My blog is full of the ordinary, in effort to bring some reality to the media. I am a great mom who makes mistakes, avoids cleaning, and can’t get-it-all-done, like most people I know. LIKE YOU, I am extraordinarily blessed with a great family, and opportunities to make a positive difference in this world – one day at a time.

Friday – A Musical Mother: Jenny Oaks Baker

JennyOaksBaker.com


Jenny shares many wonderful parenting tips in her latest podcast with LDS Perspectives. CLICK HERE to listen.
– Work first, play later. “Sometimes we see the reward from working hard and sometimes we don’t and that is okay. Sometimes we get paid for hard work (there is nothing wrong with paying your kids to practice their musical instruments. Parents get paid for working, why shouldn’t kids – for just getting it done). If you are working hard for the church or in service to someone, we get blessings instead of money AND THAT IS EVEN BETTER.
– Scriptures her mother would tell her when she was nervous before a performance (Did you know she started playing violin when she was 4 and has performed all her life? Did you know Dallin H. Oaks is her father?!)
– How the Lord, her ill mother and her new step mother helped the transition be more smooth than otherwise – after Jenny’s mother passed away.
These insights and more are in this excellent podcast. I invite you to listen to the whole thing. I strive for EXCELLENCE! Music brings Heaven close. Oh how I love excellence and excellence in music. Does that mean I love heaven? I think so. <3
“Music brings more light an love to the world.” – Jenny Oaks Baker

Tuesday – Does Only a Wet Baby Like Change?

Things WILL change. That is what we CAN count on.What are the changes you have experienced in your life?
Can we embrace change? Wendy Watson Nelson challenges us to think of these questions:
– Which ones are invited and anticipated?
– Which were anticipated, but never materialized?
– Which were uninvited, yet marvelous?
– Which were uninvited and soul wrenching?
Think of a change that was not invited, and soul wrenching. How did you respond to it? Did you turn to God?
Changes can rock our sense of stability. Change can bring great joy! SEE HER WHOLE TALK

Monday – I’m Like a Mama Duck

– On my walk this morning I saw a family of ducks – The dad standing guard. As I would get closer, the mom duck would open her mouth in a threatening way. It was neat to see healthy family roles being observed in nature. It reminded me of the Family Proclamation. 🙂
– I am like a Mama Duck because I have been feeling quite defensive of Curt and Adam’s educational surroundings. I feel like I am on alert, ready to protect my kids at the next sign of danger. The massive amount of standardized testing this spring, my kids’ complaints of the moral behavior of most students at our schools, the teacher strike, and now the crazy report of the shallow student at Cornell has put me on edge. (She does not know what she is doing, btw – she does not understand her privileges, the meaning of feminism, nor the real statement she made by exercising her “agency.” I feel sorry for her, but the leftist opinion will probably defend her “right” and continue to feed her feelings of “victimhood.” Dennis Prager on “960 The Patriot” talked about it today, “To be feminist you must claim to be a victim.” Reason has been thrown out the window. Evidently the rumor that many universities are leftist may be true. I am pleased with ASU’s purposeful development of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership to keep their views and offerings balanced. ) Though I am a big supporter of public school education, there are so many concerns about our two favorite neighborhood schools, right now, that we are looking at our high school choices at this point.
– I am not a victim. I feel empowered to choose my future and to raise responsible adults, who also are free to succeed and make the world a better place. I will fight for that.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

I LOVE being a mom. … Even though I am not perfect. I can still love it.

Don’t worry. You are doing the best you can. 🙂 I am glad I just have to deal with one day at a time.
If you aren’t a mom in the traditional sense, CHECK THIS OUT. We are all mothers. <3 Friday - A Better Day [caption id="attachment_2065" align="alignnone" width="3264"]Hollyhocks The Holly Hocks in my front yard cheer me up[/caption]
– Yesterday with Puppy, Adam’s upcoming AP tests, and womanly issues I felt stressed. I am grateful Duncan and the boys listened patiently to me at dinner time. Dinner time is SO IMPORTANT! We had sloppy joes and salad with mint and chip ice cream for dessert. Nothing fancy, but it was together and satisfying. Does this sound like Food Nanny? Liz says, “My Meal Plan soon became a lifestyle and I was not only feeding my family good easy nutritional meals, but I was enjoying the soulful time that I was finding in food preparation. I also knew that Dinnertime was the most important part of the day. Where we came together to sort out and talk over the day, enjoying a good hot meal and the conversations and time spent together which was even more important than the food we were eating.” CLICK HEREfor her whole story.
– Adam is taking the AP World History Exam today. Here are some Women World History Trivia Questions:
What British royal spent over $26,000 on underwear in the 1980s?
A: Princess Diana.
What First Lady became the first wife of a sitting president to appear under subpoena before a grand jury?
A: Hillary Rodham Clinton.
What name was the last word uttered by Napoleon?
A: Josephine.
What Filipino was nicknamed the ” iron butterfly”.
A: Imelda Marcos. CLICK HERE FOR MORE
– I need to make cookies today for a funeral, a high school seminary party, and our middle school’s honor team mini golf construction celebration. CLICK HERE for the Brownie Recipe I am going to follow (My mom’s recipe plus chocolate chips).

Thursday – Mesa Temple Renovation
mesa temple
CLICK HERE for the latest on the Mesa Arizona Temple renovation.

Wednesday – Like Puppy Like Child

Baby Watson

Watson is getting BIGGER


– We are babysitting Watson while Kay and Chuck go on a vacation. Kay treats Watson with so much love and care, like a child, really. I can’t keep up with the amount of attention he is accustomed to. Plus, I am a “strict” parent, while Kay is a lenient one. He is getting use to my style: I won’t hold him at the table. I make him wear a leash when on a walk. I don’t let him lick my plate clean. He is getting use to me:

– I still believe that children (and puppies) thrive with boundaries. They need lots of affection and outside playtime. They need consistency to be disciplined and to feel secure. They bring fulfillment and fun. I also still believe that children are most important, of course. It is a bonus to have both! 🙂
– Kay is in Rome, J.D. is in Georgia, Clark is in Mexico, Adam is studying for AP exams, and Curt is Curt.

Monday – J.D. is on his way!

Gigante’s update

BYU Women’s Conference 2018


Women’s conference was fun and filled with personal spiritual insights. I am so grateful to be a woman! Sister Gong is so funny! HERE are Sister Eubank and Aburto.
– I was shocked to see my former neighbor was scheduled to be a keynote speaker in front of thousands at BYU Women’s Conference! I didn’t know she was famous, but not only is she famous, but she has a PhD and is a professor! She is married with 2 babies at age 47 and was absolutely my favorite speaker the whole week. Her talk isn’t available on-line yet, but here is a past gem to VIEW Jennifer Brinkerhoff Platt while you are waiting.

Wednesday – I’m off to BYU Women’s Conference

– While I am gone, J.D. finishes his ASU finals and takes off for the Appalachian Trail. CLICK HERE for more.
– Gotta get the dishes done before I leave. CLICK HERE for my thoughts on doing dishes 😉
– The boys are going to be cooking on their own for 3 days. CLICK HERE for their latest recipe: Neato Frito Cheeto Dorito Burritos.
– Still no school… Without me home, they are definitely going to be playing video games, but they BETTER practice their piano and make their beds first. <3 Tuesday - Schooling at home

So many do this everyday! (4 of my siblings with their kids, as a matter-of-fact)
Assignments I gave Curt over the last two days:
– Find at least 3 interesting things about each of the east coast states we are visiting this summer. Choose your favorite state so far. Determine the 3 most important characteristics of this state (he chose Maine) and compose a thesis statement starting with “___ seems to be the most interesting East Coast state because….” After he finished that then I talked to him about having listed items in a statement parallel. We edited his thesis statement together. WE went to the library to find books about Maine and anything else he was interested in. Ends up he checked out 2 books about Maine and 4 books about engineering and motors.
– Practice piano
– Practice violin (we worked on the visual of the 3 octave G major scale).
– Theory (4 pages)
– Clean room
– Read for one hour (Surviving Junior High by John Bytheway)
Index (We just had to resurrect his password and he explored his family tree in different layouts.)

Monday – Teachers on Strike

– I support teachers. I am still trying to figure out what my position is on the AZ Teacher “Walkout.”Many states have or are currently working out better monetary solutions for our very important teachers and schools.
– I don’t know the details of this process, nor the driving forces behind it, but I trust that the governor, legislature and the united teachers are working it out as soon as possible. Finding the money must be super hard, because it has taken our state 3 days so far and I just got an email that there won’t be school on Tuesday either. If my trust is falsely placed, I feel sorrow for the future of public education.
– Because 2 days of video games is quite enough, today I pretended I was a homeschooling mom. It isn’t easy. I have a “to do list” too. Man! Home schooling is a real sacrifice. Here is my list for Curt: (Adam has HARD AP AND honors classes, whose teachers have been communicating homework and exam prep on canvas).

Tuesday – See? I can be real.

– The pancakes I made this morning turned out gross. I used some wheat flour that someone gave me that is going gluten free. We are gluten gluttons over here, but that flour was wrong. I’ll grind my own next time. Did you know you can grind wheat in a blender? HERE is a recipe for blender pancakes. I grind in an electric mill (but it is a Blendtec Mill that I bought on Craig’s List – trying to save money.) I want a Wonder Mill next. I had a Whisper Mill first, which I completely wore out. Whisper Mill has been out of business for 8 years. HERE is the story. I grind on the back porch right now because the Blendtec Mill makes such a mess! BUT IT IS WORTH IT!
– I have got to prepare my institute lesson today, After the Trial of Faith.
– Don’t forget to take your vitamins today. Did you know I have an underactive thyroid, like everyone else on this planet. My numbers have stabilized, according to the endocronolgist yesterday. MAN! I don’t like having to take medication every day (since 2006). I have tried everything from Iodide, chiropractor, nutrition, raw apple cider, probiotics, exercise, and now fermented beet juice. I am sure that all these things have helped, but I still have to take a pill on an empty stomach every morning. I should be grateful for modern medicine. I am grateful that my brain turns on and my heart is firing consistently, because it was touch-and-go there for a bit after Curt was born…but that is a story for another day.

Monday – Mormon Revolution

Greg Trimble, an LDS blogger and author says that the culture of Mormonism is needs to bust. We need to be full of tolerance and love in order for the crowds of people that need the fullness of the Gospel to feel welcome. “I wonder if people looked at the Sons of Mosiah and said… “Who do they think they are? How can they be missionaries? How can they represent Christ? How can they give advice in church when they were the vilest of sinners?” I wonder if those great missionaries were made to pay for their sins by their contemporaries even though those sins had already been paid for? Because of these repentant boys ability to overcome their past, they may have been the only Nephites alive who were willing and able to make an impact with those wretched Lamanites. People who have lived through massive challenges in life or made major mistakes and have been willing to make themselves vulnerable enough to empathize with others are able to reach people like those hostile Lamanites who we thought might have never been reached. And all of this revolves around love. Love that is passed from person to person to person. An extended hand, an arm around a shoulder, or a fervent prayer on behalf of an individual who has been through the ringer in life. Our culture needs a reboot. We need to pull for each other instead of being like the whiners in the parable Jesus gave about the workers in the vineyard.

“One of the most influential senior missionaries I served with during my mission once told me that he loved the smell of alcohol and tobacco at church. He said, “It’s the smell of change.” There’s someone sitting in that pew… trying to kick a habit, learning of Christ, and hoping for a friend to help take their mind off of that addiction… and yet some of us will move to the furthest pew and simultaneously say things that throw it right back in their face. This is bad! This is wrong! How can people do this or that! Slam! Whack! Bam! And the shame begins all over again for that struggling soul as they make their way back to their lonely apartment.”

– I agree with Greg. I feel like I LOVE everyone, but do I really accept them? I want to be better at expecting change and welcoming every soul. It is not up to me to decide who is ready for that change.
– At the end of a talk by Hugh Nibley on the scriptures:
“We don’t feel jilted by being so far below [Heavenly Father]. We haven’t missed a thing. It’s just so lovely to be near Him. Because He’s trying to pull us up to Him. He wants us to be like Him. And we can’t desire anything greater than that, so there is none of this dominance or submissive business, He’s not putting himself in charge. We are drawn toward Him and He wants us to be drawn.” – Hugh Nibley
– I am captivated by a podcast series, Mormon Perspectives. Did you know the Dead Sea Scrolls may be the most important discovery of the 20th century? Did you know that Abinadi and King Benjamin teach the same principles and even phrase their teachings the same, but didn’t know each other? or did they…? Did you know that the settlers of Nauvoo/Commerce Illinois were struck with Malaria? and it lasted 2 years? and MANY died, while others were healed – some by just touching Joseph Smith’s handkerchief since he was too sick to visit everyone himself. I am quite impressed with Laura Harris Hales. She knows enough to ask these scripture/history scholars all the right questions. Download your pick of 79 elipsodes HERE!

My letter TO Clark today (April 16, 2018) CLICK HERE FOR HIS LETTER THIS WEEK.
Hi Clark!!!! – Elder Shaeffer!!!

We love you! We hope you know that! We have prayed a lot for you this week and for Mary and her kids. Dad and I talk about how well you seem to be doing. About your Spanish acquisition and what it will be like when you come home… We are so proud of you. We love your emails.

This week has gone by very fast. We had a lesson at FHE about our take-aways from general conference. We fizzled during the discussion, so the list is short, but a good start. We had Grandma June, Grammy and Grandpa and Kay and Chuck over for dinner last night for fajitas. Tons of hugs all around, with good conversation. Grandma appears slower and in more pain. I am a little worried about her.

Here are Adam and Curt saying “Hi” to you on their way to Stake Standards Night. Can you believe Curt goes to those now?! He went to priesthood session of General Conference with Grandpa and pizza and ice cream too!

Do you remember the piano we pushed into the garage from Gemini? Well, we are taking it apart and it is so interesting! You can see some of the parts here.

We had a full bench in Sacrament meeting yesterday! It was so fun! J.D. Adam, and I were a part of a special number, “I am a Child of God” that Sister Sanderson organized and conducted. The front of chapel was filled with a line of vocalist from the ward all singing group by group, the first verse of “I am a Child of God” in different languages: Am. Sign (Hilton and Drew kids), German (Kira and Ryan Butler), Russian (Kate Packer), Japanese (Bro Sanderson) and Spanish (J.D., Adam and I)​. So we had (from south to north) Curt, J.D., Sierra Rose, Dakota, Jaylen, Adam, Me, Chloe, Isabella, and Myree Drew. Dad conducted the meeting and did a great job. I have been called to be the new sunbeam teacher!!!! Dakota is in my class. It was a fun first day.

At the end of a talk by Hugh Nibley on our understanding of the scriptures:
“We are not missing anything. We don’t feel jilted by being so far below [Heavenly Father]. We haven’t missed a thing. It’s just so lovely to be near Him. Because He’s trying to pull us up to Him. He wants us to be like Him. And we can’t desire anything greater than that, so there is none of this dominance or submissive business, He’s not putting himself in charge. We are drawn toward Him and He wants us to be drawn.” – Hugh Nibley

We love you! I LOVE YOU!!! Have a wonderful week!

Love,

Mom
oxoxxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

My letter to Clark (April 9, 2018):
Elder!

Hola! Como Estas? You sound wonderful. You look wonderful. You ARE wonderful, so I hope you are DOING wonderful and FEEL wonderful.

I sent you a paper letter last week. I hope you get it soon. 🙂 xoxoxo <3 Your recap on General Conference was great! I agree that Pres Nelson's talk was the BEST. I also loved Elder De Feo's talk on love. PURE love should be the foundation stone of our lives. Being a true disciple of Christ will fill us with love, peace, submissiveness. (Actually, I have felt this love. I know it is a gift from Heavenly Father and that it is a gift of the Spirit, which is so reassuring to me because since I often feel it, I must be getting close to being a disciple of Christ. I SURE DO strive every day to be just that.) Elder De Feo also said, "Bring peace to the heats of others. Express love to everyone. Respond with love and kindness." The Lakeshore Ward had a special joint Melchizedek priesthood (Elders quorum) and RS meeting during 3rd hour yesterday. President Otteson conducted the discussion and answered many questions. We have our same ministering assignments and companions that we previously had unless otherwise notified. There are no reports (but quarterly ministering interviews). Some families will need more attention than others, which implies that active families will probably not get as many visits as before and less-active families may get more. There will not be a presidency message in the front of the Ensign anymore. It all boils down to living more like Christ and seeking the personal revelation to serve the membership of The Church better. The Elders Quorum president has more responsibility than ever. He is over high priests and elders. He coordinates more with the RS and his presidency and the RS presidency are to take as much ministering work off the bishop that they can, so he and the bishopric can concentrate on the youth. Dad is calling the Elders Quorum president a mini bishop. J.D. and Chuck were in their Elders Quorum presidencies before the change. New presidencies have not been announced in any of our wards yet. Brother Scott Moore (former high priest group leader) and Brother Bill Farnsworth (former elders quorum president) bore powerful tender testimonies yesterday about the way their leadership callings had strengthened them spiritually. Dick Suico, Jim Erickson, Bishop Hilton, and some other men also bore testimony of the divine call of President Nelson, restructuring of the Melchizedek Priesthood and enhancements to ministering. The temple announcements and international apostles and seventies that were called are all so exciting! We live during a very special time in history. Like it says in D&C 121: 26-31, "...Which our forefathers have awaited with anxious expectation to be revealed in the last times, which their minds were pointed to by the angels, as held in reserve for the fulness of their glory; A time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be manifest...shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ." D&C 128:17 (15-25) is also pretty cool! Elder Wakely is so cool! ... to punch out the lenses of his sunglasses to match you? how funny! I am glad you are using your glasses when you need them, btw. You look fantastic. Have you been walking everywhere? Do you think you have lost any weight? Do you see the pictures and messages we send to Liliana Torres? How is Hna Mari? Will you tell her "Hi" from your mom? I am praying for her and her beautiful children. Did you get this pic? J.D. and Curt say "Hi!"
Easter Egg Hunt: (missing you)

The loot:

Kay and Chuck went to the San Diego temple a few weeks ago:

Here is Curt AND I after the color war:

So, you can see that we are our same crazy selves.

Here is Bo Irwin and Bob Martin with Austin in the background as they scatter Uncle Will’s ashes in a field of wild flowers (Texas).

Dad went to the funeral in Houston with his siblings and Gram Friday and Saturday. You remember that William Irwin was the husband of Papa’s only sibling/sister Bobby Jo. It seems there have been quite a few deaths lately: Papa, Sally, Rob Hawkes, and Uncle Will. We cleaned out Papa’s closet of clothes last weekend and I claimed a cool hat and some sweaters and shirts for you to enjoy when you get back.

You know how J.D. has been wanting a statement haircut for the Appalachian Trail this summer. J.D.’s mullet hair cut is looking … well – I’ll just say that he got some comments finally from guys in the ward yesterday. I gave J.D. the hair cut he asked for on Monday and he kept saying “shorter in the front” so I took off more and more. I was worried, because girls had not said anything to him about his haircut all week. But guys tell you how it is:

“That is a sketchy haircut, man!”
“That haircut does NOT look good on you.”

LOL! Its a statement alright. He is thinking about going back to missionary style ASAP – but hasn’t decided yet. Kay is encouraging him to stick to the mullet – his one chance. It is pretty gross.

Your tax returns arrived and have been deposited into your bank acct. How is your money worked out there? Do you have a maid or cook? Do you buy groceries on PDay? Do you need any recipes? Have you made your own rice or beans? Once you send that package, I hope you won’t worry anymore about buying stuff. It sounds like there is always a good deal in Mexico. 🙂

Well, I have my first assignment to teach at the ASU Institute next week. I am actually excited. I have a lot of prep to do. I am subbing for Brother Petramelo on the 18th and 19th.

We are hanging in there, Clark. We love you. We miss you. Curt hugged me yesterday and whispered, “I miss Clark.” We hugged for a long time. I only say this so you know we DO miss you and love you, but are so so very pleased with your service.

Huzzah for Zion! Huzzah for Israel!

Love,

Mom

xoxoxoxoxoxoxooxoxoxoxoxoxoxxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxooxxoxoo

I share a glimpse into my REAL life each day on this “Today” page. I am going to start making each “Today” it’s own post to encourage comments. Tomorrow I will index this post under Past “Today”s.

Explanation of the “Today” page: My blog is full of the ordinary, in effort to bring some reality to the media. I am a great mom who makes mistakes, avoids cleaning, and can’t get-it-all-done, like most people I know. AND LIKE YOU, I am extraordinarily blessed with a great family, and opportunities to make a positive difference in this world – one day at a time.