Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fruit Dip

I keep hoping spring will come to stay, but here in Colorado Mother Nature seems to still be making up her mind what season it is. Anyway, the sweet spring and summer fruits will soon be here, and I am sharing a wonderful recipe. This is for a fruit dip that my family loves. Serve it with a big platter of freshly cut fruit: bananas, apples, peaches, grapes, etc. and dip in this for a lovely warm weather dessert.

Mallow Fruit Dip
1 8-oz package of cream cheese, softened
1 7-oz jar marshamllow cream
1 Tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
Beat all ingredients on medium speed until well blended. Refrigerate. Serve with fresh fruit. Makes about 1-1/2 cups.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Nephew in Jordan

Some of you may know that my nephew, Neal, is serving in the Peace Corps in Jordan. He teaches in a small village there (pop. 400) and is having quite an experience. In his mid-20s, he is an excellent teacher with a good heart. His time there will end this July and he has had many wonderful times. He wrote an article for the local paper in his hometown in California and sent it to me. I am posting here a small part of his article. I was so moved by his words. If you want to read more I can post more. Here is a picture of Neal and one of his students.

I am very proud of all of the students I teach at my small school. However, last year I was particularly pleased with the progress of one in particular, a shy fifth-grader named Ahmed Ali. When I first came to the school, Ahmed Ali was one of the lowest-performing students. He never raised his hand to answer questions and would often stare blankly at the wall or absentmindedly doodle on the pages of his school book during lessons. He, along with several other weak students, had pretty much been written off by most of the other teachers who would openly call him "stupid" and "very bad". Even my more sensitive coworkers expressed skepticism of his ability to ever improve.

Nevertheless I tried to encourage Ahmed Ali whenever I could. I would call on him to answer questions in class, even when he hadn't raised his hand, gently correct his mistakes, and praise him on the (unfortunately few) occasions he would answer a question correctly. Yet at the end of the first semester he still ended up with a final grade of a meager 34%.

Undeterred, I redoubled my efforts once the second semester began. I not only looked for ways to better Ahmed Ali's grasp of English but also for opportunities to make him a more active and responsible member of our class. He along with all of the students was at one point our Student of the Week (a concept my counterparts and I introduced to the school), charged with making sure all of his classmates were prepared and quiet for class each day. His face lit up when tasked with leading the other boys, which he excelled at. I would ask him to help me with special projects such as designing posters for our room; he particularly liked drawing a small picture of himself as part of a poster about ordinal numbers. I also congratulated him for his excellent efforts on assignments like our alphabet handwriting charts (a side project I created where each student had to completehandwriting charts for all the letters of the alphabet, their progress charted on a classroom poster to encourage friendly competition).

Before long, Ahmed Ali began to show more signs of improvement. He started raising his hand and participating during lessons, coming to me outside of class to ask for help, and he seemed to be in higher spirits throughout the day. When we had our second semester mid-term exam, Ahmed Ali scored a mark of 55%, a vast improvement over his previous exam. We were so proud of his accomplishment that my counterpart and I wrote a note home to his parents (an unusual step at our school) praising Ahmed Ali for his hard work and encouraging more of the same. He continued to show improvement throughout the remainder of the semester, and I was very happy to find that Ahmed Ali's final grade for the second semester was 68%, exactly double his score in the first semester.

Was it worth it? Two years of my life and thousands of taxpayers' dollars to help Ahmed Ali and his handful of classmates at a tiny school nestled in the mountains of northern Jordan? It's not an easy question to answer until you've experienced it for yourself. For my own part, I consider it an honor to have served in the Peace Corps and I would do it all again in a heartbeat….though maybe without the centipedes next time.

Friday, April 24, 2009


If of thy worldly goods thou art bereft

And from thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left

Take one and sell and with the dole

Buy hyacinths -- to feed thy soul

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Shave Every Day and You'll Always Look Keen ....

Those of you who know my husband, or have seen his picture with our family on the home page here know him as a man with a beard. In fact, that's how I've always known Stan. But today I was rumaging around in the desk drawers by the computer and found this photo and it cracked me up! Thought I'd share it with y'all ....

Isn't it too cute and funny? In late summer of 2002, Stan decided he would let his hair and beard grow out all scraggly so he could be a werewolf for Halloween, which he did. He looked great too. But the morning after he shaved, and went for a haircut. That weekend we got all gussied up and went out for a nice dinner, and I took his picture to remember him by.

The thing was, he looked so different to me. I kept telling him, "You sound just like yourself!" and he'd say, "I am myself!" When I emailed this photo to a friend he said he thought Stan looked like a bishop! Eh?

Surprises Come in All Packages

I know the story of Susan Boyle has been all over the place lately, and I wanted to comment about it as well. It's another one of those situations where someone was judged totally on their looks. The heart of a warrior, the spirit of an angel, the courage of a lion can all be camouflaged in many ways. I don't believe this woman could sing with such emotion and heart were she not someone who was good deep inside.

I am so pleased with her getting this attention, and this chance to show the world what she holds inside herself. Perhaps this will teach all of us to pause a beat before we determine what someone is like. I hope I do. I pray we all will.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Guilty Pleasures

Awhile ago I confessed to having a penchant for Pokemon. I love that game! But now I'm admitting that I have another guilty pleasure, and this is it:

Yep -- I'm a Wheel Watcher. I don't know why, but I love to watch and play along. I'm also a big fan of Pat Sajak (but not like that wierd SNL guy!). I wish I was brave enough to try out for the show. I think it would be a blast.

When AJ was a baby, still little enough that he was dashing around in his walker, he used to watch Wheel of Fortune with me. I think he liked all the colors and noises. He was also just starting to talk and would perk up when he heard something he understood. One time a contenstant asked for the letter D, to which Pat replied, "Yes, there are two D's"

AJ threw up his hands and started yelling "Doo Dees, Doo Dees!" thinking, perhaps that Pat was asking him if he needed his diaper changed or something. It really cracked me up.

So ... do any of you have any guilty pleasures??????

Friday, April 17, 2009


I keep six honest serving-men,
(They taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men;
But different folk have different views,
I know a person small ---
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!

She send 'em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes ---
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!

Rudyard Kipling

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Photo Tag

My friend Tara "tagged" me! Here's how it works:
1) go to your 6th folder
2) go to your 6th picture
3) blog about it
4) tag 6 people

So here goes:

This picture was taken of Stan and I about two and a half years ago. His cousin's oldest son was married in their front yard (they live over off Constitution in that area zoned for horses between Powers and Murray). It was a hot October day, and I was feeling pretty good because I'd just lost 50 pounds. That's what I always think when I see this picture--but when I look at it I can't see any difference. It was a fun wedding. His other cousins were out from California along with his aunt and uncle (his father's brother). His aunt got a little tipsy and let the beans spill that the bride was preggers. We had a good time that day!

Anyway, if you want to play tag with me, and Tara and everyone else--go for it!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Book Review: Hannah's Dream

I've just finished one of the sweetest and most loving novels I've ever read. It's Hannah's Dream by Diane Hammond. It's the story of Hannah, and Asian elephant, her loving caretaker, and the down-on-its-luck zoo in Washington state where she calls home.

Since the 1950s Hannah has lived in the zoo, lovingly tended for by Sam. As it becomes clear that Sam's ability to care for her is growing to a close, and the quality of Hannah's life is compromised, the people that surround her rally to help this sweet, gentle creature who needs their help.

The characterizations are true to life and full of color. It almost makes you wish that you could be there to help Hannah yourself. The novel also helps you to see that love comes in all shapes, sizes and species. This book will live in my heart for a long time.

Inspired by the story of Shirley the Elephant which is one of the most touching tales I've ever heard, Hammond has written a poignant novel about love, devotion and doing the greater good. Well written, it captured my attention and made me want more. If you pick up this book you won't be disappointed!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Blessed Be

The following is an excerpt from a talk given last weekend by Jeffrey R. Holland at last week's General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It speaks to my heart and my soul this wonderful Easter season .....

Brothers and sisters, one of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path—the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said, “I will not leave you comfortless. My Father and I will come to you and abide with you.”

Friday, April 10, 2009


Creating a family in this turbulent world is an act of faith, a wager that against all odds there will be a future, that love can last, that the heart can triumph against all adversities and even against the grinding wheel of time.

Dean Koontz, Novelist
1945 -

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Blessings of Friendship

My friend Kristeen today hosted an Easter Brunch for a group of women that she loves and knows. I am fortunate to be included in that group. I love and admire her so much, and the invitation to join her and this amazing group of beautiful, acomplished women was a joy.

The food was amazing and plentiful and delicious. The women were funny, smart, interesting and we met and talked and ate and talked and talked and talked. I had such a good time!

Then she had all the items for us to make a special Easter lesson to take home and share with our families this weekend. What a thoughtful gesture! Even my 17 and 19 year old boys are excited for Sunday evening when we can open up the colored eggs she gave us with their messages and symbols of this precious holiday.

I have always believed there is nothing better than being in the company of good women, and today affirmed that for me. Thank you Kristeen, I love you!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Conference Weekend

This past weekend was General Conference for our church. What a wonderful kick-off for the week before Easter! My heart is full, and my mind and spirit have been challenged to be better and do more. It was wonderful.

Brother Uchtdorf, who is one of my favorites, reminded us that this life is not a sprint race. It is a race of endurance. A good thing to keep in mind when we are hard on ourselves for not being completely perfect in every way (nods to Mary Poppins!) I always say I may not be a show horse, but I can go the distance. He reminded me that is probably what is more important.

I am so grateful that we have this time, twice a year, to reevaluate ourselves, and to sit at the feet (so to speak) of these men who counsel us and teach us and feed our souls to help us keep going -- sort of a spiritual pit stop. I needed it. Now I can't wait for Easter!