge, God helps us wash away any stubborn stain and remove any vulgar odor and return our soul to its original spotless beauty. That is a major reason why He sent His perfect son, Jesus Christ, to Earth. (Read more about repentance and forgiveness in my favorite talk on the subject here.  For example, "Without repentance, there is no real progress or improvement in life. Pretending there is no sin does not lessen its burden and pain. Suffering for sin does not by itself change anything for the better. Only repentance leads to the sunlit uplands of a better life.")

And the wonderful part is that no matter what we have done or how long we have let it fester, our Father in Heaven is willing to help us wipe it all away and become clean again.   It may not be easy.  It may take hard work and deep, powerful effort that leave us sore and tender inside.  But when it is gone -- whatever it is -- it is really gone.  

That is a precious thing.  
I'm awfully grateful for the gifts of repentance and forgiveness in my life.  I get to use them pretty often.

It was nice to have an up close and personal reminder of this miraculous blessing from God, even if it came with a really gross mess from a foul fowl.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Pioneer Day Fun

July 24th we celebrate Pioneer Day.

This is the day pioneers officially entered the Salt Lake Valley following a long and arduous journey from Illinois.  

We are sincerely grateful for pioneers -- for their faith and perseverance and love of God and example.  We are grateful for all that they went through to help us become what we are.  We are thankful for Mormon pioneers who made it possible to continue life with a budding religion so that we can continue to hold to that faith to this day.

We appreciate the things we learn from their stories and the way they lived their testimonies.  It is good to remember them and take a moment to recall where we have come from and (hopefully) where we are headed.

And so, to celebrate, we blow things up.

But first we set off smoke bombs.

Aubrey is not impressed with these.

But she gets into the action as we move the fun along.

And so does the rest of the crew.

And then the kids climb up on top of the car to really enjoy the show and we all watch as things explode.

We start the fun on the ground...

...and grow to the sky.

Thanks pioneers (of all varieties).  We are glad for the chance to celebrate you.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Can I show you something beautiful?

TA DA!!!

That's right.  My washing machine and my oven are now fully functioning and wonderful!  We will be back to baking bread and washing clothes this afternoon!

The parts arrived, I made the fixes (which, lets be honest, were not particularly complex because I am not particularly handy).

And now we have two freshly repaired appliances running as they should.

Happy Day!!

(I'm just a tiny smidge proud of this one.  I love it when this unskilled girl can pull out a win thanks to the help of those in the know.  Thanks Youtube for instructions and tutorials.  Also thanks Deborah and Annie and Brandi for pointing me in the right direction in the first place.  Couldn't have done it without you.)

On the plus side, my kids complained for a week about store bought bread saying it tastes like cardboard so now I feel even more glad about making bread at home than I did before.  That tiny piece of knowledge is not really worth the mess of a nasty heating element, but still, comforting to know.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Bountiful Temple (and a tardis)

This week we took a short drive to Bountiful to visit the temple there.

Josh is particularly fond of this temple because he grew up just a few blocks from this lovely, sacred building so he is very tied to it.  I like that (although I did tease him a bit that he doesn't feel as deeply tied to the temple in which we were married...but I'll overlook it this one time).

While we were there we met the SWEETEST little family visiting from Austin, Texas.  Such a fabulous husband and wife and a little string of children (all in pajamas so they could go straight to bed after their excursion).  They watched us trying to find a spot to set our tripod in order to capture our plus sized fam and also the temple and so they volunteered to play tripod themselves.  The husband and wife reminded me of Josh and I while they playfully argued about which angle to use and whether to include our feet or the tip of the temple and back and on and on and it was adorable.

And this is what we ended up with (thanks, cute Texas family!!)

And one more just for good measure.

We did have to quick solve a bathroom emergency for one little boy and that was a bit of a hitch, but it all worked out.

Then Aubrey and Bryce discovered this little find in a driveway across the street from the temple.

Someone has created their own personal tardis.  My children were enamored.  

A tardis on the same day as the temple, it was an exceptional day indeed.

Jordan River
Oquirrh Mountain
Salt Lake
Mount Timpanogos
Provo City
Saint George
Brigham City
Cedar City

Friday, July 17, 2015

That's not the answer I was expecting

Soooo, we have this one ornery neighbor.  Actually, there are two of them.  Well, there are four in the house, but only two are ornery.

Suffice it to say we have had issues over the past few years with said neighbors (the two, not the other two). 

Anyway, on to the point.

So, last night when I got the littlest littles to bed, I very much wanted to just sit out on the porch and enjoy the beautiful summer evening.  It was warm, but not hot, there was a sugary breeze occasionally wisping through the yard, my flowers are in bloom, the birds were chirping and it was just lovely.

As I came into the yard I noticed the hood up on the car of one of the not-so-friendly neighbor types next door.  I also noticed he had some friendly, new age, liquidy sort of music pumping from his stereo.  I'd heard it earlier as well when I took the garbage can to the curb.  It was kind of nice and I considered telling him it was a great choice when he came back outside but thought better of it knowing he would likely yell at me and then change the music to something less appealing (we have had encounters in the past).

Turns out, no compliment from me was required for that unpleasant result.  The moment he came back outside and saw me sitting on the porch he angrily reached into his car and changed the music. 

 Now blasting from the stereo was a vile string of filth with a heavy, thudding beat (to be honest, I have nothing against the thudding beat).  I'm not sure there was really any sort of tune or melody involved at all in the barrage...at least I couldn't find one.  It was a disgusting mess of noise and grossness blaring through the air.

Well, now I'm in a spot.  I REALLY wanted to sit in my yard and smell the fresh air (as fresh as it gets in West Valley) and enjoy the evening outside.  I KNOW my neighbor is trying to exert some kind of dominance and force me back into my house.  I do NOT like being bossed around (just ask my mother) and I don't think it is right for this guy to feel like he has the power to bully me in to doing what he wants.  I also do NOT think it is right for him to poison my neighborhood with his junk sound.  

But I really don't like listening to foul drivel.  What to do?

It was a terrible quandary.

I sat on the porch for a moment, pondering my situation -- not wanting to give in, but really not wanting to hear the things that were being said (and honestly hoping no one else had to hear them either just because I was being punished).  I quick said a prayer in my mind trying to think of what to do.

And that's when the answer came.

Mow the lawn.

Well now, that is something.  I had been planning to trim the grass the next morning.  And I realized it was the perfect solution.  

Time outside...check.

Enjoy the evening...check.

Tune out the nasty "music"...check.

Protect other passers by from filthy language/imagery etc...check.

Huh, who'd a thunk.

So that's what I did.  And I enjoyed every single moment of it.  I probably smiled the entire time (well, I did almost step in dog poop once, so not quite the entire time).  I don't normally mow the lawn at 8:30 at night, but I may be a convert to the practice.

Some people may think that God doesn't care about us, that He doesn't hear us, that He doesn't listen to our pleas and answer our prayers.  I'm here to tell you He does.  Miracles have not ceased.  I just had one rain down on me tonight, and it came in the form of a lawn mower.

  John 16:24 "...ask and ye shall receive that your joy may be full"  and also thy lawn mowed (that's not in the scripture but I think it works nicely).

Thursday, July 16, 2015

...and now the washer...


is what happens when the locking mechanism on your washing machine breaks and everything (including TONS of water) leaks out onto the floor leaving a soggy, soaking mess.

Here is the culprit.

Both fingers of this should be the same length, but they aren't.

Drat the little bugger.

Sigh.  Oh well.  Lop the soggy clothes into the dryer and hang the rugs on the fence to dry and all should be well.  Thankfully I ordered the part on Amazon this morning and it (along with our new heating element for the broken oven) should be in here in just a few days.

Crossing my fingers for no more disasters for at least a couple of weeks.

(As a side note, I am very grateful to our apparently ailing appliances for holding on just long enough for Josh to start his new job so that we do have a few extra dollars to address these problems.  It was kind of them to suffer through their troubles until we could manage.)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Pics that make me smile

I was going through pictures yesterday getting rid of duplicates and such and I came across a bunch of random photos that made me smile.  It is nice to be reminded that life is a beautiful, good thing no matter what sort of problems you have to deal with along the way.

Maybe this array of everyday moments will make you smile too.

Ellie does Elsa (this was a required moment at a Children's Museum).

Ellie talks her siblings into going Frozen with her.

deer Logan

someone randomly makes a building out of a pile of tissues as a surprise

Cute Ellie

Cute boys

Cute husband dog

Rainy soccer

Toenail painting contest with my soon to be sister-in-law.

Add caption

Gavin has taken to building things out of Jenga blocks, dominoes and face cards


more strangelings (this one may be a bit more strange than the rest)

Nope, those two win the odd contest.

Aubs all lovely for her dance recital.

Bryce fell asleep only halfway on his bed while drawing.  

Josh was messing with the features on his camera and accidentally caused this loviliness.

And this one too.

Rock on, little girl!

Me and my favorite person in the world.  We really do have the best times together.

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