- Mom & her dog sitting on the edge of her cot -

I love calendars that have inspirational thoughts on them.  I hang mine in my bathroom where I can look at it and ponder while I'm blow drying my hair.  When I turned the page on my calender to July, I found this thought - "Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anais Nin

Yesterday was my mom's birthday and, as I thought of her, I thought of this quote.  When my mom was about five months pregnant with me, she developed appendicitis.  At that time there were no laproscopic techniques in place that would have enabled them to operate on my mom and preserve the pregnancy.  Faced with the possibility of her own death and on the advice of her doctors, it was suggested that she agree to abort the pregnancy and have surgery.  With great courage and substantial risk to her own life, she asked if they would treat her with antibiotics and see if that would resolve her appendicitis.  The doctor was willing to try this but reminded her that if that failed, there would be no choice but to end the pregnancy.  The advances in neonatal care were years down the road and so there was no chance of me surviving at five months gestation.

Obviously, the course of antibiotics combined with tremendous faith and prayers allowed my mom to recover, deliver a full-term baby (me) and live long enough to see her seven children raised and 28 grandchildren born.

- Four Generations -

The story surrounding my birth would in and of itself be considered miraculous but the overlying miracle to all seven of our births was that my mom was told that she would never bear children.  She contracted rheumatic fever as a child and was literally bedridden for a full year, unable to even put her legs over the side of the bed.  The doctors told my grandmother that my mother's heart was not strong enough to carry a pregnancy and survived the strain of birth.  My mother received numerous priesthood blessings of health and strength and was able to have seven children.  After my oldest brother, John, was born, the doctor told mom that she should not have any more children.  Her mother (my Grandma Adamson) marched in with her at the next appointment and told him very directly that God had promised her strength and the ability to be a mother in Zion and that he would preserve her to that end.  She told him that it was not his place to question God's blessings and that his place was to give my mom the best medical care available.  (I'm sure the doctor was just watching out for my mom's health, he just hadn't met my grandma yet!)  I have been blessed by my mother's courage and her willingness to trust in the Lord.

Throughout my life I have witnessed great courage.  I also recognize that many battles are fought in private and that great courage can sometimes be overlooked because we are unaware of the challenge hard fought. 
- My courageous neighbors - Joan is currently battling
a serious strep eye infection &
Christina is on a South African adventure
with her husband & five boys for a year. -

For my mom it was the courage to have children.  For my father, it was choosing church activity while growing up in an inactive home.  Yesterday we celebrated our twin grandsons birthday.  I was humbled at the courage shown by Jason and Kelli with their decision to start a family in uncertain economic times.  

- Cousins checking out the binky - 
- Bradley & Jensen's Birthday Party - July 10, 2010 -

I have witnessed the courage shown by sisters who have been willing to right a wrong, bear the burden of depression, battle addiction, return to gospel fellowship, visiting teach, purchase a modest prom dress, turn off an inappropriate TV show, serve in 'high' and 'low' profile callings, bless a ward in South Africa by modeling open-heartedness, fill a cannery assignment, refuse to gossip, befriend new ward members, commit to church attendance regardless of their spouses activity, teach a difficult Primary class, influence a struggling teenager, serve a mission, accept a calling, choose to not take offense and so many other things.  The strength of sisterhood is directly affected by the courage of it's sisters.  You have proven to be courageous and fierce in your defense of the gospel.

- Some of the sweet RS sisters of the 4th Ward -

I am better for having been taught by the sisters of this ward.  I love you and thank you for all of your support and love.
Love,  Nancy

* My farewell email dated July 11, 2010 to the Relief Society sisters in my ward on the day of my release as Relief Society President after serving for 3 1/2 years.*


Let Them Eat Cake!

Proof that

you can

have your cake

and eat it 'two'!

- Bradley & Jensen turn one -
(They hated the texture of the frosting.
I loved Jensen's 'Look Ma, no hands'
solution to eating his cake.  Smart boy!)


Don't Waste Today

The most wasted day of all
is that on which
we have not laughed.
- Chamfort -
The pre-Fireworks party - July 4, 2010 -


The Cat Whisper

This post is dedicated to Christina Vanfleet.  She hates our cat.

A couple of months ago, Mr. W. declared our cat to be 'The Most Annoying Cat On Earth'.  (Please keep in mind that Mr. W. is very tolerant of all living creatures but Pumpkin's behavior has pushed him over the cliff!)  Our cat pulls out her own hair - obsessively!  Wherever she can reach, she pulls.  She has created a sort of sad Mohawk running down her spine.  Please know that Mr. W. would not necessarily mind if she pulled out her hair.  The problem he has with it is that she pulls it out either in the garage (loves to do it by the door leading in to the house) or on our front door doormat.  Every night when he comes home, he vacuums up the hair in the garage.  We even have a vacuum cleaner dedicated to Pumpkin's hair.  Frankly, if you didn't know about the cat hair you would think that Mr. W. is the obsessive one who just loves to vacuum the garage.  You would be wrong - he's just trying to keep the cat hair from being tracked in to the house.  I looked at the vacuum canister yesterday and, if I had a spinning wheel and was so inclined, I think I could make a cat hair sweater out of all of the hair Mr. W. has vacuumed up.  We got our cat from Betsy Johansen (thanks a lot - I think there may be an issue of defective genes - just a guess :)  It could be worse, Bonnie Morrow has the bulimic sister of our cat and Bonnie's cat is an inside cat.  Yikes!

Anyway, there is a TV program entitled 'The Dog Whisper'.  It is about a man, Caesar, who owns the Dog Psychology Center is LA and his work is to 'train people and rehabilitate dogs'.  As part of the rehabilitation, he uses a firm finger poke, foot tap or finger snap to 'snap' a dog out of a fixated or obsessive frame of mind.  The other day when Pumpkin started to pull out her hair, Vanessa decided to try the 'Cat Whisper' approach to try to stop Pumpkin's obsessive behavior.  It worked . . . briefly, and then as soon as we came inside, she was back to her hair pulling.  What is interesting to me is that by interrupting a cat's/dog's pattern of thinking, you can change their behavior.  Caesar never lectures, yells, bullies or uses excessive physical force with a dog.  Instead, his focus is being calm and assertive and the dogs soon mirror his state of mind.

By now you're probably wondering what in the world this has to do with anything but here's the lesson I learned the other day.

The other night I was talking (obsessing) to Mr. W. about my frustration with a person who will remain unnamed.  I was frustrated with what I perceived as a character flaw and the impact it was having on me.  After listening to me carry on for a few minutes, Mr. W. turned to me and said (in a very loving, calm way), "You know, that's who this person is and, to a certain extent, it will always be that way.  That's just the way it is."  What was so brilliant about the way he said it was that it was essentially a 'poke, tap, snap' that challenged my obsessive way of thinking, talking and feeling about this person.  As I stopped to consider positive aspects of this person (yes, this person has them!), I was a little ashamed that I had let myself get in to a 'barking for no reason/pulling my hair out' state of mind when it came to this person.

A couple of days later, I thanked Robert for the mental 'poke'.  Frankly, I think he was grateful that I 'got it' and relieved that I did without resentment towards him.

Sometimes, I think we all need a 'poke'.  Years ago, in the midst of a very hard personality difference with a sister in my ward who was serving in a Relief Society presidency with me, a bishop told me to grow a thicker skin (I went in looking for sympathy).  I needed that poke.  One time I complained to my dad about my in-laws.  He reminded me that they had raised a wonderful son and that for that reason alone, I should respect them.  I needed that poke.  Last year I repeated some one's somewhat unflattering perspective of a woman I didn't know well and a good friend reminded me that my knowledge was, at best, second hand and so really I didn't know the truth.  I needed that poke.  Honestly, as hard as I've tried to do the right thing, I've still received a lot of pokes in my life.

I think we all get in to patterns of thinking - some we aren't even aware of sometimes until they're firmly entrenched.  I've been grateful for Mr. W., family, prophets, friends, scriptures and all other sources that have 'poked' me at times in to better ways of thinking.  If I have 'poked' the sisters of this ward at times, please know that it was done with love.  It's amazing what the Lord can do with us if, when we are shown our weaknesses (spiritually 'poked'), are humble enough to make the self-bettering changes.

I'm off to take a turn vacuuming the garage mat :)  And then I'll call Bonnie and we can feel sorry for each other all over again.  If I could just find my receipt for the cat I could take it back to Betsy - oh wait, it was 'free'.

p.s.  A side note - I have taken the cat to the vet to check for skin diseases.  She's clear on mites and skin problems.  I asked if there is an anti-anxiety pill for cats.  Unfortunately, there isn't.  He did say that Prozac works great for dogs but the only think he could offer is to try birth control (for the cat, not me) and see if it helped.  Call me cheap but I am NOT going to pay for 'the Pill' (not to mention trying to get it down her throat every day) when I have already had her fixed.  We did have a brief spell two summers ago when Pumpkin would hunt out and eat the brown mushrooms in our lawn.  We would find her with a somewhat glazed look staring thoughtfully up at the sky.  Vanessa dubbed her the 'shroom, rehab cat.  Unfortunately, last summer she refused to eat the mushrooms (even when I led her to them - I hope that doesn't make me a drug pusher).  I promise they were for medicinal use (Mr. W.'s sanity) only.  I'm not kidding, even if you don't have anxiety, you will if you sit and watch Pumpkin for very long.

One day Daniel Vanfleet (our 4 year old neighbor) looked at our cat (with hair hanging out of it's mouth) and said, "Sister West, I really like your cat."  I told his parents that I hope he 'raises the bar' before he starts to date!  Apparently, the bar is VERY low when it comes to cats.


One Year

(Pretend that it's the 7th of July)

Happy Birthday

to you!

Happy Birthday

to you!

Happy Birthday






to you both!

Love, Grandma Nancy



I love porches.

Don't you just want to
sit on this porch
with an ice cold glass
of lemonade
and visit with a friend
or maybe rock a fussy baby?

St. George - May 2010