I’m talking about what we had for dinner last night.  Oh, and again tonight.  Wanna see what it was?

Oops!  I couldn’t stop eating it long enough forgot to take a picture of it before it was all gone! 

Wanna know at least what it *was*?  It’s called Butter-Pecan Sweet Potatoes.  We eat sweet potatoes quite a bit at our house and are always looking for a new way to cook them.  I found this recipe here.  (you may have to scroll down just a bit to get to it, it’s worth it, trust me)

Yup, it’s a delish dish from the one and only Becky Higgins.  I have {puffy} hearted her for a long time.  I think she is smart, creative, skinny, and practical.  Skinny.  I almost hate her for that, but I’m going to be skinny too this year so Becky and I could totally hang together.  Well, unless I keep trying all the recipes she shares on her blog.  I do plan on trying more of them.

My family loved this recipe.  It’s a keeper for us.  Let me know what you think.  Or if you have any sweet potato recipes of your own I could try!

Resolve. It’s A Carpet Cleaner.

Word of the month?  Resolve.  Starting the end of December clear through January you hear everyone mentioning it.  In all of it’s forms.  Here is what I think of when I hear the word.

After my second child I went through a very dark time.  Full-blown Postpartum Depression.  Ultimately I went to a therapist that specialized in my condition.  Best decision.  I saw her weekly and most often had to take the baby with me.  Quickly the therapist realized that part of my PPD was in reaction to a condition my son was born with.  Acid reflux.  My baby, though I didn’t know it at the time, had a severe case and cried ALL. THE. TIME! My dear mother even said to him once, “Cameron, I love you SO much.  But would you just SHUT UP for a little while?”.  Our answering machine greeted callers with this, (baby screaming in the background, LOUDLY) “Thank you for calling the Deputy’s.  We probably can’t hear the ring of the phone right now, but your call will give us an excuse to have some adult conversation, so please leave a message after the beep and we’ll call you back as soon as Cameron is 18.”   Truly it felt like our child was going to cry for the rest of his life.  I was exhausted from sleepless nights and frustrating days.  To soothe my sweet baby I would hold him in the football hold  and literally bounce as hard as I dare.  Up and down.  Up and down.  Over and over and over again.  He was also on medication.  Not that it helped a whole bunch, but we gave it to him.  What bothered me the most was his projectile vomiting.  The stomach acid would smell awful (and I don’t do well with vomit in the first place) and would stain the carpet if I didn’t clean it fast enough.  Oy. Vey!  At one of my therapy sessions I had my baby face down laying across my legs and was patting his back.  He seemed to be doing okay.  Wasn’t completely quiet, but not screaming per usual.  Then, I felt it.  A bubble rise through his back, up and out of his mouth.  Not a bubble.  His last meal (which was chased with a pink Mylanta chaser).  All over the white carpet of my therapist’s office.  Tears.  From both the baby and me.  Without missing a beat my therapist rose out of her chair, went to a cabinet and retrieved a bottle of Resolve carpet cleaner.  She took care of the stain as best she could and went on to comfort me.  Bless her heart.  At the end of the session she handed me that bottle of Resolve and told me to keep it in the diaper bag.   So I wouldn’t blockade myself at home in fear of creating another stain somewhere else.  She had given me a tool for confidence to go out and continue to live my life.   She wanted me to feel that even though something may go wrong, I had the ability to fix it.  I didn’t need to feel bad for the inconvenience of life or things that happen in life.

So here we go.  It’s January and that word is back.  It reminds me of that therapy session.  Sure, I may have had some bad habits, but I also have the tools to change anything that I want to.  I don’t have to change everything, I can choose what areas I want to improve, where to progress.  I can decide to take baby steps to reach my goals, or I can set my sights high and just put myself out there.  The choice is up to me. 

Re.  Solve.  I can take care of something, again, if it didn’t work the first time.  Clean.  Slate.  Nice.

In future posts I’ll let you know what I’ve been thinking to resolve.  I actually like to think of it as goal setting.  And I don’t like to do it spur of the moment at midnight on New Year’s Eve because then I feel like I’m setting myself up for failure.  I like to take my time to prioritize and be real

Side Note:  Cameron is now 14 and has, to our great pleasure, stopped his incessant crying.  Whew.


This is my day.  So far.

  • I have a pet peeve: getting dressed for the day and standing in front of the mirror thinking that I don’t look too shabby *and* hey, exercising and eating right has paid off!  Look at how I look slimmer in these jeans!  Only to sit down and have all those rolls make themselves very obvious.  Hate.  That.
  • I’m realizing that maybe I’m not 24 anymore.  Clues into how I know this: *I don’t go with the flow of change too well. *I have to turn the radio up to understand the words, and even doing that I can’t make sense out of that ‘noise’.  *My six year old won’t let me kiss him at the bus stop anymore.  (wait, I have a SIX year old?  When did that happen?)  *The sun is down, doesn’t that mean it’s bedtime?   *The words ‘procedure’  and ‘doctor appoinment’ flow off my lips too easily and often.
  • Did you know that just by switching your dipping sauce from ketchup to mustard can help you lose weight?  Huh!
  • Small red sports cars should *not* be going 10mph UNDER the speed limit.  EVER!
  • There truly is strength in numbers. 
  • If I yell it will they understand me better?  Cause it sure as heck is apparent that asking nicely didn’t work.
  • Am I an old dog?  Can I learn new tricks?
  • Is this stuff even worthy of blogging about?
  • I think my therapist needs a therapist.  Just sayin’.
  • What do you mean the next step is detention?  What was the first step?
  • Is it naptime yet?
  • Is it bad that I just called my son “Stu Sylvester” because when he wears his warm-up suit he reminds me of Jane Lynch’s Glee character?
  • I need a clone to get everything done.  But face it, it’s hard enough having one of me in this world.
  • Griffin is playing on the new drum set and I haven’t called the men in white jackets to come get me and take me away!

This is my Wednesday.  Very random and all over the place.  How’s yours?  Wait.  What? Today is THURSDAY?  Crap.

Long Goodbyes

Dear 2010,

I hate long goodbyes.  I avoid goodbyes of any sort when I can.  In actuality I can avoid this one, but I have come to learn that it is good to acknowledge the past in order to better the future.  So for this purpose only do I give you anymore recognition.

Thank you for being better to me than the previous year.  We won’t mention it’s name, but we both know who it was.  You were still pretty harsh on me and my family, but I came to my senses and realized that I had some lessons to learn and you did whatever it took for me to learn them.  I still don’t think you had to be so severe, but whatever.  I am a better person for learning those lessons so I can forgive. 

No hard feelings, right?  I respect you and wish you all the best in the future.  Oh wait.  You have no future.  That sucks.  Well then, I bid you a fond farewell.

With Warmest Regards,


Dear 2011,

I have plans for you.  Your counteryear, 2010, has been gracious enough to teach me some things that have given me strength to kick your butt if I need to.  Unlike the previous Mandi, I am no longer willing to take crap with a smile on my face.  Oh no.  2011 I tell you now that you and I are going to accomplish many things in the next 365 days we have together. 

I see you there, staring me in the face.  And I tell you, Mr. (or Mrs., or Miss, or Ms.)New Year,  I. Am. Ready.  Faithful.


Mandi (the Powerful)

To all of my friends and family (that would be you dear reader),

Have a happy new year, I wish you much peace.  Inner peace.  I wish you joy.  So much that sometimes a tear may slip down your cheek.  I wish you love.  So that your heart may feel as though it will burst from so much of it.  I wish you contentment.  Enough to fill you even in your darkest hours.  And I wish you strength.  Personal, spiritual, physical, and emotional strength.  Be as good to yourself as you are to others.  Find the good in things because goodness likes to hide and whisper sometimes.  Give yourself a break, and leave judgement to Him.  We all live in glass houses.  Speak kindly.  Smile at strangers.  Keep the door open for the person behind you.  Hug your loved ones longer than normal.  Pray.  To whomever or whatever you choose, but show your gratitude for the things you have been given.  Even the icky parts.  Find three good things for each negative thought you have.  Give to others and learn to be a gracious receiver.  Laugh.  “Life is meant to be enjoyed, not just endured.” ~Gordon B. Hinkley

Now I’m off to play Lite Brite with my 6 year old.  Not something the old Mandi would have done.  But hey, it’s a new year.  I can be a new me, right?



Random Photos Make Me LOTI

I found some random photos that I took and wanted to share them with you.  Because, well, today is a random day and these pictures made me smile.  Maybe one of them can make you smile too.

Number 1 and number 3 reading in the same chair.  Touching.  First off, what parent wouldn’t smile seeing two of their kids snuggled together like this?  Four years’ difference and they *chose* to be together.  Awww. 

 Second, r-e-a-d-i-n-g! 

Number 5 at (in)convenient care after playing with the dog in some very high grasses next to our property.  Result: he is allergic to both dogs and grass.  Even though he was swelling faster than a squirrel’s cheeks while gathering nuts for the winter, he still had a smile for me.  {ADD moment, how strange does that word ‘squirrel look?  Who came up with that word?}

Ali, this one is for you.  Yes, I tried to boil the toothbrushes (the ones that we leave at grandma & grandpa’s house)Nobody could remember which one belonged to them so I was just going  to disinfect them for just a minute . . .I really shouldn’t have walked away.

Five kids in a very tiny driftwood home.

Cameron’s birthday date with Greg & I at Red Robin. Straw in the nose trying to get mom to stop taking pictures of him.  It just egged me on to take more.  

Dr. Dad in the “Stuffed Animal Hospital”.  Many patients walked away happier that night.

Griffin’s version of me in sidewalk chalk, and mine of him.  We all stepped over this for many days as not to ruin it.

Uh, wha????????

My kids, standing in, well what else?  A skillet!

Now my kids have no excuse for not having a clean bathroom. (sigh.  I wish that were true)  I love cleaning supplies and put baskets together for them (with a laminated check list of what needs to be done) and put one in each of their bathrooms.  I don’t know why, but it makes me smile to have cleaning supplies and organization in one picture.

The random pictures could go on for forever, but I will spare you.  I’m sure you have some random photos of your own that you haven’t peeked at in a while.  Go look at them.  Let those fun memories brighten your day and have you LOTI (laughing on the inside).

A Mother’s Heart

“There is in all this world no fount of deep, strong, deathless love, save that within a mother’s heart.”

 – Felicia Hemans


I drive by this at least four times a day, sometimes more depending on the errands I need to run.  Greg drives past it at least six times a day. 

This memorial is at a “T” intersection.  In fact, the school buses drive down the street head on to this intersection and stops there at the stop sign to wait for it’s turn to move.  The kids on the bus see this twice a day as well.  Elementary students, Middle School students, and High School students.  Jaryd’s classmates.  Most of the time I see this at an angle:

See the pilllow that says, “I love you, I miss you.”?  Yeah, it gets me everytime.  There used to be a lot of candles there too, but the family was here yesterday and cleaned things up.  They put Jaryd’s silly hat back on the sign since it had blown away during our crazy windstorm.  The stop sign at the intersection has hundreds of signatures and well wishes and heartbreaking passages written in Sharpie on it.  I know that the man who lives in the woods by our house, a mile at least away, takes care of this site because I’ve seen him picking up debris and setting the stuffed animals just-so. 

Some days this, (notice that I don’t know what to call it so I keep saying ‘this’?) is just another part of the scenery on my way to do the busyness that is my life.  Some days looking at it rips at my heart and it makes me cry.  Some days, it’s odd to say, that seeing this brings a smile to my face because it has become a constant.  That smiley faced picture of this teenager with a silly hat on can uplift me and remind me to embrace each of my own kids.  To savor the time I have with them, and to make every moment count with them.  Not easy because I’m human, but for a brief moment I am reminded to choose my battles with them.

Jaryd was on his way home from school in a car with other friends.  He was not the driver.  They came to this “T” intersection and stopped.  The driver then pulled forward to complete the turn to home when they were broadsided by a van.  The others in the car made it.  Jaryd wasn’t as fortunate.  He was so close to being home.  I can’t imagine being his mother waiting for him to walk in the door only to have policemen show up in his place.  I can’t imagine the feeling.  Nor the horror that the bus full of his friends felt as they had to drive past the accident to reach their mothers who were expecting their safe arrival.

My mother’s heart hurts thinking that when my kids leave in the morning that it will be the last time I may speak or see them, so I choose to make every morning a good morning and try my best to make sure they leave knowing that I love them.  My mother’s heart goes out to the mother who will be celebrating the holidays without her baby for the first time this season.  Not just Jaryd’s mother, but anymother who’s heart may be broken.  My heart bursts with joy when I think of the love that our community showed after Jaryd’s death.  My heart is full seeing how mothers all over are not only taking care of their own kids, but are doing their best to help other mothers take care of theirs this Christmastime by doing what mothers do; give.  Giving presents, money, food, their time and any other resource she can muster.    Don’t get me wrong, I know a father’s heart is large and can be full as well.  His too can be sensitive and kind and loving.  I can only speak from what I know, a mother’s heart. 

I hope that this is never taken down.  That I will always have a reminder of Jaryd and life and love and loss.  Inside I know that eventually it will be gone, but I hope it will be a long time in the future.  I have come to love this.

Here are some pictures of the messages to Jaryd and his family that are written on the stop sign at the intersection:  They are very touching.




I Am Thankful For Random Acts of Culture (and Ali)

Over there, to the right of the blog is a cute girl with an even cuter blog.  (My blog wants to be her blog when it grows up.)  Ali, from The View From The Johnson’s, has been an acquaintance since I was in the ninth grade in Lubbock, TX.  She is a year younger than I am and I say acquaintance because we didn’t hang out or anything, I just knew who she was and (I think) she knew who I was and we smiled at each other as we passed in the hall.  We both loved choir, but were in different ones because of our grade difference.   She is AD-OR-ABLE.  We have upgraded from acquaintance status to friend status thanks to Facebook.  I have found Ali to be a strength when I felt I have none, a LOLPIMP* when I didn’t think I could muster a smile, and a voice of simple reason when I have been overwhelmed with critical chaos.  And she does this easily from 2500 miles away.

Anyway, she blogged this Random Acts of Culture bit today on her blog and while I tried SO HARD not to copy her, I just couldn’t help it.  She appreciates the good stuff, recognizes beauty, and I had to share with  you the gem she found.  Besides, it’s no secret that I am a flash mob addict, this video is similar to that.  Why am I never in the right place at the right time?  Grr!!

Can I just say that sometimes goosebumps spread over my entire body when Glee does a particularly good job on their rendition of a famous artist?  I bawl like a baby whenever I hear the National Anthem, and I’ve been known to visibly shake with emotion when I hear good  A Capella.  I am unashamed to confess this.  As I watched this video a smile plastered itself on my face as my bottom lip quivered and my whole being took in the beauty of what I was watching and listening to.  My daughter thought I was being possessed until she saw what I was watching, then she understood because she too has the appreciation of music.  (I’m so impressed with the variety of people that participated, there are teenagers in there people!!!)

This is what Creative Minority Report had to say about this event, “Just this past weekend, shoppers at the the Macy’s in Philadelphia (the old Wanamaker building) were surprised when over 600 choristers who were there mingling with regular shoppers suddenly burst into Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. It’s pretty awesome.”  Yes. Yes it is.  So, without further ado . . .

Thank you Ali! {sniff, sniff}

*Laugh Out Loud Pee In My Pants

I am grateful for toothless grins.  Griffin lost his first tooth this past week and he looks like a different kid.  More grown up.  I guess he *did* just celebrate his sixth birthday this weekend so he is more grown up.

I am grateful for people who go out of their way to do something nice.  Like my daughter’s friend AW.  Transportation got screwed up from the kids’ early morning church class (6AM) to school so instead of letting Colleen leave class 15 minutes early to catch the bus, AW volunteered to give Colleen a ride so she could stay for the class’s entirety.  She didn’t have to, but her kind heart is appreciated. 

I am grateful for music.  I love listening to my kids’ practice their instruments.  Some parents tolerate the practicing, I {puffy heart} love it.  Cameron on his electric guitar, amp turned up loud.  Keegan on the drums, and Atalie on the piano.  The sounds just warm my heart and fills our home with such a sweet energy.  I am also grateful for their appreciation of music.  Three of my five kids are in choir.  Yet, every Sunday at church I can hear all 7 of us singing the hymns.  Every Monday night we sing songs of praise as a family and everyone joins in.  In the truck as we travel most of us will sing to what is on the radio/Zune and I can hear the harmonies we have and often times it brings a tear to my eye.

I am grateful for my kids’ teachers.  I appreciate that they all seem to want to work as a team to make sure my kids are on the right road.  I appreciate the time and effort and money that they put in to my child’s future.  I used to want to be a teacher but I would have taken each of those kids home with me at night.  Not physically, but all their home problems or learning problems and I would have stressed about them to the point that I would have been driven mad.  How these select people can do it year after year is admirable.  And to include in this fabulous group of people, I would like to add I am grateful for my kids’ bus drivers.  Oh what a terrible, awesome responsibility!  I couldn’t do it!

I am grateful for my 5 senses.  I used to wonder to myself which one I would be able to live without the easiest.  None of them!  I guess taste would be the one I could give up, but to be blessed with the different capabilities of experiencing life!   What joy!

I am grateful for opposition.  Oh how blessed we are to have this in our every day lives!  And how often we think it a curse.  Imagine  feeling hurt all the time withouth feeling the happiness!  If we never felt the dark hour how would we recognize the light at the end of the tunnel?  If we couldn’t feel loneliness then how could we truly appreciate the love from others?  One emotion would be lost without the other.  Right now I feel that my struggle is getting to be beyond what I am capable of and I am desperately trying to imagine the strength I will have once I have endured.  It is so difficult and painful.  So painful.  But without the knowledge that there is an opposite to this feeling and knowing what peace that feeling will bring to me, I might just give up all together.  Does is shock you to hear that?  Sadly, this is where I’m at.  So yes, I am grateful for opposition.

I am grateful for the unconditional love of a child.

I am grateful for the acceptance of my husband.

I am grateful for the honesty of my friends, and the interventions they play to remind me of who I am and what I am capable of when I am so blind to it.

I am grateful for traditions.  The ones that Greg and I grew up with that we have kept in our own little family, and the ones he and I have created over the years.  What comfort they bring, and what an impact they have on the kids!  Atalie will be doing an expository essay and the prompt was “what is it that you like/what is it that you dislike?”.  (This is part of the school district’s writing assessment.)  Atalie has chosen to write about traditions during Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Not about the turkey-day feast with our friends or presents from Santa, but about the cinnamon rolls, the game playing, the anticipation she feels as she waits upstairs on Christmas morning while Greg & I turn on the Christmas tree lights and holiday music.  The excitement of who finds the Christmas spider that morning to find out who gets to hand out the gifts.  THIS is what is special and memorable to her.  I feel warm and fuzzy inside to know this and to know that it isn’t the materialistic things that her mind goes to.  Thank you mom, dad, Russell, and Penny for instilling traditions in Greg & I so that we could continue them with our kids.

I am grateful for being grateful.  It seems that when I feel down and can find so much to complain about that if I do that balancing act (previous post I’m Unbalanced) then I feel better inside.  A simple, yet difficult thing to do.

Flix, Clicks, and Fridges

I’ve had a difficult time with the site this week.  I am not thankful for that.  Grr.  But I think things are better.  Here is what I’ve been grateful for:

Love me some Netflix!  I am a movie junkie.  If I even think I’m going to like a movie I buy it.  Or I used to.  With Netflix I can watch it, keep it and send it back when I’m ready.  Sometimes it’s the next day.  Sometimes, like in the case of Jane Eyre, I have kept a movie up to 6 months.  Okay, that was only with Jane Eyre.  (yes, I bought it and still watch it quite a bit.  In closed captioning even.)  Greg and I like to give a subscription to Netflix to newly married couples too.  Oh, and now that you can do an instant viewing on a lot of movies, we can watch something right when we feel like it, keep it in our que and watch it over and over again without having to deal with a disc.  (Hello BBC version North & South)

Hey, husbands out there, garages truly are for vehicles.  Well, they should be.  Especially if you live out here in the Pacific Northwest where it drizzles rains quite a bit and a person might have to drag kids or groceries or something else in and out from the car.  In our experience it’s just safer to keep the cars put away.  Since we got to design our home with an architect, we made sure we had a two car garage that we could park the car and suburban in as well as another one car garage for Greg’s toys.  I am so grateful that we did that.  Truth be told, right now the vehicles aren’t in the garage because we are still unpacking our crap priceless items since we’ve moved.  I still love my garage door opener though.  Click.

We have had this fridge for at least 10 years.  It’s a hand-me-down.  It’s got a dent in the handle, is a pain in the butt to clean, has broken pieces, and really isn’t big enough to hold everything a family of seven needs.  But, it works, it may not match the other stainless steel appliances we have, but it matches the ivory cabinets of the island.  There are other things I’d rather spend our money on so this fridge is going to stay right where it is.  While it may not be the most recent model, I love the fact that it is our message center.  The heart of our kitchen.  It doesn’t hold as many magnets and drawings as it used to, but the best thing about it is I can write on it with a dry erase marker.  Yippee!  We write notes to each other, leave phone messages, and best of all keep our grocery list on the front.  I take a picture of the list on my phone before we go grocery shopping so I have an easy referral to what we need.  Lazy?  I think more like brilliant.  (you know you’re going to do this now)

I may not get to blog things that I am grateful for as often as I would like, but the challenge of having an attitude of gratitude truly has opened my eyes to how many things make a  huge impact on my happiness.  And they aren’t always what I expect.  Funny how blessings work that way huh?

Orange You Grateful?

So I’m not very good at blogging every day.  That doesn’t mean that I haven’t been keeping up with my Attitude of Gratitude.  Here’s a look-see into one thing I found myself grateful for this week.

Color.  I love color.  The aisles at the big stores like Fred Meyer and Target that have all that color on them, yeah, I could get very distracted there.   My kids ask me a lot what my favorite color is, usually I say orange.  It does make me happy.  There aren’t a whole lot of things that are orange so when you see it the color just *POPS* out at you saying, “Here I am, BE HAPPY!!!”.  And I AM!!!  There are some days that yellow is my favorite too.  And green.  And steel blue.  So guess how giddy I was when I saw this a few months ago*:

All of my favorite colors, on my favorite piece of furniture.  My bed.  Gid-dy I tell you.  I love going there, sometimes I visit during the day too.  But that’s another post.  (grateful for nap time, even when all the kids are at school.  Wait, especially when ALL the kids are at school!)

I love paint chip samples and looking at a big box of 96 Crayola Crayons.  I used to see a therapist who would get out that box of crayons at the beginning of our sessions and have me pull out the color I felt like that day.  She said she could tell a lot right off the bat by the crayon I chose.  My favorite color is Daffodil Yellow.  I would be in heaven having the ‘color naming’ job for a paint company or a crayon company.  *laaaaaa . . . .*

Living in the Pacific Northwet Northwest this time of year you don’t see much color.  Shades of gray mostly, so this past week I have been ridiculously grateful for COLOR!!!!

*is it lame that I went upstairs and made my bed just to take a picture for the blog?  Nah, I didn’t think so.

PS.  For Atalie’s 7th birthday party she had an “Orange You Glad I’m Having A Party?” party.  EVERYTHING was orange.  It was one of the most fun parties we’ve had.  Color themed parties are awesome, especially when you can get the guests to wear the color.  Pictures turn out so fun!