good news . . .

As many of you know, I was given a wonderful opportunity to contribute a chapter to the new book “Life Lessons from Fathers of Faith: Inspiring True Stories About Latter-Day Dads.” It’s a beautiful, full-color coffee table book with over 300 pages. If all goes well, they hope to have books in Deseret Book, Seagull Book, and Costco by Saturday.  This is a big deal for me, since it’s the first time I have been published under my own name!  (Being a published ghostwriter somehow just didn’t feel like the real thing.)

So, I’m asking you to consider buying it as a gift for the fathers, grandfathers and father-figures in your life.  The book has already received some great publicity and reviews. Here’s a link to a review in the Deseret News’ “Mormon Times.” http://www.mormontimes.com/article/17343/Fathers-of-Faith-pays-tribute-to-fa  Also, a companion DVD will also be released next week, and this Saturday at 4 p.m., KSL TV will air a 30 minute documentary about the book.  Then, on KSL Radio (1160 am, 102.7 FM and online at KSL.com) they’ll also present 30 minute segment about the book at 5 p.m. this Saturday.  There is also have a book trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_A-Roqg0GqE
One of the editors, Gary Toyn, is a good friend of mine and a wonderful guy.  If you haven’t already, please support him and the book and become a fan of Fathers of Faith on Facebook (http://ow.ly/2KPXC) or become a follower on Twitter at twitter.com/FathersofFaith

Forgive the shameless promotion, but I’d really like to see all of Gary’s hard work succeed. Any help you can offer to help spread the word, I would greatly appreciate it.  
Thanks,
Valerie


Goodbye, Aunt Val

Of course the summer was fun.  How could it not be, jam-packed with field trips, hikes, camp outs and road trips galore, all in the name of “wholesome family recreation.”  But some honest introspection as August rolled inevitably on revealed (again) the true motive behind all my MEPAF, POCHAF, “everybody-in-the-car” tendencies–good old fashioned avoidance of my parental responsibilities.

Because when we’re out entertaining ourselves, mom Val gives way to fun, carefree Aunt Val–the one that spoils you and takes you cool places and buys (and eats) too many treats and is SO much nicer than that scary, screaming lady back at home.  And why shouldn’t she be nice?  There are no dishes to wash, no food to prepare, thanks to the food that so easily flows through the window of the car.  No chore enforcement, no refereeing the constant fights that blow up between under-occupied children.

And you can tell me that’s what summer is for, but it all points to something much deeper, because as nights get crisper and schedules and budgets tighten for fall, I feel like cattle out to pasture slowly being nipped, whipped and “Ki-yayed” back into the corral.  And, instead of longing for the comforts of home, I find myself absent-mindedly browsing for jobs (against my own very recent advice).

But no, I really do know better, deep down, and firmly renewed my focus running up to school starting this week.

I prayed, I pondered, I rededicated myself to scripture study, and tried to seek guidance as I prepared the schedule and figured out how to focus myself.  Life presents so many things to do, so many things I want to try and be and see and learn.  And, just a couple years away from completing four decades, I’m only now realizing I won’t, can’t, shouldn’t, couldn’t try/be/see/learn it all.  (For years I’ve resented the sentiment terribly when the kids listen to Lion King and she sings, “There’s more to see than can ever be seen, More to do than can ever be done.” Oh, shut up–I CAN have it all!)

And of course, half the time all I want to do is nothing anyway, so that really cuts into my options, too.

In the end (still cringing about it) I’m going to end up doing much less than I wanted/planned/hoped, or probably even should, do.

In determining a plan, I finally came to terms with the fact that I’m useless at night and must quit scheduling tasks, especially work and writing, after the kids go down.  The only time I can pull off anything worth reading  that late is when money and a potentially PO’d boss is in the picture.  I am not a morning person, but I also believe that’s no reason not to get up early, it just needs to be done.  So there’s that.

The strongest, most surprising impression I received in putting together simplified the whole process greatly–and the message was this: ONLY home and family from after school until the kids are in bed.  No multitasking, no computer (except bills and family management–accomplishing things, not browsing or dreaming or house hunting), no outlining work projects in my head, no distractions or preoccupations.  I can run errands, clean, plan, help with homework, piano practice, have the chats that never happen when I’m holed up in my “office” (bed) with my secret crush (laptop).  The people in my house come first.

The fabulous article on slowing down in the Ensign in June 2010 helped inspire this, and I got a great blessing along with the kids right before school started which has helped as well.

So, we’re finishing up day two of this concept, and wow, it is a lot easier in many ways.  With all those hours, the house is cleaner, the busywork life management checklist is much slimmed down, everyone is fed regularly and more healthfully, fights are stopped before they start, chores are done right and more quickly (who knew just a little supervision would do so much!), kids are guardedly excited about the actual parenting they are receiving, David is more productive in his work, there is time for the scriptures, prayers, etc., and honestly, everything that matters is getting done like never before.

But more importantly, and surprisingly, my life is easier than it was.  I sit down more.  I look out the windows sometimes.  Before, when I let the hours between 12-8 be a free-for-all, I mainly just ran in a circle, not knowing where to start, but resenting anything and everyone that kept me from doing anything and everything else.  Resenting that I was always being pulled away from something, not sure what it was, but sure it was “important.”

I don’t feel like I’m failing for the first time in what seems like forever.

Granted, it’s the end of day two, I’m very tired adjusting to the new wake up time, but I have yet to see a downside (that will probably come when I put in my almost non-existent hours this next pay period).  What a novel idea to actually just attend to my home and family for the majority of my day.

I know to many of my friends this is an absurd discovery, and you’ve been doing it forever, but sympathize with a slow learner, will you?   It takes me time to realize, accept, and then relearn that my primary role is not a nanny, a marketer, an observer, living like that “I’m a waiter but really I’m an actor” cliche character in the movies: “I’m a mother but really I’m a moneymaker/writer/diva whatever.”  And I may never be rich or thin, and maybe when I’m old I’ll resent having spent so much of my life “kicking against the pricks” on those two time hogs.

It’s time to say goodbye to Aunt Val, slow down, and be just a mother.

Goodbye, Aunt Val

Of course the summer was fun.  How could it not be, jam-packed with field trips, hikes, camp outs and road trips galore, all in the name of “wholesome family recreation.”  But some honest introspection as August rolled inevitably on revealed (again) the true motive behind all my MEPAF, POCHAF, “everybody-in-the-car” tendencies–good old fashioned avoidance of my parental responsibilities.

Because when we’re out entertaining ourselves, mom Val gives way to fun, carefree Aunt Val–the one that spoils you and takes you cool places and buys (and eats) too many treats and is SO much nicer than that scary, screaming lady back at home.  And why shouldn’t she be nice?  There are no dishes to wash, no food to prepare, thanks to the food that so easily flows through the window of the car.  No chore enforcement, no refereeing the constant fights that blow up between under-occupied children.

And you can tell me that’s what summer is for, but it all points to something much deeper, because as nights get crisper and schedules and budgets tighten for fall, I feel like cattle out to pasture slowly being nipped, whipped and “Ki-yayed” back into the corral.  And, instead of longing for the comforts of home, I find myself absent-mindedly browsing for jobs (against my own very recent advice).

But no, I really do know better, deep down, and firmly renewed my focus running up to school starting this week.

I prayed, I pondered, I rededicated myself to scripture study, and tried to seek guidance as I prepared the schedule and figured out how to focus myself.  Life presents so many things to do, so many things I want to try and be and see and learn.  And, just a couple years away from completing four decades, I’m only now realizing I won’t, can’t, shouldn’t, couldn’t try/be/see/learn it all.  (For years I’ve resented the sentiment terribly when the kids listen to Lion King and she sings, “There’s more to see than can ever be seen, More to do than can ever be done.” Oh, shut up–I CAN have it all!)

And of course, half the time all I want to do is nothing anyway, so that really cuts into my options, too.

In the end (still cringing about it) I’m going to end up doing much less than I wanted/planned/hoped, or probably even should, do.

In determining a plan, I finally came to terms with the fact that I’m useless at night and must quit scheduling tasks, especially work and writing, after the kids go down.  The only time I can pull off anything worth reading  that late is when money and a potentially PO’d boss is in the picture.  I am not a morning person, but I also believe that’s no reason not to get up early, it just needs to be done.  So there’s that.

The strongest, most surprising impression I received in putting together simplified the whole process greatly–and the message was this: ONLY home and family from after school until the kids are in bed.  No multitasking, no computer (except bills and family management–accomplishing things, not browsing or dreaming or house hunting), no outlining work projects in my head, no distractions or preoccupations.  I can run errands, clean, plan, help with homework, piano practice, have the chats that never happen when I’m holed up in my “office” (bed) with my secret crush (laptop).  The people in my house come first.

The fabulous article on slowing down in the Ensign in June 2010 helped inspire this, and I got a great blessing along with the kids right before school started which has helped as well.

So, we’re finishing up day two of this concept, and wow, it is a lot easier in many ways.  With all those hours, the house is cleaner, the busywork life management checklist is much slimmed down, everyone is fed regularly and more healthfully, fights are stopped before they start, chores are done right and more quickly (who knew just a little supervision would do so much!), kids are guardedly excited about the actual parenting they are receiving, David is more productive in his work, there is time for the scriptures, prayers, etc., and honestly, everything that matters is getting done like never before.

But more importantly, and surprisingly, my life is easier than it was.  I sit down more.  I look out the windows sometimes.  Before, when I let the hours between 12-8 be a free-for-all, I mainly just ran in a circle, not knowing where to start, but resenting anything and everyone that kept me from doing anything and everything else.  Resenting that I was always being pulled away from something, not sure what it was, but sure it was “important.”

I don’t feel like I’m failing for the first time in what seems like forever.

Granted, it’s the end of day two, I’m very tired adjusting to the new wake up time, but I have yet to see a downside (that will probably come when I put in my almost non-existent hours this next pay period).  What a novel idea to actually just attend to my home and family for the majority of my day.

I know to many of my friends this is an absurd discovery, and you’ve been doing it forever, but sympathize with a slow learner, will you?   It takes me time to realize, accept, and then relearn that my primary role is not a nanny, a marketer, an observer, living like that “I’m a waiter but really I’m an actor” cliche character in the movies: “I’m a mother but really I’m a moneymaker/writer/diva whatever.”  And I may never be rich or thin, and maybe when I’m old I’ll resent having spent so much of my life “kicking against the pricks” on those two time hogs.

It’s time to say goodbye to Aunt Val, slow down, and be just a mother.

Monkey Bread (Cooking Light)

This is my kids’ favorite breakfast! A staple for birthdays, conference and holidays.

Thaw overnight and cut into 24 pieces per loaf (cut 4 strips lengthwise, six across):
2 (1-lb) loaves frozen white bread dough (my MIL uses 4 Pillsbury biscuit cans–may try that one–no raising)

Mix in a small saucepan over medium-high heat then boil one minute, remove from heat, let sit 10 minutes:
 1 cup sugar
 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter

1/14 teaspoons cinnamon

Mix together in a small bowl:
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Roll each portion of dough in cinnamon sugar mixture, layer dough in bundt pan coated with cooking spray.  Pour sugar syrup over dough; cover and let rise in a warm place free from drafts 35 minutes or until doubled. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place bundt pan on cookie sheet, bake 25-30 minutes, until browned.  Immediately loosen edges of bread with a knife.  Place a serving plate upside down, on top of pan, invert bread onto plate.  Remove pan, drizzle any remaining syrup over bread.

Best Buttermilk Pancakes

I just don’t understand pancake mix.  Like cake mix, it only saves you about five ingredients, maybe two minutes, yet costs so much more and will get you less-than-best results.  This is a modified version of a Cooking Light recipe that we’ve finally decided is perfect.

Mix:

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar

Add all before stirring:

3 eggs
2 cups buttermilk (or 2c milk mixed with 2T lemon juice or vinegar)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Mix just until not lumpy and cook on a hot griddle with lots of butter.