Last Week

Last week was a wrestle. I wrestled with church dilemmas, the clock, illnesses, and expectations. But there was a three-tiered cake one night, and clean surfaces everywhere, evidence that when I am doing mental work, physical work goes right along with it.

Last week,  there was so much calling me to stay home with the family. They needed my skills, my advice, my health, my early mornings, late nights, afternoon errands, and my touch.

Last week’s lessons:

  • Don’t bury concerns. Express them.
  • BYU application essay editing is a good way to spend a LOT of time with your senior. BYU requires six, people. Six!
  • You can’t wash your hands too often during flu season.
  • The boost in morale will come.
  • It’s ok to choose the less time-consuming option.
  • Conversations happen away from screens.
  • I experienced a miracle.
  • Everyone’s faith is a little different, even within the same church, and that is ok.
  • God knows ahead of time when I will fail to act, whether from laziness or pulls from different directions. He prepared a contingency plan or two last week so people were still cared for.
  • Life is long. I don’t have to do it all at once.
  • To write is to be vulnerable.
  • The sacrament is so precious to me.

Family update


    Richard is a busy Scoutmaster. One night he took Mark with his Scout troop to tour the State Capitol.
Mark is in his last weeks as a Bear in Cub Scouts.
Richard is doing an amazing job working with these boys. Recently, all of the deacons completed their requirements for Duty to God. The incentive? Doughnuts.
Timothy participated in the school district band concert, the only trombone player from his band to be selected.
Our tree erupted into masses of blossoms, its boughs weighed down in heroic efforts to be lovely. Seriously, we have never seen such blossoms on our magnificent tree.
We watched our nephew for a couple of weeks and we resurrected the toys and board books from storage to entertain him.
Mark is our only baseball player this season, and from now on. If the pitch is good you can count on him to get a hit.
This is the ONLY quilting I have had time to do in a month, but this English Paper piecing project was mostly done by hand, while watching Fixer Upper on Netflix.
Paige moved out of the dorms and into a little apartment on University Avenue owned by my parents. She is attending school this summer. Over the past few weeks we learned that she received a full scholarship and was accepted into two art programs. She declared her major to be Illustration. Sorry, Paige if I have this project oriented the wrong way. I love it in any direction.
This is an old picture, but Daniel is elusive. Busy with a new job as a clerk at Geneva Rock, playing piano, and studying for an AP test, he has many interesting conversations with friends about Prom coming up in a few weeks.
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Photo by Janine Clarke. When I looked at this picture of our Relief Society choir, the first thought was, a stranger would never guess that the little woman with the messy ponytail on the back row is serving as the Relief Society president. I don’t look presidential. I am young. When I sang in this choir I trembled and thought I was going to fall over from fright. See how weak I am? My calling is hard. I hear sad things and the hardest thing is that I want to run to people all the time, but I can’t and shouldn’t. I am not the solution to anybody’s problems, but I do think I can point them to the real solutions in Christ. I do this with hugs, meals, visits, notes, teaching, and prayer. So much of what I do is on my own, but my counselors and secretary are the very best and hold me up in countless ways, whether it’s encouraging words, powdered sugar late at night, driving, taking over when I am too busy with family emergencies, and teaching me. They also make me laugh. I didn’t know them when I asked for them to be in my presidency, but my Father in Heaven knew I needed them.


My Grandmother’s Obituary

Photo by Rachel Gee. We attended Richard’s dad’s 80th birthday party in St George. Good times.

Paige and her roommates


Well. These pictures of these young ladies make me smile. Paige has had a great first semester of college. Not only are these ladies smart, beautiful, talented, and have great taste in movies, they have the best-smelling apartment and coziest living room. Photos by Erica’s mom (I think!)

Bells, piano keys, hymns, Relief Society, symphony, art, and black socks


It was a week of music for our family. We watched Daniel play in his first bell choir concert. His current bell assignment is to play some of the big bass bells. He says playing these bells is like pouring out a full gallon of milk with each note, your wrist and forearms carefully managing the weight. In other words, they are heavy. I felt Christmas drift through the air as they played, even though these weren’t Christmas pieces. December will be a busy month for bells and they will be playing at Temple Square. I am really looking forward to that.

The boys had a piano recital. Daniel played Preludium in E minor by Felix Mendelssohn. Timothy played Little Story by Sergei Prokofieff. Mark played Etude in A minor by Dmitri Kabalevsky. (Like those names mean anything…) I know the pieces just by the tunes. I rarely learn the names and composers, but I sing along in my head to every piece, well-learned by echoes moving through the house at all hours.

I did Relief Society things. Lots of that, but the specific lessons I am learning and the heartache and loneliness that I am exposed to is part of a private journey that I am taking with some sisters. We can all be more aware of, prayerful, and helpful to others.

In general, I spoke at a Relief Society meeting, participated in a ward council meeting, and presented specific ways to involve women in decisions and discussions and how to improve in ministering to others; I also counseled with the Bishop in a private meeting. I wrote, helped set up tables, washed linens, baked, and cooked. I texted, wrote letters, and talked on the phone. I hugged people who were crying and received counsel about how to do things better. I visited a sister late one night. I listened and admired. I thought hard and made plans. I used my calligraphy skills. I drew strength from scripture study and prayer and hugs from Richard. Please don’t think I am bragging. I am painting a picture of our life. I am not unique in what I do.

On Saturday Richard and I joined my sister Sarah and her husband Bryan for dinner at Lamb’s and the symphony.


Daniel played the organ in church on Sunday. A sister on our row in church lifted her infant son dressed in a flannel shirt and I remembered Daniel at that age wearing a flannel shirt. I looked at the contrast between this infant and Daniel at the organ and marveled at the time that has passed without effort. I held that tall young man in my arms not so long ago.


We visited Paige for a few minutes on Sunday night and as always I asked to see some of her art. This was one of her doodles-in-progress, not for an art class. She is critical of it, but there is LIFE in this drawing. I had to share it.


Also, even her scrap pieces of paper with color gradations and paint mixes could be hung on the wall. I smile every time I visit the dorms because the windows and walls are more decorated each time. Twinkle lights, banners, flags representing mission calls to other countries, and little touches of homemaking are creeping into each unit.

And finally, there is Timothy, who goes to school in the dark early hours for jazz band practice. I bought him some new black shoes and black socks to wear with shorts because that’s what you wear now, at least in middle school. It looked strange at first, like they forgot to change out of their dress socks, but I’m good with it now.

Oh, and Halloween is this Saturday and Mark and I have not made any progress on his costume. Aaack!

This post might be TMI but I don’t feel like editing out pieces of our story today like I usually do.

The Stroller and as much of a dropping-off-at-BYU post as I can write

Sparky hoped to stow away to college
A parting gift
The dorm room, not decorated, but fantastic.

The stroller

Spring of 1998 was the first time I watched the Texas bluebonnets bloom along the roadways. We were building a new house. I had time to do projects and I spent some of that time sewing clothing for one-year-old Paige. I bought cheerful flowered fabrics for play clothes and a gauzy organza fabric for her Easter dress.

This time was the beginning of a focused effort to acquire toys for our little girl. I didn’t know then that toys are something you only need to buy for a few years. Once you’ve got a good collection, they seem to multiply magically in the closets and bins.

One day I drove Paige to the mall in Cedar Park to visit the toy store. Paige picked out a pink doll-sized stroller, a perfect size for her to push. She was so excited about it that I let her push the stroller through the mall. She began to move ahead of me and I was left to follow her. I watched her bob ahead of me with her cute short haircut, hot pink sandals, and handmade pink dress. Because I was a few steps behind her, I saw the smiles from shoppers as they noticed this little woman walking so confidently with her stroller.

I can still remember the rattly-scraping sound that the wheels made on the floors and sidewalks. I will never forget the print of her pink dress nor the love she granted to each of her dolls that rode in the stroller.

I don’t know why certain memories stay with me while others are lost. Perhaps this memory of Paige pushing her stroller stays because her little form, pushing forward on her own, became a glimpse of what I would experience again and again, observing her become more independent. I couldn’t have appreciated at the time that this scene was the first of many, where I would watch our children move beyond our reach to become who they are.

Just as I watched the smiles of strangers that day, I’ve seen the delight that my children’s reaching has pulled from observers. I’ve been blessed with friends who have loved our children and doted on them and shown support for their dance, baseball, and piano feats. The feeling I have at these moments when my children perform or move to the next phase is full, sometimes painful, and expansive. My heart races to catch up as my children move ahead with strengths I couldn’t imagine for them.

It’s when I give them the freedom to move out of my reach that I’ve had better perspective of what they can become. But, oh, the ache that comes with my smile!