Sunday, February 28, 2010


I have wanted to do a post about homeschooling for a while. I am a big believer in it. We are in our 15th year. I would be lying if I said it was perfect. It's not. It is good though. We started the year SUU girl was in 2nd grade, Johnathon was in 1st, and Hobbes was in Kindergarten. We have had some stellar years and not so stellar years. The last several have been pretty bleak at times. It is difficult to be a working mom and a homeschooling mom. Things are getting better.

2007-08 and 2008-09 were supplemented by our participation in a co-op which kept the homeschooling option viable for our family. We had a fabulous group of families that participated with fantastic children that all got along well. It was pretty perfect. We met together on Thursdays. We divided the children into 3 age groups: the littles, the middles and the olders. The moms took turns teaching history, english, or science. It was well structured thanks to Teri Ebert who wrote the 4 year plan and has instituted it for many years much to the benefit of many families and my family in particular. Not only have my children learned much, made great friends and had some spectacular learning experiences, it is through our co-op, or group school, that we ended up with our fabulous neighbors--longtime co-op friends, the Capozzoli's.

My partner for those two years was my forever friend, and homeschooling mentor, Danielle. There is no better partner in the homeschooling world. She picked up a lot of slack for me lots of times. Which I appreciate. Here is a picture of her teaching the littles about plants. Since the
whiteboards were occupied indoors she had the presence of mind to use the tree as a bulletin board so the children could see the words she was teaching them about. She is a brilliant teacher. All of the moms in that co-op were truly remarkable women. Our association with them for those two years was an enormous blessing educationally, socially and spiritually. They continue to touch and bless our lives in countless ways. I miss being with them. I miss group school Thursdays.

This year I felt that we should opt out of co-op. I knew that I was dividing myself too many different ways with work, daily homeschool, life in general, and grad school. I am at peace with the decision.

The whole point of this diatribe is to give a little background to my next great goal. As I have mentioned, we have been a little lax with our home school and I need to crank things up a notch or two or ten. So, this post is an announcement that I will be doing atleast a weekly homeschool post. In the spirit of goal setting that was launched by my daily blogging goal, I am determined to return to the ranks of disciplined, daily homeschoolers.... More tomorrow.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Children are the best thing ever invented.
Zorro was telling me about his day to day. He went to the "food store" (Wal-Mart) with Dad and got peaches and pears and bananas. Bananas that change from green to yellow and ones that change from yellow to green.
I like looking at life through his eyes. Maybe that's because he's wearing goggles. Upside down.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Game Night

Emily. Robin. Dona. Joey.
"Perudo"-a very fun game.
Game night.
Ahhhhhhh--just what I needed.
I wish I had thought to take pictures.
Next time.
Thanks gals.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


You know how people will say, in reference to little children usually, "If I could just harness his energy...."? That's how I feel about my mom. "If I could just harness her energy"... I wouldn't even need all of it, just some of it.I could get a lot done with just a very small portion of her energy. She runs circles around me. For example, in this picture from Disneyland she is trying to encourage us all to march enthusiastically with Mickey and the band. Enthusiastic. Now that is a word that begins to describe my mother.

I have noticed a little bit of a strange phenomenon about my mom and me. The more energy she exudes the more lethargic I get. It is like a counter balance. I don't really understand it but it is interesting. Family dynamics are fascinating. Even though I have been an enormous brat to her for an embarrassingly large portion of my life, she would still do almost anything for me. I don't deserve her.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I have a sister.
Just one, biologically speaking.
I waited a very long time for her.
12 years.
I adore her.
She doesn't read my blog.
I read hers.
Everyone should.
It is spectacular.
She is very witty.
She writes about Tess and Adelle. Six-layer cakes, half marathons, life in Texas, chocolate,
the tooth fairy and hell.

She is amazing.
But she doesn't read my blog. Or if she does she makes no comments.

Which is it sister?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A funny letter from Johnathon. It might be the funniest one he has ever written. (I will preface it by saying that I forgot to write to him today. Not so much that I forgot him--more that I forgot what day it was).

Dear Mom
If I were to say that I was really discouraged, would
it mean me getting more mail?
Because I'm really not at all discouraged but if it means more mail than maybe. maybe I am. Actually, I can't really complain because I'm having more success than ever this last week. We extended 8 baptismal commitments, which for this area is freakin' amazing. My comp is a superb missionary and he only has 2 months left. I only have 3 so we're a good team. I'm doing great. Unless of course I'll get more mail if I'm not. Than I'm not.

p.s. I did get the package on friday I think.

I am thinking that I will write him a letter.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A view in my room

I am happy to report that I submitted preliminary draft 2 for my Introduction to Information Organization Class. It was at a ridiculous hour, but it is turned in.

Sometime about midway through the assignment I stopped to take pictures of the view from my books. I study best down in my room where the distractions are fewer. Although I must say I like a good distraction now and then.

My life is pretty good.
I like my little corner of the world.

I am content here.
Not that I'll mind finishing grad school. (University of North Texas--Library Science)

Or occasionally leaving this space behind for a little trip out of town, or that pilgrimage in Spain, or out to lunch with a friend...I'm not picky.

And as a side note-- these little 5 hour energy drinks do work. So, if you ever desperately need to stay awake to finish a paper and your usual drug of choice is Dr. Pepper but you can't drink that because you gave your brother a promise that you would not drink Dr. Pepper for 46 weeks in honor of his 46th birthday last October and so far you have not broken that promise, and you're not going to because a promise is a promise after all, here is your answer. The bottle does say that there are no side effects but it is 5:00 in the morning and I am thinking in run-on sentences....

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I may have been a bit hasty about the groove thing. That flash I saw may have been a mirage. I have been in the desert for a while, figuratively speaking. Also, remember the whole procrastination thing I mentioned? I have a pretty big assignment due tomorrow night that I haven't really quite figured out. It has to do with databases, metadata, programs, cataloguing...nothing creative, really, and sort of hard to embellish or fake. Concrete vs. nebulous. I rely heavily on being able to embellish. (B.S. is the term I am trying to find a synonym for but haven't.) I like school, most of the time, I just really need to stop pushing the deadlines to the last possible second. Where did I put that Procrastinator's Handbook?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dona's got her groove back?

Let me start with a disclaimer. I have never seen the movie or read the book about Stella getting her groove back, it was just a catchy phrase that popped into my head.

It would usually take me about a year, sometimes two, after I had a baby to get back into a groove. You know, when things start clickin', going a little smoother. My house would start to come back together, life was manageable.

Zorro is 4. Shortly after his birth everything imploded and try as I might I have not gotten it back together. There have been occasional, very occassional, glimmers of possibilities of perhaps someday returning to a semblence of normalcy (whatever that is) but up until now I haven't held out a lot of hope. This week I saw an actual flash, a glimpse, that things are coming together...Hope is good. I like it.

Friday, February 19, 2010


My blog is not funny. My niece, formerly known as Poppins (we'll give her the code name "Catch") is very witty and her blog makes me laugh. She is pictured here with BYU girl. They traveled in Europe together this summer. Nicole, I mean Catch, is something of an expert on the old country. Seriously, if you are planning a hop across the pond she is your gal. She will fix you up. I haven't written my bucket list yet, but when I do, the El Camino (pilgrimage) will be on it and I fully intend to have Catch plan my itenerary. If she's available, and not too busy traveling afar, composing blog posts or creating incredible music, or going to school and working lots of hours a week....
She recently gave her blog a new name. The title is now "Catch 22". Very clever. She just turned 22 this year. After reading her blog and pondering on it today I realized that she is half my age. How weird is that? It also means that SUU girl will be half my age in March. That won't happen again until they are 44 and I am 88. Random, but cool. They both have the same middle name, Ann. Just another interesting bit of family trivia.

I am super impressed with men's figure skater and gold medal winner, Evan Lysacek. What a down to earth, reasonable, charming and talented person. I had never heard of him until this week but I think he is a great role model. Bob Costas was totally trying to goad him in an interview and he didn't take the bait. He saw it for what it was and stood his ground, which was higher.

Springville Library has been closed due to technical difficulties for a week now. I miss it. But I am getting caught up on a few things at home. A "catch-22" of sorts.

Shaun White reminds me of Chad Wright (A man in our ward/neighborhood) It is just the way he talks and his mannerisms and the fact that I can picture Chad Wright, in another life, totally taking the gold in snowboarding. Really, it is kind of eerie. Sort of like Bill Grosland (Chad's neighbor) totally reminding me of Jack Black. I'm not even the sort of person who sees other people in people.

I wish my blog posts were funny and I still wish I weren't such a procrastinator.

I intend to make ginger snaps tomorrow since I won't be at work.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Guest Blogger: Elder Skousen about Older Elder Skousen

My nephew is on a mission in Argentina. My sister-in-law forwards his weekly emails. This one was especially cool.

So we had a visitor this conference. It was the doctor for the entire area of sur america, sur. His name is Doctor Peterson. He is a really nice old guy. He and his wife have been mission president and wife in mexico. They have also served as doctor. They are about to finish their 9th year as missionaries. Anyways, so I walk into the church. Dr. Peterson greets me with a hug and looks at my name tag. He says, "Elder Skousen, you wouldn't happen to have a relative...." pause there. I thought for sure he was going to ask about cleon.* To my surprise, he didnt. He continued, "Elder Skousen, you wouldnt happen to have a relative that served a mission in southern Uruguay about 55 years ago would you?"My jaw dropped! I was like, "grandpa?" No way! So we talked a little bit about his mission and all that jazz. I asked him if he was comps with grandpa or anything like that. He said no, he only knew him a little bit from the mission. Then he told me something that I've been thinking about all week. He said, "What I remember is that Elder Skousen was always smiling. He was always fun to be around, was always happy, and made everyone around him feel the same way."

That is pretty cool. It's a teeny tiny world we live in.

*Growing up as a Skousen one does get the "are you related to Cleon?" question pretty regularly.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

St. George was nice. It felt a little like going home again, just the weather and much of the terrain reminded me of Gilbert. Tennis season would start in January--outdoors, by March, when the matches started I would be tan. It really was beautiful but the trade off is vicious summer heat and a lack of seasons. It was always very exciting when it was cold enough to pull our sweaters and jackets out of the back of the closet. It seems laughable to me now. I miss Arizona sometimes. It was a good place to grow up. I thought I'd always stay there, a native Arizonan, like my Dad is and like my Mom used to be. I guess you never know how things are going to turn out.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I was pretty frustrated today over some inconsequential things that seemed consequential at the time. As a result, as much as I hate to admit this, I was yelling at my children. I decided as my stress level increased that the best course of action would be retreat. So I retreated to my room to work on some homework. Shortly after my departure, Hobbes came to share a conversation she had with my six-year-old.

Hobbes: We shouldn't yell at people right?

Miah: Right. Yelling is bad. And when you yell even Jesus can hear you.

I feel humbled

Monday, February 15, 2010

What a day!

Very exciting day on the soccer fields. Ming's team won 1st in their division. They played so well. We have such a great group of girls, parents and coaches. Our girls were playing a team a year older than them in the finals. It was a very intense game. After 2 overtimes it culminated in a shoot out. Oh so stressful for a Mom! Who thought up soccer? I bet it wasn't a mom. Ming took our first shot and made it. Yea for Ming! (Or shall we call her "Mia"). Our goalie did a fantastic job but their 5th girl scored. So then we were tied again but we had one more girl and she scored! Happy day.

Aside from the horrible motel experience it was a great trip. We stopped in Cedar City and had dinner with SUU girl who had just barely returned from her rendevous with BYU boy. She gave me the highlights of her weekend. (She thought it was pretty spectacular).
I really enjoyed the one-on-one time with Ming Chow. I hope we'll get to do it again next year!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Out of the Box

I tend to think inside the box more often than I care to acknowledge. Today I discovered that Autumn thinks outside of the box. Autumn locked the keys in the car. I panicked and started figuring the cost of a locksmith on a Sunday. Autumn had not shut the trunk all of the way. A fact that she happily pointed out to me. I was unimpressed and pointed out that having an open trunk while the keys are sitting on the driver's seat is not something to celebrate. She proceeded to unpack the trunk, lower the back seat, climb through and unlock one of the doors.

Hooray for Autumn, otherwise known as Ming. She's a thinker.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Home for the holiday

Child #1, let's call her SUU girl, is home for President's day. She came to see us....the family? Hmmm. I think not. While it is true that she adores us. The fact is, I left for St. George before she arrived on Friday and I might see her in Cedar City on my way back up on Monday if things work out. So it is not Autumn or me she's coming to see. Hobbes has a girl scout gig this weekend, so she's not coming to see her. The other children are great and fun to be around but I'm thinking they were not what drew her to Springville this weekend. She does love her Dad but he's pretty busy and isn't really one to sit down and chat. I am thinking she came to see....                                                      

Friday, February 12, 2010


Autumn and I are in St. George for a soccer tournament. We had made our reservations a month in advance based on the 3 star rating the Economy Lodge was given on its website, the list of amenities, and the good price. When we arrived and checked in I felt a little uncomfortable. I should have listened to my insticts but I was hoping to get Autumn a good nights sleep so I went ahead and paid for my planned 3 days. As the receipt was handed back to me the woman said there are no refunds. I said, "You mean, if I decide to check out a day early you will still charge me?" This was after they had run my card. "Yes." I moved our car and we started to unpack. The smell of smoke was pervasive even in the non-smoking section of the motel. Within 3 minutes of being in the room I told Autumn to put her stuff back in the car. The room was not clean and I did not feel safe. I returned to the office and told them that I would not stay there and I wanted my money back. They refused to reimburse me. It was so bad that I would rather lose the money than stay there.
I checked at a couple of other motels and they were all full. One person said that everything was booked in St. George but Hurricane might have something. The other hotel worker said I would have to go to Cedar City. Poor Autumn. What a nightmare.

So at 10:30 p.m. I called my cousin, Susan. Not only did she cheerfully answer her phone at such a ridiculous hour, she insisted that we come and stay at her house. When we arrived, looking forlorn I fear, she welcomed us in. She fed us hot soup and homemade gingersnaps. Two of her charming daughters kindly gave up their bedroom for us. Autumn is sleeping comfortably and I am feeling deeply grateful and humbled by the goodness of family, specifically Susan tonight. (I am also thankful to her husband, Bruce.) I have witnessed and felt true hospitality.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Zorro strikes again

One evening Scott came home from work wearing his hat, which is pretty typical. I met him at the door and commented on how cute it was. He asked me what I was talking about so I took his hat off of his head and showed him that our youngest son had personalized his work hat. He said people had been looking funny at him all day long and he couldn't figure out why. Mystery solved.
This child, who shall henceforth be known as Zorro, because of his need to autograph things, has also tattooed "MOM" onto the arm of my beloved Raggedy Ann Doll. He graffitied "SYDNEE" on to a lawyer's bookcase that I acquired many years ago at a yardsale in Kansas and "CORBAN" shows up in all sorts of places in and around our home. Zorro has a thing for letters. (So do I.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I am a procrastinator. It is a sad fact. I would like to change. I checked out The Procrastinator's Handbook from the library a few weeks ago. I have read the first chapter. I like it. It is interesting but I keep putting off reading the rest of it. I had to renew it.

My friend Marilee keeps trying to convince me that she is a procrastinator too, but she's not really. We are in our second semester of school together and today she had to ask me what time the deadline for submission of an assignment is. A true procrastinator would already know, "11:59 Texas time or 10:59 Utah time".

I am proud to report that I had my most recent assignment in by 3:00 this afternoon until Marilee mentioned there was a 100 word limit on it. I had to edit my 163 word submission after work tonight and had it resubmitted by 10:30. Last semester my average submission time was around 10:54. There was a lot of high stress and panic involved. So I am improving. As soon as I overcome procrastination I will work on becoming a morning person.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I have noticed that in the blogging world people often use code names for those that they blog about. I get the feeling that is the cool thing to do. I am coming to the party a little late and so I'm just figuring this out as I go. Hence, up until now, no nicknames. However, this summer my #3 of the supposed "crazy eight" had the opportunity to be a genuine girl scout counselor. (Two summers ago child #1 had a similar opportunity at a different location.) As part of the protocol the counselors and the girls that attend the camp choose nicknames whereby they become known as for the duration of the camp. Selecting a nickname was an arduous task but Amanda finally settled on Hobbes. It really did/does suit her.
I loved this job for her. And selfishly for me too. I was able to drive her up to the very beautiful Park City area several times over the course of the summer. I tried to make it appear to be a big sacrifice for me but it wasn't. I LOVE to drive and I really loved that drive. It was beautiful there.
Amanda, I mean Hobbes, is a funny girl. She is amazing but doesn't know it. I can't convince her of her amazingness. She does so many things so well. She is an artist, a cellist, a thinker, a reader, an outdoor enthusiast, and so much more. She is very sensible and grounded. She tells great stories. She had many exciting adventures last summer involving cliffs, emotional breakdowns (none of which were hers), moose (or is that moosen), water, girl scout politics, skits, kitchen duty, jaunts to Park City, obsessed twilight fans, hiking, etc. She met some very cool people and learned some valuable lessons. Camp Cloud Rim was a good place for Hobbes to be in the summer of 2009. I wonder where she'll be in 2010.

Monday, February 8, 2010

In the first part of December we went to Disneyland. It was spectacular. There was a big group of us. My mom, my brother Gerry and his family, my brother's twin brother from a different mother, Hal and his family, and my family all converged upon the happiest place on earth. We had a great time. The little boys are still dismayed that we had to leave. I love a good road trip and this was one of the best. We also stopped at the beach on our way back. Syd has some great pictures from that portion of the trip that I will try to post another day. Hopefully we'll be able to go back sometime soon.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I stand at the edge of a precipice. I do this often. I find myself poised for something, maybe greatness, maybe nothing more than more than I am now. But instead of jumping to the other side, or soaring into the clouds, or diving into the deep, I sit down. Or worse yet, I turn around and descend right back down the same path I spent a day, a month, a decade, or a lifetime climbing. Why do I do that? Maybe it is enough. What if it's not?

Fantastic Photo by Grant Skousen--used without permission.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I am posting Johnathon's most recent email. Here is a sample of true brevity. Actually this is one of his longer emails.
Dear mom
This week was a good one. we had a lady who wants to be baptized come to church and ask us when she could be baptized. That doesn't happen too often so we were pretty stoked. Overall we had 16 investigators at church this Sunday. So it was a very good week.
We had zone conference and I am SOOOO glad I will only have one mission president on my mission. Pres. Belnap is awesome.

love ya,
p.s. I might extend

Yep, short and sweet. That's my boy!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Blind sided

When my Dad was teaching me to drive he spent a lot of time emphasizing the importance of checking and double checking my rear view mirrors because of the dangers of the blind spot. Blind spot's cousin, blind side, is just as insidious.

I just returned from seeing the movie, The Blind Side, which I really enjoyed. At one point, Sandra Bullock's character questions her motives for helping Micheal Oher. She asks her husband if she is a good person. She seemed like a very good person to me. She was kind but also courageous. Her big screen introspection leads me to question my motives in life. Do I help people because I truly love them or because there is something in it for me? Do I really want what is best for my children or am I selfishly motivated or worried about what other people think? Do I act with courage when a situation calls for it?

The movie has also left me thinking about times
and ways I have been blind sided in life. Some of those instances could have been avoided had I been more diligent and taken the time to "check my mirrors." Some situations all of the mirror checking in the world couldn't have prevented.

One last lesson from the movie, Michael Oher didn't talk much. He was super quiet. He listened to people and did a lot of thinking. I would like to be more of a listener and more of a thinker instead of such a everyone-must-hear-what-immediately-pops-into-my-head person.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Scott and I went to see Julie and Julia in August. I thought it was a great movie. I came home totally inspired to blog everyday. I just needed to come up with a theme like Julie in the movie did. She determined to try every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook and blog daily for 1 whole year. Hmm. "What could I blog about for 365 days? Would I really blog everyday? Would I just end up feeling like a failure if I didn't stick with it? Should I change the name of my blog? Will it be stupid?" Those are a few of the questions that came to mind as I contemplated possible new adventures in blogging. So, as I often do, I stymied myself. My brain went in to overload and then I couldn't do anything. But I have decided that I really want to do this. I don't have a theme. Maybe one will evolve. Maybe one won't. It will be fun though and good for me. I think. I hope. Here goes. Really. Wish me luck. EVERY DAY for a year! (Don't laugh Lauren--or anyone else who might be skeptical.)