Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Let's Go Camping

 Going camping always makes me question my sanity.

Let's pack up so much stuff we have to attach a rack to our trailer hitch and put a cargo carrier on top of the car just to hold everything, and leave our strong, sturdy home for a windblown tarp in the wilderness. 

We'll forgo our comfortable beds for air mattresses that have a 90% chance of going flat during the night. 

We won't shower for days and the kids will use up all my baby wipes cleaning their filthy feet. 

We'll do our business in a stinky outhouse that has peeping chipmunks lurking inside. 

The kids will be cranky from lack of sleep and will spend all day alternating between shrieking with playful fun and sobbing that one of their siblings has wronged them. 

It will take half a day to unpack our stuff and settle into our campsite. And then once we're really comfortable, we'll pack it all up again and go home. 

No wonder my parents never took us camping. 

But somehow, like a truly insane person, I keep doing it. I tell Mr. Brown Eyes, "Let's go camping," like it's the easiest form of vacation, involving very little planning or preparation. 

Maybe someday I'll learn. 

But I kind of hope that I don't. 

Because there is something about being in the clear, cool air, the quiet so loud it resounds in your ears, looking up at a breathtaking spangle of stars, that will send me camping again and again, no matter the hassle. 

Somehow the bad parts always seem to fade to the back of our minds, and all we remember is that camping is beautiful and fun, and let's go all the time. 

Ok, maybe not ALL the time.

I do love sleeping in my bed. 

Happy Camping, 

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Really Big Trees

 Who knew trees could be so fascinating?

I have seen pictures from the Redwood Forest, as I'm sure most people have, and I would usually shrug and think, "Yeah, those are some really big trees."

But seeing them in real life was unreal. Pictures don't do them justice, words seem insufficient. They ARE really big trees, and they are AMAZING. 

We actually stopped first at Sequoia National park, where the species of Redwoods known as Giant Sequoias reside. They are shorter than the coastal Redwoods but much wider. More rotund? I'm not sure what the right word is in tree-speak. 

But both species of Redwood were breath-taking and made us feel like tiny human beings. Insignificant creatures that only live for maybe a hundred years, while some of these trees have loomed for thousands.

As we cruised the winding mountain road, the first Sequoia that loomed over us made me feel like we were in a forest of giants. Like something out of a fairy tale. 

General Sherman, the largest tree on earth in terms of volume, gave us a glimpse of what mice must feel like with us towering over them. 

I just don't have words. 

Ok, maybe I have some words. 

I think maybe sometimes I treat other people's problems like really big trees--something I brush off because I don't really understand. I know I probably won't ever step into those problems and experience them firsthand like I did the trees, but maybe I can learn, and we all can, that we all experience mortal life differently. Maybe I can learn that what might just seem like a big tree to me is real and immense to someone else, and I can have a little more sympathy and compassion. 

And I learned that some things in life are just beyond description. 

Really Big Tree Lover,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, July 5, 2021


My mom was the kind of person who didn't like to go to the doctor. 

She hardly ever got sick, so it never seemed to matter. 

Except when she really was sick. Really sick. But she brushed it aside as nothing because she didn't want to go to the doctor. 

Months later, even she couldn't ignore her pain anymore, and she was admitted to the hospital. The doctors there discovered she had a massive tumor blocking the duct to her gall bladder. The cancer had spread throughout her body, causing other complications, including blood clots.

I imagine by that time her pain was excruciating. She was put on a pretty high dose of pain meds. Treatment for the cancer was discussed, but it was so far advanced there wasn't much they could do. 

I think by that time Mom knew her life was nearing its end. 

I spent as much time with her in the hospital as I could, and in the beginning, when she was coherent, we talked about everything. One day we got on the topic of my kids, and how sometimes I just had a hard time being nice and not yelling when they were driving me crazy. 

"You should make a poster," Mom told me, "that says 'Kindness begins with me.' And put it somewhere where you see it all the time."

She went on to tell me that "Kindness begins with me" had become her motto in the hospital, that she tried to remind herself of it when dealing with the nurses and doctors constantly bombarding her, running tests, taking blood, giving medication. 

Those words are a testament to how amazing my mother is. There in that hospital bed, during her last days on earth, her broken body wracked with pain, she thought of other people. Not herself. One might say she had every right to rage at the nurses if she wanted to. But she didn't. She considered their feelings. She made them laugh. She was kind to her very last moments. 

I haven't made that poster yet, but when I feel my patience thinning, the words "kindness begins with me" resound in my mind.

I have a long way to go, but, someday, I hope to be just like my mom. 

Be kind,

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, June 21, 2021

Summer Magic

 Who doesn't love vacation?

Ok, my mom didn't, but that's a story for another day.

I love vacations. When I was a kid, my family went on a road trip every summer. I remember being too excited to sleep the night before we left, then waking up with the sun and sleeping in the car. We'd cram in our old van (until I got older, then we rented a van every summer), drink soda and eat fast food, see new places, and visit cousins. 

I love to see that same excitement in my kids when we go on trips. And even though I don't feel grown-up enough to be the Mom--sitting up front, handing out snacks, shushing arguments, holding Mr. Brown Eyes' hand--I love that part, too. 

Sometimes Mr. Brown Eyes and I get grumpy on vacation. Late nights + long drives + wild, shrieking children = one of us, or both of us, is going to snap. And I feel so bad when it happens, like we've ruined this fun family time together and all that our children will remember of vacation is that Mom and Dad didn't let them have any fun. 

What makes me feel even worse is that I don't ever remember my parents being grumpy with us while we were on vacation, not even the time we got rear-ended in Seattle in the middle of the night. When after being awakened by the crash, I sleepily asked my dad, "Is the van dented?"

But my parents weren't perfect, and I can't imagine that we ever got through a two week vacation without some level of bad moods. What matters, though, is that I don't remember that part. What I remember of our vacations is playing on the floor of the van (no, I would never let my kids do that today), picnicking in the forest, hiking to a waterfall, laughing with my cousins until we cried. I remember the ice cold water in Lake Michigan, juicy strawberries from my grandma's garden, the wind whipping my hair as we ferried across the Puget Sound, dazzling fireworks in a summer sky.

If my parents ever lost their patience with us, the happy memories we made were enough to drown it out. 

I hope the same thing happens with my children.

I hope, thirty years from now, they look back and remember magical summers full of thunderstorms in Lockett Meadow, mangoes on the beach in Rocky Point, lush green vistas in Oregon, and lots and lots of laughter. 

And maybe a little grumpiness, too.  And an unanticipated inspection at the border. 

But mostly magic. 

Happy Summer,

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, June 7, 2021

Writing On

 What do you do when you feel discouraged? 

This whole writing thing gets me discouraged a lot. Between the fact that it's been four years since The Unicorn Hunter was released and I still don't have a sequel out, and the inadequacy I feel as a writer every time I read what real writers write, discouragement is often just part of the game. 

I usually deal with it in one of these ways:

1. Go to bed. Tired Brown-Eyed Girl + anything negative = debilitating discouragement. Usually a good night's sleep sets me straight and freshens my perspective. 

2. Curl into a ball and cry. While this does sound like the sissy's response to discouragement, a good cry every now and then is cleansing for the soul. It gets the gunk out, helps me reset, and again, freshens my perspective. 

3. Vent to Mr. Brown Eyes. Usually this one happens unintentionally. I just sit next to him to talk about our day or even to just say good night, and feelings come pouring out. Every husband's dream, right? But he is amazing in that he stops what he's doing and listens, sympathizes, and offers actual helpful solutions. He helps me look at the situation with a fresh perspective.

I'm sensing a pattern here. 

Being discouraged is a matter of perspective. That's right. It's choosing to take a negative outlook on what's going on in our lives. I can look ahead at my future as a writer and see a bleak and dreary desert, I can choose to see my writing as inferior and take my rejections personally. Or I can remember that I write because I LOVE it, not because I have to be published, and thus see the future as a road that is winding and steep, but full of spectacular views. 

If I've learned anything from being published, it's that discouragement will stalk my every step if I let it. Every bad review, every rejection, can drag me down and make me feel like writing is a waste of my time. 

I used to think discouragement meant failure. It meant things weren't going right and I should just give up. When I read the first bad review of my book, I thought my writing life was over. But it wasn't. In that case, I got a good night's sleep and the next day I knew I wanted to keep writing no matter how many people hated what I wrote.

Now I know that if I choose to give up at the first discouragement, I will never succeed. I guess that is the difference between those who succeed and those who don't. 

Of course I would be remiss in all this talk of overcoming discouragement if I left out God. In every scenario, He is a huge part in lifting me when I am down. I think some discouragement is so deep and all-encompassing that it is impossible for us to rise above it without His help. I truly believe in the power of prayer. 

However you lift your view above the clouds of discouragement, whether it's sleep, crying, venting, prayer, or something else, know that the clouds will part. 

And the view will be awesome. 

Writing on,

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, June 1, 2021


 What makes a house a home?

I lived in the same house until I was 18, and then I moved back when I finished college. A sturdy brick house built by my dad, big enough for eleven kids as long as we shared rooms, nestled on a spacious acre where we could roam and play. 

Home was messy and full of broken things that needed repair, but it was home. It was the place where I felt safe, the refuge I could return to when girls at school were mean to me, where I could be completely myself in a world where everyone only saw me as the quiet, shy one. It was where I laughed with my sisters and nestled next to my mom. Where I returned from my first date and cried over my first heartbreak.  I know the spot where my brother punched a hole in the wall, the perfect patch of sunlight in the living room, the second-story door that used to lead to nothing, the archway that everyone bashes their head on. 

I have a new home now, that I've built with Mr. Brown Eyes. It's where we have brought home all four of our babies, where we have laughed and cried and dreamed together. 

But somehow my childhood home remained "home," too. I would drop in to visit my parents several times a week, sometimes spending the night with my kids, always greeted by my mom's home-cooking. I always felt like it was still my house.

So when my dad mentioned selling it after Mom died, I almost felt like I was losing someone else I loved. 

The house is staying in the family, but soon it will hardly resemble the place I grew up. With Mom gone, it's slowly been emptied of the boxes (and I mean boxes) of things she kept--our grade school report cards, pictures, notes we wrote her--her closet full of yarn, and the smiley faces that brightened every corner. As my brother prepares to move in, the furniture is moving out, and last week my sister and I took the pictures off the walls. 

The change hurts, but I've known it was coming, and as I've prepared myself for it I have realized that the things we are getting rid of are just things. They aren't what made the house home. Even the house itself is a thing. Its four walls and leaky roof sheltered us, but what made it home were the people inside of it and who they helped me become. 

I hope my children remember their childhood home with fondness, but I also hope they remember that home is in your heart, and you can keep it with you always. 

Home Sweet Home,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, May 24, 2021

Sibling Love

Sibling love can feel so fleeting.

One minute my children are best friends, laughing with pure joy at whatever game they're playing. But in the next instant that can turn upside down, and suddenly their fun is riddled with "you're playing it wrong," "you're not the boss of me," and "I am NEVER playing with you ever again."

Little Blue-Eyed Baby is often at the heart of the kids' disagreements and ruined games. He's the baby of the family and, let's face it, the baby of the family gets away with murder. He steals toys, kicks down block towers, and generally instigates the older kids to retaliate. Which they usually do. And then he cries.

I try not to, but I often instinctively blame the older kids every time Blue-Eyed Baby cries, even when the baby is not entirely innocent. Of course this creates hard feelings, and there have been times when the older kids grumble that they wish they had never had a baby brother. 

When this happens I remember a typical morning at a park over a year ago, right before the world shut down over Covid 19. The bigger kids had a great time swinging, running in the grass, and shooting each other up into the air on the teeter-totter, while Blue-Eyed Baby, who wasn't even a year and half, toddled around after them. 

I noticed that there was a hole in the middle of the teeter-totter where a bolt was missing, but didn't think much of it. I stayed with Baby Blue Eyes while the other kids played, until my Brown-Eyed Girl, Kora, started crying that she had hurt herself. While I consoled her, the two older kids jumped onto the teeter-totter and immediately rocked it into the air.

Baby Blue Eyes started fussing. I looked over to see that his finger was stuck in the missing bolt-hole. I reached over to help him pull it out. 

And shrieked. 

The inner mechanisms of the teeter-totter had crushed my little boy's finger to the point where the tip was just barely hanging on. 

For the next several minutes I didn't pay attention to anything else as I clutched my whimpering baby to me, blood dripping on the sidewalk, and dialed 911. While the operator took what felt like an eternity to patch me through to the fire station, I staunched Baby Blue Eyes' blood with a diaper and tried not to lose it. As soon as the ambulance was on its way, I called Mr. Brown Eyes and told him to come RIGHT NOW.

Mr. Brown Eyes raced to the park from the store a couple of blocks away. He gathered Blue-Eyed Baby into his arms and rode with him in the ambulance to the hospital. 

That's when I turned to my other three children, all crying quietly on top of the jungle gym. 

At that moment, it didn't matter how many toys their baby brother had stolen from them or how unfair it was that I took his side every time he cried. Their little tear-stained faces told me how much they loved him and how worried about him they were. 

I held them close and we cried together. They said prayer after prayer that Baby Blue Eyes would be ok, and they spent the afternoon at their aunt's house making get-well cards for him. 

They were as relieved as I was when Baby Blue Eyes came home that night, freshly stitched-up and already back to his silly, spunky self. For the next two months he wore a sock on his hand to keep him from pulling his bandage off. 

I wish I could say that since that day they have treated each other with greater kindness and patience, but they're still kids. They have many years to find new things to fight about before they realize they can be each others' best friends. 

But I know, when it really comes down to it, that they care about each other. 

And as long as I remember that, their spats and arguments and "I'm never playing with you again" threats don't bother me as much.  

Sibling love outlasts all that. 

Especially when your little brother has super-powers in his finger. 

It could happen,

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, May 17, 2021

Getting Uncomfortable

There is a concept that has long been a theme in my life.  

It's this:

When I find myself getting comfortable with where I am in life, it usually means it's time to make a change. The choice is always mine. I can stay comfortable and be just fine, or I can step out of my comfort zone and discover just how much the Lord wants to bless me. 

This theme reoccurred four years ago when Mr. Brown Eyes and I were consulting as to whether I should quit my job. It was something we had talked about long before we got married. I didn't mind working and helping to pay the bills, but when it came down to working or being home with our children, I wanted to be with our children. 

Our oldest Brown-Eyed Boy was seven years old and I was still working part-time, able to be with him and his sisters more than some working moms, but I didn't feel like I could give them all my focus. I couldn't shake the nagging thought that I needed to be home with them more.

Mr. Brown Eyes agreed, but neither of us felt totally confident about how we could survive on his income alone. The firefighting job he was blessed with in this post provided for us, but it didn't pay well and the benefits weren't great. That's where my job filled in the gaps. But the more we talked about it, the more we prayed about it, the stronger we felt that quitting my job was something that needed to happen. 

It was time to get uncomfortable. 

Living on one income was immediately a struggle financially, but Mr. Brown Eyes and I learned to budget, and we always paid our tithing first, and our one income stretched much farther than we ever thought it could. Being home with our children was difficult but fulfilling. 

We actually weren't too uncomfortable at all. 

Then came another blessing--Mr. Brown Eyes decided to test for another bigger, better-paying fire department, and, after all our past disappointments, he got hired. 

Our prayers were answered. Immediate blessings for choosing to follow that prompting for me to quit. That was easy might have even crossed my mind. 

Until we realized that during his fire academy Mr. Brown Eyes would be making even less money than he had at his previous department.

We had already dipped deep into our savings to make up for my lost paycheck. We just couldn't see how we could survive another year like that. 

This is when we got uncomfortable. 

I remember that night so clearly. The panic and worry that we had made a wrong choice. Thinking, oh, if I had just worked another year. Then the late-night talks, the earnest prayers, the very clear answer--stay close to the Lord, and trust in Him--and the ensuing peace. 

My inspiration to stay close to the Lord was to keep a list posted on our kitchen wall of all our blessings. During a time when I didn't feel very blessed at all, those pages filled up quickly. I was able to recognize the Lord's hand in our lives, a Hand that was there every day, even if not in the ways I would have expected it. I grew closer to my Savior during that uncomfortable year of pinching and saving than I ever would have sitting comfortably at my desk at work. 

And now Mr. Brown Eyes is working at his dream job. 

Get uncomfortable. Throughout my life those words have terrified me and simultaneously brought the most wondrous blessings--friendships, a college education, job opportunities, learning, growth, strengthened faith. What is true for working out applies to life too--no pain, no gain. I am so grateful for a God who not only encourages us to stretch and grow, but helps and sustains us every step of the way. 

Still growing,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, May 10, 2021

The Worst Year of Our Lives

 I keep hearing people call 2020 the worst year of our lives. 

It has taken me a while to figure out why that statement bothers me so much. 

Yes, I know many people suffered during 2020. It was a year of fear and loss and struggle, magnified so many times because so many people were affected. And I don't mean to downplay that at all. 

But 2020 was not the worst year of my life.

2019 was. 

2019 was the year I lost my mom. It was the year I watched her fade from her warm, smiling self to a barely-moving figure in a hospital bed, tubes connecting her to machines that whirred and beeped. It was the year I sat by her hospice bed in the living room of my childhood home, holding her hand while she slept in a drug-induced haze. It was the year I spent nights pacing my bedroom, crying to Heavenly Father to please give me more time with her.  It was the year I saw my solid, steady, unbreakable dad break down with grief.

For my family, 2019 was the beginning of a long, lonely road of realizing what life without Mom meant. 

My heart goes out to the people who suffered in 2020, especially those who lost loved ones. But 2020 was not the only year that brought heartache and suffering to the world. It's just the year that so much of the world shared the same heartache and the same suffering. Heartache and suffering have existed since the Fall of Adam, and will continue until our Savior comes again. Just because the whole world isn't suffering, doesn't mean that someone, somewhere, isn't.

I'm not sure what point I'm trying to make with this post. Maybe just trying to let my voice be heard because for some reason I feel like if I didn't suffer in 2020 for some Covid 19-related reason, my suffering was unimportant. Because my mom died in 2019, of cancer, instead of in 2020 of Covid 19, my suffering doesn't receive presidential condolences or a monument built in its honor. But that doesn't make my suffering any less real. 

All I wanted, when I first lost my mom, was for people to talk to me about her. Loss is such an uncomfortable subject for so many people--including me, before 2019--that we often try to avoid it. But that was the last thing I wanted. I wanted to remember my mom, to live in the memories I love so much about her. I even wanted to talk about what happened to her, those last days with her. It hurt when well-meaning friends skirted around the subject altogether, as if my loss was something that could just be brushed under the rug and forgotten beneath more cheerful subjects. 

I just hope, as humans, we take a moment to see the daily suffering around us, and reach out a hand of gentleness and compassion. We never know what hurt might be hiding behind a smiling face we pass in the street. I hope it doesn't take a worldwide pandemic for us to realize that suffering is everywhere, and the littlest kindness can ease that hurt tremendously. 

The joyful part of this post is that even in our deepest suffering, our Savior can bring us incomprehensible peace. When it seems that our grief is never-ending, He can bring comfort that I don't have words to describe. That is my hope for every suffering soul, in this year and every other. 


The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, May 3, 2021

Volcano Adventures

Since posting this almost seven years ago, where I described my first visit as an adult to Mt. St. Helens, my nerdy fascination with volcanoes remains as strong as ever. 

During a recent visit to Sunset Crater in Northern Arizona, I pondered the many volcanoes I've visited since that post. 

This was our second visit to Sunset Crater and the surrounding extinct volcanoes that make up the San Francisco Peaks. 

(Look how little they were! The kids, not the mountains.)

We also froze at Crater Lake, Oregon, in the middle of June.

Mr. Brown Eyes and I hiked through a rain forest to the top of Mt. Liamuiga in St. Kitts during our ten-year anniversary cruise. 

That was definitely at my insistence. And it was amazing.


And last summer we explored the super volcano that is Yellowstone National Park. We camped in the nearby Tetons (in July) and got snowed on, but it was so worth it.


All right, so this doesn't even scratch the surface of the 1,500 potentially active volcanoes in the world, but it makes me happy. I love that every trip has been an adventure. 

But I definitely have a lot more volcanoes to see. 


Here's to more adventuring,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Bad Days

 I love this picture. 

And not just because it's of my chubby, smiley youngest child. 

I love the day this picture reminds me of. 

It was a terrible day. Mr. Brown Eyes was at work and I was cranky with the kids, getting after them over every little thing, getting so mad at my little Brown-Eyed Girl, Kora, for wetting her pants over and over again. That evening we had been invited to watch my niece play volleyball at a nearby school, and of course the kids made us late and I was crankier than ever. 

After the game the kids talked me into letting them play on the playground, but then Kora wet her pants again and I was DONE. I stormed into the bathroom with her, part of me raging that this was it, I was going to cut their playground fun short and blame it on Kora. "It's the only way she'll learn," I told myself. 

But, thankfully, another, quieter voice whispered, "Let her play. You guys need this."

This picture reminds me how grateful I am that I listened to that quieter, kinder voice. 

We played at the playground for another hour, the kids running and laughing, the baby crawling everywhere and discovering sand for the first time. My bitter, cranky heart softened and I remembered how joyful I am to be the mother of these sweet children. 

This picture reminds me that every bad (week, month, year) day comes to an end, and then we appreciate the joy and peace of our good days so much more. 

I am trying to listen to that kinder, quieter voice, also known as the Holy Ghost, more often. 

It makes for way more good days. 

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Mama Hen

 One year ago, we bought six little chicks for the kids. 

We lost one to a mean dog. 

Another one grew up to be a big, mean rooster who delighted in attacking me and the kids, so we had to get rid of him. 

The remaining four have been very prolific (with a little help from our incubator), and as of a week ago, they had increased their numbers to eleven. 

Then this happened. 

One of our hens, lovingly named Fatso, hatched her first chicks without the aid of the incubator and officially became a mama. 

She started with one chick, then three, then six. There are now officially eight, though I can't seem to get a picture of all of them at one time.

She is such a devoted mama. I could stand there all day, watching her tuck her little babies under her wings, clucking lovingly at each one. 

Her mothering instincts amaze me. Her dedication to doing nothing but sitting on those eggs for three weeks, the way she's given up her days of roaming free through the yard to be cooped up with eight hyperactive, adorably obnoxious chicks. All to be a mama. 

As she settles into her nest, little cheeping balls of fluff scrambling all over her, pushing under her, jumping onto her back, I can almost hear her thinking, "What did I get myself into?"

It was the same thought I had when I brought my first child into the world.

Thank goodness there weren't eight of him! 

Hang in there, mama. It's so worth it. 

Cluck, cluck,

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Book Review: Spiritual Resilience: Leading our Children to Go and Do

Welcome to Day Two of the Blog Tour for Spiritual Resilience: Leading our Youth to Go and Do by Sharla Goettl. Today also happens to be the release day for the paperback and eBook, so happy Release Day!

I feel like we should have cupcakes. 

Instead, you can celebrate by earning free stuff like eBooks and online courses! You can enter the contest through the Rafflecopter in my sidebar, and go to www.SharlaGoettl.com for a free gift. I love free stuff. 

When my youngest daughter was just two years old, I lost her at Fry's. One second she and her siblings were right there next to me, looking at tables of books, and then I looked up and she was gone. 

Panic flooded my heart. 

We searched all around, up and down the aisles, backtracking the way we had come. Just when I thought my heart would burst with all the fear and worry building inside, a woman walked toward me, holding my daughter's tiny hand. I gathered my daughter in my arms, spouting my thanks to her rescuer, who pinned me with a haughty, judgmental look and told me she had gone all the way outside. 

As heart-rending as it is for me to think of ever losing my children, this is not my greatest fear. My greatest fear is losing my children spiritually. I fear failing as a mother, failing to teach my children to turn to their Savior for guidance and strength and help. I fear them slipping beyond my reach, choosing to cut me out of their lives, no longer speaking to me. I fear failing my children. 

I have found many resources to guide me in my motherhood, first and foremost being my Savior and His Spirit, the scriptures and the words of living prophets. But I was also fortunate to be able to read Spiritual Resilience: Leading our Youth to Go and Do. Even though I don't yet have teenage children, the counsel in this book can apply to parents with children of any age. 

Sharla's insights on teaching our children by first fortifying our own strength are empowering without being overwhelming. The whole book is designed to help parents set goals and receive their own direction for teaching their children, complete with blank pages to take notes. But she emphasizes that the revelation we need for our children does not have to be huge. In fact, one of my favorite parts of the book was her describing her experiences with small, simple guidance from the Spirit. I have experienced this same guidance with my children, sometimes receiving promptings as simple as giving my children a hug. But every followed prompting, no matter how small, empowers us and enables us to follow just a little bit easier the next time. 

Sharla points out, "It is very difficult to feel empowered through the Holy Ghost when we are constantly reminding ourselves we are not good enough. If you need reassurance on whether your efforts are acceptable for today, ask in prayer and write down the response you receive."

The Lord wants to help us in our parenting. We are good enough, mistakes and all. The Lord knows that we are imperfect, and He still entrusted us with His precious children.

Quoting some of my favorite words from President Gordon B. Hinckley, Sharla reminds us, "Please don't nag yourself with thoughts of failure. Do not set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve. Simply do what you can do, in the best way you know, and the Lord will accept of your effort."

Spiritual Resilience is a wonderful resource for any parent who desires a little more direction in helping their children become resilient, to be able to weather the storms of life and keep their faith in Jesus Christ. That is certainly what I want for my children. And Spiritual Resilience reminded me that, with heavenly help and abiding love, I don't have to fear losing my children. 

Don't forget to check out the rest of the blog tour! Here's the schedule in case you need it. 

And here's a cupcake. 


The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, April 5, 2021


I have never been a dog person.

Growing up, we always had cats. They basked in the sunshine outside our front door and curled around our ankles when we walked outside. In the spring, there was always at least one litter of brand new kittens to name and snuggle and love.

We had a few dogs growing up, one that died on my birthday and another that followed me to school and then escaped our yard again never to return. My brother's dog was a mean Keeshond who chased all my friends away.

So, you see, I've never had much luck with dogs.

When Mr. Brown Eyes first talked about getting a dog, we got a horse instead. Then talk turned to getting a puppy, which sounded like way too much work when we had our own human babies to take care of. But now and then the topic continued to come up. 

I conceded that I wanted a dog that would 1) live outdoors 2) scare unwanted strangers away and 3) go running with me. Mr. Brown Eyes wanted a dog to kill gophers. The kids just wanted a dog.

Ohana does not live outside, she usually plays with the gophers instead of killing them, and she occasionally rolls in roadkill. Otherwise, she is perfect. 

She puts up with all the kids' shenanigans. And trust me, there are a lot of them. 

Such as, 

Ohana the Reindeer:

And Gangster Ohana:

And let's not forget when the youngest Brown Eyed Girl went through her phase of never being able to go to the bathroom by herself. Lucky Ohana got to sit in the bathroom with her every time. 

Ohana is also a practically tireless running companion and she loves to come camping with us. 

She dreams of catching a deer. Or at least a squirrel. 

Oh, and she thinks all the babies are her puppies. 

The only one who doesn't love Ohana is the cat.

One afternoon Ohana rode in the car with us to pick the kids up from school. On the way home, she was enjoying sitting on top of my son's backpack, sticking her head out the window. My son decided he wanted his backpack, and as he tried to pull it out from under her, I suddenly heard a cry from the back of the car.

"Mom! Ohana jumped out the window!"

In my disbelief I glanced in the rearview mirror and there she was, standing bewildered in the middle of the road. 

I muttered a few choice words as I pulled the car onto a side street and leapt out onto the sidewalk, running full-tilt. As I ran I panicked, worrying that Ohana had been hit by a car or had run off and that we might never see her again. 

I can still remember the relief that flooded through me the moment I spotted her through the bushes, surrounded by some good Samaritans trying to find who she belonged to. And I knew the moment she saw me because her whole body shook with joy. She bolted down the sidewalk and hurled herself into my waiting arms. 

"Oh," the good Samaritans said. "She's obviously your dog."

It was then that I kind of understood the whole dog-person thing. It's kind of amazing to find an animal that can love so much. 

Even after you just accidently abandoned her in the middle of the road. 

Ohana is part of our family. She proved it last summer when, all on her own, she joined our family pictures. 

No wonder the cat doesn't like her. 

I'm still not sure I can say I'm a dog-person, but I'm definitely an our dog-person.

Still can't handle that dog breath, though,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, March 29, 2021

How to Finish What You Start

I have no idea.

The end.

No, seriously, I just found this post in my drafts and it consisted entirely of those six words. I laughed, ruefully. 

I am of the personality that leaving something unfinished--be it a novel, our remodel-in-progress dining room, or a bag of M&Ms--makes me cringe and gives me fits of anxiety. I often ensure that things are finished just for that reason. 

This neglected blog? Sky-rocketing, cringing anxiety. 

My dad used to tell me, to my utter annoyance, "If it's something you want to do, you'll make time for it."

I hate this because it's true. I've discovered that if I make up excuses not to do something, it's because, deep down, I don't want to do it. Maybe it's hard or overwhelming, or I don't know where to start.  

When I had my first cranky, needy, wonderful child, writing just fell by the wayside. There wasn't time for it. But somehow, now, with four cranky, needy, wonderful children, I'm writing more than ever. I find the time, whether it's late at night when everyone's asleep, or a handful of minutes during the day when the kids are entertained by something else. I want to write, so I make time for it. 

Maybe the trick to finishing what you start is loving what you started. Otherwise, what's the point?

I love this blog I started over TEN years ago, and even though I've taken a hiatus, I'm going to finish (or continue, whatever) what I started. 

Sticking with it,
The Brown-Eyed Girl