Friday, January 30, 2009


Everyone put on your thinking caps - PLEASE!

I am trying to think of something fun and creative to do for my husband for Valentine's Day. I have found that creative and personal gifts mean far more to him that all the cool gadgets that I like to buy for him and I am just feeling lost about what to do.

Kerry with Martha's mom and my mom, the picture was his idea, he is such a kiss up!

So, any ideas? I would be most grateful.

Not-so-cold Corporate America

Once in a while, something so wonderful happens that I can't help but share. This something came from a most unexpected place - the big cold world that we call Corporate America.

Before I get to the wonderful part, I have to start with some sad news. I have some very good friends, (no I don't have to pay them - very much) Bruce and Kim. In early October Bruce was diagnosed with cancer and a couple of weeks ago he returned to our Father in Heaven. Bruce was a wonderful man who loved everyone he knew, even Kim (sorry Kim couldn't help it). OK, OK Kim is also pretty great and truly a good friend to me.

As if the stresses of battling cancer and loosing a loved one are not enough, the financial strain can sometimes seem too much to bear. Medical bills, funeral costs, missed work, and in Kim's case the added stress of going from a two income household to a one income household. It can leave a grieving person with a choice between going back to work before he or she is ready or going weeks without pay.

OK, this is where the cool part starts. Kim works for a wonderful company, "Allegiant Air." When they got the news that Bruce had passed they immediately did a fundraiser for her and raised $2,000 in cash for her. A few days later, the Vice President of the company called her and told her they were planning to pay her minimum flight hours (probably more that 3/4 of her regular pay) until she was ready to return to work. Not because it was company policy, but because they cared! Imagine that. At the funeral, no one could help noticing that at least a dozen of Kim's coworkers all dressed in their snappy blue "uniform" suits were in attendance. In fact I heard several comments like, "who is flying the planes today" and "WOW, wouldn't it be great to work for a company that supported their employees like that." As if all of this wasn't enough, Kim just read on the employee website that they are planning another fund raiser. Is that awesome or what?

Kim with a few of her Allegiant Airlines Friends

Now, you should all know that I was a Die-Hard Southwest Airlines (SW) flier before all of this happened. In fact, if I had to fly somewhere that SW didn't fly to I have been known to drive up to three hours in order to avoid flying another airline. Now, I can't help thinking that a company that takes care of it's employees like that deserves my business. So, from now on, if I have to fly, I am going to see if there is an Allegiant flight available before taking a Southwest flight. Hopefully some of you will too.

Today I am grateful for Allegiant Airlines and the way they have taken care of my friend Kim in her time of need.

Does anyone else know of a company that has gone so far above and beyond to take care of it's employees or customers? If you do, leave a comment, let's recognize them.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Anything can be fun

Those who know me know that I can have fun doing just about anything. Those who know me best, know that I can nearly always turn it into a game or competition. I knew this attribute was beginning to rub off on the children when I asked them all what was the most fun thing we had done as a family since Kerry and I got married and one of them said "washing the dishes together." You can faint if you want to, I almost did. Truly, I was just as shocked as you are, especially since we took them to Disneyland only a few months previous.

So now you are wondering how in the world you get a child to say that washing dishes is fun, right? Well, I am not sure of an exact formula, but here are some of the things that are vital components (I think).

1. Do it all together; everyone has a job - In our family there are too many people to have just one washing, rinsing, drying, and putting away. So, being the efficiency expert, I couldn't help noticing where the bottle neck in the process was and stacking kids there. Usually, I wash (unless someone didn't clear their plate after dinner and then they have to wash and I rinse). One child rinses, three children dry, and Kerry has to put them away.

2. Laugh a lot - Usually someone is getting wet (usually me because the child that is rinsing "accidentally" sprays me). Also because I usually find a way to get the ones who laugh the loudest wet too.

3. Sing silly songs

4. Talk to each other - Sometimes I will ask the children, "so, what is the best thing that happened to you today", or "What is the funniest thing that happened at school today". Once we were doing this and the children were were actually disappointed when we were done with the dishes (probably a sign I need to spend more time talking to them).

5. Play a game - Typically our game is try to stack the dishes up and get dad behind. The kids think it is hilarious when we all get done and Kerry still has a few dishes left to put away. He, of course, plays the victim role for them, whining about how he is always the last one done - this makes them laugh every time.

OK so last night we added a new dimension to our dish washing games, everyone tries to guess the exact time we will be done with the dishes and I write it down and see who is the closest to the actual time. When we were writing down our times Carmen said "I am going to guess the exact same time as Mom, if she is right I am also right, and if I loose, she will have to admit she is wrong. It's a win-win! (For the record Carmen and I were both right). Last night we actually finished in exactly 9 minutes! Tobias was trying to change his time because he realized how quickly we were going to get finished so I asked him if he would rather be be wrong or be a cheater he smiled and said, "I'd rather be a cheater" OK looking back it was a really bad question. Still, it made us laugh.

Life is great! Especially when you find ways to turn mundane chores of life into family fun.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Nancy has a blog!!!

I am so excited! My friend Nancy has a blog. Today there is only one entry there, but I am hoping that this is a place where she will often share her wisdom and insight with me and any one else who will take the time to check in once in a while. I know she would be happy to share with any of you, so feel free to check it out.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Things are about as good as you decide . .

Some of you may wonder why our families blog is titled "It's a Great Life." Well, we have a great life - that's why. Not because nothing difficult happens in our family, but because of a conscience decision to say it is great and believe it.

We all know people who focus on the negative. I actually have a book that has labeled them "Negaholics." Those people who have something wrong in their lives no matter when you ask them. When you show up to work Monday morning and ask them how they are doing, the very best they can say is "Not bad for a Monday" and then you walk away relieved, 'cause it could have been so much worse.

Well, I don't want a "not bad" life. I choose for things to be GREAT! So I say they are great. I have a friend that always makes an excuse for me to be great. I will ask her how she is doing and she will just sigh and say, "you know . . ." Then when she asks me and I tell her I am great, she usually says, "of course you are, you just got a great new job" or "you just got married" or whatever my latest good news is.

Last week, not too long after my job ended, I ran into her . Kerry and I had been trying to figure out what to do about our finances and had begun to come to the conclusion that we would probably loose the house in QC (she had no idea about any of that). She asked me how I was and I said "fantastic." Then she said, "well of course, you are still a newlywed with a great new family." Isn't that funny?

For everyone who is waiting around for perfect circumstances so they can also have a great life,quit waiting and decide to be grateful. There are plenty of things to be glad about. I have a great life and I think if you will look carefully - so do you!

I can't help thinking of one of my favorite President Gordon B. Hinckley quotes:

"Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around and shouting that he has been robbed. The fact of the matter is that most putts don't drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to be just people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey...delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride."

Words to live by.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Brainwashed Children

Well, I am reaping the benefits of being a stay-at-home mom. On Friday I had the opportunity to go with Serena's 4th grade class on a field trip to the zoo (forgot the camera - again). I drove the family minivan with Serena and three of her classmates one and a half hours to the Tucson Zoo. We had a great time doing the scavenger hunt that Mrs. Grisham had prepared for them. I have never seen children more interested in reading all of the zoo signs as they looked for something that lives in the mountains, something that lives in groups, and about 20 other items. When we were all done looking at the animals and were gathering back together Serena had this conversation with her teacher and I.

Serena: Mrs. Grisham, mom is always right!
Mrs. Grisham (to me): Wow, you really do have them all trained.
Me: Well, not trained really, more like brainwashed
Serena: Actually, we aren't ALL completely trained, sometimes we still have to remind dad.

Poor Kerry, I wonder if he ever feels outnumbered?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Not to be rude but . . .

Has anyone else ever noticed that any statement following "not to be ___________ but, is exactly what the person said they are trying not to be. For instance "not to be rude but," rude statement coming up! Or "not to be disrespectful but . . ." guaranteed disrespectful statement to follow. One of my personal favorites is "I don't want to gossip but," Isn't that funny? Of course they want to gossip or they wouldn't be passing on the information. The worst part is that I don't think anything that has ever followed a "not to be _________ but," statement was something that needed to be said.

Perhaps this is a pet peeve of mine because I feel so strongly that using the word "but," is just negative anyway. If someone says, "I really like your new haircut but, it is a little too short". . ." Don't we just really hear them say "I think your hair is too short?" Really, everything we say before the word "but" is pretty much erased by that word. (hint: try replacing the word "but" with the word "and" and see how much less argumentative your conversations are). The "I don't want to be rude but," statement is even worse, It screams at the listener "I AM ABOUT TO SAY SOMETHING RUDE!!"

Suggestion, if we have something to say and have to start it with the statement "I don't want to be: rude, disrespectful, petty, judgmental or any other negative personality trait" statement and you really don't want to be those things, just don't say it.

OK, that is my soap box for the day.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Be Careful What You Pray For

Have you ever heard anyone say, be careful what you pray for cause you just might get it? Well, I just want to take a moment and say, THAT IS ABSOLUTELY TRUE! And I am so grateful that it is.
Most of you know that Kerry and I have been married for almost 9 months now. When we got married he had a job and some empty acreage in one town and was renting the house that he and the children were living in. I had a house that was worth a LOT less than I owed on it in a town that is a three hour drive from his and a job that kept me out of town for a week at a time. The good news was I could live anywhere as long as I could get to an airport to go to work. So we kept both homes and both jobs with the hopes that he would be able to locate work somewhere near my house so we could give up the rental and maintain only one house. Then I could stop working and stay at home and be the mom. So for eight months we have been praying "Father, we want to have a mother in our home full time, please help up know how we can get down to one income and make this happen" Well, apparently the Lord decided that what we needed was a little leap of faith and not necessarily a plan. About 2 weeks before Christmas the my boss called me up and said that there would not be any work for me in 2009 and I would have to be laid-off. Well, my last day as a working mom was last Tuesday and I feel GREAT! It is so wonderful to get to Sunday afternoon with my family and not have to get packed and get to an airport.
Now some of you might be wondering, what about the houses and all that "important" stuff from before. Well, we still don't know. We are still working on that one. I do know that I am right where I should be right now and I am very happy about that! Great blessings sometimes come packaged as difficulties and trials. So please don't start feeling sorry for me about getting laid off from my job, it truly is a wonderful blessing! I am grateful.

Monday, January 5, 2009

True Friends Appreciate Their Differences

Today in Relief Society the lesson was about being a friend. Certainly, that is a subject that is apt to make one consider many of the amazing blessings in one’s life. As several of the women spoke about people who had been good friends to them it made me think of many who have blessed my life; my husband and children, parents, siblings, special cousins, aunts and uncles, and certainly many who are outside of my family (come on, don’t make me name names, you know who you are). Truly I have been blessed with an abundance of people in my life who I love and trust. I am grateful.

Then someone stood up and spoke of a close friend who had touched her life for good and ended her thoughts with this statement. “True friends appreciate their differences.” Wow! That rang true with me. While I am sure there are many that fit in this category, it made me think of only one person - my friend Nancy. Certainly we are different, but our similar core values make us able to employ these differences in a way that is both useful and uplifting. Often she sees things differently than I do, and I can go to her to get a better perspective on things. Well, at that point I was lost in my own thoughts and can not remember another word that was spoken in Relief Society, a bad habit that I really am trying to overcome. I spent the remainder of the meeting trying to figure out what makes Nancy’s perspective so valuable to me. Or in other words, why do some peoples differences make me shy away from their “advice” and the differences that Nancy and I have make me seek out her opinion. The answer is quite simple - Nancy is a true friend, in every possible way. Here is a list of things about Nancy that make her a true friend, and things that I am going to try to get better at so that I can be a better friend to everyone in my life.

"A friend is someone who knows the song of your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words"

1. She listens: She listens to my words lets me finish before she begins speaking. She listens to my heart and knows where my words are coming from and then speaks more to my feelings than my words.
2. She is unselfish: Nancy’s opinion about my decisions NEVER includes what is best for Nancy. In fact she is better than anyone else at separating her feelings from my decisions. Sometimes she says things like, “You know what I would want you to do, but this isn’t about me” Aaaah, refreshing.
3. She never tries to lead me away from my center: Nancy and I are not the same denomination, but we are both Christian and share the same perspective on every aspect of the Gospel that we have discussed (at least I think so) She is pure in heart and wants to stay close to the Lord and wants to help the people she knows stay close the Lord also. She would never encourage me to do something that would take me farther away from the spirit.
4. Nancy is happy: Have you ever noticed that happy people want the people around them to be happy and miserable people . . . well you get where that goes. One day a coworker of mine, who didn’t know Nancy but, knew of my friendship with her said to me, “Have you ever noticed how Nancy can brighten someone’s day just by saying hello to them?” Well it is because she is happy and she exudes positivity.
5. She is trust worthy: When Nancy gives me her word, I don’t have to wonder if she means it. I can share things with her that I am not ready to tell the rest of the world, because I know she will keep my confidence. I can do business with her because I know she will be honest and fair.

So, I have decided that I am going to try to be more like Nancy. My friend, if you read this, please know of my gratitude for your friendship and example. You are wonderful.