Monday, March 19, 2012

iChurch - or not?

Our family had a very interesting "discussion" this past Sunday after church. I mentioned that I felt that it was not appropriate for children (meaning those 18 and under) to bring electronic media with them to church meetings. This generated quite a reaction from my adult children. Let me take you on a journey through my thoughts and then we will make a detour through theirs.

My position - First of all, I think that children are becoming too dependent on cell phones, iTouch, and iPad for their entertainment. I see preschoolers in the grocery store being pushed in a cart by their mothers while staring at a movie on a cellphone screen. We have all seen teenagers glued to their phones, texting frantically. It is my opinion that children can take a 3-hour break while at church services on Sunday and remove themselves from electronic stimulation and this is why:

* Small children need to learn how to control themselves. They need to learn how to sit and be still for a period of time. They need to learn how to do this without being hypnotized by a glowing screen.
* Older children and teens should NOT be allowed to bring an iTouch or cell phone to church. They WILL play games and text on it. What else would they do with it? It is not appropriate in Sacrament Meeting or Youth meetings. It is a huge distraction and disrespectful to their teachers. There is absolutely NO valid reason for this to take place.
* Church is for worship. Prayer will never be digitized. Worshiping should not be either. I do not feel it is reverent to fiddle with electronics during church meetings (this applies to adults as well). It is difficult to listen to the speakers, enjoy the musical numbers or feel the spirit when you are distracted by a cell phone or iPad.
* Children can detour from church related aps to regular games when their parents are not looking. Are Tiny Wings and Lady and the Tramp appropriate for Sacrament Meeting?
* Sundays should be set apart from other days. They should be different. We should make the Lord's day feel special. We can do this by taking a 3 hour break from our electronics. Or wearing Sunday clothes all day. We can avoid secular music and only listen to religious pieces. We can refrain from watching television. Or playing with friends. Many families have Sunday customs that they follow to set that day apart from all the others.

Now having said all that - some of my children (I will not mention names) have a very different opinion. Their position is this - electronic media is part of our lives. It is here to stay and we might as well just accept that and let our children use it at church. (However, they do agree with my position on teens and cell phones.) These are the reasons they gave:
* There are many religious aps for phones and iPads that are good for entertaining little ones during Sacrament Meeting. Puzzles, coloring pages, and other aps that utilize scripture heros are available. They feel that this is preferable to say a Mickey Mouse coloring book, or quiet book that has shape sorting, shoe lacing and other non-religious activites.
* It is difficult to keep small children entertained and quiet during meetings and parents need all the help they can get.
* Parents want to bring their devices to church meetings to access their scriptures.
* It is less cumbersome to bring a device to the meetings rather than a bag filled with activities for their child.
* Parents can supervise their children to help them avoid inappropriate use.

I am very interested in knowing how others feel about this topic. Please leave a comment and let me know your position, thoughts or feelings.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I love weddings! I love everything about them. The ring, the cake, the flowers, the photographs but most of all I love “The Dress”. It probably comes as no surprise that I recently became a bridal consultant. That’s right – I sell wedding gowns.

About 15 years ago, a friend of mine proudly showed me her Mother’s Day gift – a gorgeous framed portrait of her five daughters and one daughter-in-law in their wedding dresses. I was enchanted! What an amazing picture – what an amazing gift. I wanted one for myself one day. Fast forward to 2010. My youngest daughter was about to be married. It was the perfect opportunity to get MY “Four Brides” picture. So I rounded up Tara, Liz and Shayla and convinced them to put on their wedding dresses and join Kelsey at the end of her appointment for bridal pictures for the long-anticipated photograph.

I love it! Makes me happy. Each of their gowns is different and reflects their own distinct personalities. They were all such beautiful brides. It is truly one of my most prized possessions.

Since that time, I have been involved in the selection process of many, many more wedding gowns. I would like to share some tips that I feel will be helpful to most brides in their
wedding gown selection.

1. Don’t shop alone. Take your mother or parents, your sister, a close friend, an aunt or cousin. Make sure the person who is going to be purchasing your dress is there. Don’t shop without someone who absolutely must see/approve the dress before you buy. There is a very good chance you will find a dress you LOVE but you will be unable to purchase it because the right people were not there to see you and give their approval.

2. Don’t shop with a huge group. Three or four people are more than enough. Groups larger than
that tend to sabotage the bride. Too many opinions and suggestions are offered and the bride tends to become confused and frustrated.

3. Do your homework. Before shopping, become familiar with dress styles, shapes and fabrics.
Educate yourself about what is out there and what you like.

4. Shop early. Don’t wait until eight weeks before your wedding to look for a gown. You will
have to purchase off the rack – ordering is virtually impossible in that time-frame. In addition, alterations will become an issue. Make sure you allow yourself time to order your gown if needed and have the necessary alterations done.

5. Have an opinion and communicate. Your bridal consultant wants to be the one who helps you find your dress. Of course, she gets a sale and commission. But the biggest reward for a consultant is seeing her bride glow with happiness, and perhaps shed a few tears when she realizes she has found her perfect dress. Tell her what you like and dislike about each gown you put on. That way, she can pull other styles that have the features you want.

6. Have an open mind. Be willing to try on a style you hadn’t yet considered. Consultants dress
a LOT of brides. They are trained to know what shapes and styles work best with certain body types. Often, when you describe what you want, a certain dress will pop into your consultant’s head. She can literally see you in that dress. Be willing to try her suggestions, even if you don’t think it’s what you want. Many times, the bride ends up purchasing that dress. You’d be surprised.

7. Be patient and kind. Hopefully, you will be the only bride your consultant works with.
However, that is not always the case. If she is busy working with two brides at one time, be patient and understanding. If your mother offers a suggestion you dislike, be kind. Nothing
is worse than a snippy, self-absorbed bride who is inconsiderate of the feelings of those around her.

8. Know your price point. Everyone has a budget and that’s great. Let your consultant know what you are willing to spend. She will probably show you many gowns that are UNDER your budget.
Communication is key on this point. No one wants a bride to fall in love with a dress she can’t afford.

9. When you find a dress you LOVE – stop looking! You stopped looking when you fell in love with your fiancĂ© didn’t you? You didn’t say to him “ I love you so much but I really want to date a few more guys”. Well when you fall in love with a dress you should stop shopping. There will always be another store, there will always be more dresses. Know when to say – “this is it, I am done”.

10. And finally, YES you CAN buy a dress at the first place you shop. Many brides do, even the self-proclaimed picky ones. Consider yourself lucky. You have saved hours of frustration and expense by being one of those brides who finds her dress at the very first store she goes to!

Monday, October 10, 2011

My Mother-in-Law

This lovely woman was my mother-in-law for over 30 years. She passed away on October 1st at the age of 91 years and 2 1/2 months. She was one of the sweetest, kindest people I have ever known and I loved her very much. I always tell people that I had my mother-in-law fooled - she thought I was perfect! Now you know as well as I do that she probably really didn't think I was perfect. But she certainly made me feel as though she did.
I had the best mother-in-law. I honestly don't think that in over 30 years I was ever truly angry with her. Of course I got frustrated and annoyed from time to time - but angry? No. I have to wonder if she was ever angry with me. If she was, I never knew. And I am grateful for that.
The past few days I have been thinking alot about our relationship and about other mother/daughter-in-law relationships. It seems to me that this particular combination has gotten a very bad rap over the years. For as long as there have been stand-up comedians, there have been mother-in-law jokes. Let's face it - they are one of the quickest ways for male comics to get a cheap laugh. There was even a movie made about a horrible MIL called "Monster In Law" with Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez. But is it really that difficult to get a long with your mother-in-law or daughter-in-law? I certainly hope not! Ladies - your son chose this girl whom he loves very much to spend the rest of his life with. Certainly she has many outstanding qualities and characteristics. And Girls - this woman gave birth to and raised your husband. The man you have chosen to spend the rest of your life with. ?Surely she is not all bad.
I would like to outline some tips for both sides to consider when working on their respective relationships.
1. Recognize that your DIL is a person. She is entitled to be treated respectfully, just as you want to be treated.
2. Accept that you are NOT her parent - if you feel the urge to parent her STOP. She already has a mother and is not going to feel the same way about you that she does her own mother. Seek to have a mutually respectful, pleasant relationship.
3. Explore your motivations. Why do you feel the need to judge. Live and let live.
4. Keep secrets secret. If you say things about your DIL to people, there is a chance it will get back to her. And nothing good will ever come of that.
5. Remember that your son now makes his own decisions. Remember your son chose this woman. She meets his needs in ways that you may not understand.
6. Remember that your son and DIL are both adults. Their decisions are THEIR decisions. If you constantly question them it will cause problems between them and between you and your son.
7. Don't insult your DIL's intelligence. After all, she was smart enough to pick your son.
8. Remember that your DIL is your son's life partner. She should be his first priorty. Respect their partnership and let them navigate through life together as a team.
I have a friend who told me that she once said to her son "I realize that now that you're married, I no longer occupy the front seat on the bus. And now that you have a child, I have had to move further toward the back of the bus, and that's fine. Just please don't make me get off the bus!"
1. Remember, your husband was a son to his mother first. The more you try to come between your husband and his mother, the more his family will resent you and it will undermine your efforts to get along with them.
2. Don't take everything so personal. Taking every suggestion, recommendation or idea offered as negative indicates low self-esteem. She might just be trying to be helpful!
3. The relationship with the son/husband is not a competition. He married you because he loves you. A husband should put his wife first in a relationship, but don't put him the position of having to defend his relationship with his mother.
4. Communication is key. Take the time to keep your MIL informed about news and updates. ask for advice and willingly listen to her ideas.
5. Take good care of her son. He is and will always be her child. Of course she wants him to live in a clean home, have clean clothes, and nourishing meals. Just as you would want that for your own son when he is an adult.
6. Don't gossip about your in-laws. Spreading negative gossip about family members can be toxic to relationships. Try to say positive things and hopefully the positive feelings will soon follow.
7. Make sure your MIL has access to her grandchildren. They are just as much her grandchildren as they are your mother's grandchildren. Try hard not to play favorites. Make sure the children know that they have two sets of loving grandparents and make an effort to ensure that they spend equal amounts of time with both sets wherever geography and desire permits.
I am so grateful for the loving relationship that I shared with my own mother-in-law and I attribute it mostly to her. She always made me feel like she thought I was so wonderful and such a good wife to her son and mother to her grandchildren. I loved her very much and will miss her cheery personality and loving ways. Even when her health was failing, she would always compliment my appearance whenever I would visit her. When I hugged her goodbye she always told me how much she loved me and how much she appreciated the things I did for her. I hope she felt my love for her. She was a wonderful example to me.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Let's Take a Trip!

A recent article on made the statement that experiences, in the long run, "make people happier than possessions". For me, at least, that statement rings true. Think for a moment about purchasing a new sofa. Of course, you wanted the new sofa and enjoy shopping to select the perfect one. You look forward to the day it will be delivered and can't wait to sit on it and admire it in your room. But as time passes, you get over the newness, the excitement wears off. Experiences on the other hand, create memories - often happy ones - that remain with you long after the event has occurred.

Experiences also provide a sense of "relatedness" to others. Sure sitting on the sofa with your spouse may make you feel close to that person, but not the way a shared adventure can bring you closer to friends and family.

Val and I just returned from a week-long vacation to Nauvoo with a couple with whom we have been close friends for over 25 years. Many years ago, in 1989 to be exact, we took a vacation with them to the East Coast. We left six children (3 each) behind in the care of loving grandparents and set off on our great adventure. We were gone 10 days and enjoyed many great experiences from Maine to New York. Before we set off on our most recent trip, I pulled out the old photographs from the trip all those years ago. What fun it was to look through those photos and relive all the fun we had!

Our most recent vacation with our friends was just as fun as the one we took 22 years ago. Once again, the guys rode in the front, the girls in the back. We talked and laughed as we drove. It was different however, in that we left no little ones behind. We did not feel the need to check in to see if our children were all right and not giving grandma a hard time. This new sense of freedom felt great. Don't let anyone kid you, it's great to be able to travel without worrying about the little children you left at home (or worrying about the people you left them with). We enjoyed every minute of our trip.

I've posted a few pictures from our 1989 trip and some from our 2011 trip. Please don't be alarmed at how youthful we once looked. Yes, it is sad that we have gotten older - but it happens.

Here we are on the USS Massachusetts (Big Mamie) in Fall River, MA. Apparently, we couldn't find anyone to take a group shot because this is the ONLY picture we have of all four of us.
We went to New York City and spent one day there sightseeing. This is the picture of the skyline of lower Manhattan at that time. I find it quite poignant that we flew home from our 2011 trip on September 11, 2011.

Here are Kevin, Shauna (yes her name is Shauna too) and I on the top of the World Trade Center. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to ride to the top of that building and look out over New York City. This is a memory I will always cherish.

Kevin, Shauna and Val on top of the world.


At the airport before flying to St. Louis.

At the Nauvoo visitor's center with an original sunstone from the Nauvoo temple.

The four of us at Carthage Jail.

At Joseph Smith's Red Brick Store enjoying a Root Beer.

Graves of Hyrum, Joseph and Emma Smith

Inspiration Point overlooking the Mississippi River

The Nauvoo Temple at night

The Shaunas in front of the Hotel Nauvoo

The four of us in front of the Willard Richards Inn after our private tour.

Yes, we are literally in the top of the St. Louis Arch!

Busch Stadium - Cardinals vs. Braves

Our trip to Nauvoo and the Church History Sites was something I had wanted to do for years. It was an amazing experience and I will cherish the memories of the special, sacred feelings I had while I was there. I am also so grateful for the time Val and I had to spend together. We seldom get to travel when it is not work-related, so this trip was a special treat to be able to spend every day together. And finally, I will treasure the time we spent with our friends. This trip was worth more to me than any furniture or car. Now I can't wait to plan our next trip!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Just Say Thank You

I have a confession to make - when I got married I did not write thank you notes! It was the trend at that time to give out little scrolls with a preprinted thank you message at the wedding reception. And yes, (gasp) I bought into that lazy idea.

I have always regretted the fact that I did not express my sincere gratitude to all of the generous people who helped Val and I get our start in life. Since then, I have tried to write timely, sincere expressions of my gratitude for gifts, kindnesses, favors, etc.

So often, we just assume that people know we are appreciative of a kindness or gift. Some people even go so far as to say that they do not send (or expect) thank you notes and others will just have to get used to this and accept it. How sad to miss this opportunity to bless others! In Thessalonians the Apostle Paul teaches us, "In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." If it is God's will that we give thanks in everything, I believe that he had a good reason for wanting us to act on this principle.

It shows a tremendous amount of character, maturity, kindness, and consideration for others to take the time to sit down and write a sincere, heartfelt expression of your gratitude. Often in our society, phrases like "I love you" and "thank you" can become shallow and empty. They are quick, auto-programmed words that are just thrown out there. Underneath, the graciousness of what we have received escapes us.

When we take the time to express our feelings of gratitude to someone, a wonderful thing happens. We get to re-live the moment and realize that the giver invested some of his or her time, money or talent in our life. So if you really appreciate what someone has done, prove it with an expression of thanks in the form of written words that they can see and keep.

I would like to challenge and encourage you to love and value those who have extended their love and kindness to you. Take the time to sincerely express your thanks in written form. Friendships are deepened, relationships are strengthened, and hearts are lifted and the desire of God's heart for our lives is fulfilled by our giving thanks.

Monday, August 1, 2011


First of all, let me state that I am NOT a gourmet cook or a "foodie". However, I do like to eat and enjoy cooking from scratch. After Kelsey got married and left home, I have to confess I got a little lazy. It seemed like too much effort to just cook for two and when Val was out of town, are you kidding me? I was NOT cooking just for myself. But now Kelsey and Kyle have moved in for a brief period of time and I find myself cooking again - and liking it! To be honest, I have missed many of my recipes! I really like my own cooking and have quite a collection of delicious recipes which I have collected over the years from friends, family, cookbooks, and the internet.

While eating out is enjoyable, indulgent, and exciting it can also be expensive, unhealthy and inconvenient. Cooking at home is a healthful, practical alternative. I must admit that my recipes are fairly mainstream. They contain, sugar, milk, yeast, wheat, gluten, peanut butter, and many other ingredients that some people must eliminate from their diets. I don't use organic foods although we do have a garden and enjoy the fresh vegetables. In a nutshell, I cook like a 50 year old Mormon woman!

During January, my sister told me that she had decided to input all her recipes into her computer and print them out into a cookbook. Not to be outdone, I thought "I'll do it, too!" So I began the process of typing in all my recipes. It did not take as long as I thought and I actually really enjoyed the process. It gave me the opportunity to clean out my recipe box and weed out recipes that I knew I would not use. I divided my cookbook into the basic sections (main dishes, soups, breads, etc). I used a larger font so that I didn't have to put on my reading glasses to read the recipes. Due to the large font, some pages have only one or two recipes but I like that. I put them in sheet protectors and a 3-ring binder. I have to say that I LOVE it! I beats my recipe box hands down. And I have the option to add recipes at any time. I just add them to the file on my computer in the appropriate section, print out that page, and insert it into the binder. An added bonus is it is so EASY to flip through the book when trying to decide what to make for dinner.

This is the cover of my recipe book. Pretty Betty Crocker, huh.

This shows my section divider pages.

This shows the format of the pages.

For Valentines Day, I decided to make a book for my married children. I printed out four more copies and put them in binders for them. I included a Cafe Rio gift card with a note that said "something for when you want to cook and something for when you don't". The girls ask me for recipes from time to time and I thought it would be nice for them to have everything.

Love my recipe book! It was the perfect solution for me.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice"

Anyone who is reading this blog who is also a facebook friend knows that I recently became a grandmother again. Can I just say that I totally ADORE being a grandma or "Kiki" as my first granddaughter has christened me. I never ever thought I would have a "grandma name". I always assumed I would be just "grandma". But Baylee changed all that. She called Val her Papa and she would only call me Kiki so I delightedly switched gears and now that's who I am. ( It is interesting to note that her daddy, my son Travis, called my mother "Muggie" and my children still call her that today. )

When I was expecting my first child, I broke the happy news to my parents. My mother's response was "Well, I am not a babysitter". I have to confess that I was quite taken back and made a mental note at that point to only ask her to babysit when I was desperate. (she doesn't read my blog so I'm not too worried that she will read this -however, it is a fact - that is what she said.) I, on the other hand, couldn't wait to get my hands on those babies ASAP after they were born. It's fun to have them come over with their parents, but I really enjoy the times we spend just Kiki and baby. I have been fortunate to be able to help out both my sons and their wives by watching Baylee and Mason while their parents were at work. I have really enjoyed this opportunity to get to know these two precious little people on a one-on-one basis. I know their likes and dislikes and their schedules so having them all day or overnight is relatively easy and stress-free. With our recent new addition, I look forward to getting to know her unique personality and enjoying her as an individual.

I love making baby items for my "precious angels" as I call them. I have recently added to my baby layette repertoire car seat covers, wrap liners for the carseat, and designer burp cloths. The ones shown here are for my newest precious angel, Taylor. I also made a set for my grandson, Mason, who was born last December.

This is the liner wrap for carseat. I saw one of these at a baby shower and decided I HAD to learn how to make it! A local fabric store had some that they had made, but when I asked if I could purchase the pattern (I purchased the pattern for the carseat cover and various blankets there) I got a strange response that ended with No. NBD I decided I could design my own pattern. After some trial and error, this is my finished product. It is a modified clover-leaf design with slots cut in for the carset straps.

I used coordinating fabric on the opposite side and trimmed it with rick rack. It wraps around the baby to keep her warm, still allowing her to be securely buckled in the carseat. This wrap is flannel on both sides.

The carset cover is made from poly/cotton in coordinating fabric. The underside is also a coordinating fabric. I lined the cover with a mid-weight interfacing because I wanted it to be a little stiffer so as to hold the shape better.

I had seen flowers like this on another carseat cover and decided I wanted to give them a try. I have to confess, they were quite labor-intensive but I would make them again for another baby. They are SUPER CUTE. I attached them to the tabs on the handle with giant snaps so mommy can take them off when she launders the cover.

I love the fabrics Liz (my daughter-in-law) chose. They are so pretty and feminine. This was a fun, fun project and I look forward to making more for future babies. Next I am going to attempt a design for a carseat slipcover which will fit snugly over the carseat with elastic to cover the inside padding, still allowing the straps to come through. I have seen them at the mall and am dying to see if I can come up with a do-it-yourself version.

Last but not least are my designer burp cloths. They are made from run of the mill cloth diapers with either flannel or cotton scraps sewn on and decorated with rick rack, ribbon, buttons, etc. They can be coordinated with the carseat set, or other blankets for a totally put together baby! Can I just say that I . AM . ADDICTED to making them. Obviously, these are for a girl, you should see the boy ones! They are darling as well. Much cuter on your shoulder than a plain cloth diaper and defintely more stylish. A friend of Tara's told me they look like a mini scrapbook page! I loved that.

I realize tons of people probably make this stuff, but I enjoyed doing it and look forward to making more. Definitely a fun project for any grandmother!