"Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind... We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith." -- Margaret D. Nadauld

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Inigo… Look over here! Inigo… a word with you, please?

Inigo had a cool experience the other day. He, along with some other “orphans” from the play, were interviewed for the newspaper that is published in Guilder.

(We have our own newspaper in Florin, but it’s published only 3 or 4 days  a week. The paper in Guilder is the paper that most people in our area receive for their daily news. It’s readership and coverage is quite large.)

I contacted a reporter there and told her about our production. She was very interested in doing a feature article on us because of the extremely large cast of children that we have. (We have approximately 65 orphans and 20 kids in Fagin’s gang.) She wanted to write an article about activities that kids are doing in the summer.

I love the exposure this gives us and I knew our director would love it too! Free P.R. is something you should NEVER frown upon!

So she came up with her photographer and gathered the kids for a sit-down chat.




I think the article will appear in Friday’s newspaper (July 1). We’re looking forward to reading it and we can’t wait to see what pictures they choose to publish with it!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me

I think the bad-luck-sisters have gotten a hold of our life string
and are having fun playing cat’s cradle with it.

At first the bad luck was almost comical,

We could find the silver lining in it:

1. Max had severe pain in his abdomen/back… heck…. he couldn’t define where it was.
Let’s just call it “torso.”

2. Severe pain lands him in the E.R. in the middle of the night.
Doctors don’t know what’s wrong with him. One doc says kidney stone,
maybe appendicitis or even an infected prostate.
CAT Scan is ordered. Comes back clean. Nothing definitive.

3. Second doctor (surgeon) is called in for a consult in ER.
Diagnosed as “a crazy virus that has kicked Max’s butt.”
We are sent home.

4. Pain gets worse.
ANOTHER doctor appointment. (No ER. It was an office visit.)
This time diagnosis is reflux (I’m sure it was more technical, but I can’t think of the word and it’s late.)

5. In the meantime, I have an appointment with the doctor. I need a prescription renewed and need an office visit to get that done.
In the middle of the exam, the doctor notices an enlarged thyroid.
I’m sent immediately to radiology for an ultrasound.
Diagnosed with Multi Nodular Goiter (benign).
Oh yeah. That’s a sweet sounding diagnosis!
(If I was single, I doubt that would get me any dates.)

6. Max finally feels well enough to drive back to New Florin. After being there a few days, has to go back to Urgent Care due to pain.
This time he insists they do an ultrasound/gall bladder test.
Comes back positive.
(In defense of all the other doctors that saw him, his symptoms were NOT typical of a bad gall bladder. It was an easy diagnosis to miss!)
Surgery is required.

Okay. so what is the silver lining in all of this?


Health Insurance!!

Yeah. All the medical issues stink,
but if any of this had happened 8 months ago,
we’d be SUNK!
There would have been NO WAY we could have paid for any of it!

With Max’s employment, we are VERY BLESSED that we are covered for the major portion of all of the medical care we’ve needed.


The silver lining in THAT portion of the story has been found.

I’m desperately trying to find the silver lining in the next bout The Bad Luck Sister’s have heaped upon us:

The tires on our vehicles.


We have had 6, zes, sei, seis, έξι, 넘버 식스, sechs….
No matter how you say it,
it means
flat tires on our vehicles

here’s the kicker…
It’s been a different tire each time!

Three of the tires have been shredded with no hopes of repair.
(We’re waiting for a verdict on the newest flat that happened to Max today.)

One tire was even on the airplane he rents to fly home in over the weekend.
That was scary.

So, help me…..

What is the silver lining?
Where is the “positive” in all of the “negative” tire popping experiences?

I’m looking but I can’t find it!

And until I do,
will someone PLEASE
take our Life String away from the Bad-Luck-Sisters?

I think they’ve been playing with it for far too long!

(Really…. we’re okay. I just think it’s funny/weird that so many negative things have been happening to us lately. We really haven’t lost our sense of humor about any of it. We just shake our head and ask…
“WHAT NEXT!?!?”)

We still live our live by Max’s motto:

Summer Grounding




It’s warm outside!!

It’s safe to say that summer HAS arrived!

For this week at least.

Sadly, in all this beautiful weather, Inigo got GROUNDED.

He’s such a good kid that he doesn’t usually need punishments that take away his privileges, but he lost them yesterday.

No friends. No electronics.
i.e. No TV or computer.
(We don’t own any hand held computer games.)

That left him with the choice of
wallowing & feeling sorry for himself and sweating inside the house all day
going outside to play.

I think he made the best choice.

He hooked up his new Slip-n-Slide.

And had a blast.

While he was slip slidin’ away, he said to me,
”Mom, this is the BEST GROUNDING EVER!!”




(For some reason he felt the need to wear his wetsuit. I guess it kept him from getting sunburned.)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Out Of The Blue…

The most amazing thing happened tonight.

I’m still scratching my head wondering how the heck it happened.

Because, things like this don’t happen to us.

We’re not particularly “LUCKY” people.

Sure, we feel like we have a very blessed life. We are sincerely grateful for everything we have and acknowledge that Heavenly Father has given us everything.

But, nothing has ever just fallen out of the sky – or walked up to our door – for us.
We have worked (hard) for everything we have.

Tonight, a blessing “walked up to our door.”

8:30 p.m:
I had just returned from my “piglet” ride with Buttercup. I was getting ready to start cleaning the dinner dishes.
Inigo is watching his favorite “Avatar” TV series.

The doorbell rings.

I’m thinking it’s Bro. Opie.
Inigo left a piano book over at his house and he said he’d return it to us tonight.

(Note to self: I need to go over to Opie’s house and pick up that piano book!)

I opened the door and there was a stranger there.
A safe enough looking man.
Clean, nicely dressed.
Trim haircut.

He says to me,
”I see you have a Ford Ranger in your drive-way. I’m wondering if it’s for sale.”

{Cue angels in heaven singing the Hallelujah chorus.}

See, this Ford Ranger that is in our driveway is a P.O.J.
(Piece of Junk)
We actually call it P.J. for that reason.

We tried to give it to Buttercup for her 16th birthday,
but she didn’t want any part of that vehicle.

“You’re giving me P.J.?”

° It’s ugly.
° There is no A/C in it.
° The radio doesn’t work.
° There are some pretty major dents in the body.
° It runs, but it we don’t drive it often enough that it starts when we need it to.
(Translated: it always needs a jump)
° And the best part, when we drive it “long distances” (out to the dump) it backfires
when we shift it into 3rd gear.
° It’s always humorous to watch people hit the ground when you drive by.
It sounds like they’re getting shot at.

So, P.J. always sits in our driveway. Waiting to be driven, but never getting that opportunity.

I’m sure the neighbors love it.

True, we always leave the keys in it, in case any of them ever need to haul anything to the dump. We say if they can get it started, they can have it!

But it’s not the most attractive thing to look at.

That’s why I was surprised when this nice gentleman asked if it was for sale.

A few months ago, when Max purchased his GMC pick-up, we decided we didn’t
need P.J. anymore.
He put an add on Craig’s List and generated a little interest.
Someone even contacted him and said if he had a pay-pal account, they’d deposit the asking price and send someone over to haul it away… sight unseen.
No dickering over the price.

It felt fishy.
And weird.
Max declined.

And P.J. stayed in our driveway.

I talked to this man for a few minutes.
I tell him the price Max had it listed for and follow it with what I think it’s worth, which is 1/2 of Max’s asking price.
I also tell him everything that’s wrong with it. (See above list.)
I realize that I would never survive as a car salesman.

The man offered $150 less than my price.
He said he’d write a check right then if I’d take his offer.

True, the offer is 1/3 of what Max originally wanted, but really…
it truly is a good deal!!

Before anyone thinks I was taken advantage of, I will tell you why he was so interested in our little Ford Ranger:

He’s a farmer.
He has other Ford Rangers on his farm.
They seem to be reliable trucks for him and even if this thing doesn’t work, he can take it and use it for parts.

I felt good about it and about the honesty of the man.

But I can’t make a deal without first discussing it with Max.
I can’t get a hold of Max on the phone.
I realize, after getting Nice Man’s phone number and Nice Man leaves, that if I need to contact my husband in a hurry, I need to call him on his cell phone – not his office phone. (Apparently I wasn’t paying attention to what number I was dialing.)


Max agrees to the deal, calls Nice Man and shakes hands over the phone.
Nice man will send someone over to pick it up in the morning. And they will even take the “junk” that is sitting in the back (an old broken plastic swimming pool, yard debris, etc).

by 9:30 p.m.
our little pick-up was sold.

Without even trying.

Things like that don’t happen to us!

It’s truly a blessing!!

Too bad I don’t have a picture of it to put on here. It’s in the background of a lot of pics I have, but I have never taken a picture of the truck alone.
I’ll have to do that in the morning, before it drives off into the sun.

Good-bye, P.J.!

Remember This?


This is my 2009 Mother’s Day present.
We had a blast driving it that year.

Amazingly, we all survived. :)

The subsequent winter wasn’t great for our little “Piglet”, however.

We didn’t winterize it properly, so when spring 2010 came,
it wouldn’t start.

It sat in storage all last summer. We didn’t know who to call to fix it and
didn’t know how to fix it ourselves.
(It shared storage space with our boat and every time we went boating, I’d gaze
longingly at it, wishing I could drive it once again.)

This year Max decided he’d just start calling and harassing everyone to see
if there was a repair department that would even look at it.



He took it in and they fixed it!!
Well… they fixed the carburetor problem and something else, but they weren’t
able to find the parts needed to fix the right brake.

But it runs!
And, as long as you don’t need the right brake,


So, tonight I took it for the first ride in a year.


Oh yeah.


But I stuck to the side roads and kept it at 30 mph
and before too long I started to feel pretty

Next up, I’m going to purchase a nice little retro-helmet (I want to be safe) and before you know it,
they’ll be calling me

Va- Va- Voom Valerie!

Friday, June 3, 2011

“I’ll Just Fast, Mom.”

A couple weeks ago, my neighbor – who is an instructor and coach at The University – gave a  talk about one of his former athletes. She was on the track team and worked very hard to be good at her sport. She came to every practice, gave her best effort and afterward, would always come up to the coach and say, “What more can I do? What can I do to be better?”

She did very well at her various meets and eventually ended up competing at a national level.

She knew her competition was tough, so before her specific race started, (once around the track, running hurdles) she walked up to the coaches and asked, “What can I do to win this race?”

They decided that her strategy would be to start off fast and hard at the BEGINNING of the race, run it hard all the way, and that hopefully that would give her enough of a lead to win. She knew it was going to be tough, so after they made their plan, she disappeared for a few minutes, presumably to gather her thoughts.

The race finally began. While the other runners in her competition started off gradually, planning for the sprint at the end, she took off like a bolt of lightening. Crossing the first hurdle, she was a step ahead of everyone. When she got to the second hurdle, she was a hurdle length ahead of everyone. By the third hurdle, she had a significant lead.

She was able to keep that lead for a while, but then she started getting tired. My neighbor said he could see she was losing her stride. Her legs began shaking, she was losing her rhythm. The other runners started catching up to her.

Finally, at the end of the race, it was a photo finish. Enough people had caught up to this young lady that it took a couple minutes to determine who the winner actually was. It was finally announced that this girl had won and not only was victory hers, but she had set a new national record!

Everyone was so happy!

When things had calmed down a bit, my neighbor took this girl aside and asked her, “Where did you go for those few minutes before your race started?”

She told him that she found a quiet spot underneath the bleachers where she could pray. She said she told Heavenly Father that she had done everything she could do to prepare for the race that day and that she couldn’t improve anymore. She asked Heavenly Father to take over and help her win the race.

She then told my neighbor that at the end of the race, she had nothing left in her. She had run out of energy and stamina and that there was no way her legs could have kept working. She said that she KNOWS that Heavenly Father carried her the final steps of the race and gave her the push over the finish line to win.

It was a nice story.

My son DRANK IT UP. He loved it!

Last week was his piano recital.

His FIRST piano recital to be precise.

He was ready. He practices 1/2 hour, 5 days  a week (heavily encouraged by me.)  :)

He had his pieces memorized the second week after he got them. By the 3rd or 4th week, he had them mostly polished. He was tired of them and bored by the 5th week.

Translated: HE WAS READY!

But, he was still nervous. It was his first time to play the piano in front of an audience. (“Did Michael Jackson get nervous, Mom?”)

A couple hours before the recital I said to Inigo, “Let’s eat some dinner, then we’ll say a prayer so you’ll feel more calm.”

His response was, “No, Mom. I think I’m just going to fast. Remember that story that Bro. W told in Sacrament Meeting? I need to fast so I can show Heavenly Father that I have enough faith so he can help me play my songs in my recital.”

(Then he asked if he just held his hands over the piano keys, would Heavenly Father just make them play?)

This kid amazes me.

He. Just. Has Faith. It’s second nature to him.
I don’t teach him.
He teaches me.
I don’t know why we were so blessed to have this child in our home, but I am very grateful that he is here.

Once we got to the room where the recital was, he seemed calm. He told me he felt okay, but told Steck that he was a bit nervous.

When it was finally his turn (that’s a long story: Max was flying to Florin so he could be here for the recital, but there was a pretty brisk headwind, so it took him a bit longer to arrive. He landed about 20 minutes after the recital started. Inigo’s wonderful teacher moved him around on the program, so that once Max finally arrived, Inigo got up to play his first song!)

When it was finally Inigo’s turn to play his first song, Star Wars Theme Song, he walked up to the piano, sat down and aced it!

He played it BEAUTIFULLY!!

We were so proud!

His second song was just as nice. (The teacher had gotten distracted by then, and we had to remind him that Inigo had one more song to play.)

Afterward we asked him how he felt.
He said he felt calm and that he wasn’t scared at all.
Did he feel like Heavenly Father helped him?


Did I learn another lesson from my 8 year old son?



Little Miss DooLittle takes from the same teacher.
She did an amazing job as well!


Here they are with their teacher
Brother Opie.
I’m so sad I couldn’t get this picture to turn out better.
(I think the white board behind them was messing my lighting up.)