Picture, Picture

I was saving some things onto my flash drive tonight, and I came across a folder of old photos I'd scanned my senior year of college. I believe I scanned them all to make a collage for my biological father, Lance. A sort of catch up. They made my evening sweet with memories. Here you go...pre-braces and all. I guess I'll start with the most recent and work my way back.

Jake and I had a little photo shoot with one of our classmates a few months before we graduated so we could get a picture from our announcement. We were crammed into a corner in her tiny bedroom where she'd set up backdrops and lighting. It was fun, and this remains one of my favorites.

Senior Prom. The very day I turned 18. I didn't even buy a lottery ticket.

Prospector Ball, Senior Year. My date, Dustin, asked me in a really sweet way. I don't remember every little part, but there was a Care Bear in my dance locker.

Homecoming, Senior Year. I don't know why I have so many dance photos, maybe because I didn't miss many of the high school dances? I thought it was funny that I went with a boy a year younger than me. I also thought it was funny that he asked me because I thought he liked my friend. Hmm, maybe that's why.

 Choir Trip, Junior Year. Definitely at Disneyland. I sought Goofy out on every trip.

Ellen and me in chemistry, Junior Year. Do you ever look at the people you went to school with and feel way cooler because of some you got to spend part of your life and learning with? Ellen is one of those people. I like the way she sees the world and the things that inspire her.

Junior Year. I'm wearing what is probably one of my top three all-time favorite outfits. A grey sweater with trouser style cropped jeans - they hit about 3 inches above my ankle. And some amazing navy Steve Madden Mary Janes.   

Freshman Year. We were getting ready for the Music Man. Oh, Erica.

Patches. She died my junior year. I still cry about it sometimes. She's sitting on a rug my mom crocheted. I first learned how to crochet a similar item.

The day my eldest brother got married. I'm standing on the terrace of the Oakland Temple overlooking the bay. Just before this, I'd had the best turkey burger of my life somewhere in Oakland proper at a little place called Cafe by the Bay. 

A church dance after Youth Conference. I was 14 and with Kathy and Kristy Coleman.

We moved the summer before 8th grade. My new next door neighbor was my age, Krista. Her mom was from Honduras, and gave me some awesome braids before Girl's camp the summer between 8th and 9th grade. And while I'm thinking of the Evans family, her dad was a great cook, and they often invited me over for dinner. One night we had salmon steaks. That's all. 

8th grade graduation from Desert Shadows Middle School.

8th grade NJHS trip to Disneyland. My three best friends from those days: Cassie, Kayla, and Jessica. I'm terrified to sing infront of people (and have been for as long as I can remember), but on the way there [we were driving overnight on a tour bus], we all decided to sing using the microphone upfront. I sang something. Angel by Sarah McLachlan.

I don't remember how old I am here. 8 or 9. My mom and I were having photos taken at good ol' Olan Mills, along with my Aunt Kristin and her family. My mom and her saw these wire headbands at Tri-City Mall and both thought they were great. I think my cousin Katelynn and I thought so, too. Anyway, this is proof that some things are better left on the shelf.

2nd grade Fiesta! My mom made salsa for me to bring. We made paper mâché sombreros and maracas. That's all.

I don't remember how old I am here either. 6 or 7. We were at my Aunt Leisa's [not technically my aunt, but one of my mom's best friends. My mom lived with her and two other women when I was born. She may as well be blood], and someone from their group of friends dressed up like Santa. I got a silver jewelry box that looked like a cross between a bell and an apple. I kept the highest treasures in it, like all of the teeth I lost.

Kindergarten picture.

I was 4 or 6 in this. I was swinging at the house across the street from my babysitter's. The girl who lived there, Mary, also went to my babysitter. Mary's sister, Stephanie, used to take pictures of me for her photography class in high school. Their house was an adventure land.

 I was 4 [or 5]. We'd been to San Francisco, and then to Madera to our Aunt Vickie's home. We set up a house on her front lawn. In this photo are my cousins Katelynn and Megan. Megan is 7 months older than me, and I'm 2 months older than Katelynn. They are two great loves of my life.

I'm guessing I'm 1, maybe 2. I made a macaroni frame for my mom.

 When I see this, I think 19 months. I don't know why. Can you see my girls in me?

Orange Juice and Other Yummy Things

My cousin, Alissa, asked me to share some mostly veggie recipes I like to make. I thought I'd post them here. I also want to share this cute video of Cora squeezing orange juice. When I found out this was one of her tasks at school, I couldn't wait to see her in action. Enjoy it, and some of my favorite recipes that you will find below the video.

Jambalaya - adapted from Cooking Entrees with the Micheff Sisters, Linda Johnson, Brenda Walsh, Cinda Sanner
2 TBL canola or olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic (I always add more)
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
2 cups sliced okra (I usually use frozen)
3 cups diced tomatoes
2 cups water
2 TBL Bragg Liquid Aminos (it's like a soy sauce)
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 TBL dried parsley
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (easily omitted)
1/4-1/2 tsp chili powder

In a large pan over medium heat, add oil and saute the onion, celery, red pepper, garlic, and mushrooms until vegetables are tender. and onion is clear. Add all but the rice and cook for about 2 minutes until okra is thawed. Add rice. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Cover and bake at 350 for 60-75 minutes until rice is tender and all liquid is absorbed. I always enjoy mine with some hot sauce, Frank's being my favorite.

Curried Potatoes, Cauliflower, and Peas (aka, Curry in a Hurry) - from May All Be Fed, John Robbins
2 TBL canola or olive oil
2 medium baking potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 small cauliflower, cut into florets
1 TBL curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup vegetable broth OR water
1 cup fresh or (thawed) frozen peas
3 TBL tamari (lower sodium soy sauce)
Brown rice to serve over

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion, and carrot, and cook, stirring often, until the potatoes are lightly browned, about 8 minutes.
Add cauliflower, curry powder, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne, and stir for 30 seconds. Add vegetable broth or water, cover, immediately reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
Stir in peas and tamari and cook, uncovered for about 2 minutes.
Serve over brown rice.

2nd Avenue Vegetable Korma (I call it Indian Shepherd's Pie for what I like to serve it over) - adapted from Appetite for Reduction, Isa Chandra Moskowitz
*This is my current favorite recipe, and she is definitely one of my favorite makers of recipes
1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, quartered and sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBL fresh minced ginger
1 tsp curry powder
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
1 pound zucchini, cut 1/4 inch slices
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and cut in 1/4 inch slices
3/4 cups frozen peas
3/4 cups light coconut milk
1 tsp agave nectar (I assume you could use honey here)
All the stuff for you favorite mashed potatoes

Start cooking your potatoes in lightly salted water for mashed potatoes.
Preheat 4-quart pot over medium heat. Saute onion in the oil for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Use a little non-stick cooking spray if needed. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for another minute.
Add the broth to deglaze the pan. Mix in the spices and salt. Add the cauliflower, zucchini, and carrots. They won't be completely submerged, but that's okay. Cover the pot and turn up the heat to bring the broth to a boil. Let boil for 7-10 minutes, until the veggies are tender.
Add the peas, coconut milk and agave. Taste for salt. Turn off heat and let the flavors meld for about 5 minutes.
In the meantime, whip up your mashed potatoes.
Serve Korma in bowls over mashed potatoes.

Fusilli Roasted Veggie Primavera - adapted from Appetite for Reduction, Isa Chandra Moskowitz
1 pound whole wheat fusilli (spiral/corkscrew pasta)
1 pound zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 pound yellow squash, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 pound asparagus, coarse ends discarded (not the tips!), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 small onion, cut into 1/4 inch thick half-moons
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes (we use grape tomatoes)
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried thyme
1 TBL olive oil
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 TBL balsamic vinegar
Fresh basil, for garnish

Preheat oven to 425. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or foil, and mist with nonstick cooking spray.
Place all the veggies in large mixing bowl along with oregano and thyme. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use your hands to toss, making sure all the veggies are coated. Place the veggies in the pan, bake for 20 minutes, remove from oven and flip the veggies around the best you can. Place them back in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. The tomatoes should be bursting.
When you put the veggies back in the oven, start boiling the water for the pasta. Cook the pasta according to directions on package. Drain, set aside.
When veggies are done, place them back in large mixing bowl. Toss with balsamic vinegar.
Add the pasta and toss to coat. Taste for salt and pepper and serve, topping with fresh basil.

Alissa also wanted the Black Bean Salad recipe, which can be found here.

Tucked In

My girls are tucked in their beds. I am happy they are here. They add so much to me and my home, even if I super-duper loved my alone time. They were stricken with the same little cold I came down with yesterday - on my full free day! It's super minor, a little runny, but really itchy, nose, some drainage. I think I might start wearing a face mask to church. Or a full body mask.

Along with another woman, I teach 3 and 4 year olds - Sunbeams. They are cute, and I love them, but I want to bathe in antibacterial gel when I am done. Yes, I have been peed on. This sweet boy who isn't quite potty trained was giving it a go. I was walking him through it, and mid-stream, he asks, "Like this?" as he pulls his little sprayer up, and it shoots out everywhere. Luckily, just a little got on my shoe because I was blessed with quick reflexes, and my jumping and "No, no, no!" startled him enough to stop so we could regroup and talk about appropriate form. He wanted to try again this Sunday, and I was anxious, but he's definitely had more practice. Also this Sunday, as I was talking to the other teacher, one of the children turned to ask her a question. Her expression changed as she answered, and as he went back to his task, she said, "Spit just got in my eye, and I want to throw up." But all of this bodily fluid stuff isn't really what I want to talk about. It's just no wonder we all have something.

My free Monday:
- I made more bread because my bread on Sunday was a bust.
- Primed our front door. There are currently 5 coats of primer on. I think that'll do it. I need to match the color because when I went to open the white paint that the previous homeowner left for us, it was completely rancid. There was mold growing in it. And the smell - whoa - one of the worst ever.
- Jake and I went to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I love old people, and this is something like the Golden Girls, set in India, with a more complex story line...and with Golden Boys, too. I'm also really excited about some upcoming films. I love matinée prices.
- We ate at Taj for lunch because we were super hung up on all of the scenes from India.
- I took a nap.
- Jake came home with Downton Abbey Season 2, which he has inter-library loaned at OCU. We watched all of season 1 on Netflix, and LOVED it, and then we couldn't find Season 2 anywhere. We'd been waiting patiently, and then thought, "Duh!" Some library is bound to have it. Our copy came from Bloomington, IN. We started watching Monday evening, and we have three episodes left.
- Before our movie date, we took some pictures. I meant to just take a picture of the skirt I picked up from St. Vincent de Paul a few weeks ago, but then I wanted to show its twirl qualities. And then we started jumping. My quads are still sore. I leave you with some of them, and please know that I can't wait to recreate these with Cora and Magnolia.

Out of the Ordinary

Jake and I dropped off our girls with my mother-in-law at 4 PM this afternoon. Jake started working at his summer music camp this evening, which marks the first night of five weeks of nights that he'll be gone late. I don't mind too much, I'm glad that one of his summer gigs didn't fall through (next full paycheck will be the end of September - I try not to think about it [insert smiley face]).

So where does that leave me? Alone. I'm a natural loner - a loner who loves people, but not always being around people (How does that work? I don't know...it's a bit complicated). I've been enjoying myself. I sang through several hymns, it is Sunday, after all, and I didn't have to worry about anyone listening to my plunky one finger piano accompaniment. Highlights included "My Shepherd will Supply my Need" and "More Holiness Give Me." I fell in-love with MHGM a few years ago. It feels like one of the deepest desires of my heart - my most genuine prayer.

More holiness give me. More strivings within. More patience in suffering. More sorrow for sin. More faith in my Savior. More sense of his care. More joy in his service. More purpose in prayer [...] More fit for the kingdom. More used would I be. More blessed and holy -- More, Savior, like thee.
 After my own private concert, I read through a paper I wrote my junior year in college about American Folklore. I've been thinking about expanding it. I can't wait to make it way better than it is because, "Whoa." I was taking 21 hours that semester, and towards the end, I had 13 papers due in 2 weeks. It shows. My professor granted me some major mercy in the grade I got.

Then I went in to bake some bread. I went crazy. I unintentionally doubled the recipe because I couldn't remember if I'd added 6 or 7 cups of flour to the first batch, I decided to make rolls out it and make new dough with pre-measured flour. I'm glad I did it all over because I definitely added an extra cup of flour, making the grand total 8 cups. The reason for the confusion, I was singing along to my favorite songs and lost count. I had to be fair to the recipe, hence the redo.

Somewhere in the midst of waiting on dough to rise, I attempted a headstand in my kitchen, which was a feat unto itself because it is super tiny. I nailed it. No wall to catch me, definite possibility of breaking something if I fell over...like a window or a chair, or the glass on the counter, or myself. Forgetting about all of those things and just going for it turned out to be beneficial. I didn't stay up long because I was so surprised I did it, and I didn't attempt it again incase the first time was a fluke. I suppose my mind has been expanded in this quick session of my yoga practice: I didn't worry about myself and ended up overcoming myself. How useful.

When taking out our daily collection of materials to compost, I thought about Cora and how she calls  bras my boobs. Earlier today, she said, "Mom, your boobs are up here in the laundry room." while pointing to the bras that were hanging up drying. It makes me laugh. Yes, I'm missing them. Phew, right? And I'm wondering how easily they were able to go to sleep. I might not feel as sentimental when I'm sleeping in tomorrow. I haven't seen the backs of my eyelids after 6:30-6:45ish for a while. This morning, they were up at 6:20 and Magnolia was grouchy during Sacrament Meeting at church, which starts at 10. I digress. I'm picking them up at 4 on Tuesday. That's right, tomorrow I am free from my ordinary duties. I mean, I might still pick up after myself and stuff. Maybe.


For the last 6 or so years, Jake has gone to the same hair stylist. It started out as a necessity. She was close, and kept hours that worked with his schedule. I wasn't sure how long he would continue seeing her because, honestly, I wasn't ever sure she did a very good job.

Are you onto me yet?

Yes, I have been cutting Jake's hair for what is actually closer to seven years. Each time I do it, I swear it will be the last time. It never is.

It started out easy. I bit the bullet and bought a clipper set that I didn't know would see more than one use. After some YouTube videos and the instructional DVD that came with the set, I went to work. And it wasn't terrible. Somewhere along the way, we have graduated from the clipper set, and I only use shears. I actually have always cut the top with shears. The transition to only shears is what made it less enjoyable, but only because it requires more precision. I love it when he asks if I can do a certain thing and I get to tell him flat out, "No!" Then I kindly remind him that I am not a professional.

In the early days, I did clip his ear once - twice - during the same session. But I've cut my fingers way more. Also in the early days, his dad and brother both sat down in my chair. Talk about extra terrifying. His brother has a scar on the back of his head that I didn't know about, and as I cut his hair, I thought I got too close. I was mortified and didn't say anything. I don't remember how it came up, but he and Jake both started talking about the scars they had on their heads and how both injuries occurred on their dad's watch (Jake's was from a swing). It was a huge relief.

At any rate, I went through a spell (a few years) where I would tell Jake he just needed to go have someone cut his hair, but he never did, and for as callous as I was to all of his whining about how long his hair was getting, I always gave in. [I like his hair longer. It's really soft and nice to cuddle up to at night.] For all of my reluctance, he makes for a pretty loyal customer. He came by and sat in my chair this evening. Our last two sessions have been on the deck. We were racing nightfall. How extra super Oklahoma is that? I wish I used a metal bowl as a guide and a mauve towel secured with a clothes pin as a cape.


My girls and I went to a late afternoon swim/dinner party at one of Cora's friend's houses in Okarche. Okarche is a small town about 45 minutes northwest of our house. We passed the OKC temple on our way out, and I told Cora we would stop by on our way home.

I was just going to drive by, but I asked Cora if she wanted to get out and walk around. It was an easy yes for her. My shirt was still wet from my swimsuit underneath and my hair piled high on top of my head, which was quite the contrast to the people arriving for the last session. We walked around to the fountain, all the while Cora was asking me important questions, and I was doing my best to answer them in an age appropriate way, though the fact that she was asking them made me not worry so much. Topics ranged from death to why some boys want to marry boys.

It has been so long since I've actually been inside the temple. Jake and I used to go all the time. For a while it was weekly, and for a summer, it was daily. I came home and threw my temple clothes (everyone wears white in the temple) in the washer to freshen them up, and I'm hoping to catch a session tomorrow morning.

Fleeting Ideals

I was sitting on the couch listening to the Thunder game and the clickety clack of my knitting needles. I went to a little Knit Night earlier this week, and when Cora saw the five or six rows I'd done, she wanted me to make her a scarf. And that's exactly what I was doing when there was a knock on the door. It was around 9PM, and I knew who it was. I've developed a sort of radar for this friend.

I've written about her before, but I haven't seen her in a while. For a time she was coming by a lot, and it was almost always during Magnolia's nap. I eventually put a "Please do not ring doorbell" sign on the doorbell because she was at least a double dinger. Anyway, tonight she came by with a dog she's had for about a week. We sat down on the front porch and talked for a while. They just bought a home in a neighboring city, and she's excited about it. In addition to the dog she had with her, her step-son bought a dog that he couldn't keep at his mom's house, so it also ended up in her home. They're trying to figure out which one they should keep. She was telling me about the dogs. Here's a sampling of parts of the conversation: "Well, this one has been nutted [pause] fixed, I guess." And when talking of how he was housebroken, "He can hold himself really good. He doesn't piss and crap all over the house like the other one."

She told me about how she'd been to the dentist for a cleaning, and will have x-rays next week to determine the health of the rest of her teeth. I was really happy to hear about that because I know she's self-conscious. The house they're buying will need some work, and she was making lists with me. When it got to the kitchen, she really lit up. She knows what she wants. Her husband renovate homes for a living, and when he was telling her what they could do, she let him know everything in the kitchen would have to go through her. "And he better listen because it's about time I start getting to make decisions about something in my life. I feel like I'm always following after other peoples' plans, but I have my own, and I'm going to start being in charge of my life." What a profound lesson to learn from her husband talking about cutting down some cabinets for a breakfast bar. I hope she owns that new insight.

Something about her was especially lovely tonight. Two houses are being renovated across the street, and I would see her drive up and talk to the workers about how she could move into the houses. The owner of the one directly across the street used the word "harass" when talking about her. She'd even called him. I was relieved that it wouldn't work out because I wasn't sure I could handle her as my across the street neighbor. Which is ironic because after talking to her tonight, I feel a little sad. And I'm not just sad because of the entertaining conversations she makes. I like her. Who will take her place in our neighborhood? I will have to work of staying in touch with people.


A sippy cup leaked in my bag on Sunday. That's always an enjoyable experience, so enjoyable it can never be an isolated event. When I was taking everything out, I found a dry folded pink slip of paper. I opened it up and saw that it was the Visitor Pass from when I went to the hospital to visit Hattie, a woman from church. 

She was in and out of hospitals during our time in Chicago. This last visit was not long before she passed away. She wasn't very coherent, and she'd had several heart attacks and something like a dozen strokes, cancer, you name it in the last few years. When she was awake, she was trying so hard to talk to us, me and my visiting teaching companion, Beatrice. She was in and out of awake and asleep, or completely still with her eyes open staring off. Doctors had been coming in and out because her central line was coming out. They were trying to decide whether or not they should replace it, and Beatrice, a retired nurse and a stand up advocate was trying prevent it from happening. Beatrice had been the one who would pull out her phone book and call all of the area hospitals when we weren't sure which one she'd been taken to. She kept in contact with Hattie's nieces who were legally responsible for making all of the medical decisions.

One of the nurses came in and peeled off part of the tape around the line, taking some of Hattie's skin with it. She sat up and started yelling in the only way she could. She laid back down. The nurse put the tape back down. Not long after that, the doctor came in and peeled off all of the tape and a lot more skin. There was more yelling, and then she started crying. Sobbing. The saddest tears. As the doctor placed the tape down again, Beatrice asked why they kept putting the tape down if they were just going to take it off again to replace the line.

Everyone left. Beatrice was on the phone, and I was holding Hattie's hand. She'd gone back to staring at nothing. I knew her favorite song, and when Beatrice came over I thought we should sing it to her. We did. It was heartbreaking that I couldn't change the place she was in, nor the pumps taking the blood out of her stomach or the mucus out of her lungs. I couldn't make her body more than just skin and bones lying on a deflating air mattress under a blanket smeared with blood. I felt sorrowful and appreciative, inadequate, and resolved. I wanted her to drift away in the little piece of heaven I could feel around us while we were singing.

The conversation in the car on the way back to Hyde Park was somber. So many questions for God came up between us - so many that all boiled down to one - the great unanswerable question - "Why?"

Two years later and I find this pink slip, and I am thankful for the reminder of things I've been able to experience in my life. The hard things, the happy things - Hattie's funeral was a celebration and a half. This particular experience changed something in my heart, and I am better for it.

About a House

One evening, a few months after I got married and moved to Oklahoma, I was out for an exploratory drive around the city when I made a turn down a street with a crummy looking grocery store on the corner. I thought I was going to be disappointed until I entered the next block and found myself under a canopy of trees, surrounded by amazing homes. I went up and down the streets for a while when seemingly out of nowhere, I found myself in front of the house. It was love at first sight. I crept along at a snail's pace, finally got by it, and then drove around the block and went past again. I think I may have stopped that time. It was the front porch and the windows that pulled me in. And the gables. And the tree in the front yard. It was all presented to me when the sun was at the point of its descent where color is ribboned across the sky. 

I was finally able to take Jake to see it the next week, it was for sale! I went home and looked it up on realtor.com, and thought it was the greatest thing ever. I built my life in the rooms on the screen in front of me, and imagined evenings, like the first one I saw it on, sitting on the front porch. 

When we moved into Dot, we moved into the same neighborhood as this house. We also moved into a new congregation (in Mormondom they are called wards, and the congregation/ward you attend is based on where your home is - kind of like a school boundary). I looked through the directory to see if anyone from church lived close to us. I found two families. One family lived on our street, but our first Sunday was their last because they'd just finished school and were moving. The other family lived on a familiar street. I looked up their address, and they lived in my old Dreamy Dream Home. I felt stars aligning.  

On May 29th, while I was up writing this post, their home was on fire after being struck by lightning during some crazy storms. It wasn't a total loss, and from the street, one would have to do a double take to see that there had been a fire, but there was significant damage that will take a long while to repair. It was sad to see. When looking up through the ceilings and floors, I felt bad for/was amazed at the parts that had been there for so long. We live in old houses, you know. But I also thought about what would take its place and how it would be carefully tucked away, holding everything together throughout the next century.

This is about a house, a very particular one, but in the last year, getting to know the lungs breathing, hearts beating people who call it home has been wonderful.  Like a holy smokes, prayers are answered, divine intervention blessing for me. On a scale of how much I've enjoyed/appreciated people in my life, they are way up there. He wears bow ties. If thou knowest not my affinity for bow ties, thou knowest not me. He's also really tall which is plain ol' familiarity being that I come from a long family line of men (and women) who have to stoop when walking through certain doorways (I got the recessive genes!). She is right up there with those who are the cheese to my macaroni. Hmm. The peanut butter to my jelly. The non-hydrogenated margarine to my homemade bread. No, here it is: the chip to my salsa. I love them, and I'm glad that of all the people in the whole wide world who could live in the home I used to daydream about, they're it.     

This is My Song

We spent the first week of June at a family camp with the church Jake grew up in. The camp is known simply (and very fondly) as Reunion. While there, we sang two hymns set to Jean Sibelius's "Finlandia," neither of which was "Be Still My Soul," a long-standing favorite of mine. I really liked "This is My Song." After a bit of research, I found a stanza that was absent from the text we sang. I'm sharing the first two verses from Community of Christ's "Hymns of the Saints," both by Lloyd Stone, and a third by Georgia Harkness.

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine;
this is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my sacred shrine:
But other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine:
O, hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.

May truth and freedom come to every nation;
may peace abound where strife has raged so long;
That each may seek to love and build together,
A world united, righting every wrong;
a world united in its love for freedom,
proclaiming peace together in one song.


A bit about Finlandia: the Oklahoma City Philharmonic played the piece in 2007. Jake and I went that night. We were waiting in the lobby for the student rush tickets when a man approached us and offered us his tickets. He said they were great seats, eye level with the conductor. We accepted and found ourselves in the best seats in the house. We were right in the middle of Row L. I remember the row because Herman and LaDonna Meinders were sitting right behind us, and I wondered if they picked that row because the letter corresponded with their last name. The Meinderses and I share the same alma mater and they have been generous donors to Oklahoma City University as well many organizations in Oklahoma. One night at a university function that Jake was playing for while we were students - the school of religion's Christmas dinner - I sat across from LaDonna, and we talked throughout much of our meal. I can't remember what we talked about, but I remember feeling comfortable and interested in what she had to say.

Anyway, I believe the performance closed with Finlandia, and it's one of those nights I'll never forget. I could feel the music filling the air around me, and for a moment, I felt myself transformed by it. Perfect seats, perfect night, and little in-utero Cora loved it as well. I felt her her for the first time when I was 15 weeks along at one of OCU's wind phil concerts during a Martin Mailman piece. I always loved feeling the music that moved her.

A day in the life...

Many people who pass by Dot have taken the time to tell us how great she looks, how much they love our plantings. Some stop mid-run, others are looking around, realize we're outside, and pay a compliment. It makes me smile.

I make lists of things Dot needs, so a lot of the time I'm focused on what needs to be done rather than how much has changed in the last year. Our yard is still weed-y, our front door is almost the ugliest door I've ever seen, there are times when I feel like I'm breaking into my own home because the locks are so sticky, no matter how hard I scrub the kitchen floor, it never looks clean, etc. But that's not what everyone else sees. They see Dot, and they love her almost the way I did the first time I saw her.

In other news, I took advantage of Victoria's Secret's semi-annual sale today and bought my first bra in 8 years (I purchased the last one at a VS's sale also). That's not entirely accurate, I have rocked some pretty glam nursing bras in-between. Anyway, for something I wear [almost] every day, I stared at the numerous types and styles almost like I'd never seen one before. I think I tried on seven different styles. There was an obvious winner. I got two. One in white and one in nude. With the exception of two bras I owned in high school, white and nude have always been my personal preference - they're clean and simple, and I don't get sick of them, which is good since most of mine seem to last so long. For real. Today I wore the one I got married in. It still looks and feels like new. That's longevity.

Also today...I got a text from a gal asking if I was still looking for a nanny. She works at the YMCA in the child watch area. She's newly married, in school studying early childhood education, and I love her. When I started applying for jobs, I told her I was looking into childcare options for Magnolia. I was totally fishing to see if she would be available. She wasn't sure what her schedule would be for school, but she asked her classmates because some were already nannies. I hadn't heard much from her, but in the meantime I'd also decided that I was going to stay home, so I didn't follow up on any of he jobs I'd applied for- not doing so was something like scratching nails on a chalkboard for my networking skills. I got an email from the last position yesterday saying that it had been filled (it was also super nice about how much they like me and how I'd definitely be considered in the future - which made me feel better about myself). And then I got the text today... All of her classes will be in the evening, so she was basically laying herself at my feet to be Magnolia's nanny. It would have been completely dreamy early on, but I am so in awe of the timing. If I would have known she would have been available from the beginning, I would have turned into competitive, "You'd better believe I'm the perfect candidate for this job" self. Instead I spent some time figuring out that I'm the perfect candidate for the job I've got now. And even thinking about expanding my workload (sigh). I love how God works. I love how prayer works. I'm grateful I've been trying to do the latter more intently to better understand the former. I'm grateful for people who pray for me.

It's late. I'm in Holdenville, and a Brinlee/Smith/Johnson garage sale will open at 7 AM. This is a huge deal. I picked up some cute stuff, namely a rad pair of shoes I can't believe Meemaw had never shown me.

What I really can't believe is that I talked about God and bras in the same post. [Yes I can.]

Heartbreak Hotel

We adopted the perfect dog. He was sweet and gentle and fun. And he loved to cuddle. For whatever reason, however, it just didn't feel right to have a dog right now. My stomach just did a flip typing that last sentence. We don't have a good reason, and while it didn't feel right to keep him, it didn't feel right to give him up either. But tonight, his sweet foster mom was waiting at our house when we returned home from our evening stroll. Cora was beside herself. She said things far more profound than what I was hoping she would feel. This is her first period of grief. Maybe her second because getting rid of paci definitely involved a mourning period. Something still doesn't feel quite right, but wow, tonight was so hard. If you are thinking of getting a dog, adopt George! (He'll probably be Davis on the Bella Foundation website.) And let us visit him. I guess the really extra hard part wasn't just that we loved him, but how very much we knew he loved us.

I've been trying to analyze my feelings. For the last few months, a voice inside my head has been whispering a name. It's one that Jake and I had on a list of potential names for our children. It's our last girl name. I've tried to quiet this voice. I remind it of how crazy my pregnancies have been. Who would watch my girls while I'm hospitalized at various points because of preterm labor? I feel so guilty thinking about it.

As much as I love Jake, I don't love him giving me shots once a week. What if Zofran doesn't make me throw up less this time and I have to be in the hospital at the beginning and end? And I can't even begin to express the cost! Just the the time in the hospital with Cora was over $60,000. We lucked out with our insurance coverage both times, but 80/20 coverage of over $60,000 is a huge chunk of change. Dot - she's perfect for our little family right now, but another baby would require more space. And I don't want to leave our neighborhood. I refuse to leave our neighborhood. I would have to sell a lot of plasma to stay in our neighborhood in a bigger house.

Our girls go to a private school. One more college education to pay for. One more set of braces. And I kindly remind this voice that I sold all of our baby stuff as soon as Magnolia outgrew it. I was done, and I knew it. I thought I knew it. I don't want to test fate! I didn't get any stretch marks of my stomach (that's not to say I don't have plenty elsewhere)!

This voice doesn't seem to mind all of my excuses, and it softly reminds me of this sweet name. It's patient with me. It's working on me. And just when I feel okay entertaining the idea, I think, "WHAT IF I HAVE A BOY?!" Despite the panic of the unknown, I'm listening to this voice more and more. It's part of letting go, of listening to the will that is bigger than my own. I don't think I'll be convinced any time soon. Magnolia has demanded so much of me, and it continues to be that way. I know that all of my fears will be calmed and needs met, but I'm still a control freak when it comes to my life. I blame it on learning "Invictus" in fifth grade - "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul."

Perhaps my burning desire for a dog was something to busy my time and hands with, something to distract me from quiet moments of listening. We just happened to get George, and he was awesome. It would have been so much easier with a dog who clearly wasn't compatible. Here's to a happy life, George. And for me, an open awareness of what may lie ahead.

Plants and a Conversation

While lying in a state of tired delirium in the middle of composing my last post, I knew I was forgetting something, but couldn't draw it forth from the recesses of memory before my eyes started closing involuntarily. It was one of the best random interactions in a while.

- I was walking George through Myriad Gardens while Jake and the girls were making tie-dye in the Children's Garden. There was a man sitting up on a little hill under a tree with his bike next to him. We're not very close to one another. "Is that your dog?" he called (loudly).

"Yes, we just got him." I yelled (called loudly back).

 - "You have Indian in you, don't you?"

"A little."

 - "What kind?"


 - "Oh, I could tell. Are you from around here?"


 - "What's your last name?" I told him. "Oh, I know your people."

"Oh, yeah?"

 - "There's a lot around the South. I'm kin with your kin."

"Cool, well, it's my married name."

 - "You have to watch out for family marrying family. They call it kissing cousins around here. So you're husband's from here?"

"Yes, but that family line came from Kentucky."

 - "Yep, I know your people."

"So, you're married?"

 - "Yes."

"Do you have Kids?"

 - "Yes, two."

"That's great."

 - "Well, I need to get going. Have a good day."

"God bless you."

 - "You, too."

I went on my way, happy for the blessings from a random park goer. And for a dog pulling on his leash so I had a good way out of a pretty awkward conversation. I wasn't quite sure how long it would have gone on. I want to get to a point where I don't care how long talking to someone might take. Maybe when I have more uninterrupted time. Maybe someday I'll be the person on the hill with Josephine [my bike] parked next to me calling out to people passing by.

Tonight is the first game of the NBA finals happening right here in my city, two miles from Dot. I get nervous - I like tuning in during the second half. I went out to water our plants during the first quarter. I'm glad I did. This evening was beautiful. The air around me filled with the scent of basil when the water his the plant. The smell is still in my nose. I thought how lovely it would be to have a whole garden of basil. I would never forget to water it. We also have lavender, and I just smelled it for the first time a few days ago. It hasn't flowered yet, and I'd been assuming flowers and fragrance go together. I rubbed my fingers on the leaves and brought them to my nose. Delightful. I feel so proud that, for not really having any idea what I'm doing, these plants are growing and lovely because we've been tending them.

Well, it's the third quarter and things are heating up. Er, Thundering Up.
I love this tee from DNA Galleries - Pretty soon it will just say Best Ever.


This is a collection of random occurrences in the last few days:

- I rode Scoot (our scooter) to church on Sunday because I was running behind after the girls slept in (it ALWAYS happens on Sunday). The wind was blowing so hard, I had a death grip on the handles. In doing so, I missed a chance to do a motorcycle wave with a guy going southbound on Classen. Whenever that happens (the wave),  it's like a, "Who, Me?" moment. I feel like I'm part of a club.

- On the same trip, when I was at the intersection of NW Expressway and 63rd, about a mile from church, I noticed the car next to me inching up. I could just tell what was about to happen. "Hey!" I turned. "That's [with a head nod] really sexy." [Pause] "I just thought you should know." I instantly replied,

"Oh... Thanks.[?]" I turned forward and spent the rest of the red light hoping I wouldn't blow over. You see, normally things like this make me kind of angry. But this particular case was so SOOOO SOOOO funny to me. Here's why. These two [white] fellas were rollin' in a pimped out Monte Carlo. And as soon as I said thanks,  they rolled up their window and put their subwoofer to good use. Really? I'm just a Mormon girl on a red Vespa. I was even wearing boring black flats. It was the red Vespa for sure. I would like to recreate it driving my Subaru with a backseat full of car seats. At any rate, Ladies, if these guys are your type, I have discovered the secret weapon to hook 'em.

- I have a dog. He burped tonight. It was endearing. He also stood up on his hind legs and howled at a fire truck going by on our evening walk. I was impressed. He knows the first two weeks are a trial period.

- Magnolia had her two-year-old well-child check this afternoon. She weighs 22 pounds, and is 31 inches tall. (She's in the 3rd percentile for weight and the 2nd for height.) After taking three stickers, and stopping for the traditional small order of French Fries, she came home and ate most of Cora's candy from a birthday party over the weekend.

- Jake built a compost bin from portions of our old fence (it blew over in a storm a couple of months ago). I felt proud. I always do when he pulls out his hatchet.

- I'm incredibly tired because Cora was up on and off until 3 this morning not feeling well. This happened once before - she wakes up very near hysterical and there is nothing anyone can do to calm her down or change her mind about her situation. It's weird (and it was sad). She's usually pretty level headed.

I'd forgotten about this video until a few weeks ago. It makes me laugh every single time. 21 seconds is when the magic happens (turn your sound on).

Dear Magnolia

On June 9, 2010, Jake snapped this photo of me and you. I was 36 weeks and 6 days pregnant with you. I'd just been to see Dr. Hampton, and I was dilated to a four. That night, I cried in the parking lot of the hospital before we went in because I didn't want to leave without you in my arms. Again. That was at 8:45 PM. At 4:08 AM on the morning of June 10, 2010, you arrived. 37 weeks to the day, and very officially "full term." 
Birthing you remains, and I'm sure will always be, right up there at the top of my list of most amazing things I've ever done. 

 You've been an amazing blessing in my life, and in our family.

 I can't believe you are turning two. Tonight, as I laid you down to go to sleep, there was a little lump at the thought that I would be coming in to get a two-year-old in the morning. I've spent a good deal of time imagining what your first birthday party will be like, and then I catch myself. Time goes by so quickly.

I still get lost in your pretty blue eyes. You're such a beauty with a brain to boot. You're sweet as can be, and sassy just the same. I marvel at your strong will, even if I will it away at times.

 You keep us laughing and on our toes. You're so very particular about certain things, like what shoes you want to wear. Right now, you're hooked on a pair Kalli made for you that are too small, and not really appropriate for a walker. Every morning you go to your closet and say, "These shoes." And you protest until I get out the perfect pair.

You wear bows in your hair just for fun around the house, but you almost always take your rubber bands and bows out of your hair when we are in transit somewhere. 

You have such a fun giggle. You don't laugh at just anything, but when you do, the laughter builds and builds until every single part of you seems to be laughing.

You love to say prayers. Any time. And you never say, "In the name of Jesus Christ." No, you wait for it, and as soon as the line starts, you yell, "AaaaaaMEN!" And it's just as cute every time. 

 I love it when you say, "Happy."

You're starting to speak in sentences, and you surprise me more and more at the words you are putting together. Cora is your best friend, even if you hit her in the head with toys sometimes. You always know she'll still love you. I hope you two will always be there for one another. 

You are in-love with your family, and remember everyone. You love being loved, and are an easy one to love. I've enjoyed your quirks over the last two years. From your grunting at night when you were brand new to the various ways you say, "No." At two, you rock some epic piggies, are fond of dogs, rocks, coloring, babies, swings, hats, blueberries, bike rides, taking pictures, saying hi to people, tickling, singing songs, and cuddling among other things.

 You're the sweetest of sweet, and I'm the luckiest of lucky. Magnolia Jane McInnes Johnson, I am so grateful that I am your mother.

We need help naming our dog

He came to us as a Davis. That is not his name. We thought of George early on, and we loved it. But after George came to us, we're not quite sure if he's really a George. We need ideas. Other names that we've been thinking: Hudson, Ernest, something with a "Ch" sound at the beginning.

A bit about "George:" he's part Schnauzer, part Old English Sheepdog. He weighs about 25 pounds. He's super mellow. He loves to cuddle. He assumed he would be sleeping with us until Jake kindly pointed out the size of our bed (full). He likes our girls. He hasn't barked yet. He doesn't jump up on people. He's a little timid around other dogs. He's pretty ideal.


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