Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Good, the Bad, & the Dusty

Talking with my sister, Terresa, the other day sparked a question in my mind. How many of us write about the underbelly of our lives? the real stuff? the bad stuff? the embarrassing stuff?

Terresa is brave that way. She has written about stretch marks, hemorrhoids, screaming children, losing her temper, and diarrhea. Not me. Nope. I write about the good while avoiding the negative at all costs. I see and hear so many sad things at school I’m usually compelled to put forth good things into the blogging world. Who would want to know about my imperfections anyway? I don’t even want to know about my imperfections. Besides, who really cares? No offense to my sis, but who would it benefit?

Terresa and I both agreed that most people just put positive things on their blogs and Facebook. Most of us only show the happy side. Who likes a grump or a nag? We don’t air our dirty laundry about our spouses or church callings or homes in writing. I never thought myself brave enough to venture into this darker territory, but turning 40 in June is inspiring me to try all kinds of new things, except skydiving. Here it goes.

My kids aren’t perfect. They fight and cry and make mistakes. I think they’re smart little buggers, but sometimes they drive me nuts.

My marriage isn’t perfect. It’s better than any relationship I’ve ever been in, but it’s not perfect. I don’t expect perfect. We’re not perfect people. I’m okay with that and working on being a better person for my husband and marriage.

I’m not perfect. I yell about once a day---at my students or my kids or both. I’m really not much of a yeller, but I expect to be heard. I only raise my voice when I need to. At times I struggle with being one of the shortest and smallest people in my classroom and in my home and wish I were 6 feet tall so that I could use height as an intimidation factor. I also admit that cuss words have escaped out of my mouth once or twice at home. Not the end of the world, (ye without sin cast the first stone) but I’m working on it.

My body is not perfect. I’ve got stretch marks, wrinkles, cellulite, and I still break out in zits! I can hide most of it with clothes thankfully, but the wrinkles and zits on my face are visible. Oh well. I hate makeup. So is life.

My hair is not perfect. Tiffany, who cuts my hair, is so good she makes me look good! My hair is colored with a washout color once every six months so that the 30+ white hairs around the crown of my head, inherited from my Grandma Hall, are hidden. Most people don’t notice my hair is colored, unless I have Tiffany throw in more red or something, she’s that good.

My methods aren’t perfect, but they work for me. Have I mentioned that I’m a bit of a control freak? That makes for a good teacher, but a difficult housekeeper. My dishes are washed every night and put away every morning. (I have a system to my dishwasher, thanks to the Fly Lady. Poor Steve thought I was nuts when he first saw it, but it works.) I hate a dirty kitchen, counter tops or table. Gross! I also don’t like clothes left on the bedroom floor. Yuck! Dirty toilets make me gag, but my shower needs a good scrub right now. I’ll tackle it later.

I’m not a perfect housekeeper. I hate sweeping and dusting. They are the bane of my existence. If I could afford it I would have someone come and just clean my floors and dust. My Mexican tile floors are often sandy and dog hair can often be found along the walls. (With 2 dogs that both shed, it’s bound to happen.) If I can muster up the strength (and interest) to sweep the tile and vacuum the carpets once a week, I feel successful. (I do, however, sweep my kitchen every night.) My bookshelves are lined with dust until I can bribe one of my boys to dust for me. My dresser and nightstand are dusty too and littered with books, papers, and CDs. I take comfort in the clutter, but the dust bunnies make me sneeze.

Well, (sigh), that’s about it. My dirty laundry has been aired. It feels good to share. I feel lighter! Braver! Feel free to unload your dirty laundry here. No judging will occur (at least from me!) After all, no one’s perfect.

Saturday, April 17, 2010



What’s your favorite donut? Our family is big on Winchell’s donuts. (Not to make a plug for Winchell’s, but if they’ll pay me in donuts, I won’t turn them down.) Mine is an old-fashioned glazed. I’ll take a regular cake donut if an old-fashioned isn’t available. My kids like the jelly filled and chocolate covered twist donuts. Steve likes the cinnamon roll ones.

Eating donuts reminds me of my dad, who used to buy a dozen donuts and those small cartons of chocolate milk for us on our family trips to Utah when I was a kid. He still brings donuts home for my mom and any errant child or grandchild who happens to be over.

Donuts also remind me of my sister, Nikki. Her specialty is showing up at your house on your birthday morning with a dozen donuts and a smile (and her 5 kids.) The kids run around, a donut in each hand, high on sugar, while the adults sit and talk, and eat their favorite ones.

Every once in a while Steve brings home donuts after a long night’s work. This small and simple action warms my heart. It’s one of the many, many reasons I love him. It reminds me of my childhood, of my dad, and my sister; and while my waist and hips regret every bite, I don’t.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


After A While

©1971 Veronica A. Shoffstall

"After a while you learn
the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn
that love doesn't mean leaning
and company doesn't always mean security.

And you begin to learn
that kisses aren't contracts
and presents aren't promises
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead
with the grace of woman,
not the grief of a child
and you learn
to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow's ground is
too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down
in mid-flight.

After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much
so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone
to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure
you really are strong
you really do have worth
and you learn
and you learn
with every goodbye, you learn..."

I love this poem. My sister, Terresa, gave me this poem in college and it hung on my various college walls above my bed for years. I would read it and reread it while I thought about my life and what the future would bring. Over time it came down from the wall and I lost it.

Recently I was reminded of this poem by my courtyard garden. I love flowers. I love receiving flowers. I love giving flowers. I haven’t been willing to spend our hard-earned money on cut flowers for myself (as my husband and sons could care less about flowers in the house), so I plant flowers for myself that last a bit longer.

I found the poem today and wanted to share its message. I love what Veronica Shoffstall tells us girls and women about goodbyes and planting your own garden.

Goodbyes happen in every stage of life. We say goodbye to our parents and go off to college. We say goodbye to the single life and get married. We say goodbye to childlessness and embrace our babies. We say goodbye to friends and family when we move. We say goodbye to marriages and relationships when things don’t work out. We say goodbye to our loved ones when someone passes away.

This January I said goodbye to my grandma, after a lifetime of fun and craziness with her. I learned so much from her and miss her every day.

This summer I’m saying goodbye to my 30’s and embracing 40. Wahoo! They say 40 is the new 30. If Demi Moore can make it look good, so can I!!! Ha ha!

This year I’m saying goodbye to having anymore babies and looking forward to spending the time I’ve got left (8 brief years) with my 2 boys before they say goodbye to us.

I was told once from our wise Heavenly Father that I should always look forward in life. He knows me so well. My tendency is to look back on “the good times” and live there. I need to be prodded on once in a while. He knew I couldn’t and shouldn’t do live in the yesterday. Sometimes I have to say, “Goodbye.”

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Baking Bread

It’s conference time again. I usually turn up the volume on the TV and wash all of the windows in my house and dust. This year Steve is sleeping (after working all night) and I’m out of windex and feeling lazy. So I decided to bake bread.

I’ve been a homemade bread fan over the years, but this Christmas I tried something new. I bought myself a bread maker (with a coupon and it was on sale). After watching my sister-in-law, Carolyn, and my mother-in-law, Rhodell, make bread dough the past 3 years they made it look so easy---just throw the ingredients into the mixer and turn it on, right? Well, kind of.

Carolyn gave me great bread machine making advice and recipes to start me out. (She’s a generous recipe sharer.) Rhodell was my cheerleader and helped me overcome my fear of “the wicked bread machine.” I am a girl raised on Bosch mixers, never trusting these new-fangled machines, but I needed something I could literally throw ingredients into and not worry about for an hour and a half while I run errands or fix dinner or a myriad of things moms do.

Something I don’t do is bake in the bread maker. I just don’t like the look of the bread when it’s done. It looks like a brick and doesn’t fit in a Ziploc bag, so I mix the dough in the maker and bake my own loaves.

I use Carolyn’s white bread recipe (provided below), but replace 1 cup of white flour with wheat flour. I tried the whole-wheat recipe, but my guys didn’t like it as much as the mixed version.

I usually make about 6 loaves a week. (When D is with us for 2 weeks, we go through bread like nobody’s business, so sometimes more.) I bake them, allow them to cool for many hours, zip them up in a freezer bag, and toss them in the freezer. Sometimes I take them to friends. Maybe next time it will be you! ;o)

Some things I’ve learned:
1. Add a little bit more water than the recipe calls for. I don’t know why it’s like this, but my bread maker (or the dry air of the Las Vegas) make the dough too dry, so add a bit more if you live in a desert area. If you live in a damp climate, you may need less.

2. Check the dough as it’s forming the dough ball and use a spatula to scrape the edges of flour into the ball. Sometimes it needs a little help to get everything mixed in properly.
3. I add a bread dough enhancer Rhodell gave me. To be honest, I can’t tell the difference when I’ve forgotten it, but if you have some, use it. I’ll experiment more with it this summer when I have time.

4. If you buy/receive a new bread maker, take time to read the instructions. You never know, it could come in handy when you have a question.

5. Check thrift stores for additional machines. If you have a big family, you might want to have 2 mixers and use them at the same time. As long as all of the parts are there and it seems to be clean, you should be fine. (I don’t think most people really use their bread makers. The ones I’ve seen at Savers looked barely used.)

6. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the bread recipes. My family was very patient with me while I tested different recipes out on them.

Carolyn’s White Bread Recipe 2 lb. Loaf:
1 1/3 c water
¼ c oil
¼ c sugar
2 tsp salt
4 c white flour
1 Tablespoon yeast
Place ingredients in the bread maker in the order above, making a small well for the yeast. After the dough is ready I grease 2 pans and split the dough into them, allowing them time to rise. I also spray plastic wrap and cover the top of the bread while it rises so it doesn’t dry out. Once the dough is ready to go in the oven (doubles in size), I remove the plastic and cook them for about 25-30 minutes @ 350. Remove bread from the pan when finished and allow it to sit on a rack to cool.