Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Last night I finished reading this book, which I thought was a really good read. In Louisa May Alcott's book, Little Women, the story revolves around Marmee and her four girls. Mr. March has gone off to fight in the Civil War. In March, Geraldine Brooks creates the story of Mr. March's adventures. It's very well written, gives a lot of insight regarding the complexities of the Civil War, and will stop just short of tearing your heart out!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

How do you see yourself?

On Sunday I was sustained as gospel doctrine teacher in our ward, and perhaps I’ll share some thoughts about that calling in another post, but for today I want to share some thoughts about how we see ourselves. As I read through the lesson for this week I was struck by the part that suggested we need to see ourselves as we really are. It’s hard to be objective about yourself. Sometimes I wish I could see myself as Heavenly Father sees me, although that thought is a little scary. I’ve recently had the experience of catching a glimpse of myself through the eyes of someone else.

A missionary companion of mine has spent the past forty plus years writing her mission memoirs. That means that for a period of a few months she was also writing about me. She sent me the beginning part of the chapter entitled, “The District Leader and the Homecoming Queen.” Hmmmm! Sounds interesting! Indulge me as I quote a few lines she uses to describe her new companion. “The blonde, who had to be her new companion, addressed her in German. She noticed immediately a confidence the two Americans wore as comfortably as the casual rich wear tweed and leather. . . . Sister T. was admiring the stranger’s lush, platinum curls. She was thinking of old movie stills. They were like Harlowe’s. . . .The tall dark-haired young man, who she knew to be her new district leader, stood by the side of her pretty senior companion, and without saying a word or making a gesture, managed to convey his complete agreement with everything she said and implied. . . .They were as poised and polished as any urban sophisticates.”

Wow! I just saw myself as little “small-town girl” who cleaned houses for other people on Saturdays for a whopping fifty cents an hour, helped her dad move the sheep from pasture to pen, rode a bike (not a “cool” one, either) with a violin threaded onto the handlebars, and wore cut-off jeans and curlers in her hair. So watch out! Forty years from now you may find out that someone else has seen you through very different eyes.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Day with Friends

Friday we were invited to go to the temple with the Blacks, whose son will be leaving shortly for his mission. This is a family that we really love. A year ago last Christmas they woke in the wee hours on Christmas day to the realization that their house was on fire. They stood across the street in their pajamas and watched the flames eat away at their home and all that was in it. The seven of them moved in with us until they could find more permanent temporary housing a month later. They brought a great spirit of love and optimism into our home, and we were sad when they were able to lease a house until their own home was rebuilt. We felt honored to spend the day with them! After the temple we enjoyed a wonderful lunch together at Maggiano's. We're actually going to become kind of, sort of, close to "related" shortly. The oldest of the Black's sons is engaged to Randy's sister's niece. It's kind of convoluted, but hey, we take it any way we can get it!

Friday, April 25, 2008

At Last!

I know that people have been posting pictures like these for months. But it is finally happening in my very own yard, and that 's different. That means Spring has finally come to US.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Are you hungry?

I've been thinking a lot about food (Is that a surprise?). We recently learned that the cost of wheat has increased dramatically because so many wheat farmers are switching to corn due to the demand for corn fuel. So we just added another 200 lbs. of white wheat to the almost 2,000 lbs. we already had. Last night they said on TV that in China the cost of rice has doubled since December. The availability of food and the increased costs are becoming a real concern. Some countries have quit exporting food crops to assure that they will have enough for their own people. Normally, food shortages can be attributed to some specific reason, such as a drought, an earthquake, a tsunami, etc. But at the present time, there seems to be a confluence of events rather than one single issue.

My daughter recently sent me some information about eating patterns around the world. Take a look at how differently we, in the western world, eat from many others. Clearly, we overeat, and much of what we eat is empty calories. I am stunned (in the midst of my plenty) to see how little sustains the lives of some.

Bargteheidi, Germany: Food expenditure for one week, $500.07

North Carolina, United States: Food expenditure for one week $341.98

Mexico: Food expenditure for one week, $189.09

Cairo, Egypt: Food expenditure for one week, $68.53

Tingo, Peru: Food expenditure for one week, $31.55.

Shingley, China: Food expenditure for one week, $5.03.

Breidzing Camp, Chad: Food expenditure for one week, $1.23.

While we contribute monthly to our church's humanitarian efforts, I feel guilty about our bounty and the amount of food that goes to waste around us. I'm grateful for a church that teaches us how to use the years of "fat calves" to prepare for years that may be more difficult.

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I've had a few requests to write about my second memory of Rome. It mostly has to do with being young, naive, and very stupid. In college I sang in a women's trio. We sang acapella and had a pretty nice sound. The two girls I sang with were the Seaman sisters. Since my last name started with "A", we called ourselves ASS (not really, but we always alluded to the fact that if we used our initials this would be our name). The hotel where we stayed in Rome was very close to the Spanish Steps, and we walked down there several times. One evening as we stood at the top of the steps looking at the beautiful view one of our friends said, "Why don't you sing a song." So we did. A few people clapped appreciatively. So we sang another song. A small crowd began to form. Performers like an audience, so we thought that was good. We sang a few more songs and then began to realize that the crowd was getting REALLY big and that it was mostly men and that they were standing very close to us. When they started to touch our hair and skin and say words like bella and amore we figured out that they weren't talking about our music. It was time to get out of there! It's hard to escape when you are surrounded. We finally got back to our hotel, but not before we were really frightened and realized how stupid we had been. So, if your kids are going off on semester abroad, you might want to have the "don't call attention to yourself" conversation before they go.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Garage Sale

Whoohoo! It's garage sale season again! I saw my first sign last weekend, and it was like someone had kissed my eyes. There's something really empowering about a pocketful of one dollar bills. I found some great little treasures for our family reunion this summer. You know, prizes for the "fishing pond" or bingo. I know that not all garage sales were created equal, and there are probably areas of the country where you get "exactly what you pay for." But in our community, I'm constantly amazed at the things people are getting rid of. I almost always find some little prize I've always wished I had. Randy always asks me when I'll be back. I say, "When my dollars are gone."

There's actually one specific thing I've been looking for for several years. In 1982, the Waterford Crystal Company started a "Twelve Days of Christmas" tree ornament series. In 1983, dear friends of our started giving us the new ornament each year. So now we have all the set from two to twelve. I thought it would be great to complete the set so I've been checking with replacement companies. The Partridge in a Pear Tree ornament, which originally sold for $25.00 now costs $599.95. I'd really love to have the full set, but not at that price. I'm sure that somewhere, some little grandma is cleaning out her basement. It may be the only ornament she has of the set, and what will she ever do with it? It has no value to her. Selling it at the neighborhood garage sale seems like a good idea, and she could use the $1.00 for something else. I haven't found it yet, but I haven't given up. If you see it, buy it for me!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 21, 2008


This past weekend was our stake conference. For the stake president's family that means lots of angst and stress in the weeks leading up to the conference. There are dozens of people worrying about all the details such as preparing the building, ushering, parking issues, music, etc. For Randy, the issue is preparing his talks. I say, "Pick a topic -- any topic. Somebody needs to hear it." But not Randy. He goes through weeks of earnest pleading, pondering, reading, and drafting until he is confident he's figured what he's supposed to say. It was a wonderful conference. I do have to say that it is a sweet relief when it is over. We had both been tense for so long that we really enjoyed this little bit of levity we received yesterday. A first grade teacher gave each of her students the first half of a well-known proverb. They wrote the second half. Here's a couple of my favorites:

1. Strike while the bug is close.
2. You can lead a horse to water but how?
3. Don't bite the hand that looks dirty.
4. No news is impossible.
5. A miss is as good as a Mr.
6. Love all, trust me.
7. An idle mind is the best way to relax.
8. Where there's smoke there's pollution.
9. A penny saved is not much!
10. Don't put off till tomorrow what you put on to go to bed.
11. You get out of something only what you see in the picture on the box.
12. A bird in the hand is going to poop on you.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Thirty-seven years ago today, Randy and I were working on our last requirement to receive our Master M-Man and Golden Gleaner Awards, and that was to dance in the floorshow at the Gold and Green Ball. It was our last rehearsal, and even though I was nearly 10 months pregnant with a child we thought would have been born three weeks before, and even though I had gone into labor earlier in the day, we went to the practice. Yes, it wasn't easy cha-chaing around the dance floor, but hey, it was nothing compared to squeezing into my little cha-cha costume exactly one week after delivery. But dance we did! And we have the certificates to prove it!

We were absolutely thrilled when our first baby boy was born. We named him after his dad, which we've since decided is not a really good idea. For the first couple of years we called him Zeke. But when other people started to call him Zeke, we decided it was time for a real name, so we called him "Little" Randy. But, how do you call an amazing world-renowned scientist who has exceeded his parents in every way "Little" anything. And so he has come to be known as "Randy the Younger." Happy Birthday, Randy the Younger. Hope you have a great day!
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Shall We Dance?

It's prom season. There's a lot of talk among the young people about invitations, dresses, and limosines. "The Prom" has come a long way since I was in high school. In those days, a boy simply called on the phone and asked if you'd like to go. Our mothers made our dresses, and it was not uncommon for a couple to walk to the dance and home again afterward. As each of our children passed through high school "the prom" became more and more complicated and expensive. By the time Quinn was a senior, we offered him a trip anywhere in the continental United States if he didn't go to prom. To us, it seemed easier and probably less expensive. (He didn't accept our offer). Quinn went to high school during the era of the "Creative Ask." Once he went to a girl's home, spread Hershey's kisses on her bedroom floor and put rose petals in her shower. The invitation said, "I've showered you with roses and kissed the ground you walk on. Now will you please go to prom with me!" Another year we were remodeling our bathroom. Quinn kept the old toilet and put it on a girl's porch with an invitation that said, "If you want to go, please go with me." I don't imagine that girl's parents were thrilled about having to dispose of that invitation.

Randy and I may have actually been among the early "creative askers." When our two oldest children were 14 and 15 (old enough to attend, but not old enough to date), we thought it would be fun to "double" with them for the stake Gold and Green Ball. Randy wanted me to think of a special way to invite them. So I bought five cans of soda, labeled them, and delivered them to our neighbor to be "Ding-dong ditched" on our porch. We were eating dinner when the doorbell rang the first time. There on the porch was a can of Squirt labeled "To Kristin and Randy: Hey, SQUIRT, wanna go to the Gold and Green Ball with us?" We never dreamed they wouldn't know from the get-go that it was from us. But there was quite a little conversation about who in the stake might be teaming up to take the two of them. The doorbell rang again. It was a can of Mountain Dew -- "If you want to go, just say "We DEW!" More excitement. The third ring was a can of Orange Crush -- "We'll be CRUSHED if you say no!" Then came "Be ready to go at 7-UP!" By now, Kristin and Randy had combed their hair, brushed their teeth, and changed their clothes in hopes that their suitors were coming back to reveal themselves. Randy and I were rolling our eyeballs at each other. This was not what we had expected. What were we going to do now?! The final can arrived -- "Let's go to dinner first, and we'll pick up the TAB." Kristin looked at Randy and said, "It's probably mom and dad." We had orchestrated the ultimate disappointment. But they went with us, and we actually had a very good time.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Gingersnaps, anyone?

Our whole family loves my gingersnap recipe--soft, chewy, and yummy, so we make big batches. Recently I've discovered a new recipe that uses gingersnaps. If you like German food, you'll want to try this recipe.

(Williams Sonoma Recipe -- Slow Cooker Book)

Boneless beef chuck roast (about 3 lbs.)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 cup beef broth
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 bay leaf
1/2 head red cabbage, thinly sliced
12-16 gingersnaps, finely crushed

Sprinkle the meat with ground ginger and rub in. Season with salt and ground pepper. Place meat in crockpot. Cover with chopped onions. Bring the broth, vinegar, and brown sugar to a boil to dissolve sugar. Pour over the meat and add the bay leaf. Place the crockpot in the fridge overnight. The next day cook on low setting for about five hours. Remove meat. Add chopped cabbage. and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Put meat back on top of cabbage. Turn heat to high setting for another 2 hours. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Transfer the roast to a cutting board, and transfer the braised cabbage to a serving bowl. Stir enough of the crushed gingersnaps into the liquid in the slow cooker to form a thick gravy. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Slice meat across the grain. Serve the gravy with Spaetzele or rice.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Areviderci, Roma

Our good friend, Dick, is in Rome right now. Yesterday he emailed home with an account of all the wonderful experiences they are having. My first trip to Rome was in 1962. I have two very vivid memories. I had participated in the Utah Shakespearean Festival that summer. After striking the set, the cast set out for an 8-week European adventure. The entire trip (including airfare, lodging, transportation, and all entrance fees) was only $600, so it won't be hard for you to believe that Europe on Five Dollars a Day was our bible. We stayed in youth hostels, out-of-the-way Gasthauses and student housing. But when we got to Rome, we stayed in a real hotel. It was old and beautiful, with lots of wood, carved moldings, and sweeping, curved marble staircases on both sides of the lobby.

There was a sign posted in each room clearly stating that no food was to be eaten in the rooms. But students will be students, and we were hungry students. Very quickly we had accumulated an entire two-handled paper shopping bag full of watermelon rinds, pastry wrappers, and Limonade bottles. We couldn't leave them in the room for the housekeeper to discover, and somehow the lot fell to me to carry the bag downstairs and out to a trash can on the street.

At twenty years of age, I was still hoping to become sophisticated. And so, with one hand lightly resting on the carved banister, head erect, and eyes straight ahead, I began my descent. Just as I reached the mid-point, the soggy bottom of the bag gave way. Watermelon rinds catapulted end over end, spraying seeds against the wall. The Limonade bottles clanked their way to the bottom, then rolled across the lobby floor to the front desk. As a SWAT team of bellmen and custodial staff materialized out of thin air, I could only shrug my shoulders, raise my eyebrows, and give them my most innocent "Who, me?!" look. The only two Italian words I know are "Areviderci, Roma," and fortunately, they didn't use those two.

My other memory surrounds the Spanish Steps, a "crush" of Italian men, and a flight for life. Curious?

Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 14, 2008

Safe Delivery

Hey, all you bloggers, I'm back! Whenever I go to Utah I have my favorite haunts -- BYU Bookstore, Nielson's Custard, Distribution Center, Lehi Roller Mills, Seagull Books, Kneaders, Cafe Rio, Expidex. No trip is a success without stopping at a few of my favorites. This trip, however, was so busy that I didn't have time to get to a single one of them; not even the BYU Bookstore, even though I was on campus for four days. As I was driving out of town on Saturday I drove past the Busy Biddy. Some strange, uncontrolable urge just took over and forced me to flip a quick U turn and go in. I resisted the $139 dollar jacket that caught my eye, but as I was leaving, that same uncontrolable force took over and "made" me buy this yard lantern for our front porch. What was I thinking?! I already had two bags to check, a briefcase and a purse. How in the world was I going to get a huge lantern on the plane. I managed to stuff my purse into my briefcase and that got me through security. But when I tried to put the langern in the overhead bin, it didn't fit. Nor did it fit underneath the seat. I was forced to call the flight attendant for help. Since it was so large, the only bag it would fit in was a plastic garbage bag, which didn't seem like much protection to be placed in the baggage hold. I watched the flight attendant carry it up the aisle, but instead of going out the door, he carried it into the cockpit. The pilot removed the plastic bag (to make certain it was what I said it was). Then they gently seat-belted it into the jump seat behind the pilot for safe transport. I love Southwest Airlines!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 4, 2008

Do you Remember?

Tomorrow I leave for board meetings at BYU. I realize that for many, BYU is "the school they love to hate." At the risk of offending some, may I just say that for me, BYU is the school I love, period. In fact, I don't just love it -- I'm passionate about it. You need to know that my loyalty isn't because that's the only school I've ever attended. I went to BYU for two years. I spent an additional five years at two other universities. BYU is different. We talk a lot about the "Spirit of the Y." The Spirit of the Y is actually THE Spirit. It's an amazing and unique place that offers the environment where the Spirit can be operative in every aspect of your life. Whenever I hear a BYU student say, "Oh, BYU is okay," there is a little part inside of me that cries, because I think to myself, "She doesn't get it! She's missed it!" And how sad is that.

Here are a few things that I love about BYU and that evoke pleasant memories for me.

Posted by Picasa