Thursday, August 28, 2008

Auction 4: Cinnamon Rolls

Are you wondering what this is all about? Click here to find out!

Up for grabs: One dozen scrumptious homemade cinnamon rolls! (Again, Rogue Valley Locals only. They're no good after 3 days in the mail.) They won't be naked like these ones - they'll be frosted or glazed!

  • Please bid for this item in this post's comments. Check the comments to see the current bid.
  • Please bid in whole dollar amounts.
  • Bidding will close Sunday at 10:00pm, Pacific Time. Winners will be announced Monday.
  • You don't need a Paypal account to donate - they take credit, debit, or bank accounts
Happy bidding! Thanks for helping such a great cause!

Auction 3: Portrait Session

Are you wondering what this is all about? Click here to find out!

Next up! A portrait session. (Rogue Valley Locals only.) The winner will receive a sitting, 25 printed 4x6 pictures, a CD of 100+ pictures, a web gallery, and up to an hour of photoshopping on request. See examples at (click on "Gallery" or "Portfolio").

  • Please bid for this item in this post's comments. Check the comments to see the current bid.
  • Please bid in whole dollar amounts.
  • Bidding will close Sunday at 10:00pm, Pacific Time. Winners will be announced Monday.
  • You don't need a Paypal account to donate - they take credit, debit, or bank accounts
Happy bidding! Thanks for helping such a great cause!

Auctions 1&2: Diaper/Wipes Holders

Are you wondering what this is all about? Click here to find out!

First up! Two handy-dandy Diaper/Wipes Holders! One will go to each of the two highest bidders. These will be handmade in boy or girl fabric (your choice), and we'll cover the shipping.

  • Please bid for this item in this post's comments. Check the comments to see the current bid.
  • Please bid in whole dollar amounts.
  • Bidding will close Sunday at 10:00pm, Pacific Time. Winners will be announced Monday.
  • You don't need a Paypal account to donate - they take credit, debit, or bank accounts
Happy bidding! Thanks for helping such a great cause!

NieNie Day

Today is NieNie day, and we're hosting four auctions in honor of Christian and Stephanie (NieNie) Neilson (parents of 4 young children), who were critically injured in an airplane crash, and who have months and months of recovery ahead of them. You can follow their story at, (one of my favorite blogs) and you can see Stephanie's well-loved and immensely popular blog at All of today's proceeds will go directly to the Nielson's recovery fund.

Read more about NieNie Day at

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's Wednesday!

Here's the skinny on tomorrow's auction:

  • We'll list each item tomorrow as a separate post, and you can bid in the comments. (ie. "I bid $5.")
  • Please bid in whole dollar amounts.
  • Bidding will end Sunday at 10:00pm, Pacific time.
  • On Monday we'll post the winners and a link to the Neilsen's Paypal Fund. Winners can pay to the fund, then forward us a copy of the receipt along with their contact information.

And now . . . a preview of our auction items! (Don't bid until tomorrow!)

Up for grabs:

Auctions 1 & 2: TWO lovely diaper/wipes holders, perfect for sliding into your purse on the way out the door! (Also prevents "bunchy diapers" - you know how they get when they tumble around loose for a awhile.) The winners can tell us whether they want girl or boy fabric. We'll cover shipping.

Auction 3: A portrait session. (Rogue Valley Locals only.) The winner will receive a sitting, 25 printed 4x6 pictures, a CD of 100+ pictures, a web gallery, and up to an hour of photoshopping on request. See examples at (click on "Gallery" or "Portfolio").

(Please, please don't misconstrue this as me using Stephanie''s Auction Day to advertise. I am absolutely not trying to drum up extra business, as I am much too scatter-brained to handle any more than what I've already got. Don't believe me? Ask the soccer coach who sat with my poor forgotten daughter an extra 20 minutes after practice last night . . .)

Auction 4: One dozen scrumptious homemade cinnamon rolls! (Again, Rogue Valley Locals. They're no good after 3 days in the mail.) They won't be naked like these ones - they'll be frosted or glazed! (Like unto the apology batch I'll be making for a certain soccer coach . . . )

Thanks for helping us help out!

And since it's Anonymous Confession Wednesday, (and since this was one of the amazing things Stephanie did for her kids just days before she was hurt) tell me this:

What are your family's back-to-school traditions?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Auction for NieNie

I'm sure you all know what this button is about. (If not, you can follow the story at Heaven knows it's occupied many of my waking thoughts in the past week. I wanted to write something eloquent . . . the sum of the thoughts bouncing around in my head, but I can't seem to collect them, and in a million years I could never say it as beautifully as this. (So read that instead.)

YONF and I talked, and we're going to participate in Thursday's online auction. We'll be having our own Year of No Fear auction right here on Thursday . . . items to be announced soon! All proceeds will go directly and speedily to the Neilsens' recovery fund, of course.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

YONF Tagged!

Thanks Mrs. B for the tag!

Favorite Color: Red

Hometown: Medford, OR

Kids: 3 girls, almost 2 boys

Number of Siblings: 1 brother

Unknown Fact About Me: I've traveled to England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and Italy.

Favorite Store: Target

Worst Habit: Bite my fingernails.

Your Favorite Food: hamburgers

Zodiac Sign: Libra

Last movie at the theater: Dark Knight

Favorite TV show: Seinfeld

Favorite Sandwich: Ham and cheese

Listening to right now: silence, wonderful quiet silence

Last thing you ate: tomatoes, basil, and mozarella cheese made by my husband

Under your bed: I’m not really sure!

Towns have you lived in: Bend, OR; Medford, OR; Provo, UT; Salt Lake City, UT; Medford, OR; Ashland, OR; back to Medford for the last time!

I tag our new friend Megan!


I was tagged, but since I'm a rule-breaker (I drove OUT the IN path at the Pear Farm this week!), I'm shaking up the tag a little. Forgive me Jill.

Favorite Color: Green
Hometown: Ashland, OR
Kids: 3 girls, 1 boy
Number of Siblings: 3 sisters, 4 brothers
Unknown Fact About Me: I ate 3 Big Macs for lunch on a dare in 1993. I haven't had one since.
Favorite Store: Ikea, of course
Worst Habit: Procrastination
Your Favorite Food: Chinese, dessert
Zodiac Sign: Libra
Last movie at the theater: Kung Fu Panda
Favorite TV show: I Love Lucy & The Muppets
Favorite Sandwich: BLT
Listening to right now: Kids scooting chairs around the kitchen.
Last thing you ate: Herman Cake
Under your bed: Food storage
Towns have you lived in: Layton, Portland, Medford, Ashland, Provo, Ashland again, Wichita Falls (TX), Ashland again, Layton agin, Hill AFB, Ogden, Medford again.

You're IT, YONF.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Confession Wednesday: Summer Vacation

Summer vacation in a nutshell:

June 6th (last day of school)-How am I going to survive summer vacation with 4 kids home all day? What will we do all day? I'm dreading summer.

End of June-Summer is flying by! I'm loving having the kids home. We have been doing lots of fun things together and I've really (honestly) enjoyed the conversations I've had with the kids throughout the day.

July-Busy, busy, with swimming lesssons and girls camp and vacations to the coast! Having no school schedule or homework is great!

Beginning of August-I can't believe there is only a month left of summer! I'm not ready to send the kids back to school!

August 15th-Only a few more weeks of the kids at home, it'll be so quiet not having them around and there is so much to do get them ready for school. I will sure miss them during the day come September!

This week-How many more days of summer? I'm not going to survive until the end! I cannot wait for school to start! If only it could come sooner!

Why is it that I have mixed feelings? And will I really survive another 2 weeks?

Confession time: Are you going crazy until school starts? Were you excited to have the kids home so much or do you dread summer vacation?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Meet Our New Friend! Megan!

A few weeks ago, we stumbled onto this blog (Keepin' It Real Blog to the right), where lovely Megan had just declared her own Year of No Fear! Woo hoo! We were so excited, we immediately asked her if we could spotlight her here, and she graciously assented. Megan's blog makes for delightful reading. For her YoNF thus far, she has braved the weight room at the gym (AWESOME! And how did it go?), and joined a book club mere weeks after relocating. She has an adorable daughter and handsome husband, is still searching for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, and uses the phrase 'kindred spirit' (Dear JW: It's 'Anne' related.), which clearly means she is one.
From Mrs B: Megan, I have a recipe which is rumored to make the best chocolate chip cookies around. I obtained it only after much flattery, polite begging, and proof that I owned the proper baking equipment and ingredients. I still can't make them just right. (I'm beginning to suspect the original chef is holding out on some secret ingredient.) But if I can get security clearance, I'm going to email the recipe to you anyway . . . maybe you'll have the magic touch!

From Year of No Fear: Megan, I have the best chocolate chip cookie recipe around! I've heard the secret is powdered vanilla instead of liquid. I told Mrs. B I have the best and we decided it was time for a bake off, she's going to challenge my recipe against her friend's, made by her friend so I can get the real taste. I think it's a win-win, I get to eat great cookies! I only wish I could give you a glimpse into the small changes YoNF has done for me that I haven't had a chance to blog about. I believe that you will overcome many of them and explore new ones and I know you will be shocked by the number of new friends coming your way with year of no fear.

We asked Megan a few questions, and here's how she answered:

What's the last book you read? (or favorite book . . . or both) I just finished reading one of the best books I've read for a long time. It called 'The Book Thief' and is written by Markus Zusak. It is such a beautifully written story, and I highly recommend it to anyone! And I think I would have to say that my favorite novel is 'The Secret Life of Bees'.

Where would you go on your dream vacation? Oh, this is a really hard one. I LOVE to travel, and have done a fair bit (although not so much since having a baby). The mere thought of hopping on an airplane or gearing up for a road trip gets my adrenaline pumping! But I think if I could pick one place to go right now, I would have to say Italy. I would love to visit some of the smaller villages and country side of Northern Italy.
Tell us one completely random thing about you. I am a great shower singer! My favorite song to sing in the shower is 'The Star Spangled Banner'. And I can really get into it:)
What fear are you most reluctant to conquer? You know, I had to spend a lot of time thinking about this one. I think most of the time I don't really know what a lot of my fears are until I'm being faced with it. I don't really have a list of fears that I want to overcome...I just seem to tackle them them when they arise. But there is one. It's a big one. It's so big that I've really only talked to my husband about it. But it takes a little explanation, so bare with me! Every year my husband and his dad hike the Grand Canyon from rim to rim in one day. Everyone in my husband's family has done it at least once...except for me. I've had good reasons (or excuses, which ever you'd like to call it) not to. The first few years I couldn't get time off of work or school. The next year I was pregnant, and the year after that I had a nursing baby. But I really want to do it. I want to train and get in shape. I want to prove to myself that I can accomplish something like that, and live to tell about it. I want to stand at the top of one rim, look out at the other side, and say to myself 'look where I just came from'. But I am scared! Oh, am I scared. I am scared of the training it will take. I'm scared of the 24 miles of desert. I'm scared of leaving my baby for 3 days. I'm just plain scared.

What's the craziest thing you've ever done (and are willing to admit to)? Hmmm. So many things to choose from! Well, I did go through a skinny dipping phase while I was in college. And I have to be honest...I really love skinny dipping! I think everyone should do it at least once in their life. It's totally exhilarating, and liberating, and naughty. And I hope I do it again someday! But I better stop because I think this is a PG blog:)

Will you be reading the 4th Twilight book (we are a blog divided on this point)? Sure. I have fond memories of reading the first 3 while I was nursing my baby. They were fun 'fluff' reading. Although I probably won't read the 4th for a long time because I won't buy it...and who knows how long I'll have to wait for it at the Library.


Megan, thanks for letting us spotlight you! We can't wait to see how your Year of No Fear goes!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Confession Wednesday

Tactics a 5-year-old will employ to get out of cleaning her room:

Calling Grandma
Making presents for mom out of cardboard and markers
Sobbing woefully
Making her room messier
Faking sleep, somewhat convincingly
Attempting to cuddle up to mom
Sneaking into the hallway where she can watch us watch the Olympics
Assuring us she will die from hunger any minute now

I do have a few tricks up my sleeve, but since it's Wednesday:

How the heck do you motivate your kids to work independently?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Skateboard Park

I'm afraid of pain. Especially falling and hurting myself. I once stubbed my toe so badly while jump roping, I will only jump rope while wearing tennis shoes (and that isn't often.) I try to avoid pain and blood but that is hard to do when you have kids. I had a skateboard as a kid and was terrified of falling off so I went very slowly on it and on flat surfaces only. So all summer the kids have been asking to go to the skateboard park at Bear Creek Park. Mind you these are kids that don't have any skateboarding skills, not from a lack of trying, it's just a hard thing to do but luckily they have a high pain tolerance. So in trying not to pass my fears onto my kids, since I've passed on other things that I'm not proud of: such as nail biting, the term "How dare you?," one child's fear of spiders, etc. I decided tonight for Family Home Evening I would take them to the skateboard park. Unfortunately that led to a whole new set of fears. Not to stereotype skateboarders but they are rough and tough kind of people. My thought is I show up with 4 little kids and if they wanted to beat us up they could. So I took my husband along, he was good enough to humor us, and we brought the dog to protect us from any attackers.

We show up and I'm worried about what people are going to think of me and my brood. I'm way too worried about this sort of thing, partly why it took all summer for me to muster the courage to bring the kids to the skate park. There are probably around 10 other kids there skateboarding. Long hair, no helmets (ugh-the possible damage), baggy clothes kind of kids. I couldn't help but laugh when my kids get ready to go down one of the hills (there must be a better word) and they sit on their skateboards and have the time of their lives! All three have their own skateboard and they sit on it and go as fast as they can down these steep hills. It was great! They loved it! They had no fears of getting hurt or looking silly sitting down while these other kids are whizzing past them standing on their skateboards. They then try their trick down a bigger hill and two of them get stuck in this huge cement pit. Their boards were not with them and they could not get out! They were laughing so hard, again while all these other skateboarders are weaving in and out of the pits and hills. They didn't care one bit about what the other people thought about them. Finally the two get out of the pit and we decide it's time to go. No one got hurt! Instead, as we are leaving I get to hear from them, "Thanks so much for bringing us here, that was great!"

What did I learn from this experience?

  • I shouldn't fear skateboarders, they were very pleasant plus can't I consider my kids skateboarders now? and I don't want to fear them.
  • I'm so proud of my kids for being so strong and brave and going and having a great time skateboarding not caring one bit what anyone thought about them.
  • If I had given into my fear or insecurity of the skateboard park my kids would have missed out on a great night. We were out as a family doing something different and enjoying the summer evening.
  • Part of my year of no fear needs to be reminding myself the importance of not passing on my fears to my kids.
  • And lastly, once I'm no longer pregnant I'm going to have to get back on a skateboard!

Something smells fishy . . .

Blogging non-anonymously (would that be nonymously? onymously?) about the Year of No Fear may have been a big mistake. (Smart call with the anonymity, YONF. Next time remind me to keep quiet.)

People who know about it are starting to throw challenges at me (I'm not sure if that should be allowed!), which is also making it obvious what a safe, unadventurous life I've been leading. For example, here's a short list of the craziest things I've ever (erm . . . intentionally) done.

1986-1993: Numerous perms - livin' on the edge!
1991: Jumped off the lowest of 3 diving cliffs on a rafting trip. Didn't repeat.
1994: Went for a walk ALONE at NIGHT with nothing but a POCKETKNIFE to protect me . . . IN PROVO no less!!
1994: Swallowed a raw egg yolk whole on a dare. Won a pint of Ben&Jerry's.
1996: Natural childbirth (more ignorance than intention there).
2001: Rode a motorcyle across town UNLICENSED. Drove it up onto a sidewalk in a moment of panic at seeing an apparently unobservant cop.
2008: April Fool's prank. Still on the down-low.

So, knowing the above, here are a few of the challenges recently tossed onto my plate by others:

Going boating. (Behind the boat, not just on it, which will involve keeping my balance while wearing a swimsuit.)
Getting Scuba certified. (Again with the swimsuit, also loogies. Since it's also the Year of No Money, I have time to think this one over.)
Eating sushi. (Don't look so shocked - did you even read my Crazy List?)
Telling the sushi-suggester that I don't want sushi. (Do conflicting challenges cancel eachother out?)

Soooo . . . . . Sushi it was. We went to a place called Bonzai (on Barnett, but their best chef is moving to the downtown location very soon), and my sushi-lovin' sisters ordered a baked salmon roll, and a pop-corn lobster something.

The verdict? Yummy! (Waaaaay better than rubbery octopus.) I think I liked the lobster one the best, but they were both good.

Also, the company was great:

I'll let you know how the boating goes!
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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

As promised

Our ward had a Country Fair Saturday night - it's an annual event, not to be missed, and very well attended.

Every year, there's a pie-eating contest (pans full of pudding and whipped cream - no hands allowed). Every year, I photograph the contest. Every year, our Activities director stands on the hay-trailer stage and tries to get pie-eating contestants to come up. Every year, several people hide behind hay bales to avoid being spotted.

I've always been grateful that holding the camera exempts me from the contest. Granted, I have a competitive streak in me, but there's this little irrational voice in my head that says that if I join an anything-eating contest, everyone will think, "Of COURSE she can out-eat the rest of them . . . just LOOK at her!"

(Side note . . . still attending Boot Camp on a regular basis . . . just in case you're wondering . . . also eating a cookie right now . . . isn't that what they mean by keeping a balance?)

So last Saturday, as I stood near the stage with my camera, poised to capture the women's round, my friend Mrs. G, (who was standing on the stage with her pie) looked down at me and mouthed, "Why don't you do this?"

I held up my camera and mouthed, "I'm taking pictures."

Then she said it:


Ack. Year of No Fear. I knew I had to go. I set my camera on the table and grabbed myself a pie. (I'm told, although I didn't notice, that something of a hush came over the crowd, as if this had just gotten serious.)

My friend Mrs. F picked up my camera, and I stepped onto the stage with five other women.

On the signal, we dove into our pies, and I was nearly done when a pie fight erupted next to me. I heard the words, "Mrs. G's done," and I stood up. As it turns out, Mrs. G might have been done, but she had enough pie left to throw at me (fantastic aim, considering there were 2 women pie-fighting between us), so I picked up my pie and leaned across the table to serve her a pan-full. (Really! It was just a lean! And the photo that looks more like a lunge will NEVER SURFACE.)

That's when the legs broke right off the already-rickety table (I have witnesses to back the rickitiness up), and the table collapsed flat onto the stage, taking me (and only me) right along with it.

My thoughts went something like this:



Can I move out of this ward before church tomorrow?

Or maybe can I please, please just die now?

But even when you're waving goodbye to your will to live, having friends to laugh with helps a whole heap. Several of us hid behind the stage and laughed ourselves sick as we mopped pudding off ourselves with paper towels, and tried to find the courage to emerge from our hiding place.

Some ensuing comments from that night:

"Wow! When Mrs. B shows up, it's not a pie eating contest anymore . . . it's WWF!"


"You didn't even win? All those wasted calories!"

and my favorite,

"Ok, seriously, how's my hair?"

And from the pulpit in Sacrament Meeting the next day (it came up no less than five times in Testimony meeting . . . mostly from High Priests):

"I think the sisters in our ward are in need of some counsel after the display at the fair last night." (spoken tongue-in-cheek)


"I thought I was scared of some things before. After last night, I'm definitely scared of the Relief Society."

So, depending on your perspective this could be Year of No Fear gone wrong, with a side of burning humiliation. But when I looked at the pictures (that were expertly captured by Mrs. F with my own camera, thank heavens), and I found this one . . .

. . . I decided that a side of humiliation isn't much next to a huge helping of memories made with good friends.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Confession Wednesday: Camp Connections

(This amazing picture was taken by a 14-year-old girl named Kaylynn!)

As YONF has already mentioned, I spent last week at Girls' Camp. Ironically, YONF and I attended the same Girls' Camp as teenagers, although not at the same time (we should have overlapped one year . . . did we? I'm a little embarrassed that I don't remember), and I LOVED Girls' Camp. I didn't just sing the silly songs, I made them up. I displayed exhaustion-induced, overreactive emotions, wore matching visors with my best friend, and showered in my swimsuit in the locker-room-esque shower house. They built the sweet new bathrooms with flushing toilets and private shower stalls in my second or third year, but for the first few years, the shower buttons would zap you with a little electric shock at random times when you pressed them for more water. It was very unsettling. Nonetheless, I lived for Girls' Camp every summer. I'm not sure why YONF and I had such different experiences, but I've been nagging her for months to give it another try, and she really would have this year, had circumstances not prevented her.

This year was my third year attending Girls' Camp as an adult, but the first one that really counted. Two years ago I showed up 3 days late with a post-surgical foot, and narcotics in my system. I don't remember much. Last year was fun, but I was up and back a couple of times and missed a couple of days.

However, this year I got to stay the whole week, and it was fantastic! The group of 30-ish (in number, not ages) leaders up there was a phenomenal group of women, and we have been accused several times in the last 4 days of having more fun than the girls. And the girls had a LOT of fun.

Here's what I love about Girls' Camp (as a grown-up):

* At any particular moment, I have exactly two obligations to fulfill, and one of them is eating. (As opposed to home, where I should be doing at least 25 things at any given time.)
* My wonderful husband takes some time off, and good friends cover the difference, so I don't have a single worry about the kids at home.
* Flushing toilets, hot showers, and delightful cooks who serve up superb meals and snacks.
* Three words: Ooga Booga LOOK!
* Went boating for my first time. Watched a respectable member of our ward and community try to throw 6 different grown women (many of them grandmothers) out of a float tube at high speeds. Gleefully photographed the whole thing.
* My job is to be the camp photographer. I'm not in charge of anything but snapping pictures and carefully assembling a slide show for the last night . . . my absolute favorite part of taking pictures.

In going over last year's pictures, I realized that I only remembered the names of a small group of the leaders. It was a little embarrassing. I decided that for Year of No Fear, I was going to learn the names of every woman at camp this year. It was just a personal goal - something to accomplish for myself.

I didn't realize what an effect it would have on my week at camp. Being able to call every woman by name created connections I hadn't expected, and I came away with several fun new friendships, and the old ones were stronger. It helped me to relax and be part of the fun, rather than observing it like I usually tend to do. By the end of the week, there was a bond between all the women, woven through with all of our varied experiences, personalities, ages, and unique characteristics.

I think we women have a place inside ourselves that gets depleted by all the responsibilities of adulthood. Our families fill important spaces of joy, but I think when we go too long without laughing with girlfriends, it leaves a little hollow place. (Don't you think that's why pioneer women quilted together instead of alone?) I feel like that week spent snickering at ourselves, playing pranks, relaxing, goofing around, and soaking up spiritual moments filled up a reservoir somewhere inside me.

I can't wait to go back next year for a refill, and I can't wait for YONF to come along.

Ooga booga, YONF, ooga booga!

How do you fill up your reservoir?

PS - The Pie Contest Post is forthcoming . . . .