Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ana's New Blog

Hi, everyone -- Anneli has joined the blogosphere and created her own blog! So look for such entertaining posts as RIP Charlie at her own blog. See side bar to find her!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Taco Salad

Anneli's birthday was Sunday, and for her birthday dinner, she chose taco salad. We also had the missionaries over for dinner that night. Now, usually, I make this recipe, and it is way too much -- I end up throwing away half of it, because it never tastes good the next day. So, this time I thought I'd play it smart. I followed the recipe, but I only assembled half of it, thinking the kids would be thrilled to have taco salad again in a few days. Did I mention we had missionaries over for dinner? When the taco salad was gone, they had sad, forlorn faces. I told them I could throw together another batch in just a couple of minutes. They sheepishly asked, "Would you mind?" They made a huge dent in the second salad, too! Long live the old family favorite!

Click to play Taco Salad
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More Family Fun

Last week was hectic, so I'm playing catch up now. We were able to spend time at Mom's house Wednesday last week while Jim, Janeal, Brent, Dani, and their families were still here. We had a blast! Thank you to Janeal for taking most of these pictures -- I was so tired, I barely snapped a shot or two! She captured some great moments, like the boys flying off the ledge. The kids seemed a lot more daring this time -- crazy on the slide and jumping off rocks. Everyone had a wonderful time together, and then we capped it off with pizza! Does it get any better than that?

Click to play More Family Fun
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Monday, July 28, 2008

52 Weeks Blessing

This week, I am grateful for priesthood blessings.

I remember priesthood blessings as a regular part of life growing up. Dad was there to bless us when we were sick, and we always had a father's blessing as the new school year started. I remember getting a blessing right before my first year at college. I had never done anything so daring before, but there I was, far away from home without any friends at all. I was doing this all by myself -- and I was pretty scared! But, then, Dad blessed me that I wouldn't be afraid, and the fear magically disappeared. From that moment on, my college experience became a fun and cherished adventure.

I also remember the blessing my dad gave me the night before my wedding. The only thing I recall from it was the promise that my marriage would be just like his and mom's. What an amazing promise! It sent me into marriage with self-fulfilling optimism. And my marriage has been a fun and cherished adventure.

Rom always gave me a blessing when I was going into labor with each of our children. When Johnette was born, I had a placental abruption, which meant the placenta had separated too soon. It was very scary, and the doctors thought we could lose Johnette, myself, or both. And yet, through all the chaos and commotion, I felt perfectly calm and at peace. Rom had blessed me that the baby and I would be all right, and we were!

Now, just the other day, I found a note on our bed from Ana. It said that she felt like she couldn't breathe while she was getting a cough drop, and she wanted a blessing from her dad. I was coming downstairs to suggest she ask him herself, when I saw him lead her by the hand into a quiet room. He then blessed her that she would be able to breather better, that she would get healthy soon, and that she'd be able to return to her normal fun activities. Afterwards, I showed him her note. "I hadn't seen that," he said. "I didn't know she was having trouble breathing. She didn't tell me." How wonderful that Heavenly Father knows just what we need, and how wonderful to have worthy priesthood holders to relay the message!

Au Revoir, Shandee!

From the moment we moved to Hemet, I have felt like I was finally somewhere I could call "home." I loved the schools, our neighborhood, the blue skies, the mountains nearby, and especially our ward at church. One of the biggest reasons why I felt so immediately welcomed at church was because of Shandee Goulding! She is the first friend that I can remember -- she has an electric smile and personality, and I remember her warm hellos and interest in me. She made me feel special.

Shandee is an amazing person. She is a great wife and mother, a great housekeeper, she has impeccable taste, she's a fantastic hostess, she's creative, she's a hard worker, she's spiritual without being self-righteous, and she's a great gardener. I know you're never supposed to compare yourself to others, but I made the mistake a few years ago when I compared myself to Shandee. It was right after one of her fabulous Halloween parties, and I had barely been able to throw together a costume. I felt so inadequate, and yet I knew she would hate it if she found out how I felt. She is humble in her enthusiasm, and she has a way of pointing out and bringing out the best in people.

Shandee is the one who made me feel good about my callings, she complimented me on my singing, she talked about how great my kids are. What am I going to do without someone to remind me how wonderful I am? Shandee and her family have moved to Canada -- luckily, just for two years. I know she checks my blog from time to time, so I wanted to tell her thank you, and let her know I love her and can't wait for her to return.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Our Day at the Beach

Well, I promised to rub it in, and here it is! We went to Oceanside Harbor yesterday with Mom and Dad, Dani and her family, and Jimmy and his family. The cousins played, played, played! I got to catch up a little with my sister and sister-in-law. We all got sunburns. The weather was perfect, and the water was a little chilly but pleasant once you got used to it. The tide was going out, so the waves were very gentle. Gabe and Gavin were so brave, they were up to their tummies! Delaynie had Janeal a little worried with her bravado, as she was off boogie boarding with Anneli most of the time. We hated to leave and finally dragged ourselves away at about 7 pm. We'll be back next week!

Click to play Our Day at the Beach
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R.I.P Charlie

O.k. Me and Johnette just got Hermit Crabs a little while ago. The first day we had them Charlie(the dead one) pinched me. So Romney had brought Charlie downstairs to show Mom. He told me to bring it upstairs but me, being such a coward was afraid it was gonna pinch me. So he dropped Charlie on the tile and the shell broke. Charlie would walk around the cove with a piece of a shell. I held again another time but I totally freaked! That was the last time I ever held Charlie again. So a couple weeks ago Charlie grew out of the shell, and so came out. To me Charlie looks like a shrimp, but that's not the point. So I picked up their sleeping cave and I saw one of Charlie's legs! I'm quite sure Hermy got in a fight with Charlie so he used his humongous claw or something, but it was pretty disturbing. Then the next day at 11:00 p.m. Johnette told me Charlie was dead, that woke me up pretty well. I didn't want to go down the ladder to see so I just looked at it from my bed, Charlie was in the cave so I couldn't see it. Then the next day when i woke up I saw Charlie out of the cave. Well The cave was kind of on Charlie, it looked very sad and it gave me the goosebumps every time I looked at Charlie in misery like that, even thought it was dead. So it's been a little while since Charlie died and both of them are still in the cove. I got some pictures of them, I'm not sure if Hermy is alive or not. Well the food is gray and there isn't really water, but me and Johnette are not going to feed and give water to a murderer!

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French Potato Salad

As most of you know, I served my mission in Paris, France. The very first day I arrived, tired and disoriented after hours on the plane, I discovered that my companion had prepared this wonderful French potato salad for dinner! It was so delicious and easy to make that it quickly became one of my favorite fall back recipes.

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Two Workers

"I heard a story about two workers who were approached by a reporter. The reporter asked the first worker, 'What are you doing?' His response was to complain that he was virtually a slave, an underpaid bricklayer who spent his days wasting his time, placing bricks on top of one another.

"The reporter asked the second worker the same question. His response, however, was quite different. 'I'm the luckiest person in the world,' he said. 'I get to be a part of important and beautiful pieces of architecture. I help turn simple pieces of brick into exquisite masterpieces.'

"They were both right.

"If you look for the extraordinary in the ordinary, you can train yourself to see it. This bricklayer sees cathedrals within pieces of brick. The question is, can you?"
Richard Carlson, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff...and it's all small stuff!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

52 Weeks Blessing

OK, this week I am thankful for my favorite place in the world -- the beach! Growing up in Southern California, we spent a lot of time at the beach. I remember driving to the beach. We had a contest to see who could see the beach water first. Cari almost always won! She had a sixth sense, I think. Or maybe just a better seat in the station wagon. I loved that you could always smell the beach before you could see it. It heightened the anticipation!

I remember giant Family Nights at the beach. Our whole ward would show up early. We would swim for hours and hours. Then, we'd build a huge bonfire and have hot dogs and s'mores. The teenagers would go swimming after dark, and then come back to the fire to warm up. We'd change out of our bathing suits into shorts and sweatshirts. I remember the smell of the baby powder we'd use to get all the sand out of (as Gabe would put it) ... um, you know! Then, we'd drive home and fall asleep, and when we were little, Dad would carry us to bed. I loved sleeping with that warm sun-kissed glow from a day at the beach.

We camped at the beach twice a year -- once for spring break, and once during the summer. I learned how to hone my "scamming" skills during our camping trips. I met some of the greatest people, and we had so much fun! I bet Dad still remembers the "long-haired weirdo" I met my junior year. I remember staying up all night to watch the sunrise once -- really romantic, right? Except the sun rises in the east, not the west, and it was always overcast until after 10 am. There was nothing more romantic than sunsets, though, and midnight walks on the beach. I remember one August walking under a full moon at low tide, and since there was a red tide, the surf was fluorescent. It was like lightning shooting through the waves. As we walked in the wet sand, sparks flew from our steps. It was the coolest thing, ever!

Later, when we Rom and I lived in Oceanside, and I was going through my "Job days," he would send me at least weekly to the beach all by myself -- no kids or anything! I would walk and talk to my Heavenly Father, pouring out my heart to him. Heavenly Father always sent me a gift -- a sighting of dolphins, a special seashell or sand dollar, starfish in a bunch of kelp. There was always something to remind me that He knew I was having a tough time, but He still loved me.

Now, with kids of my own, I love to watch them discover everything that I love about the beach! It must be genetic, because they seem to love it as much as I do.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Swimming in Papa's Paradise Pool

Friday, we went to Mom and Dad's house for a fun swim! Gabriel said he wishes we lived next door to Grammy and Papa, so he could get really good at swimming. They have the perfect pool for practicing his swim techniques -- plenty of areas where he can feel safe while trying new things. I do love living just close enough to get to visit once in awhile! We had a great time.

Click to play Pool Fun
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Monday, July 14, 2008

Gabe is a Cub Scout

Now that Gabe is eight, he is a Cub Scout! He had his first meeting on Wednesday. I was looking all over for Romney's old uniform, and I couldn't find it before the meeting. I finally found it while he was gone, so as soon as he got home, he put it on, and I couldn't get him out of it for two days! He is so excited about being a Cub Scout. He told me that he had to put his hand over his heart to say the pledge of allegiance last time, but this next time, he'll get to salute! Also, he told me that being a Cub Scout is kind of like "being in the military for kids." Too cute!

Quality #4 - Generosity

"Generosity is when you give the right thing to the right person at the right time -- and it benefits both of you.

"Generosity is a quality that most women can tap into very easily -- maybe too easily, if you ask me. As women, we tend to be overly generous with our time, support, love, and money -- but giving simply for the sake of giving does not match the definition of generosity as stated above.

"To me, honest giving must always observe these six rules:
1. You give something to say thank you and out of pure love. Not to get something back.
2. Whether it is a gift of time, money, or love, you must feel strongly that your gift is an offering.
3. An act of generosity must never adversely affect the giver.
4. An act of generosity must be made consciously. You must be aware of how your gift will affect its recipient and make sure it will not be a burden.
5. An act of generosity must happen at the right time. You must be able to afford your gift, whether it is a material item or the gift of time.
6. An act of generosity must come from an empathetic heart."
Suze Orman, Women and Money

A couple of months ago, I was asked if I would go to Girls Camp. I thought I was being invited to be an adult chaperon in one of the cabins with my girls. Rom and I discussed it, and we realized that it would require a lot of sacrifices for our family at this time -- my health is iffy, we're starting a new business, Romney Jr would have to skip all activities to babysit, we'd have to juggle the kids around a bit -- but, we decided the sacrifices would be worth it for me to have that bonding time with my girls.

Then, I found out that they were putting me in the kitchen. I would only see my girls during mealtimes, maybe. I would be cooking and cleaning all week long. I'd have to get up at 4:30 am to start on breakfast. There would be some flexibility, but I'm sure I'd be embarrassed about not pulling my weight, and I'd overdo it. Suddenly, with this new information, I didn't feel it was worth all our sacrifices at all.

Now, I'm a good soldier -- I say yes to my callings, and I serve wherever I'm needed, and I love whatever they ask me to do. But, after discussing this with Rom, we both decided this was too much. I gathered up all my possible courage, and I called and backed out on it. I gave them plenty of notice, but they still weren't able to fill the position, and some people are still miffed about it. But, I know I did the right thing, and I think it was an important example to my girls that sometimes, you really should say no!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

52 Weeks Blessing

Kyara and I were driving home tonight, and there was a brilliant lightning storm up in the mountains. It was so pretty, and you could feel a little bit of moisture in the air. It reminded me how much I love a good summer rain shower! I remember when I was in France on my mission. We had just gotten back from a zone conference which had required crazy hours, lots of travel, and very little sleep. I was exhausted by the time I got home. Just as we arrived at our apartment, it started to rain. I was so tired, I was silly, so I just had to dance in the rain for awhile. The other missionaries with us just laughed at me, but it was a wonderful way to enjoy the rain!

Update: So, after I wrote this post, I went up to bed. We had the windows open, and the lightning was spectacular. Rom got a wild hair, and he convinced me to go for a walk with him. Kyara joined us, and we had a nice midnight stroll. We had just started when it lightly started to rain. It never got heavy, just a few drops, but it felt so good!

Thoughts on Courage

I was thinking about the quality of courage, and I got a lot of good comments about it. It got me thinking. I realized that the opposite of courage is not fear, but gossip! How many people do you know who are always complaining about their spouse or someone who has done something to upset them? Instead of addressing the problem, they run it by everyone else trying to get sympathy. You think they are asking for advice, but they never act on anything you suggest. I've noticed that with my kids when I catch them gossiping -- it's usually because someone made them mad, but they don't have the skills to talk it out. It makes for good parenting moments.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Kyara's First Job

Click to play Kyara's First Job
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Kyara has needed a job for some time now. But, with the demands of school, she never got out there to do some serious job hunting. And after school got out, she was enjoying a little respite, so again she didn't really hit the pavement. Just about a week ago, Rom jokingly commented that Kyara would get a job when one came looking for her.

Well, last week, a job finally came looking for her! She babysits for a family in our ward. The husband was impressed with her, so he put in a good word for her with the Miners, a family here in town that owns the Dairy Queen. He set up an interview for her, but when she arrived, the owner was out of town. He then called her and asked her to bring in her social security card, and he'd put her on the schedule. She got her food handler's card Monday, and he put her right to work! She's worked two shifts so far. And, she was so embarrassed when I insisted on taking her picture outside of work. I wanted to take a picture with her behind the counter, but that was too much. Compromise!

She's a great worker, and I know this will be a good experience for her. Congratulations, Kyara!

Who Wants to Play?

OK, I got this from my cousin Sherry's blog (and stole the title from Lauri). Here are the directions:

1. As a comment on my blog, leave one memory that you and I had together. It doesn't matter if you knew me a little or a lot, anything you remember! If you only know me through the blog, list a favorite memory of a post of mine. It doesn't matter if you've known me for years or we are new friends! All memories are fun and welcome!

2. Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you. It's actually pretty funny to see the responses. If you leave a memory about me, I'll assume you're playing the game and I'll come to your blog and leave one about you. If you don't want to play on your blog, or if you don't have a blog, I'll leave my memory of you in my comments.

Don't panic (like I did!) -- it doesn't have to be a really significant moment. It's fun to revisit those small, easily forgotten moments, too!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Gabe's Baptism

Gabriel Teancum Howells was baptized Saturday, July 5, 2008. Of course, our whole family was there, as well as Grandma and Grandpa Proffitt, the Romerils, the Bradshaws, the Davises, the Morgans, the Grays, and Bishop Lunt. Also, Gabriel's friend Sam was baptized the same day, so his family was there. Gabriel felt really happy and he loved getting baptized by his dad. He was pleased and surprised to get a special journal from Sister Davis and Baskin Robbins gift card from the Bradshaws. He was excited about getting his new scriptures.

I've been to many baptisms. I have five children now who have been baptized. I've served a mission in France and seen many baptisms there. I've served in the primary all my adult life, so I've been to many child baptisms as well. I love the spirit each and every time. And, Gabe's baptism was so amazing. He was a little nervous, and his embarrassed glance up at the audience was priceless. As Rom performed that simple ordinance, I felt Heavenly Father's love and pleasure so much! Gabe has been so ready for this. He is such a good boy. I felt like getting baptized for him was less about washing away sins than it was about preparing him for the gift of the Holy Ghost. Now, he has that gift, and Heavenly Father can bless him more than ever before. I love that boy!

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

4th of July Fun (on the 3rd of July)

When I told Gavin we were going to watch fireworks, he asked, "Are we going to the dirt place?" I told him yes, and he was ecstatic. See, some of the families in our ward have a 4th of July tradition. The Soboba Casino does fireworks every year on the 3rd of July, so they don't compete with the city's display. So, we load our kids up in the car, drive a couple of blocks, and park on the shoulder of the road. We set up lawn chairs and blankets and put snacks on a fold up table. The kids play together until dark, and the grown ups mingle and chat. Then, we enjoy the fireworks show. We get home and have kids in bed by 10 pm. So stress-free! Sometimes people will still go to the park the next day for the city fireworks; this year, our family just stayed home. It's not a spectacular event, but I just love getting together with our ward friends!

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Friday, July 4, 2008

52 Weeks Blessing

It is very fitting that I choose today to be grateful for my country! What an amazing place to live. I am grateful for all my freedoms and the men and women who fight and die to keep me free. I love that anyone can say whatever they like and not be thrown into jail. I love that I can go to the store and have rows and rows of choices for everything I need. I love that I can not only worship God however I choose, but that I can be enriched by others worshiping God the way they choose. I love that the poor in our country have cable TV instead of sunken eyes and naked pot bellies. I love that all it takes to feel rich is to look away from what others have and notice your own abundance. I love that this is a land of opportunity, that anybody here can get an education or make a buck or both. I love that inherent American pride that makes us feel like we are the best in the world, and that belief that we can become the best in the world at whatever we want to do. I love that search for excellence. I love that we are a generous, caring nation, and that we reach out to others in their time of need. In a million other ways that I can't think of because I take them all for granted, I love my country. Happy Birthday, America!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Rom's Water Polo

Romney started water polo this summer. He'd like to play for the high school team in the fall, so we started with water polo camp during the summer. His teammates are a great group of guys. The first day, they asked if he was related to Mitt Romney. He said yes, so now his nickname is "Mitt." Even the moms call out "Get it, Mitt!" during the games. Too cool. A little confusing, though, last week when one of the members of the opposite team really was named "Mitt." (How weird is that?)

Rom's coach is toughening him up and giving him LOTS of playing time. It seems to be paying off, too. Rom is getting a lot more aggressive, and he even got EJECTED from the game today! Woot! Go, beast! Just kidding -- in water polo, when you get ejected, it's just for one play. His teammates do a lot to help him get the hang of it, too. I like it, because he comes home too tired to get into trouble. Very nice!

By the way, I stole this Smilebox layout idea from Suzann -- it was too perfect!

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Gabe's 8th Birthday

Gabe turned 8 on Tuesday. He was very spoiled all day long. Usually, the kids get breakfast in bed on their birthday (Kyara spontaneously started this tradition years ago). Gabe, however, convinced his dad to take him out for donuts. Then, for Happy Home Cleaning School, we all wrote about why Gabe is Great! Nearly everyone said he was loving, so I guess that's probably his best quality! And, he got out of all work for the day, both in the morning and after dinner. Finally, he got to choose what to have for dinner, so we all went to McDonald's play place, where he topped off the day with a M&Ms McFlurry. He was stuffed after that, so we saved cake and ice cream for the next day. It was a great day (and a half) of celebrating why we love having Gabe in our family!


"I guess I have forgiven us both, although sometimes in the night my dreams will take me back to the sadness, and I have to wake up and forgive us again."
Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Quality #3 - Courage

Suze Orman, from Women and Money

Courage is the ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty or pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action.

"Courage gives harmony expression. When your thoughts and feelings are one, courage helps you manifest them in the form of words and actions. When you are afraid to speak or act, courage helps you overcome your fear. Courage gives you the ability to speak your truth, even when it is not what others may want to hear."

OK, so last time I shared with you how I had felt out of balance, wanted to restore harmony, and was worried about confronting Rom with some problem I was having. Here's the follow-up excerpt from my journal.

"OK, this is so Rom and my marriage -- right after I had written that last entry, I discussed it with Rom. I basically asked him if he'd be supportive of me trying to bring my life in harmony even if it meant 'rocking the boat.' He responded, of course, with hyperbole and humor, putting me at ease. I then brought up the two things I could think of that had been bothering me. He agreed I was right; I don't know if that means he'll change immediately, but it opens the door to my speaking my mind when it comes up again. And, I realized, I don't need to do any digging, because that was all there was to it. Ah, I married such a good man!"

I've found that every time I get the courage up to say what I need to or act how I need to, the consequences are never so bad as I built them up to be in my mind. I'm still working on it, but at 43, I should be safe enough with myself to do this!

Puzzle Me This

We have a new summer hobby -- puzzles! Gabe had a puzzle day during the last week of school, and I had a couple of puzzles I let him take. They were sitting out, so we started doing the puzzles. They were 100 pieces, and we finished them pretty easily. Then, I had a 500 piece puzzle that I had bought at the 99 Cent store. We got started on that one. It was very cool -- I laid out the pieces on our living room table. While I was working, Kyara drifted in and sat by me and added a few pieces. Then, Ana and the others drifted in and out from time to time, adding a little bit here and there. Well, the 500 piece puzzle was a beast! All of the pieces were exactly the same shape, so it was really easy to put the wrong piece in the wrong place. The worst was when we got down to nothing but green -- that took two or three days alone! Once we finished the puzzle, we cheered our accomplishment, and Ana said, "You have to put it on the blog!" So, here's our finished puzzle. And, I went out and bought a 10-pack of puzzles (100, 300, and 500) that we're working through. We are saving the zebra puzzle for last -- if we make it through that one, I'll post our triumph!