Thursday, October 29, 2009

Questions I Would Ask My Late Husband If I Could See Him Now

There are those who say they visit my blog to be uplifted, to learn something new, to get a chuckle, or just to marvel at my completely chaotic life and count their blessings that they don't have it so insanely. Today, I'm afraid you will get none of that. I've had a difficult week, suffering from a 4-day sinus infection, and it seems as though the 3 three and under have cried more this week than in any other week in their short histories. Perhaps it just feels that way because of the throbbing head aches, but it's getting me down.

There have been some thoughts swimming around in my head about my first husband's suicide and since I haven't been in an uplifting kind of mood, this might be the perfect time to record these feelings. I am warning you that this post will be sad, depressing, and maybe even disturbing. Please feel free to go read another blog now if you want.

If I could see my husband again, there are so many questions I would ask him. And questions I would ask God, if we were talking face-to-face. I guess I could go to God in prayer to ask Him these questions, but I seem to spend more time on my knees worrying about the day-to-day issues of the here and now than fretting over my questions of curiosity about my husband's death.

I think the first question I would ask my husband is...

Where did your spirit go right after you died? Did God shield you from seeing the pain and grief you caused your family or was part of the natural consequence of taking your own life to have to witness the devastation?

Were you there when...

...I found your body, and lifted and yanked you out of your truck with one hand, fell to my knees, and laid you on my lap, screaming help and your name and no?

...after having run into the house to tell my mother to call 911, I administered CPR for 15 minutes, refusing offers of assistance from my brother, even though I was becoming dizzy with the carbon monoxide still in your lungs?

...the police detectives confiscated your 18 pages of suicide writings before I had a chance to get through the first 5 pages?

...I had to tell our children what you did, and did you see how none of them said a word for seemingly eons, until one of them started to cry?

...your father, after having driven 11 hours to come to my parent's home the day you died, walked in the door and embraced my father, and they sobbed together in each other arms like children?

...a young boy of 16 years, who was not your son, but looked up to you as his father and considered you his best friend, sobbed, unabashedly, on my mom's couch, unable to stop for hours, because you were gone?

...we had your funeral? Did you know the chapel would be filled to overflowing? Did you think it was a good funeral? My mother, your best friend and your boss at work even joked about you and people laughed. I laughed, too, like when my mother said you were afraid of my dad's cooking, and every time he would offer you meat, you would accept it, but when he wasn't looking, you would re-cook it in the microwave for 8 or 9 minutes, just to make sure it was done.

Husband, when one of our daughters was sick and dreaming a few days after you left, she said she saw you in a dream and you comforted her, and when she woke, she felt healed. Was that you, or was it just a dream?

When I, too, had a dream about you, but asked you how it was in hell, and you said that that wasn't a very nice thing to say, was that you, or was it just a dream?

When I dreamed about you over and over and over again, usually trying to find answers, only to have you leave me before I could get them, was that ever you, or were they just the dreams of a crushed soul?

Did you know that even though I never planned on doing this, I met and started dating John only 5 months after you died? That I married him 7 months after you died? If so, did that bother you? You had said in your writings that you wanted me to be happy and remarry, but did you know it would happen so soon?

Did you watch over us after you left us, or was there something else God had planned for your soul? Did He need you somewhere else?

What are you doing now? How do you spend your time? Has the memory of us faded away, or do you long for us?

Do you see moments in your children's lives, like when our oldest girl drove out of the DMV with her driver's license, when our oldest boy first put on his football pads and played his first game, or when our youngest, the 2-year-old girl then, learned to ride a bike before her big brother?

Did you know that because of your actions, nearly 3 years later, a young girl close to you would explain her suicidal feelings by saying, "He knew how I feel. He understood, and justify herself?"

Did you try to build a relationship with God before you died?

Did you repent of your sins before you died?

Were you scared?

Did it hurt?

Did you plan it so that I was the one who found you? If so, I'm glad you did. And thank you for looking so peaceful when I found you. And thank you for leaving all of our financial files and life insurance policies easily accessible for me. That was very thoughtful.

So these are some of the questions I would ask. I know they were kind of all over the place, but I guess I still haven't boxed up and organized these thoughts, even after nearly 5 years. Thank you for listening and hopefully tomorrow's post will be more uplifting.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Where We Found Twin A

To see what this closet looks like when it was organized, go HERE. (Sorry to post such an embarassing photo, Honey.)

I am pleased to list this post at 5 Minutes For Mom's "Wordless Wednesday".

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Please Join Us for the "Questions About Mormonism Live Chat" RIGHT NOW!

Welcome to this week's "Questions About Mormonism Live Chat".

(This is my all-time favorite artistic rendition of Jesus Christ, by Heinrich Hoffman.)

Today, Tuesday, from 10:00 AM to 11:45 AM MST, I will be right here by my computer to answer any questions you've ever had about Mormon beliefs, lifestyle and doctrine. Or, if you just want to say hi, that's okay, too! To participate in the chat, just click on the "__COMMENTS" link below this post, write your comment in the comment box, publish it, then refresh the page as desired to view the responses.

Today, I'd like to share with you what a Mormon sabbath at our house looks like. Every Mormon family is different when it comes to the how they keep the sabbath, depending upon the ages of their children, the different church responsibilities of the parents on Sundays, etc., but this is a general idea of what goes on during a Mormon sabbath...

First, I get the eight kids ready for church, as John attends meetings from 7:30 in the morning until church begins at 11:00. (Our church has an unpaid, lay clergy, of which John is a part of, being the ward clerk. Thus trainings, meetings and other activities take place outside normal work hours, during volunteer time.) Wait, let me correct myself. I supervise in getting the eight kids ready. The 14-year-old girl actually got both twins ready and the 9-year-old boy dressed the 3-year-old boy. The 17- and 13-year-old boys had to leave for church early to prepare for the sacrament ordinance.

Here is how we ride to church (and everywhere else for that matter)...

The 7-year-old girl is being helpful and starting up the van for me...

Twin B is in position and ready to go...

...over the river and through the woods...

After driving the 2 minutes it takes to get to church, each big kid is assigned a buddy to bring in, while I carry in the gargantuan diaper bag and the organ and piano music.

Buddy pair-up #1...

Buddy pair-up #2...

Buddy pair-up #3...

(I know the 14-year-old girl's buddy looks the same as in the first buddy pair-up, but their not. I promise. I don't even know who is who, but they are different babies.)

This is where the photos ended for a time, as I didn't want to freak anyone out by snapping their picture at church. We had a wonderful church service, though, and I wish I could have gotten it on film as the children performed their yearly children's program. Our family was also privileged to be able to sing a special musical number, all ten of us! As I listened to the 9-year-old boy sing his solo as he stood in front of me, his little voice shaking a bit from nerves, it was difficult for me to come in when I was supposed to as I was holding back tears.

After church, which lasted for three hours, including 2 more classes where we attend Sunday school, then separate into men's and women's classes, we headed home.

By this time it was about 2:30, so we got comfortable...

...and I laid down with the twins to put them to sleep while the kids finished getting dinner ready. I had frozen a meatloaf which was now baking in the oven, so all they had to do was prepare the side fixin's.

Unfortunately, I had developed a severe sinus headache and ended up falling asleep with the twins until about 4:30. I then had the leftovers the family had saved me, John went to another training meeting, the 13-year-old boy waited outside for his ride to go home teaching (to learn more about Mormon home teaching, go HERE)...

...and since the twins were still asleep, I went back to bed with them, as I again wanted to become unconscious and escape my sinus pain. Because the twin's schedule had been messed up due to the time change, we all ended up sleeping until 6:30!

After we FINALLY woke up, we got something to eat again and just kind of hung out until dad got home. We watched The Prince of Egypt (love that movie) and made hot chocolate. And no one wanted to do the dishes... no one did. Not that I believe it would have been wrong to clean up after ourselves on the sabbath, but we just didn't want to.

So, I guess after writing this, I have to say that this is probably not a "normal" sabbath for us, what with me trying to become unconscious most of the day, but this gives you an idea of what a Sunday in the life of me is like. Thanks for listening!

One more thing...I know this is a lot for one post, but I just wanted to share a beautiful message about what The Atonement of Jesus Christ can do for us...

Now let's chat! If you don't have any questions, just come on in and say hi!

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Homemaker Monday: Working With Yeast

Welcome to the 64th weekly edition of...

Thank you for joining us! If you're new to this carnival and would like to enter your post, please check HERE for the rules and regs.

YOURS: This week's "YOURS" goes to Homemaker Barbi over at Home Ever After! Nessa was the guest poster, and she shared her scary Halloween snack recipes! Here are a few...

-Jack-O-Lantern Brownies
-Goblin Dip and Chips
-Eyeball Salad
-Worm Sandwiches
-Mummy Dogs

For her recipes, go HERE. Thank you so much, Homemaker Barbi and Nessa, for your inspiration! Please feel free to take the "I Was Featured" button from my left sidebar. Hope to see you again soon!

MINE: Because my last post was about how we had doughnuts for dinner (that's HERE), I thought I'd share with you a little bit about how to use yeast, for those of you who are yeasty-challenged. I certainly was at the onset of my homemaking career, so I'd like to share with you yet another tid-bit of my vast knowledge....

Buying yeast: You can buy yeast at Wal-Mart, in those little tiny expensive envelopes or in the tiny little jars, again, very expensively, or you can go to Sam's and purchase the bags of yeast, two to a package, much cheaper.

When buying these bags, make sure the bag is hard, like a brick. If you can squoosh it around, it means there's a tiny hole in the bag, and the yeast will not have as long a shelf life.

Storing yeast: Yeast is a living organism and if we don't treat it right, we could kill it. Because yeast has a short shelf life, only between 6 to 12 months, I store mine in my freezer. I have had yeast last up to 3 years this way. Once I open the Sam's packaging, I pour the yeast into a Ziploc bag, and scoop it from this bag when I need it.

Activating yeast: When using yeast in breads, doughnuts, and the like, it's important to let it activate in water that is just the right temperature. If it's too cold, the yeast won't activate, too hot and we kill it. The way a friend taught me to determine just the right temperature is to hold your hand under the hot running water. When it gets to the temperature where you can barely stand it, but can still keep your hand under it, you have the right temperature.

Measuring yeast: When a recipe calls for 1 package of active dry yeast, I use 2 1/4 teapoons.

Testing yeast: I never use yeast in a recipe unless I've first tested to see if it's alive. This is so easy to do. Say a recipe calls for 2 packages active dry yeast. I would pour my warm water in a small bowl, making sure it is just the right temperature, using the method stated above, then I would add 4 1/2 teaspoons yeast and the same amount of sugar, brown or white, even if the recipes doesn't call for it. I've never seen this make a difference. I'd gently stir it to make sure all the yeast is wet, then wait for five minutes. After five minutes, as the yeast feeds on the sugar, it should begin to foam, looking a bit like rootbeer foam, like so....

...or this...

Now you are ready to add your other ingredients! One note of caution, though. Many recipes call for scalded milk or other hot liquid to be added to the yeast mixture. It is imperative that you wait until this mixture cools down to about luke-warm before mixing it in, so as not to kill your activated yeast.

Okay, we're done! Hope this helps! Don't be yeasty-challenged! Try some of the bread and doughnut recipes on my left sidebar, or come up with one on your own. You don't have to be afraid of yeast anymore! Thanks for listening.

OURS: Okay, let's see what all of you amazing homemakers have for us today. If you've never entered a post before, but are thinking about it, feel free to dig through your archives and enter anything having to do with homemaking. Hope you enjoy the entries as much as I always do and thanks so much for joining us today!

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Friday, October 23, 2009

I Fed My Kids Doughnuts For Dinner and I Don't Feel That Bad

They were 100% whole wheat orange glazed doughnuts, made with almost the same dough you would use to make 100% whole wheat bread. It was almost like they had cinnamon toast, but instead of butter, the vegetable oil in which they were fried and instead of cinnamon and sugar, a delectable orange glaze. Yes, I know, I'm rationalizing, but I had another one of those days, as per THIS POST. At least I didn't forget to feed them.

If you would like to make these doughnuts for breakfast or dessert, but not necessarily dinner, here is the recipe...

P.S. Please excuse my embarrassingly horrendous photography today. It was late, too dark and shadowy and there was not much I could do. Sorry so sloppy! :( )

100% Whole Wheat Orange Glazed Doughuts


(For the doughnuts)

1 cup warm water
5 teaspoons yeast
5 teaspoons brown sugar
2 cups orange or pineapple juice
6 tablespoons oil
6 tablespoons honey or molasses
4 teaspoons salt
8 cups whole wheat flour
6 tablespoons vital wheat gluten (optional)

(For the glaze)

3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup orange or pineapple juice
1/4 teaspoon orange extract


Step 1: In the bowl of a Kitchen-Aid or the like, or, if you don't have one, a large mixing bowl, mix water, yeast, and brown sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes, until it starts to foam like rootbeer, like this...

Step 2: Into bowl, add all remaining ingredients except one cup of whole wheat flour.

Step 3: Knead ingredients in Kitchen-Aid or by hand, for about 12 minutes, adding the extra cup of wheat flour if needed to made a soft, but not sticky dough.

Step 4: Roll dough out on a floured surface until about 3/8 inch thick, like so...

Step 5: Cut rectangles to about 3x4 inches, then cut slits down the middle of each rectangle, like so...

Step 6: To form doughnuts, pull open slit, like so...

...fold top corners over, like so...

...and push corners through hole, turning the top inside out...

...thus creating a product like so...

(We are doing this because this allows the rectangles to cook all the way through. Yes, we could just cut out circles and holes, but then we are left with so much leftover dough around each circle that we then have to roll out again and cut again, and it's just a pain. Plus, these look really cool. The wonderful woman who taught me how to make these says that some turn out pretty and some don't, but I think ALL of mine turned out pretty!)

(Okay, maybe not the one close to the bottom.)

Step 7: Fry in hot oil until golden brown...

...then place on paper towels, or if you care about your planet, cloth napkins, on a cookie sheet to drain...

Step 8: For the glaze, combine powdered sugar, juice and orange extract and beat with a mixer until smooth, adding more powdered sugar or juice as necessary to make an icing consistency.

Step 9: Glaze doughnuts with a pastry brush, and stack neatly on a plate for your family's dinner breakfast or dessert. And you can lay oranges by the plate if you want just to make it look prettier, but only if company is coming over. Otherwise, save yourself the trouble.

Hope you enjoy!

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Mormon Experience: Home Teaching

Since I am on a roll talking about our Mormon lifestyle, I thought I'd share with you one of my favorite things about our religion...Home Teaching and Visiting Teaching.

Home teaching is the practice whereby two men are assigned to visit a number of families, usually between 2 and 4, each month to visit with and share a scriptural message. Visiting teaching is similar, in that two women are assigned to visit a number of women in the ward, or church, once a month as well, again, to visit and share a spiritual message.

Every person in every ward is asked to participate in this practice. For example, I have two women who come to visit me each month, and I am also paired with another woman and assigned a few families to visit as well. Not only do we visit once a month, but we also assess any needs the family has and try to serve in any way we can. For instance, if a woman has given birth, it would be the visiting teacher's responsibility to make sure her family is taken care of in any way they need and to help in preparing and assigning meals during her recovery. If someone in the family is sick or otherwise disabled, especially a care-giver or a bread-winner, this would also be the perfect time for the home and visiting teachers to step in an serve where needed.

In addition, these companionships can be the eyes and ears of the bishops of our wards. It is the bishop's responsibility to care of his ward, but there is no way he can do it alone, and do it effectively. Therefore, if there is a problem or need in the home, the home or visiting teachers can make the bishop aware, and help can be offered where needed.

Home and visiting teaching can also serve as a "chain of command", so to speak. During the difficult times when the Gulf War first began, we were living as a military family on a fort in Texas, and enduring terrorism threats and scares regularly. It was during this time that our bishop set up a calling system whereby in the event of an emergency, such as a mass evacuation, he and his counselors would call each home teaching companionship, and in turn, those home teachers would call each of the families over which they held stewardship. If they could not reach them by phone, it was then their responsibility to go to their home personally to give them the message and any help they might need.

This program has been the source of so many blessings in my life. The friends and close acquaintances I've made through these programs have truly enriched my life and the lives of my family. Pictured below is one of our home teachers, giving our children a message about the importance of finding truth and gaining a testimony of Jesus Christ...

I really thought it was endearing that most of the children chose to sit on the couch next to our home teacher, even though I was the only one on my couch! And he didn't even seem to mind that the 3-year-old boy was rubbing his hand up and down the inside of his shirt sleeve during his entire message and that the 9-year-old boy was waving a flyswatter dangerously close to his face.

Pictured below is John trying to entertain the twins, well Twin A, as Twin B had just fallen asleep with a fever. You can see he's trying to pay attention to the message, between smacks on the forehead by Twin A trying to get his attention to continue naming the pictures in the baby book...

This was just a sweet moment in my sabbath day I wanted to share with you. If you'd like to learn more about this program, feel free to ask in the comments section... :)

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Friday Night Mormon Football

Snapshots of a Mormon junior football game and a Mormon varsity football game...

Lots and lots of kids...

Best friends...


("Okay, um, I'm gonna go to the locker room now...")


The autumn evening chill...


The plays...

The win...

The recap (and the sweat, about which Grandma could care less...the sweat that is)...

The team...

The spirit of the game, and of The Lord...

(Might I ask that you make sure your volume is turned up for this and if you are a sentimental Mormon lady, you might want to get out a box of tissue.)

If you liked this post and would like to join me here on a regular basis via email or other reader, please...

(You'll be helping to pay for at least one of the nine kid's college tuition.)
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