This Christmas...

With Thanksgiving now over and Christmas soon approaching I can’t help but ponder the holiday season. I think back to when my children were fewer and younger, when naptimes, bickering, and temper tantrums kept me from enjoying festivities and adult conversation. I think forward to when those children (and the ones that have come since) will be grown, concerned more with their own friends and their own families, and less with what’s going on in my home. I lament the handmade stockings that I still haven’t finished, and the Christmas cookies that didn’t get made last year. I remember the evenings that slipped away without the advent calendar being attended to, and the decorations that never made it out of storage. I worry about the gifts I rarely have prepared for neighbors, friends, and teachers, and the grand Christmas card ideas that never materialize, and therefore don’t get sent out. Without fail, this ruminating leaves me feeling inadequate and unfulfilled. Why are my holidays not picture-perfect, rivaling those that I remember as a child?

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been too focused on my “to-do” list and not focused enough on my “to-be” list. Though difficult, I need to be accepting that I can't (and shouldn't) do everything that Pinterest would lead me to believe is necessary for a successful holiday. I need to be recentering my Christmas celebration on the Savior. I need to be more grateful for the blessings I’ve received, and more ready to express that gratitude to my Heavenly Father and to the people in my life who are those blessings. I need to be more present with friends and family, and my children, and less preoccupied with the lists that inevitably take up residence in my head.

So for this Christmas season I resolve to-be, rather than to-do. I will learn from the past, but I won’t dwell on recreating it. I will hope for the future, but won’t spend my days dreaming of the perfect holiday to come. Instead, I will spend this time immersed in each moment, enjoying the traditions of today with those that I love, and remembering with gratitude, the gift of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To all of you I wish the same.  With love, Cecily


Will You Help Me Out?

So back in December I was assigned to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting. Seeing as how that's one of my most favorite things to do I was understandably thrilled. Yay. (Note dripping sarcasm here.)

But the topic given, Preparedness, fits nicely in my bucket of most favorite things. So I wrote and delivered my talk and all was well. I even posted it here on my blog for all you cyber-peeps to enjoy. Remember this?

Fast forward to this month. A preparedness blog that I follow pretty regularly announced a contest for us non-Doomsday Preppers. The requirements were fairly straight forward - submit an article or video with your personal preparedness story . . . why? how? where? what? I wrestled with the idea of entering for a couple weeks. Preparedness is something I believe to be hugely important. I dare say I'm a little passionate about it. But writing an article? That's just soooooo much work. (Note whining here.) But I couldn't get the thought of the fabulous prizes out of my head - a Sun Oven, a Big Berkey Water Filter, $200 to spend with Zaycon foods . . . all were so very motivating. Especially when I remembered my talk and thought how simple it would be to alter it into a short article.

So I did. I altered my talk and entered it into the contest. Unfortunately my work doesn't end there. Since the winner of the contest is determined by the number of comments posted at the end of the article, I now have the enviable task of shamelessly promoting my article with hopes of luring friends and well-wishers (and hopefully even lots and lots of strangers) to my contest-entry article for comment posting. Each person can cast up to 5 votes by means of 5 different comments. Nothing fancy or even insightful is required. A simple "Vote #1" and "Vote #2", etc is perfect, and so very much appreciated.

So click this little link, scroll to the bottom of the article, leave a comment (or hopefully 5 different ones), and show me the love!!

PS - Last time I checked I was in 5th place:(
Help me out. Please:)

Stairs Ideas

Stair update traditional staircase

Landing contemporary staircase


"But if ye are prepared"

In the summer of 2002 we had just moved to south Texas and Nate was working across the border in Mexico everyday. Addy was turning 3 and I was very pregnant with Jack. The news was full of reports of potential dirty bomb attacks and I was anxious and unsettled, and looking back, probably very hormonal. I felt constant uneasiness. I remembered the scripture in Doctrine & Covenants 38:30 that reads, “but if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.” I took it to heart and realized that in order to quell my fear I needed to do something, to actively engage in a project. That’s when I built my first 72 hr kit. It was bulky and did require a Little Tikes wagon to transport, but hey, it was a start.

Since then my preparedness efforts have waxed and waned depending on our situation. Small living spaces and a student budget weren’t conducive to food storage when Nate was in graduate school. But then we decided to move back to California – the state where we had been living on Sept 11, 2001.

At that time we were in process of moving out of California to Pennsylvania. Nate had already started working in Pennsylvania and was scheduled to fly home the evening of Sept 11th. Of course he didn’t make it back to California that night. The movers were coming to pack up our house and ship out our cars the very next day. Addy was 2 years old and had no comprehension of the events of the day, but wanted to watch the footage over and over again – she found it exciting, like it was a fireworks display. And I was almost in a panic, reconciling just how much our world had changed that morning, and how my sense of peace and security were completely wiped out, all while trying to figure out how I was going to accomplish Nate’s extensive honey-do list before the movers came. But there was a young couple in our ward, the husband had been sent home from his job in one of the downtown LA towers, and the wife was Addy’s nursery leader. Thanks to them Addy and I weren’t alone, and we were ready when the movers came the next morning. The idea of moving back to California unleashed many of the feelings I had tried to bury after that experience, especially feelings of helplessness and isolation, and so I jumped into emergency preparedness and food storage as a way to eliminate the possibility of having to feel that way again.

Our preparation efforts should not just be for natural disaster, economic instability, or an unexpected change in our personal situation. We should be preparing for the time when we next meet the Lord. This Christmas season is perfect for reflecting upon the 1st time the Lord entered in to the world, and to ponder the preparations the world experienced prior to the birth of Christ. John the Baptist was sent to prepare the people for the culmination of the law of Moses and the coming of the Messiah.

Just as the world was prepared then, the world must experience preparations prior to His second coming. But when will that time come? We don’t know His time frame. No man does. But He has told us through prophesies - recorded in Matthew 24 and D&C 45 – of the signs and wonders that the time of His coming is near. The Lord declared “He that feareth me shall be looking forth for the great day of the Lord to come, even for the signs of the coming of the Son of Man,” signs that will be shown “in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath”. These signs include wars and rumors of wars, a whole earth in commotion, the love of men waxing cold, and iniquity abounding. The Lord warned of desolating sickness, earthquakes, and famine and pestilence.

The commencement of these prophesies was fulfilled with the opening of the last dispensation by the Prophet Joseph Smith and the restoration of the gospel. Many of the rest of the signs and warnings can already be seen in our world. Numerous general authorities have warned that the natural disasters, the social unrest, and the spiritual storm of a degradation of morality are already raging and we can expect them to worsen until the Savior returns. It’s our responsibility as members of the church to prepare ourselves and the rest of the inhabitants of the earth for the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So how do we prepare? Of course the temporal preparation matters – we’ve been instructed for over 75 years to “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing” (D&C 109:8). We are to prepare with stores of food, water, clothing, chocolate . . . and we’ve been counseled to eliminate debt. We demonstrate our obedience by adhering to this counsel. But no amount of physical preparation will compensate for a lack of spiritual preparation. In his October 2005 General Conference address President Eyring taught, "We will need to have developed and nurtured faith in Jesus Christ long before Satan hits us, as he will, with doubts and appeals to our carnal desires and with lying voices saying that good is bad and that there is no sin.” We must have faith and testimony enough to make clear the eternal perspective that knowledge of our Savior, Jesus Christ and the plan of Salvation has given us. The Lord instructed us (D&C 38:9) to “Gird up your loins and be prepared. Behold, the kingdom is yours, and the enemy shall not overcome.”

President Eyring went on to suggest four ways to prepare spiritually –

The first is to feast upon the word of God. 2 Nephi 31:20 reads, “wherefore if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.” We try to read the scriptures with the kids to help them learn the gospel and prepare to face an ever-challenging world. Addy loves to explain the interpretation of Lehi’s Dream. And Jack is the first to tell you how cool Ammon is – but what 9 year old boy doesn’t love a story filled with swords and a healthy dose of gore? And Ellie can tell you all about Nephi getting the brass plates from Laban. Though she does prefer to leave out the part about how Nephi got Laban’s sword.

The second way to prepare is to pray always. In the Doctrine & Covenants the Savior instructs (D&C 33:17-18,) “Wherefore, be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom—For behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that I come quickly”.

The third is to be a full-tithe payer. Russell M Nelson taught that an enduring commitment to be a full-tithe payer is essential to developing enduring faith. He also reminded us of D&C 85:3, where we learn that tithing will keep your name enrolled among the people of God and protect you in “the day of vengeance and burning.”

And the fourth preparation is to escape from sin and its terrible effects. Repent, and “Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly (D&C 87:8). Holy places include the temple, a spirit-filled home, and the responsibility of missions and faithfully filled church callings.

I would add another preparation that has been mentioned in many Priesthood Session talks. A preparation that is specific to the brethren. Prepare to use the priesthood you hold to serve the people around you.

Shortly after we were married Nate and I were on a flight from SLC to Dallas. About an hour in to the flight a young man walking down the isle stopped and tapped Nate on the shoulder and explained that there was a sick woman on the plane that needed a blessing. He asked if Nate could help. Nate didn’t know this young man, or the sick woman. Regardless, he went with them to a galley at the back of the plane and anointed, sealed, and blessed that woman. What struck me in that moment was that Nate was ready, willing, and able – he was prepared – to give a blessing, no matter how inconvenient a time it seemed to be.

President Eyring spoke of always keeping a vial of consecrated oil close at hand so he would never have to spend potentially vital time searching for one when called upon to give a blessing. Brothers, please be worthy and willing to use the priesthood to bless those around you at any time. Remember the charge given in D&C 121:36, which reads, “That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.”

The preparations we are making are not just to benefit ourselves and our own families. They allow us to obey the commandment to love and serve others. We can then become as the Nephites who were described in the book of Alma (1:30), “They did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need”.

“But if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear”. It’s a scripture that you hear often, and in many scenarios. I can’t tell you how many times my parents reminded me of that scripture when I was in high school and complaining about having to study for an exam. And soon Jackson will learn the Boy Scout motto – “Be Prepared.” And of course, we use that scripture to encourage emergency preparedness. But it’s important to recognize that preparation is not inoculation. After all, I’ve spent a lot of time preparing for this talk, but my fear of standing here in front of you hasn’t been alleviated. The scripture doesn’t say that you’ll be immune from trial, or guarantee that tragedy won’t fall upon you, or even that life will go the way you planned.

We know, of course, “that the rain falls on the just as well as the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). The faithful members of the church in Japan, Chile, Haiti, New Orleans and Joplin, MO and in other areas of the world that have suffered catastrophe stand as witnesses of that fact.

What the scripture does teaches us, however, is that a person who has prepared through their lives to meet Jesus Christ, whether upon their death or when He comes again, can look upon that day with peace and joyful anticipation, with confidence waxing strong in the presence of God (D&C 121:46). This confidence comes from a combination of our efforts and the Atonement of our Savior. For we know that it is by grace‍ that we are saved, after all‍ we can do (2 Nephi 25:23).

In closing I want to share with you a prophetic witness given by President Monson. He said: “I testify to you that our promised blessings are beyond measure. Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments.” He continued: “My beloved brothers and sisters, fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.”

I add my testimony to our beloved prophet’s. I know that our purpose here on earth is to become more like Jesus Christ. Peace of mind and of spirit can only be found by obeying the principles of the gospel. And in doing so we will be prepared to stand uprightly before the Lord, without fear, on that day when we meet Him again.

(From a talk given in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday, December 18, 2011.)


Wit Quickening?

Love my Addy. And she's a smart one. But sarcasm and witty come-backs have never been her forte. In the last week or so, however, she's been giving me evidence that she might be changing.

Exhibit 1:

Nate was giving Addy a hard time about her height, or more specifically, her lack of height. It was all in good fun, and Addy was not slow to recognize that fact. Nate said things like:

"Don't you think it's gonna be embarrassing to go on your first date to Disneyland and not be able to ride on the big kid rides?"


"Do you think it would be helpful to carry a step-stool in your backpack?"

Addy giggled and fake punched her dad's arm, and then on a dime, her demeanor changed and with a calm, confident voice she said:

"Well Dad, it's not like I get my height from Mom."

Point 1 for Addy.

Exhibit 2:

Again with Nate. This time he was critiquing her food choices:

"Eww, this is gross. Why would you want to eat it? This tastes like crap!"

Without skipping a beat Addy responded:

"Really Dad? You know what crap tastes like?"

Point 2 for Addy.

This girl has always made me proud. But now she's making me boastful.


Where in the World?

Here's another one for those of you who like my simple little game.


So Happy Together

After three years the time had come to move Things 2 and 4 into the same bedroom. This left Thing 3 a little nervous - how ever was she going to fall asleep alone? She got over it quickly.

Knock before you come in.
No jumping on my bed.
No laying on my pillow.



and flowers.
What little girl wouldn't want a room free from pirates, cars, and fart jokes?

That leaves Jack (x2), Sketch, and Mater plenty of Leg-o room.


That's my mini monster

3 years old. Isn't he yummy?


It means a galaxy to me.

And Pappy thinks kids these days can't string a sentence together.
Oh, how I love this boy!

You think this is what a "puffest" dad looks like?



And after:


Sack Races?

Not the game I would've come up with when planning a party for superheros.


Dear Mom and Dad

Feb. 8, 2011

I love you when you help me when I have a cold. I love you hug me because it fills me with complete joy. Your more valuable than anything in the entire universe. Your eyes shine like brilliant stars in the night. Your my favorite parents in the whole world. I would not even give you up for one-zillion dollars. If you would die, I would die just like a bird would mate for life. When you hug me with love, your arms are softer than anything in the universe. Your love is longer than the solar systom. I love how you make me smile and how to make me laugh. I love you to infinity and beyond. Mom, you are more gorgeous than a star. Dad, you are more tough than a planet. Your especially the parents for me. You fill me joy and love. Thanks for teaching me to ride a bike. You are always welcome to my heart. You are more fragile than glass to me. You make magic every day. Stampedes of love run in my mind whenever and wherever you hug me. Whenever at night that I am frightened you let me sleep in you bed and makes me happy and loveing. You are very important to my life. Mom, you are the queen of love. Dad, you are the king of laughter and joy. You are like a cup of hot chocolate, your love always keeps me warm and filled with love. You two are my special Valentines. Thank you for teaching me the proper way to act. Thank you for teaching me how to love and for giving me life. Thank you for your love, devotion, courage, patience and forgiveness. I cherish you both with all my heart. When we are together, my heart bursts inside and I overflow with gladness and pride. You are a gift to me. Kisses like roses, hugs like a bear, make me realize, you'll always be there. You'll always be mine and be my Valentine. Happy Valentine's Day Mom and Dad!

Your son,


My Favorite Food Storage and Survival Blog

has moved.

Angela at Adventures in Self-Reliance has moved and renamed her blog. She can now be found at FoodStorageandSurvival.

If you're looking for a down-to-earth approach and lots of creative ideas and useful tips for preparing your family for disaster (be it large-scale or of the more personal nature) then FoodStorageandSurvival is a great resource.

Oh, and don't let me forget about the giveaway she's running right now. Lots of great stuff to be had.


Line Rider Versus One-Eyed Giant

by Jackson Mangum, Grade 2

There was a race that was happening at Line Rider Town. It was one of the most challenging races in the entire world. Line Rider was teamed against One-Eyed Giant from Giant Town. Line Rider was using his sled for the race. One-Eyed Giant was using his fork, spoon, and knife. Whoever won would get whatever prize they wanted: Line Rider would not get eaten by One-Eyed Giant, One-Eyed Giant would have a nibble by eating the entire town! The race was about to begin. The checkered flag went down and the race began! No one seemed to see who was in the lead. They were side by side! The race took days and nights. It was a lap around the entire world! About the same time a volcano erupted! And Line Rider and One-Eyed Giant were a mile away! Lava was bursting out into the air. When the lava reached Line Rider Town it almost destroyed town hall! But One-Eyed Giant and Line Rider were finally friends! The race was almost now finished. Was this a tie? Was One-Eyed Giant the winner? Was Line Rider the winner? Wow! It was too close. We don't even know who won? Line Rider was nervous. When everyone was not looking - gulp! That was the end of Line Rider town. One-Eyed Giant got his nibble.


Where in the world? Revealed!

Remember this post? The answer is Cabazon, CA.

The view up from the base of the T-Rex.

See those itty bitty people sitting on Rex's toe? That's my people:)


My Garden

My garden (like my blog) has been sadly neglected for the past year or so. It's hard to stay motivated when once happy tomato plants become gnawing posts for unknown vermin.

But returning to a familiar pastime does have its rewards. These baby grapes were hiding behind a leaf when I was out watering this evening.

Who knows? Maybe a blogging revival will reap another kind of fruit of my labor . . . oh bleghck! That's more sap than I can stomach.

The 1st Rule of Fight Club

I think a little purple eyeliner becomes me.

I had some of you going there, huh? Come on, admit it. I'm sure you remember my excessive bruises and broken toes back in the Red Raider days. You're thinking I was running my soap-box mouth to the wrong person and finally got what was coming to me. The truth is hardly that sensational. This violence was self-inflicted during the latest of my hazardous domestic goddess pursuits. I guess a superpail in the face is a decent price to pay when it means I end up with a new food storage pantry that looks like this:

Totally worth it. Even if I do end up with a scar.

Here's an soap-box afterthought: Notice the lack of stitches? This wound-closure was brought to you by a Band-Aid Single Step Liquid Bandage swab and a butterfly bandage. Total cost? About $1. No one can accuse me of over-consumption of health care, leading to the escalating cost of medical services.


Out of the great state of Maryland

came Thing 1. And from Thing 1 came a 5th Grade State Project, a mini float in the spirit of the Rose Parade. Addy highlighted the Baltimore Inner Harbor, complete with the National Aquarium, a few tall ships, and a buzzing Navy jet.

She also paid homage to Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" and the most delicious Chesapeake Blue Crab. I've yet to figure out how the raven managed to cook the crab.