Find-A-Friend Friday: Meet Mary

It has been a really busy week on this blog. I think I’ve blogged more than I had in the previous month, total. Since posts are going up so quickly, I don’t want you to miss anything, so head back to the homepage and scroll a bit so you can catch all of the General Conference festivities, including last night’s announcement about trivia and photo contests. Okay, back to the business at hand.

I really didn’t know very much at all about Mary until I read her answers to my “interview” questions.  By the time I finished, I decided I wish I lived next door to Mary.  I love people who can give great advice and make me think more deeply.  I’m excited for you to get to know her, too.  Meet Mary:

Hello! Iʼm Mary Jarman, and I live in Sandy, Utah. Stephanie recently posted about living in
Utah, and her honesty made my day. I replied that I was a transplant to Utah, and said in my life there are several things I said I would never do. Living in Utah made that list, as did and never driving a Suburban. God has a sense of humor, and Iʼve learned to never say never because I do live in Utah (which has grown to feel like home) and even though I still donʼt drive a Suburban, our 5 children (3 teen-sized) more than fill up our Durango, so itʼs probably time for an upgrade. It certainly would make carpooling and road trips a lot easier!

I grew up on a farm in Juniper, Idaho, and moved away when I was 18 years old for
college. I attended BYU Idaho (back when it was Ricks College) and earned an Associateʼs
Degree. After a stint at Boise State University, I left on a mission to the Marshall Islands
(Micronesia Guam Mission, which has also changed names and boundaries…are there hints of my age in all of these change?). I attended BYU (Provo) after my mission. I donʼt want to hurt any feelings, but BYU was my last choice. It took God knocking me over the head to get me there, and in my ultimate act of rebellion, I actually wore my husbandʼs University of Utah sweatshirt to classes on the last day. Ten years later, after my youngest children were in school, I redeemed myself by graduating from the University of Utah with a masterʼs degree in Continue reading


Find-A-Friend Friday: Meet Erika

[Quick announcement first:  Congratulations to Lisaway, who won the giveaway for Melanie’s new book.  To anyone else who wants a copy for yourself, you can buy Not My Type at Amazon or Deseret Book.]

Today we meet Erika.  She is a blog friend I was lucky enough to meet in real life when she came to Utah one time and graciously took family pictures for me.  See what a great job she did?

She is very kind and super talented and I’m excited for you to meet her.  Here’s Erika:

[I stole this from her blog.  Isn’t she lovely?]

My name is Erika.  I’m shockingly close to 30 and I live just outside of Portland, OR.  I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for 9 years and we have 2 girls (6 and 4) and a boy(2).

I am a military brat, my dad served in the Army for 20+ years.  I was born in Germany, but we moved when I was two.  I’ve lived in all 4 corners of the US.  Having experienced many different climates and places I have decided that my two favorite places are Virginia and Washington state because of the beautiful greens.  I grew up in a family of 6 girls, no boys.  I was the 2nd oldest and did a lot of babysitting.  I met my husband in Florida when he moved into my ward.  It was pretty much love at first sight and he waited 9 months for me to turn 16 before he took my on my first date.  He was also my first kiss.  I wrote to him while he went on a mission and I went to BYU Provo. I didn’t do anything past my general electives at BYU.  Nothing interested me enough to commit.  The most interesting part of my history happens when my husband got home from his mission.  He had been challenged by his dad to beat his “dating record” of 39 girls in 1 year.  I knew that my husband had this goal, so I encouraged him to take girls out while still dating me.  But that started to get old, really fast.  He had bought my engagement ring and he was STILL DATING other girls.  I finally put my foot down and told him to choose between me and the numbers.  He made the correct choice.  Shortly after getting married I started massage school at Utah College of Massage Therapy so I am a closet massage therapist now.  I’m not currently licensed, but I would say that I am so grateful that I went to massage school because it rekindled my love of learning that I had lost.  After my husband graduated from BYU we moved up to Oregon and we plan to stay forever.  We LOVE the Pacific Northwest.  We now have 3 kids and I have discovered a passion for photography.

What’s your favorite part of motherhood? The hugs and kisses from my children.  Hearing them laughing together.  Watching how they grow and learn.

What part of motherhood would you subcontract out if you could? FEEDING my kids.  I honestly can’t STAND it when my kids come and ask me for food or tell me that they are hungry.  And if I think of something for them to eat, they don’t want it.  I wish I found satisfaction in feeding my family, but I jut don’t.

Brag for a minute.  Do it.  What are a few things that you’re pretty good at? I’m pretty good at putting things off…  hence my blog title “Erika’s Procrastination Corner.”  I am patient with projects.  I love doing things with my hands.  I am artistic and can draw fairly well.  I have been practicing and would say I’m pretty good at taking pictures, but I’m always trying to learn and improve.

What are you loving lately? Taking pictures and Pinterest.

What do you gravitate toward during your unscheduled time? The computer… I always have one project or another; editing pictures, blogging, creating Blurb books from my blog, checking Facebook/email, etc.

Tell us some of your best mom-tricks  (things you’ve figured out that work well for you).  Using one word commands when you need a child to obey you.  “Clothes”, “Teeth”, things like that.  

What’s something you don’t usually want people to know about you, but that they need to know if they’re going to be your friend?  I’m a homebody and would most likely rot at home if you don’t invite me to go somewhere.  I need friends who get me out of my comfort zone and reach out to include me.

 If you were in charge of a girls’ night out, what kind of activity would you love to plan?  If money and calories weren’t an issue- I’d do a spa night where we all got pedicures and then ate at a chocolate cafe and saw girly chick flick.

What parts of your testimony are you the most sure of?  I am most sure that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that he was telling the truth about the First Vision.  I am most sure that the power of the priesthood is real and that the Holy Ghost guides us.  I am most sure that Heavenly Father loves us and watches over us and has a hand in our lives.

 Let’s say you’re dying in your sleep tonight.  What would you eat for your last meal?  My mom’s beef enchiladas with an italian soda, followed by Snickerdoodles and Lemon Bars

What homemaking job/task gives you the most satisfaction?  Sweeping.  It’s quick and easy and you see immediate results and your house instantly feels 50% cleaner without crumbs sticking to your feet.

Give your best advice to a newlywed or expectant mom.  Stop thinking about you and think about them (husband/child).

What’s something unexpected in your life, and how have you dealt with it?  I got diagnosed with thyroid cancer when I was pregnant with my son.  That was definitely unexpected.  Getting the thyroid removed and dealing with the treatment wasn’t so bad, but trying to get my thyroid levels regulated has been hard.  Let’s just say I’m glad my husband and kids have put up with me.

If you could make a pie chart (graph) of your thoughts during the last week or so, what would take up most of the space?  A house.  I’m trying to figure out where the Lord stands on this house and my family, whether we should buy it or not.  It’s great fun.

Tell us about your blog:  My blog is Erika’s Procrastination Corner.  It is basically a family journal with LOTS of pictures.  I started blogging in 2007 or so and decided that I wanted my pictures to look better.  That’s what led me to discovering my love for photography.  

Thank you, Erika!  Please visit her blog to get to know her a little, or give her a quick hello in the comments here.

Happy weekend, everyone.

Find-A-Friend Friday: Meet Carrie

This week is our chance to meet Carrie.  I met her through blogging and only know her as an online friend.  She started reading my blog a while back, which I thought was really cool because she didn’t even have any children at the time.  She recently had her first little daughter, and I’ve really enjoyed watching her take the transformative journey of motherhood on her own blog.  She writes honestly about her experiences.  This post is one of my favorites that she wrote about the challenging new life as a mother, and just this week she wrote another post where she said something I loved:  “… in all the gaps of me, Heavenly Father was there. He just filled in what i couldn’t do.”  Meet Carrie:

Hi! I’m teachergirl on the internet and Carrie in real life. I live in a smallish collegetown in the south where football AND basketball rules the community.  You don’t want to try to go anywhere on a football Saturday; of course, I wouldn’t dare, since I’m glued to my TV watching all the SEC games I can manage to get in.  I have been married for two years to the love of my life and my very best friend, musicboy, who is studying to become a high school band director (we’ll never be far away from a football game…) and we had our first baby, a girl, in April.  We met in Institute and became best friends; he left to go on a mission, I had hope that maybe he would date me when he got back, and he did! We were married 9 months after he got back. Letters for the win! 🙂

I’m the only daughter of an amazing single mom who managed to work, raise me, and go to college at night for most of my early childhood.  I was born in California, but moved to the South when I was in college.  I like it much better, to be honest with you.   I got married a little later than most (and robbed the cradle! my husband is 9 years younger than me) so while I was waiting for that dream to come true, I made a few more happen. I graduated last year with my Ph.D. in English, and now teach college courses (mostly) from home while I care for our daughter.  I love teaching (hence my online name) and am grateful that I had the opportunity to pursue so much education before our daughter was born.  I feel like I have really gotten to do all of the things that I wanted to do on my own, and now I get the chance to help our children and my husband realize their dreams.  I’m really thankful for that gift.

 What’s your favorite part of motherhood?

Baby giggles and smiles.  I’ll never forget how it felt when I got my first belly laugh out of our girl, for doing something simple like rubbing noses with her.  Cuddles. Being able to solve a problem faster because I know what to do.  Seeing her grow and do things she just has been working on forever.  Development is astounding.  Realizing that I just really LIKE my kid.  Rocking her to sleep.

Name 2 or 3 items on your “bucket list.”  (Some things you’d like to do before you die.)

Touch the Eiffel Tower (and visit Europe in general).  Serve a mission with my husband.  Own a home.  Be debt-free (oh student loans).

Brag for a minute.  Do it.  What are a few things that you’re pretty good at?

I’m a good teacher.  I cook pretty well, though I don’t do it as often as I should.  I’m a pretty great baker.  My husband says “mommying. baking. reading real fast. a very good friend and listener.”  [He got kisses for that. :)]

What are you loving lately?

–Finding mom friends. It’s hard for me, especially because most of the young moms that I felt a kinship to have moved out (the perils of living in a college town). While I love mom friends of all ages, I especially am loving finding a few (online!) who seem like, as Anne Shirley would say, kindred spirits.

–The peace I feel when I am putting in, let’s face it, even the most minimal effort toward scripture reading and prayer.  It’s like an amazing buffer against Satan.

–How incredible exercising makes me feel.  It kills the frustration in my life. It’s my me time…I’d been searching for it and I’ve finally found it. It’s lovely.

–The hint of fall in the air, even down here in the Sweaty South. It always gives me hope. I feel like it must be how Northerners feel about spring.

Do you have a favorite scripture or quote?  Why?

Lately, the idea of steadfastness has been on my mind.  I have too many favorite scriptures to quote, but when I remember “Be still, and know that I am God,” it tends to seriously chill me out.  As I was waiting for my baby to come, that was the scripture that kept coming to mind.

What do you gravitate toward during your unscheduled time?

I’m superguilty of spending way too much time on the Internet. I’m pretty sure it is my one way to reach out and find adults.  When the baby is asleep, I am working (usually) so I don’t know that i have “unscheduled” time. If I could have that, I would read. I would crack out my sewing machine and try to make something adorable for the Maggie girl.  I would find some sort of adventure for our family to take–more than likely, we’d go to the beach for the first time ever as a family.

Tell us some of your best mom-tricks  (things you’ve figured out that work well for you).

Well, I’m new in this mommy deal.  But the lesson I’ve learned the most poignantly is to trust myself.  That thing they say about mommy instinct is TRUE. I read a lot of books, about schedules and sleep and all manner of kid training, and they pretty much all made me feel like a failure because once she was born, we just sort of let her lead.  It hasn’t failed us yet, but there’s a lot of clamoring voices anxious to tell you that what you’re doing as a parent is wrongWRONGwrong.  It’s taken me the last five months to feel remotely comfortable about our choices.

Also? “I Am A Child of God” has magic in it.

Learning to laugh when the baby laughs is great therapy.  I’ve also found the merit of the 15 minute blitz. Now that we have an exersaucer, I can usually get 15 minutes out of her when she is independent and happy as she’s playing (yes, we’re in that phase).  It’s amazing how much you can get done.

Buy more than you think you’ll need if it’s a baby product. Nothing worse than running out of diapers/wipes/formula/diaper rash cream/etc when you really need it and look like the epic unwashed. Plus, there’s no more running to the store quickly. It takes me 40 minutes to even anticipate a trip out of the house.

What’s something you don’t usually want people to know about you, but that they need to know if they’re going to be your friend?

I’m my worst critic. I will often speak unkindly about myself while I will try not to speak that way about anyone else.  It’s something that I don’t like about myself, but I think it’s (a bit of introspective self-analysis here) a way of getting it out there before anyone else can. I think I’m secretly looking for people to disagree with me. Also, I’m always striving for perfection and rarely see how much I actually do accomplish–instead, I see what i have yet to cross off.  Wow, I sound like a bucket of fun, don’t I? 🙂

What parts of your testimony are you the most sure of?

That Heavenly Father knows me by name and loves me no matter what. My first moment of feeling the intensity of the Spirit answering my prayer as a teenaged girl was when I asked this question for myself. So, I have never doubted it since.  That He keeps His promises–my life is a testimony of this. That when we put in the least amount of effort to show Him that we want to follow Him, the heavens open and we are blessed with so much more than we could ever possibly deserve.  That prayer works in any situation.  That we will always have sufficient for our needs.

If you were awarded an “honorary degree” in something, what should it be and why?

Multitasking and listmaking. At any given moment, I’m probably doing 3 different things. This isn’t always a good thing, but it’s necessary right now.  Even if I’m only DOING one thing, it’s likely I’m thinking about the next three that need to be done. I’m sincerely hoping that someday I’ll get better at being efficient and being in the moment more.

Give your best advice to a newlywed or expectant mom.

Newlywed: Spend lots and lots of time together.  Learn everything you can about that person, including how they deal with stress and life craziness.  Figure out what you expect from that person and then reconsider it–is it important that he replace the toilet paper roll? If so, please please PLEASE just talk about it. We expect men to read our minds. They just don’t and won’t and it’s too much of a waste of time to wait around for that miracle to happen.  Work hard. Play hard. Love each other a lot.  Cuddle every day.  Remember the little things.  Pay down as much debt as possible.

Expectant: Find moms that you respect.  They can be older or younger with kids grown and gone or just a few weeks/months older than yours. Find them and become friends.  You’ll need support. Line it up now.  You might be surprised at who you are guided to–ask Heavenly Father to help.  You really may be an entirely different mom than you think.  Be okay with that.  Recognize that you’re new to this deal and all of your planning can’t possibly prepare you for this person that you haven’t met.  Advice is great but please remember that YOU ARE THE MOM.  You know better than you think you do. Your biggest job right now, before the baby comes, is to take care of yourself.  Your biggest job, one that doesn’t ever go away, after the baby comes is to care for that little person. Take the time to get to know his/her language. It’s hard, but you’ll get there. When you feel like you have, when you feel the gentle tugging of your gut instinct and the Spirit, listen to it. It won’t steer you wrong.

If you could make a pie chart (graph) of your thoughts during the last week or so, what would take up most of the space?

Teething and related issues (including, but not limited to, a grunting crankypants, diaper rash, spit up, tugging at ears, and feeling for/looking at the new tooth): 52%

How on earth do I exercise/lose this stubborn baby weight/stop eating copious amounts of sugar?: 12%

Workworkworkmustdomorework: 28%

Laundry/dishes: 2% (they both were pretty piled up)

Naps/sleep, for me and baby: whatever’s left, and probably more. 🙂

Tell us about your blog:

My blog is called “just so long and long enough,” which comes from the e.e. cummings poem “i carry your heart.”  i love it and it describes the way i feel about my husband. when we got married, i started this new blog (i had one before that wasn’t anonymous, but decided that i wanted this one to be) as we started our new life.  it’s just the ramblings of me–i talk mostly about our daughter and my journey into motherhood. my frustrations, my joys, my wonder at her very existence–they’re all there. i talk a little about how hard it is to be a mom and to turn into a mom and still figure out who the heck you are, and every once in a while i’ll rant about students or about life in general. i think it’s a pretty good glimpse of where my head is at, though i have found myself editing it more because of who reads it.  tells me it’s time to have a journal again. 🙂

Please visit Carrie’s blog or give her a quick hello in the comments here.  Thanks Carrie for joining our Friday friend party!

Happy weekend, everyone.

Find-A-Friend Friday: Meet Shantel

This is a big day, ladies. Today I get to introduce you to one of my favorite people in the whole world.  Shantel was my best friend in Minnesota.  She and her family moved in to our ward about a year after we did, but I was in Primary and didn’t really have the chance to get to know her.  Somehow I knew she was into theater, so one night on a whim, I called her up and invited her to go see a Shakespeare play.  I wanted to go, but Matt’s not really into Old English, and I wanted someone to enjoy it with me.  The play was awesome. Well, that started a friendship that I think I can say was, and still is, a huge blessing to both of us.  (Shantel, I just had a thought.  Was I your visiting teacher for a couple of months?  Is that how I knew about your theater background?  Man, if so, this is a great VT success story.  Woohoo!, I finally have something inspirational to say at those annual visiting teaching conferences where I usually just feel guilty.) To make a long story short, Shantel is a soul-friend.  We have seen each other cry and make fools of ourselves and we’ve also cheered each other on through accomplishments big and small.  And our husbands get along too, which is a rare blessing that made for many fun double dates.  Matt knows that whenever I’m fretting about something or trying to think it all the way through, if I just call Shantel, I’ll get more insight and feel better.  I feel truly lucky to count her among my very best friends.  She’s amazing, but overly modest, so I will be interrupting her interview regularly to give you my biased commentary.  Okay, friends, behold Shantel:

Hello! My name is Shantel Gardner. I live in Apple Valley, Minnesota with my husband Joel and five children. I have been married 15 years, and my children are as follows: Brooklyn- 14, Sawyer-11, Porter- 8, Ella- 6 and Emma 4. Oh– and we have an overweight Golden Retriever named Maggie. She’s the awesome that makes our family awesome.

I grew up in the small farming metropolis (that means no stop light) town of Duchesne, Utah. After graduating, I went to Snow College, then moved to Vegas — where I met Joel– and attended UNLV. Two weeks after we were married, we moved to Arizona, where I attended ASU- (do you have college whiplash yet?) –and we started our family. We lived there for about 11 years, then one year in Reno, and then *BAM* Minnesota. I am now at the U of M getting my two bachelors in Religious Studies and History, with a minor in Jewish Studies. I am a historian of early Mormon Church history, with emphasis on Emma Smith and the personal life of Joseph Smith. I also serve on the board for the Joseph Smith Jr. and Emma Hale Smith historical society under the direction of Elder Ballard, and I do a lot of stuff and things for them [like speak at conferences in Nauvoo, Palmyra, Winter Quarters, etc., including family reunions for the direct descendants of Joseph and Emma to help them learn more about their amazing ancestry].

What’s your favorite part of motherhood? I love that Motherhood is so loved by the Lord. I love that the everyday, ordinary, mundane tasks that I do every day are like crown jewels to him and He treasures them so much. I love knowing that what I have chosen to do with my life makes him happy and is the most valuable thing in the Kingdom of God.

What part of motherhood would you subcontract out if you could? Listening to the whining. I mean come on people….get over yourselves.

Name 2 or 3 items on your “bucket list.” (Some things you’d like to do before you die.) Finish my degree, see the Holy Land- and most importantly and number one- meet my grandchildren. At least attend one birth- then I’m good. Beam me up Scotty.  [oh yeah, Shantel’s a doula too, which I honestly used to think was a little whackadoodle, but then she helped deliver my sister’s baby, and I honestly think my sister would now trade me in for Shantel if she could.]

Brag for a minute. Do it. What are a few things that you’re pretty good at? I am good at seeing angles of things that most people don’t see. Also details about things most people don’t see. This has been the greatest blessing of my life.

What are you loving lately? George Washington, Buddhism and lemon orzo soup from Panera. Amazing man and amazing soup! [She emailed me yesterday and told me to add Hebrew and Professor Levinson to this list.  She just started the class at the University of Minnesota this week, and as of this afternoon, successfully memorized the Hebrew alphabet.]

Do you have a favorite scripture or quote? Why? When Joseph Smith restored the Relief Society, he said, “If you live up to your privileges, angels cannot be restrained from being your associates.” That is a few words with a powerful punch. And he was telling the truth!

What’s something you don’t usually want people to know about you, but that they need to know if they’re going to be your friend? I have high-functioning Asperger’s [on the autism spectrum], so I have little-to-no filter– I can’t make decisions like “where are we going to eat?” and I hyper-obsess on topics. So you have to have good self-esteem, constantly assume I mean the best and kind of take over anytime there is anything social happening. Flip-side of this is that I am like a brick wall to offend. And I love a fair amount of irreverence. If you can make me laugh- I will probably stalk you. [You also need to know (and she probably wouldn’t tell you this) that all of her children– yes all FIVE– are diagnosed with varying degrees of autism.  I cannot begin to tell you what a mother phenomenon she is, but she hates to be told that because they are just her children and they’re awesome, and she doesn’t see her circumstances as any special kind of challenge.  She is absolutely confident that the Lord parents them and she’s just an assistant.]

If you were in charge of a girls’ night out, what kind of activity would you love to plan? I don’t plan- I tag along. [Guess what? She’s coming to visit me next week and we’re having an entire girls’ weekend. I can’t wait.]

Friends are great for venting. What’s been frustrating you lately? Let me use this question to talk about friends. I love diversity, and I love to have friends that don’t share my beliefs. I don’t like being agreed with all the time. I recoil from judgment on anybody or anything- but I do my share of it, so when I vent, I need someone to just roll with me- I will eventually move on.

What parts of your testimony are you the most sure of? A few things are rock solid for me:  Jesus Christ is the literal head of this church. He runs this church and it is His. Every jot and tittle. Joseph Smith IS a prophet of God, and that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. [Shantel has an amazing testimony of the prophet Joseph and the restoration.  She has dedicated years of prayerful study to understanding the lives, history, personalities and circumstances of Joseph and Emma.  I once wrote a little bit about that here.]

Desert Island Question. If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take 3 items with you, what would they be? My pillow, chocolate, my laptop (with Wi-Fi)

What homemaking job/task gives you the most satisfaction? The parenting part, when I can see I got through. A child feels loved, or got a life principle. Or when I see things I like about Joel or myself showing up in my kids. [Her oldest daughter is the funnest combination of both of them, by the way.]

Shantel hasn’t written on her blog for several months and she felt embarrassed to even mention it, plus it’s private, so I’m going to direct you to a cool two-part series she wrote about Emma Smith over at “Women in the Scriptures”: Part 1 and Part 2.

Please take a minute to say hello to Shantel in the comments below.  I know she’ll check them compulsively hoping that people didn’t think she’s an idiot.  🙂  Thank you, thank you, Shantel.  Thank you for being such a good friend and good example to me.  It’s a gift to know someone like you.

Happy weekend, everyone.

Find-A-Friend Friday: Meet Pam

Today we get to meet Pam. I’m meeting Pam for the first time myself through this interview, and I just have to say– some people amaze me. Truly.  Blog friends, meet Pam:

Hi, My name is Pam Banta. I live in Orem, Utah. I am married to a wonderful Lt. Col. in the Army Reserve that loves, adores and cherishes me for some unknown reason. I am the mother of 12 (Yes, TWELVE) children. Gave birth to 5 (2 girls, 2 boys and a girl), adopted 7 (2 girls, 2 boys, girl, boy, girl). The attached family picture is missing two people—my 24-year-old son that was unavoidably absent, and my newest granddaughter. It was done in Dec 2009—we are getting a new one done tomorrow. The bear represents my son who passed away in 2005. There are two pecking orders in our home—oldest to youngest and first to last. We adopted a 10-year-old girl from India when our first girl was 3 ½ and our second girl was a year old. Two years later, I gave birth to a boy and 6 weeks later the oldest child’s two siblings joined us from India. That created a lot of the two pecking orders… the first child becoming the third oldest and creating an almost twin situation with the first child being 5 months older than the youngest child from India. I gave birth to two more children, then adopted a little boy from the California foster care system. Our last three children were our foster children that we were able to adopt.  We are still foster licensed, but due to our youngest son’s emotional/mental health issues, I don’t have the energy to care for any more children. We have 7 children at home now: Z- 24-year-old-boy, M-19-year-old-boy, J-17-year-old-boy, A-14-year-old-girl, R-9 -year-old-girl, C-8-year-old-boy, B -6 -year-old-girl. I’m a grandma of 4 granddaughters, the last one only a couple of months old. I have four married daughters that I am so grateful have been married in the temple!   I work part-time as a court liaison for a clinical services provider—which means I get to sit in court, listen, read a book, comment when a client is in court and sign up people for new services as assigned by the court. I do enjoy it.  I am also a Peer Parent. I went back to work to pay for my youngest to join the next two oldest at Montessori school. That has been an amazing experience! I teach Sunbeams in Primary. I love quotes—I have included many in my post here. We have remodeled four homes. I have done a lot of painting, sheetrocking, tile and wood floors. My husband was deployed in 2007, gone 15 months, home a year and 8 days and gone for another year +. He has been home for a year, but has been the commander of a battalion in Washington State for the past 9 months…only 15 months to go.

I grew up in Cottonwood Heights, a suburb of Salt Lake City. I graduated a long time ago. This year was my 30 year reunion, which I missed so I could spend the weekend with my husband in Atlanta at a Commander’s Conference for the Army Reserve. My dad was a Salt Lake County Deputy Sheriff (and I have a brother that is one now). I enjoyed that some…got to go in a police car occasionally, and he worked in our area, so when he wasn’t busy, sometimes he would come park in the driveway and I could go out and talk to him. I grew up in a family of six kids…sort of. I grew up the oldest of 3 for a long time, then when I was in high school, my parents adopted 3 kids from India. Little did my parents know what they were starting!  Our children are from the same orphanage. I went to India with my parents for a month to pick up my second sister. I was a swimmer from age 11 till I graduated from high school. I was never very good, but I enjoyed it most of the time. I taught swimming and was a lifeguard throughout high school. I’ve gone to Snow College, spent a semester abroad in Israel, went to Intermountain College of Court Reporting and worked as a court reporter part-time for about a year, went to University of Wyoming, and about a year ago started at Broadview University for an AA in Paralegal Studies. I quit school when I started work in March this year. Too much on my plate. In 2001 or 2002, I started a website for adoption resources, In 2003, I started an adoption agency. It didn’t make any money and took a lot of time, so when my husband was deployed in 2007, I had to close it.

What’s your favorite part of motherhood? My favorite part of motherhood is watching my children learn new things.  I love to see the light in their eyes when they figure something out or something suddenly clicks in their brain. I spend a lot of time just listening. Sometimes I wonder how much I really teach them. I love the few precious moments when everyone is getting along. I love hugs, snuggling, laughing together, I love seeing my adult children get together and talk and get along. I love knowing that my adult daughters feel they can come to me with questions about their kids. It’s great to see them grow up and be good people—you wonder about that sometimes when they are growing up! I’m not enjoying the fact my daughter #2 (& #5) is moving to South Africa the first part of September for 9 months. That’s a bit far away.

What part of motherhood would you subcontract out if you could?  Definitely laundry.  It is a strong source of contention in our home. My youngest three, due to the early circumstances of their lives, are not very cooperative. I also believe in teaching them to be responsible and self-reliant, so they have to do laundry. They don’t like it (not many of us do!). I would also contract out dishes.  Another BIG battle at our house. HUMMMM—how about all the cleaning, laundry, dishes and cooking? Then I could just play Mom? Guess that wouldn’t work—who would teach my kids to do it?  One sad thing I heard was a friend from Colorado whose daughter had just gone to college and she was the only one in her apartment that knew how to do dishes, laundry or clean. Sad. My kids won’t be those roommates.

Brag for a minute.  Do it.  What are a few things that you’re pretty good at? Listening. As I said before, I do a lot of it. It seems like most people can figure out their own issues if they can talk them out. I pray a lot while I listen for any inspirational comments to make—or when to be quiet. I multi-task pretty well. I catch on to some things pretty quickly. I worked for a few months in a small law office and kind of was running it within a month. My boss at the moment has told me that she is grateful she doesn’t have to worry about me or babysit me. She shows or tells me what needs to be done and it’s done. “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

What are you loving lately? Holding my granddaughters. Seeing my son bless the sacrament (his two older brothers went inactive about that time in their lives), Enjoying Fridays when my husband is home and the kids are at school! Reading. I love knowing that the Second Coming is actually coming. I see things speeding up. I just wish it would hurry. I would love to have some time to raise my youngest children with more peace in the world. Yes, I want it to come for selfish reasons. Of course, when Joseph Smith was alive, he was told it was close…so I guess that’s all relative.  I just wish it would hurry up. I also am loving sitting in court and watching my own realization of the Savior’s love grow. He loves every one of those people I see every day. The ones that have been struggling with drugs or alcohol for most of their lives, the ones with mental illness, the ones that look like toothpicks, the ones struggling with weight issues, the ones driving on suspension for the 5th time. The ones going to jail for the 10th time and the ones who got caught going 9 over the speed limit. The ones that hurt another of His children. Everyone is beautiful in His eyes and everyone is loved by Him, cherished by Him. I have been able to develop more love for others, more tolerance and acceptance. I see through new eyes.

Do you have a favorite scripture or quote?  Why? Mosiah chapters 2-5.  Sorry, couldn’t narrow it down any further. Much of it is about accepting the atonement, repentance, the love of the Savior, blessings, serving others. It’s kind of a road map home. Some of my favorite quotes (I have a very large file on my computer of quotes, stories, poems):  “Marriage—it’s not about finding someone you can live with.  It’s about finding someone you can’t live without.”  Julian Laws.  “Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to be just people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old-time rail journey…delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”—Gordon B. Hinckley, quoting Jenkin Lloyd Jones    “Faith means trust—trust in God’s will, trust in His way of doing things, and trust in His timetable.”  Dallin H. Oaks  Boyd K. Packer:  “If you are reverent and prayerful and obedient, the day will come when it will be revealed to you why the God of Heaven has commanded us to address Him as simply ‘Father’ and why the Lord of the Universe asks us to address Him simply as ‘Son’.  Then you will have discovered the Pearl of Great Price spoken of in the scriptures and you will willingly go and sell all that you have that you might obtain it.”

What’s something you don’t usually want people to know about you, but that they need to know if they’re going to be your friend? I am hard to get to know. I usually sit back and listen and watch in a group–sometimes even in my own family. One on one, sometimes it’s hard to get me to be quiet. I don’t have many friends and I am very busy, so friend time is very limited. That doesn’t mean I don’t love you or care about you, but that my family is my priority and they are a bit time-consuming.

Friends are great for venting.  What’s been frustrating you lately? My youngest children have no idea what respect is (even though we are trying, daily, to help them figure it out). They have two speeds—zoom and snail. Of course, zoom is when I want them to slow down, and snail is the rest of the time. They don’t like to obey—it’s a control/trust thing—attachment issues from birth parents. We can’t seem to motivate them to do anything they need to do.  I’m very tired of being yelled at and disobeyed. Even the therapists we go to every week are frustrated. The therapist reminds me—molding children’s behavior and thought processes before age 3 is like molding clay. After 3, it’s like chiseling granite. Guess how many of my children came after age 3? Six. My chiseling arm is very, very tired.

What parts of your testimony are you the most sure of? I have a Heavenly Father and Savior that love me –all of us. The atonement is very real—and I believe a small part of it is for sin, the rest of it is for all the pain and suffering, mistakes, etc. that we all experience. I have a strong testimony that we will all be judged fairly—according to our level of understanding in life, our abilities and the circumstances that create that. I know that the gospel contains all we need to find happiness in life. There are principles that are just plain true principles—whether you live in Utah, India, China or Africa. Whether you have ever heard of Jesus Christ or not. Following those principles create happiness. People around the world have figured that out through the spirit. Prayer works. You can find answers in the scriptures. The Priesthood has great power. I will see my son again. There are worse things than dying. “That great blessing of celestial glory could never have come to us without a period of time in mortality, and so we came here in this mortal world. We are in school, the mortal school, to gain the experiences, the training, the joys, and the sufferings that we partake of, that we might be educated in all these things and be prepared, if we are faithful and true to the commandments of the Lord, to become sons and daughters of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ;”—Joseph Fielding Smith    “The strait and narrow path, though clearly marked, is a path, not a freeway nor an escalator. Indeed, there are times when the only way the strait and narrow path can be followed is on one’s knees! And we are to help each other along the path.”  —Neal A. Maxwell

If you were awarded an “honorary degree” in something, what should it be and why? As a therapist. I do that EVERY day. I really feel I have learned as much as most therapists do because of the issues my children have. My three oldest have attachment disorder and abandonment issues. It took years to figure that out—and I did, not the counselors we were going to. I have a son with depression and anxiety, a husband and several children with ADHD, and my youngest three have neglect/abandonment issues, attachment issues and my youngest son has bi-polar, OCD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder.  Life is fun—often not. I have played the role of marriage counselor, parenting mentor, drug abuse counselor, suicide prevention counselor, etc.

Let’s say you’re dying in your sleep tonight.  What would you eat for your last meal? A nice salad, either beef tips with mushroom gravy and mashed potatoes and rolls from Texas Roadhouse OR chicken broccoli alfredo and garlic bread. Heck, if it’s my last meal, why not both? For dessert—a gooey brownie with chocolate ice cream and hot fudge.  “Always leave room for dessert.”

Give your best advice to a newlywed or expectant mom. For a newlywed: Take time to adjust to each other. Assume your spouse is not doing the things that bug you because s/he wants to bug or hurt you. Most of the time, if they knew how it was affecting you, they wouldn’t do it. There isn’t enough time in life to get offended. Expectant mom:  Pregnancy is temporary. Do your best. Take time every day to enjoy something—your child will never be that age again. Put trust in your Heavenly Father that He knows you and your child and the match was “made in heaven” and is right for both of you. Heavenly Father knows you can be this child’s parent and He will help you. Share your testimony with your children. If there is only thing my children remember about me when I am gone, I hope it would be my unwavering testimony of the gospel and that I love them. “Parental time with youth is vital…whether in activities or discussions, the family circle would be one and the same time, a circle of friends.  Families which work, pray and play together will usually survive spiritually.  Let us, as parents and grandparents, so love, tutor and train our youth that the sweetness they experience in their LDS homes will, thereafter, make the world taste sour to them.”  Neal A. Maxwell.  “Change is inevitable.  Growth is optional.”   “Try not to be too demanding of one another. There must be a little give and take, and a great deal of flexibility, to make a happy home.” —Marjorie Pay Hinckley, Glimpses into the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley

What’s something unexpected in your life, and how have you dealt with it? One of my grandmothers died in March of 2003, my other grandmother in January of 2004, My dad in March of 2004. Then, in 2005, at about 6:10 pm on June 10th, my 6-year-old son, Ammon, was in an accident. After an agonizing hour stabilizing him enough to go to Primary Children’s Hospital in a life flight, a long hour drive to the hospital, I met my husband at the doors of the hospital and was told he was gone. We were very blessed to have the Comforter as a constant companion for a couple of weeks, but eventually, He has to pull back and let you live your life, experience the event, process it (with a some continued help) and gain the strength to stand on your feet again and function without being constantly held up by the spirit. We were given many spiritual experiences that helped us know this was the Lord’s plan and there wasn’t anything we could have done about it. It’s still hard. I miss him every day. We have shared his life with the youngest three kids that never met him. Prayer, trusting in the Lord, and the atonement have been the only way we have been able to handle it. Unfortunately, several of our children are still dealing with emotional issues from this loss. That’s where I have felt very helpless and have to trust in the atonement to make it all right with everyone.“ In times when fear and despair seem to prevail, when humanity is feverish with no worldly physicians in sight, I… say, “Trust Jesus.” Let him still the tempest… Believe that he can lift mankind from its bed of affliction, in time and in eternity.“—Elder Jeffery R. Holland Ensign, November 1993   “We Thought of you with love today, but that is nothing new. We thought of you yesterday, and day before that, too. We think of you in silence, we speak your name with pride, and we relive out memories of living side by side. Your memory is our keepsake with which we’ll never part. God has you in his keeping–we have you in our heart.” by Sue

Tell us about your blog.

I occasionally blog…Something I would like to do more of—maybe actually put something in it to inspire somebody occasionally! There are links to some flickr slideshows about remodeling our house and about my son, some pictures and a little about us. I wish I could have thought of something more creative for the name…like CraZmomof12. Thought of that too late.

Sorry this was so long…I guess it qualifies in the one-on-one conversation category where I talk too much. J

Thank you, Pam.  Your stories, experiences, and quotes taught me some great lessons, and I’m probably not the only one.  Please leave Pam a love note in the comment box to let her know what you appreciated about her interview.  Happy Labor Day weekend to all.