Friday, October 12, 2012

Helping Children Avoid Addiction

Parenting tips here. Apparently this is the first of several key points.  So far, so good...

Friday, September 28, 2012


With several recent deaths, I've been thinking a lot about the purpose of our lives, as well as sorrow and comfort.  I came across this wonderful quote that has strengthened and inspired me.

“Love is the very essence of life. It is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Yet it is not found only at the end of the rainbow. Love is at the beginning also, and from it springs the beauty that arched across the sky on a stormy day. Love is the security for which children weep, the yearning of youth, the adhesive that binds marriage, and the lubricant that prevents devastating friction in the home; it is the peace of old age, the sunlight of hope shining through death. How rich are those who enjoy it in their associations with family, friends, and neighbors! Love, like faith, is a gift of God. It is also the most enduring and most powerful virtue.” President Hinckley

Saturday, September 15, 2012

FHE thought/lesson

"There is a story told of an old Cherokee teaching his grandson about life. 'A fight is going on inside me,' he said to the little boy.

'It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One is evil: he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.'

He continued, 'The other is good: he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you--and inside every other person too.'

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, 'Which wolf will win?'

The old Cherokee simply replied, 'The one you feed.'"

(Taken from Elder Shayne M. Bowen's article, "Agency and Accountability", The New Era September 2012)

Friday, September 7, 2012

TheWord of Wisdom: In The News

Some of the best insights here...

And Follow Up here...

This guy rocks our world.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Godspeed, Trent...

Trent Rasmussen was a high school classmate. Last summer at our 20-year HS Reunion, we were informed of two classmates who had cancer. One survived; Trent did not. He succumbed to cancer early this morning. His wife chronicled his final hours here.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"Dear Girls and Boys..."

Check out this blog post entitled, "Ten Things I want To Tell Teenage Girls" here.

And the one to Teenage Boys here.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Educating Ourselves: Fighting the Drug of the New Millennium

We have to keep talking about this with our families. I've heard experts say, "It's not a matter of if, but when your children will be exposed.

It's a subject close to our hearts. Our families have been heavily and painfully impacted by this addiction. If you think this can't happen to your family, think again.

Other related links: Here and Here. And one more here.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Winning Battles

My sis-in-law is Gloria's Relief Society President. Amber loves Gloria with all her heart. Last year, she took me with her to visit Gloria. She was nauseated and bald-- a bitter consequence from the chemo, but a small price to pay, she thought, if it bought her more time with her family. She spoke with a strong voice, weeping constantly throughout our visit.

Here we are a year later, and the cancer has spread. Amber says it's not a question of "if" Gloria dies from the cancer, but "when." And Amber's heart aches as she thinks about the loss to come.

I'm so grateful for Amber's compassion and love for Gloria. In addition to the consistent, regular visits, I've watched Amber organize weekly house cleanings for Gloria and her husband (many of which other sisters didn't show up, leaving Amber, pregnant with her fourth, on the errand.)

The service cycle between these two valiant sisters teaches me. I want to have the courage to fight life's battles, unwavering, with her face toward the Son-- like Gloria. I want to serve and succor selflessly like Amber, even when others are too busy.

"When you have done it unto the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Club Unicorn

For my sister... one of the best articles I've ever read on same-gender attraction. What a powerful example! Read about it here.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


"I think it's very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person."

~ Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"Two Little Lovers Sittin' in a Tree..."

Conversation before school this morning between Josh, age 12, and Emma, age 10...

Emma: (to no one in particular:) Josh was talking to some girls (said like she just ate raw squid) yesterday. "Josh and Ashley sittin' in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g..."

Josh: So what? What's your problem? You have friends that are boys.

Emma: I hate boys. Especially 4th grade boys. They're just a bunch of show-offs.

Josh: The way I see it, I want to get married in the temple so I can have an eternal family and live with Heavenly Father again someday. That requires me talking to girls. So back off!

(I pretended to be reading the paper. Good dialogue, no?)

How to MIss a Childhood

Read here.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

A FHE of Titanic Proportions

The Mister and I switch off teaching the lesson for Family Night each week. Since we've been watching the miniseries Titanic (created by the makers of Downton Abbey) the past few nights, I thought it would be appropriate to liken some Titanic lessons to our lives. (Personal admission: I am absolutely fascinated by Titanic history. But that's a post for another day...)

We took the kids to see the Titanic exhibit when it came here to the museum. It was fascinating. (At least to me, anyway. The Mister... not so much.) I bought a replica of the 1st Class china dinner plate.

When you enter the exhibit, the docent hands each patron a passenger ticket, complete with the identity information and general life facts of one of the real-life passengers. You don't know if you survived or not until the end of the exhibit, at which point they have a 'survivor wall'. Pretty poignant experience, actually. As a side note, they also have a large ice stone for patrons to touch and experience some of the frigid temperatures that fateful night 100 years ago...

For tonight's lesson, I held up the plate and gave each child their passenger ticket that I had saved. My dialogue went something like this:

"Do you guys remember when the Titanic exhibit came to town a couple of years ago?"

*Affirming nods* Good, we're getting somewhere. Leaving Northampton, at least...

"I remember feeling anxious to find out if my passenger survived the tragedy. Secondly, I was anxious to see if any of my loved ones/traveling companions survived.

"Well, Dad and I can kinda relate that to the earnest desire we have as we hope to be reunited with each of you in the hereafter someday. Before we talk about that, who knows some of the reasons the Titanic failed?"

(Josh is all over this one... he's somewhat of a juvenile expert on the history. He chose to do his non-fiction book report on it. That's my boy.)

*Not having sufficient amount of life boats to accommodate the passengers

*The Captain giving orders to push the ship to it's maximum speed in order to reach New York faster than expected

*The Captain and his crew disregarded 6 ice warnings prior to the collision

*Some of the life boats were lowered into the water before reaching their maximum capacity load

As you can see, there are a number of Gospel parallels that can be made to the disaster. To keep things simple, we discussed some of the 'icebergs' or obstacles that would prevent us from reaching dry land in our lives. Bottom line: anything that would keep us from being temple worthy can destroy our spiritual survival. (We talked about pornography, dishonesty, drugs, etc.)

Afterwards, we sang "Families Can Be Together Forever", ate apple crisp and finished the final episode in the miniseries I mentioned above.

Incidentally, I would love to see the new Broadway musical, Titanic which is being staged by a regional theater company in Davis, CA. It served it's audience an 11-course feast replicating the 1st Class dining on the ship. Another personal admission: I am deathly afraid of large bodies of water. I never NEVER desire to step aboard a cruise ship in my lifetime. Titanic is my worst nightmare. But dang, I can teach a mean family home evening lesson on the ill-fated expedition.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Birthday Games

Today my 10-year old is having her 'Friend' Birthday party... In researching games for the big day, I came across an awesome website with fun, inexpensive games for all age levels. They were games I had never heard of, so it will be fresh fun for all:) Check it out here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Heartache and Life Lessons

I have two brothers and one sister. I have this memory of hearing my baby sister wake up from a nap. I was 5 years old. As I entered her room, I saw the late afternoon sun seeping through the white wooden shutters in her bedroom. She held her chubby baby arms up at me, hopeful that I would pick her up. How could I not love my baby sister for the rest of her life, no matter what?

This past month has been emotionally draining for me. My sister admitted herself into an inpatient drug rehab clinic. She spent a hellish week in Detox, and then the next few weeks were spent learning skills to help her function without drugs, and a healing process began. I can't even imagine what Detox in particular, felt like. My mind knew that it was a consequence for her choices, but it was hard to hold back my tears as I heard her anguish and loneliness-- extreme physical and emotional discomfort. Our family has been fasting and praying, writing her letters and making daily allotted 10-minute phone calls to her. (My personal favorite was the letter I wrote her on Napoleon Dynamite stationery. Hand writing letters is a lost art, after all.) She has been battling this addiction for a few years, with it's accompanying roller coaster of sobriety and relapses.

Her clinic had a Family Week last week for family members who are willing to participate in addiction/codependence therapy, and all that accompanies that vicious cycle. I joked with my sister, "I'll only come if they have a big colorful banner that reads, 'WELCOME, DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILIES!' with helium balloons and cafeteria fish filet sandwiches." Unfortunately (or unfortunately?) our family had plans during spring break, so I wasn't able to accompany my parents to the clinic. And about those dang gas prices...

The Mister has one brother who has also lost his way. Sure, I'm mad as hell when I remember the lying, stealing and proverbial addict-junkie behaviors my sister engaged in. However, JP and I talk often about our sorrow and love for our siblings. And that's not who my sister really is. That's the Addict Sister. The Authentic Sister is inside underneath all that angry, lonely garbage. She is truly one of the coolest chicks I know. Will our siblings ever come back to the values they learned in this life? Maybe. Hopefully. I wish it were as easy as reaching down and picking up my baby sister out of her crib.

If only they would quit loving things that won't love them back. "... and thus we see that the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell." (Alma 30:60)

And because the tomb is empty, my life is not. Jesus Christ is the only true hope any of us has of finding purpose and peace in this life or the next. The Only Way.

So tonight, as I rocked my insomniac 5-year old baby, I stroked her cheeks and thought to myself, "What will you need rescuing from in your life?" "Mama, sing 'My Life is a Gift, my life has a plan, my life has a purpose...' and as I did, I pleaded with God to keep her safe and pure...

Forgive me, my dear friends and family who may be reading my late night purging, for I am sorrowful, and writing brings me clarity. And I am hopeful because tomorrow I will see my sister for the first time since rehab. And she will be sober. My heart is heavy, yet thankful.

"Real character is formed in the midst of the battles of the soul. Christ offered peace, not in the sense of freedom from disturbance, but in the midst of disturbance. When he said, "Peace be still," it was in the midst of a storm. We need to develop within ourselves the kind of self control that will enable us in the midst of disturbance to find the peace that comes into the soul of a man who is living as he knows he should live." ~ Hugh B. Brown

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Handicap? What handicap?

Last month I had the opportunity to judge the strings festival in Rexburg. I judged 30 or 40 students. One young girl came in to perform, and she had been born with a birth defect that caused her right arm to be much smaller/shorter than the left, and that same arm only had a hand with 3 fingers.

Another girl, probably ten years old, came in and I noticed she had been crying. She wouldn't make eye contact, and she looked visibly upset. Her mom (who was her accompanist) told me that Maggie has autism and a social anxiety disorder. I immediately left the table and the rating sheets behind. I came near the piano and knelt down in front of her, trying to coax her to play. She put her violin up, and blew me away! Her tone filled the room, and the violin sang with intensity and brilliance I had not expected from someone so clearly apprehensive and shy.

I thought to myself, "I don't even know if she can talk...she won't look at me... but there's Maggie's voice! It's the power of music that helps her sing!"

I am thankful for the impressions those girls made on me. And here's yet another inspiring link of an accomplished violinist at Harvard with only one hand... Take a look here.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Richard Marx Gig 2012

Steve Hornbeak, Richard's keyboard player/background vocalist. This man is brilliant and personable:) Hear one of their songs (my favorite!) here.
Sound check Thursday afternoon with RM.
The set list. Holy 18 songs, Batman! loved them all. Check out our performance with RM here.
The few, the proud that were smart enough to follow RM down to his dressing room immediately following the concert.

Here are a few things I learned about Richard Marx:

1) He drinks "The Brew", which is a concoction of lemon juice, honey, ginger and cayenne pepper. This drink is what keeps his vocal cords happy. He sips it between songs, from his white mug. It has healing properties apparently, because when he was singing back up for Sheila E in Vegas, he woke up the morning of the gig, and he had no voice. No other symptoms, but having no voice freaked him out, so Sheila E made him this drink. It worked like a charm restoring his voice, and he has used it ever since. How else can an artist sing 18 song set-list???

2) He is married with 3 sons, ages 18, 19 and 21. They are also budding musicians.

3) He has this wonderful self -deprecating humor. For instance, he would preface an older song he wrote by saying, "Back in 1912 when I wrote this..."

He made fun of his "puffy mullet" by saying, "We've all made at least one hair mistake in our lives. The only difference is, mine's all over YouTube!"

And he told a story about a time when he was listening to a local radio station while driving in his car. He heard one of his songs come on, followed by Lady Gaga. And his response in his words, "I was like, 'yess!' because I was used to my songs being sandwiched in between Bette Midler's "The Wind Beneath my Wings" and a Carpenter's song."

4) He is really witty. He would crack jokes spontaneously, and respond to audience yell-outs. He was hilarious. (Minus a few colorful words.)

5) He is a true musician. I say that after having worked with other celebrity artists who play solely by ear or chord charts even, but no musical theory, etc. For example, in the sound-check/dress rehearsal with him Thursday afternoon, he turned around to the strings and said, "Violins, that phrase at the beginning needs to be a whole step between C# and D#, not a half step!"

Also, in 'Children of the Night', the trumpets have a really cool series of solos. After we ran it once, RM said, "Trumpets, I need you to play those solos with every ounce of testicle you own! And if you're a woman, grow some!"

6) He is a perfectionist. He swooped in on time, rehearsed 5 songs of the 17 on the set list, and swooped out wanting to go back to his hotel for a while before the concert. The little time we had with him was tense, yet efficient. I felt immediately like everyone was walking on egg shells when we were running the songs. He was all-business. He lost patience with us for not understanding a tacet-measure and making the mistake one too many times.

7) He had a chilly bed-side manner when he wasn't on stage. I was disappointed that he wouldn't give any autographs or pictures for the orchestra (except one group photo down in his dressing room, and whoever was there got in on it, but as I waited outside his door after the show, his security kicked us all out.) I mean, come on-- He skipped what was supposed to be a 2-hour dress rehearsal Wednesday night because of a "travel day from hell", which is typically when the artists give us a few moments of their time... In a volunteer orchestra, that's about all you hope for in compensation. (Note that David Archuleta was the extreme opposite. Abundantly generous with his time, eating with us, taking individual photos, autographs, answering questions, etc. with each of us before the gig.)

8) On stage, he is charismatic, funny, quick-witted, musically passionate, and calm. A truly gifted musician and performer. It was a perfect evening for those in attendance. Even ask the Mister, the two oldest fruit of my loins, and my 60-something-year-old mother.

9) His Dad (Dick Marx), was also a gifted musician; a well-known jazz musician who wrote hundreds of jingles used in commercials. RM loved and admired his dad, saying, "I won the lottery for Dads." DM wrote the Overture the strings played as the opening number. It wasn't easy to play.

10) He was written and produced "To Where You Are" for Josh Groban, and "This I Promise You" for NSync.

11) He chews gum while performing. (Probably to mask the cayenne pepper-thing in his Brew.)

12) As far as we can tell, RM is the only singer/songwriter with a #1 hit in every decade for four decades. Amazing talent and longevity. I loved every bit of his show. I love his newer songs tremendously... In the famous words of Eric Wenstrom, our conductor and friend, "The birthrate in Idaho Falls is going to sky-rocket after this concert."

Bonus: Check it out-- Idaho Falls made Richard's VLOG here!

Monday, February 6, 2012


"Parents, remember that now is your opportunity.
You may feel yourself harrassed as you struggle through the days with children,
but you are living the happiest and most golden years of your life.
As you tuck them in at night, please be kind to them.
Let them hear a kind voice amid all the angry, vile voices that they will hear throughout life.
Let there be an anchor to which these little ones can turn when all else fails.
The Lord help you to do so.

~ Harold B. Lee

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


"The soul would have no rainbow, had the eyes no tears." - John Vance Cheney

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Did you know...

After going to Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School simultaneously, Mitt Romney passed the Michigan bar, but never practiced law as an attorney.

As a venture-capitalist, Romney's first major business deal involved investing in a start-up office supply company with one store in Massachusetts that sold office supplies. That company, called Staples, now has over 2,000 stores and employs over 90,000 people. Romney or his company Bain Capital (using what became known as the (Bain Way) would go on to perform the same kinds of business miracles again and again, with companies like Domino's, Sealy, Brookstone, Weather Channel, Burger King, Warner Music Group, Dollarama, Home Depot Supply, and many others.

Look at his volunteer work:
Campaign worker for his dads Gubernatorial campaign 1 year.
Unpaid intern in Governors Office 8 years.
Mormon missionary in Paris 2 years.
Unpaid bishop and stake president for his church 10 years.
No salary as president of the Olympics 3 years.
No salary as Massachusetts governor 4 years.
That is a grand total of 28 years of unpaid service to his country, his community and his church.

Compare this to Newt who sit with Nancy Pelosi agreeing with global warming. He took $1.6 Million in lobbyist money from FreddyMac and FannyMae. He is on wife number 4, and is a known fillanderer.

Have you noticed that political opponents have been pressing Mitt to release his tax information for weeks, and when he finally did (he was reluctant, knowing his money would become politicized), we find out that Mitt contributed 10% of his gross income to the LDS Church. Newt donated 2.6%. Vice President Joe Biden? A whopping $369.00, or .3%. And, Mitt gave an additional $3 million to other charities in addition to the 10% tithing he paid.

How can one not be moved by Mitt Romney's years of volunteer work to his country, community and church, as well as his commitment to God by paying a full tithe? And the irony that one of the GOP frontrunners has plural wives. And it ain't Mitt...

"Newt blames Mitt for following tax code Newt helped write, but criticizes Obama for wanting to change tax code to make Mitt pay more." - Jacob Rawlins

Who has stalwart character and integrity? Who believes in the sanctity of marriage and family? Who has the credentials and abilities to turn the fiscal devastation around? It ain't Newt...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thought for the Day

When you are going through something hard and wonder where God is,
remember the teacher is always quiet during the test.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Gum Wrappers

Our Sunday night scripture study ended something like this:

"Hey! My Topical Guide smells like fruit!", said the 12-year old son.

"Excuse me?", said the tired mother.

"I've been collecting gum wrappers for a few months and I put them in my scriptures to keep us entertained in Sunday School." (--deacon says matter-of-factly)

"Joshua Joseph Kelly! What in thee heck are you talking about?" (-- disgruntled mama)

"Jared collects gum wrappers at home to bring to me, and Mitchell and I iron them out and place them by color in the "P" pages of my Topical Guide. Some green, some gold, one pink, two purple, and 27 silver."

Random, I know.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Random Musings

Caleb looked up from his homework this evening and said, "Mom, make sure and fulfill your destiny."
I started to chuckle.

"What is my destiny?"

"To love."

For reals. This kid has my heart wrapped around his tiny little energetic finger.

I'm a bit nervous for Sunday-- a member of the high council asked me to speak with him in another ward in our stake. I haven't done that since I got home from my mission. The topic is wonderful, and I am enjoying pondering the principle, "The Power of Scripture." (Any ideas?!)

This 'no-snow' thing in January is hard on my psyche...

I love bartering with students. I have a few families that clean and/or cook in trade for lessons. I relish not having to cook Tuesdays or Thursdays and have my bathrooms cleaned weekly. Now if only I didn't feel shy about having someone fold my laundry whites, I'd be rocking. (Just kidding.)

I play in the Teton Chamber Orchestra for Richard Marx next month. Also, he will be recording our performance with him for a new cd/dvd. I bought his new album, and I really like some of his newer songs-- very ballad-like. (And without the mullet.) And soulful. My musical aspiration for February is to have him autograph my violin case next to David Archuleta. Hmph. Somehow I think his security might be a bit tighter than Archie's.

I love my new little Primary class. And I have a really awesome co-teacher.

I'm hooked on a new series called "Drop Dead Diva". Pretty funny-- in a Legally Blonde sort of way.

The Mister sent me a sexy *but chaste* text today. It made the corners of my mouth turn up.

I caught my almost-5-year-old unabashedly wearing my bra a few days ago. She stuffed socks into it to... uh, give it some dimension. At least it wasn't a nursing bra. I still can't figure out how she tied knots in the back to get rid of the slack.

As much as I hate winter, I do wish it would snow. I feel like I'm in a time warp-- winter in southeast Idaho is having an identity crisis.

I'm sad the Idaho Falls Cannery (wet-pack) will be closing soon:(

Mitt took New Hampshire. This makes me glad. Santorum has some strong points, too. Jon Huntsman is merely a vote splitter. The next several months will be politically interesting indeed.

Time for some white laundry folding. What good are New Year's Resolutions if you aren't consistent?

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Fresh Perspective

Love this article and blogger...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Life Lessons from a Hamster

Tragedy struck the Kelly household last week when Emma's hamster got out in the night and fell. We took Jacques to the small animal vet who told us the hamster had broken two legs. He gave us two options: Treatment/repair for $200-$300 or euthanize for $12.

I looked at Emma and said, "Do you understand what our choices are?" She shook her head. I could tell I was going to have to pull out the big guns.

"Hamsters life expectancies are only a few years, and I don't think we can spend this much money on making him better right now. But the vet can give him a special medicine that will put him to sleep so he won't be in anymore pain. Would that be okay with you?"

She paused for a few moments while the concept sunk in. And then the flood gates opened. For both of us. She cried because she was so attached to her pet. I cried not because I loved a $15 rodent deeply, but because the Mama Bear in me was so distraught at her reaction. And up until this point in her tiny 9-year old life span, Mom and Dad have been able to help her find solutions to all of her problems. But not this time...

She bowed her head and sobbed. I said, "Honey, do you want to hold him one last time and mommy can take a picture of you with Jacques?" (Above is the pathetic picture I took as she struggled to regain composure in the vet's examination room.)

And this is what we learned that night...

Lesson #1: Emma internalized this parenting principle-- Mommy cares about things that are important to me.

"Emma, who created Jacques?" I asked gently on the car ride home.
"Jesus," she responded between sobbing breaths.
"The scriptures tell us that we return to that same God who gave us life. And all living things with spirits will be resurrected. So guess what? You will see Jacques again someday, and he will have four perfect legs."
Lesson #2: Emma learns more deeply about the Plan of Salvation, from a pet-lovers perspective (you know, the Cliffs Notes version).

Lesson #3: Emma will see that she can do hard things. The Holy Ghost strengthens and comforts us. And we keep on moving. It never gets easy saying goodbye to a pet. And maybe that's a good thing.