Thursday, March 31, 2011


People have voiced their desire for me to have a place they could donate since many can't attend our day of eatin' at Chevy's.  Rest assured, we will have other fundraising events throughout the next few months, but if you cannot attend and would still like to donate, you can do so through this paypal site or contact us directly.  Thank you, everyone, for your love, prayers, and support -- not just now -- but over the past 5 years.  We love you and give prayers of gratitude for you daily.


I have a list of reasons why my life is fantastic...and the list continues to build and build.  But I'll tell you, my day started off well because

Samantha slept in until 6:24 AM
Callie has been pretty perfectly obedient and cheerful
And the sun is shining

Thanks life.  It's going to be a good day.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fundraiser at Chevy's

WARNING:  Some of this is repetitive.

Born with a grim prognosis, Samantha has proved to many doctors that there's a lot packed into her tiny frame! They marvel at her progress, but she still has a long way to go. In addition to her regular physical and occupational therapies, we've recently begun an at-home therapy that we do with her, and we have seen fantastic progress, as many of you know already. But evenstill, we feel like there's more to do.

When we came across "Now I Can," an intensive therapy site in Orem, Utah, we immediately felt like this could benefit Samantha. And, after our own research, those feelings have become stronger.

from their website ( 
"Now I Can is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to helping disabled children reach their greatest potential. Now I Can has combined the most effective methods of physical therapy with the most outstanding therapy team — making our therapy unique and sought after by families across the country. [....] This effective therapy involves performing exercises over an extended period of time — 5 days a week for 4 hours a day. [....] Studies have shown that a 3-week session of intensive therapy helps a child realize the same goals it would usually take a full year of traditional therapy to achieve."

Samantha's physical therapist in Washington said that Sammy would be a good candidate for intensive therapy, but at the time our PT felt Sammy was too young.  We feel like now is the time. We are in the process of saving and raising money to pay for Samantha's therapy (working, selling items on eBay, scrimping, fundraising, praying) -- this therapy in addition to the therapy we are doing at home -- and plan to have at least one event in late spring/early summer. many of you like eating at Chevy's?!  Because on Thursday, April 7, 2011 you can come to the Chevy's on Almaden Expressway in San Jose25% of your purchase will go directly towards Sammy's therapy!  They have opened ALL DAY for Samantha.  So, come LUNCH, come DINNER, or TAKE OUT25% of it all goes to our little Sammy. 

I sent out an email to some of the locals here, but if you are a local and you didn't get an email, leave your email address and I'll send the flyer to you.  You MUST have the flyer when you order your food in order for Samantha to get the money.  I'll email you the flyer. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Callie:  "Mommy?"

Me: "Yes Sweetheart."

Callie:  "Remember when we goed there everyday sometimes?"

Me:  "Everyday?  Or just sometimes?"

Callie:  "No.  I saaaaaid, remember when we goed there everyday sometimes?"

Me:  "Um.  Sure.  Yeah.  That was fun huh?"

Callie:  "Yeah, that was fun."

I still don't know what she was talking about, but it sure was fun.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Best Bread Recipe

My friend posted this on her blog awhile back.  And, I have to agree, this is the best bread.  Now, I was eager to try this recipe for the following reasons:

* I love bread
* I love homemade bread even better
* I used to make a lot of bread with our dinners, but haven't in a long time
* As a part of my decluttering, I've been debating if I really need our bread machine.  I love it.  I do.  But I only used it to make the dough anyway.  I didn't like making the bread in the machine and how it came out so boxy.  I have a KitchenAid but have never ever ever used it to make bread.  While visiting friends in Utah a year or so ago, this came up, and I was informed how easy it is.  So, this recipe gave me to go-ahead to try it out.  And you know what folks?  It is.  It's super easy to use a mixer to make your bread dough, and I feel so happy knowing that I am going to get rid of a piece of well-used kitchen equipment.  Thank you Marci for getting it for us for our wedding because I truly used it a ton.  But, after 5 years, I may be ready to move on.  (I think.  It's still packed away, so we'll see when I actually pull it out again if I can part with it.)

So, here's the Best Bread.  Give it a try.  As Campbell's would say, it's mmm mmm good.

Combine in mixing bowl:

2.5 cups very warm water (I use 2 cups of hottest H2O from tap and 1/2 c. room temp water)
3 c. freshly ground whole wheat flour
1 T plus 1 t. yeast
1 T wheat gluten (I've never included this actually -- but I haven't ground my own wheat yet.  That may make a difference.)

Stir just until mixed and let mixture stand 10 minutes


1/3 C half canola oil, half applesauce
1/3 C honey
1 T. lemon juice (no need to be fresh)
1 T sea salt
3 1/2 - 4 C whole wheat flour
1 T dough enhancer (I have also never added this)

*additional ingredients can be added or subbed for some of the flour: flax meal, millet, oat bran, nuts, etc.

1. Knead bowl of mixer (with dough hooks) for 10 minutes. Do not add any additional flour until the end. The dough will look sticky and you'll think, "I need more flour" but wait and it will form a ball. At the end of kneading, the dough should be slightly sticky to the touch, but not stick to your hands. Adjust as needed. Use a little flour to lightly coat the dough, and pull out of the bowl.

2. Immediately divide the dough into two equal portions, and knead each loaf for 30 seconds forming a loaf with no creases.

3. Place each loaf into a greased and floured pan. Let rise approx 40 min.  (until just above the lip of the pan) Make sure you preheat your oven according to when you estimate your bread being ready to put in the oven. (this is critical, bread needs to go in preheated oven...if it is too risen, it will be airy and fall apart, but if not risen enough it will be dense and cakey)

4. Bake bread at 350 for approx 30 minutes. When you tap the top of the bread, it should sound hollow.

5. Remove bread from pan and onto a cooling rack immediately. Let cool at least 15 minutes before cutting into it and eating a big buttery piece, and let cool completely before bagging (no sweating inside the bag).

*Notes from Courtney: I didn't have the gluten or dough enhancer at first, so I used white bread flour instead. It has an higher level of gluten and results in a better bread. So, if you don't want to track down those extras, just use bread flour. My next step is to get a wheat grinder so I can use the freshly ground wheat flour for the most nutritious bread. (Something that makes Sam sad. He likes white bread and would probably choose Wonder bread if given the option.) Wheat begins losing its nutrients as soon as you grind it, so the fresher the flour the better.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What's 3 Weeks?

I mentioned that I want to get Samantha into Now I Can for intensive physical therapy.  We are still working out some details and beginning to save up...and I have a phone call to make on Monday about her evaluation, but I really feel good about this place.  I was checking out the schedule tonight, on their website, to see what sessions were open and which one we'd probably want to take, when I saw this new video on their home page.  Oh I was so happy for this little girl and her family.  I have NO idea what Samantha's outcome will be.  She has different issues than this little girl.  However, I can't ignore this nagging to check this place out and get her there.  Maybe it's just me, but I keep feeling like it's a spiritual prompting.  So, I'm taking it as such and we're hoping to run with it. 

I have always felt that Samantha was more than what she appears to be -- though, at this point many would say she appears to be the fighter she is.  But, in the beginning, when we didn't know too much about her and her personality, I just felt like we needed to search out what was going to help her.  I feel like my prayers have been answered so many times, directing us where we need to go, who we need to meet, and at the right times.  It's been an amazing journey. 

So, what's a 3 week session at Now I Can?  How can 3 weeks make a difference?  Well, ask me what 3 week of intensive therapy can do and then watch this.

(I can't get this video box any smaller, so just mute the video so it's not super annoying to have 2 songs playing at once.  Sorry folks.)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cerebral Palsy: A Question of Worth

For now, I don't worry too much about Samantha's future.  I just work on a day-to-day system.  Plus, I feel like she is surrounded by people who love and adore her.  But from time to time I think about her future.  I think about how people will treat her.  I think about if people will value her when she's older and not just a "cute little 4 year old."  The video below is a reality, and it makes me worry a little.  But, I hold onto hope, and faith, and sweet love....all for my little girl.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

The Happiness ProjectThe Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this book. I felt she was honest and candid and loved her approach on becoming happier in our lives. It's all about those little things that we can do to boost our happiness. It was motivating and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it (though I often skipped the bloggers comments).

View all my reviews

Friday, March 18, 2011

Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month

Most know that Samantha has microcephaly, but few know or realize that she also has cerebral palsy.  Yes.  It's true.  Samantha technically has Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy with Ataxia.  This means she has high muscle tone with jerky movements, affecting all 4 limbs, and has some balance issues.  Her physical and occupational therapy all address problems caused by her cerebral palsy -- which are pretty much caused by her microcephaly.  (Cerebral Palsy is a term used to diagnosis a variety of symptoms dealing with mobility.)

We have been so proud of Samantha as she has made great progress, but we are also getting really excited for our plans to take her to Now I Can in Utah (In the video below, there are some clips of kids in these suits.  Sammy will be doing therapy in that suit.  It's had great results in kids with CP) -- hopefully late summer/early fall -- and attend an intensive physical therapy session (4 hours a day, 5 days a week, 3 weeks).  Her physical therapists are encouraging us to go and we're really excited.  We're working on saving up the funds (yes, I sold 2 items on eBay today thank you very much) and we're just going to make it work.  We'll be sure to keep you updated.

But for now, remember it is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month.  Looking at Samantha, I have never seen weakness.  Not once.  All those kids with CP -- and kids who are not grown up into adults -- may have troubles moving or talking.  They may seem weak, but they are strong.


Love her hair in curls.

Happy Sammy outside -- sans wet shirt it would be a pretty great picture.

Too bad shortly after this was taken the girl in front of Callie threw up all over the floor. 

So happy at dance class.
Just looking through some pictures recently uploaded, and goodness...I've got some cute kids (in my humble opinion of course). 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling

From glen to glen, and down the mountainside.

The summer's gone, and all the flow'rs are dying.

'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide.

But come ye back when summer's in the meadow

Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow.

'Tis I'll be here, in sunshine or in shadow,

Oh, Danny boy, oh, Danny boy, I love you so.

And when ye come, and all the roses falling.

If I am dead, as dead I well may be,

Ye'll come and find the place where I am lying

And kneel and say an "ave" there for me.

And I shall hear, tho' soft you tread above me,

And, all my grave shall warmer, sweeter be,

For you will bend and tell me that you love me,

And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me.

Oh, Danny Boy, Oh, Danny Boy, I love you so.

Oh how sad, but I love this song.  It reminds me of my sweet Grandpa with his Irish accent.  He'd sing this song, call my brother "chief," and drive my grandma crazy!  He smiled a ton and loved to play Uno with us.  He never quite caught on how to say "uno."  He pronouced it "you no."  It was endearing.  I can see his white thick hair, paper thin skin, big blue eyes, thin legs with his cane by his side.  He was a lovely, wonderful man and a purely delightful grandpa.  I wish he were still alive.  I think my relationship with him would be different -- of course as we grow and mature our relationships change.  But I would sit and talk with him more.  I'd go on walks.  I'd hold his hand.  And, when it came near the end of his life, I wouldn't feel so scared and ackward.  I was too young to really know how to handle that.  Going to visit was hard for me.  But, now...if I had the chance, I'd go visit every single afternoon without fear or anxiety.  I would just sit.  I'm pretty sure he knew I loved him, but I'd make sure there was no doubt in his mind.  So, to Grandpa and to all -- Happy St. Patrick's Day. 

Heart Ache

There's a woman I have recently met who I greatly admire. Together, we work with the Young Women -- me on a ward level, she on a stake level. I have only had contact with her a few times, but each and every time, we had a discussion. She was delightful. In fact, we both chaperoned a stake dance recently and had a lengthy discussion about family and children. I asked if she was going to Girls' Camp this summer, and she said she wasn't -- because she's pregnant. She's young, educated, strong, beautiful, and just a solid, great person.

Yesterday, her husband died. It was completely unexpected. And my heart just aches. So many thoughts have run through my mind. I shouldn't, but I imagine the pain of that moment -- rushing to the hospital, hearing what the doctors say. I think about the day her baby is born, a day when her husband should be there. A day of joy will also be a very painful day for her and her small family.

I called the temple to have her name and her family put on the prayer roll. I have felt the power of prayer in my life -- being buoyed up by the prayers offered on our behalf -- and I pray that she feels that same love and strength. Today I have a deeper gratitude for my testimony and for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And evenstill, my heart aches for Stephanie.

All day I thought about Marcus -- how much I love him. At one point I thought "I'm so grateful for his health" and then stopped me as I realized that Stephanie may have said that exact same thing before going to bed hours before her husband passed away.

Stephanie and I weren't close friends. But I can't shake these thoughts I've had all day. I tear up every single time I think about her and her sweet little boys.

While I was on my mission, people would ask "If God exists, why do bad things happen to good people?" Good question, but I was, and still am, confident that not only does God live, but He loves us more than we can fathom. Lately, though my faith in that hasn't wavered, I can sympathize with their questions -- especially if they don't already have a relationship with Heavenly Father. But yesterday morning I had a clear reminder that none of us are immune from pain.

So this morning, I'll kiss Marcus before he leaves for work. I'll tell him I love him. I'll send him an email just because. I'll welcome him home with a hug. I'll stop what I'm doing to fully listen to stuff about work, or basketball...or football. And I'll pray more sincerely about how grateful I am that he wakes up each morning and comes home from work everyday -- because I know that now, at least one person will be missing that for a very long time. And my heart aches.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

the little things

I feel very blessed. I have a place to live. A healthy family. I'm surrounded by good people. I have goals that I'm working on that I'm excited and happy about. But there are the little things, too, that make me happy. When was the last time you made a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese? For me, it had been awhile. I don't make macaroni for the girls regularly...but the other day, Callie (as my sous-chef) and I made some and I tell you was delicious. I love homemade macaroni, but there's nothing like powdered fake cheese mixed with milk and butter. I'm sorry. It's just the truth.

And apparently I'm not the only one who appreciates this little thing. Macaroni. It can be a real means of happiness.


I just realized that I've been writing all my checks and signing paperwork -- dating it 2010.  Hello!  Oh for heaven's sake!  I hope the traffic citation I just paid for goes through! 

Sidenote:  All those who live in California, remember it is against the law to use a phone with your hands will you drive.  You WILL get caught -- no matter who sly you think you are.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bathtime Bliss

Someone is very happy for her bath tonight!
I promise I don't put lipstick on this little girl!
And this face was just too funny not to post.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Also "Imported from Detroit"

As much as I love that Chrysler 200 car commercial, Callie's the best product of Michigan, hands down.  I often think about when she grows up...taking her back to visit her grandma and grandpa and take her downtown, around the areas she would have lived.  I want her to know her roots.  I want her to see where she comes from.  I think that's important -- to anyone -- to understand little parts of our background.  I'll take her downtown.  We'll see a show or 2 at the Fox, Fisher, or Masonic Temple.  Maybe we'll see a ball game at Comerica Park.  We'll walk along the Detroit River.  And, perhaps I'll even show her that Chrysler commercial.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Imported from Detroit

I have already mentioned my Detroit pride, so perhaps this won't be any surprise.  But I have to say that Chrysler really did it for me.  I didn't watch any part of the Super Bowl, so I didn't catch the commercials.  The past few months, however, I've been seeing the commercial below, and it gets me excited every time I see it.  The familiar sightsThe music.  Even the guy crossing the street.  I love it all.  The kind of strange arm and fist sculpture, the painting in the Detroit Institute of Art (DIA, I love you.  There were many a fieldtrip to the DIA), the downtown buildings.  The street signs.  I am overwhelmed with love when I see this commercial.  Dramatic?  Maybe.  But it's true.  I'm the kind of person who feels deep connections to people and places, and as weird as it may be, I feel love when I see this commercials.  Sure, I know there must be some haters out there.  We can't all love what I love (though it would really make things easier), but I for one, love it.  Doesn't the phrase Imported from Detroit just make you happy?!  Come on....

It makes me feel proud.  It makes me feel proud to know that I'm from a city and community that fights -- when we're down, we fight to come back on top.  Hopefully it makes the rest of the country feel proud of their Michigan-made cars as well. 

When I went to youtube, I didn't see the shorter version of the commerical that's been on tv (I'm sure it's there, just didn't want to take the time), so this was my first chance to see the full version.  2 minutes.  I hear it's the first 2 minute commercial for the Super Bowl.  It must have cost a lot.  Anyway, I think I like the shorter version better.  It gives those images, the same cool guy walking across the street, and the Eminem music in the background.  I didn't know he was actually in it...and I think I like just having the reference to him better than actually seeing him in it.  But I do love seeing the Fox Theater -- the theater we would go and see the Nutcracker, the Rockett's, and different shows and musicals, and though I've never been to a concert there, I've always wanted to if that counts for anything.  Oh, it's good people.  It's so so really good. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist by Michael J. Fox

A few years ago, or maybe it was only 2 years ago, I became interested in reading Michael J. Fox's book.  Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist sounded like my kind of book.  I'm sure I saw him on Oprah and was fascinated by his journey and probably, right then, decided that one day I'd read his book. 

Last week I finally picked up his book.  I actually had forgotten about wanting to read it until I saw it sitting there in the library.  "Oh yeah...I wanted to read this."  So, checked it out I did.  As I mentioned, I liked the title -- cheery -- and I like the cover.  Yes, come on, admit it.  We all do judge a book by its cover.  I know I do.  That's not to say that I don't read some very plain covered books and find a story within the pages to be extremely entertaining.  But, a catchy cover does get my attention -- and Mr. Fox's picture, with his blue eyes against the blue background, looking was pleasant.  I like that little smile he has on his face.  It's appealing and makes me feel happy.  Optimistic.  So, good job there on the cover.

However, when I started to read it, I was very disappointed.  Today, Marcus asked me what I learned from reading the book.  Good question.  I couldn't answer because I really don't know.  I supose I learned a little more about stem cell research from MJF's point of view, but even still...I'm not sure what I learned.  There were parts that were just interesting and I appreciated hearing his stories.  I appreciated his perspective on life.  And, I was interested in what his life entails with Parkinson's and how that affects his family.  What I was expecting was more of all of that though.  I was disappointed with the language he used.  Furthermore, I felt like he was using his book as a way to promote his political agenda.  Instead of talking about his activism, explaining his drive and what got him to get so involved...he does that briefly and then spends quite a bit of time pushing his agenda.  Perhaps that's not what he intended, but that is the feeling that I got, and that frustrated me.  I'm not super into politics, but I know a little bit about what my own personal views are...and I was frustrated that in reading a book for enjoyment, I was fed his agenda.  I don't know.  Maybe I should have expected that, but I didn't.

Lastly, I take my personal faith pretty seriously.  It defines me and the decisions I make.  I was disappointed in some of the references and comparisons he made to things that I feel to be sacred.  One time -- ok, I get the point you are trying to make.  But when comparisons and references are made too much, I get uncomfortable. 

I did find parts of the book to be worth reading.  I am impressed with his drive.  I'm impressed with his dedication and incurable optimism.  I'm impressed with his family values -- how he and his wife love each other and work together -- how his children, and family, appear to be his number one priority.  I have no reason to believe otherwise based on the love he expresses, the experiences he shares, and the decisions he's made along the way that affect his family.  Do I think he's a good person?  Yes.  I do.  I think Michael J. Fox is a great person who cares deeply and fights for those things that he feels are worth fighting for.  I support some of those same things.  Was his book worth reading?  mmmmm  I'm not sure.  I think I liked my view of him better before having read his book.  But, I wish him success is funding more research for PD and many blessings as he continues living life with his family.  He certainly deserves all of that.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fat Tuesday aka Paczki Awareness Day -- It's Dangerous

I have this friend.  We'll call her...Lindsey.  Linds and I were really tight growing up.  We were best friends from elementary school (what was it, 2nd grade?) all through high school.  My photo albums are filled with pictures of the 2 of us doing makeovers, in the plays and musicals, playing sports, traveling to San Fransico on Spring Break...we did pretty much everything together.

Lindsey is very Italian, but also very Polish.  I loved her family, still do.  I loved how close they were and since they just live down the street from me, I felt like I, too, was an extension of the family.  I mean, really, I think they would have crowned me honorary family member had I stuck around during the college years.  Or, maybe not.  hmmm  Back to Fat Tuesday

One fond memory I have from back in the day was when Mr. Stakoe would enter the house with a box of goodness every Fat Tuesday.  This goodness is...true goodness.  I'm talkin' smell-the-deep-fried-greasey-way-better-than-a-donut-with-powdered-sugar-sprinkled-on-top goodness.  Now, it's possible that I wasn't involved in this at their home every Fat Tuesday -- that I partook of the Polish splendor, otherwise known as the paczki (pronounced POHNCH-kee), but maybe it was the sheer delight of every. single. heavy. calorie. coursing through my veins that makes me feel like I was a part of this annual Stakoe family tradition.  And, when I'm talking about calories -- lets just look at the fat grams people.  There's between 22-56 grams of FAT in each paczki.  And if Pringles claims "once you pop, you can't stop," you gotta try a paczki.  I'm pretty sure NO ONE stops at just one ~ thus the FAT in Fat Tuesday. 

I love my home town.  I love that I'm from a suburb of Detroit.  I feel a lot of Detroit pride.  It's runs even deeper than my Michigan pride.  There's something coarse, solid, and so blue collar about Detroit that I love -- we're a really hard working city that has been through a lot.  But we push forward.  Sure we have the Lions that don't win (but we still love 'em), and we have Kwame Kilpatrick (oh Kwame Kwame, you are such a sad story), but we love our diversity and our strength.  And interestingly enough, if you google "where to find a paczki," most of the searches will pull of results in Michigan.  In fact, just today, in Flint, MI, one bakery sold 1,200 dozen paczkis.  That makes my heart sing and my arteries scream.   

I'm not saying it's the paczki that allows us to thrive, but it sure doesn't hurt.  And today, I'd love me a paczki at Stakoe's.  Those were nice Fat Tuesdays. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat by Peter Walsh

While at the library a few weeks ago, I decided to check out some books on tape. I mean, why not? I wasn't looking for anything in particular...just something that would jump out at me. Lately, I've been on a clean-up kick. I'm feeling a little claustrophobic and just need to get rid of stuff. I'm feeling overwhelmed. Furthermore, I've been thinking a lot about the kind of home I want in the future. I've decided that in order to achieve the kind of home I want, I need to more diligently work on those areas that will, well, create the kind of home I want. So, I'm working on my clutter, on my mess, on how much stuff I have. For that reason, when I saw Peter Walsh's Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?, I was intrigued. Why not listen to this as I clean? Great.
I wasn't looking for a clutter-loss equals weight-loss book, but I found some of the stuff he said quite interesting. In deed, I have found in my life, and in the lives of some close family members, that when we are in health mode, we tend to also be in a toss-out-extra-junk mode. That extra junk isn't just food -- but it's clothes that aren't worn, knick knacks that have been sitting around dusty for years, piles of papers and magazines that just need to be tossed out finally, etc. I'm not sure the exact psychological reason for it, but it seems that getting rid of extra stuff is, perhaps, healthy. Why do we need to consume so much? Walsh talks about too much consumption in terms of food, but also clutter. I loved that. I do, really, consume too much than I need. I am that person who says, "oh, it was a great deal." So what? If I don't need it -- or more importantly -- if there's no place to put it (and properly put it) then it's not really a good deal is it? Instead of saving $50, I've spent $15 and added more clutter to my life....and then I go out and gain 20 lbs on top of that! Ok. So that's exaggeration. Anyway, I just found it interesting and liked how he goes about getting the extra clutter and weight out for good. His goal isn't to get your super skinny -- just healthy. And, as I said, I think that health is physical and mental as we get rid of all those extras. It was a good listen. Thanks Mr. Walsh. I knew I liked you.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh

Many years ago, many many years ago, I used to watch Clean Sweep on TLC. (I think it was TLC). I loved the concept -- clean out the STUFF. I am not pro when it comes to organization, but I love the idea of it. For that reason, this was a really motivating show. I quickly became a fan of Peter Walsh because he worked with these people, step by step. Create your piles....keep it. Donate it. Toss it. He helped people determine what was worth keeping. I liked his methods and have even tried to use them on my mom! Mom, I love you...but you got to just toss most of it.

For Christmas this year, Analisa got me a giftcard to Amazon (thank you!), and I decided to purchase some books. What books would be worth keeping? What books would I want in my home always, instead of just getting it at the library? Whatever happened to the library anyway?! Recently, I told Marcus we have way too much book clutter. Save money (a heckuva lot of money) and space and check books out. I think we agreed that we're going to do that. I'm all about buying books and creating a family library, but make it the best books, ya know? Ok, back on I decided that I wanted to buy this book that I've been wanting to read -- It's All Too Much. This is how I've been feeling lately, and I knew that I'd want it as a reference. So, bought it I did.

I really liked this book. First, it was a fast and easy read. Second, for someone like me who doesn't come by organizing naturally -- or someone who has a mild case of hoarding (I mean, I may need it one day. It'll save me money down the road.), Mr. Peter Walsh gives "easy" steps of how to conquer each room. I say "easy" because it's not easy to emotionally detach from stuff. That's why we keep it in the first place. But it's so important -- at least for me. While I read this, I was also listening to his book Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat on cd. It was all very motivating to say the least, and parts of it were repetitive, but that was ok with me. During this time, I've gotten rid of boxes of stuff that were being stored in our bedroom. I've gone through my clothes and determined if I really needed to keep some old dresses just because there were good memories attached at the seam. I cleared off our desk and our dresser -- both areas that ALWAYS get covered with stuff. Peter makes one statement that has stuck with me and that I really try to do -- flat surfaces are to remain flat. They aren't storage areas. So, I'm really working on that. It's so easy to just put something down on a flat surface, but is that where it goes? No. No no no no. I'm working on it though. I'm a work in progress. And this will probably be life long. That's ok though. I think it's worth the effort. Today, I got rid of 3 more boxes of stuff -- 2 in our room and 1 in the garage. We don't need that stuff anyway. And if we really need it, I'll get it again.
The point is, I really liked this book and I will refer to it again...when we move and we're setting up our place, you can bet your bottom dollar that I'll be using his methods to make sure our space is functional and beautifully clutter-free. Thanks Peter.

My Personal Invitation

I am currently writing/editing/compiling a book.  I'm on track and scheduled to submit to the publisher in May.  I'm really excited about it.  I've been leary to tell too many people along the way, but since I'm close to the ... well, I guess just to the starting line really ... I thought it was time to share.  Furthermore, I feel like I need more.  So, I extend my invitation to those who feel they may fit what I'm looking for -- maybe you.

The story behind the book and the official invitation can be found on Kidz

Happy Sunday!

Friday, March 4, 2011

My Cup Runneth Over

Tonight I went to the gym for the first time since being sick and was surprised by the amount of energy I had.  I ran for a while and didn't get off the treadmill until it read at least 500 calories burned.  Who knows if that's what was really burned, but it felt really really good. 

I worked on my legs and was able to press more weight than I have been able to in a long time.

Today is my dad's birthday.  I love him so much.  He's strong in every meaning of the word, yet as the years have passed, he progressively weakens at just the sight of his children or grandchildren.  He's a teddy bear and I love him so so much.  I can't wait to visit this summer.

I read through some of Samantha's old medical records today.  We've come a long way and I was filled with hope and peace seeing her progress...medically.  In the past couple years, there's been no rushing to the ER because seizures won't stop.  There's been no emergency medication administered.  We've been on relatively even ground the past couple years, and though I expect that won't last forever, I'm enjoying this time in our lives. 

Standing across the room from me today, I looked at Callie.  She smiled her huge grin and said, "I love you Mommy."  Her sincerity struck me and my eyes filled with tears.  At the same moment, I was stunned at her beauty.  Her smile transforms her entire face.  It lights up and she is just gorgeous.

Marcus took care of our taxes today.  I so much appreciate this job he does for our family.  I don't want to mess with that -- even though year after year he has to call me to gather some information last minute, I'd so rather gather that little information than sit and take care of it all.

We have a place to stay that is rent-free.

While I was sick, my mother-in-law helped me so much...letting me sleep in, taking care of Callie while I was dead to the world...and not realizing she was doing this until I would wake up at NOON!!!  She has secured angel status.

My father-in-law still is smiling today and asking how my keys are doing.  He was just as excited as I was when I found them.  That's love.

Colin called to ask us if we wanted him to get pizza for us tonight.  It was thoughtful.

Analisa wrote about Samantha for the book I'm working on and it brought tears to my eyes as she read it. 

I'm feeling really extremely grateful for my life tonight.  I live a full life, and I'm grateful.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


When was the last time you felt true happiness? Was it when your children were born? Maybe it was accomplishing a long-term goal...something you had worked on for months, maybe even years? How about when you met your significant other and knew you were in love? That was probably happiness.

Today, I experienced true happiness. Today, I found my lost keys.

Yesterday morning, I discovered that I couldn't find my keys. Frustrating. Especially frustrating since I have been so careful these days. My keys go in 1 of 2 places. I have a little hook on our bedroom wall. At the end of the day, they go there -- hanging up and ready to go. Usually, though, during the day because I'm in and out, I leave them in my purse's side pocket. When my keys went missing, I looked everywhere. Do you know where everywhere is? It's behind furniture, under cushions, outside through every square inch of grass in the backyard and front (including the neighbor's front yard), behind curtains, under desks...everywhere is anywhere you can possibly think of. I looked everywhere more than once.

I said a prayer.

I kept looking everywhere and was rather grumpy all day.

Then, last night, before Marcus and I said our final "goodnight" we were talking. I thought about my day, and I remembered that Samantha had been playing with my purse (which I discovered when I walked back into the family room and a couple tubes of lip gloss were scattered along the floor). Ahhhh. Yes. The keys must have been thrown out of my purse. My prayers had been answered. The next day, I was going to find those keys in the family room. Sweet dreams.

Today, I looked everywhere again. And this time, I checked everywhere I had not checked when checking everywhere before. Callie and I prayed. I moved every piece of furniture in that family room. Callie and I prayed. I combed the entire house and could NOT find those keys. Alright. I'm getting mad.

"Callie, come on, we're saying another prayer."
"Yes. I really need to find these keys and Heavenly Father's going to help me. Sometimes we pray more than once for things."

Hours passed with no keys. I was losing the faith people. I was frustrated and completely perplexed. Let's examine why I so needed these keys:

1. I'd have to pay a lot of money to get one of these keys with the chip in them remade.
2. Attached to these keys was my library card. I could get another one, but still.
3. Attached to these keys was my gym card. I'm not sure the procedure for "lost cards" but I didnt' want to find out.
4. Church keys. Yes. I also have church keys to the building and our YW closet and I didn't want to face the president, and our bishop, and tell them they were lost.
5. I didn't want my carelessly-placing-important-objects-down-without-paying-attention reputation with Marcus to continue! I used to lose them a lot, but I believed myself to be a changed woman. This would be a huge set-back in my attempt to prove reformation.

After dinner, I was in the kitchen with Samantha and Callie. I was sure that Samantha had flung my keys, but where in the everywhere were they?! In my mind, I retraced every part of that family room...and it occured to me: I had clean laundry in the room that I had moved to our bedroom. I didn't fold the clothes (of course), so they were sitting in our room now. That's it. That's where the keys must be. Since I knew that's where they must be, I felt comfortable waiting until I got the kids to bed...but then I couldn't wait. I started folding that laundry -- little by little removing the layers that covered those keys.

Then, in a moment of sheer relief, I gasped at the sound of my keys falling out of the 3T shirt I picked up to fold. Yes. My keys were there in all their jingling glory.

Callie rejoiced with me (maybe because I told her if she found them I'd take her you think she still expects us to go?) and we said a prayer to thank Heavenly Father for enlightening my mind so I could find them.

So, yeeeeeah! Yeah because I found them, and yeah because it was (most likely) really Samantha's fault -- not mine! True happiness folks. It feels good.


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