Thursday, December 4, 2014


Brushing my teeth at the sink, I turned away from Baby Blue Eyes for just a second. When I turned back around, she had emptied an entire box of band-aids, scattering them all over the floor.

Normally I probably would have sighed, scolded her, and told her to clean them up. But instead, I immediately knelt down beside her, held open the box, and said in a gentle voice, "Help me put them away, sweet girl."

As she smiled at me with that heart-melting, gap-toothed smile and started shoving bandaids into the box with her baby hands, I suddenly had the feeling that this is how Heavenly Father deals with us.

He sees us make messes. All kinds of messes. Sometimes horrible ones. And He doesn't roll His eyes at us and yell, "Look at that mess you made. Clean it up."

No. He kneels down next to us. Puts His arms around us. Says gently into our ears, "Let me help you."

Sometimes our efforts are clumsy. Our hands shake and falter. But He is so infinitely patient with us. He will see our efforts, take our shaking hands in His, and give us of His strength.

I am so grateful I don't have to clean up my messes alone.

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Saturday, November 15, 2014

He Will Bless Us

“Every foundation stone that is laid for a Temple, and every Temple completed according to the order the Lord has revealed for his holy Priesthood, lessens the power of Satan on the earth, and increases the power of God and Godliness, moves the heavens in mighty power in our behalf, invokes and calls down upon us the blessings of the Eternal Gods, and those who reside in their presence” (George Q. Cannon, “The Logan Temple,” Millennial Star, Nov. 12, 1877, 743).
I could go on and on about the Phoenix Temple and how I love it so much already. Helping with the open house in October was such a blessing to me and my family. I wish I could do it again. Aching feet and empty stomach included.

The last few months have been tight financially for the Brown-Eyed family. I signed up for one shift to help at the temple, but when I saw that lots and lots of shifts were still open, I thought, "Well, we don't really have the gas money to drive out there so much."

And yet.

A little voice whispered that that was inconsequential. If we made the committment to serve, we would be blessed.

So I signed Mr. Brown Eyes and myself up for four more shifts.

I can't say anything miraculous happened. Money didn't pour down from the sky. We had to fill the car up with gas multiple times. We had to take money out of our savings account to pay our bills. We even accumulated extra bills when Baby Blue Eyes had to stay in the hospital for a few days.

And yet.

We had everything we needed. We didn't go hungry. Our children were happy. Baby Blue Eyes quickly recovered from her bronchiolitis. In the middle of all our stress, we felt peace.

If that's not a miracle, I don't know what is.

Already, before it's even dedicated, the Phoenix Temple symbolizes to me this truth: if we obey the Lord, if we serve Him, if we try our best to show Him we love Him, HE WILL BLESS US.

He wants to bless us.

He's aching to bless us.

We just have to let Him.

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Friday, November 7, 2014

Slow Cooked Beans

This is one of our favorite fall meals. Or summer meals. Or any time of year meals.

Although after making a huge pot of chili for our ward Halloween party and hardly any of it getting eaten, we've been a bit overwhelmed with beans lately.
Which, if you know my husband, is a very, very dangerous thing.  

So, we probably don't have plans to make this dish in the very near future. But it's scrumptious, full of flavor, and perfect with a side of cornbread.
We sometimes add pork because Mr. Brown Eyes is a voracious carnivore, but it's also delicious meatless.
And feel free to switch up the beans however you like. I think I've used a different combination every time I've made it. Just as long as you add five cans of beans.

As an added plus, this is possibly one of the easiest meals known to man. Chopping up the onions and peppers probably takes the most time. Then you just throw everything into the slow cooker and you're done!
Just, you know, beware the beans.

Slow Cooked Beans

  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1 med onion, chopped
  • 1 med green pepper, chopped
  • 1 med sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 can (16 oz) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 1/2 oz) black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 1/2 oz) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 1/4 oz) lima beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 1/4 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 1/4 oz) whole kernel corn, drained

  •  In a 5-quart slow cooker, combine the first 10 ingredients. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or until the onion and peppers are tender.

  • Beans, beans, the magical fruit,
    The Brown-Eyed Girl




          Friday, October 31, 2014


          Happy Halloween! 

          This year our family dressed up as Mr. and Mrs. Count Dracula, a baby bat, and Spiderman.

          (With our pet zombie in the background).

          I hope you enjoy this day of playing dress-up and eating your children's candy as much as I do.

          All the Kit-Kats are mine,
          The Brown-Eyed Girl

          Wednesday, October 22, 2014

          Being a Girl

          I used to think I would have to teach Baby Blue Eyes about a being a girl.

          Turns out, she was born knowing.

          Before she was a year old, she was snatching shoes whenever she got the chance.

          Now she loves walking around in her cousin's pink heels.

          And my heels.

          Brown-Eyed Boy never gave a second thought to the clothes I put on him, except to maybe exclaim over the monster trucks on his shirt. But Baby Blue Eyes will dig an outfit out of her drawer and insist that I put it on her, refusing everything else I offer. Then she will strut off down the hall to show Daddy.

          Yes, she struts. Who taught her that?

          She loves having her hair combed, getting her toe nails painted, wearing hats, and dancing.

          I guess boys and girls really are different after all.

          Of course, I already knew that.

          As the Family Proclamation explains it, "All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose."

          So while I don't have to teach Baby Blue Eyes how to be a girl, I hope I can teach her--and show her--how to love being a girl, to cherish that spark of divinity in her, to walk happily and confidently in the knowledge that she is a daughter of God, and to never, ever, think that she needs to change who she is to fit the trends and whims of the world.

          But for now I will watch her strut in my high heels and wish that she could stay little forever.

          Girls Rule,
          The Brown-Eyed Girl

          Wednesday, October 15, 2014

          Phoenix Temple

          Since I posted this a few months back, I thought I would let you know about an exciting opportunity to view the inside of a Mormon temple.

          For those of you in the Phoenix area, the Phoenix Temple is complete and open to the public through the end of October.

          Free tours are available Mondays from 8-5, and Tuesdays through Saturdays 8-8. You can go here to make a reservation, or just show up. (But be sure to park at Wet & Wild, not the temple, unless you need handicap parking. There will be buses available to shuttle you to the temple.) There will be lots of friendly people there who will be happy to answer your questions.

          Mr. Brown Eyes and I spent eight hours at the temple on Saturday, helping with parking. Man, did my feet hurt. But you know what? The spirit of peace I felt just being near the temple more than made up for it.

          And so did the sushi we ate afterwards.

          The temple is an amazing place. I hope you feel that as much as I do.

          With all my heart,
          The Brown-Eyed Girl

          Friday, September 12, 2014

          A New Obsession

          While in Oregon, we took a day trip to Washington to meet my brother and his wife.
          Since Brown-Eyed Boy has taken on a sudden interest in volcanoes, we decided to meet at Mount St. Helens.

          I visited Mount St. Helens with my family as a kid. I remember being afraid to get out of the car, sure the volcano was going to erupt again.

          I was much less paranoid this time.

          In fact, this time, visiting Mount St. Helens sparked an obsession in me. I could have stayed at the Johnston Ridge Observatory for hours, reading the stories of survival and destruction, listening to the rangers describe the science behind volcanoes, admiring the stark but beautiful landscape, still making a comeback after being obliterated thirty-four years ago.

          I kind of wish I'd studied volcanology in school. Instead of, you know, English.

          When we got back to Arizona I took the kids to the library and loaded up on volcano books. Children's books, because apparently adults aren't interested in that sort of thing.

          Brown-Eyed Boy likes looking at the pictures, but I stayed up reading them late into the night, fascinated.

          I can now tell you all about volcanic rocks, different types of lava, and the difference between shield cones, cinder cones, and composite cones. I can tell you stories about Mont Pelee, Lake Nyos, Paricutin, and dozens of other volcanoes.

          I think it's safe to say I'm way more interested in volcanoes now than Brown-Eyed Boy.

          Although he did tell us, while at the observatory, "I think I want to be a firefighter, a race car driver, and a scientist, so I can go inside volcanoes."

          Maybe I'll have to live my lost dream of being a volcanologist through my son.

          Oh, and while walking around the marsh near the visitor's center, we learned this interesting little tidbit of information:

          Sometimes nature is just too awesome for words.
          Water-dwelling Bladderwort,
          The Brown-Eyed Girl