Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I've been Tagged

I don't know if there is any tagging "ettiquet," so here goes. (Thanks Tisha!)

1. Best thing you cooked last week?

Broiled halibut with steamed broccoli and caulifower and mashed butternut squash. It does your heart good when your two-year-old asks for more fish, please.

2. If money, time and babysitting were no object, where would you go and with who?

I would take my sweet husband back to France to visit the southern coast, pick wild strawberries and eat pate and blue cheese with crusty baguettes in central France, spend a day in Normandy and Mont San Michele. Then we'd go to Belgum, Norway, back to Finland, down through Germany, Switzerland over to the Cezch Republic, visit Albania, specifically Transylvania (I'm sort of into vampires... go Stephenie Meyers) spend a few weeks in Italy, boat to the Island of Malta, sunbath in Greece for a few days, pop over to see the pyramids and the Nile, and finish out with a visit to Jordan and the Holy Land. I'd spend a day sitting on the shores of the Sea of Galilee reading the Sermon on the Mount. Of course we would try every local cuisine, stay at bed and breakfasts (maybe a castle in France), and enjoy the sights and sounds and smells of everything fun. And come to think of it, I might take my son, too. I wouldn't want to leave him out of such a fun trip--is that what a nanny is for?

3. When was the last time you cried?
Night before last. I was nearing the end of Sense and Sensibility and, unlike the movie, Willoby comes back when Mariann is so sick and tries to make aments with Elinor. He's still unceasing selfish, poor guy.

4. Five things you were doing 10 years ago:

1. Trying to choose a major at BYU. I remember sitting on the floor in my appartment crying on the phone with my dad, asking him what I should do with the rest of my life. I was finished with my GE's and had just almost failed statistics. My dad said, "Well, you wouldn't be the first one of my daughters to serve a mission because she wasn't sure what to do with the rest of her life." I know he was joking, but still...
2. I was involved in the Student Leadership Seminar at BYU where I learned a lot about mentoring, Christ-centered leadership, organizational behavior, and making sure my "ladder" was leaning against the "right" wall. (Goals and priorities)
3. I was living in Liberty Square Appartments. I made some life long friends, but resolved after a very short time living there that I would not renew my contract. After I signed my contract my brother told me it was known as the "Melrose Place" of Provo. Great... I did meet Dan Marriott of THE Marriott family. Nice guy. Look for him to aspire to political office someday.
4. I took my first public relations class. Who would have quessed it would lead me into a communications degree a few years later.
5. I had a major crush on a kid named Brant. He later married a friend of mine from high school (I was not, by the way, involved in them meeting. She was actually going to Utah State at the time. How random).

5. Five things you were doing 5 years ago:

1. I was about to celebrate my first wedding anniversary. Who ever said the first year is the hardest never made it past two years.
2. I was working at BYU Independent Study with a year's distance between me and my own college graduation (yes, I finally chose a major and a minor--Communication Studies and Humanities with an emphasis in culture studies/Latin American studies)
3. I was living in the smallest one bedroom appartment. It is amazing how quickly you grow into things. (I think that was the first time Tisha was my neighbor. That was the beginning of a beautiful, inspiring friendship, a true mentor who taught me to "trust my instincts")
4. I was serving as the Relief Society Pres. in our ward. The night before I was to meet with the bishop, I had a dream that I was called as the official ward cake decorator.
5. I was supporting my husband in his indecision about what he wanted to do with his major. He was studing chemical engineer, but had just decided that going to medical school was not what he wanted to do after all. Too many problems with malpractice. I secretly and then openly rejoiced when Jim made that decision. I wanted to support him in what ever he wanted to do, but I wasn't thrilled with the idea of being a doctor's wife.

6. Five things you were doing 1 year ago:

1. I was getting my feet wet as the brand new second counselor in the young women's presidency in our ward. I had about eight very busy beehives.
2. I was experiencing my first ice storm. I'd heard of them, but never seen one.
3. I was watching my son learn to run. He pretty much skipped walking.
4. I was settling in our our first home.
5. I was reveling in the fact that I had lost twenty pounds since that previous September and was anxiously trying to loose another 25 (which, by the way, I have!!)

7. Seven of your favorite hobbies:

1. Writing
2. Cooking
3. Reading
4. Playing the piano
5. Finding new and engaging ways to exercise (jump rope is a current favorite. I also like to play basketball at the church with my husband. Skipping.)
6. Personal Finance--I keep asking Jim when we are going to do our taxes. I am probably so weird, but I love to plan and save and figure out how to invest and prepare for the future. I even hatched an idea in my head the other day that by paying off a portion of our mortgage with a little chunk of money that I have from my days at BYU, we could get rid of our PMI and actually reduce the life of our home loan even more. So far in the year and a half we have lived in our house, we have reduced our 30-year mortgage to a 19 year mortgage. It is all about paying down the principle. Even just a little bit extra every month makes a huge difference. Check out the amoritization tools at or on your bank or mortgage company's website.
7. Blogging (this is way, way better than scrapbooking--sorry all my scrapbooking friends)

8. Five favorite foods:

1. Spinach
2. Fuji apples with blue cheese
3. Fresh pineapple
4. Peanut butter
5. Salmon

9. Five places you've been:
(I cheated. I did five outside of the US and five in the US)
1. Buenos Aires, Argentina
2. Mexico City, Mexico
3. Santiago, Dominican Republic
4. Paris, France (though I enjoyed other cities and villages in France much more)
5. Montreal, Canada--yummiest French food outside of France. Who knew they really do speak French everywhere there.
Stateside (a few of my faves)
1. Boston, MA
2. Charleston, SC
3. Great Smoky Mountains, TN
4. New York City
5. Kirtland, OH (along with Nauvoo, Palmyra, and Salt Lake; I just love Church History)

10. Ten Favorite Memories:

1. Lip syc with my sister to "California Girls" by the Beach Boys when my dad brought home our first CD player and sampler CD.
2. White water rafting with my family on the Snake and Salmon Rivers
3. Thanksgiving every year at my Grandma Anderson's house
4. Cousins' dinner every month at my Grandma Carr's house
5. Hearning my parents tell us about what it was like as little children during WWII; what New Zealand was like when my dad was a missionary there; how my parent met; how they chose my name
6. Having my mom read to me from a children's book of Shakespear stories. We'd sit on the front porch after school in the warm fall or spring sun. I especially like the Tempest and the Taming of the Shrew.
7. Hearing my mother tell a story about when she was knee high in laundry and four or five little children all around, she wondered what the Savior would think if he came to visit the house that day. She had the distinct impression that he would just sit down and help her fold clothes. That has really stuck with me, especially as I have a little one and often feel somewhat overwhelmed.
8. Seeing my son for the first time. It had taken so long to get him.
9. Going to the Temple for the first time. It felt like...going home. I felt so loved as a daughter of God and so anxious to live up to the promised blessings, especially of the initiatory. Even now, if I need an extra special pick me up if I am feeling low of self worth, I try to get to the temple to do initiatory work.
10. Having my entire family at my wedding--nine kids plus spouses and children. They all made so many sacrifies to be there that day. It was wonderful and perfect and sweet and tender. Jim also wrote a song for me and sang it at our reception.

Now I tag a few people. Cimberly, Suzanne, Stella, Maren, and anyone else that would like a walk down memory lane. It's kind of fun!

Monday, January 14, 2008

To Be Warm

This morning I woke up to a toasty warm house with a blazing fire in the stove. Sweet husband stoked the fire and added wood before leaving for work so A and I would be warm when we got up.
J and I spent an afternoon last week stacking wood, lots of it. I was so proud of myself for all the work I did. Boy do I admire pioneer women! There are four more rows that you can't see.

Preparing to meet God

It's the middle of night while I'm writing this. I can't sleep and am thinking about a talk that I have been asked to give next Sunday. It is on preparing to meet God, how we do that, and why do it now. If you were going to sit through 12-15 minutes of me talking next Sunday, what might you find helpful, interesting, or insightful? What do you wish you were doing better, knew more specifically, want to recommit to, or just need encouragement to do? I often ask my Beehives why do we even care about all this stuff? My answer is always the same: so we can return to live with Heavenly Father; never loose sight of that goal. And by the way, it will be worth it!

Three Things I Love about My Two-year-old

1. He loves pockets. Sometimes he walks around the house for several minutes with his hands in his pockets. He puts trains, stray coins, cranberries, the occasional chocolate chip, and what ever he can find in his pockets. Yesterday he spent several minutes trying to put his sippy cup in a shirt pocket that is hardly larger than a quarter.

2. He laughs at himself all day long. I ought to take lessons from him...

3. He is learning to pray by himself. Today when dad asked him if he wanted to pray before dinner, he promptly started by himself saying "Heavnely Father, thankful for day, thankful for food, please bless it (he said this at least twice), name of Jesus Christ, AMEN!!! (note emphasis)."

Friday, January 4, 2008

Making Bread

Yesterday afternoon I made bread. This is not uncommon at our house. Most of you have eaten my bread even. But with the craziness of the holidays, it has been several weeks since I've completely this weekly ritual of bread making. As my dough was finished in the mixer and I began to shape it into loaves, I felt the most remarkable sense of satisfaction with the world. I was connecting with the nurturing instinct inside of me, I guess. The dough was smooth and warm and rich with that soft smell of fresh ground wheat. I couldn't help but imagine what it must be like to be an artist molding and shaping an inanimate lump of clay or stone and breathing life into it. My bread is far less complicated and much less creative; but it is my craft, my art, my life-giving gift to my family.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy Holidays

Here's a little recap of our holiday adventures both in New York and visiting family in Indiana.

Our family at the Albany Stake Christmas Devotioal Fireside. It was so fun to sing in the Stake choir. J also got to play the cello with a small orchestra for the Hallejulah chorus finale. A sat with my sister and was quietly watching the WHOLE time

We had a wonderful church Christmas party. A practiced singing Jingle Bells, his favorite, while we were decorating. I sang my favorite, The Christmas Song, and J and a friend also sang the song that was in the December Ensign, Guard Him Joseph.

A loved the train we put around the bottom of our Christmas tree (see previous post). I spent many hours turning the train on and putting it back on the track after A knocked it off and needed help to "fix train, mom."

He also really enjoyed playing with our nativity set. Every day it was all arranged differently. We never did find baby Jesus.

We spent a really fun week with Grandma Brooks in Indiana. Grandma gave A a flashlight to play with and A and his cousin spent a whole afternoon entertained!

One of my favorite traditions in the Brooks family is to make chocolates. J's grandpa is a pro and taught me how a few years ago. Here's an action shot of me "beating" the fondant (the cream filling) while Nate and Jess are dipping some of the others. We made orange creams, rum hand roll creams, crispy rice, carmel pecan, almond creams, chocolate truffles, peanut butter, and nut clusters. If you living in NY, we are making chocolates for our Feb. cullinary institute!

A enjoyed ripping off all the paper and then tossing away what ever was inside. Thanks so much to everyone who gave us such thoughtful gifts even if our son didn't show his appreciation very well!

A is really into trains. He got two sets, one from Santa and one from his Coates cousins. I think I can call him a locovour (lover of locomotives).

Check out this canvas that my sister painted! She is a remarkable artist (she also sent a water color portait of A that she did). She sent some trains and this canvas adventure with mountains, lakes, caves and everything. Yesterday when A was playing with it he thought it was so funny that he put the tains in the water. He just laughed and laughed. "look mom, trains in water!"

Books, books, and more books!

I've updated my list of "Books on my Nightstand." Thanks to everyone who posted some great audio book ideas for me. As always, I'm looking for good books to read and if I can listen to them while I'm working around the house, that's great, too. Thanks to Zeeny for her endless supply of books. She's turned in to a library for me!

Also, thanks to Lallie for introducing me to the website. I've never read all the standard works (or even the entire Old Testament for that matter) in one year and she motivated me to do it! This is a great website. It sends you an email with your reading assignment for the day and you can either read it right there in the email, go online to read it, read it right from your scriptures or listen to an audio file of the assignment for the day. Every day it sends you a new email with the next assignment. It's really cool! I'll keep you posted on how it goes.