Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Written For Our Day


Our family recently finished reading this book. It is not the first time and it won't be the last, but I think it was one of my favorite. Our 16 year old challenged us to finish it, as a family, before school ended; that meant that we would need to read 11 pages a day for about two weeks. We DID it and  finished it the day before school ended! Thanks for the challenge Britta! It is my favorite book. It brings me peace, solace and a greater understanding of what I am supposed to be doing with my life. If you would like to know more, you can check it out here:
Once you are there, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and with one click of the button, you can get your very own copy for FREE.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

We are missionaries!

by Pat

Mother’s Day, June 11, we spoke in our ward sacrament meeting.  Monday we began our week at the MTC.  We were there from about 8 (except Monday was 10) until 4:30.  Our instruction and experience was fun, enlightening, motivating, and inspiring.  The young teachers were so prepared, engaging, capable, respectful, helpful, encouraging—I was in awe of their abilities and spirit.  Our role play in the teaching resource center was such an opportunity to discover our strengths and weakness, how we work as a companionship, how the Spirit testifies of truth even when we’re pretending—powerful!  We are so grateful for the privilege of being trained at the MTC.
The past two weeks have provided about 12 additional hours of our-mission-specific instruction.  Our mission president has assigned a senior couple to be his assistants over the senior missionaries.  Once we’re all called and in place, there will be about 330 of us serving in the 165 stakes in our mission—what a bunch of old loose cannons. :)  We have also had our first zone conference and first district meeting.  Last week we had a personal interview with the mission president but don’t expect to have one again.  He’s pretty busy with 260 young missionaries, so we will have quarterly interviews with his assistant.  We’ve turned in 2 weekly reports and written 2 letters to the assistant—so you know we really are missionaries.

We do, however, get our marching orders from our stake president, so we’ve met with his presidency, the stake high councilor over missionary work, the young elders who serve in our stake (and 2 others), and the stake clerk—now our best friend, who has supplied us with all kinds of lists and maps and charts and statistics so we can be familiar with the 11 wards and their leaders.  We’ve attended 7 sacrament meetings, spoken in 1, attended 2 missionary coordination meetings, and have our Sundays full of attending and speaking for the rest of the month.

And…we have actually met a few times with a non-member and twice with a young prospective elder.  We’ve made some visits as prompted and truly love it when the Spirit speaks.  

With all this Merlin has not felt well for 2 weeks and has been downright sick a couple days, today being one of them.  He has bronchitis and might have another 2 weeks before it’s gone.  We’re finding it’s really hard for the companionship when one of us is down, but we’re trusting that the promised renewal of his body will kick in here soon after he endures the trial.

Speaking of—we have not yet resolved our business issues completely but have done what we can and now trust the Lord and His timing.  Merlin is not completely free and that is disappointing and stressful, but how would he function without stress?!  Actually, I’m ready to see, and we’re confident things will work out one way or another soon.

We know it’s our time and place to serve, and we’ve been blessed that we’ll be able to do some amazing things.  Our stake president has incredible vision, and we’re trying to see what he sees.  We are really loving the work and are energized by it.  We invite you all to be member missionaries.  It’s always been our call, but now we’re all part of this exciting hastening.  We testify that as we prayerfully ask, we will be led to make this who we are and what we are about every day—our new way of life until the Savior comes.  And Elder Fish and I promise that there is power and protection and happiness in this work that we each need and will enjoy in our families and in our individual lives.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Merlin and Pat have changed their names to Elder and Sister Fish for the next 22 1/2 months. Yesterday, Sister Fish/grandma Pat, asked Sydney what she was going to do tomorrow (today) to "hasten the work". We decided that we would post something on the blog.

This is Sydney's quote that she chose to share today:

Wherever you live, any place in the world, you have access to the missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are a wonderful resources for service and answers to questions about who we are, where we came from and what happens after we die.

And here is mine, it was given by a president of our church:
“I have considered that it has been my mission, having been so impressed, I think, by the Spirit of the Lord in my travels in the stakes of Zion, to say unto the people that now is the day of repentance and to call upon the Latter-day Saints to remember their covenants, the promises they have made with the Lord, to keep his commandments, and follow the teachings and the instructions of the elders of Israel—the prophets of God—as they have been recorded in these holy scriptures. In all things we should walk humbly and circumspectly before the Lord that we might be blessed and guided by his Holy Spirit. I think this is the day of warning. It has been a time of warning from the day when the prophet first received the manifestation from the heavens that the gospel was to be restored.”3 Joseph Fielding Smith

My parents get to teach people about Jesus Christ and His church and His role as our Savior and Redeemer for just about 2 years, full time. It's awesome!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

How I feel about sharing the title of "Griffin's mom" — thoughts on open adoption

by candace

As I woke up on the morning of Griffin's first birthday I felt a little like something was missing. I let my thoughts wonder to the year before, the events of that Sunday morning in Arizona. As I reflected I thought about how Heidi must have felt as she was wheeled into a c-section that she had informed me she wanted to avoid if at all possible, how she felt as she watched a nurse comb griffins hair into a little Mohawk while she was still in recovery, and how she felt as Dave and I walked into her room to take this perfect, beautiful baby from her life. 

Within days of finding out that we couldn't have children I was filling out adoption paperwork. I knew that I had to do my part, and do it quickly. Suddenly we had to decide if we wanted to choose if we had a boy or girl first, if we were cool enough to raise children that we a different race than we were, if we were willing to take on the complications of a fetal alcohol baby, if we wanted to have an open adoption. We didn't know much about open adoptions. I remember the case worker encouraging us in that direction. "It's just more people to love the child." Little did I know how profound that statement would become.

Heidi first contacted us in May and told us she was due with a boy in early September. We were reeling with questions but didn't really know when or how to ask so we moved forward with our communication cautiously. One morning in June as I was running out the door to be a leader at our youth camp I decided to check my email before I left. There was an email from Heidi telling us that she wanted us to be the parents of her unborn child.
There we were, in late July, knocking on the door of Heidi's parents' home. Two hours later we left feeling full. Full of love. They became family that day. They already loved that baby so much that they were willing to place him with a couple that they knew were his parents. I was blown away by their surety. In the middle of the conversation Heidi interrupts, "He keeps moving when you talk...come feel!"  They genuinely cared about us and they made it so easy for us to love them.

Over the next several weeks I learned so much about love and family from that wonderful family. They loved and supported Heidi and they loved and supported us. In the hospital room that Sunday Griffin was born there was no doubt that he was so lucky to have so many people to love him...from all three sides of his family.
As the excitement of Griffin's first birthday progressed throughout the day I knew exactly what was missing. Heidi. I supposed that this birthday brought more pain than joy for her. I wanted her in my home, standing next to me, feeling what I was feeling. I wanted his smiles to brings smiles to her face. I wanted her to laugh as he hesitantly played with his chocolate cake and ate his birthday presents. I wanted this day to be a day of joy for her.
Each year on his birthday I find myself feeling the same way and each year my hope is that some of that pain is replaced with joy. I hope that all of that pain is replaced with joy. Because she did something incredible. And will always be family. She is his birth mom. And always will be. And we love her for it.

Happy Birth Mother's Day Heidi!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday dinner minus pot roast, mashed potatoes, and gravy

For the past couple weeks Merlin, his sister Kim, Kevin, and I have been eating a ton more veggies and fruits, hardly any processed foods and dairy, and no cookies.  We are learning a lot and coming up with some decent menus.  Our systems (some more delicate than others) are adjusting quite well, and we have all been surprised that we have been able to make some significant changes in our diet.  Tonight's meal was especially colorful and appetizing.  The menu included asparagus spritzed with Balsamic vinegar, Luana's sun-dried tomato pasta salad (whole wheat pasta), grapes, and nectarines. (Yes, the text is red to match the plates.)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Your new food guide pyramid

by candace

From Joel Fuhrman's Eat for Health book

Sweet Potato Recipe

by candace

Again, from Joel Fuhrman's Eat for Health book

Made this tonight and it was tasty. I think the kids would like it too.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Healthy Dinner

by candace

Dinner was pretty successful tonight so I thought I'd share:

(Both of these are from Joel Fuhrman's Eat for Health book)

Cranberry Roasted Brussel Sprouts — these are really good!

Cut off ends of 3 c Brussels sprouts and cut them in half

Combine with 1/4 c coconut oil (I used 1/8 c and think you could omit it all together) and 1/4 c organic pure maple syrup and sea salt to taste. Place in casserole dish and roast in oven at 350F for 20-30 minutes until slightly browned. Add 1/4 c cranberries the last 5 minutes and serve hot!

(Recipe from Graci...don't know where she got it)

Monday, July 29, 2013


by candace

So here are some of my smoothie recipes/tips...
Always start with water (1-2 cups) and then fill your blender with greens...the more the better. Mix that up then start adding fruit.
In my opinion, every smoothie is better with banana. Then I either add some apple or some orange, then I add the fruit that I want to be the main flavor.

Protein is optional. Dave was feeling like he needed more protein so he now adds it to his smoothies. We buy the Garden of Life Raw Vegan Protein. Looks like this:


There are comparable ones...this was the cheapest last time I bought it so that's why I went with this one. I think Stef said Green Smoothie Girl sells in bulk in the fall and it's much cheaper so maybe that's a good option.
We usually add Chia seeds and Flaxseeds to our smoothies...about 1 tablespoon of each per serving.

Water and greens
1/2 frozen banana
1/3 to 1/2 apple
Blueberries—not too many
Lots of frozen mangos—maybe a cup
(Protein, flaxseeds, chia seeds)

CHOCOLATE MINT SMOOTHIE (from Stef) — love this one, it's like dessert
1/2 cup coconut milk (or almond, flax, etc)  —  Candace uses Almond
2 spoonfuls of avocado 
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/2 cup or more of spinach
2 packed tsp of mint leaves
2-3 drops peppermint oil
1/2 banana
8 ice cubes
Blend well then add 2 tsp cacao nibs and briefly blend

Water and greens
1 banana
1.5ish cups of frozen mixed berries
1 T lime juice
(Protein and seeds)

Water and greens
1/2 - 1 banana
Some apple or orange
1-2 cups of the Festival Blend mix from Costco (Papaya, Mango, Pineapple, Strawberries)
(Protein and seeds)

These last two are nothing special—just trying to show you some of the things I've tried that have been good. They are not quite as good as the mango one above. We love mango in our smoothies so we use them a lot. I don't love the smoothies as much when I dump a bunch of random fruit in. I like them more when one flavor is stronger. And if you've made a smoothie and you don't love it add more banana. That usually helps.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Delayed Carving

by Marci

Even as The Soldier ran dozens of errands while packing for deployment, we could not remember to have him purchase pumpkins to carve for Halloween.  So, as I drove our kids home from dropping him off I stopped at a fall harvest stand on the side of the highway.  I hoped to calm (or at least distract) some devastated children, two of whom were screaming, "I don't like the Army.  I wish Dad would just quit his job!" It worked quickly, as each started pointing out what he or she thought was the largest pumpkin.  I chose a Cinderella gourdish one.

For family home evening last night, we finally carved the pumpkins.  The kids seemed just as excited as if we would have pulled it off in time for Halloween.  Our method (which I remember from my dad) includes cutting out the top, carving out the guts, designing the face on a scratch paper, cutting out the paper design, and lightly straight pinning it to the pumpkin for a successful cut out.  Before I could blink my oldest had dozens of straight pins punched through the paper and "hammered" all the way through the thickness of the pumpkin.  Wish I had a picture of that.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hi Dad

by Marci

Our new primary communication.  It's already a fight to get it away from her OR to convince her that not every ring means The Soldier is calling.

New Items for Sale!

Hi family and friends!

We've been working hard to get more items on our website this year so go check it out:


There are Christmas cards and great Christmas gifts.

I'm excited to announce that this year we are having a special on our website until December 31, 2012—

100% of the proceeds from the sale of The Gathering of Friends cookbooks,

of the profits from the sale of Christmas cards and word art by Candace,

and 25% of the profits from the sale of calligraphy by Julia

will be donated to benefit Natalie & Alice Fish

Read their story at fishesformarrowwishes.blogspot.com

Want to help but don't want to buy anything?

Feel free to send this email on to your friends or pin some of our items on your Pinterest boards so we can get the word out.

One more thing...we always love custom work so if you want something and don't see it on our website let us know!

THANKS and Merry Christmas!
candace & julia & maggie

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

And "Kri" We Did

by Marci

The Soldier left today to Ft Dix for training prior to his 9-month deployment to the Horn of Africa.

Packing for 10+ months in 3 bags is a little tricky.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Northeastern Leaves

by Marci

For each extended training or deployment, The Soldier has asked me to make him a quilt. This time he scoured Google images for a pattern that would remind him of home.  The colorful New England fall was in full swing, and we were beginning the annual process of leaf blowing, so it seemed fitting that he found this pattern.

The Soldier helped choose the fabrics, then I worked on it diligently for about three weeks (between outdoor leaf blowing and periods of household catch up).  I even worked on it during our three-day, no-child Cape Cod getaway.

(I must insert here that he gave me very strict instructions that I could only work on the quilt when I had love in my heart for him, so that would transfer to the finished product.)

I took a week break...huhah!--not for lack of lovey feelings--then finished the tag on the back, just in time to take it to the machine quilter.

Planning and sewing in my formal dining room.  
Does anyone in my phase of life actually use a formal dining room for formal dining? 

The Soldier's Insanity workout while I completed leaf row #8 of 11 at 
a friend's cottage in Cape Cod.

 I've hardly bordered any quilt and was surprised how long it took to 
center the seams and make the corners just right.  I should have planned better 
before I jumped into it.  Typical.

Somehow this dear couple agreed to long-arm quilt this for me in a 24-hour period.  And when they discovered the quilt's purpose, they upgraded the design and refused to take a cent for payment.  An unforgettable gift from strangers.  I still get a little weepy thinking of their kindness.

They delivered the quilt, and I finished the binding within 14 hours of The Soldier's leaving. Plenty of time, right?

Check out the variegated thread.

Silly that I didn't even see the pattern in this flannel to match the center seam
until someone held it up for me.  A lesson in working too quickly
and looking too closely.

When I saw the scrap in my stash, I just had to add the rooster, hen, and four chicks 
to represent our family.  Big D is still bothered that his place is as a chick 
and not the rooster.

The quilters insisted that the quilt have a name for their records.  The Soldier decided on "Northeastern Leaves." Not much of that where he's going.

Saturday, November 3, 2012