Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Goodbye, Sweet Daisy

Just a few days after we brought Daisy, our little beagle puppy, home, Amberly had tears in her eyes. I asked her what was wrong and in her always dramatic way she replied, "I'm just sad that some day Daisy will die." This is my dear daughter who loves sad movies like Where the Red Fern Grows and Old Yeller. I gave her a hug and assured her that while dogs don't live as long as humans, Daisy was just a young puppy and that we would have her with our family for many years.

Last Sunday evening after dinner our entire family took Daisy on a walk through our neighborhood. When we got home, it was time for bed. Utah Dad took Daisy to the back yard and hooked her to the 30 foot tie down we had installed since she had tried to dig out beneath the fence. We had our individual interviews with the kids, read scriptures, said our family prayers and put the kids to bed. When they were all snug in their beds, Utah Dad went outside to play with his puppy. Daisy didn't come running toward him like she usually did and when he picked her up she was whimpering. There was a trickle of blood on her nose and she wouldn't put any weight on her front left leg. We inspected the yard for signs of an accident and found another place where she had attempted to dig under the fence. Thomas's yellow Tonka truck was also turned upside down. We tried our best to make her comfortable for the night.

Monday morning I took her right to the veterinarian. We were hoping that Daisy might have a simple break or even better just a sprain. The vet suspected that her elbow was dislocated and Utah Dad and I sighed with relief (both Amberly and Lilly have dislocated their elbows and it only requires a simple adjustment to fix). A simple injury made sense. Surely our puppy would be as good as new.

The vet took x-rays and called later to inform us of the bad news--Daisy had severely broken her elbow. Utah Dad and the boys went back to the Animal Hospital to retrieve our puppy and I crawled into bed for a cry. The vet sent them home with some pain medicine and information about the options--none of them good.

We agonized over the options. We all cried. A lot. I called my sister who loves puppies. We commiserated. I called my my mom who offered sympathy and reminded me of the many puppies, dogs, kittens, cats, rabbits, horses, and other creatures that I had loved and lost. In fact, the first puppy I loved (really my dad's German Short-Haired puppy) was hit by a car and killed just two weeks after we got her. I was two years old.

I took Daisy back to the veterinarian today. We decided to put her down. We are heartbroken. We didn't suspect that we would go through the entire emotional roller coaster of owning a puppy in less than two weeks.

There are two things we know for sure. One, we will always love Daisy. She was a darling puppy and really so good. I was genuinely surprised at how quickly she worked her way into our hearts. I will miss cuddling with her. She especially loved to bury her little head into my robe after I took her outside in the middle of the night.

And two, our family is better when we have a puppy. Over the next few months, we will keep our eyes open for another puppy to adopt--a lab or maybe even another beagle.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ratatouille Pizza

Yesterday afternoon we went to the book sale at the Salt Lake City Library for Family Home Evening. You know I can't resist cheap books. The hardcover books were 50 cents and the paperback books were 25 cents. We bought two boxes full.

The kids enjoyed riding on the glass elevator.

Afterward we walked around Temple Square and enjoyed the beautiful tulips, flowering trees and the peaceful spirit. Amberly kept pointing out, ". . . that would make the perfect picture if only you'd brought your camera." I love taking pictures (obviously) and I especially enjoy taking pictures at Temple Square but I must admit that it was nice enjoying the flowers without a camera. I wasn't constantly trying to convince my kids to pose for another picture.

On our way home we decided to stop and get pizza for dinner. It was already late. While we were ordering our usual stack of Hot n' Readys at the drive-up, we noticed that the back door of the restaurant was propped open and a rat ran out. Seriously. A rat.

When we got up to the window to retrieve our pizzas, I leaned across my husband and told the teenage girl that we had just seen a rat run out of the back of the restaurant. "Oh, gross!" She cried. She yelled to her fellow employees to shut the back door and then turning to us she said, "We have had so many rats and I keep telling the guys to keep the door closed. Rats completely gross me out." Me too.

But we still ate our pizza.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Puppy Love--Our Own Beagle

Last night while I was standing outside in the pouring rain waiting for the puppy to do "it's business", I wondered, yet again, how we had ever ended up the owners of a puppy. I put off writing about our experiences with Daisy because Utah Dad got such a hard time from his dog-hating family after I wrote about our initial discussions about owning a dog a few months ago. But Daisy is obviously here (most of his family knows that we have succumbed to the "dark side") and we love her, so it's about time I write about it on the blog.

Early last week I caught Utah Dad looking at Beagle websites on his computer. I didn't realize just how much he wanted a puppy for our family. I mistakenly thought it was a phase that would go away with time. That night we had another long conversations about the benefits of having a dog. Utah Dad felt that owning and training a puppy would teach the kids responsibility and that it would be especially good for Neal who has been having a rough time lately. Just that afternoon, Neal had come home from a bad day at school and Utah Dad thought that if he had a puppy to love and play with, it would help cheer him up. Utah Dad was going on and on about emotional stability.

In secret, Utah Dad had continued his research on dog breeds and still felt that a beagle (they're very gentle with young children) would be the best fit. He showed me some websites that were selling beagles and I balked at the price of shipping a puppy from the Midwest (because I'm cheap). Besides, I wasn't going to buy a puppy online. I wanted to be sure that it was actually cute. There was no way I was going to own an ugly dog. I pointed out that certainly there were beagle breeders in Utah and suggested that we look on That was the tipping point. There were lots of beagles for sell in Utah. In fact, there were several litters of puppies in the neighboring towns. Owning a beagle puppy just became a lot more of a possibility. While I was on I also looked longingly and nostalgically at Labrador puppies. Oh. So cute. Utah Dad shook his head. A lab would get too big and eat too much food.

Anyway, Utah Dad and I decided to continue to think and pray about it and go look at puppies on Saturday. But Thursday morning as I was getting ready to take the younger kids and run errands, Utah Dad stuck his head out the door of his home office. "There are beagle puppies for sell in ----" he told me. "I just talked to the owner. She posted the deal yesterday and has already sold six. She only has three left. I told her that you would be coming to see them today."

I took Thomas and Lilly and we went to see the puppies. I was prepared to negotiate on the price. I was prepared to walk away if they weren't cute. I was prepared to come home empty handed. But oh, they were cute. Really cute. With droopy, begging brown eyes and soft floppy ears and freckles on their noses. And how do you negotiate on the price when your children are hugging on a puppy? After all, it's not a car. I couldn't just walk away. Right? We picked our favorite and asked the owner if she would hold on to the puppy until we finished our errands (which now included a stop at IFA for puppy goods).

Our new puppy rode happily on the seat of the car between Thomas and Lilly. She snuggled up to Thomas and he pet her all the way home. I couldn't help smiling as I glanced at them through the mirror. The older kids were just getting home from school when we arrived. Neal had two friends over and they all greeted the new puppy with squeals and surprise. After all, Utah Dad and I hadn't let them in on our most recent "dog conversations".

There really is nothing cuter than a little boy playing with his little dog. My cold heart melted a little more.

Deciding on a name for our puppy was surprisingly easy. I suggested the name "Daisy" for our girl puppy and everyone (except one of Neal's friends who only got a half vote) agreed.

Everyone loves the puppy. Neal and Amberly wake early every morning so that they can take her outside, feed her and play with her before school. The puppy especially loves to cuddle with Neal who is old enough to hold still for a few minutes, anyway.

Amberly loves to hug the puppy and is working on training her to sit. Two nights after we got the puppy, I was tucking Amberly into bed and she said, "The last two days have felt like a dream."

Thomas loves to have Daisy keep him company while he digs the hole in our backyard (he sincerely believes that there is a buried treasure down there--I'm afraid he's going to dig all the way to China). Daisy loves to chase Thomas around the yard.

Lilly is slightly apprehensive. The puppy is smaller than she is but has been successful at knocking her down and licking her face ("The puppy is eating my face," she screams). Lilly is learning to stand up when the puppy comes to her and we are trying to teach the puppy not to jump or lick.

Molly was completely freaked out but strangely intrigued by Daisy. Molly would follow the puppy around but then scream when the puppy moved. Molly preferred to watch the puppy from behind the window. However, last night, Molly was brave and reached out to pet the puppy when I held her in my lap. We're spending more time outside together (it did finally get warm for a few days in a row) and going on walks.

Of course, the kids have school and so the main responsibility *surprise* for the puppy has been Utah Dad's and mine. We are the ones waking several times in the middle of the night to take the puppy from her crate inside (I don't want the neighbors to stay up all night listening to a bawling hound dog and therefore hate me) to the far corner of the yard so that she can relieve herself. Daisy did cry most of the time the first night but she has gotten much better. She also seems to be learning what part of the yard is OK to relieve herself.

Since we got Daisy, we are realizing the realities of owning a beagle (I keep calling her a bagel--food is just always on my mind). While at Barnes and Noble during our double date on Saturday night we bought "The Beagle" by Diane Morgan. If you are considering owning a beagle, I would suggest going to the library and reading this book. If you still decide to buy a beagle, then I would suggest that you buy the book.

Utah Dad and I were both a bit overwhelmed when we read in the training section of the book: ". . . an owner so beguiled by the soft eyes and tender expression of this breed that she is completely misled about its true character: stubborn, willful, determined, independent, obstinate, unyielding, uncompromising, strong willed, bullheaded, muleheaded, pigheaded, headstrong, and tenacious (p.96)." Basically, Daisy fits in the family quite well. She's just like our kids.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Phone Call

The phone rang this morning while we were getting ready for church.

It was the Ward Executive Secretary. "Can you be at church early to meet with a member of the Bishopric?"

Utah Dad assessed our readiness (we were actually making good time even though we had to bathe every single kid) and agreed to meet twenty minutes before sacrament meeting.

It's the call that usually causes me some trepidation and nervous thoughts. I'm generally tempted to ignore the call when I see his number on the Caller ID (but I don't really screen calls--not all the time anyway).

Utah Dad hung up the phone and told me the news with a big grin. "It can't be any worse. We're already called to the nursery."

I nodded and reminded him that there was always cub scouts.


Utah Dad is now the assistant cub master (really not a horrible gig--one or two nights a month). But we might have negotiated a release from the ward activities committee (are you allowed to negotiate with the bishopric?).

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, Amberly

Amberly turns seven years old today. She's so beautiful and smart and thoughtful. I just love this spunky little girl.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Thursday, April 15, 2010

No Collars

Earlier this week, Neal informed me that he would no longer wear collared shirts to school. I wanted to know what was wrong with all the polo and rugby shirts hanging in his closet.

"Collared shirts are too handsome," he answered. "I want shirts that are cool."

So, we went shopping. Together. It turns out that shirts that are "cool" are what I call "attitude" shirts--shirts with obnoxious sayings about how the wearer hates school and homework and parents. I tried my best to laugh at the immature humor. Then I told Neal that there was no way I would buy him and let him wear that type of shirt to school. I was raised by an elementary school teacher, after all.

We compromised on some BYU T-shirts and some baseball jersey-type shirts.

He did look pretty handsome cool when he left for school this morning.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bennett for Senate - Again

I didn't write about our caucus meeting earlier because I was pretty worked up. In fact, between the caucus meeting, studying up on Ronald Reagan and reading "No Apologies" by Mitt Romney I was on political overload and I was having trouble sleeping. I temporarily put down Romney's book and I tried to forget about the caucus meeting. Unfortunately, I've been unsuccessful.

Last night, Molly woke me up during the night. After I got her back to sleep, I lay awake in bed thinking about what Utah Dad and I might have done differently to help Senator Bennett at our caucus meeting. Our precinct caucus meeting went a lot like all the other caucus meetings in Utah. Utah Dad was a state delegate two years ago and wanted to go to the state convention again in support of Bob Bennett. He made it very clear. He had a lot of support with him at the meeting. The other man running for delegate switched his party affiliation to Republican that evening so that he could run as a delegate. He wasn't supporting any specific candidate (at least that is what he said) he just did not want to reelect Bob Bennett. There were many others in attendance who were adamant that Bob Bennett not be reelected to the senate. After three tie votes, the other man was elected as our state delegate.

At caucuses across the state of Utah the people's vote was clear--they do not want Bob Bennett to return to Washington DC as Utah's senator. I understand that people are angry about what is happening in Washington right now. I am too. They want to send all the incumbents packing and replace them with new people who will vote exactly the way they want them to. People want "change". I think we got "change" in 2008. So much for "change" being the answer.
What exactly did Bob Bennett vote for that has people in Utah so angry? He voted for President George W. Bush's TARP. What do you know about TARP? Do you have all the data and economic facts before you? Do you have a mortgage? Do you rely on the banks remaining solvent? Bennett voted against a bill to end earmarks. Do you know what an earmark is? Do you? Or are you just listening to the propaganda from out-of-state interest groups like Club for Growth?

I've added videos of Bennett because he can say it better than I can. Here's Bennett's response to the attacks from Club for Growth:

Here Bennett defends his vote on TARP:

And here is Bennett's opinion on earmarks:

If you are really concerned about spending in Washington and the national debt you  must realize that it is entitlements, like Social Security, that are the big problem. Bennett does have a plan.

At the state convention in May, our elected delegates from precincts all over Utah will meet and vote for the Republican nominee for senate. There are many people running for this office. They are not bad people. But they are inexperienced and whoever is elected will become the "junior" senator in Washington. If he/she gets to sit on senate committees--he/she will be the least important member. He/she does not already have established relationships with other leaders in Washington. He/she will be green. He/she will no doubt head to Washington full of fire and conviction ready to bang his or her head against the Democratic wall there. I'm afraid he/she will only succeed in getting a headache.

Senator Bennett has been in Washington. He knows people. He has examined the Democratic wall and has found the weak bricks. He is chipping away at the bricks. He knows the weak links. Eventually, the wall will collapse in on itself.

Every delegate at the convention owes it to the voters in his caucus to examine the candidates and vote for the man or woman who can best represent the Republican Principles we hold dear here in Utah.

At the state convention, the delegates will vote for their candidates. If none of the candidates get more than 60% of the delegate vote, we will have a primary election this June and we will get another chance to choose our Republican Senatorial Nominee. Hopefully, I will get a chance to choose Bob Bennett for Senate. Again.

I am not being paid by Senator Bennett. I'm not on his campaign staff. I am a Utahan and I do know Senator Bennett. I know that he is brilliant, honest, humble and righteous. He hails from true Utah Pioneer stock. I know that he loves Utah.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Stuffy Head

I got hit by a nice little head cold to finish out our Spring Break week. My oldest two were "hanging" and skiing (because there was a lot of new snow--just love spring in Utah) with their grandparents, so I didn't do much more than sit on the couch with a pile of good books and listen to the little ones play together in their bedrooms.

Sadly, we had to cancel our plans to spend the weekend with my parents on their farm. Lilly is disappointed that she didn't get to see the calves. And Thomas is bummed for a multitude of reasons--their little farm is his favorite place.

Molly is saying more and more and likes to repeat the simple words she hears us say. Today I was telling Amberly to clean her room for the fifteenth time, "now!" and Molly added emphasis for me with her own "now!" She loves her siblings and wants to be with them all the time. Thomas is especially sweet with her. Lilly is not so patient. Molly is constantly messing up her doll house or doing some other damage to Lilly's carefully arranged menagerie of stuffed animals. Sister drama, already.

I had to include a couple of pictures I snapped of Molly this afternoon because really she is just so darn cute (even when she has a cold). I could eat her up.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Deseret Book Store - Out and About in Utah

The new Flagship Deseret Book Store opened in downtown Salt Lake City last week. It's part of the Downtown Rising Project happening just south of Temple Square.

Of course I couldn't stay away. Utah Dad, Thomas and I stopped in on Monday while we were still in the city. Sigh. It is all the things I love about book stores and Deseret Book in particular. There is a large section dedicated to the beautiful art of the Savior and of temples. Another spacious section is set aside for music and movies. There is a special tribute to the amazing Mormon Tabernacle Choir and their celebration of 100 years of recording. One corner of the store hosts all the yummy and fun things in the Parley Street Emporium and in another endowed members can purchase temple clothing. And of course there are books--lots of books--but primarily books published by Deseret Book. Utah Dad and I had a hard time controlling ourselves around all the beautiful books. We have our eye on the Joseph Smith Papers. Some day, those volumes will surely be a part of our library.

We took our time and enjoyed the store. I mentally added a number of titles to our "wish list". My only complaint is how expensive the books are. $34.99 for a paperback biography of Elder Maxwell? Really. We did purchase three Mormon Tabernacle Choir CDs, The Remarkable Soul of a Woman by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf and the DVD of How Rare a Possession from the Church Distribution corner of the store.

The Remarkable Soul of a Woman is a beautiful little book. it is essentially a printed version, including boxed quotes and black and white photography, of the talk Presiden Uchtdorf gave at the General Relief Society Broadcast in 2008. You can read the talk in its entirety for free on However, the message of the value of women and our divine nature to create is poignant and always a good reminder. I think the book would make a lovely gift for any of the special women in our lives.

While you're in the city, be sure and stop in the new Deseret Book Store. It is definitely worth your time. And consider signing up on Deseret Book's email list to get "Insider Deals". Each week you'll get an email with the week's sales. Last week I bought Senator Bob Bennett's new book A Leap of Faith from Deseret Book for 73% off the original price.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

If You Want to Be a Better Parent . . .

. . . watch General Conference. Oh my. It was so good. I'm going to listen to Elder Bednar's talk again, right now.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Like Stars On Earth : Movie Review

Utah Dad and I enjoy watching foreign films. For awhile we watched so many that we got used to having subtitles on during a movie that we now turn the subtitles on for all movies (this might also be a sign that we are getting old and our hearing is going). Hindi/Bollywood films are among my favorite foreign films. They're colorful, clean and fun. My favorite thing about Hindi films is that just like in nursery you can break into song whenever you feel like it.

Earlier this week, Utah Dad and I got the movie Like Stars on Earth from Netflix. We were moved by the sweet portrayal of an eight year old artistically gifted boy, Ishaan, who also suffers from learning disabilities. His parents and teachers are fed up with his antics and his apparent laziness and decide to ship him off to a boarding school which they hope will "break his will". The extreme discipline at the boarding school and the feelings of abandonment by his family do just that. By the time the new art teacher arrives at the school, Ishaan lives his life in a trance--he no longer cares. He no longer paints. The art teacher resolves to save this student and finds the key to helping Ishaan succeed. (The movie is distributed through Disney and you can watch trailers *here*.) Like Stars on Earth is both heartbreaking and heart warming.

We have been trying to understand our own children better lately. Neal and Amberly have been going through rough times. Our relationships have been strained as they try to exert their own independence and we try to hang on to parental control. We've been rethinking our methods of parenting and education. We've been trying to step back and see the bigger picture. 

A week ago, Amberly started dragging her feet to get out the door for school. In the seconds before she must go out the door to get to school on time, she picks a fight about something--one day it was about her shoes, another day it was about packing a lunch for school and yet another day it was about her hair. I've been trying to anticipate the problems by having her pick out her outfits the night before and loosening my control. So what if she insists on wearing her yellow soccer shirt with green and pink camo pants, right? It's not worth the battle. Today she is wearing a magenta hoodie-dress over light blue leggings and lime green socks. Ugh. I suppose I should rejoice that she is still young enough not to care and that she is having fun experimenting with her style. But as I step back and see all her recent actions as a whole, I'm still not sure that the real issue is her clothing choices. What is the bigger issue? Utah Dad and I are hoping that if we remain calmer during the battles, that eventually she will feel like talking to us about what is really bothering her. In the mean time, we will try to see the bigger picture. 

I caught myself squirming a little as we watched the movie the other night. I saw myself reflected in a few of the things the parents say to their child. By the time the movie ended, Utah Dad and I had resolved anew to be better parents. The movie reminded us of what we already knew but as harried parents occasionally forget--each child is a star. Each child has gifts to share. Each child deserves to be valued. Each child deserves to have the right to the specific education he needs to excel. Each child deserves to feel safe in her home. Each child deserves to have parents that love him unconditionally.

It is my responsibility to make sure each of my children feels loved and valued. Even if I'm exhausted and I have piles of laundry to fold and dishes to wash.