Thursday, June 28, 2012

Excuse Me, Nora Ephron--Can I Have Your Attention?

Dear Ms. Ephron,
I just read your book, "I Feel Bad About My Neck"
and I just wanted you to know that before I read this,
I never even noticed my neck,
that's right--
I took my neck for granted!--
but now that I've read it,
it's all I can do to NOT 
look at my neck.

Dear Ms. Nora Ephron,
I just love your book,
"I Feel Bad About My Neck".
As a woman who is closer to fifty
than forty,
I'm right there with ya sister,.

Hello, Ms. Ephron, can I call you Nora?
Are you currently needing a new friend?
How about a Momza to seven yahoos 
who lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado?
Yes OR No
Circle One.

Hey Girlfriend!
Are you busy this next week?
Let's do lunch!
Do you like Olive Garden's bread sticks?

Hello There!
My name is Momza,Dawn,
and I'm a huge fan!
Can we do lunch sometime--
in New York
at your favorite restaurant
and will you gab my ears off?
You seem like a really naturally fascinating woman
and while I am not all-that-and-a-bag-of-chips,
I think we'd get along really swell.
Whaddya say??

I clean up pretty good,
and I do have some wildly, mildly
interesting stories that I'd love to share over
my yahoos,
my folks,
my Zumba classes--say, do you Zumba?
It is so stinkin' fun!
I think I could hold my own in the gab department too,
but hey,
this isn't about ME,
it's all about you, you, you.
I've heard New York is beautiful in the Fall.
Eagerly awaiting your call,
Your Number One Fan in Colorado!

Hmmmm.......too much?

*In remembrance of Ms. Ephorn, this is a re-post from 2011. Looks like I'll have to wait to get to meet her someday.

Waldo Canyon Fire In Real Time

The Waldo Canyon fire is travelling north of the Air Force Academy--
it's literally across the street (I-25) from our neighborhood.
We can see the Chapel from our house
and the beautiful mountain range behind it.
We didn't think the fire would reach the AFA.
Certainly didn't think (and still hoping it doesn't) reach Monument.

Monument and Palmer Lake are under "pre-evacuation" notice.

When that notice was given yesterday,
Mr. Wonderful came home from work early
and together,
our family packed up treasures and necessities
just in case that fire crossed came to our side.

Ari packed and re-packed her Build-A-Bears.
Joseph fretted about not being able to take his humongous
trebuchet he just built in Summer Camp,
as well as his army tank collection.
Dara--well, she's 17, so everything she owns is "priceless",
so we just told her how much space she could have and
left it to her to decide how to fill it.

I walked around the house looking for
"what means the most" to me--
not alot.
Photo albums, for sure.
A couple of journals.
Our family portraits.
Some jewelry.
What would not be packed to go with us
are just two things--
sentimental Christmas ornaments
and my favorite red dishes.

This fire and smoke has given me an opportunity
to see things
I don't need all the things I think I do
to be happy.
Oh yeah, stuff makes life easier,
for sure.
But when it comes down to it,
I can survive with alot less.

We went to bed watching the mountain range,
which earlier in the day
was billowing with smoke,
but at nightfall looked calm
after hours of C-130s flying over and dropping
slurry and water.
It was a comforting feeling to go to bed
without seeing orange flames on the mountainside.

So many people are praying for our part of the world!
So many family and friends have extended their faith and love
for our people and land...
you just have to know that those of us who live here,
our city and our mountains.
We are a faith-filled community--
we are a patriotic people--
so many of our citizens have fought on foreign soil
to protect our country.
So to see our beautiful mountains on fire
grieves our souls.
Our community food banks and shelters are "overwhelmed"
with donations and offers of service.

Prayers have been heard and answered.
Where Colorado Springs has had record-setting high temps
this past week,
it is finally cooling down and clear skies today.
Our leaders who are fighting this fire
are encouraging and hopeful
that their efforts will not be hampered today
by extreme weather.

That's all great news for us
as you can imagine.

Yesterday looked bleak.
We calmly directed the family
to be prepared,
to be ready,
to be faithful.

Kent nor I ever got emotional
in the process.
That was important for our children,
we believe,
to assure them of their safety.
We still made meals,
still did chores,
still worked and played.
We had the kids water down the fence and the wood chips in the back yard.
We had them turn the sprinklers on twice.
Letting them participate was/is important.

The fires are still burning,
over 18,500 acres, with 5% containment.
Pre-evacs, Mandatory evacs are still in place.
But there have been no new ones.
It's going to be a long battle to contain the whole thing
but I have hope that soon enough
this whole tragedy will be over,
and our community can get busy helping our neighbors
who've lost everything
put their lives back together.

Thank you for your prayers.
Please continue to offer them for us.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Waldo Canyon Fire in my Beautiful Colorado Springs

My Beautiful Colorado Springs is on fire tonight.
We can see the blaze from our house,
altho it is about three miles away from us,
just on the west side of the highway.

The Waldo Canyon fire started on Saturday afternoon.
We thought it'd stay in the forrested canyon.
We even had been given a projected containment date--
July 16th.
Then, it all changed a little after 4pm today,
when the winds changed
and started a fury that sent the fire up and over the ridge
and into our neighborhoods.
The sky was completely black and red...
I have never seen anything like it before.

Landmarks and homes are now embers.
The Air Force Academy is being evacuated as I type this--
and we have been cautioned to get our 72 hour kits together
just in case.

We've been on our knees
and on our toes tonight.

Arianna has been crying in fear of what might be,
so she is sleeping at the foot of our bed.

I've been waiting for the phone call to ask us to house some evacuees
all day long,
never thinking that we might be leaving our own home.

If you're inclined to pray,
we could sure use some rain.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Mission Call!

Can you tell how happy this new
"Sister Johnson" is?

Her face says it all--
it's exactly where she wanted to go.
A really really good day!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Mother's Absence

It doesn't happen often.

Only on special days--
days when I gave birth to my children,
days when sickness fills my home
and I'm unusually tired.
Days like today...
one of my daughters is receiving
her mission call.

I woke up early this morning,
with thoughts of her.
My mother.

I rolled over in bed,
trying to push away these feelings
of needing, wanting, wishing
for a mother.

I feel around with my feet
the warmth of the covers--
hoping to comfort myself
so the pangs of her absence
recede as subtly as they arrived this morning--
this very special day for me
and my family.

Comfort doesn't come,
I leave the warmth of covers
and look out the window to the West--
the sun rising, bouncing off my beautiful, strong, Pikes Peak.
Again, I try to comfort myself--
I am in my fiftieth year.
I don't need to be "mothered",
I have dear friends who care for me,
who have filled in for that spot of mother
many times over the years,
and will gladly fill in that spot today
when we find out where my daughter is
going to serve her eighteen-month mission.
Women who will be excited for me and mine.
It's enough.

It has to be.

Alcoholism and mental illness stole my mother from me
a long long time ago.
She lives in a world that doesn't include me.
Addictions are so selfish they don't allow for
family relationships.
I know this.
I know this.

I know this.
And yet, since I was just a very little girl,
I have longed for a mother.

I was taught not to need one--
her absence and addictions were very good teachers.

And I have gotten through this life
having learned my lessons quite well.
But every so often,
babies were born,
when I saw my daughter standing in front of a full-length mirror
in a white silk wedding gown,
or the day she became a mother,
I wanted to celebrate with my own mother
"Isn't she beautiful, Mom?" I want to say outloud.

The day I found out my son has cerebral palsy,
I sat alone.
Weeping in my car,
feeling out to the Universe for comfort.
There was no mother to lean into,
to lean upon
or soft shoulders to cry into.
That just wasn't my reality.

The night we welcomed my son home from his mission.
The day he asked me to go with him to pick out the engagement ring
for his sweetheart.
And the day he knelt across an altar and pledged his love
forever and always.

There's this part of me
that wants to show her what I've done
with my life,
somehow, some little hope
that she would be proud of the good I've done,
while she's been away.
 That whole, "Look Mom! Look what I've done!"--
seeking approval or acceptance or a place
in her world.

You can't get to be my age
and not have a few special days along the way
where having a mother would be super nice.

Addictions and mental illness are cruel teachers.

But today is a day of celebration!
I will shrug off these thoughts
and turn my attention to the events of the day.
We will not think about her absence.
I will not mention her name or
utter the ache in the corner of my heart
that speaks of her absence.
Like so many days before.
I got this.

today my husband and children will gather together
and encircle our daughter and sister
as she opens a large white envelope
and reads outloud her mission call.
We'll laugh and cheer
and grab a map!
We'll have treats n' share hugs and tears
and this moment will be ours to breathe in
and burst open!
We'll pray together and bless this day.
It will be the stuff of memories
this day in my life.
And for my mother,
who lives in her own world,
it will be just another day.
A day where she won't even know
that her only daughter is celebrating
another joy in life that only comes along
once in awhile.
And though her addictions close her off
from family,
noone else can take the place reserved
just for her.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addictions,
there is help.
Oh please reach out for it.
Here are some places to start a new life:

Addiction Recovery Program
Alcoholics Anonymous
Mental Health America

Monday, June 11, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up

I finally finished the custom valance!
It looks pretty sweet.
Of course, I notice the imperfections
and stew over those,
(do you do that?)
thinking of ways to fix them
the next time I go over to L's house--
which will be when I finish making
a matching valance for a kitchen/diningroom window.

I learned so much from the experience.
It was great for my old brain to try something new.
I'd never made covered buttons before (easy peasy).
Never used lining before. ( a little tricky.)
Never used a mounting board instead of a curtain rod before.
Never made a tailored, buttoned-down, pleated valance before.
And I did all of that.

Pictures to come!

Dani and Mr. Idaho came down on Friday night
for a surprise visit.
Mr. Idaho has one more week of a field session
and then they're off to Houston, Texas for his new job.
I am going to miss their beautiful little family
more than I can say.
Already been pricing flights from Denver to Houston
for my future visits.
As soon as they arrived,
I shoo-ed Dani & her sweetheart out the door for a date,
so that we could hog the babies all we wanted for the evening.
Dani was so excited that she told Brad she was going
"with or without you!"
We may or may not have let Garrett sit on our bed
and watch TV with us until 9:54pm.
With a cookie in his little two-years-old hand.
mwah hah hah...

They all left mid-afternoon Saturday
once the mailman had come
and there wasn't a big, white envelope
in the mailbox.

Last night,
we had company for dinner--
Nana made a Salad Bar for us
and I put a chicken on the rotisserie.
Our company was a young gal who
was recently baptized.
Just a refreshing young woman
that has seen alot of things and done alot of things
in her young life
and is so entirely grateful for her blessings.
Because Nana and Mr W and I are ward missionaries,
we got to teach her the Plan of Salvation
from Preach My Gospel.
Nana led the discussion and we just chimed in
along the way.
I love hearing my children share their testimonies
of the Gospel.
They radiate happiness and light.

A great way to spend a Sunday evening.

And here it is, a new week waiting for tons of adventures!
And believe me,
there is a list!

What was the best thing about your weekend?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The One In Which I Apologized

I have made a major gaffe
on this here lil blog o' mine.
And when I say "major",
I mean,
depending on whom you talk to,
I made a mistake.
Perspective is everything.

I was let in on this faux pas
by none other than my

I failed to realize/acknowledge/gloat-in-my-own-popularity
that more than 6 people
read this blog,

I see the stats,
I do.
N' I know that more than a few hundred lost souls
come here via various search terms,
only to leave sad and disappointed
by the lack of relative association
and relevant information
they are in fact,
looking for...
So for that, I apologize dear people from
faraway lands across the planet
that I am neither relatable nor relevant
to what you're looking for.

I am basing my account of 6 readers,
n' I do so by the number of comments I receive on any given day.
Six is actually high these days,
but still, I reckon my calculations are pretty fair.

I am dead wrong in my assumption.
As the person-who-shall-not-be-named
has informed me--
she has friends who read my blog--
Young adults who frequent my lil' peice o' scrambled-egg-homemade-crockery. flattered. and slightly bewildered.
I had no stinkin' idea that anyone under the age of 25 would find an ounce of interest
on this blog page.
And because of that degree of ignorance,
I shared something here,
that was not going to be shared by the "she" that has been previously mentioned,
until an actual large, white, envelope
postmarked from Salt Lake City, Utah
was both delivered and read by
the Addressee,
in this case, it would be a young Celine Dion fan,
who likes to run marathons, text all the livin' long day,
and considers chocolate another food group.

In her words,
and I most emphatically quote,
"Mom cannot keep a secret!"

It's true.
I hung my noggin in full shame and declared to her,
"I had no idea your friends read my blog. How cool is that?!"
And then I apologized for sharing that which was,
technically not my news to share;
even though I was in labor for 9 long hours,
and had an un-medicated, natural birth
for the above-noted "she".
Even though,
for the past 21 years, 9 months
I have prayed and paid her way through
this mortal life.
Clearly, I have over-stepped my boundaries
in sharing my excitement
with my six known-followers
on this tiny little blog that gets a few hundred hits a day.
I need to take a minute and reconsider my attempts
to record my pride and exuberance
over the choices such a lovely child o' mine would make
in her young life.

So this is it--
I feel real bad about this.
Almost as bad as I felt in labor with you, dear child.
Especially the part where I let out a scream at the end
when my body pushed out a 8 pound 5 ounce human being.
But that was then,
and this is now.
And a secret, even a dumb one, is still a dumb secret that is not mine to tell.

p.s. The mailman has yet to deliver that big,white envelope. And when he does, I am bound to wait
to share the sacred destination of her mission until she has made 3 phone calls: 1st goes to a person known as "The Big O", 2nd goes to "Wild One" and 3rd to someone whom I cannot remember.  After that, I have permission to shout it from the rooftops.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Times

Yesterday was a day of memories.

Of course, it didn't start out that way.
It started out to be just an ordinary, nuthin-to-do-kinda day.

We ran a couple of errands
in different directions.
But eventually, around noon,
all the girls were home,
while Joseph was with his buddy Nate
down at the fishin' pond
as he usually is every summer day.

But the girls were home with me;
and I was busy all day long
finishing up a sewing project
that took over the dining room table.

I'm making a custom valance and matching kitchen window valance
for a very sweet friend of mine. (Hi Lynnel!)
I've never made custom window treatments like the ones I'm making
and so it's taken me a long stinkin' time to get this right.
Did you know that other than a sewing machine, scissors, and thread,
a seam-ripper is a really important tool
if you're a novice seamstress like me?

I mean, I can sew square things with the best of 'em, no prob, Bob.
But, anything beyond that and it gets tricky.

that's what I was doing:
the entire dining room is covered in fabric,
an ironing board,
a little fan (to quell the hot flashes)
a little stereo and a stack of cd's
all of my girls.

Singing with the cd's blaring,
and in general just doing nothing but laying around
the table on the floor with pillows
and snacks.

I handed the cd case to Nana
n' told her to be the DJ essentially,
to keep the music flowing.
Since it's my  cd case,
we listened to Celine Dion,
Dixie Chicks,
Sleepless in Seattle soundtrack,
Rascal Flatts,
for starters.

Dinner time rolled around,
n' I was still sewing.
The girls were given charge to make dinner,
and made "Shepherd's Pie"--a total comfort food.
Mr. W came home from work,
ate dinner on the very end of the table,
the only cleared place available,
and didn't mind the mess one bit.
He chatted with all of us girls,
for a long while,
'til Joseph came home then the two of them went upstairs
to watch "Swamp People" on TV.

The girls talked and teased and laughed--
sometimes I didn't even know what for,
cuz ya know, I was focused on sewing,
but it was just the absolute closeness and sounds of giggling
that made it so nice to be together
in the diningroom.

We lamented that our oldest, Danielle, wasn't there.
She's a Mom now and doesn't get to just
sit around and do nothing.
She's busy chasing her boys and being a wife.
Diana said, she's gonna miss these kinda days
when she goes on her mission--
which btw, we still don't know where she's going.
I went to the mailbox twice yesterday,
and even caught up with the mail lady at another set of mailboxes,
to have her check for a big white envelope.
Nuthin' yet.

Diana's had her own trials--
that ironically began as soon as she decided
to go on a mission--
she sprained her ankle training for a Tough Mudder marathon,
then got strep throat and scarlett fever in the same week,
then fractured her wrist and ended up spraining her neck,
also training--
which forced her doctor to counsel her NOT to participate at all
in the Tough Mudder this weekend. Tomorrow.
She was feeling bummed out (and hurt) most of this week,
but especially yesterday,
and yet, by the end of the evening,
she was "okay" with the situation.
Laughing at Life with your sisters can have that effect,
I guess.
Time allows for perspective.
Shepherd's Pie is comforting.

We laughed as we thought about some of our good friends
who are taking their summer vacations
to the far reaches of the world--
and here we are, gathered in the diningroom,
having such a good time
doing nothing that requires a suitcase or a passport.
That is just not the reality of our life.
There isn't an excess of money just laying around
waiting to be used up for vacations.
Our funds are spoken for--
we have a missionary that we're gearing up,
and small things like tennis lessons,
and fishing gear,
and new brakes for my car,
n' boring stuff like that.
Ordinary life, people.
Ordinary life with an emphasis on Summer Time.
Sharing silly things and the part of ourselves
that only we "get" and appreciate.

It reminds me of that saying,
"We may not have it all together,
but together we have it all."

These are the best times.

What's the best memories of your family times?

Monday, June 4, 2012


Mr W and I received a new calling in the ward
a couple of weeks ago.
It's to be ward missionaries.

Now, I have always thought I'd like to serve in that capacity,
for a few different reasons,
but the main one is simply that
I really really enjoy
sharing what I know,
sharing what has blessed my life.

It's like, when you have found the very best chocolate cake recipe
and you want give everyone you know the recipe too.
It's just that good.

So when we were asked to serve in this new capacity,
the answer was absolutely "yes!"...
but there was the matter of the calling we've been serving in
since last year--
that of Primary teachers for the Valiant 10B class,
which is the Caboose's class of 10-turning-11 year olds.

When you receive one calling,
you usually are released from the other.


We didn't wanna be released.
We really didn't.
We even moved up with our class last year,
to be with them
because we love these crazy kids.

But that's going up stream, if you get me.
Two callings can be stressful.

We thought about it.
Last Sunday, we told the Primary Presidency,
we'd stick around until they found permanent teachers,
so our class wouldn't have to have substitutes.
That made every one involved happy--
the kids
the leaders.

And then we got to teaching yesterday,
and towards the end of class,
we had the kids write in a note
"to the next teacher"
the things they liked about our class.
Some of them:

"1. I love the movie and popcorn at the end of the month. 
  2. I love playing hangman at the beginning of class.
  3. Sharing the best part of our week."  
"Food. Games. Movie."

"I love popcorn and how we review the things we learned that month. I LOVE how silly our class is. I love hangman and how smart our class is. And the best part of our week."
"Snacks and more snacks, movies, gum, No RED 40, popcorn, cheese-its, hangmans games, fun, cheesecake, supcakes, awesomeness, sausage/bacon cheese chili dogs, ham sandwiches, chicken nuggets, chips and salsa, water, walks outside, eating food outside."

Now, in case you're flabbergasted by the last one--he's just joshin'.  We've only ever shared popcorn and cheese-its on movie day.  I am not quite sure what he's hoping to achieve by writing a smorgasborg menu down.  And we've never had class outside. lol  Can you see why I love him though?

We watch the video series called "Book of Mormon Stories" which is divided up into chapters of the BoM, on the 4th Sunday of every month. We start from where we ended the previous month and review what we learned up until the current Sunday.  It's usually about 15 minutes worth, and I bring popcorn usually to eat during the movie.  The kids love this and obviously, it helps to see the stories we've been learning about.

As for "hangman" and "Best part of our week"--both of those are done at the beginning of class every Sunday.
As I am writing on the board and getting my lesson supplies out, the kids go around the room and share the best part of their week.  Kids love sharing something personal and it helps us all get familiar with each other.
"Hangman" is the word guessing game...and the word is the TOPIC of the lesson that day.

Simple things really, but it's what makes our class time awesome.

Thoughts of leaving this class before the year was up,
was enough to bring tears to my eyes.
I told the kids how much we love them,
how brilliant they all are,
how blessed we feel to have been their teachers,
and how I'm going to know them all their lives,
and they better ALWAYS smile at me in the hallways at church
or whenever we see one another.
And, I will probably tease them when they start dating.

It was hard to say goodbye after church yesterday.
It didn't feel right.

So, Mr W and I talked about it some more
on the way home from church
and once we got home,
we made a decision.
Mr W said, "Ask if we can stay."

I called the Primary President and asked if we could just stay in this calling
until the end of the year.
Her response was,
"Thank you so much. We haven't even submitted names yet, because we just couldn't think of anyone to replace you. The names just wouldn't come."

That's because Heavenly Father knew we wouldn't be going anywhere, yeah?

We have many opportunities to serve in many different callings in the Church--
I, myself, have served in everything from teaching primary, SS youth, Young Women, Relief Society a dozen times over, Stake and Ward callings, and now, a ward missionary.  It is remarkable that we all get the chance to try on new experiences with one another across the board.
If you asked me which calling was my favorite--it'd probably be the one I'm serving in at the time.

So, we're staying in Primary with these brilliant kids and we're trying out something new too as ward missionaries.  It's kinda like we hit the jackpot,
if you ask me.