Monday, January 21, 2013

Food and Life

My children are growing up. Fast. Too fast. I want very much for them to be good people. That's such a vague term isn't it? Good people. What does that actually mean?

I started off this year thinking not only about how I wanted to improve/ change my own life but what I wanted for my children. They are going to be gone from the nest far too soon and I want to know that they are going to be as prepared as possible for the big bad world. Only it isn't a big, bad world - not all of it anyway. Not to me. This got me thinking about how if I teach my children what it means to be a "good person" that perhaps the world wouldn't be so big and bad to them either.

You following me so far?

I thought about what it means to be a "good person" and started writing a few things down. I didn't bother to make a list of all the people I know that are good. That would simply take too long and I would certainly forget to include someone anyway. You see, I know a lot of good people in this world from all different religions, races, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. They are all very different. And yet they all share some of the same characteristics that contribute to their individual and collective goodness. **My mind was flooded with thoughts of so many kind and wonderful people and still is even as I write this post.**
My list is unique to me and I don't think I'll share it just now. However, thinking of all the different things I believe are essential to becoming or being our best selves led me to create a list of attributes/skills I think are important for me to focus on with my kids this year. Plus I want them to be able to cook more than a basic meal when they leave home.

To begin this process, I already have a good foundation. I already have great kids. I like to think Jon and I have had a little something to do with this, but in actuality they came that way. They had their personalities and their wills intact long before we were blessed to be their parents. I am grateful for that and grateful for how very different they are from one another. That one aspect is going to make this a fun process over the course of this year.

The way I decided to focus my energies was on one skill/idea and one food (type of food) per month. There are certain months that I am in school and as such I have tried to put easier skills/foods during those months. As I know my list will evolve over the year, please regard this list as a work in progress (kind-of like me).

January - Yeast bread and setting goals
February -  Homemade chicken soup (soups) and finances/budgeting/ money management
March - Grains (barley, quinoa, oats, rice, wheat, etc) and growing a garden from seed
April - Muffins/ sweet breads and laundry/ironing/sewing on a button (clothing care)
May - Fresh pasta + red/ white sauces from scratch and car maintenance (checking fluids, air in tires, changing a flat, etc.)
June - Salads/ knife skills and safe use of hand and power tools/home maintenance (hammering a nail, cutting a board without losing any digits, etc.)
July - BBQ (meats, veggies, pizza, etc) and emergency preparedness/ camping skills
August - Ice creams/ sorbets and general organization + flower arranging
September - (Birthday) cakes and keeping a journal
October - Potatoes/ homemade gravy and communicating openly and honestly
November - Roasting the perfect turkey/ ham and writing thank you notes/ sincere prayer (gratitude) + how to set a formal table
December - (Sugar) cookies and wrapping a present/ giving generously (service)

This is my preliminary list but I feel pretty good about it at this point. I think I'll only post a few times a month to keep you abreast of our progress, but I appreciate all your comments on FB helping me decide what to teach and for your thoughtful and supportive comments all ready.

Spring semester begins tomorrow and I am both excited and tired already for what the next sixteen weeks will bring. My mantra for school and life these days is from Elder Wirthlin, "Come what may and love it!". I love my life. I love God. I love my family. I love learning.  And I hope I can pass these sentiments on to my children, thus preparing them to look to their glorious futures prepared to be their very best selves and have a great time in the process.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I'm back!

As promised I am back at the blog after... Okay so we're coming up on the two year mark! Ugh. I've been busy. What can I say? I loved blogging on a regular basis but life got busy and something had to give. Honestly, lots of things had to give and the blog was one of the first things on the chopping block. Moving forward...

As I want to be able to blog during what I like to call "crazytime" (aka when I'm in school) I'm going to keep my posts shorter in general. However, I may do longer posts regarding my monthly goals with the kids but you'll have to just wait and see.

For now, or at least the next ten days, I am still home before the semester begins and I will try and catch y'all up on what we are doing out here in the East. For today, just know that we are all well and happy. (Pics to come. I promise.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Break and Spring Term

I am home alone and its a Tuesday morning. I haven't been home on a Tuesday morning in months. It is very quiet.

Back in January I mentioned that I would go into greater detail about school and what's going on in the department. I meant to post in February but said school has been keeping me very busy. Today in this quiet house I will attempt to post more details.

I am being lazy and don't want to get distracted so I am not going to go back and see what I posted in January about school. I don't think it was much. Here's the deal. I am at Morgan State University in Baltimore. It is an HBCU. (Anyone know that acronym?) Basically its an all-black school. I am one of very few whites to attend the university. I'll be honest, its a little strange sometimes. And lonely. I am the minority. What a switch from life as I knew it for the first 30+ years of my life. It is also a blessing. It is a challenge and every day is full of learning opportunities and room for growth. You may be wondering why I decided to go to a Morgan. Actually, I don't know that I can answer that really, except to say that is where I am supposed to be right now. (Long story). I have had a hard time making friends. I know! Can you imagine?! It's so true though. I am very non-traditional as an MSU student. I am married - with kids - BIG kids - white - in my 30's - not associated to any sororities/clubs - although I did dream that I made the track team (can you tell I have running on the brain?) I have finally made a few friends though and makes a big difference.

Last semester was great. It was incredibly difficult and rewarding and I enjoyed most every minute of it. (Isn't is nice how one's memory can alter a bit to remember the good after the fact?) I felt like things meshed from the beginning. Everything was more fluid. This semester has been choppy and disjointed so far. It's been more difficult, but I'm hanging in there. Midterms were last week and I feel like I did well. Grades will post this week, so we'll see...

I have some big decisions to make in the next few weeks. I am trying to decide how to proceed with the next portion of school. I am nearing completion of all pre-requisite courses at Morgan, but if I choose to transfer, I need to take additional classes that other universities require. This means summer school. Another option(s) is the traditional/ accelerated BS program at JHU. It is ranked #1 in the nation for nursing schools, but it has an enormous price tag to go with it. I am looking at scholarships and grants but it is still so much money. I think I'd be crazy not to at least try to get in. I am pretty positive that I can get a full-ride to Morgan or a few other schools for nursing, but I am just looking into it at this point.

So, do I spend the money and shoot for JHU? or do I attend a smaller, less expensive, less-prestigious university and do so on scholarship/grant monies? Another option would be to attend the latter and then do my Masters' at JHU a few years down the road. Hmmm... that's a thought.

What do you think? My mind is reeling.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Raising a daughter

I am grateful for this little person's creative spirit. She is a marvel. (Check out her studio threads.) 

 It's like sunshine to have her around. She is strong-willed, sensitive and clever. She's a brave little stinker when she wants to be and smart as can be.
  I worry about her more than the teenager though. She's filled with anxiety sometimes that cripples her ability to do things. I often wonder if I am the right person to raise her. That thought doesn't last long, because I cannot imagine life for one second without her in it. Still, the tasks sometimes seems daunting.  
One of my most cherished times with her is in the early morning (after Jon is at work and the kids are still sleeping) I crawl into bed with her and she wakes up slowly. We giggle and snuggle. I love that quiet precious time with her. 

Raising a daughter is a tricky business.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A new blog and an idea

I've had this idea for awhile but after the holidays it seems like an especially great idea. See the thing is, I want very much to be healthy and strong. We're talking physically. I need a little encouragement though. I am manufacturing my own little support system with my idea. The idea is a new blog. Yes a new and wonderful blog. In the past I have undertaken these things all on my own, but I want this blog to be for many people and written by many people.

If you are interested check this out:


Yep that's the name. It in no way means I am a fast runner, but it gives me something to aspire to doesn't it?
It's not just about running, but health in general. Food, exercise, meditation, goal-setting and yes, running will all be things we talk about. Doesn't it just sound great?! I think so. What's more, it's not entirely up to me as to what we talk about or what gets posted. (I totally love that part.)

I am keeping it open for now, but in order to contribute you need a special invite from yours truly. So leave a comment or shoot me an email for an invite. If you want to read and comment but not contribute you can simply subscribe. No pressure. Check it out. Let me know what you think of the idea. Can't wait for you join me.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I'm totally into hats these days. I wear them all the time. This has nothing to do with the fact that my hair has been thinning like crazy the last few months. My obsession started long before the hair-loss began. I love hats. I look pretty good in them. The hair I have left looks good with hats. I can wear them to church, school, the market, while driving. The only one that doesn't really work in those situations is the cowboy hat I claimed at Christmas. (It was my sisters' and had been sitting at my parents' place for a year or two so she passed it on to me.) I wore it on the plane ride home and got quite a few inquiring glances.

When Jon and I first married - nearly 15 year ago - I inherited a bunch of hats from his grandma. Until the last year or so, they have sat in a hat box in an old trunk. I finally decided I was going to give them a shot. Hooked.

You might be surprised at how much attention hats get around here. People, old and young, stop me and tell me how much they like them. All of the sudden I am "fashion conscious" because of the hats. It's a lot of fun actually. Jon is always looking for new hats for me. We go thrifting and he brings me countless hats to model. It reminds me a little of the Dr. in Field of Dreams who bought his wife hats all the time.

The only problem I have with my hat collection is how to store it. The hat box has gone from the trunk to my bedroom floor where the hats are piled up. They hang on the corners of my tall bedroom mirror. I have dreams of a fabulous hat stand that would hold 20+ hats, but I have yet to find anything that is worth buying. I think Jon will have to build me something lovely for my 35th.

Have you seen anything to hang/ store hats that got your attention? I'd love to see it if you have. Meanwhile, think of me when you see some bold women sporting a hat this season. There aren't enough of out there.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Random thoughts on a cold January morning

Driving home from dropping Jon at work this morning, I had a few random thoughts:

I sometimes listen to Christian rock on the radio and I like it. That's right. I do.

When I drop off Jon, even @ 5:30 in the morning, I often choose what shoes to wear based on whether they match my jammies. I looked sweet this morning.

If I brush my hair before bed it looks fabulous straight out of bed in the morning. (I will brush it later, but I  can leave the house feeling pretty good pretty early).

There are many people out there to whom I owe a lot. I am grateful for good, thoughtful people who are part of my life whether on a daily basis, in my past or every now and then. I hope you know who you are and if you don't I am going to try to let you know this year.

I'm glad to be home.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I've become one of "those" people...

Six months is right around the bend. Sadly, that is how long its been since I last posted. I know many of you think I don't love you anymore, but that's simply not the case. I do. I do love you all. It's just that roughly six months ago, the universe shifted slightly and everything switched gears. Mind you, these are good gears, mostly chosen gears, but different gears all the same. 

Goodness. Where do I begin? Well, the first gear shift was a move. We left our lovely, and far-too-expensive abode in Bolton Hill for much more affordable and fitting digs in Remington. (For those of you non-Baltimorians,  these are neighborhoods to which I'm referring.) The new place is great. We love it. It's fits us. I may grace you with a few pictures this holiday season. No promises. 

Second gear shift, no more homeschool. While this made me terribly sad to consider at first, it is absolutely the right decision. The kids got in to an amazing charter school in our old neighborhood and we couldn't be happier with the sitch there. Still some of you are asking why. Why?! Why switch back to public school? 
Let me introduce you to shift #3 in my universe, the one that turned things upside down and put an end to my blogging for an embarrassing length of time -- I am a student again. It is amazingly true!  We're talking F/T people! It is my time again to return for that ever-elusive degree. The return also brought a change of major. I finally decided what I want to be when I grow up - a nurse. That's right folks, I'm going into nursing. I cannot tell you how perfect a fit it is. Some of you were surprised when I told you this. I'm not sure what to make of that. In fact, I think I'll delve into that - and the whole nursing/school thing - in another post.  (I promise there will be other posts, and many. Sheesh!! You people have so little faith. I see your doubtful, raised eyebrows. I've been busy! There's some serious adjusting going here.)

Final shift, Jon's new job. At the end of a difficult and challenging summer with only sporadic work, Jon was hired at a restoration firm in Baltimore. He works in the central shop restoring windows and doors for historic buildings primarily in Baltimore and the DC area. While not exactly what he went back to school for, we are indescribably grateful for a job in this tough economy. (The unemployment in Baltimore is @10% these days.) He works 6-2 M-F, which actually translates to 6-3 or 4 M-Sa. While somewhat stressful, it has been such a great blessing, this job. 

If you shuffle these new variables into the deck of cards I call my life, I'm looking at a seriously different hand these days. A great big thank-you to those of you who asked about the blog, encouraging updates, didn't presume I was dead, etc. And a huge hug to everyone who has been so supportive this first semester back. I pretty much let 90% of my life slip by the wayside these last 14 weeks. With only two finals left to take this week, I will be back in "previous" me mode for six glorious weeks. (Don't get me wrong, I love "student" me too, she's just so exhausting to keep up with.)

Oh, there is one other little gear shift I didn't mention before... A little something in the oven. 

I'd better go get it out before it burns. It's biscotti, my new-old favorite snack. 
What?! What did you think I was talking about? I bake. It's why I workout more than once a day this time of year. Sheesh!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

learning to be still

I originally wrote a very long post explaining the last few months of our life and how we have been dealing with some difficult trials and disappointments. As I got ready to publish, I decided not to put it all out there. Let me just say this month has been an amazing one. I have learned things about myself and had to exercise my faith muscles more than ever before. The most difficult and wonderful thing I have experienced is the concept of being still. My personality is such that I like to be doing. I like to moving towards something, a goal, a plan, whatever. I like to get things done. That wasn't the way things went this time around. I got great advice from my mom and another dear friend that was so similar that I decided to test it out. I decided to be still and have faith that God is in charge. Guess what? He is. He is in charge. He is aware. He is in everything. And in my case He was just waiting for me to figure that out. Once I turned it over to Him, things were different. I continued packing but my mindset was different. I felt the Spirit as I packed. My home has been calm. I have witnessed the windows of heaven being opened up. Yesterday a wonderful couple came to the apartment and signed the lease for July 15. A miracle really. That's just what it is. A blessing from heaven. 

Jon and I celebrated our 14th anniversary yesterday. Fourteen years. We looked forward the next fourteen to realize our children will no longer be 8 and 12, but 22 and 26. I will be in a career and nearing 50. Jon will be past 50 and famous. :) Time never ceases to pass. But our life is blessed. We have everything we need and more. So much more. We have family far and near. We have friends dotting the globe. We are healthy, strong and happy. I don't know what more I could ask for in life. 

The next few months will be filled with great changes for our fam. But if you know anything about me, you now I don't mind change. I would say I even appreciate it, dare I say embrace it? I am excited for what lies ahead and what new adventures are in store. Mostly I am grateful. I am grateful to a Father who loves me and allows me to learn and struggle, always waiting in the wings for me to recognize Him. So patient.

I need to say thank you to everyone who had my family in their prayers or on the rolls at the temple or helped us move things to storage. It helped so much. I appreciate it immensely. As things get figured out, we'll keep you posted. So stay tuned for big changes.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I am officially training for a half. I am not yet committed to a marathon, but I am on board for a half. I knew if I didn't choose a race, time would pass with me half-heartedly training and I would regret the lost weeks. So.... without further ado I announce to you my race of choice - Montour Trail Half Marathon on September 11 in glamorous Pittsburgh, PA. I chose Pittsburgh because of its equidistance for my sister and I. It is 87 days away roughly 12 weeks from Saturday. A dear friend and supporter in UT is helping me with weekly fitness plans and moral support. I also have friends in UT who are in training themselves for a race on the same day. I am excited and feeling motivated. I have two additional races picked out for the fall, but I will keep those under wraps for now. On my mark...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A challenge or rather an invitation

Life has been crazy lately and I've been a slacker at blogging the last few months.  I've pretty well kept everything else up and running, except sadly my own running pursuits. Since the end of April I have been encouraging or rather forcing, Et (my 12 yr. old for those of you who don't know) to run with me. This has been done under the guise of helping him with his Personal Fitness merit badge. Don't get me wrong, he needs to be exercising regularly, running even, but maybe not so much and maybe not with his mom. See, the thing is, I have no one to run with here in Bal'more. I've been hoping that running would grow on him, but it just isn't. Case in point: The other day as we walked the dog past the park that we run at sometimes, he said "Mom, this place has some of the best and worst memories for me." I asked him what the best was and rather than recount his answer I'll just let you decide what a 12-yr. old would like best and you can go with that. Then I asked what the worst was and he replied "running".  Ahhh! Seriously smalls - you're killin' me! Needless to say, my cunning scheme isn't going according plan.

Yesterday a friend, with whom I once trained, posted the need to sign up for a race to get her moving again. It seems she and I have both become derailed in our running endeavors. (This is the part where everything gets all wavy as I think back in time to a memory.) I think I first began to love running with her. Our running styles were so different and so helpful to the other. She was a little slower, but always consistent. She didn't like to push it so hard that we would have to stop and walk. She was and is steady. Steady is a very good word to describe her in general. I, on the other hand, like to run fast and hard. I end up walking more because of it. I am varied. In most cases this wouldn't be a big deal, but when we were running partners (6+ years ago) we were tethered together with an ipod. We had one between us and one set of headphones and we had to keep the same pace or the buds would pop right out of our ears. It was pretty slick really. (Memory complete.)  Her post got me thinking about this idea of signing up for a race. She was looking for a running partner - and chances are she'll find one among her many peeps - but I am hoping to be a homeless gypsy* this summer and will therefore only have myself and my reluctant 12-yr. old to partner with.  Enter the long-distance running partner(s) idea... Formulate a plan... Post it on the blog at on unholy hour.

I'm issuing an invitation. It is simply this: I am inviting anyone and everyone who wants to join me in a race to do so. I realize many of you reading this live 2000 miles away, so the race itself may be run apart, but we will train together. My goal is a half-marathon. The last time I ran a half was years ago. I trained for that one alone and it was tough, but I did it. I am only running 5k distances currently, so I will start my training from there. We don't have to follow the same regime, or even run the same distance (as many of you are already in top-notch shape), but I would like to keep each other apprised of our efforts and accomplishments. With a preliminary look at my timeframe, I am going to look for a race occurring sometime from mid-August to mid-September. My initial list has 5 potentials with 2 more in the latter part of September. I found this website helpful in locating potential races.

Wouldn't it be great to have a group of people spread far and near training together, encouraging one another, cheering the others on in their goals? I'd love it if you'd join me. I'd love to hear about your adventures. I'd love your motivating words. I think it would be pretty darn fantastic, but regardless of who's on board I just want you all to know, I am now officially in training.

On your mark...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

We're Alive!

Breathe in, then out. Again. That's what I have been doing for the last few months. Trying to stay calm and levelheaded. The blog has suffered, but sanity is mostly intact. I may or may not get back posts done, but let me fill you in on the latest.

Jon graduated! He now has a Masters of Fine Art(MFA)! We're finished! Well... for a minute anyway. 

At commencement Jon was awarded a fellowship studio space for a year. The official award is MFA Fellowship Studio at the Bromo Seltzer Tower. I am certain many of you have no idea what the Tower is all about, so I'll do the work for you and you can just click here to see get the details. Basically he is given a studio space, rent free for 12 months. During the year, each month has an open-studio day where the public can come through the building, tour the studios, talk with the artists, see plays and purchase or commission art. It's a great opportunity and it gives Jon somewhere to paint besides the basement of whatever place we rent next. Of note: The building was modeled after the Palazzo Vecchio, an amazingly beautiful building we passed every day when we were in Florence, Italy. Talk about a place to be inspired!

See the similarity? Pretty neat.

So for today, know that we are alive. We're just packing, free-cycling, recycling, cleaning, planning, playing, working, looking, praying, hoping, helping, and loving life in general. In short, we're still here. Don't give up on us, that includes you Ms. Crane.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

its the little things...

I admired this little beauty while visiting the gallery space at Jon's studio during the Christmas break. I wanted it so much Jon had to talk me out of swiping it right off the wall. Weeks later, for no apparent reason he brought it home to me (with a blessing from the previous owner). 

Now it's mine. 

It's the simple things in life that make me smile.

I now enjoy the soft glow of electric sex in my kitchen.

and Ralphy is alive in my heart all year long.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snowed In

Last Friday a big storm system came through town. We were headed back from VA when it rolled in. It dropped nearly two feet of snow before it was finished. Then a few days later, another system blew through leaving maybe six inches more. And in the last 36 hours we got another 12+ inches.  Needless to say, we're not going anywhere for awhile. We haven't been going anywhere for the last five days.  Here's how the snow has effected us in that time:

church last week - cancelled
stake conference this week - postponed
power bill - doubled (as if it wasn't already scary enough)
MICA(Jon's school) - closed all but one day in the last seven
Members' night at the Nat'l Aquarium - cancelled
violin lessons - cancelled
youth basketball - cancelled
youth Temple trip - postponed
friends' birthday party - postponed twice
waistline - expanding
sense of time - gone

I feel like I have had five Saturdays in a row. I have to check my phone to see what day it is. It feels like Christmas break all over again. Is it really Thursday today?

This is a how we've been filling the hours...

snowshoeing around our neighborhood
the makings of a snowcave
homemade valentines
Et's neverending supply of legos
too many gingersnaps
games, games and more games
a couple of good books
watch instantly - as no movies are getting to us through the mail
we're memorizing the Gettysburg address and making homemade lightsabers
Et torturing Claudio with bionocles

In short, we've been getting up late, eating gallons of soup, reading, bundling into snow clothes for hours of outside play, reading, drinking gallons of cocoa, watching tons of movies, reading, playing games, doing little schoolwork and loving most every minute of it. I mean, how often are you truly snowed in?!