Saturday, February 27, 2010

A night with a General Authority.

Last night we got a babysitter. And just so you know, he's really great. His name is Bowen and he's one of those kids that is equally comfortable talking to 2 year olds and adults. He is truly a delightful person and I feel like I hit the jackpot everytime he's available to watch the "Hufford Four".

So Mark and I set out to go to a dinner and attend a satellite broadcast of "A Night with a General Authority" geared specifically at those that serve in CES callings (or jobs). Mark teaches early morning seminary, so there we were. The dinner was sourdough breadbowls and four different kinds of soups. I chose a chicken chili and once I polished that off, I headed back and refilled my bread with a 12 bean sausage concoction. Looking back, I feel that perhaps that was simply too many beans for one person and that's not even taking into consideration what happens to my digestive system whenever I'm out in public and feel even a small amount of pressure to be on my best behavior. It 's an inner storm. Is this too much information?

So we are sitting at a table with three perfectly nice couples that introduce themselves to us and within 2 minutes I've already forgotten their names. I wouldn't have felt too bad, but one gentleman is a seasoned conversationalist and uses my name multiple times. It's so obvious that I don't know his and I feel like I'm 13 years old. The evening progresses and we're having a pleasant time and then suddenly I look down and realize that I have eaten almost my entire bread bowl. I scan the table and am horrified to see that no one else has considered this a viable option. I must have looked like a Tyrannosaurus Rex ripping into that thing like a dead carcass.
Just lovely.

Dinner's over and Mark is talking "computer talk" with the seasoned conversationalist. I, however, have become fixated on the little dishes of mints on the table. They're the good ones. The ones that look like little pastel hersey kisses with white nonpareils on the bottom. I LOVE those. I consider how many I can take at once without risking a repeat performance of my bread bowl faux pas and if I might be able to slip some into my sweater pocket so I'll have something to tide me over during the meeting (food in the chapel! gasp!).

Eventually we make our way into the meeting with a couple dozen mints in my pocket. Don't be shocked. I considered grabbing the whole dish, but thought that might be pushing it. I was happy to hear the speaker would be President Henry B. Eyring. Is it just me, or is he a really fantastic speaker? He has a way of getting my attention and keeping it the entire time. I love how sincere and earnest he is and he has a gift for speaking with urgency and compassion. I look forward to what he has to say every General Conference. By the time he says "amen" I feel like I possibly haven't blinked in 20 minutes. I'm riveted.

The topic was, understandably, focused around how to more effectively teach the youth in their Seminary classes. In particular, what is required for the Spirit to be the true teacher in the classroom. And a couple things he taught stayed with me.

1. He said that not just the teacher must meet the requirements for the Spirit to be present and teaching, the student must also meet those same requirements. This explains so much about why I may not have felt strongly about something that seemed so profound to those around me. I now see that the burden of preparation for my church meetings lies as firmly with me as it does with the teacher/speaker. Maybe more so. If I walk away from the chapel feeling unfulfilled or undernourished, perhaps I haven't met the requirements to have the Spirit help me. Besides, I imagine He is in a much better position than the speaker to know when I have been given a momentary reprieve from my cheerio duties.

It also made me consider what a solemn responsibility I have as a mother to teach my children the skill of identifying the whisperings of the Spirit. If I do this effectively, it will help their testimonies to mature and strengthen as they remain ready and open to the teaching and guidance of the Spirit.

No pressure.

2. Praying for an individual is much more effective that praying for a group of people. Specifics work better that generalities. hmmmm.... I need to change the way I pray about/for my children. "Please help them to be good." isn't cutting it.

3. He talked about those that he had taught as a young seminary teacher. Specifically a couple young men that turned their chairs around every morning so that he was essentially looking at their backs every day. Years later, one of those men approached him with his own teenage son and was obviously a happy and faithful priesthood holder. Elder Eyring realized then that his prayers for that young man were heard and answered over many many years and largely without his awareness. He said that we must pray and then wait with faith. Pray and wait.

In my own life I pray for one of my children and I would really like to see the answers to my prayers ready and waiting first thing the next morning. Meggy screaming? Pray.... Sleep.... No more screaming in the morning. Seems ridiculous when I write it out like that, but I can't deny that that's what I'd like.

So, today I feel like I'm ready to pray and wait. Ready to prepare myself for my meetings in the morning. Ready to get specific with my Father about what's going on with my children.

You really can't beat a good night with a General Authority.

Good thing we didn't play hookie and go get Andy's.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

To a neighborly neighbor,

Dear Jennifer.

The other day when I texted you, "Can you come over and help me take apart a bunk bed?" and you texted back, "Sure! Give me a sec!" because you were actually in the middle of giving your son a haircut, but you came right over anyway to lend me a hand. You're that kind of neighbor.

So then we went back to the girls room and we took our places on opposite ends of the beds, counted "1, 2, 3....go" and we LIFTED! Oh, how we lifted. Nothing. Absolutely no indication that we had exerted any effort whatsoever. We tried again...really putting our backs into it. Nothing. This time I get serious and climb onto the bottom bunk so I can get leverage. "1, 2, 3....go!" I'm not ashamed to say there was grunting.

We looked at each other and admitted that we were not going to be able to do this without the men. Which admittedly is hard for me to admit, given our previous bunk bed successes. We admitted defeat and you returned home to resume the haircut. (How many times can you say 'admit' in one paragraph?)

Remember that?

Well, the part you don't know is that when Mark came home, I humbly asked him if he might use his manly muscles to separate the girl's bunk beds. I explained that you and I had done our best, but we simply weren't strong enough. He walked into the room, took one look and said, "Could this be the problem?"


Heh heh.

I'm sorry.

Your neighbor,


Monday, February 22, 2010


Birthday time!

Birthdays are weird. They mess with you. They make your subconscious want/expect/need something that you have not identified. You wake up feeling like this day ought to be something other than it can ever possibly be.

Saturday morning I waxed philosophical to Mark about how I was finally ready to let go of my inner expectation that I not be required to "mother" anyone on my birthday. I'd never actually expressed this to him at any previous date and he naturally wasn't aware of the inner growth I had apparently achieved in this regard. He smiled and nodded and kept working on my cake. It's how things go around here.

While Mark was at work for a couple hours, I said, "happy birthday to me" in a sarcastic quiet voice only twice when required to "mother". That sounds bad...but it's actually progress. Next year I'm going to shave it down to one "happy birthday to me" and an audible sigh. Just think what a great mom I'll be by the time I'm 40.


The morning started out with Mark preparing a "huffmuffin" for my breakfast. It's like a sausage egg mcmuffin only made by a Hufford. It hit the spot.

Then he got to work on my cake....the delectable "Chocolate Lover's Favorite Cake". Ooooh.

He asked me what it means when the recipe says, "make a well". I instructed. He turned it into an art form. Tell me, have you ever beheld such a carefully devised well?

Mark had some work to do, so the central part of my day was spent procrastinating dinner. It started as homemade chicken noodle soup (crock pot) with hot rolls which morphed into stovetop chicken noodle soup with cornbread which morphed into calzones which morphed into chinese take out which morphed into spaghetti with Sam's club meatballs and garlic bread. I just wasn't feeling into it. We went for a chilly bike ride to Shining Rock River instead. I knew it was time to go home when I started to get a headache because my ears were so cold.

So then we went back home and kicked around the house. I finally accepted that I better start boiling spaghetti noodles or our dinner would be morphing into cold cereal.

Then Mark came home!

Brought roses!


Frosted cake, lit candles and mobilized the children!

Generally saved the day in every way.

And if that wasn't sweet friend, Sarah, brought over the cutest, biggest cupcake I have ever seen.

Isn't that super cool?

Here's to the next 7 months going by quickly so I will no longer sound 2 years older than Mark....I look forward to that.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


One of the pure joys of life....hide and seek with a 2 year old.

Friday, February 19, 2010

24 hours of bliss

Oh the sun!

It came out and it inspired me. I rolled down the windows and I felt invigorated. Involuntarily, I found myself bursting out with "There is sunSHINE in my soul today!" in my finest opera voice. What? You didn't hear me? You must not have been anywhere near Dixieland and Walnut. I'll be happy to regale you at your earliest convenience.

It's like I forgot what it was to feel the sun on my skin. All I could think about was going out to the backyard and planting something....there was sun to be had, after all. Why waste it? (Because the evil frost will kill them next week...that's why...evil, evil frost!)

The happiest thing of all is that just like clockwork, when we arrived home after the school pick-up, there were equally sun-deprived neighbors already waiting for us on our lawn. Bikes, soccer, baseball....anything! Let's just play outside!

Come again, sun. It was nice having you.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pretend it didn't happen


Whilst changing a diaper, have you ever gotten poop under a fingernail?

The feeling of horror it produces is indescribable. And let's face it, the gut reaction method of cleaning under a finger nail is to use one of your other, undefiled fingernails to dig under there. With horror you look down at those hands and realized that you have just doubled your problem.

Even with loads of lather and the power of anti-bacterial scrub...I may never again feel truly comfortable using these hands to eat.

Never, ever again.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sowing a seed

Apparently I have an eight year old with:

a. a sense of humor

b. patience

c. access to beans

My spinach feels violated, but I'm secretly proud.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A rock and a hard place

I REALLY need to clean my house. REALLY.

It's threatening to swallow my children whole. And I can't find my ipod in all this mess. But I really feel I must have this ipod to get in the cleaning mood. I'm at a loss.

No ipod.

No cleaning.


Maybe I should call my visiting teachers or the Bishop to come over for a visit.

That'd light a fire under my britches.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Can rotation plans

Okay...this may not make sense, so good luck to you. 20 dollars for real plans may be sounding pretty reasonable by the time you wade through this.

Off the bat, don't forget that these do not need to be perfect or precise. As long as there is a slope to the shelves, they will roll. As long as the space where the can falls to the next level is wider than the diameter of the can, it won't get stuck and you're golden. Presto!

I made my units to be 17 inches deep because that's how deep my shelves are, but you could adjust these to fit your shelves.

These instructions are for a soup can size:

Cut these pieces:

sides: (2): 17" x 11"
back: 4 3/8" x 10" (can be shorter, if you don't have the wood. Just needs to stop the cans from rolling out the back from the top shelf)
label: 4 3/8" x 3"
lip: 4 3/8" x 1 1/2"
top shelf: 4 3/8" x 13"
bottom shelf: 4 3/8" x 16"

All of these pieces have a width of 4 3/8 inches because that's just slightly wider that the height of a soup can. So if you were to do a veggie can or a tomato past can, just change this measurement accordingly. Everything else can stay the same except for the top shelf you might shorten to 12 1/2" for a large can like pineapple. Get it? If you don't, you will once you do one. Then I promise you'll realize how easy it is to customize these.

It's important that all the pieces have clean flat edges, so if you used a table saw, you should be good to go, but since I used my scroll saw and mine inevitably came out a little wavy here and there, I used my sander t0 flatten the edges of each set, just to make sure they would glue together nicely. Unfortunate that I'm allergic to sawdust, huh?

On with the plans!

Take one of the side pieces and you are going to draw guidelines so you know exactly where to glue the shelves and back.

Here's a basic diagram:

A. Draw a vertical line 3 1/2" in from the left side.

* This measurement is based off the diameter of the can plus a "bit" for the can to drop easily through, plus an extra 1/4" for the back to be glued in. So a soup can is a little over 2 3/4" wide, add a little to get 3 1/4" and then another quarter inch for gluing in the back and you have it.

B. Measure 2" up from the bottom left corner and mark a small tick mark (1)

C. Use a straight edge to draw a line from tick mark 1 to the bottom right corner.

D. Now measure up 3 1/4" from where your slop line and you vertical line intersect (I marked it with a star). Put a tick mark there (2)

E. Now measure the distance from tick mark 2 to the bottom of the board (should be around 5 inches-ish)

F. Add two inches to that (around 7 inches-ish heh heh) and mark that measurement on the right side of your board (from the bottom). Make a tick mark (3)

G. Use your straight edge to connect tick marks 2 and 3. This will be your guideline for glueing your top shelf.

You got it!

Now you are going to glue your shelves and back in place. Start with your back, then glue the bottom shelf along the lower sloped line and your top self along the top sloped line. I was super high tech and used soup cans to hold the shelves up and ensure they were at a right angle while they dried. I would use a can on both sides of each piece you are gluing.

And as you can see, I didn't always have a large enough piece for the back so just made do with a couple smaller pieces. It doesn't really matter as long you position the piece to stop the cans at the back of the top shelf. It works fine and isn't visible from the front.

Once the glue is dry, just put glue on the exposed edges of the shelves and back and place the other side on top of it. It helps to have it up against some thing strait (like a wall or a previously made unit) to make sure the sides are lining up right. I skipped this step in my first one and you saw where that got me. Then you can sit something heavy on it or use clamps to make sure everything is drying securely.

Once that is dry, just apply a little glue to the sides of the label and lip pieces and pop those in! Mine usually needed to be clamped a bit as well.

You did it!

Please leave chocolate on my doorstep.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Plans shmans

I've been wanting to organize my canned food storage for a very long time. I'm sick of writing the date on every can with a sharpie and reaching behind a precariously stacked row of cream of chicken soup in order to keep the oldest cans in the front. And if we're being honest, I actually stack the flats on the garage floor and trip over them for two months before I get around to that step.

I was aware that there were plans online that you could purchase, telling you how to build your own can rotation system, but even then you pay only for the plans for say, the soup size or the veggie size. At twenty bucks a pop, that can get expensive and that's without buying the actual supplies. And due to frugality's tight grip on my psyche, I just couldn't do it. It goes without saying that I wasn't about to shell out the cash to buy them already made...that's fer city folk!

So I ran across some plans to make some out of cardboard. Here. I couldn't resist the free-ness of it and gave it a try. Not bad! Mine was a little wonky, due to it being my first try and all, and despite what you might think, I really don't have that much high quality cardboard kicking around. Although I did sneak across the street under the cloak of darkness and steal some out of the neighbor's recycling container. When I saw her put it out earlier that day, I thought, "Ooooh! Look at all that cardboard." You can see why Mark fell in love with me, right?

Once I get working on something, I have a limited window of time in which I'm feeling fired up about it...if it doesn't happen in the window, it's not happenin. So waiting for life to send me a package and making one at a time isn't going to work and the idea of shelling out cash for cardboard didn't appeal to me. The great thing about making one of these puppies out of cardboard is that the process taught me that this is not rocket science. All you need are two sides, a back, shelves with a 2" slope and something to stop the cans from rolling out onto the floor.

The wheels started turning (in mah noggin) and I came up with the plans for all the sizes I needed. I bought 12 sheets of pressed fiber board and used our electricity-rich snow days to work on these:

I'm in love with them.

Good bye sharpie! Good-bye reaching behind the shelves where there may or may not be large poisonous spiders to retrieve cans that have fallen back there! Hello, sending kids to get me anything I ask for!

Okay, so I won't bore you with instructions, but I will say that if you want to do this, I'd be more than happy to share the knowledge and of course, help in anyway I can. I promise not to charge you (except for any item you would like to give me that may or may not contain pecans).

You will need some type of saw. I used my scroll saw because that's all I have, but a table saw would make it substantially easier. You will also need wood glue, the more clamps the better (I have two, so it was a process), and a large can borrow mine.

You can make them in any size:

And you can also do them in cardboard, of course...and it works fine. There's mine on the bottom right of the picture:

It's surprisingly sturdy, and if you have a bunch of cardboard, you can't beat the price. The ones I made out of fiberboard came out to cost about 3 dollars per unit. Oh, and can you tell that the one to the left of the cardboard one was my first fiberboard experiment? It's a bit on the crooked side and the bottom lip is too short, so if you aren't gentle, when you pull out a can of soup, the next one will come at you with a vengeance. Live and learn. I plan on writing, "BEWARE!" on that one, so my kids will escape a can to the head. Or maybe I'll fill it with cream of celery....that's only a can to the head twice a year.