Aug 27, 2014 in family | 0 comments

I did something yesterday that felt like me…the old me that is getting harder for me to remember.

May came and went and it never came to my corner of Idaho. June and Jult came and went as well and the closest it ever got to me was 3 1/2 hours south. I tried desperately to figure out a way to see it in Salt Lake or Boise, but every possibility I came up with would not work out. Then we went camping and by the time we got back it was long gone from the few theaters it played in.

I looked up its DVD release date and found out it was August 26. I knew I wanted to see it on the big screen, but decided I would have to settle for watching it on my computer.

That lasted about one second. I couldn’t BEAR to watch it on the computer! So, I started calling all the theaters within an hour radius to ask beg them to rent me a theater. I found one that said they would do it for $250 +$3 admission. I decided I would go with that one and would have to get 100 people to attend and pay $6. Hmmm, seemed a bit challenging, but I was completely determined to make it happen. Then I found a theater that would charge me a $30 rental price and no admission if I did it this week. Huzzah!

Just one problem. Well, two actually. I didn’t actually own the movie yet since was being released that very day. And two, I needed to do it that very night, in just a few short hours, if I wanted Richard, Blythe, and Keziah to attend…which, of course, I did.

So, I got to work and called all over the place and luckily found the movie for sale. Then I started inviting basically everyone I knew. Richard went and picked up the movie and I called. emailed, and Facebooked everyone in the tri-state area.

And people started responding which made my heart sing. It can be scary to organize an event and take the risk of no one catching your vision and joining in.

Piles of joy, my friends. We had 54 people come and party with us with heaps of popcorn, a few tears, and lots and lots of hugs.

It felt good. Really good. I love bringing people together and making the world a better place. I used to do this kind of thing all the time, but have drastically scaled back since I was injured.

It’s nice to know the spontaneous, fun-loving party girl is still inside me somewhere.

Favorite lines? YES, so many of them.

What is right can never be impossible!

My greatest misfortune, would be to marry into a family that would carry me as their shame.

How can I be too high of rank to dine with the servants, but too low of rank to dine with my own family?

You are above reducing yourself for the sake of rank.

Laws that allow us to diminish the humanity of anybody are not laws.

You break every rule when it matters enough, papa. I am the evidence.

If you haven’t seen Belle, watch it…because oh my, it is so, so good. I loved it and so did everyone else at my party. Now available on DVD or instant download at Amazon and probably a bajillion other places.

morning is soooo early

Aug 26, 2014 in family | 0 comments

Mornings are not my thing. They have never been my thing. I thoroughly enjoy seeing the sun rise in all its splendor, but even that beauty along with the peace and quiet that comes in the early hours is not enough to make me get out of bed.

For years I have tried to get out of bed earlier. I have tried alarms, reward programs, punishment programs, positive self-talk, begged Richard to drag me out of bed, and lots of other approaches to get me up in the wee hours of the day, but none of it has worked.

On the flip side of all this is some challenging evening schedules. For the past several years, our older girls have been involved in activities in the evening and our family scripture reading and read-alouds have really suffered. They have both been gone on Tuesdays for mutual (youth program at church), Blythe has been gone on Wednesdays for ballet and Thursdays for symphony, she gets home both nights around 9:30. I don’t know for sure what her schedule is going to be this year, but I know our evenings need changed. My little ones need to go to bed earlier than they have been and we need to not squeeze scripture reading in around the edges of our lives.

So, we are making a new tradition…morning scripture reading. I know lots of people do this successfully and others do it not so successfully (kids are asleep or only a few verses are read in the midst of the mad-rush out the door), but even doing it not so successfully has seemed an absolute impossibility to us before now.

Sunday at Family Council we made a new plan to have family scripture reading at 6:25 in the morning before Keziah leaves for seminary at 6:45. She will need to be all ready for the day before that point and the rest of us will need to alert…not just conscious, but alert. I cannot bear to have scripture study with semi-comatose children (or self!) – it is too important to me to do it in a check-off-the-list manner and not an actual learn and grow manner.

So we started Monday morning easing in to our new plan. Seminary doesn’t start till the 3rd, so are giving ourselves some time to work into the 6:25 dealio. The last two days we have had a high-quality scripture reading at 7:15, huzzah!

I did yawn all day long yesterday and I was ready to crash at 9:00 p.m., but I made it through without a nap. This probably seems like no big deal to those of you who get up early all the time, but to me it is like climbing Mt. Everest. Seriously difficult stuff here.

grl 2014

Aug 25, 2014 in Uncategorized | 3 comments

We have been home from our camping trip for over two weeks and I FINALLY got my pictures uploaded. I’d give you a list of excuses, like laundry and health and a very long to-do list, but really, I just haven’t done it before today.


This year I was able to be in my mountains for 16 glorious days. The first six days we only had my mom and three of my kiddos. It was so, so lovely to eat super simple meals, lay around camp, read, watch the children swim and kayak, and just. be. still. The weather was beautiful without a cloud in the sky on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Then on Tuesday it rained for 12 hours straight. We stayed in our tent all day long and played games, read books, and told stories of Grandma and Grandpa for the My Family project our Stake is doing right now.

Our home away from home.

Wednesday night my brother Scott arrived, Thursday my sweetie and Keziah showed up, Friday my sister Mikelle and her family joined us, along with my brother Stephen a bit later in the day.

After those first four days of perfect weather, we had rain. Lots of rain. Rain for days on end. Puddles and mud and raincoats and umbrellas were plentiful. As soon as the rain let up to drizzle mode, everyone would burst from our tents ready to play or fish or do ANYTHING but stay in the tent. There were non-raining moments and sometimes hours every day and we used those to kayak, fish, and warm-up by the fire, but it seemed every day had some rain (or hail!) packed into it.

I fell in the shower and dislocated my tibia a few days before we left, so I had to be super-duper careful the whole time. My whole knee was sore and the ligaments weren’t holding it in place well at all, so I spent most of my time lying in my chair or tent. I was able to kayak down the river three times – twice for five whole miles. Oh, the joy! I love kayaking and it was heavenly to get out on the water and actually move instead of lying around like a stuffed lobster.

Fisher spent most of his time fishing, searching for frogs and snakes, kayaking, and avoiding the camera. Here is one of the few photos I got of his whole face.


This is what usually happened the moment he noticed the camera pointing his way.




One day I had to go to town to register the children for their iFAMILY classes and brought back ice cream in a cooler for a fun camping treat. Since there is no way to keep it frozen, we had to eat 12 creamsicles and a box of ice cream in one sitting. Poor us, eh?


Since I was not able to do much of anything, Blythe took over my mom duties and took the kids on hikes and other adventures. While I was gone to town Blythe took the little ones on a short hike to the cave and big rock. Another day she took them both on a kayak trip to the other side of the lake – two miles across! I didn’t think they would make it, but they rocked it.

After the rainy days started, we woke up to crazy fog each morning. Mom liked to say we were “socked in.”




Umbrellas and rain boots were a staple.


Foot soaks to get the filthy feet clean were enjoyed every few days. I can take a lot of dirt, but even I have my limit and must insist on children’s feet being scrubbed clean before they can enter the tent.



We also had full bath days and several shampoo the hair days, but somehow I made it the entire two weeks without a single bath or hair washing. It felt really, really lovely to bathe all that dirt away when we got home.

We celebrated Blythe and Andie’s 18th birthdays with presents and fake pudding, raspberry cheesecake for Blythe and a fancy store-bought cake for Andie’s.

Blythe wasn’t too happy about turning 18.


Andie gave her a skirt from Nepal. Miss Andie is a world traveler and recently spent three weeks working in a school in Nepal with her mom.


Grandma gave her a set of Holy Tabbs, an awesome scripture marking program I can’t wait to implement in my own scriptures.


My mom has called her Sooger or Shooger Bunkin since the day she was born. It was her name even before she was named Blythe.


Blythe’s yummy, but totally fake raspberry cheesecake with 18 candles making an 18.




We had our favorite camping meal of fried potatoes, onions, peppers, and zucchini for her birthday dinner and then topped it off with some fish.



The two girls went on a kayak adventure on Andie’s birthday morn and I caught a pic of them as they came back to camp.


Then we had yummy cake.


We gave Andie a big bag of our homemade granola. She loves it and we try to make her some every time she comes to visit.

During the sunny moments, lots of fun was had at the lake.





Fish were caught and mostly released, but quite a few were brought back to camp to eat for dinner.


The girls went on a heart kick, wove flowers in their hair, and tried to make hearts out of their bodies.






This all fell apart into pure silliness.




Then they settled on a beach heart.


On our last day, we took the kiddos over to the lodge I lived in as a little girl with my grandparents. I told them all sorts of stories about their great-grandparents and the magical times we had together.


These are the steps my grandfather made…forty years later and they are still there!


This is the double-seater outhouse up on the hill that Camille and I always used when the lodge bathrooms were full or we were playing on the spaceship rocks.


The rock we used to run up and down. You knew you had “arrived” when you could do it without hands.


I spent a lot of time staring at Square Top this year. I was supposed to climb it to celebrate my 40th birthday, but my body is not able to do so. It has now been three years of camping without even being able to go on a small hike. A few times when I was left alone at camp, I sobbed tears of heartbreak that I wasn’t on top of my mountain. I was supposed to do hard things, see new vistas, and have an amazing girl adventure with all my bestest friends. I let the grief pour out of me and really mourn the direction my life has taken. It felt good to really, really cry. To really, really admit how hard and how sad this all is. I can see the blessings and I can put on a brave face, but I am sad, deep down to my little toes, so sad that I cannot climb my mountain or do so many other things I love.

Goodbye to my mountain for another year.


We ended up leaving about 9:00 pm on Saturday night so we could make it home for church on Sunday and as we pulled away, we finally got a full moon. Goodbye moon. My favorite moon.


all i want for cwissmuss

Aug 25, 2014 in children, pics, slider | 0 comments

Remember Miss Annes’ loose teeth back in July? Well, just a few days after this pic was taken, she lost three teeth and has had an adorable missing-two-front-teeth smile ever since.

Photo on 7-7-14 at 3.41 PM #4

She lost two on the top and one on the bottom. She has five more loose ones and we are hoping at least the bottom middle one falls out soon so her tooth that came in behind all the rest can get some room to straighten out.

First she lost her bottom one.


Then her top two.



There is no sign of any teeth coming in yet and it has been nearly two months! Who knows, she might be sporting this toothless grin for awhile.

making progress, ever so slow

Aug 25, 2014 in the hip | 0 comments

My knee is continuing to bother me and though I am trying hard not to get frustrated and discouraged, I feel myself sliding that direction sometimes. I think the frustration is coming less from the pain and more from the fact that ANOTHER body part has been added to the list of injuries. It was one thing when my hip was injured. Then we added my left foot, then my right, then my shoulders, ribs, neck, and jaw. Now my right knee is injured from the tibia dislocating in the shower fall and my left knee is hurting from compensating for the instability on the right.

It is a lot. Each joint needs different things to help them and it is fairly tiring just trying to keep it all straight in my mind, much less moving in such a way to prevent further injury.

The good news – okay, the FANTABULOUS news, is my hip is doing really well. I am moving better than I have since the initial injury back in February 2012 and as soon as my knee regains some stability, we can start building muscles in earnest.

PLEASE tell me this is true! Please tell me what we have been working for since I started physical therapy in April 2013 is going to start happening soon. We were almost there in July of last year, but then I broke my foot which set me back five months. Then in December I was able to start exercising and building the muscles in my pelvis. Then I tore the pubic symphysis in January, dislocated my foot in February, and dislocated pretty much everything in May. We have been stabilizing things all summer and we are almost back to the point where we can start the fix-Tracy’s-hip program again. I just need the knee ligaments to tighten up so I can walk on it without pain.

It really is crazy making. I am so done with the whole thing. I am ready to be healthy and strong and ABLE. Able to do my own grocery shopping. Able to sit in a chair like a normal person. Able to fold a batch of laundry without feeling like I have just run a marathon. Able to have a heartrate that stays below 90 instead of shooting up to 150. Able to not have shaking episodes. Able to drive myself where ever I want to go. Able to stay conscious. Able to run around and play with my children. Able to jump on the trampoline. Able to ride my lovely bike. Able. That is all I want.

And yet, I might not ever get any of those things. I might never be able in those areas.

But I am able to love. To speak kindness. To smile. To share truth. To laugh. To encourage. To make this world a brighter place.

And that is what I need to do more of – and keep my faith alive that someday I will be able to do the the others.


Aug 17, 2014 in something to ponder | 0 comments

Back in May I was given a new calling at church as the secretary to the Stake Primary Presidency. It is busy and full of meetings and I knew I could not add this calling into my already very full life without letting something else go.

But I didn’t know what to let go. I love all the things I do. LOVE THEM. In fact, it is pretty much impossible for me to do something if I am not passionate about it. So giving up something is really, really hard. I don’t have a list of things to say “no” to that I don’t really want to do – I have a list of things that are deeply important to my soul that I want to keep investing my time and energy in.

It has been hard to think and ponder and work up the courage to let something go. But I have done it. In July I officially resigned from the iFAMILY Board of Directors and over the past seven weeks we have been transitioning me off of the board. I have wept deep, heartfelt cries of anguish that no one really understands. iFAMILY has been my baby…I helped birth it and nurture it as it grew and now I am walking away from my position and trusting that the foundation laid is sufficient to carry it onwards. Oh, the heartache.

In spite of the pain of leaving, I know I needed to do this – I feel peace about it. I cannot serve my church in this calling and serve iFAMILY and have enough time with my children. For some reason I don’t yet understand, God is asking me to serve the children and leaders of my stake at this time. It is not my dream calling. It is not something I would have ever wanted to do. I am not very good at it. I continually say the wrong thing at our meetings. I come home feeling like I am not really making any sort of impact for good and wondering why on earth I am spending my time here instead of spending my time at iFAMILY where I can visibly see the impact of my service.

But I know God has asked me to do this. His Spirit has poured over me and told me God has called me to this position. So I will serve and try my best to love and learn and listen to His voice teach me.

And I will still cry.

And God will still love me.

in his hands

Aug 14, 2014 in blessings, family | 0 comments

Our suburban’s transfer case broke back on June 28 on our way home from Utah. The bill was $2100. $2100 which we didn’t have and couldn’t see any way of getting. We started selling things to pay for it and were able to sell enough stuff and use some from our summer savings account (our money set aside during the school year to make it until October when Richard gets paid from the school district again) to pay for the repair.

Well, when we returned home from camping, I did all the math for the next two months and knew we weren’t going to make it until payday in mid-October. We needed the $800 from the summer savings account. So I started putting energy into selling more things and planning out some classes to teach.

This morning, I woke up and knew the Duplo table had to sell. I had listed it back when the suburban broke down and it didn’t sell. I wasn’t willing to do garage sale prices on it because it is worth a lot of money (and worth a lot of emotional pennies to me as well), but many people are only willing to pay thrift store prices, so no one was interested in my $350 Duplo collection. Well, I prayed. I asked God to please send my ad to a person who would be blessed by my Duplos AND be willing to pay for them.

And he did.

It is sold, paid for, and taken to its new home.

Yes, I believe in a God of miracles. I tried to sell it on my own for a month with not a single taker. Today, after praying for help, it sold in just a few short hours. He is taking care of us.

p.s. I am so, so grateful they sold and know they are going to a home where they will be well-loved and cared for, but I find myself a bit teary-eyed…saying goodbye to our duplos is saying goodbye to an era of little ones. My babies are growing up and it feels like my heart is being torn in two.

need some brain cells? go elsewhere…

Aug 13, 2014 in humorous, just a note | 2 comments

Confession: my brain does funny things. It jumps to insane conclusions and runs a mile a minute pretty much 24 hours a day. It also misses things that are fairly obvious to others…jumps completely over the obvious to some ridiculous explanation.

(Mom, want to share the license plate story?)

Well, while I was camping I had another of these crazy brain explosions. I have eyes that are a bit unique – one of them is near-sighted and one of them is far-sighted. I had lazy eye as a child and my right eye, the far-sighted one, still doesn’t work all that hot. Even though we did the whole ginormous-patch-covering-the-whole-side-of-my-cute-two-year-old-face-thing, it is still lazy as every and lets my left eye do all the work. While we were camping I went contactless quite a bit. My eyes needed a break and since I wasn’t driving or anything, I decided to let my eyes breathe. The few times I did put my contacts in, my vision was all screwy. When I would close my left eye, the whole world would go blurry. I would take out my contact, clean it, try to figure out what was going on, try again, and be surrounded by blurriness.

I knew my contacts weren’t switched because I could still see out of my left eye. If my far-sighted contact was in my near-sighted eye, I would be nearly blind, only being able to tell light and darkness.

So, my ridiculous brain jumped to the conclusion that my right eye had suddenly changed. Dramatically changed. Like maybe now that I am forty, it was becoming more near-sighted. Or maybe it was a million times more far-sighted than it had ever been before. I kept telling people, “Something is wrong with my vision. I can’t see out of my right eye!” and “I am going to have to see the optometrist right when I get home! Something weird is going on with my eye.”

Well, when I got home and attended church, I couldn’t see they hymn numbers or the clock or people’s faces, and I thought, “Oh my heck, it is even worse than I thought!”


When I took my contacts out, I took the left one out and put it in the case. Then took the right one out and put it in my left eye and VOILA, I could see just fine out of my left eye.

So, I had somehow taken two left, near-sighted contacts with me instead of one of each. And instead of thinking it through like a logical person would, my brain jumped to the crazy conclusion that somehow, overnight, my far-sighted eye had dramatically changed.

Yes, my brain is full of crazy sauce. It makes the adventure of living with me a gazillion times more zesty.

safe and sound

Aug 12, 2014 in family | 1 comment

I need to take the time to write a whole post about my two weeks in the mountains, but since that probably won’t get done for a few more days, I wanted to let y’all know I am home safe and sound.

Here are a few itty-bitty updates until I can get a real post written.


  • I fell in the shower a few days before I left and hurt my knee…well, actually I hurt lots of parts of me, but my knee was hurt the worst and it is still hurting the worst. I babied it while I was gone and unfortunately it is still hurting. I am gearing myself up for another 12-16 weeks healing time.
  • My mom fell while we were camping and hurt her knee really badly. She had her MRI today and we will get the results tomorrow. I’m pretty sure she is heading for surgery soon.
  • Our summer read-aloud is so fun! Everyone needs to run and beg, borrow, or steal buy The Wingfeather Saga TODAY. Oh, my goodness, I love it so much. I am on book four (tempted to stay up all night tonight to finish reading the last 200 pages) and as a family we are almost done with book two.
  • Due to the state of my knee and my noble efforts to baby it, unpacking is going very, very slowly. We have been working our way through the laundry and tomorrow we must conquer the food (yes, mom, the cooler stuff was put away days ago, it is just the totes that need emptied) and then Blythe will need to vacuum out the suburban.
  • I am almost ready to launch my new website/business/effort to change the world. Wahoo!
  • Richard got a contract with the school district again. Wahoo!
  • Three weeks until iFAMILY starts. I am working on finalizing everything for my awesome-sauce Worldviews class.

Time to get back to The Warden and The Wolf King. Now that I don’t have to use a flashlight to read at night, it is time for some midnight reading.

my mountains are calling

Jul 24, 2014 in blessings, camping, family | 1 comment

I have a special place I escape to each summer. The air seeps into my soul and renews me, centers me, brings me back to what matters most. The mountains give me strength and courage to face whatever life throws my way. The water, so crisp and clear, surrounds me with a healing balm of refreshment.

The memories of my grandparents loving these mountains and caring for the people who came to camp there fill me with peace. They nurtured the land, the visitors, and most of all, their grandchildren who came to stay with them in the big lodge on the hill. I was blessed to be one of the children who stayed with them for weeks on end and was able to learn to work and play and love under their tutelage.

My children have gone camping here every summer of their lives. It is their special place too. Almost all of Blythe’s birthdays have been celebrated in the mountains we love. This year she will turn 18. It might be the last birthday we have up there for a few years. Who knows where she will be and what she will be doing on her 19th, 20th, or 21st? I’m sure she will come back and join us sometimes, but this is probably the last trip from this phase of our lives with all of our children together.

Today is packing and grocery shopping and loading so we can pull out bright and early tomorrow morning. It is time to breathe the air that fills my soul.