Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thoughts of Spring (poem) For my friends & family in UT (30)...TX (80)

Thoughts of Spring

Father winter has rung his bell,
but a fragrant springtime we want to smell.
Oh, how this cold nose longs to see
a slather if zinc to help protect me...
from rays of sun that warms to bone,
A sandy beach I'd love to roam.

For January has come and gone
with blast of snow instead of sun
we are ready..winter DEPART!
so anxious are we for nice weather to start
kids energetically play outside
windows thrown open fresh air to glide.

But inside I sit window staring
Compassion for tulips with ice sharing
hints of green were popping through
now cloaked in white an inch or two
I wander from draft of window sill
and hand to head...I may be ill.

~by~ Sandi Dodge

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Texas Gardening 101= Together

I love gardening. When I was growing up all I wanted was a garden to dig around in and grow things. On my 16th Birthday I came home from school and found my sweetheart of a Dad in the back yard working fiercely on something. I went back there and found him on his hands and knees elbow deep in the dirt. He had dug up about an 8'x8' space in the rear left side of the yard. And he was edging it with a beautiful decorative brick border for me, and it brought tears. Just think, my own little plot of rich, brown, beautiful earth. A garden for my Birthday. When I opened my other presents there was seeds, a hand shovel, a spade, and a sprinkler. I don't remember how successful I was at it...after all that was 35 years ago....but I remember how I felt that my Dad and Mom would do that for me. It's one of my most memorable Birthdays.

It was so much fun to pull and eat a fresh raddish, or carrot. I remember planting beets, and cucumbers. And to this day tomatoes are my favorite vegetables (fresh from the vine, of course). Growing things in Utah was a pleasure. It's soil seemed kissed by the heavens and all one had to do is plant, and water to have amazingly fruitful results.

Jerry and I (and 6 month old Kristi) moved to Texas (1984). I tried early on to replicate the 8'x8' garden parcel in the back yard of our old home on Big Sky Drive...but the spiders, snakes, fire ants, and creepy crawlies of all kinds was a huge deterrent, as was the incredible growth of weeds that seemed to grow over night in the humidity. I had a hard time determining which was which, plants or weeds...and my weeds seemed to be winning. I remember thinking more than once that I needed to purchase a machette! It was more expensive, and flabbergasting, than enjoyable and I soon flipped in the white towel on vegetable gardening.

But I was not about to have a flower free yard. So I figured I would focus on experimenting with native plants that I liked. Jerry and I drove all around town in those early years as we watched the housing boom here, and took pictures of some of the beautiful landscaping going in on some of the upscale homes. That is how I planned my yard. I didn't even know the names of most of the schrubs and flowers. But I went to the Home Department and pointed at alot of pictures, and learned. LOL. When we built our new home we sold the one on Big Sky in one day. I know it was for a lot of reasons but I have to think that our yard was a contributing factor.

That brings us to recently. Our son Jered came home from school and was saying that the kids were hauling stone to put around their garden at school. They were preparing to plant a vegetable garden. Little pangs of sadness crept into that 16 year old girl's heart of mine. We just planted our back yard in grass intending on putting in a swimming pool. It's been a great place for the kids to play...but I didn't landscape much out back since I didn't want to have to pull out and re-do landscaping when the pool goes in. So it's just nice green grass back there. But my front yard I had landscaped just the way I wanted. And we have flowers a'plenty. :) But all this talk of veggies made me wish I had a place to plant a vegetable garden. To TRY once again. Now that it's 2011 and I have acclimated not only to the weather but to all the creepy crawlies of North Texas.

When the flowers went in I found that I wanted a few more... (I always do that). So as I was running errands last month I heard Lowes Garden Center calling my name. It's funny because I grabbed a wagon and walked straight to the vegetable starts. Oh my goodness! I was in hog-heaven. Before I knew it...I had bought 4 different kinds of tomato plants, crook-neck yellow squash, cucumbers, a bell pepper plant and a partridge in a pear tree. Where would I PUT them though? I didn't care if I had to toss a few flowers...those tomatoes were GOING IN! I waited until Jered got home and told him I had planned a really cool Family Home Evening. I asked him to come and walk with me to decide where they would go in. He seemed to share my enthusiasm and we made some great choices. There was just enough room for our little flower garden rebels.

So a'planting we did go.

A couple of feet of ground was spotted behind
a row of flowers. So in went 3 tomato plants.

My helpful son.

Our little starts. Yay!

Prepping that soil.

Daddy helping.

Beneath a decorative tree...veggies!

Flowers AND veggie garden. Nice!

Okay- I bought 4 different varieties of tomato plants to see which one is successful. Look what we found last Friday already...
FIVE little tiny tomatoes! Yay!


Since finding the tomatoes Jered surprised me last Friday by coming home from school and presenting me with a package of Cilatro seeds that he purchased in their class 'Positive Pantry' with points he'd earned that week for great behavior. He could have purchased many things including snacks, toys, etc. but he chose seeds. Awesome.

Jered's positive pantry purchase.
(Say that three times fast) 

We are so excited! The cages are on, and the plants are already a foot tall. We'll let ya know how our garden grows. And, we may be stopping by with a few offerings as well. LOL! I think my favorite part of this flower/veggie garden experiment is that we are doing it as a family. I know everything will taste amazing knowing how many afternoons Jered and I sat in lawn chairs in the yard watering our little leafy friends, together.

(Now....where to plant cilantro....hmmmm?)

Happy gardening!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I'm on!

Hi, I'm Sandi D
I'm a Mormon.

About Me I am fifty year old business professional who's favorite thing in the world is my family. I have been married to my sweetheart for nearly 30 years. We have four amazing children. I enjoy traveling, reading, blogging, genealogy, photography, scrapbooking, quilting, family gatherings, camping, sight seeing especially beautiful farms, and ALL of my children's many activities. I love the Lord and I am actively involved in my local Ward Church congregation as the Music Chairwoman. I love music and have been involved in it for many years. I have three daughters who are State Champions in their respective areas of music. I have a prescious son with special needs. I love serving others. It makes me so happy.

Why I am a Mormon Why am I a Mormon? That is a very good question, one that I take extremely seriously. It’s because of my faith in my Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. You see, I’ve come to know them…personally. Let me tell you how: Years ago I came to discover through reading the scriptures that my Heavenly Father is not some far removed entity, or merely a great bedtime story for children, nor is he a being so supernal that he has lost touch with His children. Nor is He a cruel uncaring Father who has gone to the furthest reaches of the universe and lost interest in us, or left us to our own devises. He lives, He cares, and He loves us. We are His children. God the Father is indeed my father.

But, I have an earthly father that I love very much. Who then is God to me? He is the father of my spirit, my soul, my intelligence. He has allowed me to come to this earth to gain a mortal body so that I can learn and grow and have experiences unique to this mortal existence. If He is a loving Heavenly Father then what is MY relationship with him to be like? It helped me tremendously when I examined more closely the relationship I have with my earthly father whom I love and respect very much. How do we cultivate the father/daughter relationship? Well, since my earthly father lives around 1,500 miles away from me…we communicate a lot by phone. We talk about how happy we are to be talking to each other, weather yes weather since I like to rub in the beautiful Texas winters as they are shoveling snow out west, the children’s activities, upcoming trips, our health, business, and even our testimonies, and faith promoting experiences we’ve had recently. We also talk a lot about missing Mother who passed away a few years ago. Having these conversations helps us both feel closer to the other. Sharing our thoughts and feelings solidifies our bond and love for each other.

I felt the deep need to pray to my Heavenly Father. What then, could I possibly talk to my Heavenly Father about to grow and cultivate a more personal relationship to God? Since He is an all knowing, all Seeing, Omnipotent Father then why do I have to humble myself, and reach out to him in prayer? Why can I not skip it because I know that He knows everything I’m thinking, feeling, and going to say anyways, AND what my needs are? The answer to this is actually Why I Am A Mormon.

I believe that God does care about us, our problems, sorrows, joys, triumphs, and every single detail of our lives. I know that when a young boy named Joseph Smith knelt to pray to find answers to his pure innocent prayer that the Heavens were again opened and He saw God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. It was time for a Restoration of all things. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live, they are alive today and when Jesus asks us to Come Unto Him that is exactly what He means. WE need to come to THEM. Jesus does not need to chase each one of us down and beg for our faithfulness, He came already. He paid the ultimate price, He bought us with His innocent perfect blood. And he beckons us still…to COME.

With this earthly experience they have provided us they also allowed for us to have free agency, or, the power to choose. We need to use this free agency to choose to come closer to God. To want to align ourselves with them. To try to follow Christ’s example by entering the waters of Baptism and having faith unto salvation.

I am a Mormon because it has all of the qualities, and components of Christ’s Church when he was living here upon the earth during His ministry. I invite you to look into it for yourself. Remember, the heavens ARE open. If you are looking for answers to your questions you must use your God given free agency to MOVE, ACT, LEARN, etc. Faith is an action word. His is the Gospel of DOING. I chose to study, ponder, and pray to Him. As I poured out my concerns, and problems, and gratitude to Him and established and felt that bond and relationship with Him grow…I have come to KNOW that He is MY Heavenly Father, and His wonderful Son is MY Savior and redeemer…as well as YOURS.

I have come to know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not the only church with truth…but rather when the church was restored it was restored to a fullness of truth unto salvation. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. Each and EVERY prophet since the beginning of time has testified of Christ. That is Joseph’s witness and he paid for it with his innocent blood. I am a Mormon because this knowledge has led me to a pathway that contains the Priesthood and the Ordinances necessary for exaltation and for me to do the things that are necessary for me to live with them again someday, with my family. To be CLOSE to them now. I could no longer go back and just live with the status quo. People are so right…this life is meant to be LIVED… and I want my life to be worn out is His service and in the service of others. I LOVE being a Mormon.

How I live my faith I think the most obvious today is that I believe in my marraige vows and take them seriously. So I live my faith by being faithful to my dear husband of nearly 30 years. I live my faith also by being part of our Ward congregation family , I attend my meetings and try to be exceptional at my calling as Ward Music Chair. I refrain from drinking alchohol, and do not use tobacco, or illegal drugs of any kind to try to be a healthy contributing member of not only our congregation but my neighborhood and community. I teach my children the values that we learn in church, and in the scriptures so that they too may know where to look for their help, direction, inspiration, and peace...through our Savior Jesus Christ. I live my faith by prayer, study and faith. I live my faith by trying to be like Christ in all I say and do. By treating others with respect, and true friendship and love. I live my faith by being honest with my dealings with the people I do business with, and the people who work for me and any businesses that I trade with. I live my faith by honoring my good name. I live my faith by keeping my mind and body and actions as clean as I can. Free from the filth of inappropraite media of any kind. I live my faith by being happy and finding joy in good wholesome activities with the people I love. We have a great time. I live my faith by searching my family history and doing my genealogy and keeping a journal. I live my faith by having a deep love and respect for this country and the men and women who have served us all so well. I live my faith by being a Mother whom my children will someday call blessed.

Sandi Dodge

You may visit my profile on by going to this link:

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cassi sings in 181st General Conference- Sat Afternoon Session

Having Cassi sing in General Conference was so fun for us. I had butterflies in my stomach since yesterday when she told me she was going to be wearing a pink shirt. I said, "Oh my, Breast Cancer Awareness pink?" I'm sure my voice cracked a little. And Cassi said, "I didn't even really think of that." And I told her it would definitely remind me of my Mom, and that there would be a whole passel of family in heaven watching with smiles.

Today my nervous stomach was worse. In a fun way, of course. I knew my Dad and Marilyn were headed up to Temple Square to see her, (they live in Nephi about 1 and 1/2 hours South of SLC) and that brought me great comfort. I am so glad they could make it. It made me so happy knowing they were there in the audience to support her. They emailed me this picture of their vantage point in the Conference Center.

Dad and Marilyn had great seats. This was about 1:30pm.
so people were still taking their seats. Conference started at 2pm.

Cassi text'd me to say they had to do some rearranging and she was no longer on the isle but one person in from the isle. 

The BIG picture. That is one HUGE Conference Center.
It seats 21,000 people.

The Choir for the afternoon session was a combination of the top three choirs at BYU-Idaho. She was so excited when she found out they had been asked to sing in Conference.

Cassi sent me a text message from her seat as they waited for Conference to begin. And it said, "We are all totally bearing our testimonies when we sing. Keep that in mind when you hear us ok?" :) And I did keep it in mind...and I could feel it in my heart as well. The music was just beautiful.

Their first Hymn was, 'How Firm A Foundation'.

Their second hymn was,
'How Great the Wisdom and the Love'

For those of you who have grown up in Utah and live in the shadow of Conference, Temple Square and are neighbors with Apostles, and other General Authorities you may take it for granted a wee bit. But I assure you that this little girl from Texas was so excited to not only attend a live session of General Conference but to participate. What a great thrill for us all.

A wider view of the choir.
The closing hymn was one of Cassi's favorites,
'Let Zion In Her Beauty Rise'

I was sitting in the living room with Jerry and Jered and as soon as the camera caught sight of her my phone exploded with text's, emails, and calls from family and friends. It was so much fun. Thank you all who were so willing to share our joy today. :) Thank you so much.

After Conference my Dad and Marilyn waited for her and took her out to dinner for some Sushi which they all LOVE. :) And Grandpa knows the best places in Salt Lake City to go. Dad said they had a great time.

The messages of the day were so inspirational, and one cannot help listening and feeling the nudges from the Spirit telling you that you are doing well on some areas of your life, and also where you need to repent, adjust your course, and do better. There is so much to do in the Kingdom but there are so many happy willing good souls to share the load and work along side. I'm so thankful.

Pres. Dieter F Uchtdorf, Pres. Henry B Eyring, Pres. Thomas S Monson

If you missed any or part of General Conference and want to see it you may visit:

This has been a good day. A REALLY good day. Don't forget... we get to watch Conference again tomorrow too, cool. Session 3 at 10am, and session 4 is at 2pm.

Hugs to you all

~Momma Dodge

Friday, April 1, 2011

Cassi is singing at General Conference

Cassi in her dorm March 2011

There have been some amazing blessings as we have watched Cassi leave home and begin attending school in Rexburg Idaho at the Brigham Young University- Idaho campus. The campus is so beautiful and albeit cold and snowy since she arrived to start school in January...she doesn't complain. The campus is beautiful.

Taylor Quad BYUI campus. Notice the close proximity
of the Rexburg Temple in the background. Cassi lives in
a dorm between this building and the Temple.

I guess you could say the pro's out-weigh the con's by a huge amount. She has been having so many possitive experiences that, although I miss her VERY much...I wouldn't have her be anywhere else because of them. Let me share a few:

Cassi is in a Heber J. Grant program at BYUI and her mentor called her one day and told her she needed her to come to a special meeting that night. Cassi said she had a full schedule and had other meetings to go to that night but that she would 'try' to come. Her mentor said, you NEED to be there. Trust will be glad you did! So, Cassi felt like she needed to go ahead and go to this meeting. It was in a High Counsel-type room in one of the buildings. A small setting in which only about 15 or 16 kids showed up and surrounded a large conference-type table. In walked President Henry J Eyring (Eldest son of President Henry B Eyring) and taught them for over an hour about Mission Prep. There were only 4 guys there...the rest were girls. She had an incredible experience in that meeting with him and felt another confirmation that she would certainly serve a Mission herself. She called us on a run for her next meeting and was so happy, uplifted, inspired, and encouraged.

Another special time Cassi shared was when she got out of a musical rehearsal for BYU-I's presentation of the Musical Fireside of Savior Of The World. She called, again, while running across campus and wanted to share with us the amazing practice she had just been in. She said the music is so beautiful and the Spirit is so strong that it is difficult not to weep while we fact many of the students do. She expressed that she wished we could be there. The night of the performance (March 25th) Cassi said there were about 14,000 people in attendance. A friend of hers from our Ward back home in Texas (Jace Voracek) said it was the best live performance he has ever seen in his life.

BYUI Center

One of the things she also loves about BYUI is that they pray before each class. The invitation of the Spirit and the acknowledgment of our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ in the learning process is a natural and wonderful thing. The access to the Spirit to help the students learn, retain, and recall information is enhanced because they have invited Him to be a part of their classes.

When Cassi first got to BYUI even though she knows she wants to be a Dr...and her major is in biology she knew she needed to continue to be a part of music in some way. So she had scheduled an audition when we first got to Rexburg. She made it into the BYUI Women's Choir. They have combined with the other top choirs at BYUI and they have been asked to sing in the Afternoon Session of General Conference. That is the 2pm Session in Utah. So set your Tivo's and be sure to watch for Cassi. She is wearing a PINK shirt.

The Conference Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City

This is a better view of what it will be like for her.
Can you imagine singing in such close proximity to the
Prophet (Thomas S Monson) and the Lord's Apostles?

Pres. Henry B Eyring, Pres. Thomas S Monson,
& Pres. Dieter F Uchtdorf

Who wouldn't be thrilled to have their daughter not only in attendance (of General Conference)...but singing in that great edifice for such an incredible audience...for the Lord. Please watch if you can and let us know what you think.

Cassi Dodge- Graduation 2010 Pic.

If you ask us how Cassi is liking BYUI, or Jerry and me, how we are doing without our sweetheart at home...the question at this point is overwhelming because my heart is so full....there is no way to explain how exhilarating it is to have our daughter there in Idaho having these amazing experiences. We feel so grateful and so blessed.

Much Love
~Momma Dodge