Two Summers and a Winter

 north of our home - 2009

When our three older children were small, the responsibility of motherhood became overwhelming at times (actually, a lot of the time!).  Whenever my father-in-law sensed the 'ship was sinking', he would look me in the eyes and say, "Nancy, you have two summers and a winter ahead of you.  You can do this."

across the street from my home - 2009

You have to know that Dad W. was not know for his optimism.  He was a chronic worrier who seemed to always be waiting for and expecting the worst.  So it was completely out of character for him to offer such optimism.  And the thing is - he would start saying this as early as October (September if necessary).  Sometimes it was encouraging and sometimes it just made me mad - especially if we were just heading in to winter.  "We're not headed in to summer - we are just barely headed in to a looonnnnggg winter - with three little children and a husband in school - he doesn't know how hard this is! (and on and on . .  .)", I would think to myself as I struggled to feel confident in my ability to survive one more day let alone one more winter.

 Pumpkin, I know how you feel! - 2009

Looking back, I now appreciate his attempts (some more successful than others) to offer me hope during a time of my life that was filled with seemingly endless dirty diapers, sticky hands and busy children.  You know, he was right.  No matter where we are in the calendar year, I know there will always be two summers and a winter ahead of me if I can just hang on.

Miami - October 2009 
And so I bid January a fond farewell!  
I think there's a summer waiting just around the corner!?! 

Miami - October 2009


29 Years

 Blessing Day

I just returned from the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.  I went for a follow-up mammogram/ultrasound and received the great news that my cyst is benign.

As I prepared to leave my home this morning, I reflected back on my trip to this same hospital 29 years ago.  The irony was not lost on me.

Twenty-nine years ago I was two days shy of my due date for my second baby.  I had spent the afternoon piano shopping (I obviously was VERY PREGNANT - I had to repeatedly remind my Grandma A. that, no, I was NOT carrying twins! - and there was not a piano bench to be found in the piano store.  The salesman told me the store kept the benches in the back to discourage children from sitting on them and plunking on the pianos.  Heaven forbid that we break one out for the pregnant lady!  Unfortunately, he did not pick up on my pregnant condition and did not offer to go find me a chair, bench, box, overturned garbage can - anything that I could sit down on for a few minutes.

Anyway, I ended up standing way too long for my condition and finally retreated to my car to head to my doctor's appointment.  When I got there the doctor was out on a delivery call and I was given the option of having a nurse check me or returning in an hour or two.  Since I was so close to my due date, I decided to go over to the mall (it didn't make sense to drive all the way back to Pleasant Grove and then drive all the way back) while I waited for the doctor's return.  I ended up in JC Penney's and took my sweet time wandering around the store.  After about an hour and a half, I drove back to the doctor's office and signed in.

I had delivered my first baby two days before my due date and I was curious as to my 'readiness' with this baby.  I had been experiencing a lot of false labor and so I was feeling optimistic about my situation.  After exchanging greetings, Dr. Judd got down to the business of checking me for any dilation.  The only way I can explain it is to tell you it felt like he was checking my heart (but not with a stethoscope)!  After I regained my ability to talk I asked him just exactly what was that all about!  He casually replied that my baby was posterior and he had attempted to turn it right there in the exam room.  I suggested that next time I would appreciate being knocked out or numb before he tried that move.  He told me that unfortunately he hadn't been able to turn the baby but the good news was I was dilated to 4 cm and he would see me later that night.  The impact of what felt like him trying to rotate my whole insides was that he had 'stripped my membranes' (felt more like 'ripped out my heart') and that would induce labor sometime that evening.

FOUR centimeters!  I remember thinking, "I could have had that baby looking at fabric remnants in JC Penney's!"  I was lucky he/she didn't drop out at the piano store between the uprights and baby grands for the lack of a piano bench!  Four centimeters - it took me 10 hours to get to 2 centimeters with my first baby.  This was great/terrifying news!

I drove home praying that I would not start having serious labor pains until I arrived home and, as I walked in the door, sure enough - intense labor began.  We quickly packed up Elizabeth, dropped her off at my parents and headed to the hospital.  We arrived about 6 p.m. and Ryan was born at 9 p.m. the day the US hostages were released from Iran and the night before Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president of the United States.  After four blessed short hours of labor - a beautiful baby boy!

The rest of our winter was spent in a dense fog (literally and figuratively) as we tried to find ways to deal with a colicky, sleepless, screaming baby.  That January was so foggy that my mom got lost coming to see me at the hospital.  Those were LLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOGGGG months.  We saw very little of this . . .

and A LOT of THIS . . . (at 4 months the longest Ryan had slept at any given time was 1 1/2 hours)

But we survived and were rewarded with this . . .

So on the 19th of January today and 29 years ago, I received great news at Utah Valley Hospital.
Today, a clean bill of health and 29 years ago, a healthy baby boy.
 Happy Birthday to our firstborn son.  Love, Mom



Martin Luther King, Jr.
'I Have a Dream'
Seen here in Chicago

I love people who have
the imagination
to dream
the courage
to act.

Dreams can be far-reaching
or deeply personal.
The goal is to
never stop thinking
that we can make things
a little better along the way -
for ourselves and for others.

One remarkable woman's dream-

"I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails.
I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp.
I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children.
I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden.
I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder.
I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived."

 - Marjorie Pay Hinckley -


Remembering Sarah On Her Birthday

Sarah's '4th Birthday'
From her mother's heart.

"One afternoon after her diagnosis, Sarah requested that I make her a birthday cake. Although it was not her birthday, we decorated the cake with candles and sang the Happy Birthday song. Her request for cakes continued. Each Monday became the day to celebrate another birthday.  Notice Sarah's bright smile and the twinkle in her eye as she anticipates blowing out the candles."

Sadly, Sarah lost her battle with brain cancer but her sweet innocence and joy in the simple things of life - like blowing out your candles - taught lessons to be remembered for a lifetime.

Watch Sarah celebrating her '5th Birthday' here.

Call Back

I got a 'call-back'
on my mammogram
this past Friday.

I think the only time
you are excited
for a 'call-back'
is when you've applied
for your dream job
or auditioned for
a part in this

or maybe this

possibly this

or this.

It may be nothing.
We'll see.
Four months ago the
results were benign.
We're hoping for
continued good news
and praying for calm.


Let the Games Begin!

I have always loved
the Olympics.

I particularly love
figure skating.

What could be more
Fancy Nancy
than figure skating costumes?
So it was enchanting to
view some of the costumes
from famous US skaters.

Remember when Scott Hamilton
had hair?

Pictures from the
US Figure Skating Museum
in Colorado Springs.

From the 2002 Winter Olympics
in my home state of Utah.

Sequins, glitter, beads, feathers . . .
it's a Fancy Nancy Fantasy!
Hmmm . . . we definitely need
a Fancy Nancy
2010 Winter Olympic Ensemble!


For the Birds

(Aren't you impressed that I could feed the birds AND take their pictures!)

Last week I had a Dexascan to assess how quickly I'm falling apart.

After filling out the survey asking - Do you drink milk?  Do you see sunlight? (Apparently they have not lived in an inversion in Utah.)  Do you go outside everyday? (Do hermits have weaker bones?)  Do you drink pop with caffeine? (Is that available in Provo?)  Are you shorter than you were ten years ago? (If only that had happened in Jr. High!) etc.  

Gratefully they did not ask - Did you have candy for lunch?  Do you have trunkal obesity? (Thank you Dr./brother John for giving our family genetic tendency to gain weight in our stomach area such a horribly sounding medical term.)  Did you get your Christmas cards sent this year? etc.

I was then taken to a windowless, darkened room where the scan was.  I laid down on the table, unzipped and opened my fly (not sure why - just did what I was told) and prepared to be scanned.  If there was a Xerox copier that was six feet long and I was preparing to be copied, that's what I felt like.  The scanny arm thing passed over my spine area to check on those bones.  The technician, who had been staring at a computer screen during the scan, stood up, came over and asked me to scoot down two inches.  Apparently the scan showed that I was in full spinal collapse and needed to be admitted immediately for bone-building IVs.  Considering that I had just walked in to the room unassisted, she felt that the scan was off (you think!?!).

I don't know about you but it concerned me a little that moving down two inches changed the look in to my future bone health.  Anyway, with that adjustment, the scan showed that fortunately I had at least 30 years before total spinal collapse.  On to my hips which showed worse conditions and the parting 'You'll be hearing from your doctor' send off as I left the room.

It was the choice of 'calming white noise' during this whole experience that left me quite 'uncalm'.  As I laid on the table and watched the scan move back and forth, I became ever more aware of the incessant bird chatter coming over the speakers.  It reminded me of four things - 1. The bird battle noise directly after I remember to refill the bird feeders in front of our house.  2.  The cages of canaries in Woolworth's store when I was a child.  (I have since decided it was terribly wrong that Woolworth's carried a seemingly endless supply of fish, little turtles and canaries for children to buy over and over and over.)  3.  My chance (for $1 a popsicle stick) to feed the birds at the zoo in Colorado Springs.  4.  The emotional scars I still have from watching the movie 'The Birds' as an impressionable 8 year old.  All in all, NOT bringing up good vibes!

I've decided the bird noise wouldn't have been quite so annoying if the track had run more than 3 minutes before repeating over and over and over again.  By the time I left I was as twitchy as our anxiety-ridden cat.  It made me long for elevator music or the always irritating babbling brook.

Anyway, I'm an inch shorter and headed outside to look for some sunshine for my ailing bones.  Wait . . . our family also has a genetic tendency for hyper pigmentation ('Dr. John' term for ugly brown spots) accelerated by the sun . . .

I may be spotted but I'll have great bones!


Fancy Nancy's Snowman Kit - Valentine Version

*Another possibility I thought of
for your Snowman Kit.*
I thought you could use regular marshmallows
with heart cut-outs (thanks Martha Stewart)

Hot Chocolate with Marshmallow Hearts
Are you feeling soft-hearted this Valentine's Day? Reach for some marshmallows and transform them into confections of affection. Start by greasing a heart-shaped petit four cutter or aspic cutter with vegetable oil or cooking spray. Cut several marshmallows in half horizontally, and then press the cutter into the center of each one. Float the marshmallows and the cutouts on hot chocolate.


  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus one teaspoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped or shaved semisweet chocolate


  1. Bring all ingredients to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until chocolate has melted (do not let boil). Pour into mugs, and serve.
or heart-shaped marshmallows
(some stores carry them this time of year
for Valentine's Day-ish things)
and add conversation hearts

instead of Nibs for the coal.
Use 'heart' fabric for your scarf,

a heart shaped tag and you're set.

If you really wanted to go all out
you could use white almond bark
and color it hot pink or red
for the arms. 
*Remember to use paste food coloring
because liquid food coloring changes
the bark's texture.*
**And if you really, really wanted
to wow everyone, make your own
home-made marshmallows.**

Fancy Nancy's Snowman Kit

To get started
you'll need:
Almond bark (chocolate flavored)
*Look on the baking aisle*
Mini marshmallows (16 oz.)
(Makes 3 kits)
Black Nibs
Orange Slice candy
Clear gift bags
1X13 inch piece of fabric
for each scarf
(fleece, felt, woven fabric)
Aluminum foil
Ziplock sandwich bag

1. Place six pieces (12 oz.) of almond bark
in a Ziplock bag and close.  CAREFULLY
melt the bark in the microwave using
a very low power.  It is better to do
short increments of time and check it
often rather than scorch it.  The bark
will be more melted than it looks.
Take it out of the microwave and squish
the bag to check on it's progress.
2. When all of the bark is melted,
CAREFULLY snip off one corner of
the bag on the diagonal - 
make the cut VERY SMALL or you'll
have a mess!
(It's like cutting bangs - you can
always take a little more off but
you can never add it back on!)

3. ARMS - On a piece of aluminum foil and
using your bag as 'the decorator',
freehand twig-shaped chocolate arms
for your snowman kit.
When you've used all of your chocolate
just throw your bag away!
You will be surprised how quickly
the bark sets up.

4. NOSE - Take an 'orange slice' and
cut off one end.  Eat the odd piece while
you roll the big piece between your hands.
The idea is to get a 'carrot-shape'.
(Don't you just love how the 'bumps' in
the candy look like the 'bumps' in carrots!)

5. COAL - Take a pair of scissors and
cut the Nibs in half.
6. SCARF - Take your piece of fabric and
cut 1 1/2 inch 'fringe' on each end.
(I used pinking shears to make it
a little more fancy.)
7. Measure 3 1/2 c of marshmallows for
each bag.  One 16 oz. bag of marshmallows
will give you 3 snowman kits.
Fill your clear gift bags.  (I saw
some darling bags with a snowflake design
that would be darling as well.)
8. Take two arms, one nose and a handful
of coal and arrange them in the 'front'
of your bag.  (I like to center the nose
between the arms and sprinkle in the coal.)
9. I used a twisty-tie to close my bag
before I tied the scarf on.  It isn't
necessary but gave me piece of mind.

Tie your scarf on the bag, choose a fun tag
to tie on with it, add a can of cocoa and
you're ready to deliver your snowman kit.
*Be sure to tell everyone that everything
in the kit it edible.  It would definitely
add a unique taste if you added a 'nose' 
or 'coal' (not to mention the 'arms')
to your cup of cocoa.
10. Fix yourself a cup of cocoa, sit back
and enjoy your Fancy Nancy creations.


Happy 2010!

Ringing in the New Year!

Resolutions . . .
1. Love more.
2. Create more.

Best wishes
for a
Fancy New Year!

Live it with style!