Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Confessions of a Pajama-Clad Mom

* I long for another child, and am working to reconcile my physical experiences (dealing with infertility and a lack of confirmation regarding proceeding forward on pursuing adoption) with spiritual experiences.
* If you were to come to my home on any given morning, you would likely find all the beds made, the dishes done, the laundry in process... and me looking like a wreck in either my pajamas or exercise clothes!
* I drop my girls off at school way too often with my teeth unbrushed, wearing my coke-bottle glasses and pajamas.
* I am missing the "cinema" section of my brain. I most-often (95% of the time) fall asleep in movies. On the rare occasion when I do remain awake, I rarely remember having seen the movie another or two down the road. Yet, I have a new-found, fond love for the Downton Abbey television series on PBS.
* When I am upset, I can usually find some way to tie Steve to the problem (who is not the problem). Poor guy. Yet he takes it all so lovingly.
* I clean my house way too much. I really need to start reading more books, making more quilts, and exercising with friends more often.
* I eat way too much candy. My favorites vices are all red: cinnamon bears, hot tamales and swedish fish.
* I hate spending money (except on my kids lessons, portraits of my kids, original art from relatively unknown (but famous to me!) artists, and picture frames {to display the art and portraits of the kids}), but I love the idea of spending other peoples money for them! If you know me well, I will often suggest what you should buy for your home, your kids or yourself.
* The opportunity to represent Utah as Young Mother of the Year has provided so many amazing opportunities, yet has placed a microscope for me on my faults as a mother. I am trying my best, yet often fall short and find myself inadequate and leaning on the windows of heaven for strength and guidance.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Happy Birthday Grandpa!

Today is Steve's dad's birthday! We celebrated yesterday with a lovely dinner and sweet tributes.

Grandpa received birthday hugs from his local grandchildren, as well as some touching cards.

We laughed so hard (and are still giggling now, in fact) when dad read Steve's letter out loud and ended the dictation with "Love your son, Stan." Steve says, "Now every time I write my name, I chuckle."

Louisa's Drawing

Ella's Letter
Ella wrote (spelling errors maintained):

Dear Grandpa,
Happy Birthday
I have loved all the fun filled hours we have spent together this year. I remember all of the smokey summer barbaques, your face when B.Y.U. wins a game, and most of all fun in the sun in Mexico. I am verry greatful that your surgery went well. These are golden years and I wish we could freeze time, but obviously we can't. Other than this I am not going to mention polotics. Do you remember when you used to push me in the swing high up into the cherry tree. I love hearing your talks and stories from around the world. And I hope the future is this bright.
Happy Birthday

Sunday, February 05, 2012

The Extraordinary Ordinary:
Looking Back at a Year of Opportunities
as Utah's Young Mother of the Year

Sometimes the most extraordinary things happen in the most ordinary places. We go about our daily routines and the things we accomplish may seem cloaked in the commonplace.

The poet Mary Jean Irion said: “Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, savor you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may…”

* * *

This past year has been filled, for me, with ordinary days – school pickup and drop-off, instrument practice, cleaning, meal preparations, and laundry (lots of laundry!). And amidst these days, I have experienced moments that are meaningful in the most simply profound ways. Extraordinary moments, like the time when Louisa said, in her nightly prayers: “Dear Heavenly Father, I am so grateful that you sended me as a baby to come to this earth." Or the time when Ella said, “"The only bad thing about the word 'home' is that it is in 'homework'."

* * *

The opportunity to represent Utah as Young Mother of the Year has blessed my life with extraordinary opportunities including:

• Speaking engagements – including television and radio appearances, opportunities to attend AMI's national convention (held in my home town!), teach seminars in conjunction with the Power of Moms, to teach workshops on college campuses, and to speak on divine identity and mother-daughter relationships at youth gatherings. I have loved meeting women face-to-face and spirit-to-spirit – at locations that span from girls camp to the grocery store! Together we have discovered mutual predicaments that bring us closer and make the load lighter to bear.

• I sense a great yearning for instruction and have loved reaching young mothers in the online territories they frequent – through this blog and Facebook.

• I have studied your examples and have been tutored. I have loved learning from each of you, and especially from Sally Olsen (Utah's Mother of the Year). She is a woman of great strength and wisdom.

• I have had ample opportunities within this role to lean on the windows of heaven for strength and guidance. And I have been supported and surrounded.

Representing American Mothers has brought many opportunities for personal growth. This year:

• I have come to understand – even more – how important for my two daughters, my example and teachings are. Sometimes I learn this the hard way! One day last month Louisa was making terrible noises in the back of the car. I asked her, "Louisa, what are you doing? That sounds terrible!" She responded, "Trying to burp like you do, Mommy." Obviously, I still retain some remnants of my childhood training imposed by 5 brothers. Isn’t it amazing all that we inadvertently teach the next generation?

• I have learned and grown as I have watched my own children grow. The bond between my daughters and me and between my sweet husband and me has become more meaningful with this passing year. I marvel at the souls entrusted to our care.

• I often fall short and find myself inadequate, yet, this year I have had to search for answers to overcome my own weaknesses – made even more apparent by the title “Young Mother of the Year.” Despite my faults, thank you for placing your confidence in me.

* * *

The job of motherhood has challenged the far reaches of my soul, yet I am so grateful for these challenges and opportunities. Through our daily efforts as mothers, the ordinary can become extraordinary.

Truly, motherhood is the most extraordinary work I will ever do.

* * *
American Mothers Inc. has selected Utah's 2012 Young Mother of the Year!
Lori Conger is a remarkable, down-to-earth gal you definitely will want to meet.
Her blog - Making Motherhood Matter - is found here!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

A Return to Virtue

Many of you have seen and read my mom's book: A Return to Virtue.

I am biased, but want to recommend it as reading that is pertinent to the lives we are living (and aiming to live).

In the book, my mom relays her experiences and insights gained by running multiple marathons with the race of life. Through spiritual insight and personal stories, she endorses a virtuous lifestyle of strict training, being more fit for the kingdom, and setting our course to focus on the finish.

Within the pages, she teaches how purity yields sustaining power. "I have embarked on a journey to reinstate the word virtue into our vocabulary and our lives," my mom writes. "We call for a social reform, but what is really needed is a moral reform—a call for a return to virtue."

"A Return To Virtue" can be purchased in Deseret Book stores or online.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Family Dinner:
Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

This recipe makes a super easy, crowd-pleasing dinner. I assemble it in the morning and let it cook slowly in the crockpot, but it could easily be made over the stove a half-hour prior to being served!

We love to eat this with salad, rolls and oven roasted asparagus.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped (as a shortcut, I use Costco canned chicken - just 1 large can)
1 cup carrots, sliced or julienne
1 cup celery, diced
2 pkg. long grain and wild rice (Rice-a-Roni) with seasoning packets
5 cups chicken broth (I often use 5 cups water and 5 bouillon cubes)
5 cups water
1/2 cup cream

In small saucepan, make a roux with butter and bread crumbs (warm the butter until frothy, then gradually add crumbs and cook, while stirring, until golden brown).
In crockpot, combine all ingredients except cream (do include the roux). Cover and cook on low heat for 4-6 hours, or until rice is done. Add cream just prior to serving.

Makes 8+ servings.