Monday, December 17, 2012

To Donate or Not to Donate, That is the Question.

Hold on.

Hear me out.

Imagine with me for a minute...

It's that time again: Christmas, birthday, spring cleaning, your closet is overflowing, you can't afford the storage unit anymore or find yourself contemplating a bigger one.  You've decided it's time to get rid of some stuff.

You unlock the lock, throw open the doors and behold: the Mountain of Stuff.  Boxes and boxes of it.  Some of it is from last week, some from last year, some from 30 years ago, some from the Mesozoic Era.  Plastic boxes, cardboard boxes, metal boxes. Some black or silver or white garbage bags.  You well and truly don't even know what's there exactly.  What are you going to do with it?  Toss. Keep. Donate. 

You think to yourself as you open each box, Oh, I remember this!  What a great time we had together.  I guess I don't need it anymore.  But it must still be useful!  I'll donate it. Someone will want it.

Stop. Hold it right there.

What are you holding?  Clothing?  An old toy?  A book?  A piece of furniture?  An 8-track player?  A holey (that is NOT misspelled) shoe?  A sock with no mate?  An archaic piece of technology?

Is it REALLY going to help someone in need?  Or is it just going to get some treasure-to-you-trash-to-everyone-else guilt off your chest?  Will it help someone survive or live better, or will it just add to a pile of useless junk in someone else's closet or even the store because no one will pay money for it??

What brought this on?  It is natural to wonder.  I'll tell you.

My kids' toys.

It happens naturally enough.  They get a toy from a friend or family member.  They love it for a few hours, days, months, or the lucky toys even get a few years.  Inevitably, the toys lose their appeal and drift to sundry bedroom corners or sink to the bottom of the toy box.  Vital pieces go missing (or are eaten, ha).

"But!" you say.  "We have memories here!  I can't just throw our memories in the trash!  If this such-and-such is used by someone else, our memories will be preserved, honored, remembered!"

Um. Yeah. No. Not really.

They won't have your memories.  Your memories belong to you.  They're pretty much meaningless to most everyone else, and that's fine.

You know what that stuff is doing in your house, to your house?  To your psyche?  To your soul??

Who has heard the backpack/rocks/sin parable?  Raise of hands?  Great!   Well, it doesn't just pertain to sin.

The stuff we accumulate weighs on our minds.  It stops us in our tracks physically and emotionally and spiritually.  The more you have to keep track of, the less brainpower you have to dedicate to other (some would say more important) things or people.

So I'm going to get rid of these extra toys that the kids don't even ask about anymore, that don't have all their pieces, and even some that require batteries that I don't feel like spending the money to replace.  And seeing as how most of it got to us because someone else didn't want it either, I'm going to toss it in the trash and not feel even one tiny inkling of guilt about it.

Because sometimes, your trash is everybody else's trash too.

And you know what the kids are going to do?  Mostly nothing.   They won't even notice that stuff is gone.  If they do notice, it will be in passing.  I will answer honestly when they ask me if I know where it is, "No, I don't know exactly where it is."  Then they will forget.

Oh, and they'll be running around the house with huge grins on their faces because, unbeknownst to them, they were weighed down by all the stuff they had to choose from to play with, and suddenly they feel much better.  They won't know why, but they'll be happier.  And I like happy children.

So next time you find yourself getting ready to donate something, please ask yourself if it is truly worth donating, or if it is more honorable to take a picture (with a camera or just your mind) and let it rest in peace.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

GFDF Enchilada Casserole

As many of you know, my children have some food sensitivities as do my new stepchildren.  It's quite entertaining telling people, actually.  You have how many children? And how many stepchildren? And your kids are gluten free and his are dairy free? And then come the accolades about how amazing I am for taking that on.  Like it's hard?  I was prepared for this day.  I lived with my parents and brother for a year and my mother has more food allergies and sensitivities than foods she can eat freely including but not limited to gluten and dairy products.  Cooking for her for that year enabled me to reach a certain level of proficiency with that kind of cooking to the point that I can make up GFDF versions of things without much trouble right off the cuff.  (It's a gift I attribute to my Dad and my Heavenly Father.)  Here is my latest creation.  Hope you like it! Personally, I didn't really miss the cheese or sour cream.

So without further ado, GFDF Enchilada Casserole!

16 GF corn tortillas (Mission makes them)
1 32-oz can enchilada sauce
1 15 oz can vegetarian refried beans
1 4-oz can diced green chiles
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 15-oz can medium black olives, sliced

Preheat oven to 350* F.  Lightly grease 13x9 baking pan.  Spoon 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce into bottom of pan and spread around.  Use 4 tortillas to cover the pan.  The arrangement I used had two whole ones in the middle, two halves along the long sides at the edge, and one quarter in each corner.  Spoon 1/3 of the beans onto the tortillas and spread around.  Add about 1/2 the diced green chiles. Add another layer of tortillas.  Spread 1/3 of the beans around, and top with 1/2 the olives and 1/2 the can of tomatoes.  Add another layer of tortillas.  Spread the remaining beans and top with the remaining ingredients.  Add one more layer of corn tortillas.  Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce on top, making sure to cover all the tortillas.  Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Serves about 10, but only if it's not the only thing you serve and we're talking "normal" portions, not teenage boy portions. :)

Make this and let me know how it worked for you!  Comment below!


Guest Post for a Friend

My good friend Jenn Greenland has a blog all about essential oils and how awesome they are.  However, she can't use anything with lavender so she asked me to write about the blend Past Tense.  Check out my article and the others on her blog!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Our Story

One of many profile pics
In desperation, she signed up for an LDSSingles account.  A PAID one. *gasp*

The first profile pic I saw

In desperation, he signed up for an LDSSingles account.  A PAID one. *gasp*

She just wanted to talk to some adults for once.

He thought she would make good practice for when he really started dating.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

On January 20, 2012, he sent her a message remarking on how interesting it was that they were nearly perfect matches on the compatibility profile, and how he had family in Thatcher.  Coincidence? Well...

Thus began the journey.  Messages were sporadic at first. I have a test today, she'd say.  I'm going to a hockey game tonight, he'd say.  They exchanged names.  They exchanged numbers.  They chatted on messenger.   They chatted on video. (He was wearing a red shirt and had just had his hair cut the first time!)

She really liked him.  REALLY liked him.  A LOT.

He really liked her.  REALLY liked her.  A LOT.

She found out how fresh he was off a divorce, decided she didn't want that drama right now and just wanted to be friends.  She managed, for perhaps the first time in all history (or at least her history) to truly put a man she was attracted to on the "just friends" shelf.  She started dating other men.

They still chatted.  He still called.  He always enjoyed their conversations.  She was always happy to hear from him.

She got tired of having so many men interested in her.  (I know it's hard to imagine.)  She wanted to choose one.  But whom should she choose?  Men kept coming out of the woodwork!

She narrowed and whittled.  She debated and questioned.

He patiently waited.

She wanted to meet this other guy she was dating, and they were meeting in Utah, but she would have a couple days before he arrived due to other arrangements.  Could she maybe meet Seth while she was up there?  Yes, he'd love to meet her.  Just as friends, of course. Silly girl.

July 4th, 2012.  They met in a park.  He was there with his kids.  (He was wearing an orange shirt, FYI.)

My view from the ground at a tree in the park
It was a little awkward.  Just a little.

He introduced his (adorable!) kids.  They warmed up pretty quickly!  They all spent the afternoon together until the kids' nap time.  Then he dropped them off with their mother.  Seth invited Arienne over.

He rocked her to sleep!
Arienne was falling in love.

He played guitar for her. She swooned inside. (Who doesn't like a musician?)

He took her to dinner.  They laughed and talked.  He took her to USU campus.  They talked and laughed some more.  He showed her Michael Ballam's office. (So cool!!!)  They walked around, Seth acting as her personal tour guide.

She was fighting it and losing.

They found a hill on campus overlooking the Logan temple.  When it became dark, fireworks started going off right over the temple.
See?  Awesome!!

She fought it harder. (She was meeting another man the next day! Giminy.)

He finally took her back to her car.  They hugged good night.
The next two days were the vacation from the Netherworld.

She unexpectedly had two more days to kill by herself before she could take the kids home.

Call Seth.

What? No!  It felt weird.

Call Seth.


Call Seth.

Okay!  Fine!

Okay, fine! Hehehe

Can she come see him again?  Absolutely!

He had his kids for the weekend.  (There isn't much that is more attractive than a man having fun with his kids, and handling them well, too.)

She fell harder.

He had to be with his kids that night.  She found herself thinking about him all night.  What was going on with her?

He invited her to church with him the next day.  She happily accepted.

The kids were happy to see her.  She was happy to see Seth.  (He wore a dark green suit.  Nothing like a man in a suit. Hubba hubba!)
First picture together

The hymn started.  She heard him sing.  She heard their voices blend together so very beautifully.

That was it.  She was in love.

That night he kissed her.  It was beautiful and perfect.

It took me about two weeks to disentangle myself from the other men in my life.  But I distinctly remember the moment I knew he was the man I wanted and he was the only one I wanted.  I had spent the previous two years trying to be flexible about the qualities of the men I dated.  I tried so hard to throw the list of the ideal man I had created as a teenager out the window.  But like the children's advertisement for a nanny in that classic movie, Mary Poppins, the list came right back to me in the form of a real person.  He is everything on that list and then some.  Heavenly Father blessed me and looked after me.  He brought Seth and I together, and I will be forever grateful.