• “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Suess

Friday, September 30, 2011


Campbell, you have cousins by the dozens and now you are a dozen years old. Being twelve had extra priveleges and extra responsibilities at our house.

At 12 our kids were finally allowed to legally babysit and get paid for doing so. My children, both boys and girls, often were paid to care for people's children for a few hours.  Of course that also meant they got to be blamed if they did not do their job the way the children's parents expected them to do it or if the kids got into mischief. And sometimes they helped out parent's without pay - just to be kind.

Your dad often took his younger brothers to play ball or on a bike ride or to the park. They still talk about all the fun things he did with them.  They both learned to love art when he let them use his special paints, and crayons and art tools with him.

When you were younger I was a bit disappointed that you looked so much like your mother's side of the family.

Later you looked almost like a twin of your father.

Who you look like doesn't matter nearly as much as who you act like.  Now that you are 12 that is an additional and important thing for you to remember.  Always remember that you are one of God's sons - even more so than you are the son of your father and mother.

You can be like your dad in some ways and like your mother in other ways and not even realize how much like them you are.  I think we may not realize how much like Heavenly Father we are.  You ARE his child. You can always choose to become more like your Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ, another son of God, set an example of how to become more like our Father in Heaven. Your mother and father are both kind people. They try to be kind to everyone around them just like Jesus was.

I love the Primary song, 'Kindness Begins With Me'. Your father was always a kind boy to everyone around him.  Although he loved to tease his siblings he learned to not tease in unkind ways.

Now that you are a young man you will no longer attend Primary. It is time for you to begin 'Young Men's' and learn many new things and have many new responsibilities - more privileges and more fun.

Your father near age 12
(does he still make his ears flap?)

It is a privilege to be ordained to the priesthood and to be able to begin to serve God's children the way Jesus did. You will seldom have more genuine fun than when you serve others. I hope you follow your father's example in these good things.

I also hope you have a very memorable and happy day on this terrific twelfth birthday.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Our cutlery drawer has a variety of styles and patterns.

At least twice I've gotten new, matching sets but somehow the 'camp' stuff and the new stuff and 'where-did-THAT-come-from' stuff get mixed all together and the SETS are no where to be found - not anywhere!

I never have been able to figure out where these things go.  (Maybe the spoons jilted the dishes and ran away with the socks and mittens because those always seem to have plenty of mismatched miss-mates also.)

NO PROBLEM though.
Sometimes I even like it that way.

In some ways families can be 'mismatched' too.

That is OK.  None of us is exactly the same as any other, and if we start out similar after a while one of us gets worn or bent a bit differently.

I really love the left fork of these three. It is narrow enough, and the tines are short enough, that it fits in my mouth, and it is pointy enough to actually able to be poked into a bite of food without excessive force.

Which fork do you think my husband picks when he sets the table?

 How did you guess?

He prefers the llloooonnngg blunt thing on the right that has such blocky tines that it has to be hammered into your food and is so heavy that it easily smashes anything you are eating into submission - if you can lift it.  I don't much like smashed food. And having it almost as long as my fore-arm means it is awkward for me to manipulate.

Knives are the same way
but I don't have to use them
to put food in my mouth.

I do cut things into
pieces with them.

Can you guess which
table knife I prefer?

I like a balanced handle
with enough weight to
give my chop or cut some
oommphh, but not a lot of
blade - I do have short arms.

Spoons are a category all to themselves.  Bowls on spoons must have almost as many configurations as there are silverware patterns: flat, deep, round, wide, shallow, pointy - and I haven't even talked about the curves or handles yet!

How do you use your spoon?

Does it irritate or appease you every time you lift it to you mouth? When it contains food will it fit into your mouth - no silly - not all of it, but at least the tip or side of it? Will it hold soup? or fruit juice? and can it dig frozen yogurt? (that you only intended to get really cold but left in the freezer for 2 days).

 A spoon should be able to scoop and pour but when I lick it I don't want it to be so deep that my tongue needs to be used like a spatula - maybe I have a short tongue too - how would one know? Surely you have eaten with such spoons too.

And now I will start about handles. It should not be so pointy that a child can hurt them self during dinner. It should not be so heavy that a lady can't graceful lift it or so ornate that highly trained servants are required to keep it clean.

Thankfully people are as unique as utensils. When I set the table I put 'my' utensils by my plate and 'his' utensils by his plate - and we enjoy our dinner.  There are only the two of us. Our nest is empty - usually!  But if I invite you over you may have to suffer the punishment of cutlery that does not match - either you or itself.

If you would prefer a different piece just let me know.
The drawer has lots of choices.

And so does our family.
We have lots of opinions.
Opinions come in all sizes and shapes.
Some are preferred by one and some by another.

Isn't it nice to enjoy being a family anyway?

But someday, SOME day, I wish to own perfect flatware,
and have no mismatched miss-mates.

Such a thing exists in my mind: not too large or small, not too wide or narrow, not too deep or shallow, not too long or short, not too heavy or too light, not too ornate or simple, and definitely not too expensive - is that too much to ask?

And we BOTH have to like it!
If I am wishing I might as well wish good!

Since I am wishing I think I will wish for family unity too.
A family that enjoys being together.

And we all will like it!

That is not too much to wish for ...
or pray for.

Monday, September 26, 2011


About 5 years ago we spent some time on a playground with some of our grandsons. One of them has a birthday this week. Time has warped. How can I be wishing a Happy 12th Birthday to Jaidon? To me he has always seemed like the boy with a smile that quietly just helps everyone around him. I hope that NEVER changes.

Now he is not a boy.
He is becoming a wonderful young man.

Life can move so quickly that we can feel out of focus,
or almost invisible.

I had lots of fun on the playgrounds of my past AND learned many life lessons. From the teeter-totters (and other activities) I learned a lot about trust, and fair play. And that we all have more fun when we keep a good balance - not up in the air too much or down too low for too long. Balance helps maintain safe fun and prevent problems.

My elementary school had a super-size slide that only the big kids were allowed to slide down. There were other smaller, less taboo slides too. How big was big? I don't know - I wasn't. Did you ever feel like you just didn't fit? Were never ___________ enough?

 That said, I am glad I am not the child that later fell from the top and was permanently brain injured which sadness caused the joy of the long, tall slide to be dismantled. No one would ever be hurt by falling from it again. No one would ever shriek with the thrill of sliding down it either. I have never been sure which was worse - being injured or without so much fun.

Teachers took us out to 'play' in supervised exercise periods. Despite my smaller size I could then safely participate in my favorite activities - the teeter totter and the merry-go-round - because the teacher made sure safety rules were obeyed. I can remember trenches worn so deeply around the merry-go-round and at the 'foot' of each teeter-totter that it affected my ability to get on and off.

There were also big swings and smaller swings. Some kids would pump up really high and then jump off and fly  through the air. Some landed on their feet running and some landed in a heap on the loose gravel that covered the playground area. No one cared about a bit of blood on a scraped knee, elbow or chin and a few tears seemed just a part of life - you got over bumps and lumps and got on with the fun of being outside to play. I thought those kids were silly.  I liked to SWING on swings.  Still do!

My wise parents took us to play there when school was not in session. I learned to slide safely and it was no longer a big deal to me. I stopped wishing for the dangerous thrill.  I learned that it was all about control. (Just push your feet out against the edges to control speed).  And there was no pushing shoving endless line like recess. I only had to compete with my 9 siblings - and dad pushed the merry-go-round and swings.

Teeter-totters fascinated me.
And may fascinate me forever.

 Rhymes we sang still pop into my mind unbidden.
'Teeter-totter, bread and water, ...
The rest of the rhyme had an endless variety of insults or silliness we custom made for each situation.

Notice two of these guys are both ready to jump off and give bumps if not expected.
And the larger boys are playing with balance.

My grandsons showed me that teeter-totters shenanigans have not changed much.

There are still many ways to ride them and get off when needed.

I suspect many good life lessons can still be learned on a teeter-totter.

Neither up nor down is much fun in or of itself.

Mutual cooperation and trust are required. Part of the fun is being alert - trying to predict when you will go up - or down - and for how long.

And balance ... is it possible to keep both ends in the air?

Some kids used the teeter-totters to bully other kids with. I was only allowed to ride them when someone supervised. Often it was a big brother that would agree to do so; then I couldn't be given the bumps too hard or held up in the air for extortion. Often it was a brother on the other end of the teeter-totter. Then I ALWAYS got a few bumps!

Banging down unexpectedly is never fun. It is always important to guard against accidental (or on purpose) bumps. Preventing on purpose bumps, with alert counter-actions, can be part of the give and take but nothing was ever as much fun as a round of steady, back and forth ups and downs - feeling the power of landing and push off; giving control to someone you trust and having it returned in effortless friendship.

Such friendship, in our families and at other times and places, is built with smiles and service - small daily things done so quietly that they are often unnoticed and may be ignored in the blurred hurry of busy existence. Such small daily, constant things bring the greatest joys.

Quiet times bring back focus and clarity. I most often find myself less invisible while in unhurried service, as I allow the things that matter most to eliminate things that obscure and blur what is most important.

Keep smiling Jaidon.
And keep quietly doing small kind things.
That will make a difference -
for you and all around you.


Thursday, September 22, 2011


No - I did not make one. 
But I might get to it this week ...

It is that time of year again, harvest and abundance!

I don't even have a picture of a pear pie;
only mouth watering memories.
And I have mixed feelings about pies AND pears.

Last year we did actually manage to put a few in jars -
pears that is, not pies!

My husband first made this for an Elder's Quorum contest.
It was memorable, and delicious.
It is one of our favorites - always with the whole wheat crust. 

Lemon Pear Pie

2 beaten eggs
1 cup sugar     
1 tsp finely shredded lemon peel
¼ cup lemon juice
1 Tablespoon butter
8 large or 12 small fresh pears, sliced or diced OR
   ONE 29 ounce can plus ONE 16 ounce can pear halves, drained and diced

NOTE: I usually cook the lemon mixture and THEN peel, core and chop my pears directly into it. I don't want to have to try to keep the pears from becoming brown and funny looking - and I have only used fresh pears for this recipe.

Pastry for double crust Pie
(nice with whole wheat crust – just substitute wheat flour for white flour)

NOTE: this pie can be very moist, particularly with fresh pears. A lattice crust or one with fancy cutouts produces a ‘buttery’ texture similar to pecan pies. Tarts with decorated tops will also take this texture.

In small saucepan combine the beaten eggs, sugar, lemon peel, lemon juice and butter. Cook slowly over low heat stirring constantly (think ‘lemon pudding’) for 3 to 4 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and allow to cool - and perhaps even stir it a bit while you make the dough.

Prepare pastry. Fit half into a 9 inch pie plate. Stir pears (I have to add that I just chop them into bite sized chunks) into thickened lemon mixture and pour into pie shell. Cut slits in top crust; adjust. Seal and flute edges. Cover edges with foil strips.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes, remove foil and bake 20 – 25 minutes longer or until the top crust is golden.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


My husband likes unique and different things.
They intrigue him.

I am sure that's one of the reasons he is married to me.

He bought me a 'bouquet' last night.

Maybe he is trying to tell me something ...

(lol) I love this man!
I love this bouquet!

We are a real 'pair'.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Gold - a dense, soft, shiny metal - is a chemical element that has monetary, symbolic and practical uses. These combine with its high malleability, ductility, conductivity, and resistance to corrosion (and most other chemical reactions) to make it among the most sought after of treasures.

Pure gold has a bright yellow color which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. It is insoluble in nitric acid, which dissolves silver and base metals. The practice of using this property to confirm the presence of gold in items gives rise to the term 'acid test'.

I bought some gold this week. 

It was a tiny amount that cost a very few dollars.

inexpensive gold filled bead caps
I bought some bead caps that are covered in gold.
I asked my husband to cut them into fragments.
He successfully quartered each one.
I now had lots of 'flakes of gold'. 

I teach Sunday School to 14 year old youth.

I admire them.

This year we are studying the New Testament. We learned, this week, that the book of 2 Corinthians contains prophetic counsel that applies in our day, and Paul's teachings in 2 Corinthians are similar to the teachings we hear in General Conference from prophets now living on the earth.

Henry B. Eyring observed, "when the words of prophets seem repetitive, that should rivet our attention ... Don't discard the counsel but hold it close. If someone you trusted handed you what appeared to be nothing more than sand with the promise that it contained gold, you might wisely hold it in your hand awhile, shaking it gently. Every time I have done that with counsel from a prophet, after a time the gold flakes have begun to appear and I have been grateful." Conference Report, April 1997 Ensign, May 1997 page 26.

I got some sand!
I put it in small bags.
I added four gold flakes to each bag.
Four because 2 Corinthians teaches 4 key concepts.

I couldn't even see the gold flakes, even when I carefully and slowly shook the bag. To find them again I had to get a sieve and sift the sand looking for them.

M. Russel Ballard gave a conference talk about gold flakes. I downloaded a short video (abt 3.5 min long) of the object lesson that is in his talk and my lesson manual, onto our laptop to show at the first of class. It is great. I love the old prospector. He helps the young man. Close to the end we see him pick up a flake of gold with the tip of his pinky finger. He has become rich one flake at a time.

Near the end of class I gave each student a bag of sand.
Its physical value was less than 30 cents.
I attached it to President's Eyring's quote.
Of course I asked lots of questions.
I always ask questions.
And they give answers.
My students know many answers.
They like answers that are short.
I try to keep my answers to less than 10 words.

Why were Paul and Timothy able to avoid despair despite fighting without and fear within? We learned in a previous class (about 1st Corinthians) that Paul knew by personal experience almost every miserable unhappy event that can happen. So how can he constantly be so cheerful?
How can I overcome tribulations, trials and general unhappiness?
  Paul teaches me, 'pray - turn to God and trust him'.

He speaks of 'the weak and beggarly elements" of our lives. Is there anything 'less gold' than an unending round of bitter thoughts and schemes towards those that affront us?

Why should I forgive someone that picks on me and does mean things to me? President Gordon B. Hinckley stated that our homes often are where forgiveness is needed most.

How can I have a loving, safe happy home?
   President Hinckley taught that we should sit down together and speak quietly to each other. Doctrine and Covenants Section 42 teaches me how to live (starting in verse 17) and specifically counsels me how to talk with someone that offends me.
 (verses 88-92)

What does it mean to be sorry? 
   Paul taught that it is internal, a desire in my heart. It means I want to never hurt or make anyone or anything afraid or unhappy.

Can I do that? Really? sincerely?
Become more kind? More gentle?
More loving and forgiving? Every day?
How can I become so perfect?
Chapter 13 verse 11 commands me to do so.

Prophets teach that I can become perfect, small choice by small choice, by living perfectly within the knowledge I have, while acquiring more knowledge -sifting for, searching for gold!

Kindness begins with me.

General Conference begins this Saturday.
A broadcast for all women is first.
More broadcasts happen starting 1 October 2011.
Prophets will be speaking.
Access to listen and watch is free.
It is available to anyone anywhere.

Will I find any treasure?
I will be prospecting this weekend, for sure!
And next weekend too.
Looking for gold
What about you?

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Pretend you can have anything.

Pretend you can be anyone or anything you want.

It is said that pretending makes it so.

‘As [a person] thinketh in his heart, so is he …’ Proverbs 23:7

If thinking can make it so…

I think I am healthy. 
I have no aches or pains.
I need no pills.
I am happy.
I am rich - I have sufficient in every way.
I expect ….

I like this!

And it does work.
Beware: Pretend works for good or not so good.

My perception shifts just by thinking, saying and writing out such thoughts – whether consciously planning for the pretense to be true or not, thoughts do seem to become action.

As a teen I thought it was hilarious to pretend to smoke.  I didn’t actually smoke but I knew people that did. I didn’t particularly hang out with any of them enough to even really call them friends but we shared a mutual comaradarie that age and school can bestow.

There was a woman, that attended church with my parents, that was a bit of a gossip. We delighted in ‘setting her up’ – giving her things to talk about that were obviously shocking or untrue.  Among the kids I attended school with I was known to be ‘clean’ – no drugs, no tobacco, no booze.

We often left school grounds during lunch hours to wander around the stores and restaurants only 2 or 3 blocks away, just ‘cruising’ the sidewalks and hangin’ out in fluid knots of chatting, laughing groups.    

One day, while standing on a corner in such a knot I noticed Mrs. Gossip, minding her own busy business, coming along the street. One of the kids we had stopped to chat with was lighting a cigarette. “Hey, give me your smoke,” I said and he handed it over. (I did not smoke it. I just held it. It was just pretend and we all knew it - except her.)

When she happened to look up there I was, apparently unaware of her at all, seemingly smoking with my friends. It was such a joke! Everybody my age knew it was funny – we had so many great laughs about it. She took the bait hook, line and sinker.  Of course my parents were much wiser (although I suspect privately amused).

Not quite so funny are the associations cemented to friendships that day, and as we subsequently shared those laughs. I came to love and understand a troubled group of misfits whose later problems included substance abuse, suicide, abortion and some criminal activities.

Let me be clear – I did not at that time start to smoke. 
It was all pretend. 

As an adult I did smoke - for a short time.
It was one of my dumber phases.  
Because of those friends I learned how and where to get cigarettes and shared a lifestyle, when I was with them, of easy access to and expected use of tobacco.

What do you think?
What do you want?


What do you desire?

What do you pretend?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


A few years back birthday candles came in a box of 36.

12 in a pack
almost any color or designs

I looked today for a box of 36 but to no avail.
Mostly I could only find 12, 20, and 24.

20 polka-dot candles - one of my favorites

I also found a large variety of sparkly, glittery, and curly twisty candles as well as candles that relight themselves and candles in a wide variety of colorful and interesting shapes, including letters.

These are for a special birthday person ... guess who ...

A box of 36 was enough candles to cover anyone in our house with some left over for the next party - unless it was mom or dad- then sometimes we used up a lot of candles - eventually most of the box.  Our kids always wanted to blow out the candles and we re-lit them again and again. The birthday boy or girl got first try - except when a little brother or sister got too excited and went first - and then everyone else that wanted a turn got a turn.

And we always put on the correct number - no matter how many.
For adults that can be a lot of candles!

Birthdays meant family - not friends.
The day you came to live with your family was reserved for that - for family.
Family gave you a present and did your chores for the day.

The cake, usually in the evening so all the lights could be turned out and the candles would be the only light, was the big event of the day.  That and the singing.  We always sang Happy Birthday as loudly as we could, all together.

When you pass 24 and get more than this 'box',
 insurance companies treat you as a mature adult and you pay less.

One birthday my teenage children surprised me with a cake they made for me.  A daughter said, "When you are more than a box you are old." They had bought the candles out of their own money to be able to keep the surprise. I was indeed more than a box.  I think she may be 'more than a box' now. LOL

Since then I often think of my age as being more than a box.

Imagine my delight when I recently found a box of 80.

Note to daughter: does this make you more than a box and me less?

Jaeger you are more than a box of 12 -
does that make you old?

But you are still less than a box of 20.
And no where near 36 - what about your mom?

You share a birthday with your Great-Grandma Forsyth, my mother. What a privilege. She has faith to move mountains. I have seen miracles by her abounding faith. She is a miracle.

People that know her and see her walking and healthy call her 'THE miracle lady'. And she smiles too!

This month she is more than that box.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I usually don't eat much cake.

I often don't eat any cake. 

I love to see 'cute' cakes and sing happy birthday.
Can you buy a cute and tiny cake - just enough for one or two?
Not usually.

I have learned to make my own - especially when I don't really want cake but do want the perks of having one. On a granddaughter's birthday we role played a birthday with her on Skype - and grandpa got to eat that cake. I only had to eat one bite-sized triangle (while on camera). She had a spectacular birthday cake at her far away house.

Most cake is too sweet for me and I don't really like the texture in my mouth. There are some notable exceptions.  I have eaten some wonderful cakes and cupcakes. 

Yesterday I baked a small cake and a couple dozen tiny cupcakes from a 'Betty Crocker Super Moist' cake mix.  I was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed some of those cupcakes when I added some whipped topping and blueberries - not a common occurrence here but I did like that one.  I have filed the memory into the 'try again - sometime' category I keep in my brain.

I began to construct a small birthday cake.  I discovered my container of frosting didn't have enough in it to complete even a small cake. What to do ... ?? I still has some whipped topping. Maybe I could use it ... 

"Nnnooo ..." I decided,
 "that is never stable enough except to immediately be consumed."

What to do, what to doooo ....
I am NOT going to the store just for that!

My personal philosophy is, 'never let the things you can't do interfere with the things you can. I started to list cans and can'ts (as well as the 'don't want to' options) in my mind. I didn't really want to make even a partial batch of frosting that would never get used here. Hmmm ... I rejected a novel idea and then wondered 'why not?' 

Using a fork I mixed about 1 Tbsp of frosting with the same amount of whipped topping.  Seemed OK.  I kept adding the frosting and whip alternately and mixing them carefully together.  I liked it.  Maybe it is better than OK ... and I can frost the cake now.

3 1/2 inch diameter with frosting

I did.  Looks OK.  Seems to be holding ... seems to be stable ...
I refrigerated the left over frosting mix and the cake until I am ready to try to decorate.

I worked with cold frosting on a cold cake.
I stirred the frosting and filled a bag.
The simple shapes held - even some 'strings' did not break.

white cake with chocolate filling

I will likely never be a professional decorator but it is fun to wish loved ones Happy Birthday.  We sang happy birthday to a friend tonight.  Her birthday is tomorrow.  Her aged father was there.  She told us it is his birthday today.  We sang Happy Birthday to him too!  And the cake was exactly right - just enough for just two.

Her mother is in the hospital. My friend has shouldered the role of care giver to her father (in her mother's place). I see her as a true hero - honoring her father and her mother.