Once upon a time, clear back before the haze of summer days was even on the horizon, I attended a little something 5 years in the making called Nursing Convocation.

Six weeks prior, I received an email stating I had been recommended by the faculty to submit a possible graduation speech. 20 [something] students were extended this invitation.   From the written submissions, faculty would narrow those choices down to 8 individuals. Those 8 would give their speech live to a panel of "judges" after which two students would be chosen to speak at graduation. (I can't believe I actually used the phrase after which in a sentence!! Who does that??)

I was flattered by the email, but didn't want to do it. Any chance of being chosen would require hours of work and struggle. Writing doesn't come easy for me.... I fret and draw blanks and reword and revise and rehash and rethink and rebuke and rebuff.

No thanks. I wasn't in the mood to gamble with my time.

But my friend Missy said I should do it.

So...I scheduled many secret cuddling sessions with my Mac and crafted a speech. The covert operation would spare me from having to tell everyone when I didn't get chosen.

But this meant I didn't have a single other pair of eyes to proofread or offer opinions about content. My parents, who are always so great to offer feedback, were in China and I didn't want to bother them.

I submitted the speech, then got invited to 'try out" in front of ten bigwigs from the University of Utah. One week after giving the pseudo-speech, I received a phone call from Carrie Radmall. They wanted me and my 3-minute string of words to represent the graduate students at the pulpit.

Next thing I know, I heard myself telling Carrie that I wanted to surprise my parents with this news. "I want them to find out by reading the program right before the ceremony begins."

My good, good parents were coming all the way from China just for my graduation, and I thought it would be fun to give them a little excitement and reward for their journey. I know how proud parents get with these kinds of things....

Carrie said, "this is too big, too exciting. There's no way you can keep it a secret."

What Carrie didn't know is how much I LOVE giving [and getting] surprises!

So, I did it. I didn't tell my parents. I didn't tell my friends or my brothers and sister. I didn't post it on Facebook. (Yes, I did tell my kids and husband and one brother so he could photograph my parent's reaction).

It all played out like I planned. My mom was reading the program before graduation started, saw my name, and squealed the typical squeal she squeals when she deems something squeal-worthy. I was backstage and didn't get to hear / see her reaction, but my sources told me it was exactly what I had hoped for!!

It was an awesome day, especially having all my family there. And I really had fun giving the speech. Especially pumping my fist at the end.... I felt like Richard Simmons in church.

I also had fun being on the stage and watching all the crazy family members cheering for their graduate. Ooops... I mean... watching all the family members cheering crazily for their graduate.

I'd do it again.


An Excuse for Blackberry Cobbler

It's a female thing.

It comes around once a month...like clockwork.

Sometimes, it sneaks up and catches me by surprise. Other times, I'm better at remembering.

This month I HAD to remember.

This month I was hosting book club.

photo credit

I've belonged to this book club for two years. I'd like to tell you the name of it, exceptn' we don't have one.

We've tried to come up with a clever descriptive name, but we've been so clever and so descriptive that our mile-high pile of good options have disabled us from reaching a consensus. So we remain named the No-NAME book club. 


As the host[ess] of the book club last week, I had certain responsibilities: sending email reminders, tidying up the house, leading the discussion, and intervening when two or more people started yelling and throwing their books at one another.

Just kidding. There was no yelling (except when some of us started belting out a Broadway showtune).

There is nothing but love in our book club: love for literature, love for one another, love for snacks, love for spontaneous singing, and love for remaining nameless. Love love all round.

Until last week, that is.........when there was a tiny lack of love.


It all started when I decided to do things a little differently.

Usually we choose a THEME (like Africa or feminism) and we all read whatever book we want under the theme's umbrella. Then everyone takes a turn talking about their book.

Most of our club's lovely ladies like it this way. This exposes us to different books and gives everyone ideas for future reads. But I already have a list of books as long as the Snake River that I want to read. So this makes me feel weighted down and even more jipped to hear about all the good books that I don't have time for. Plus, it feels like I'm sitting in school listening to one student book report after another (albeit awesome book reports).

So for my turn, I bagged the theme thing and asked everyone to read the SAME book. Because for some reason, when I read a good book, I want everyone I know to read it too. It's so fun to share that experience. I love to banter about the plot and muse about the themes. I especially love to hear opposing viewpoints and interpretations different than my own.

And I love to talk about the places and people. It fills my mettling cup. Gotta love harmless and guilt-free gossip!


The book I chose was Possession by A.S. Byatt.

It is a cerebral book and required effort. But for me, it was so rewarding. In fact, the more I ponder about the book (and talk about it with my sister-in-law), the more I love it. The concept is like the movie National Treasure, only the treasure was Victorian love letters instead of historical American documents. Byatt did an excellent job weaving two parallel plots in two different time periods. It is a remarkable achievement with incredibly beautiful language. It was so delicious.... like eating a perfectly ripe peach that explodes in your mouth with savor.

But most of my book club didn't think so. Alas, the love was lacking. Several started the book but couldn't make it past Chapter 3....

"too much work"
"not enough action" 

Only three of us finished the book and liked it. So, during book club, we talked about Possession a little bit (thanks Kay and Jenny), then others joined in as we broke into our usual rhythm of discussing life and events and other books on our nightstands. We laughed and sang and slurped down pasta salad and blackberry cobbler.


At the end of the night, I thought...it's okay that we give book reports. It's okay that we don't have a name. It's okay that not everyone liked my book choice.

It's okay because after everyone drove away, I felt so grateful to rub shoulders with these bright, articulate, fun women.

And I hope they are okay with that too!

Keep reading and celebrating the beauty of differences!
Reed Moore (aka Ms Fish)


How to Welcome Home a Missionary

I've heard about people who do all kinds of things in the weeks before their missionary comes home... things like remodeling, finishing the basement, moving the garage from the left side to the right side of the house, installing a pool and/or various landscaping tricks-- like spray painting the grass green if the summer heat has siphoned all its color. I've seen the frenzied hair stand on end and the ragged look of exhaustion. I vowed I wouldn't be like those people.

And then I had a missionary of my own coming home.

We didn't want our missionary to come home to the house in the exact condition he left it. Then he would know the truth: that our house was in the exact same condition as when he left it.

Plus there is our mantra: when it's time to spruce, we'll use any excuse.

So... starting about a month before Sean got home, Possum and I were on our own mission to spruce things up and get our home looking like it was going to the prom. After all, our house had a date with a very important person. Just as going to the prom is a passage of growing up, our son had just completed an important rite of passage. He left as a boy and was returning a man. And men notice missing molding and unfinished sheet rock, and the implications of slothfulness behind it.

I decided to document our countdown schedule below, not because I think anyone in their right mind would be interested, but because I want to remember how it all fleshed out. The truth is, it was a glorious time of anticipation and industry. Our family all worked together with a common goal. We accomplished much + the atmosphere in our home was fizzy with love and excitement to see our son/brother again.

  • The kids and I cleaned out every cupboard, closet and storage room. Side bar -- I LOVE having a clean, organized house, and I love having the looming prospect of house guests and a party to catalyze me into action. Problem is, I obviously don't LOVE it enough to keep it clean all the time. (Or I love doing other things more). I'm already excited to think that my house will be clean again when Otto and Andy come home from their mission in 3 years.
  • Possum and the boys worked hard on the pool and backyard. 
  • Possum finished the unfinished sheet rock, hung cupboard doors and finished several loose-end projects that have lingered for years.

  • Made a T-shirt quilt for Sean, using shirts from his childhood and school years. This took 5 days and then I turned it over to Karen, my quilting guru. She had the quilt for one week working her magic sewing spirals and curly Q's and wigglywigs. 
  • Possum began scheming and preparing to build an awning over our back porch (more on that in a later post).

T-shirt quilt

  • Began the baking bonanza. Made 3 batches of rolls this week and froze them. 
  • Got jam fever, filling our freezer with 6 batches of jam: strawberry, raspberry, raspberry-blackberry, and strawberry balsamic thyme (ok.. really this has nothing to do with Sean coming home). 
  • Yard pruning and weeding.

  • Cleaned the house thoroughly: washing windows, sheets, and all our blankets. 
  • Got Sean's room ready. 
  • Finished up the book / journal I had been keeping for Sean throughout his mission. This consisted of all his letters to us and our letters to him. 
  • Got the quilt back and put on the binding. 
  • Printed and framed some of Sean's missionary photos. 
  • Designed and printed framed words (below)
  • Made 3 more batches of rolls. 
  • Filled bags of ice each day from the freezer and put them in deep freeze, so I wouldn't have to buy ice. 
  • Andy starts painting the poles for the awning

DAY of ARRIVAL (Saturday, August 15)
  • Marinated chicken and made potato salad, bread, and chocolate cake for next day's dinner. 
  • Wrapped Sean's quilt. 
  • Everyone helped dust, vacuum, wash windows and doors, mop floors and clean bathrooms. 
  • Otto and Andy washed and folded all the laundry. 
  • Possum swept the front porch, and hosed off the back porch.
  • Daisy painted a darling poster the size of Toquerville, and risked life and limb to get gigantic balloons filled with helium.


Sean's plane was scheduled to arrive at 4:30 pm in St. George. Not that we were anxious or anything, but we left about 2:30 (airport is about a 40 minute drive).

We had a few family and friends at the airport to welcome Sean home.

At 4:30 pm, Daisy got a phone call. It was Sean. He had missed his connecting flight to St. George and was still in SLC. He told us some nice people in the airport had helped him find a connecting flight into Cedar City at 9:00 pm. Now it's crazy that Sean called Daisy, who had a new cell phone and number that Sean didn't know. His acquisition of her # is a Facebook miracle that I should blog about another day :)

Daisy hears from Sean

The original plan was to have our song and dance at the airport and then go out to eat while we were in St. George. Now we went to Plan B. But our stomachs were still holding out for Plan A. So we decided to go celebrate anyway. Sean was back in the West and that was good enough for us!!

After eating Mexican food at La Frontera, we drove home and sat basking in our super clean house....I mean when we sat on the couch, I could have sworn I heard it squeak. We sat. And squeaked. And watched the clock.

FINALLY the hands on the wall gave permission for us to go, and we piled in a vehicle Sean had never seen and left for the hallowed pick-up grounds. Grandpa and Grandma Hackworth met us there. The Cedar City airport is homey and warm and looks like a big ski lodge instead of an airport. To add to the awesomeness, we were almost the only ones there right up until the plane landed and even then, there weren't many people. It felt like our own private airport. We got up close and personal with the painted bird.

Of course, Sean waited and was the last one off the plane. When he finally came into view.....he looked blurry.  

Notice the suitcase on the right.... that went with Possum on his mission and saw Sean through his.

Just kidding. He looked GREAT!!!

And sounded great!

There were hugs all around...

I couldn't stop staring....

or smiling....

And then a family photo shoot....

I had to keep touching Sean to make sure I wasn't dreaming....

This may sound the cheeseball bells, but I don't care. When I held Sean tight, the entire world faded away. I truly have never been so "in the moment" and so present. Or so proud!!

Now, I totally understand the expression "my joy is full." There wasn't a smidgen of room left in my heart for any more of it...

A video of Sean's arrival. Believe me, I wanted to burst onto the tarmac, but showed great restraint. Oh ya... and for a fun game, try to pick up on how Sean feels about paparazzis.

Thanks to my papa for these images, and Otto for getting the video: freezing time and harnessing memories.

Keep swimming,
a joy-full Ms. Fish

Vocabulary Word of the Day
WigglyWigs: n. A colloquial term used to describe a stick straight stitch, which when placed in a certain formation, gives a curvilinear appearance like John Adam's hair. Not to be confused with WigdiggetyDigs, which is an annoying practice of labradoodles and dachshunds.


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