the story teller

by jani on March 20, 2013

As a grandma, there aren’t too many more satisfying moments than story telling with your grandchildren. I love to tell stories. Each quiet moment spent with my adorable grandchildren, becomes yet another opportunity to share experiences through oral language. It’s just a part of me. I listened to my grandma’s stories – and still never tire of my mom’s. She always has something… some bit of wisdom,  to pass on to me. And, I in turn, I hope to do the same with my little ones.

A few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to play (babysit is such an inadequate word!) six of my grandsons. We had such a wonderful time together – but the best memory is snuggling up in the big king-sized bed surrounded by these darling boys and sharing our love, and of course, stories!

My son and daughter-in-law brought back this small treasure from their trip to Santa Fe. They told me it reminded them of me. They could envision me surrounded by my fourteen (and I’m sure that number will increase) grandchildren telling stories as the Native Puebloans have done, from generation to generation. I was so touched that I wanted to share this with my readers.

story 8

How could I not enjoy this lovely family and their handsome boys?… my wonderful grandsons!

chris family 1Isn’t this such a great tradition of the Puebloan culture – gathering their children around the elders as they share the same stories that they had heard from their youngest years? This is such an important way to preserve our heritage!

Story Collage 2

The  timing of this just seems so perfect, as I am anxiously anticipating this week’s Story @ Home 2013 conference in Salt Lake City. A very special thank you to Oh Sweet Basil for offering this conference giveaway, that I was lucky enough to win! I look forward to sharing many of the things I will learn with my family, loved ones – and you, my readers!

What are your favorite ways to share your stories with your children and grandchildren? Do you always try to include some moral principle or educating moment, as you share? As always, I welcome your comments! 


is it really 2013?!

by jani on January 4, 2013

I know it is – we welcomed in 2013 with a great New Year’s Eve party at our son’s home. I’m all about welcoming in the new and ushering out the old. However, since I’m still looking at, and I might add enjoying, my Christmas decor while everyone else is busying themselves taking it all down and wrapping last year up in a bow, I’d like to take a very short visit back to some of my favorite posts from 2012.

A few of my favorite recipes… they were all fun to make, great to eat, and awesome to post about!

puff pastry

grilled avacodos

fourth of july fruit pizza

grilled peaches

fig and cheese crostini

roasted chile mushroom soup

pear apple butternut soup

sausage pine nut dressing

maple pecan baked yams


Food Collage 1

A few of my fashion, travel and family favorite posts –

fash, trav and fam  Collage

It’s hard to believe that I’ve only been publishing my blog since the middle of May. I love all the aspects of the blogging world and  feel fortunate to be able to contribute my small part! So with this brief look back… here’s to a better year than last for everyone!

If there are a few of these posts that don’t look familiar, I would love to have you go back and read through my blog. I’m grateful to you, my readers, and pray your new year is joyous! 


optic nerve hypoplasia, miracles and gratitude

by jani on November 21, 2012

What do you do when one of your baby twin daughters just doesn’t appear to see you? Or if she does, her eyes go way up, leaving quite a bit of white underneath. I knew when our girls were three weeks old that something was wrong with our firstborn twin. She just never seemed to be able to focus on me, while her twin was spitting bubbles and trying to smile and coo as she looked directly on my face. Yes, there was a definite difference between the two. I made the appointment with our babies’ doctor. He couldn’t see anything wrong, but he took my word for it (don’t you just love doctors that will really listen to the mom?)  He made the call to the number one pediatric opthalmologist in Utah to set up a consult.

I’ll never forget that day… walking in with our one little baby girl, feeling more than a bit concerned. After the doctor checked her, he said, “She has optic nerve hypoplasia.” I asked,”Well, does that mean she’ll need to wear glasses throughout her life?” The doctor’s reply (I’ll never forget what he said to me next), “Don’t be so vain, Mother! Your daughter has  irreversible damage to her optic nerve, which took place sometime during your first trimester”.

My head was beginning to spin. He handed me a card with the contact information for the Utah School for the Deaf and the Blind.  I needed to contact them; they would help our family adjust.

I was numb. I didn’t start crying (more like sobbing),  until I was far away from this doctor’s office. But I did pour out my heart to my sweet HB the whole way home. What would you do? Make the call to the school the next morning? Not me. It took me two weeks to face the reality and build up my nerve. But I finally made the call. A therapist from the school was just a marvelous and compassionate woman. She scheduled a visit to our home, requesting that our entire family be present. She explained the partial blindness in terms that we could all understand and then had each of us try on a pair of goggles that looked like we were looking through Swiss cheese. She explained that with our daughter – their baby sister –  she had found her clear sight of vision  through looking up… that her irises would always be positioned on the upper part of her eyes with the lower half of her eyes completely white. She then went on to explain that our daughter would likely be unable to drive and that her life would be altered because of her disability.  But they would send a therapist to our home weekly until she was old enough to attend their school.

This is a photo of our twins, one of whom was focusing normally. It’s apparent which one had the dark, blank stare and partial blindness.

What would you do? Pray for a miracle? I’ve seen miracles throughout my life… but this? Was it asking too much from God to heal our baby girl? I don’t know why some receive the answered miracle they seek, while others don’t. It’s certainly not from lack of faith. Why did I have four miscarriages? Why do bad things happen to good people and vice versa? I don’t have the answers to all these questions. What I do know is we desired and prayed for a blessing –  a miracle – and in our daughter’s case we received one.

I remember that second visit back to the opthalmologist as he said, “I don’t know how to explain this! She doesn’t appear to have optic nerve hypoplasia. But, that’s impossible!”. Our reply was simply, “No it’s not, Doctor –  because she received a blessing from God!”

Our daughter has beautiful doe-like eyes with lashes that touch her eyebrows. They have always been filled with a sparkle and joy every time she smiles!

So in this month of November, when we all express our gratitude for the blessings we receive, this miracle is right up there at the top! Our daughter is now a grown, married woman. This experience has helped me to see… really see – the beauty that surrounds me in my daily life just a little bit differently, so often thinking back on those moments and realizing the marvelous wonder of the gift of sight!

This Thanksgiving what will you be adding to you list of thanks? Mine is well past 100…how about your list?


my “movember” mustache story

by jani on October 24, 2012

The month of November has so many symbolic meanings. Each Veteran’s Day we celebrate those brave men and women who have fought for our country… we remember to be thankful throughout the month, sometimes adding a daily grateful Facebook post each day of  that month. This usually culminates in the wonderful Thanksgiving feast that we celebrate with our family and loved ones.

For me, when I think of November, I think of Movember – I think of Steve. So before I begin my story, I’m going to ask each person that reads this post to do one very important thing: Women, ask all the young men in your life (ages 16-40) to please check their testicles for anything unusual… a lump, swelling, inflammation, any of which could be symptomatic of cancer! Does saying this make you feel uncomfortable? It shouldn’t be any less uncomfortable than when we ask women to check their breasts for signs of cancer!

Steve and I were married in 1975 in Kailua-Kona’s Mokuaikawa Church on the Big Island of Hawaii. I love this photo of our intimate wedding. My sister is holding her little boy and my mom is holding my eldest son, Chris. Please note Steve’s beautiful red hair – and especially that full red mustache… he was always proud of that “mo”!

Steve was a strong guy, physically fit. He loved to play baseball – was in fact a high school all-star pitcher for California, until he blew his elbow out in his senior year. Sadly, along the way he sustained multiple groin injuries through the course of his amateur playing career – but throughout his life he continued to play every chance he could get. On our domestic front, Steve was a superb salad maker. He made an incredible chef salad!

Jump forward to 1979. My life was great;  I had a darling little family with three boys, and on December 15th of that year, we had a beautiful baby girl. But just five months later we received the news that Steve had testicular cancer – chorio carcinoma. The doctors gave him two months to live, yet Steve fought this horrible disease for two horrific years. My mother often watched our children while he received chemo treatment.  We wanted to keep our lives as normal as possible – we took our kids to Disneyland. Steve had lost all his hair by then, but I found a few pictures from an earlier trip before  he’d gone bald. We still celebrated all our holidays and tried to make memories, tough as it was, because Steve was in and out of the hospital throughout those two years.

Steve slipped gently away from us to his home in heaven on April 1, 1982. It would be several years before we could celebrate April Fool’s Day. In his final hours he was so frail and weak – but he never gave up his fight. He wanted to live for his family. He was only thirty years old. As Steve died quietly in our bed, it was noticeable how much weight and body hair he had lost. But there was one part of his body where he still had hair… his beautiful red mo… he never lost that mustache… even in death.

This is our family just a few weeks after Steve’s passing as we tried to celebrate Easter with his parents. You can pretty much see the anguish on our faces. Our smiles are just not quite there.

So you can see that, for me, Movember and growing mustaches to raise money for men’s health, specifically prostate and testicular cancer awareness,  is so much more than who can grow the greatest mustache (personally I think my third eldest son, Jordan, has the best one!)… it is about how much we educate all the men in our lives and help to stop the spread of this dreadful disease.

Please if you can donate to this great cause – do. If you can’t, educate yourselves to the dangers of this disease. In today’s world, Steve would probably have lived, but the key is early detection. Look for swelling or inflammation, and if there is any doubt, see your doctor. And then join this campaign!

Note: A year after Steve died, I met my wonderful HB, who has been an incredible dad and husband these last almost thirty years. We even added a son and twin daughters to our family. I’m so very in love with HB, but it doesn’t take away the memories of those tragic moments in the lives of my children and me.