Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Should we stay or should we go?

We built our house 9 years ago. It's a modest house in our neighborhood at just over 2600 sq ft, but it's nice (in my humble opinion). We chose the lot, the options and did all the landscaping ourselves so the attachment here is real.

We have just under half an acre for our yard, which has allowed us to put in a nice play set for our children, a covered patio, a chicken coop, fire pit area, an enormous garden and we still have room to grow.

When we moved here, settled in and got to know our neighbors, I decided I could live the rest of my life here, I love it that much. What's the problem? We have a four bedroom house and we're eight people. Could we make it work? Sure we could, but it's crowded sometimes, and even more so when we have houseguests--which we do from time to time.

Right now we have our four girls paired up in two rooms and our oldest son has his own room (the smallest room of them all), and that leaves the baby in our room with us. It's working for now, but ideally, I'd like our little guy to move out of our room....I'm sure you can imagine multiple reasons why!

Right now, there's no space to move the baby to though and this has us contemplating selling our house and buying a bigger one. The very mention of this has differing reactions from our children--one being excited at the prospect of her own room, two freaking out at the idea of not having their best friends just a few doors down, some refusing to change schools no matter what enticement we may find.....They have only agreed to look into the idea with us if we stay close by. Honestly though, we'd like to stay in the area since the schools here are top-notch.
A view of the last half of our back yard. We have nothing behind us but the nature conservancy.
One problem is that our mortgage here is over $100,000 less than the houses in our area with our size requirements for house and yard (hoping for 6 bedrooms, 2+ bathrooms, a basement--which we do not have here--and at least 1/3 acre). We really don't want to go from having an enormous yard with plenty of playroom and a bountiful garden, to having a tiny space with a few little garden boxes!


We have a few garden boxes for our sage, onions, potatoes, garlic and we also moved some of our raspberries this year.

These pictures are from shortly after we planted our garden at the end of May.
This shows the plastic mulch we use to keep the weeds under control. The plants do very well with it.



We've had conflicting opinions from realtors about the value of our home, two of them telling us to list it for significantly less than some competing properties. Funny enough, several of the ones they email me to pique my interest are comparable to what we have now and they cost quite a bit more! Ugh!

We have some debt (yuck, I know) that we want to pay off, and so we don't want to sell with a realtor if it means we can't pay off those debts and have a down payment for another home. But I'm hearing conflicting opinions about how hard it is to sell a house on your own. But if we do this, we can ask for a lower price, pay off what we want, do it on our own timeline......It's all just so overwhelming!

I wish I knew some expert that we could trust in helping us in the right direction, but those seem to be in short supply just now. Pretty much we've just about decided to spend the next year de-cluttering, re-painting, cleaning carpets, etc. and then possibly listing around May of next year. We're not sure if that's the right decision, but we aren't going to rush into something that doesn't feel good.

We shall see, I suppose. Any ideas or experiences here would really be greatly appreciated. :)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentines are Not Trophies

I saw this story in my newsfeed on Facebook. It was a teacher under fire for sending home a letter to parents instructing them to make sure their child brings a Valentine for every child in the class if they chose to participate in the passing out of Valentines. Funny enough, people thought this was outrageous. Some even likened it to receiving participation trophies for kids' sports. Some were talking about how this teacher needed to help prepare these children for the real world. Perhaps I should mention that this teacher is a kindergarten teacher. What does a 5 year old need to learn by not receiving Valentines cards?

This wasn't the first time I heard this sentiment though. I was surprised to read it on the Matt Walsh Blog too:
"I still have my pity-trophy, it’s right up there on my pity-mantle, next to my pity-game ball and the mandatory Valentine’s cards I only received because elementary school rules required every child to give one to every other child."
He had me agreeing with most of what he said until that point. Because I'm trying to see what trophies have to do with kids receiving Valentines along with every other child on Valentine's Day. I wasn't aware it was an award. Did these children do something special to deserve these Valentines?

Honestly, I'd always thought of Valentine's celebrations at school as being much like another trick-or-treat or reason to have a fun party. But let's say it's not. Let's say these cards and little candies that the children pass out during school hours are awards and they should be earned. What, then, makes a child unworthy to receive one? Are they not pretty or handsome enough? Do they not dress well enough? Do they need to bathe more often? Are they not rich enough?

In all my school years it was always said by the teacher that all students should receive a Valentine from students who chose to bring them. It made some of my elementary years more bearable, because the students actually listened. I'm sure that in grades 3-5 that had that not been the rule, I'd have gone home feeling even more worthless than usual on that day. Why? Because I was bullied. Many of the kids didn't like me. I wasn't like them. I didn't go to church. I smelled like cigarettes. I dressed myself. I did my own hair (and not very well, I might add) and I lived in a trailer park. People called me "Smelly Nellie" and "trailer trash" among other things, they'd actually follow me around the school yard to do it.

Every morning I would wake up to my alarm clock, force myself to get ready for school and to walk to where I knew people were going to be mean to me. How did I handle it? I laughed. I acted like I didn't care and then I went home and cried my eyes out on the particularly bad days. But Valentine's Day was a good day. I was treated, miraculously enough, like anyone else. I got to take home my Valentines and show my mom and sister and feel like everyone else for a day.

What can be so terrible about what this teacher asked? None of these children earned any of those Valentines. It's just an excuse to have a little fun and celebrate. If every student in elementary doesn't get one, then none of them should. Valentines in school has nothing to do with accomplishment and everything to do with fun, and perhaps a little about teaching them about love and friendship.

Are people seriously advocating leaving children out of this? For what purpose? Is giving them a Valentine somehow going to leave them ill-equipped for the real world? I highly doubt it. But leaving them out feels a lot like bullying. For teachers to not make this rule in their classroom seems wrong to me. What is right about allowing a child to be left out of the passing of Valentines? How is that going to strengthen their character or teach them good lessons?

You may be surprised to learn that I don't believe in rewarding children for nothing. We don't go for the participation trophies here. We encourage our children to work hard and to do their best. If they win, fantastic! If they don't, hopefully they did their best and learned something and will do better next time. But we don't want them receiving what they didn't earn. We want them to be prepared for the work it takes to make it in the real world.

But Valentine's Day has nothing to do with this. And once these kids hit Junior High and High School, they get to choose whom receives their Valentines gifts and they understand the deeper meaning behind those gifts. In elementary they don't yet understand this, and they don't need to. They're children. I think there are already too many ways some children are ostracized. There's no need to provide one more way. If they want to do an extra special Valentine for their very good friends, by all means, let them do it, but don't encourage them to be mean and leave someone out because they don't like the way they dress, smell, talk, etc. This doesn't teach them anything valuable.

Just my two cents. Happy Valentine's Day! :)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Great Deal for those Xbox Fans

We love our Xbox 360 and use it everyday. It's not just for gaming. We use it for Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant, etc. We'd be lost without it and it's made our cut from cable/satellite much easier.

One thing that makes it do so much for us, and enhances all those Call of Duty games my husband and oldest son like to play online, is the Live membership. It usually runs about $60 a year, but I can almost always find it for less on Amazon (another reason I'm an Amazon Junkie!). Today I got an email from Amazon saying that the 12 Month Xbox Live Membership is discounted $20 today until February 1 (which is this Saturday) or while supplies last, making it $39.99! This is an awesome deal and one you'll rarely find! This deal is for the online code only (which works perfectly).

Just thought I'd share it! Tell your friends :)

Friday, January 17, 2014

What Happened to Honesty in Business?

Maybe I'm naïve to think that it ever existed, but I'm sure there must've been a time when people didn't try to cheat each other--when they actually did what they were supposed to do and didn't try to hide a mistake when they made one. I've had multiple bad experiences throughout my life with unscrupulous people, but I've still, somehow against all odds, managed to stay optimistic.

I loath dishonesty in people. I try to live by the motto: Treat others the way you want to be treated. I'm not going to say that I'm perfect. Certainly, I'm not. But I work hard to be a good person. I teach my children the same thing. And most days, I guess I think most people are trying just as hard. But this past week, well, I'm losing faith fast!

We took our SUV into Les Schwab a few months ago for flat repair. We waited quite a while, about half an hour longer than they said it'd be, and then when they gave us our keys back, they said it was on the house. We were pleasantly surprised and figured it was because of the long wait. We thanked them and they said to just keep them in mind when we were in the market for new tires (which were getting close. These are the only words exchanged.

This is what the stem looked like with their cover.


This is what we found under that cover. The stem is broken.
A few weeks later we started losing air in the tires again, so Tony went to fill them up with his air compressor. One of the stems was broken on a tire that Les Schwab had repaired, it had been covered by one of their valve covers and we'd never noticed. Tony was unable to put air in it because part of the stem is broken off.. He told me to call them about it, to see if they'd fix it. I should have, but I didn't.

Why didn't I call? Well, I've been working on getting out of bed in the morning. Putting one foot in front of the other. Keeping my children fed. Working hard to not about what I lost. Trying not to cry daily. Tying to keep track of appointments. Trying to focus and concentrate, because for whatever reason, my brain feels all out of whack.

Basically, it's taken everything in me to just do the basics. Everything extra has gone out the window. I'm working on it. Trying to get better. I think I've improved because my daughter Ashlyn said to me last week, "Mom, what happened?" I asked what did she mean. She said, "You look happy again." I was stunned. I didn't know what to say. I felt awful that she'd noticed I wasn't feeling myself before. I thought I'd done better at trying to be normal.

Anyway, I didn't call. I didn't want to deal with it. I thought it wouldn't be a big deal anyway, since we were soon getting new tires. Well, turns out it's a big deal after all, because that stem has a sensor in it and that sensor runs from $60-$80! We just found this out on Saturday. So I girded up my loins (I can say that, right?) and told Tony we needed to go in there and talk to them about this. Thus began my disillusionment with this business.

The technician had put it in the notes that the stem was already broken before we brought it in and that they'd talked to us about this before we left the store. Really? When? No such discussion took place. They "repaired" our flat, gave it to us for "free" and sent us on our way with a smile.
This is what the covers look like on all our other tires.
It's also what our cover looked like before our visit.

This is what the stems look like on all our other tires.

It's their cap on the stem. My husband had filled it before we even went in there, so we KNOW it wasn't broken then and that it had been our valve cap on there beforehand. A few weeks later, boom! It's broken underneath their cap, instead of the one that is identical to all our other caps on our other 3 tires (I wonder what they did with our cap? I'm guessing they didn't put it back on because it wouldn't fit on after he broke it....). When we showed the manager our stem, he said he couldn't believe they would let us out of the shop like that--with a broken stem and the cap shoved on there like that. He said he would talk to his tech and get back to us on Monday.

Well, Monday came and went. Tuesday came and went. Wednes....well, you get my point. So I called them today and asked what the decision was going to be. He said his tech insists it was already broken or that it was more severely broken after we left the shop over the last few months. He said that if it had happened at the shop, they wouldn't have let us leave like that. Well, they did! The cap should prove it, if nothing else. It's their cap!

Our ownership in this mess is that should have checked the work before we left the premises. Also, we should've brought it to their attention when we caught it. I can't keep letting my emotions get in the way of my responsibilities. I'll admit those mistakes. Had they said that the length of time was the reason for not replacing it, I'd have had to accept that. But this was an outright lie!

I told the manager that I understood that he didn't know us personally, and he wasn't there when this all occurred, so he has no reason to trust us. But I told him, "I know that we don't lie. I know that we're honest people. And I KNOW 100% that when we brought our car to you, our stem wasn't broken." He offered to give us the part at cost. I have to accept that. It's better than nothing. But it still gets to me. I'm not upset at the manager really. But that technician....well, that's another story. I hope he learns the value of honesty. I won't hold my breath.

I guess the best we can get out of this is that we know to not take our business there anymore.....

Friday, December 6, 2013

Make your own bean dip!

All ready to eat my chip with my homemade dip!
One of the things I stopped buying when the economy tanked was bean dip. That probably sounds funny to some of you, but really it was too expensive and went too fast for me to justify it to myself. We could quickly go through a can of Fritos Bean Dip in one sitting, along with half a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos. I have to say I missed that dip, and Doritos just weren't the same without it and I rarely ate them because of that.

A few days ago it hit me: I make my own honey butter, garlic butter spread (to make garlic bread and grilled cheese sandwiches) and frosting--all things I once bought from the store without much thought. I figured out how to make those things because it was cheaper and often tastier to do them myself. So why couldn't I make my own bean dip?

I did what I do best and scoured the internet for a recipe that would taste just like the Fritos one (because you could say I'm a bit picky). I found a recipe on a site called Eat Cake for Dinner that I decided to try. It calls for a 16 oz can of refried beans, sliced jalapenos, some of the brine, paprika, cayenne (red) pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and sugar.

I keep most of these things as staples in my pantry, so I only had to go buy cayenne pepper and jalapenos from the store to give it a try. The main reason I didn't hesitate to try it was because it sounded so easy! I only had to put all the ingredients in the food processer.

The recipe is as follows:
1 (16 oz.) can refried beans 
5 slices bottled jalapenos 
1 1/2 Tbl. brine from bottled jalapenos
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 + 1/8 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

I put all of the ingredients in my little kitchenaide chopper on the puree setting and ran it until it was smooth. Then I scooped it all into a storage bowl. We did try it after only about 30 minutes in the fridge. I prefer it colder than that and liked it better after it'd been in the fridge overnight. 

I think I'll make some tweaks to it to make it less spicy (I no longer have a gall bladder and spiciness is a luxury my body can no longer afford! Haha!). Next time I'll cut it down to 3  jalapenos and keep the brine the same. It only calls for 1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper, so I don't know if I'd cut that the second time I make it. I think I'll try cutting down the jalapenos first and see. Not that it's super hot as it is, but it is spicier than the Fritos dip as I remember it. So if you like spicy things, you can leave it as it is. I like a little spice, but I don't want anything burning after I've swallowed it. :)

Overall, I think it was a hit. Both my hubby and my oldest son couldn't stay out of it. It's cheap though, so for once it didn't panic me to see it disappearing so fast!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

I think I just may be a scrooge

My 9 year old daughter came home from school this week and asked me if we could do "Elf on the shelf." Had she asked me this last year at this time, I'd have been clueless to what she was talking about! But in this day and age of the internet and Facebook, I've come to find out what this game is. Apparently parents buy a toy elf and move him around to let their children know that he is watching them before Christmas for Santa Claus (at least that's how I understand it, so please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong).

Some parents make the game more simple in having this elf move from one shelf to another, or even from room to room. Some parents get more elaborate and have their elves get into mischief (i.e. making messes around the house that the elf supposedly did while everyone was sleeping). I, for one, have enough messes to clean up without getting into anything like that! Hah!

I looked my daughter straight in the eyes and said, "No, I'm never doing that. Sorry." I'm sure all her childhood dreams were subsequently crushed and she'll need years of therapy to make up for this deprivation. I did go on to tell her that while I think it's a fun game for some families to play, with six children, and being the primary one responsible for researching and grabbing all the good deals for Christmas online (which takes quite a bit of research!), I just don't have the time or the desire to start this game.

I should probably note that my 9 year old doesn't believe in Santa anymore. Before you think I'm terrible, I'll say that while I love the idea of Santa Claus and we do play along with the fantasy with our children when they're young, we also have the "Honesy when asked" policy. So when she came to us last year and said she wasn't sure she believed anymore, I asked her if she was sure she wanted to believe anything other than what she knew about Santa being real. She said she really wanted to know, so my husband and I told her about the history of St. Nicholas and how the idea of him lives on in Santa Claus. She thought this was great!

Anyway, this whole thing got me thinking this year. I think in some ways some people might think I've become a bit of a miser when it comes to Christmas. I just hate what it's becoming. I remember when I was little and we had next to nothing sometimes, that it didn't really matter what I got, I just remember the time spent with those I love. Now it's all about who can get the best gadgets and gizmoes. It's all about taking away yet another holiday from workers and opening businesses on Thanksgiving so people can fight, push and shove on a day we profess to be thankful for what we already have (this is a favored holiday of mine) and it just goes on from there.

Early in my adulthood, I did try Black Friday at Walmart a few times, but the last time I did people were crashing their carts repeatedly into my heals, pushing me out of the way to get to something first and one man was even deteremined that he wanted to get into a fist fight with my husband because we walked around him while he was looking at movies in the aisle! We didn't butt in a line, we didn't shove him, we just pushed our cart quickly around him so as not to block his view for long so we could make it to the other side of the store and the bathroom for our toddler at the time. Yeah! That's what Christmas is all about! And from the news articles and YouTube videos I've seen, this seems to be the accepted norm.

After those experiences, I tried waiting to shop until the week of Christmas. Then I started doing all of our shopping online several years ago, so as to minimize the amount of time we have to spend out in the crazy stores. That's just not my thing! I really don't care about this stuff. You can't take it with you and most of it's forgotten in a month anyway. That's not to say that I don't enjoy finding gifts for my children that I think they would genuinely enjoy. I do. But in moderation, so they appreciate it when they get it.

I also don't do much by way of decorating. I hate heights. I get severe vertigo so you will never catch me attempting to hang the lights on the house. My husband doesn't mind roofs so much (he's used to it in his profession), but he's not that driven to go out there in the freezing cold temperatures to get the lights on the often slippery roof, only to have to do it again to take them all down again in a month. Not only that, but we noticed the jump in our utilities when we had all the lights up and decided it wasn't that big of a deal and we could just do the stockings, tree, wreaths, nic nacs and perhaps the ground decorations outside.

Saying all this out in the open here makes me think I probably sound like a grump. I don't really think I am. But I am practical. We have a very small Christmas budget to stretch out amongst our children here (my husband and I don't even do gifts for each other so as to maximize what we can do for our children) and if I can save money by not doing some of these other things, I will.

We do like to watch Christmas movies starting on Thanksgiving. It's a family thing and we do it several nights a week up to Christmas day with all of our children. We make goodies for our neighbors (though we missed last year because I was so sick with my pregnancy).

We do a Christmas dinner and talk about the nativity and why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. Sometimes that's so easy to forget in the commercialism and age of political correctness we live in now. I don't say Happy Holidays. I say Merry Christmas because I'm celebrating Christ. I believe in Him. I'm thankful for Him and I'm not going to belittle or skirt around that and I don't want my children to either. That's not so say that I don't respect those who believe differently from me. I won't ask them to change the wording and ways they celebrate their holidays and expect the same courtesy.

So if that makes me a scrooge, because I know I'm not as much fun as some of these Supermoms out there, then so be it. That's just who I am. :)


Friday, September 13, 2013

When Unspeakable Things Happen

Alix Norman before her murder. You can help her mother here.
I grew up in a small town called Brigham City where I experienced both the good and bad parts of small town life. One good thing I remember had to do with a girl named Chrishell, whom I knew in high school. I saw her as bubbly, happy, easy-going, friendly and non-judgmental--that part was a big one for me, because I'd experience a lot of negative judgement growing up the way I did.

Chrishell always had a huge smile on her face and she was beautiful. She often invited me to go to church, but I never took her up on it, because that was during a time when I had turned my back on God. She never judged me for refusing her. She would just smile her beautiful smile and ask me to go another time. I genuinely liked her, but we never saw each other again after we graduated, and she became a distant memory.

That is how it remained until the unspeakable happened and I found out through Facebook that the tragedy I'd read about on the news had happened to Chrishell. I couldn't fathom it. How could something like this happen? When I'd first read about the apparent murder-suicide of a stepfather to his 16 year old stepdaughter, it both saddened and sickened me. But finding out that it happened to someone I used to know and liked and respected, took it to a whole new level.

I've kept up on the story since then, hoping to find out something that could make sense out of something so senseless. But really, it will never make sense, and my heart goes out to her and those others of her friends and family who were floored by this awful event.

When I got up this morning and got my kids off to school, I saw a picture in my newsfeed on Facebook which got my attention. It was a picture of Chrishell's daughter, Alix, with a link asking people to help her. I can't do much, but I figured I should do whatever I could. And one way I can help is to spread the word.

Some friends of Chrishell have set up a website to accept donations to help her through the financial part of this tragedy. If you can't afford to donate anything, please help to spread the word. Let Chrishell know that people care about her, and that her Heavenly Father loves her, by doing His work.

She once extended her hand out to me. Now I want to help her.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Working to Move on

My main purpose of starting this blog was to help people, and yes, to journal my family's journey as we go along. I still want to do this, and I hope that sharing what's been going on in my life now has been okay. This was a shock to me (understatement!) and writing is how I vent.

Anyway, I will always love my little sister and I'll miss her until the day we meet again. I don't want to drag anyone down with that. I just wanted to share her with you. She was an amazing person.

On a different note, we've had some other things going on during all of this. We've taken advantage of our Pass of all Passes a week ago for the first time this summer and I have some concerns about how it's going. It's our third year with the pass and I'm not sure I like it as much as we used to.

I'm thinking they've oversold them. To say the venues are crowded doesn't begin to paint an accurate picture. We're going to try going on a weeknight and see if that's any better. Also, a heads up on the Sandy Seven Peaks Fun Center location: it's for bowling only, and they really should change the name to reflect that. Not only that, but they charge $3.50 shoe rental, so it's not quite free with your pass (which is only valid Mon-Thurs).

There's some other things I wanted to share, but am gathering more info before I do. So hopefully I won't fall off the horse again and will be better about updating here. The kids go back to school in less than two weeks and I can't decide if that's going to give me more or less time! :)

My Tribute at Melanie's Funeral

I've been asked several times if I spoke at my sister's funeral. I did. It was the best way I could think to honor her, to share her with those who didn't know her like I did. Some of what I said I'd written here, after I first found out we'd lost her. But over the week before her funeral, I thought of more I wanted to say. Here it is for those who wanted to know what I said:

Writing this talk was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write. I wanted to get it just right because I want to do Melanie justice. It’s hard to describe her to those who don’t know her. She was a very diverse and complicated person. She was the type of person who made you realize that you should never judge a book by its cover, because she never fit in to any of the stereotypes.

I keep seeing her as a child. We were always together. She was my little tag-a-long. Sometimes it drove me crazy, but many times in the turmoil of our young lives, having Melanie with me was such a comfort. Things were certainly never boring with her there, she was so excited and curious about life. She was always a spit-fire too, with beautiful curls that got her complimented as a “little Shirley Temple” more than once.




I couldn’t help but be protective of her. We never knew what she was going to do next, she kept everyone on their toes and she loved to shock and surprise us—including the time she asked me to close my eyes, put out my hand for a surprise, and when I opened my eyes---behold! It was a spider! Yeah, those were good times!

We sometimes fought like siblings do. Some of those fights resembled a Junior WWF match. But Heaven forbid anyone else hurt one or the other of us. I remember a time when she was being bullied at school in the first grade. I yelled at the kids who were being mean to her and threatened them of what would happen if they touched her (since I felt invincible at a whole two years older than her). I recall saying something along the lines of, “No one can hit her but me!” To which Melanie yelled out, “yeah!” Then realizing what she’d just agreed to, she turned to me, shaking her head a little, “what?”



She had my back too. And in those times in our lives where we were both scared or hurt, we knew we could count on each other to be there. Life took us different directions, as we reacted differently to the trials of our lives. But our love for each other never changed, even as we changed in our adulthood.

When our father died, she never really got over that. She was always Daddy’s girl and I can still see her as a little girl, playing that song by Red Sovine over and over again. She would sing along to the chorus, “Daddy’s girl, Daddy’s girl, I’m the center of Daddy’s world….” She tried to find and hold on to the things that reminded her of him. She was ecstatic when she got into contact with his two older children, Kristy and Ron. Family really was important to her.



What you saw when you looked at Melanie was a woman with several tattoos, piercings (when she had them in) and extremely curly—sometimes frizzy hair (compliments of our beautiful mother). Sometimes it was even streaked with her favorite color, purple—it all depended on her mood at the time. She was unconventional and liked to dress to please herself, whether that be a comfortable pair of sweats, Betty Boop pajamas while shopping at Walmart, a costume for a Harry Potter party or some crazy Goth get-up. She even had a favorite cape she would put on for special occasions. She just didn't care what people thought.


What you didn't see when you looked at her, unless you took the time to get to know her: She was extremely generous. She'd give you the clothes off her back—literally. And the amazing thing about her generosity is that she didn't expect anything in return. She loved unconditionally, and I’m not saying that just because it sounds good. It didn’t matter what you did, once she loved you, it was forever. She forgave, even when someone did what most would consider unforgivable, and she didn't hold a grudge either. I've never known anyone who did that as freely as her. Never. And I'm sure I never will again.

She was there for whoever needed her, and did whatever was necessary to get to the place she felt most needed. She stayed with me in the hospital after my first daughter was born, because I was afraid to be alone and my husband needed to be home with our son. And if you’ve slept in a hospital sofa-bed, you know that night she spent there with me was not a comfortable one. But she never complained to me about it. She seemed happy to be there and was the perfect loving aunt.

Melanie loved her animals like they were her children, even more so when she learned she would never have any kids of her own. She sobbed when she lost one of her beloved pets and even asked to bury her oldest companion in my backyard because while her housing status was often up in the air, she knew we were planning to stay put and she wanted her Cocoa Baby to be where she could visit. She would let herself be homeless rather than go to a place that she couldn’t take her pets with her. Chicko and Princess had a wonderful mother in Melanie.

She loved my children like they were her children, and just a few days before she died, she was the only one who thought to call my 3 year old to personally wish her a Happy Birthday. And my kids love her too. Aunt Melanie is the “cool one,” or the “fun one.” She’d come over just to introduce them to a new game.

I had to be extra careful about telling her anything my kids liked or were interested in, because she would take money she didn't have to spare and spend it on something she knew they would enjoy. She did the same thing for me. I would scold her for it, but it never did any good because she'd just do it again anyway. It was her way of telling us she loved us. Truly, thinking back on her life over the years, I’d say the only person she could have shown more love to was herself.

While I like to think I know a lot about my sister, there were things about her I didn’t know until recently. I didn’t know she kept meticulous notes on just about anything-whether that be a household to-do list, a grocery list, things she wanted to remember to tell someone or, even, as I found out when going through her things this past week, a list of scriptures to look up, learn more about, or determine the meaning of. I didn’t know she kept a journal, or that she kept a book of sayings to read everyday with her husband. I didn’t know she’d talked about what she wanted done with certain things when she died. I didn’t think to ask her those things because I thought we still had time.

I guess I’ll have to wait until after this life to learn more. I don't know how I'm going to do without her. Thirty-two years was not enough. Not nearly enough. But I'm so glad I got to have her as my sister. She’s no longer in pain and that’s a good thing. She’s with our Heavenly Father and with Daddy. I have no doubt he was there to greet her when she to passed to the other side. So rest in peace, Baby Sister. We’ll be a forever family and I’ll see you again someday.

My Sister's Obituary

Melanie and Mike the day they were married.
I thought about posting the link to my sister's obituary before, but decided I would just cut and paste it here instead when I felt ready. It was changed by someone before it was published. I wasn't happy about those changes, though they were minor and no one would have known but Melanie and her husband.

What were the changes? Spelling. I'm the first to admit that I'm not always perfect at catching my mistakes when writing something, but two of the changes made were not mistakes.

My sister was given a nickname by her husband that she really liked. It made her feel special, which she totally was. He called her Sweetpea. They spelled it as one word and she even made a profile on Facebook with it spelled that way. So I honored that when writing about her, because it belonged to her.

The other change was what bothered me most, though I got over it. They changed the spelling of her dog's name. The reason that most bothered me is because I have a memory of Melanie attached to this. The proper spelling to the common world for her little Chihuahua is "Chico." When she stayed with us for a while about a year ago, I saw his dog tag. Knowing what his name was, I laughed and said, "Mel, did you know that you've got his name spelled wrong? It says 'Chicko' here." She got a bit defensive, and said it didn't matter how it was spelled to other people. She knew his name and it was the way it was supposed to be. I couldn't argue with that. Look at how people change the spellings for names and other things all the time to suit themselves.

To confirm though, I asked her husband before writing her obituary how he wanted me to spell their little one's name. He confirmed what I already suspected. So that's the way I did it. It got changed. Honestly, during those days leading up to the funeral I was probably looking for a fight to let off some of the steam I had brewing in me. Thank heavens I didn't let it loose though. I'd have regretted it, especially since the targets would have been those who did the most to help during this extremely difficult time.

So here it is:

Melanie Sue Anderson Adams, 32, of Logan, passed away unexpectedly in her sleep on July 20, 2013. She was born in Brigham City, Utah on June 7, 1981 to Julie Ann Vasquez (living) and Ron Alvin Anderson (deceased). She was married to Michael Jeffery Adams (living) on August 2, 2008 in Logan.
Melanie, known fondly as “Sweatpea,” enjoyed playing video games, reading, spending time with those she loved and writing poetry, which she hoped to one day see published in a book. She had a big, beautiful and generous heart and would give her last dollar, even if it meant she went without.  She didn't expect anything in return. She loved unconditionally, in every sense of what that word means.
Before her passing Melanie was working on getting her high school diploma and also preparing to go to the temple with her husband to be sealed for time and eternity.
Melanie was preceded in death by her step-father, DeVerl Anderson; her grandmother, Artheta Anderson; grandfather, Vern Anderson and great-grandmother, Nellie Campbell.
She is survived by her sisters, Nellie (Tony) Butler and Kristy Anderson; her brother, Ron Alvin Anderson, Jr; her grandmother Judith Vasquez and several nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins. Also surviving are her two dogs, Chicko and Princess, whom she loved like they were her children.

Anyway, Melanie knows that I honored her wishes and did it the way she would have done, and I told her husband the original way I had it too. That's all that matters. For those who want to see her tribute wall, here's the link: Melanie Sue Adams Obituary