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October 25, 2012


Well, that was quite the blogging hiatus. I always have high hopes of keeping this blog alive and kicking during the summer months–after all, that’s the time worth recording. Sun! Warmth! Lakes! Gardens! Trips to national parks and foreign shores! But alas, for three years now I have been unable to keep it up. I’m too busy getting out in it to sit down and keep this record.

But I’m back. The first fat flakes of winter are falling on wet ground outside. The house, with three kids in school and one napping, is quiet. Blissful writing time. Lots to recap, lots to share. Stay tuned!




July 10, 2012

Happy July friends! I can’t believe this summer is half over. We’re still catching our breath from an epic road trip out West, playing catch up (ketchup, as I call it). Details coming soon. Stay cool!

The windy city

June 14, 2012

I haven’t been to Chicago since junior high. (We lived in Missouri at the time and traveled to Chicago often.) Gathering there this past weekend, in a city with so many adolescent memories, with my entire family, was such a treat.

The city has changed in the past decade and a half. Millenium Park: loved it! What a beautiful addition to the downtown. (Even if they did almost tow our car.)

The best part was being with all my siblings. It’s so fun to gather as full-fledged adults. We are, all of us, loud, talkative, and prone to burst into spontaneous song. When we are together, it’s like living on the set of “Singing in the Rain.”

Here are my awesome parents who made all of it, all of us, possible. I don’t know two more remarkable people.

Oh, and these two made the gathering possible as well, by graduating with degrees in law and public policy from the University of Chicago. Movers and shakers, these two fine folks.

The great thing is that they’re both going back for more school, so we can repeat this fabulous weekend again in a couple of years.

My sisters and I had way too much fun. (Here we are at a bus stop trying to mimic those over-the-top gum commercials.) Love my family. Love this city. (With a big thanks to Seth, who manned the boy fort with grace and aplomb while I was gone.)

Catch you again in 2117

June 6, 2012

Anyone see Venus cross the sun yesterday? This method didn’t work so well. Luckily we had friends with gear that was a little more high tec.

And thank goodness. Jackson was in a panic to see this once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. “Mom, I may be alive in 105 years, but you definitely won’t.”

Hm, sounds like a challenge. Time to find life’s elixir, don’t you think?


June 5, 2012

I keep looking at this oldest son of mine, wondering if I have the date wrong, or the year wrong. But no, he truly is ten. Zowie!

We celebrated on Saturday with a full day of parties: family breakfast (per tradition), two graduation parties, plus his own friends party. Whew!

The party was nearly all Jackson’s own creation: lots of water play with balloons and squirt guns, a pinata, party food, and a very specific kind of cake.

And this kid, who loves nothing more than rocking out to a good beat, wanted a dance party.

A black light, paper stars, glow sticks and flourescent green marker=ingredients for endless entertainment.

Jackson’s 10-year-birthday mark so many things for our little family. It was ten years ago that Seth and I walked hand-in-hand across the stage to receive our degrees in journalism. (Jackson came two weeks later!) And it marks a decade being parents to this rowdy band of pirates, starting with the most inquisitive boy of them all. Jackson has taught me (and continues to teach me) the arts of patience, thoughtfulness, and curiosity. He has the heart of a lion.

When Jackson was little, I could not keep him in my sight. We lived on Miami Beach, and I spent my days trying to keep him safe from the crowded streets, the ocean waves, and anything that had electricity coming out of it. It was an exhausting task.

I don’t know if I will ever catch up with this son of mine, or truly understand how his remarkable brain works, but after ten years I know this: he is my son because we both have things to learn.

Happy birthday Jackson!


May 18, 2012


*That Seth, he-who-cannot-cook, whipped up blueberry cream cheese French toast for Mother’s Day. And I ate almost the entire pan by myself.

*Addison’s homeschool style

*Their silliness…usually.

*This granola bar recipe. Two double-batches in two days–gone.

*The new fad around here: massage parlors. (The saltines are complimentary. Nutella sandwiches, however, will cost you 50 cents.)

*This weather. This weather!

*The end of the semester for Seth. And he in turn is loving his summer “office.”

*All the writing time he gives me.

*The red geraniums everywhere.

*Running again, after a six-week rest for my foot.

*Preston’s new-found t-ball swagger.

*The way Jackson will read anything, just like his mama.

*How our 21 jars of applesauce from our tree carried us all the way through the winter, just in time for berry season.

*All the treasures from last week’s garage sale. Antique croquet set was a must. As was the raft and giant wooden Nutcrackers. Ahem.

*The best Mother’s Day offer ever: “Hey Mom, I’ll cut your hair if you’ll give me 25 cents.”

*The way the birds and that early-morning sunshine don’t give me the option of sleeping past 5:30. Ever.

*That Seth took all four boys camping tonight, and I have the night to myself. Happy weekend to you all!

Mothers of faith

May 13, 2012

I am so, so excited to have this book in my hands. (And in the hands of my mom, who didn’t know about this project at all.) Two years ago I was invited to contribute to a book about mothers of faith. It is always a privilege to write about my mother (and grandmother), though I will never be able to do either of them full justice.

Here’s a closeup of the picture from my wedding day, courtesy of my incredibly talented cousin Justin Hackworth:

Since receiving “Life Lessons from Mothers of Faith” last week, I’ve been poring over its pages. It is a lovely, lovely book, filled with photos, graphics, and most of all, inspiring stories of mothers. You have words from well-heeled, well-known Mormons, but also contributions from those of us who don’t live such a public life.

However, in each case, you come away moved by the impact of good mothers. I have not always been proud to be a mother. There were days in my past when I would have traded it in for almost anything: driving a forklift, sorting trash, banging my head against a wall. Thankfully, we are in happier times. (More on that here.)  However, I read this book and it reiterates my conviction: I am proud to do this. I’m proud to be a mother.

Moreover, I am proud to pay tribute to my own mother, who raised me to believe that being a mother was the greatest aspiration on earth. She was right about that, you know. Happy Mother’s Day to you all!

p.s. With apologies for the back-to-back book reviews. Tomorrow we’ll be back to our regular scheduled programming: muffin-making, lemonade stands, seed planting, backyard tree scandal.

“The Mormons”: a review

May 10, 2012

A few years back, while walking through a bookstore, this book caught my eye. I stopped right in the middle of the aisle to take a look. The images are both stunning and memorable. So I was more than thrilled when I was invited to review The Mormons by Mark Hedengren.

The scope of this photo book is what first impressed me. Hedengren, who holds a MFA from Glasgow’s School of Art, traveled to five different continents to photograph church members as far away as Nicaragua, Sweden, Eygpt, Scotland, and Cambodia.

It is hard to convey the many facets and nuances of a religion through newspaper articles, presidential candidates, 30-second TV spots, or, heaven forbid, a Broadway musical. While I appreciate the more thoughtful coverage the Mormon church has received in recent years, our faith (and its people) can still come off sounding two-dimensional.

The Mormons seeks to add yet another dimension, the brushstrokes of everyday living, by featuring the actual people who make up the church body.

The black & white photos are at times thoughtful, beautiful, and even a little whimsical. I love that cover photo of a man vacuuming the church building. It says so much about the level at which church members are involved in the faith. Our meetinghouses are a place where we worship Christ. He is central to all we do. Our meetinghouses are also places where we work–every person has an assignment, or three, and no one gets paid for it. There is no formal training.

I also appreciate the way the book is divided. I think I’ve read every major news article about our church since 2002. (In fact, it was my job to collect them during the 2002 Winter Olympics.) As far as I know, no coverage of the church has ever addressed what we call the threefold mission: proclaim the gospel, perfect the saints, and redeem the dead. “The Mormons” follows missionaries all over the world, as well as individuals who have converted to the faith. It goes on to present pictures of members in their every day worship, visiting the sick and the elderly, attending church, repairing clothes for orphans (as seen in the photo above), and teaching. The final section addresses family history and work done in the temple on behalf of deceased ancestors.

As a words person myself, I liked the interviews with church members in various stages of life, from a Swedish man who was introduced to the church because he wanted to go to Disneyland (love!) to a Sunday school teacher in Cambodia.

In a year when we’re going to hear the word Mormon more than ever (thank you, Mr. Mitt!), The Mormons is a great addition to anyone of the faith, or trying to understand our faith a little better. I hope it gets the attention it deserves.

How it begins

April 30, 2012
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My children

Are most difficult

On Mondays.

Shabby from the weekend

All shook up

Untethered and smelling of Saturday’s



When Monday comes

They writhe against compression

Against the litany of to-dos, necessities

Tidy, boxed-in requirements

Like laundry, bed-making, violin and piano.


They bang out their displeasure on taut strings

And butter knives

Boots and backpacks


Flying out the door

Toward an approaching yellow bus

I try to buoy us both up

To reassure them they are loved

That life is not so dire

That by Friday they will be familiar with this tune

And rhythm


That today is simply Monday

And we are all relearning

The stiffening march

Of the weekday.

Playin’ hooky

April 27, 2012

Sometimes, even when there are looming writing deadlines, seeds to plant, corners to sweep, school work to get done and oh, kindergarten to attend, sometimes it’s best to just ignore all that, sling a pole over your shoulder, and go fishing.

And can I just say, as a novice Mama fisherwoman, that the fisherman we have encountered thus far are such a kind-hearted lot? They swap out our giant hooks (suitable for catching, oh, sharks perhaps) for smaller ones, show us how to slide on a bobber, point to the best spots, give us bait, and oh so many tips for success. Generous souls.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some fish to gut. Happy weekend friends!