Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Christmas that Should Have Been

Christmas has been over for a couple of days ...and I've been thinking. Christmas didn't turn out like I imagined. It fact, Christmas never plays out in real life as I envision in my overly optimistic-this-is-where Danny-Kaye-and-Bing-Crosby-come- in-singing mind.

For your entertainment and to my chagrin, I will list how my Christmas should have been: Lights on every eave of the house with a stunning "Festival of Trees" sapling shinning through the front window, well behaved children smiling while they make sugar cookies drizzled with silvery icing, children sitting quietly while a tranquil expression illuminates dads face as he reads from Luke 2, donating thousands of dollars to our favorite charity, perfectly prepared Christmas Eve dinner, followed by a friendly game of "Ticket to Ride."

 Did. Not. Happen.

We haven't had outside Christmas lights since 2005, excluding last year, when Scott threw one strand of "solar" lights on a tree in our front yard. Seriously, we barely get lights on our inside tree. The decorations sat under the Christmas tree until someone finally took pity and finished what I couldn't even start. Instead of homemade cookies, I bought Ghirardelli chocolates from Walmart. Have the children EVER sat quietly? Peaceful is not how I would describe our scripture study and/or daddy-O's face. Our favorite charity this year was Aabco Auto Repair. The van has been in the shop 3 times in the last 3 weeks. In fact, our 1999 Plymouth Voyager--Machine of Wonder is sitting in their parking lot as I type. Christmas Eve dinner was ham and packaged King's Hawaiian Sweet Rolls. I threw a mandarin orange on everyone's plate to fulfill my due diligence as a nutritiously guilt ridden mother. We haven't played Ticket to Ride since...wait?! Do we even have that game??

What did happen was: handsome faces lit up our door-way singing carols. Our college girl came home. We laughed hard as Sarah and Anna both took a turn at burning out the clutch on our only functioning vehicle. The rain has made the hills a glossy green. I got to dance. Scott continues to work. We made new friends.

Perhaps, singing, laughing, dancing, amidst a bit of work and rain followed by a gathering of friends is what God truly intended for the celebration of the birth of the Savior of the world. And yet, I'm hoping God would approve of the sugar cookies as well! Merry Christmas, my friends.

Nicole, my new friend

Lynn K., Nicole H. and me dancing "Atonement"

"Behold The Gift" cast 2014


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

NorCal Homeslice: Bacon Mountain

NorCal Homeslice: Bacon Mountain: I've been wanting to post for awhile...but I just haven't been feelin' it... You know when you feel like you've been goin...

Bacon Mountain

I've been wanting to post for awhile...but I just haven't been feelin' it... You know when you feel like you've been going Mach 2 but you look around and the only thing associated with the rate of Mach 2 is the speed at which the laundry has been growing and your patience has been waning? Yeah--that's me.

Soooo...I've decided it's time to write about my "Bacon Mountains" i.e. places that help me think clearly, sense peace and feel love. The term "Bacon Mountain" originated when we lived in Provo, UT.

When Scott was in graduate school at BYU and we lived in student housing, I didn't want my kids traveling along the busy street of 9th East on their way to school. So, I walked with them and convinced them that we should take a 1/2 mile detour. Our route took us past the Provo, UT temple. (Note: This route lasted a year. In the years following, I grew slack in my safety mothering skills and they walked along 9th east--probably running with sharp sticks too!) In the mornings, the temple cafeteria was cooking up breakfast. As we traveled along Temple Hill Drive, we would leisurely inhale the aroma and my children would proclaim, "It smells like Bacon Mountain!" I cherished these walks (and the smells). It was a time when I felt a sense of purpose in a day filled with seemingly mundane and under appreciated tasks.

Dance 241summer 2010

Another Bacon Mountain place for me is the dance studio. There have been divers studios where I have felt the stirrings of creativity about to surface and the intimacy and contentment which accompanies the prospect of creating. The most recent studio(s) being those in the Richards Building at BYU. The Richards building is home to Physical Education as well. Consequently, opening the doors to the building, one is greeted with the whiff of chlorine from the pools. The chlorinated air generated motivation and familiarity as I anticipated the creative process. 

"I don't know why we all don't dance more. It seems important to me, to feel ourselves in our bodies interacting with our physical surrounding as we create beauty/art." --Cassandra Barney. 

"Ditto" affirmed Susan Lloyd.

Sitting in my backyard is a Bacon Mountain place. I love to sit in my wicker Grocery Outlet purchased chair and absorb the radiant sunshine on any day-- during any season in NorCal and swallow the warmth of the sun and my thoughts.

NorCal's Ultimate Bacon Mountain
The Bacon Mountains in my life have been holy places. Ann M. Dibb has asserted that a holy place can be geographic or a moment in time. Elder Dallin H. Oaks adds that a holy place can be when one is attending to their duty as well. I agree on both accounts. I usually remember the geographical location when I've felt loved--God's love. These places do not seem "holy" because of their location, but because of the moment I felt His love through an answer to prayer: i.e the bathroom, the top bunk in a seemingly institutional place and the shower. All have their "Bacon Mountain" qualities: "The fruit of the Spirit is (or you're near Bacon Mountain when you feel): love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance.” Galatians 5:22

I know it's a rough world out there! If you haven't found your "Bacon Mountain", I pray you will find, feel or smell one today. P.S. Bacon is on sale at Grocery Outlet! Seriously.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Hapū is Maori for clan or sub-tribe. In our 21st century, northern hemisphere vernacular, the word is: peeps. 

Last Friday, I returned home from taking Sarah to college. While on campus, I sensed that these were Sarah's people (Te Sarah) and she was about to become a member of a significant hapu. I felt honored to witness her inauguration into Ngāti Rexburg.


I was especially touched during the question and answer period provided for the wary parents of the incoming freshman. Many parents had questions concerning the track system in practice at BYU-I.    

I had questions as well. But as Pres. Clark answered the questions, I had an overwhelming feeling that he was speaking truth. I felt the opportunities afforded at this institution were greater than any of us. President Clark explained the reason for the track system. He said, that because of the track system, in the last 10 years, 70,000 more students have had the opportunity to attend school at BYU-I than would have had the opportunity in a traditional semester system. My thoughts: God loves all of us equally and perfectly and desires to provide opportunity for all...whānau.

On tour in So Cal, circa 1984. Check out my perm asymmetrical do!

After Sarah was situated, I spent the next week in SLC visiting my whānau; family and or extended family. Along with reuniting with whānau, I also connected with my peeps. On Monday, I met my friend of 31 years for lunch in Farmington, UT. We are part of the same hapu. Paula is my people. We attended Utah State University together and were part of the cheer-leading tribe during 1983-85. However, our most meaningful element of connection was our desire to belong---to belong to a tribe that was upright, compassionate, authentic. And I found that in Paula. Paula is legit.  

Going out on the town in NYC, summer 1989

Pres. and Sister Grant, Draper, UT 2014

Wednesday, I went to visit my mission president, President and Sister Grant. ( I served a mission for my church in New Zealand from January1993 to June 1994). I really wanted to title this post: "Children of Divorce, Serve a Mission!" for many reasons, but I will name just a few: 1. You are exposed to an example of unity in a marriage. 2. You learn to forget yourself and serve others 3.You feel just so much stinkin' love from your mission president and his wife! and 4. You don't get nervous when both of them are in the room at the same time!!

Mon Cheri!

That same evening, I drove down to Provo and attended the wedding reception of my friends', Dara and Glen Jakins oldest daughter, Tarryn. Everything about the reception was perfect. But let me tell you about perfect...these gals from Provo are my peeps! Six years with Scott in graduate school was challenging, especially towards the end. But these gals championed me in everything. For example, if I showed up at my children's school...(not to volunteer of course, but to pick up the kid I had forgotten)! My peeps would cheer me on. At any given time, if any one of these women would come sit or stand by me---I felt stronger.

Te Kāhui Reception (The assemblage of the reception)

Te Susan (Susan's people)

This is my hapū. We are whānau. Thank you for allowing me to belong.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Not So Awful Waffle!

Actual waffle is larger than appears in photo. I ate the 1/4 that is missing!

 Natalie made these waffles last night. However, we were out of Nutella... Gasp! So, she wanted to do something to spruce up our waffle night. She found a blog containing creative waffle making. Natalie loved the tie-dye waffle idea. I protested at first because of the mess. I didn't want to deal with it. But Natalie was determined, so I acquiesced. When Natalie finished cooking her first waffle, she was upset that the tie-dye waffle didn't look like the picture on the blog she found. I told her that those pictures are photo-shopped to look nice. She said no, it was a home-made web site. I said, that's why I don't like blogs because they make people feel bad.

Whaaaat? I have a blog! And once in awhile I read other blogs. But here's the "thang":  I need to look at blogging for what it is--people sharing the goodness in their lives on an editable medium. Although, it is easy to loose perspective when I compare my novice skills next to someone that is editing their best tie-die waffle, raw food menu or family vacation.

So, I have this love/hate relationship with blogs---my blog, your blog, all blogs. Admittedly, I only post what I believe will be some what amusing. In addition, when I post a pictures of myself, I make sure it is the picture where my teeth look the whitest, my stomach is held in and my eyes are open wide.

My sister told me about this article where the author informs us how social media makes us lonely. And may I add inadequate. 
Although, blogs aren't as highly interactive as other social media such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. I do feel lacking when I read/view a blog with a  immaculate whole foods dinner on the table next to well-behaved and sparkling children.

Therefore, I think I need to examine why I blog. I believe if I educate my desire in blogging, I will not be left feeling lonely, less-than or depressed instead of inspired. My goal is to blog because: 1. I want a family record/history that is approachable for me and others. 2. I do like trying my hand at writing. 3. I want to reach out to family, friends and others.

In the article mentioned above the author states: "Social networks appeal to our vanity and play to our vulnerability". Hopefully, if I keep my motive of blogging to writing, connecting with family and friends, and a brief family history, I won't fall prey to my insecurities...and YOU (readers out there in blog land)won't either!

Here's to imperfect and heavily edited blogging!!

Monday, August 4, 2014

All I Ever Needed to Know, I Learned at Girls Camp

Top 10 things I learned at girls camp:

10. Use the buddy system


9. Party tricks come in handy

8.Sleep is optional

7. Necessity breeds creativity  

6. Just keep swimming

5. It's about the climb

4. When life gives you dirt, write a love note

3. As the world get darker, you shine brighter

 2. Love is all you need

1. God is good

Monday, July 14, 2014


Susan says: "short", Scott says: "long".
I say: "let's go", you say: "how long?"
"Po-TAY-toe, Pa-TAW-toe..."  You get the picture... "Mawage!"  

Recently, I've been thinking about "mawage" (marriage) and family. Partly, because Sarah will soon leave our nest, Scott just celebrated another birthday, and I have been talking with loved ones that are contemplating "mawage" and some are contemplating divorce.

Marriage can be hard, and there are times when divorce is the only way to remove a life/lives from various types of abuse. However, divorce should be the exception and not the default. I was 30 and Scott was 37 before we married. Although, we haven't admitted it...(until now--Scott is going kill me!) I believe there was something more to our waiting to tie the knot. We were scared. Scared that we might make a wrong choice or even make the right choice and then fall short of the expectations of the one we chose.

In hindsight, along with creating families, learning to forgive, extend mercy when we or the ones we love have fallen short is what marriage is all about and teaches and offers civilization. And that is HUGE; especially in our world of hearts turning cold.

I understand there are times when I have let Scott, my children and others down. And I have been disappointed by loved ones as well. But there is an experience I draw on when I am tempted to hold a grudge and not forgive. Several years ago, there was a person that said some pretty hurtful things to me. I resolved not to forgive this person and just go on with my life...but just as soon as I had this thought, I felt these words;: "I have forgiven you, you need to forgive."

I truly believe that although marriage is not a institution for perfect people, marriage is a divine institution.

I have been exposed to the blossoms of Godly traits in Scott, my children, others and even in myself  while engaged in this adventure we call "mawage".

On our way to Muir Woods. Crossing the Golden Gate Bride, July 4th 2014

Massive Redwoods in Muir Woods, CA

Our family tree, minus our Anna

Sarah and Natalie

Happy Birthday, Daddi-O

Monday, June 30, 2014

Love Story Meets Viva la Vida

Natalie was our VIP this week!

Phew- lots of love and Viva la Vida this past week! Natalie celebrated
her 12th birthday with friends and a trip to Rockin' Jump. The girls jumped until they dropped! We came home for ice-cream and cake and the girls jumped some more! Natalie finished off the evening with a church youth activity. Natalie saved the traditional birthday breakfast with dad for the next day; spreading the sugar and love load across several days.

Matching Rockin' Jump socks

Par-tay Animals!

Breakfast with daddi-o

Returning siblings and our $40 lunch at the San Francisco airport

 We also had the return of our long lost brother and sister, Max and Sarah. They both returned on Friday. Sarah arriving at the Oakland airport and Max flying into SFO! I left at 9AM to pick them up from their separate airports. After a canceled flight, lost luggage, delayed flight, I-580 traffic and an unexpected "tour" of downtown Hayward...we didn't get home until nearly 5PM! But no worries!! We were excited for our trip to San Jose that same evening to attend The Piano Guys concert!

Our VIP access tickets for The Piano Guys! Thank you, Michelle and Jon!!

L to R: Jon Schmidt, SPL, Scott, Steven Sharp-Nelson, Max, Sarah, Anna and Al Van Der Beek

We were super pumped to attend TPG concert because we have a bit of a history with TPG...well, just one piano guy and his wife and his wife's BFF (my seeeester)!

The story goes like this: More than several years ago, Scott, my husband was taking piano lessons from Jon Schmidt. Jon would invite Scott to tag along on some of his gigs--I think with the intention of attempting to find Scott a date. (Scott was 37 and single.)  Michelle, Jon's wife and Shan (my sis) probably had a few conversations about Shan's sister: me, 30 and single. Aha! A light goes off in someones head, Jon, Michelle, or Shannon's I'm not clear; But the result was a call from Jon, asking me, "Hey, I know this guy who is going to be a millionaire--do you want to go out with him?" Duh! Of Course! (For the record, I didn't say "Duh" out-loud and we have yet to see a million bucks!) Our first date was to a Jon Schmidt concert at Abravenel Hall in SLC. Two weeks later, Scott: the single 37 year old asks Susan the 30 year old to marry him. Jon played the piano while Scott got down on his knee and proposed to lil' ol' me at the Roof Restaurant in Downtown Salt Lake City. Jon played at our wedding. We both treasure our most sweet connection to TPG. And now, our kids do too.

Thank you, Piano Guys for being a part of The Story of Our Lives!

NOT! The Piano Guys. Notice Anna's "sign of the horn" is the "I Love You" sign!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Keepin' It Real: Summer 2014

One week ago, school was officially out for the summer. Natalie has pink eye, Sadie has the flu, The Price is Right was interrupted by President Obama addressing the nation concerning an extremist group, ISIS over taking an oil refinery in Iraq. It is 11:56 AM and I've already eaten my lunch and I'm still in my pajamas. Ahhhh...summer!

Aside from feeling like a sloth, we have had some great moments in the past week. Of course, Sarah graduating from high school and Maxwell from middle school was a highlight. But eating at I-HOP to celebrate graduation twice in one week is similar to having an all-you-can-eat competition in your high school lunch room! Oh, my stomach hurts just thinking about it.

Max left on a flight on Saturday with his friend, Christian to attend EFY, a youth camp sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has kept in contact with us through texts and it sounds as though donuts and chocolate milk for breakfast are the best part of his day!!

My sister, Shannon and her family have graciously allowed Sarah to accompany them on their family trip to Lake Powell, UT. It's nice to have family that can provide entertainment for your children!! Both Sarah and Maxwell will spend some time with their Smith cousins after their separate Utah adventures.

Scott and I attended a meeting at the Oakland Inter-stake Center last night. Clayton Christensen was the speaker. He is a professor at the Harvard Business School among other numerous high profile accomplishments. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he related his experiences sharing his love for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Anna has spent the last two days up at the barn in Danville. It is her haven and heaven. I'm so grateful for Heidi Cowley and Jamie Cheney mentoring Anna in her dream job.

"We love The Lloyds, Happy Summer! Love, The Picketts" (The fence drawing is hieroglyphics for Pickett!)

 Although, we have "kept it real" the first couple days of summer---we are looking forward to brilliant times ahead! (Fingers crossed---no trips to the ER!!)