Sunday, January 31, 2010

Alas, Babylon

This book is on my list to read in 2010. I started it yesterday and finished it this morning. I remember my mom reading this book growing up and saying that it was a good book. I found myself thinking of her often as I read it and feeling closer to her. I wish I could call her up and discuss it.

For those of you who haven't read it, Alas Babylon was written in 1959 and is considered a classic. It is about a group of US citizens and how they survive after nuclear war with Russia. I can only imagine my feelings had I read it during the Cold War. It was a really interesting read looking at the relationship dynamics, the skills each offered and the resources the group used. Each member of the group provided and shared the resources they had but more importantly the knowledge they had. I especially noticed how the poorest family at the beginning, provided the most useful skills of farming, hunting, fishing, and doing without. Without them, the group most likely would not have made it. While I did make a mental list of things it would be good to have on hand in emergencies, it really made me think of skills that I would like to have one day. I also loved how people falling in the cracks before The Day, older retirees and spinsters, truly came into their own and had much to offer the new community.

I was thinking back to the crisis in my life - our home burning down when I was 16, the ice storm two years ago, unemployment. Each of the crisis have effected my immediate family while life continued for those around us.  In a way, I think that has made it harder. For the citizens in Alas, Babylon, the crisis affected the entire community and they all had to pull together. I know families in dire situations that are islands unto themselves as their crisis does not effect others. It has made me think how important it is for us to choose to rally around each other, to help each other, each offering our resources and skills. Anyway, it just made me think...

I enjoyed the book. Definitely one I would like to discuss with someone else.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Get Up and Go

is Get Up and Done!

I spent a hour or so yesterday repacking our 72 hour kits. (A small rolling suitcase filled with everything we would need for 72 hours if we were refugees due to some catastrophe like a fire or ice storm or tornado or hurricane or... you get the picture.)

Our previously packed kits had been dumped into garbage bags when we needed the back packs for something else. Then because of the easy access, little items started being pilfered. All the treats were gone. Both pocket knives were in Ryan's room. I had used the tampons when I was out a few months ago and the money had been used to put gas in the car before I started my teacher's salary. It was time to update.

The most frustrating thing was I couldn't find my master list on the computer. I changed computers last summer and I thought I had emailed all my important documents to myself. The 72 hr. kit list was not important I guess because I couldn't find it. I finally found an old hard copy file in the file cabinet and spent some time re-typing it. While I did spend  some time yesterday creating a Drop Box account to store all my documents, I thought I would copy it here for a second reference and to help any of you.

I used to have my kits in large school bags - one for each person with as much of the same stuff as possible. When I had to use my kits during an ice storm two years ago (we were living at the church), I realized a few things that weren't working for me. Way too many bags! Too many back packs, too many little sandwich zip lock bags. Drove me crazy. So now I have one roller suitcase with 1 smaller back pack. Much better!

Hope you are warm!

72 Hour Kits

Food & Water
3 gallons Water & water bottle
72 hours food (see below)
1 – lg metal cup
1 metal spoon
Water filter or Purification tablets

Warmth & Shelter
Matches (Waterproof & Strike Anywhere)
Rain poncho
Blankets (space & Wool )
White sheet
Inflatable pillow & earplugs

Sweats (blue bottoms & grey tops)
2 Underwear
2 socks

Personal Hygiene
1 roll TP
Hand Sanitizer
Bar Soap
Wash Cloth
Toothpaste & brush
Hand lotion
Contact Solution & Case
Glasses & case
Chap stick
Hair barrette & elastics
Feminine products
Laundry Soap

First Aid
First Aid Kit:
            Alcohol wipes
            Latex gloves
            Cough drops
            Triple antibiotic
Thermo monitor
Ace bandage
Safety pins
ER booklet (BSA)
Consecrated oil

Tools & Communications
Calling card (pre-paid)
Pocket Knife
Sewing Kit
Flashlight & batteries
Paper, pen, pencil, & sharpie
HAM radio
Map (laminated)
3 trash bags
Rubber bands
Baby Wipes
2 Disposable diapers
Scriptures (military size)
Good book (funny short stories)

Money & Documents
Fanny pack (necessary to hold all the important stuff) 
$50.00 - $100.00 (small bills)
ID card (name, SS#, DOB, address, phone #’s, ICE#)
Child ID cards w/ fingerprints
Medical prescriptions & Dr. info
Extra house & car keys
Back-up CDs (computer, genealogy, photos)
Copies (patriarchal blessing, insurance policies – car, life, medical, 
shot records, birth certificates, SS cards, Driver’s License, Passport, Car titles)

Seasonal Stuff
Heavy socks
Stocking hats/Gloves/Scarf/ear band
Hand warmers
Bug repellant

Food Ideas
Applesauce/fruit/pineapple cups
Breakfast / Granola Bars
Hot chocolate/cider
Honey Packets
Crackers (saltines/graham/ animal/Ritz)
Tuna or chicken pouches
Soup – dried mixes/pop-tops
Vienna Sausages
Seeds & Nuts
Cheese & Crackers
Trail mix / Jerky
Raisins/Dried Fruit
Fruit snacks/roll-ups
Cookies / Pudding / Jello cups
 Hard Candy / Gum

Don’t Forget to Grab:
Heavy shoes
Wallet / Keys
Cell phone & charger

Friday, January 29, 2010

My Life - Memories of Wood Stoves

I decided I would record some of my memories of the past once in a while. With my windows covered in ice, my memories of wood stoves seemed appropriate.

We always had a wood stove for heat growing up. I love wood stoves - the glow, the warmth, the security. I found that there are many life lessons learned with a wood stove.

First, they teach you work. I have tons of memories of our family getting together with our friends Jack, Lucy and their kids and spending a Saturday gathering wood. Jack and Lucy lived in the woods of South Central Washington. We would sing songs as a family on the hour drive to their house. I remember singing tons of scout songs, especially "Quarter Master Store". And my dad would tell stories and point out all the wildlife along the way.

My dad and Jack would run the chain saws and we kids would gather the logs and stack them in the trucks. The moms helped some but mostly cooked dinner. Jack and Lucy's house was a child's paradise. Their daughter Tina and I had a make-believe playhouse under some trees. The shrubs grew up to form a tunnel we would use to enter our "home". The boys would build forts in the mud in the summer. Sometimes the dads would get out their guns and practice shooting. Sometimes we would go on four-wheeler rides. When the pond froze, the dads would give us rides on shovels across the ice.

After a long day of work and play, we would have a WONDERFUL dinner together. Lucy is a great cook. Tina and I had the chore of dishes after dinner (neither family ever had a dishwasher) and I remember us talking about how we were never going to make our kids do all the clean up for 10-12 people!

My favorite time came after dinner. Jack would get out his guitar and my dad would either sing with him or play his harmonica and they would sing tons of folk songs by the crackling fire. I remember "Peter, Paul and Mary" songs, and other folk songs. A favorite was "I'm in Love with a Big Blue Frog." We would stay late and almost always see deer or other animals on our way home before we fell asleep.

When we got home, we had to stack all the wood. I have learned from sad experience the best way to stack wood. Another life lesson - do it right the first time! And, a little mistake early on does make a big difference later. There is nothing worse that having your stack fall over towards the end. I also learned to work together. It really doesn't take very long to unload a truck when we all worked together. We learned to work assembly line fashion and to carry large loads to make it go faster.

I also learned to be grateful for my brothers who had the job of keeping the wood box full in the house. They would make a dozen trips out in the snow and cold to bring the wood in. I learned how to start a fire (again - do it right the first time!), how to use and appreciate things like newspapers and dryer lint. I learned the importance of cleaning out the ashes and keeping the chimney clean. I learned the importance of a little thing called a flue.

I love the glow and warmth of a fire. I love to stand by a fire and soak up the warmth. I love the self-sufficiency of having a wood stove. Power outages were never a big deal - we had heat and many times cooked on our stove. A pot of boiling water brings humidity and warmth to a cold room.

When we were in grade school, my brother and I would dress by the fire (we each took a side) as it would be freezing in our rooms. My brother has a scar on each butt cheek where he bent over too close to the stove and branded his derrière. Twice! I do not have any such scars.

Last memory of a wood stove. I tended a goat farm and 4 young girls once when the parents were away for a few days. The family didn't have any electricity and used a wood cook stove as their heat and cooking stove. It was an adventure. It was hard - we had to stoke the fire every 4 hours (night and day) to keep it going because it was a bugger to re-light. The wood had to be very small to fit in the stove. I learned to cook on it. I love that experience. It taught me an appreciation for the past and provided a wealth of learning.

I love wood stoves. My dream house has one, maybe even two. The memories and the lessons are worth every minute of the work. I find that I miss the old wood stove all year long. I miss gathering wood in the summer. I miss the heat and crackle in the winter. Maybe my landlord would let me make some modifications...

Thursday, January 28, 2010


So my alarm went off at 6 (I was already awake typing on the blog). As I shut it off, my phone rang. School is closed today. Outside I can heard the freezing rain hit the windows. Another ice storm is coming today. Supposedly a mixture of the horrible ice storm we had 2 yrs. ago and the horrible blizzard we had 6 weeks ago.  I lost power for a week in the last ice storm and with my then husband 2.5 hours away, my kids and I ended up living at the church. My scars from that week are still very pink and tender. I am soooo praying I don't loose power. And that the monster tree in my back yard doesn't come crashing through my roof. If those two things hold, I should be good for some time.

I filled up the gas tank last night, got some cash, and picked up milk and bread from Walmart. Hard to believe it was 63 degrees yesterday. Walmart was an interesting site. The shelves were bare. And I mean bare. The entire bread aisle only had about a 12 loaves left and a 3 or 4 packages of tortillas. Cereal was wiped out. Cake mixes, jello and most of the puddings - gone. Sugar - gone. The dairy aisle was holding it's own but was at least half gone. Most of the produce was gone. Except for broccoli - lots of that to be had. I saw 3 oranges left in an entire display. The lines were horrific. Why, oh why is it sooooo hard to hire a few cashiers????? Why are the slowest ones on the express lanes? They probably have 12 registers open today when no one will be there. Roll eyes.

With power, I love an ice storm. I love being stuck at home. I plan on a crock pot full of chili or some other incredible yummy soup, clean my house, read a book, play games, tackle projects, and just soak up every second. Without power... well let's just not consider an ice storm without power.

I posted the following about my last ice storm experience a week or two after. I thought I would post it here for easy reference and a reminder. One of my projects today will be to update and repack the 72 hour kits.

Anyway- Enjoy & stay warm!

Jan. 1, 2008
What I learned living without power for a week:
As far as our Get-up & Go kits - the good:
1. Money! I had some cash which is unusual. But it was a wonderful blessing to have 50.00 in the kits. Especially since the only gas station I could find on the second day only accepted cash.

2. The Hygiene kits were wonderful. It was wonderful to grab the bag and have everything together.

3. Treats bag- also very helpful. It was full of hot chocolate/cider, hard candy, granola bars, gum, etc.

4. Large mugs for everyone & hand crank flashlights (Walmart - $18.00) were great. The flashlights were actually a gift for dh. We gave him one a few days before the storm when he was traveling through some bad weather to another town. The other we opened during the storm. The light is very strong and they have a cell phone charger port. VERY HANDY!

5. Chapstick- it was cold and we were out a lot. The chapstick was a wonderful luxury that made things a lot better.

6. Long johns, wool socks, and wool blanket. The first night we stayed at home and those things really helped as our house cooled down. We continued to use them at others' homes as it took a long time for us to warm up - it was like we were still chilled on the inside.

Things I will do differently:
1. Suitcases- our kits are in large school backpacks. I ended up with tons of bags including stuff we added that it not typically in our ER kits. Half way through the week I went home and got a large suitcase and repacked everything. It was sooooo much easier to move around with things were on wheels. I will keep the bags, but I will also pack one or two med. size family suitcase(s).

2. Fanny pack - I was carrying everything. My pockets were full and it was hard to remember where everything was. My license fell out of my pocket and the missionaries found it. It took me two days to hook up with the Bishop to get it back. I will be adding a fanny pack that will have the cash, my wallet, chapstick, cell phone & charger, & glasses/case.

3. Bathroom bag- When I went to the shower at the church I was carrying 2 or 3 bags of stuff. I am going to put all the bathroom stuff in an old make-up bag and keep all the stuff together.

4. My list of things I needed over the week and had to return home for:
Contact case (our kits had solution, but no case)
Glasses case
Razor (I was feeling a bit European by the end of the week)
Conditioner (no idea why I didn't have this)
Cough/Cold medicine
Laundry Soap (some packets would have been great. I had to borrow from the RS pres. & my friend had to pay a ton at a laundry mat)
Inflatable Pillows (carrying everyones pillows from place to place, was not fun. Yet pillows help a lot to keep one happy and rested.)

Lastly, many people asked us what they could do to help, but we didn't want to feel like a burden, esp. since others were struggling as well. I learned to not ask, but do. Just show up with a pot of chili or come take the laundry. We (the four families living at the church) would not have said no. We were very grateful for the sisters who brought homemade stew & bread and another night, lasanga. We were doing fine on our own, but it really boosted our spirits to have those meals brought in. 

Tortoise Update

I've gone back and forth on whether I wanted to post about Weight Watchers. I don't want to become a single subject blog. On the other hand, I like the reality of posting as I am going. Most of the time people talk about weight after they have lost 20+ lbs. few times do we discuss those painful beginnings. So every other week or so, I will post how it is going. Maybe.

I weighed in on Monday and I had lost 1.6 for a total of 8.2 lbs. I was happy with a loss until I got into the meeting and heard people talking about 8.8 losses! Why is it that we always. have. to. compare. ourselves????  But then as I thought about it, I was happy with 1.6. I have heard it said that it is only safe to loose 2 lbs per week (probably said by someone who only lost 2 lbs per week ) but more importantly, it took me a long time to put on the weight. I didn't gain 8 lbs overnight so why should I expect to loose 8 lbs overnight? In a way, I am embracing that this will be slow and hard.

The meeting leader made a comment that resonated with me - "our new normal". I have seen that word before - dealing with foster kids created a new normal for our family. The divorce created a new normal and working full time created a new normal that I still struggle to embrace. So my new normal consists of oatmeal almost every morning. Oh, my mother is laughing in heaven. I grew up on hot cereal of which I really despise. Oatmeal was the least offensive to me but I have only eaten it a handful of times since I left home many long years ago. I have now had it almost daily for 2 weeks. It hasn't been that bad (yes, I use a full  tablespoon of brown sugar to wash it down with and it is worth the point).  Oatmeal is WONDERFUL because I am not hungry until 1:00! And I don't need as much lunch to keep me full and satisfied. More points for later when I really need them.

My new normal also consists of WW veggie soup or a salad every day. I need to have both on hand because I really don't care for salad on cold days. I am also learning to appreciate fruit as a dessert. Oh, rest assured that chocolate is still a part of my normal. Let's not get out of hand. My chocolate stand bys are 100 cal. pack Oreos (bought at Aldi's - much cheaper and I like them better than the name brand oreos) eat one slowly with a cup of milk - hmmm. See's chocolate suckers - they are heaven on a stick and worth every bit of 2 points as they last fooooorever. Lastly, chocolate Nips. Looooove them. Only 30 calories each without any aspartame! I can only find them at CVS so I bought out the store the other night and filled a jar at home and one at school. Carmel and chocolate - who could ask for more?

I have yet to get a lick of exercise. I soon came to realize that I had to get my sleep under control before I could add exercise. I have been working on going to bed at 10 so that I can get up at 5a.m. I don't always make it but I am trying.  I used to enjoy 8 hours of sleep. Then I became a mother and learned to function on 6 - but I pretty much needed a full 6. Enter the divorce. For the past 2 years (can you believe it?) I haven't slept well. At the very beginning, I sobbed for hours and woke up with a headache and my eyes swollen shut. As reality set in,  I would have the most real dreams where I would wake up not sure what I had dreamed and what was real. Seriously. I would question Ryan trying to sort out my reality every morning because I wasn't sure. Kind of a scary time - I thought I was loosing my mind. Over the last year, I just don't sleep much at all. I have learned to function on 3 or 4 hours for days at a time and then I will crash and sleep for 8 or 9 hours straight. The nights that are the worse are when Ryan is gone for visitation or Sunday nights because as soon as I go to sleep, it means my time is over and I need to go to work when I get up in the morning.  Anyway, I share all of this to illustrate the challenge I have in getting my sleep patterns under control. I have gone to bed at 10ish the last few nights and I actually woke up at 5 (my desired work out time) this morning without an alarm. Making progress.

And on the exercise note - I decided on what I want to do. Dance. I have a dance mix exercise dvd so I will start with that one. I loved dance when I was a kid. And not many know this, but there is a family dance for the Nauvoo Pageant cast every Friday night after the show. It was soooo much fun. They bring a DJ and a karaoke machine and it is serious laughs. Last year I LOVED  the line dances but I didn't know them. So I want to learn the Cotton Eyed Joe and some others before I go. An added plus would be coordination as I don't have much. Ok, any.

Well, there you have it. My update. Now go forth and conqueror.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Everyday Miracles in the Hood

Today I walked through the gym after loading kids into cars at the end of the day and saw a sight that made my eyes mist up and my heart just about burst from my chest. A fourth grader was practicing a lay-up with the 4th grade basketball team. This particular 4th grader, J, was my student last year. He is the poster child for a hurt and damaged child. And when the emotions of his life got to be too much, he would explode. We experienced screaming meltdowns, shredded homework, flying pencils and thrown desks last year. I became expert in noticing the signs and talking him down off the cliff of his emotions. I don't think I can really explain the spot the J has in my heart. I love him. And he knows I do. I would take him home with me in an instant if I could. This year started off pretty rough for him. J & his teacher experienced a few personality conflicts and I was called on to calm him down a few times. Eventually, he was moved into another classroom and things have been much better although there is still a long way to go. But seeing this hurt little kiddo find the confidence was a miracle. I walked up to him after his lay up and hugged him. I love that he hugged me back. I asked when his next game is so I can come watch. Thursday at 5. If I have to poke nails through my shoes to get home in the ice storm that is coming on Thurs. I will be there. 

I had another little student last year who was practicing with the team. Another J but this one sooooo quiet. Whatever he did say was so quiet you could hardly hear him. It came up with him mom last year that he wanted to read in Spanish but they didn't have any books. I fixed that. Every week or two he comes and finds me and borrows another book from my personal Spanish library. The other day I took him to the Library and showed him where he can check out other books in Spanish. 

I had a little Vietnamese tomboy in my class last year. She loved being tough. She stops by my class once or twice a week and brings me letters and notes that she has written in centers. She always wants a hug. Last week she brought me a late Christmas present - a snow globe she had made. I am going to have a folk art shelf in my house dedicated to all the wonderful kid gifts I have been given. 

Last week, we were discussing needs vs. wants and the subject of Haiti came up. We talked about it and then more importantly, I asked, "what can you do about it?" I wanted them to know they have the power to change the world, so I offered them a challenge. I said I would pay a nickel for every book they read in one week. So my readers have taken off. But they wanted to help too. I told them they needed to talk to their parents and I sent home a note asking them to help their child read. Well, this week has been amazing. They have brought in their change and given up their popcorn money. We have almost $100! And they know that they did it. I can hardly wait until we count it all and give it to the Red Cross. 

Why do I share all of this? So that I remember. So that I remember that I made a difference. So that I remember the difference they made in me. So I remember the power of one. So I remember the power of love.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Reality Bites

I thought I would check in. On my first week on weight watchers, I lost 6.6 lbs. This week, I maintained. I am not discouraged, but my reality has been a bit hard. It has been enlightening and a bit daunting to see how far away from healthy I had become.

Tracting is a bugger. Looking up the points value for everything. single. ingredient. My sister and I talked last night and I am going to spend some time tonight with a sharpie and label everything I can think of in my house. Tracking has been enlightening. Things that I have thought weren't that bad really are that bad! And I can easily eat 5 fruits in a day, veggies? yeah, not so much.

Water - I thought I drank enough. Nope. Not even close. I have struggled getting all of the water I needed and I kept loosing track of how many I had drank. And I really do not have time to be in the bathroom every 5 mins. Again, my sister came to my rescue and suggested that I get 32oz. water bottles. I did that yesterday and actually got all my water for the day down for the first time in two weeks.

I have been surprised at the number of changes I am needing to make. I am a bit overwhelmed by the goals I need to be working on. Going to bed by 10 so I can be up to exercise by 5. 64 oz of water. Veggies daily. Stop eating by 8p.m. Tracking. Exercise. Vitamins. Chocolate is not a food group. Or a meal.

I am not giving up. I have just been a bit frustrated with myself that I choose to get this far off the path. It has made me think a lot about repentance and change and the truly hard work to change ourselves. Change is so hard for me. The spirit is willing but the flesh is ohhh so weak.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

One Man's Trash-

is my boy's treasure. 

Conversation tonight - "Mom, do you know where a junk yard is that I could go too? I think I could find a ton of cool stuff there!" 

Of course he could.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

You are all Invited -

to join us in Nauvoo!!!!! We are so excited to be going again this year. The only thing that would make it better is if we could enjoy it with you! Everyone should experience Nauvoo at least once in their life.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Three Words For You...

Pajamas All Day!

I did take a shower and then put them right back on. Heaven...

And three more -
I love you!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bad News - Good News

Bad News- bitter cold with negative windchill
Good News- No School!!
Good News - I have heat!!
Good News - Stew in the Crock-pot
Good News - Slept in and cleaned house. Lovely....
Good News - Lots of computer and reading time (maybe even a movie!)

I think that the good news outweighs the bad. Stay warm!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Best Part of My Day?

I have a student who attended 3rd grade last year in another school. He is quiet and fairly somber. I have discovered a few passions of his but he definitely flies under the radar. I make it my mission to tease a smile out of him every other day or so. Anyway, I try to spend a few minutes talking one on one with each student when we do their monthly reading testing. Today, he and I were talking. For years, I have always asked Ryan what was his best and worse parts of the day when I tuck him in at night. So, on a whim, I asked this little kiddo what was the best part of 3rd grade. Without missing a beat and in all sincerity he said, "You."

I didn't even know what to say I was so surprised. Tears came to my eyes. I have spent the last few days groaning when the alarm goes off at 5:45 and frustrated at all the irritations of a working mother. I have struggled to find my rhythm again and even more with my enthusiasm. I was humbled. And grateful that the Lord saw enough in me to entrust these kiddos to me for 7+ hours a day. And humbled some more.

I wish that you could all get to know these kids as I do. They really are amazing. They make me laugh everyday. I love how excited they get for learning. Today, 5 boys were in the Research Center making Snap Circuit inventions. They kept interrupting me at my table to show me their latest invention. It was so fun to see their excitement.

So what was the best part of my day today? Being a 3rd grade teacher.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Terms of Surrender

(I am sorry to those of you who thought you were going crazy having seen this post yesterday and had it disappear. I wrote the post yesterday when I had time to actually write and accidently posted it. Sorry! Now it is here to stay. )

So I joined Weight Watchers today. Sara and Tracy also joined today in Washington and Cindi, a lifetime member, will be joining us next month after her baby is born. I am very excited to do this with my sisters. We will be talking to each other, sharing recipes, challenging each other. I have spent the last few days stocking up on my new ingredient list - yogurt, broccoli, apples, bread, fudge cicles, popcorn, hard candy. I already have my gym bag packed and in the car. I turned the back of my door into my "Return and Report" center with my Biggest Loser calendar, goal pictures and motivational thoughts.

I have been struggling about posting this and I wondered why. I've posted so much about the divorce and it has never bothered me to share those personal details. Why would I squirm to share that I have joined Weight Watchers? As I have thought about it, in a way WW feels bigger than the divorce. The divorce was someone else's actions affecting me. Like a soldier bleeding to death I was very grateful to accept help from all the medics in my life. And while I had to answer a few questions of "what in the world were you doing there in the first place?", overall I knew I was were I was supposed to be and I haven't minded sharing my war story.

This is different. I did this to myself. Every pound (in my case) is evidence of "eat, drink, and be merry" and even more importantly, procrastination. Tomorrow, next week, someday. I have been in wrong place. I could have avoided this. I did this to myself and it has been a bit squirmy to admit that I need a medic because of my own stupidity.

Here are some of my random, jumbled thoughts on this:

I want living memories. I want to play basket ball with Ryan on a gorgeous spring day not just shoot hoops. I want to feel that freeing feeling as I really run and feel that really deep, filling breathing at the end. I want to run a 5K and have a picture at the finish line. I want to have sit-up and push-up competitions with Ryan. I want to win at arm wrestling. I want to hike tall mountains. I want to bike around Lake Hefner. I want the freedom of health. When I die, I don't want it to be a video of still pictures, but action pictures of me living life.

I know that my body is a gift from my Heavenly Father. Not only a gift to me but also for me. There are spiritual lessons that my spirit needs to learn from this body. Self-discipline, work, choice, sacrifice, endurance, prayer, humility, and love. I am intimately aware of my natural woman weaknesses. I can not do this on my own. I have tried. I have failed. I came to a spot a few months ago where I poured my heart out to Heavenly Father pleading for divine help. A few days later my sister called sharing her very similar experience and decision to join WW.  I knew that it was my answer.  I feel that this surrender is personal; an acknowledgment of my dependence on the Lord, my need for His help. WW is just the terms of my surrender.

So now begins the Reconstruction period. Please know this is not a New Year's Resolution. I don't believe in them per se. The timing just worked out that way.

I ran across this talk from BYU Education Week that I loved. Body and Soul. It is an hour long, but very much worth the time. I will be watching it a few times and taking notes next time. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 2, 2010


I spent the last few days going through the last (I think) divorce hurdle. I dug out the 8 boxes of keepsakes, pictures, scrapbook stuff, etc. and went through them. I have been putting it off for a long while. What would it feel like to walk through those memories and dreams again? I kept putting it off. Finally, I just wanted it over. And it was a revelation. It didn't bother me at all. I read all the old love notes and emails from the dating and newlywed years. I had kept all the birthday and mother's day cards. I went through them all. And you know what? They were just words on paper. It isn't the words that make them keepsakes. It is the feelings. It is the love. When those feelings are gone, they are just words and they don't have power to hurt. I kept a handful for Ryan - I want him to know there was a time when his parents really cared about each other. And me? I put the lid on the trash can and look forward to filling the space in the photo boxes.

Friday, January 1, 2010


It's fresh and clean. Full of optimism and goals, dreams and this year I will's. Already my year is filling up with good things.

Last summer I won a 2 night cruise to the Bahamas and a 5 night vacation to Florida. I thought for sure it was a scam. Things like this don't happen to me. But it appears to be legit and we will be visiting the Sunshine state in late May. I have mixed feelings about this trip. I have been to Florida and no offense to anyone who lives there, but there were definite times that I felt Satan has his summer home there. Partying has never been my thing. And I am taking a 12 yr. old boy to the state that doesn't believe in clothes. What am I thinking? But I like the adventure of a new place and new experience. I love the idea of getting a stamp in my passport. I love the idea of a wave runner in the ocean, falling asleep on the beach basking in the warm sun, snorkeling in the Bahamas, touring the everglades and swimming with the dolphins. I basically see trips like these as my compensation package for being single and I love going because I can.

In June, we will attend the Hachtel family reunion at my Uncle's beautiful farm in Arkansas. More than any other place I have ever been to, it felt like home when we went last Thanksgiving. I am very excited to breath country air, chase baby goats and take long walks with the horses. I plan on spending some hours hiking in the mountains as well.

In July, Ryan and I are returning to Nauvoo Pageant, this time with my Dad, Step-Mom and Step-Sister. Just today I was able to find lodgings that will be perfect for us and get a reservation. Small miracle. We will be performing July 6 - 10 and would love to have all of you join us there. It is an amazing experience. Everyone should experience Nauvoo at least once in their lives.

I made a list of books I want to read this year. I present the following:

Alas Babylon
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Mama's Bank Account
Sarah's Quilt
The Hobbit
Amos Fortune
The Screwtape Letters
Little Women
Jack: A Life of CS Lewis
Under the Greenwood Tree
The Book Thief
12 Again

Last year I posted that I had chosen the word "Diligence" to be my word for 2009. It felt like it was the right word for me. I love the word. But soon after it became apparent that the Lord had a different word to be my word.  It came up over and over again. It came up repeatedly in conversations, I read it, pondered it and it became my word for 2009 - Balance. Balance is a hard word for someone as passionately extreme as me. I don't like to do things in half measures. I throw my whole heart and soul into them. I struggled with balancing being a mother and a working teacher. I struggled with being single while believing in marriage with my whole heart. I struggled with the world using up all of my time that I wanted to use for spiritual matters. And balance kept coming back. And just last week, in an unrelated conversation, it all came together for me why. Balance was my word for 2009.

I haven't completely figured out my word for 2010 but it has been a pleasure to consider the options. Kind of like picking out the best See's Truffle. You know you will love them all, but which is the best for this moment...

Lastly, I spent the last moments of 2009 with my friend Alisa's family. The wii was set up with Beattle Rock Band and for the first time in years, I could sing. I wasn't embarrassed or self-conscious. I felt light enough to sing and it felt good. Alisa's mom is such a wonderful friend and cheerleader. She is the kind of person that makes you smile just thinking about her. She asked me how this New Year's Eve was different than last. Last year was filled with sorrow and grief. This year is filled with hope and contentment. So how am I doing? I am doing exceptionally well.

The Day Dawn is Breaking

For 31 days we have stood in Bethlehem gazing both backward and forward at the Savior's life. We have witnessed His defense of our agency in the Pre-mortal councils. We have watched His humble birth,  heard His teachings and seen His miracles.  We witnessed His suffering, mourned His death and rejoiced in His resurrection. We have look forward to His return. We have felt His love. And yet, we have only glimpsed the spiritual feast that is contained in the scriptures. In the back of the LDS edition of the King James Holy Bible is a topical guide. If you look up "Jesus Christ" you will find 18 1/2 pages of references! What a spiritual feast awaits. 

I know God is real. I know He knows my name. And more importantly, I know that He knows the deepest regions of my heart. I know He loves me more than I have capacity to understand. I know that I am His daughter in every sense of the word. I know that He allowed Christ, His most beloved son and my older brother, to choose to be our Savior. I am so grateful for that choice. How do I put into words the deep feelings I have for Christ? Tears come to my eyes just typing that question. So many of my day to day choices are made so that when I am at His feet again, I will be able to look up into his eyes and step into his embrace. I love my Savior. I live for the day that I will see Him again. I don't think that I will have any words but I know that I will have many tears, glowing eyes, a shaky smile and a heart brimming over. 

Today is a new day and a new year. It is a year free of regret and full of hope. Decide now that this year will bring you closer to the Savior. Decide today to find Him in the scriptures. Let Him walk with you throughout your day. Choose to open and enjoy the most precious Christmas gift you have been given, the gift of our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Today's song is The Day Dawn is Breaking - note this song is intended to be sung joyfully. You have to have a smile on your face and joy in your heart as you sing along. 

Thank you for letting me share these devotionals with you. I love you all. Julie

Step by Step

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