Monday, June 4, 2018

The Merry Month of MAYhem

Every mother knows that the month of May is CRAZY! As the school year comes to an end we are flooded with final soccer games, final dance recitals, final tumbling rehearsals, final band concerts, final choral exhibits, final art displays, end of year parties, final exams, final Prom, cheerleading tryouts and… the list goes on. May is busy if you have ONE child, but multiply that by TWO, or THREE, or TEN and every day becomes absolutely insane! The dictionary definition of "mayhem" is CHAOS!

I know May is a wild trip for every family—and it’s certainly not a contest to prove that we’re busier than our next door neighbor—but nevertheless, I’m still recording the events of this month for my posterity’s sake...or they surely wouldn’t believe it!

Let’s begin with the simple math facts: We have 9 children at home right now. Each child is involved in at least ONE extra-curricular activity. (But let’s face it, that usually balloons to two or three or more, right?) PLUS add on school activities, tests, and parties. Those don’t usually count in the daily schedule. But when they involve a parent going in to observe or participating, then everyday school events start gumming up the calendar as well.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

I Love Scouting - An Invitation to Respectfully Remember a Century of Honor

On May 8, 2018, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the decision to discontinue LDS Scouting programs in 2020. Like every other Scouting news release during the past decade, this change was immediately met by both glee and sorrow. Naysayers jumped on the social media bandwagoncheering that the BSA elephant is "finally off our backs," while those invested in Scouting shed tears at the end of an eraa life-changing century for millions of youth and leaders.

My husband has served as the LDS-BSA Relationships Director for the past five years, and this change directly affects our family in both a professional and a personal way. We have been deeply touched by the many friends who immediately reached out to us, anticipating the emotional trauma we were experiencing at the announcement.

Ironically, I listened to a conference talk on "ministering" earlier in the day. The evening announcement provided a unique opportunity to experience and observe friends who took the time to show us love during a heart-breaking situation, as well as those who simply touted comments on social media, oblivious to the pain many of us were feeling. Ministering is an invitation to live a higher law, and this was a perfect opportunity to serve. A heartfelt "thank you" to those angels who came to our aid.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Of Polio, Pornography, and Peace

Last month I traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio to spend the weekend with my sisters. One of our excursions took us to the world-renown Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. My talented sister-in-law, Dr. Sanita Hunsaker, is a child psychologist there.

 I wouldn’t initially anticipate that a hospital was a sacred place, but our experience at Cincinnati Children's was absolutely holy. Entering the campus, we saw a beautiful old structure, dating back to 1931. It was in this original research building that Dr. Albert Sabin developed the oral polio vaccine. As the wife of a Rotarian, I understand the urgency and importance of eradicating polio from the world. 

On the steps of that antique edifice hundreds of mothers gathered on April 24, 1964—the first “Sabin Sunday”—to have their children vaccinated against polio. A statue in honor of Dr. Sabin stands in the courtyard today.

Friday, April 6, 2018

The Hiking Hint

     When I was fourteen years old, my family spent a week at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. While my parents and siblings stayed in camp attending classes, doing crafts and other activities, my older sister and I opted to take a week-long backpacking trek through Philmont’s wilderness backcountry. 
It sounded like a fun adventure: hike a few miles every day, cook outdoor meals, watch campfire programs at night, and do some rock-climbing and rappelling—nothing we couldn’t handle.  In fact, we were exhilarated about a week in the mountains. 
We said a cheerful “goodbye” to the rest of our family and boarded the bus that would take us to our drop-off point.  My heart pounded with anticipation.  The bus rolled to a stop and we jumped out, grabbed our gear and looked up—at a huge hill.  The first mile of our trek seemed to stretch straight up from where we stood!  Biting our tongues, we set out. It was hard!  Our forty-pound packs weighed us down and the sun beat on our backs. When we reached the crest of the first hill, another one loomed before us. This was one, big mountain! After what seemed like ages, we begged our ranger to let us take a break. 
“No,” she said, “We’re just getting started.” 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Confessions of a CEO

I am a CEO.  I manage the personal schedules, finances, needs and lives of twelve people.  (Well, almost twelve.  My husband manages his own--most of the time.)
For me, like any other CEO, it’s all about the numbers.
Yesterday I did 20 minutes of aerobic exercise, read 26 verses of scripture, made breakfast for ten people, packed six lunches, sent eight people out the door, washed one batch of dishes, did three loads of laundry, read a story to two preschoolers, and freshened up five bathrooms--all before 10am! Those sound like pretty good stats to me.
I then drove to the store and spent exactly 50% of my monthly grocery budget on 45 meals. I saved $12 buying non-brand products, and $10 of next month’s grocery money buying butter on sale. (Did I mark that in the notebook?)  I also set aside cash for two weeks of piano lessons and tumbling fees (due tomorrow).

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Making Magic

     Harry Potter is magical; but nothing beats the magic of Christmas with children.  Twelve people, one house, two weeks off of school, cookies, lights, trees, music, and snow falling softly outside the window.  It’s the perfect concoction for warm memories.
When I was in 5th grade, I questioned Christmas magic.  Most of my friends told me that Santa wasn’t real.  I finally approached my Dad about the subject.  After a few silent moments, he read, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” to me.  Then he taught me a wonderful lesson about the magic of Christmas. 
Magic doesn’t just happen.  Magic is made.  Just as Harry Potter had to learn he had magical powers, parents and families can create warmth and magic in their homes.  At our house, we make magic as early as possible.  Christmas caroling, twelve red stockings hanging by the fireplace, homemade gingerbread houses, and a secret Twelve Days of Christmas.  Too much celebrating?  I don’t think so.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Tree Trauma - Our First Christmas in Wyoming

When we moved from Las Vegas, Nevada to Casper, Wyoming in 2009, I was thrilled to start a new life of simplicity in the “wild” west. As we packed our belongings, I put our plastic Christmas tree into the donation pile. 

“We won’t need a fake tree in Casper,” I confidently told my surprised children. “There’s a mountain there and we’ll just cut down our own tree.” In my mind I pictured our first Wyoming Christmas, driving “over the river and through the woods,” to select the perfect Christmas tree.

As our first Thanksgiving approached, I reminded my husband that we no longer owned a Christmas tree. 

“We’re Wyomingites now!” I told him in a patriotic tone. “We’ll cut down our own tree.” Dutifully, he drove to the BLM office and purchased a permit.

“It only cost $7!” he reported jubilantly when he returned home. “What a deal!” He showed me the permit and the map of designated tree cutting areas. Words like “Shirley Basin” and “Medicine Bow” were new to us, but they didn’t look too far away on the map, so we weren’t worried.

The day after Thanksgiving we bundled our eight children--including two infant twins--into the family van. Our spirits were high and we sang carols as we drove. However, our happy “over the river” singing soon drifted into silence as we drove out of town and around Casper Mountain.