Gratitude #29 - My Oldest

One day a few years ago, Sean walked into the kitchen wearing a cranberry red pair of shorts and a navy blue shirt. I said, "Sean...that doesn't match." Without hesitation, Sean replied, "Well you'll have to take that up with Betsy Ross." Sean pops up with funny one-liners often. I love that about Sean. He makes me laugh and brightens my days. He brightens others as well. In fact, some friends at college started a group on Facebook called Sean Jokes to document some of his funnies.

I will never forget when I decided to go to graduate school, but was worried about the dreaded GRE entrance requirement. This test included Alegbra, which I had not taken for 20 years and Geometry, which I had never taken. Sean, about 13 or 14 years old at the time, sat by my side for 3 solid days and tutored me in problem after problem. I only passed that test because of Sean. The child tutoring the mother for graduate school. How about that?

I am so thankful for Sean. He is:
Courteous, polite and helpful to his parents. Supportive and encouraging to his siblings. Happy and even-tempered. Thoughtful and thought-provoking. Forward thinking and questioning. Strives to improve. Uses his time wisely. Makes time for fun. Talented. Handsome. Creative. Friendly to all. Magnetic. Tolerant. Progressive. Helpful. Patient. Adventurous. Adaptable. Really, really funny. And definitely the peacemaker of our family.

I love you dear son. You make parenting easy and joyful.


Gratitude # 28 - Father

Time quickly slowed. Like a replay on the giant screen at a football game, 18 years of game time splashed across my own cerebral screen. Besides reviewing the past, there was ample time to appraise the seemingly short-lived future. As our small orange Chevette made its second complete 360-degree turn and began sliding aimlessly toward the steel boundary, I began to consider the most effective escape maneuver. It seemed inevitable that upon coming into contact with our momentum, the guardrail, meant to protect, would betray us and allow our car to plummet into the frigid Snake River 30 feet below. An icy chill prematurely seeped into my skin.

It was deathly silent inside the Chevette. My three friends and I were lost in thought and frozen in fear as thoughts of mortality settled in around us as thick as a roux. Creeping toward the railing, I glanced into the rear-view mirror to assess the chance of a collision from behind. “Let death come,” I concluded with a peaceful dread.

The encounter with the guardrail came soon enough and interrupted the silence with the tintinnabulation of broken glass. To my surprise, the guardrail held firm and asked no more from us than the sacrifice of taillights and twisted metal. After sputtering to a stop, I re-started the engine and drove home. Shaken and shaking, my thoughts now turned to how I was going to break the news to my father about his car.


“Mom, do you remember when you threw a frozen burrito at the window?”

“I did not throw a burrito,” I said resolutely.

“Yes, you did. You were so mad at something that you threw a burrito at the car windshield.”


Making my way to dad’s office on the 3rd floor of the Ricks College Smith building, I felt the dance of gastric butterflies quicken. My father, upon seeing my somber and ashen face, asked what was wrong. Speaking quickly, before my nerve had the chance to take flight, I told my father about the snowy and icy conditions on the way back from Idaho Falls. And I told him about the accident. Without hesitation and without scorn or vexation, my father gathered me in his arms, caressed my head, and held me as though he were keeping me from falling into the icy river. He expressed his love for me both verbally and non-verbally and spoke of his gratitude that I had escaped unscathed. My father had bespoken his hierarchy of values.

Unlike certain instances in my own life (although I still maintain I never threw a burrito), inflammatory reactions are not my father’s style. Mercy, justice and unconditional love are more his character. And serve as a powerful teacher. Always patient and understanding, my father operates on the premise that people are more important than objects.


“Mom, will you come play basketball with us?”

“I can’t right now sweetie." I lamented. "I have to finish this assignment for school.”


“Kids” my father announced, “tonight, I would like to teach you something. Please come into the kitchen.” As the five of us gathered, dad placed a pot of water on the stove to boil. After it began to bubble, dad held a cookie sheet one foot above the pan to catch the steam. Soon, the moisture turned into a growing army of raindrops, evanescing onto the pot and stove. This was how I first learned about condensation, evaporation and the miraculous genius of the water cycle. After our lesson, we moved into the family room where dad announced that he had made up a new game.

“It is called the Sock Game,” he explained. “Everyone starts out on hands and knees. The object of the game is to remove everyone’s socks while trying to keep your own. The last one with one or more socks still on their feet is the winner.”

That first game was a hit, and led to many, many rounds of the sock game promulgating family fun and beefy bruises. My dad was good at the game and rarely gave up a sock. In exchange, he gave up his laughter and his time.

Assignments come and go. And so does childhood. I am thankful for my father who did not squander away our limited time together on good uses of his time that were not the best use of his time. Our fishing trips, gathering firewood, sitting in the forest listening to conference, swimming at the college, interesting lectures of learning, and family camping are among my treasured memories. And they all include my father.


Time again to change the oil. Steering the car into the shop bay, I carefully tried to avoid driving into the 7 foot deep pit. Two men in solid brown uniforms quickly arrived at my car window and pleasantly asked how they could help. After explaining my request, I returned to answering emails on my iPhone, preoccupied by my own [social] maintenance. Soon, the men asked for payment and waved a cheery good-bye as I drove away smugly excited to check off an item from my do-list.

“Jenni, how long did they take to change the oil?” my husband asked the next morning.

“Oh…I don’t know, about 10 minutes or so.” I absent-mindedly replied. “Why?”

“I don’t think they actually changed the oil. The oil and oil filter are filthy.”


The retaining wall was complete. Strong and secure. A crucial addition to the new house. “What do you think of it?” my dad asked.

“It looks really nice dad,” I confirmed.

The conversation continued about the need for the wall despite more appealing alternatives for precious dollars.

“It cost a lot of money,” mom piped up.

“Maybe you should have tried to get it cheaper,” I said.

Dad replied, “I do not want to cheat someone out of money. I thought his price was fair and I wanted to pay what he deserved.”

As the world yearns to get gain, my father yearns to give goodness.


I am eternally and incredibly thankful for a father who has unwavering integrity, unrivaled wisdom and clever wit. He has so many talents and hobbies and does each well. His garage is organized and immaculate. He is resourceful and frugal. He is a great guitar and piano player, smooth and melodious singer, thought-provoking and engaging writer, creative gardener, and wonderful cook. He finds and appreciates beauty in the earth, music, poetry, people, art and literature. He has an accepting and willing heart. And he has dedicated his life to religion, family and serving others.

Dad, I love you so much. You aren’t allowed to get old or die.

Mom and dad 1977

Mom and Dad in Virginia Nov 2008

Dad sings
Photo credit: Justin Hackworth

Photo credit: Justin Hackworth.com

Dad and grandson, Miles Hackworth
Photo credit: Justin Hackworth


Gratitude #27 - Thanksgiving, Faith and Family

I am grateful to have a day dedicated to giving thanks. On this day, I would like to pause and give thanks to the author and creator of all that I am thankful for.

After you are physically satiated....gather around the family and fill your emotional / spiritual cup with this poignant song and video.


Gratitude #25 - Brevity

I am thankful for people who have short blog postings and don't post THREE posts in one day. Oh my gosh! Enough already, Ms. Fish.

Joseph in the Land of Hurri-Canaan

Joseph's coat was incredibly beautiful. It was colorful....hey, what a clever idea.

Photo credits: Amy Drawe

I have seen Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at least 7 times: both professional and amatuer versions. (like seeing Donny Osmond as Joseph in SLC! Y-u-m-m-y!!) Last night, I saw Hurricane High's version of Jacob and the 12 brothers from the land of Hurri-Canaan. The show didn't disappoint. The cast was energetic and well-rehearsed. Kenzie Drawe, the narrator, and Chance Steglich, Joseph, both had strong, pleasing voices. The incorporation of Peach Days and local flavor was fun.

Thanks Hurricane High for a great show! And my apologies to the folks sitting around me because I simply couldn't sit there without singing along.


Photo credits: Salt Lake Tribune

Friday 11/21, our whole family, along with 75% of Hurricane, traveled to the University of Utah Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City for the 3A state football championship: Hurricane vs. Juan Diego. Our stands were full of black and red. Now, imagine: a tied game 18-18. 50 seconds to go. Juan Diego moves the ball up the field. In the last 4 seconds, JD kicked a field goal. After having missed every other field goal in the game, this one wobbly soared through the posts. Sad for us. Happy for the hero that kicked the ball for JD. It was a great game, and our boys have nothing to be ashamed of. They played with heart, tenacity, toughness and grit. In all my years of livin', it was the best high school football game I've ever seen!!

IN OTHER NEWS: There is consolation for the Tigers' loss: THE UTES PREVAIL over that blue school. And how about that Kyle Whittingham? He was so gracious in his press interview at the end of the game. That's how Ute people are!


The Red Sea
Photo credits: Salt Lake Tribune

The Grasshopper and the Ants

We did it! We actually pulled it off! I'm talking about the Ward Roadshow. The day of the performance (which was last Tuesday, Nov. 18), I started calling people, well not so much calling as it was more like begging, groveling and threatening. And we had over 10 new people agree to strut their stuff onstage (Do you think it had anything to do with offering protection from speaking in church for 5 years?? I hope not...because I don't have the authority to keep that promise!) Poor Paula Ariola, she got nailed while at Steamrollers. She was just minding her own business, preparing Sunday lesson, and next thing you know she has agreed to be in the roadshow! You are awesome Paula!

The newbies learned their part at 5:00 and performed it at 7:00. That is better impromptu work than Robin Williams! In the end, our cast was impressive...with over 40 participants from ages 4 to 89. I can't believe I'm admitting this...it was fun. And I'm all for doing roadshows again. In 20 years. When Janessa can direct it.

Rhonda Anderton and Debbie Gubler saved the day. They helped me paint the scenery the day before which was a good thing we did, because the other wards had incredible scenery. If we had shown up to our performance without painted scenery, it would have been like showing up for a dance performance in a birthday suit..shockingly bare.

We had many great stories that came out of our roadshow: Blanche, our 89 year old ladybug, made her own costume; Laura LeBaron stole the show after taking over the lead part just days before the performance (and went on to win BEST FEMALE DANCER at the Moroni Awards Night), Thomas Christiansen hopped along on a sprained ankle in true "show must go on" fashion, Bonnie and Leanne wrote incredible music and script (and going on to win BEST INTREPRETATION OF A FABLE), the Anderton family were such great help with all kinds of things like hunting down my car keys that I gave away to someone like a dork, and being present at every single practice; Laura Dutton got all the young women involved to make costumes; Jessica Behunin saved my behind by helping me glitterize the costumes at the final hour; Bruce and Colleen Smith made a clever set easy to assemble and disassemble; Larry, Arthur and Chris LeBaron, the backbone of the show, were faithful and helped with moving scenery over and over again; Andrea LeBaron played mom and actress at the same time...she was so awesome to bring her whole family who did such a great job; Bonnie LeBaron had lively dancing fingers on the keyboard; Janna Gifford who made the most darlingest poster ever (The Grasshopper and the Ants in 3-D!), Paul Thompson and his incredible operatic voice and Marba with her jamming on the keyboard. I had no idea she could play like that!! And all of the fabulous cast who sang with gusto and did a fantastic job.

There is one overarching lesson in all of this: procrastination got the job done! haha.
That's what we get when you ask a working mother in graduate school to head up the roadshow. At least no one's clothes fell off.... oh wait.... uh...ok that's another story!

Jessica Behunin putting glitter on the ant masks 1 hour before show-time!

Cuteness squared. Carter Anderton and Thomas Christiansen

Janessa practicing first time with Bonnie just minutes before the performance

Directing. Still. With just minutes to go until showtime. I'm excited...things are lookin' good!

Fabulous worker ants! Tradition!

Wow...who knew Janessa performed the same thing in 1943!

Narrator: Mother Goose in full disguise so you won't be able to tell who the crazy coot is.

Some of the cast before our 8 pm performance at the Stake Center

Grand Finale: Keep the Girl


Gratitude #24 - Being Silly

I am thankful for times of silliness. It is a welcome endorphin release!

Fab Five doing the Multiple Sclerosis rap for a school presentation. In case you are wondering...yes! we are in GRADUATE school. And no! (lucky for audiences worldwide..) we don't hire out.

Gratitude #23 - The Beauty of the Earth

Remember singing Boomdiada at the top of your lungs over and over and over again --on family road trips, girls camp, or just to annoy your little brothers. Today I am thankful for the great memories of childhood, for mom and dad who taught me to love life and to love the innumerable beauties on the giant ball we call earth.


Bragging isn't Bragging if it's True

One of the things that I take pride in is that I am not a bragger. I am really good at it, too. I am one of the best non-braggers around. However, it isn't bragging if it is a fact. And I have some cold hard facts about my brother to share. Cuz I'm proud and happy and am thankful for him which, incidentally, is now Gratitude #22A.

Justin is a professional photographer whose full-time job is to make people happy with artsy photographic images. He is an expert in his field, which is appealing in and of itself (See Gratitude posting #22). The other day, Justin photographed Design Mom, a blogging guru with a huge following of over 1 million readers / month. Check out her photo and what she had to say about Justin. Secondly, Justin had the opportunity to photograph a photographer of national distinction named Jonathan Canlas. Here is what Justin had to say about Jon:

"[he] is a pretty big deal. He’s sponsored by Fuji, publishes his weddings in all the finest wedding publications, and photographs weddings all over the world. And the amazing thing, is that he’s only 16 years old. Just kidding. He’s older than that."

Jon commands prices upwards of $10,000 per wedding. He is in such high demand that he frequently turns away customers. On his website, he has a small, elite list of vendors whom he recommends, and Justin is one of only a handful of photographers on the list. See what Jonathan had to say about Justin here.

Congratulations Justin!

And BTW, I'm thankful for Justin, not just because he is an expert at what he does for a living, but because of who he is! He has a kind and generous heart, and is as witty and clever as David Letterman. Actually, Justin is way funnier. Love you, bro.

Gratitude # 22 - Experts

One time Sean told me that he loves to read books where the main character is strong and is an expert at something. I agree, and I also love being around those types of people in real life. I am thankful for people who are disciplined enough to become experts in something they feel passionate about. And then, I am thankful for those who will share their knowledge.


Lemon Water for Congestion

Anything to do with lemons makes me happy. Lemon cheesecake, lemon curd, lemon pudding, lemonade, lemon drops, lemon chicken, lemon-yellow coats, lemon-yellow colored leather purses (unless they have an uncanny resemblance to adipose tissue), lemon cleaning products, lemon-yellow painted walls, documentaries about lemons....

So, here is a great use of lemons. Because flu season is coming! Use this with cough or colds. Can drink daily to help prevent colds and bronchial infections as well.

1 whole lemon or 3 T real lemon juice
8 oz water
Honey to sweeten (never use sugar)

Gratitude #21 - Pipe Dreams

I am thankful for a clean, clutter-free, organized house.
I've never had one, except once in 2005. But I know what one feels like because I've been to my dad and mom's house. And I'm certain I'd be grateful if my home were similar.

I'm not much for burning scented candles, but I love the ones that are lemon-scented. Their smell at least gives the illusion that my house is clean.

I hope -
my house will be
C L E A N!
One can dream.....



So, I was playing around with my Widgets and Gadgets and added something to this blog about being a "Follower." You can see it over there on the right hand side. I don't know what that means exactly...to become my follower. Being a "follower" implies that someone is the leader. I'm busy and the only thing I want to lead right now is music. Easy 4/4 time. In my shower.

(Okay, if you must know. I frequently conduct full symphonic orchestras in front of my bathroom mirror. My name is Jenni Fisher and I am a closet conductaholic.)

I guess having a following is like having a little fan club. Only the good news is that in my fan club you won't be subjected to my singing. I'll spare you that. Whether or not you declare yourself one of my official "followers," I think the concept is wonderful: to pledge our support of one another and remain connected with those we love and admire. Without a web of personal connections in our lives, we are vulnerable to the effects of diminished nourishment.

You [and your energy] feed my soul. Thank you for you love, support and comments.

Gratitude #20 - Friends

All my growing up years, I used to have a sign hanging in my bedroom given to me by my friend, Helen. It said: Friends are flowers in the garden of life. That is certainly true: friends bring color, interest, beauty, variety and sweet fragrance into my life. I need to do better in making efforts to stay in touch.

I hope my friend won't mind, but I would like to share a letter she sent to me a couple of days ago. It touched me dearly and gave me strength to keep plugging along....

Reach out and tell a friend how much they mean to you today. It is one of the most significant and meaningful things you can do in this moment.


Gratitude #19 - Gadgets

Every trade has tools. Brent has more tools in our attached storage facility...I mean, garage...than flies at a zoo. I don't have as many tools. (Now honey…this really isn’t a good time to dicker over trivial things like numbers). But I am so grateful for the gadgets and tools that make my life easier in the kitchen (if/when I ever get time to go in there). I get so much joy from these little tools and the creations that come from using them. So, I have created a list that will hereby be known as:

My Indispensable Kitchen Gadgets

1. Tongs: The only other thing in my kitchen that I use more often is the telephone. For years I used cheap tongs and I finally purchased some sturdy stainless steel tongs at Sur-La-Table.

2. Microwave Splatter Covers: I purchased these from an elementary student who was selling things for a school fundraiser. The covers were one of the few non-candy items in the catalog. I just wanted to a) support the kid and b) not buy candy, so I just randomly bought these covers. BEST PURCHASE EVER. They are easy to use and quick to clean up. Then, I don't throw away money using Saran Wrap which IS BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH when heated anyway. AND, it keeps my microwave clean.

3. Salad Shooter Professional Model: My parents gave this to me for Christmas several years ago. It is my second one because I wore out my first (non-professional) model. When I don't want the packaged taste of pre-grated cheese, I spend the time (ha..that is funny...all in perspective..) to grate my own cheese. Relatively speaking, it is super fast and easy to clean up. It is awesome for making riced potatoes also.

4. Can't beat a Braun for mixing scrambled eggs! Or chopping nuts!

5. Fresh lime or lemon zest makes almost anything taste better. Except maybe hot chocolate.

6. This little mini spatula from Pampered Chef is hands down my favorite spatula and one of the most productive $4 investments you can make. Sturdy and the perfect size. A little too perfect. Makes getting into the brownies a little toooooo easy.....

7. Meat mallet: This is the secret to grilled chicken in my opinion. Pound the breasts flat...they take less time to cook and are more tender and juicy. A fun tool to use...especially if you are PMS-ing....

8. Stainless steel frying pan: It just isn't worth it to buy a cheap pan. And for many things, I don't like non-stick.

9. Microwave bacon pan: This has re-energized my love affair with bacon. Hate to cook it. Hate to clean up after cooking it. Love to eat it, smell it and involve it in soups, beans and various other dishes.. Cooking it in the microwave is slick...and easy clean-up.

10. Toothbrush: handiest little cleaning tool around. Perfect for cleaning all the grime around the lids on liquid soap dispensers.

11. Scissors: Perfect for cutting up credit cards. Oh wait, we are talking about food. Perfect for cutting up cilantro.

12: Instant read thermometer: instant gratification..what can I say.

13. Pineapple slicer: I don't have the one pictured. Mine is cheap. I don't love it just because it is cheap. But I love the concept! This stainless steel one is on my wish list, because my family loves fresh pineapple and requests it about as often as Angelina Jolie is on a magazine cover.

14. Salt and Pepper Mill: Can hardly stand salt and pepper that isn't freshly ground after being spoiled with grinders.

15. Candy thermometer: There is NO way I could make caramels without this puppy. I don't need it often, but when I do: it is vital to the success of my candy.

16. Butter Bell Crock: I have a dear friend, Christina, who always whips up real butter with canola oil in half and half proportions (She was doing this long before the spreadable butters came out!). She did it not only to make the butter spreadable, but for health reasons as well. I did it for awhile, but just have too many other little things to fill my time. Then I bought this black beauty. Now we can spread...REAL BUTTER on our bread.

And last of all:
My children - the handiest tools of all. And I thank them for all the help they give me in the kitchen!!


Where did the LOVE go?

It seems to be a trendy thing to use the word heart instead of love. Like... I heart this. Or another example: I heart San Diego. Well...I don't heart that way of talk. It sounds silly. In case you wanted my opinion on the matter.

Whatever happened to good old-fashioned LOVE? Is the word LOVE fading from our vocabulary as much as it is fading from our lives?

Gratitude #18 - Restaraunts

I am thankful for people willing to cook and clean up. I am thankful for the fact that when I don't have time or am too tired, we can still eat by getting in the car and driving to a restaurant. The pioneers didn't have that privilege.

I'll admit it. I LOVE to eat out and I LOVE to try new places. And if I happen to go to the same place twice, I like trying different things on the menu. I have some friends who go to the same restaurant and order the same thing every Friday night. Not my cup of tea. The minute a new eating place opens in town, I am one of the first to make the cash register ring.

While in SLC last week, my friends and I tried a new hip soup, sandwich and cupcake shop called DIVA's. I had a mozzarella tomato sandwich and butternut squash soup. The soup was deeee-vine! Deep gold, flecked with freshly ground pepper chunks, it was smooth, hearty, earthy and seductive. Then I indulged in an after-dinner treat with a pumpkin cream-cheese cupcake topped with caramelized ginger. The cupcake wasn't as good as the soup.

I am thankful for good restaurants!

Butternut Squash Soup

If you are in the mood for an everyday, at-home, mug-n-spoon squash experience, I found a recipe that is fun to read. (HaHaHa. See previous post about my obsession with reading recipes.)

The subtle hint of vanilla will boost the squash and pear to the fore with a hint of sweetness from the cider.

Butternut Squash Soup with Pear, Cider, and Vanilla Bean

3 Tbs olive oil
1 2-lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces (4 generous cups)
2 firm-ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup apple cider
4 cups good-quality chicken broth
½ tsp salt
½ cup half-and-half
1 vanilla bean, about 7 inches long
Fresh chives, finely chopped, for garnish

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or small stockpot over medium-low heat. Add the squash, pears, and onion, stir to coat with oil, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, until the onion is soft and transparent and the pears are starting to fall apart.

Add the cider, and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the broth, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer the mixture, partially covered, for about 30 minutes, until the squash is tender.

Working in batches, carefully puree the mixture in a food processor or blender. Return the soup to the pot, and season it with salt. Continue to cook the soup over medium-low heat, uncovered, until it has reduced to about ½ to 1/3 of its original volume. Stir occasionally. The final consistency is up to you; when it reaches a thickness that seems right—not too thin, not too thick—it’s ready.

While the soup is reducing, put the half-and-half in a small saucepan. Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise into two long strips. Using the back of your knife, scrape the tiny black seeds out of the bean. Scoop the seeds and the bean halves into the pan with the half-and-half, and put the pan over low heat. Warm the half-and-half until it is steaming, but not boiling. Remove it from the heat, remove and discard the vanilla bean halves, and whisk to break up any clumps of seeds in the half-and-half. Set aside.

When the soup has reduced to its desired thickness, stir in the half-and-half, taking care to not leave any little black seeds behind in the saucepan. Taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve, garnished with chives.

Yield: 4-5 servings


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