Saturday, June 29, 2013

My Handcart is an SUV

Today, before the summer chaos really takes hold, Matt and I are going to the temple.

It's a ridiculous pain in the rear to get there and I struggle because just the getting there and getting home is a huge smackdown on my peace. There's no driving happily home as I sing along to Kenneth Cope songs and float into my house, inspired and calm.
You walk out the doors and BAM!!! 

Loud, dirty, speedy city. 
You go and pay 60 bucks for your car and the honking and cutting off craziness begins as you try to get off the island and it's a drive that costs a lot, emotionally and for me, it disrupts my peace at such a huge level that instead of focusing on the experience I had, I just want to get through the tunnel in one piece.
And honestly, I avoid going to the temple these days.

I avoid it and when my kids went, I had anxiety, knowing they would be making that same journey there and back that stresses me out so much that I don't go. 

But that's not okay.
I miss going to the temple. I miss feeling familiar in the halls of the House of the Lord. I miss knowing it's my house, too. 
I focus instead on doing family history, in my calling, in local service, but going to the temple seems to be such an ordeal and I told myself it was more trouble than it was worth.
even as I told myself that, I knew it wasn't true. I knew it was an excuse. 
It's not that I don't want to be there, that I don't love the temple, but the journey is a real pain in the rear.
You know, that tremendous treacherous journey in the safety of my own car with my husband at the wheel who keeps me safe and the whole hour it takes.


Last night I dreamed that we decided to go to the temple. In my dream I had names ready and I felt the spirits of those family members who were on the other side of the veil, dressed in white because today was going to be their special day.
I gathered my bag, put on my Sunday best and before I left, I checked to make sure I had my recommend and when i did, I realized it had expired.
Now, an expired temple recommend isn't the end of the world, it happens. Your lamp can have it's proverbial oil in a week, after you meet with the Bishop.
But it won't happen on that same day and in my dream I saw the disappointment on their faces as they lovingly smiled and said to each other "maybe next week, or later then.."

I don't know how everything works on that side, but I know it's not working on my side. 
I know I have had a list of names and feelings to go and I tell myself I'll go soon, but I avoid it because the city is noisy and it's not easy to get to the temple.
 I don't go because it's not easy
Yeah, time to pioneer up.

Today, I am going to try and see if I can keep the sense of peace I have at east until we hit the Lincoln Tunnel. If it's too crazy and I'm frazzled, that's okay. I'm not crossing the plains barefoot, I'm in an SUV with my husband and we have candy. It's still good.
This week, there have been a lot of things on the internet that are an assault to one's peace.
We all have free agency and I love that. I love that we can share out thoughts, ideas and fears with each other and I am sad when I see so much ugliness. I know that's life, but I choose not to participate in it and instead teach my children what I believe is right and encourage them to find out what THEY believe and live it. Free agency and choice- even for people who come to different conclusions. 

I liked what Cjane had to say about the state of things and she said it better than I could.
The battle isn't us vs them. The battle is one we have with ourselves, that natural man/woman and whatnot.
It's not neighbor against neighbor, it's me against me. 
What I desire is peace.
It is the thing I hope for this day.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Blob Update

My children would not eat last night's "French Chicken."
They had microwave pizza instead.
Matt loved it.
I think the problem with crockpot blob dinners we have is that they always result in food that looks too wet to my kids. We like our food cooked until it's borderline jerky. 
I also think the onion soup mix was just too overpowering for them. 
I still have another one of this meal in the freezer, so I'll save it until I'm desperate. 
That is all.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Blob...It's What's for Dinner

Last week I whipped up a bunch of freezer meals, hoping to save on money this summer and not heat the whole house up when I cook. I was quite proud of myself when I say that I had almost 20 family sized meals all ready to go and it really wasn't that big of a chore to put them together. 

Most of them are crock pot meals.
I don't have a love affair with my crock pot like some people do. 
I think most of the food comes out looking like a big blob of meat and sauce, but I have to admit, as long as the blobs taste good and aren't all the same, I think they are just great for my family of hungry guys and a little girl who is so picky she won't eat anything I cook anyway. 

(blob-- I mean- yummy dinner!!_ 
Today is my first attempt at cooking one of my meals for dinner, I think if the guys like it,I'm going to keep up the freezer meals. That was sure easy. 

All of the recipes were pretty easy and you just serve them over rice or pasta or with bread and a vegetable.
So, tonight we're having "French Chicken" which does not seem even the least bit French, but I didn't name it. 


3 -4 boneless chicken breast (I just used 6 bonelss skinless thighs, because I'm cheap and the crock pot is the great equalizer.)
2 cup french dressing
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1 package of onion soup mix
salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken in the crock pot. Mix together the dressing, preserves, onion soup mix, salt and pepper. Cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6 hours.

We always have a ton of apricot preserves thanks to my getting a couple of crates of apricots a few years ago and canning enough syrup and jam to cover the eternities.
If it's terrible, I'll let you know.
It looks like a lovely blob of crock pot something-ness  right now. 

In all that spare time I'm not spending cooking, I dusted off my embroidery hoop and made a pillowcase for my sweet friend, Betty. 

She had surgery on her hip last week and somewhere between the recovery room and them sending her home, she broke her pelvis. 
I was there to help her recover from her last hip surgery and it's killing me to not be there now. 
Hopefully this will bring a smile to her face, she loves her canaries. 
I sure do love her.

I miss Betty and Earle like crazy.
Rest up, Dear Friend, and get better soon. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Unconditional Love...Even for Me

 School is out!!!!

 What a strange and wonderful first year in New Jersey we have had.
We're looking forward to two lazy months. 
I slept in until 9 this morning. 
Even on Saturdays I tend to be up by 8:00 because my internal clock starts to get trigger happy at 6:30 am, when it's time to start the day for school.
I was a dead log this morning.
It was wonderful.
This weekend everyone chipped in to help get the apartment ready for  visitors. Having two teenage boys up there is just gross.
 They're wonderful boys, I adore them, but -ew. 
They make some of the most jaw-dropping messes and they sneak food up there all of the time. It drives me nuts, but since it's on a floor I rarely am on, it's easier to just ignore it most days. I am a slacker parent in that regards. 
But everyone helped a lot and we're ready for anything now.
If it's not clean enough to someone else's standards, they can go scrub their own baseboards and feel superior to me. 
 We're happy in our home.
With Summer in full swing, it means Matt will be working from home a lot more and I love having him around. He's a good husband and the best friend I could ever imagine. 
He's also my hot bagel date on Friday mornings.

He's hot....the bagels are hot....hotness is everywhere  at the Kosher Bagel Hut here in Springfield.

I was able to tackle the rest of my Pioneer Trek Sewing and finished making bonnets for all of the YW in our ward who needed one. I also finished a complete trek outfit for one of the girls.

Romy is too young for trek, but she's a cutie bug model, isn't she?
She has loved the first bonnet I made from day one and kept asking if I would make her one, just like that pink one. When I finished the other bonnets, I gave her the pink one and she was thrilled. She wears it all of the time now.

Pioneers love them some Minecraft.

She also wore it to bed last night. I think a Little House on the Prairie marathon is in order.

She went with me to the Plainfield Spanish Branch yesterday.
We helped out n Primary and Romy met a new friend, her name is Rominia and she is also 11 years old. 
I knew the girls would hit it off and we're going to see if we can have a play date after the month of visitors is finished. 
We had a great time, even if we couldn't understand anything in sacrament meeting.  

The kids are so loving and I got many snuggles yesterday.
I also was passing out sweets, which helps. :) 
I love the children, and left with tears in my eyes when one of the boys came and gave me a huge hug before I left and said "when are you coming back, Sister?" I said I wasn't sure, but I would see him in a few weeks at the activity and I'd give him some candy. he looked at me and said "I like candy, but I love it when you come here. It feels good and you are so happy and nice to me."
I put his face in my hands and said "I love you so very much" and he gave be a big hug and said "I know, Sister. You do love me." 
That's what matters most, that's why all of it matters so much.
The lessons, the rules, the songs are great, but what matters most is that those kids know they are loved, that they know how precious they are in the eyes of God and that we try our best to feel unconditional love and always see the promise in them- and make sure they know what we see when we are with them.
I can't do much, but I can love. 
With my own kids, if they know I love them unconditionally and that bad choices they make do not make them bad people- if they can grow up and know that no matter what- they are lovable, they are cherished and they are precious- I will feel like I did what mt Father in Heaven wanted me to do when he blessed my life with these wacky kids.  What matters most is that they know they are loved- so very loved.
They will still do dumb things, they will hurt you and strain your heart to the limit, but always, always make sure they know that when you look at them, you see what you believe the Savior sees when he looks on them- someone with infinite potential, who is completely lovable and someone that always has more good in them than bad. I believe with all of my soul that the work I was called to do is to teach, show and learn about unconditional love with our young ones. Maybe in time that will help me to see myself differently, to see myself as deserving of that same love. For now, I'm still pretty rough on myself. It's all connected and I have hope that the things I know to be true with our little ones, will help heal me so that I can see myself not through the harsh and critical eyes of my earthly parents, but as the Lord sees me, too.
I'm not there yet, by a long shot, but I'm working hard and I'm doing my best. 
This week, I got a surprise in the mail from a friend I have in Las Vegas.
She and I connected during a season when I was a new step mom and I was shocked by the way my husband's ex acted and treated people. I am still shocked by the way she treats people, but I have better boundaries now and recognize the behavior for what it is, simple bullying.  Nothing important or unique, just your run of the mill bullying. 
Nicole was going through similar things and she was a great support to me and I just love her.
She sent me this :

I've put it on my bathroom mirror. 
Thank you, Sweet Friend. 
I'm working on it, but oh, it is hard for me. 

When we got home Romy said she wanted to help with the Spanish branches next time I went, that she felt a different feeling there, like she was doing something good by helping them.
 I sure am proud of the young woman she is becoming.

Young woman.

Friday, June 21, 2013

This Week at Unique

It's just been too long since I made a Unique Post.
I still go there almost every week- just a quick scan for the shirts Zane likes and I walk through the furniture to see if there is some diamond in the rough there that needs me. I find many, but more often than not, I talk myself out of it because loading it in the car and back into the house would be work. 
I cannot count the number of awesome items that I walked away from out of sheer laziness.

I also, somehow, managed to walk away without these:

 The Rosie O'Doll, because who doesn't want to cuddle up to a doll in a blazer that giggles like Betty from the Flintstones? Take that Barbie, you plastic wench.
There was an entire wall of what I like to call "lamp nightmares" because no bogeyman or monster nder the bed is scarier than what you see when you turn ON the lights.

How good are your balloon animal skills when you have no fingers or thumbs?

Dumbo's pasty cousin from Utah. 
Hey now! We have diversity in Utah, there's a Taco Bell, Olive Garden and stores carry at least 4 flavors of Tampico. 

At first, it appears to just be a scary goose lamp:

But turn her around and Mother goose will play your favorite cassette tape from her behind. 

 This lamp has been on the shelves for months

The wooden sticks come out.
 I don't understand why.
 I also don't understand why one stick seems to have been through some kind of war, while the other three are shiny and intact.
 I don't know why this lamp exists.
What is the purpose of this lamp with sticks that come out? 
Why only use one stick?
When did the universe begin?
What is the meaning of life?
If Timmy is traveling to San Jose on a train going 75 MPH and Molly is traveling to Phoenix on a boat going 24 MPH, what time will Felix arrive in Copenhagen?
Somehow, this lamp contains the answers.

Simultaneously the most ugly and awesome high chair ever.

The Rad Robot. 
Do you children of the 80's remember this?
Me neither, but I'll bet he was epic in his day. 
Sorry, Rad Robot, I had children to do all of my work for me, so I don't need you.

This was part of a set, however the second mother of pearlish bird picture was located four rows down, in housewares. 
The feathers are seashell stuff- mounted on blue crushed velvet.
If you close your eyes, you can hear the separated seashell birds, calling out for each other.....

   They might possibly be saying "moow....moow"
How hard is it to get the sound a cow makes correct?
Oh, New Jersey.

 Nothing I say comes close to the way your brain will explode at the awesomeness of this heavy, ceramic wall plaque.
That, my friends is art.

And you thought your prom date did a good job of matching his suit to your dress....
Well played, Sean Connery.
I think this is a cat:

But it kind of looks like a poop with feet.


  I wonder if the owner of this had a hard time letting it go and it just slowly made it's way to the Goodwill?
Oh shut up- do you have a better line for an eyeless ceramic snail?

Owls are on trend right now, right?

 Happy Mother's Day, here's a Holly Hobby plate.
Cherish it forever.

In New Jersey-- it's just two cute kids having first communion.
Through Utah eyes...... it's a Hilldale Wedding.
Did your Nana have a bunch of these staring at your from her fancy 'do not touch' shelf?

Were you as annoyed as I was a kid when you touched them anyway and discovered that they were just Styrofoam and their skin was made out of pantyhose?


I don't know what to say about the yellow squatting bear thingy.
I don't know what it is and I was afraid to touch it.

Goatee Monkey has had just about enough of your crap. 
Eat the banana or throw it away, but stop smashing it on your forehead, Baby Monkey.
You're stupid, Baby Monkey, and Goatee Monkey is about to go all King Kong on you if you don't knock it off..

And there you have another installment of  This Week at Unique.

It's funner than a one eyed, naked baby rolling around in butterflies or flowers or whatever that's supposed to be.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Almost Summer

My laptop has been down to the HP headquarters or whatever for repairs for the past 2 weeks.
I love this laptop, it's super fast and has enough memory to run all of my photo adventures and stream shows without skipping a beat.
This summer, I'm going to watch season two of Call the Midwife and probably season 3 of The Walking Dead. Call the Midwife is great, a nice filler for those who are Jonesing for some Downton Abbey, as is Mr. Selfridge. 
The Walking Dead is a terrible show with too many swears, but I think i will go crazy if I don't find out what happens next. That dumb lady is pregnant. who gets pregnant during a Zombie Apolcalypse?  
Anyway, we have a billion other computers, but I like my familiar things, so didn't do any blogging while my computer was on holiday. 

School is OUT for Grey and Zane today. 
Grey graduates from Junior High tonight and we're going out to dinner with the Ralstons after Grey and Lindsay get their diplomas. with them starting high school next year the Mormon population will double at JDHS.  

Its such an interesting thing, the way my kids have changed as a result of the cultural differences between New Jersey and Salt Lake. I have always lived in areas that had a strong representation of members of the church. If I didn't like the kids in my ward, there were tons of other LDS kids and it wasn't hard to choose good friends with the same standards. I never lived in a place where we didn't have release time seminary, except for the semester I lived with my Aunt and Uncle in Indiana.
Being out here in the 'mission field' the kids had to choose. Were they going to embrace being LDS and choose to stand out if the situation called for it, were they going to be open about thier beliefs and able to handle being challenged by people about it? Some people want all of the bad things they hear explained, others- most people- are just curious. 
They had to commit to who they were going to be as they spent every day among people who didn't just automatically create an environment that was catered to our belief system. They kids had to establish who they were and have confidence in that knowledge to the degree that they still knew it when everything around them did not. 
I don't know if that makes any sense, the way I'm explaining it. 

It's been a beautiful thing to watch my kids choose to be who they are at all times and in all places. Even for things that have nothing to do with their faith, my kids have become more secure and stringer in who they are and what they believe is right and wrong.  I love all of my children and I am proud of who each one of them has chose to be at this point in their lives. 

(The Bishop kids, Roe, Lindsay and Zane in our back yard)
The future is bright and summer vacation is almost here.
 Roe has another day and a half of class and then it's all Otter Pops and barefoot nights chasing fireflies in the grass for two months. We're going to be spending a lot of time with friends and family from near and far and enjoying one last lazy summer  before Zane goes on his mission. 
We got a sneak peek of some summertime lounging this weekend at the home of our friends, James and Michelle. They invited us over to enjoy s'mores for Father's Day and we all had a great time. 

  (Jared, Matt and Bishop H)

 (...beautiful daughters)
(roastin' marshmallows like pros)

(I don't know why Ruth looks like she's doing something sneaky, but I suspect Maddie knows)

(Superdad squad)

The kids have summer reading assignments.
I guess that's a good idea, but Eh.

Romy has to read this:

I forget what the boys have to read, but today we went to the bookstore and picked up books 4 & 5 of this series for her to read as well. just for fun. She's really loving these books, and I am glad she has finally found a series she likes.

I am going to be reading this:

And this:

And this one to my kids:

As soon as I am finished with this:

I'm about 1/3 the way finished with this one, but it's an audio book.

What about you?
What are you reading this summer?