Saturday, January 16, 2016

16+ Pictures of our Family for the 16th of January 2016

"The family is God's masterpiece." 

For the last five years I've asked our family to take a picture of each family member to be posted on this blog.  In 2011, we took the picture on the 11th of the month; in 2012, we took the picture on the 12th of the month.

Here we are in 2016 with the tradition continuing . . . 

Ray:  Reading to the boys before bedtime.

Cali:  Every once in a while I can still shock Ray into speechlessness.
Ray:  "What do you want to get done tomorrow?"
Me:  "I have a manicure at 9:30."
Ray:  "... ... ... ..."
Me:  "I won a free one.  It expires soon."
Then he understood.  It was more about squeezing out all the value and less about the manicure.
That sounded like me after all.
She assured me the shellack lasts two weeks.  I assured her I'd put it to the test.

Levin:  Ray's Plan A for telling me to hurry in the grocery store.
Plan B would be a texted picture of him giving them a
sharpie to decorate with.
Luckily, we've never made it to Plan B. 

Atlas:  Just making do with no pockets.
Obviously a Ray trait, not having something is rarely a big problem.

Abe:  Conducting training at Yakima

Grace:  my stats for the day!

Henry and Hazel:  Playing with mom at Grandpa and Grandma's house

Ty: I spent a good chunk of the day doing some financial planning. 

Michelle: 18.5 hours. 166 miles each way. Stake Youth Conference. Memphis temple.
 A very surprise encounter in the temple with a family from my mission.
 Speakers. Games. A nap (for me) in the mother's lounge. Service projects. Food. Testimonies.
Sonic shakes on the way home.
Great day.
I'm tired.

Afton:  I begged my dad to let me take Kathryn
down the slide at Chic-Fil-A.
Eliza didn't want to be left out. 

Eliza, I mean Baby Spider, or was it Daisy?
Oh yeah, Robin Hood watching Brother Bear.

Kathryn:  I spent most of my day in my parent's closet.
A 4 hour nap and a 2 hour nap! And I had to be woke up both times!

Joe:  Zeph is wearing some swag Ande and I received
at the Bluffton Ball last weekend.

Ande: nap time. And all nap times in the foreseeable future.

Zeph: Eating goldfish straight from the box while watching Toy Story at GMa's. 

Ezra: my newest and most favorite game.

Calvin:  Holding Hazel

Jane: I looked outside and saw these 4 little boys playing in the fresh snow in the backyard.
Mind you, we live miles away from a group of little boys.

Calvin mentioned this morning that a neighbor was coming out to work
on a Pinewood derby car, so when I saw a bunch of boys instead of just one boy,
I figured I'd misunderstood and a whole cub pack was working in the shop.

The boys played for an hour or more in the snow as I watched them from the kitchen window
and their dads made derby cars. The boys had to be cold and hungry
so I invited them in for sandwiches and hot chocolate.

They were so excited and well-mannered.

Before long their dads came looking for them and joined them at the table.

Impromptu gatherings are my favorite.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

52 Blessings -- We're Making Progress

Temple Square in SLC
It was our reward for reading the Book of Mormon and it included breakfast at McDonald's.  It was a big deal.

Abe sent this picture in a family text the other night.  You can imagine the comments.  At least no one mentioned how short and full of static my pants were.  (This was the day long before skinny jeans, but after culottes.)

I was a bit embarrassed when I saw the picture; I did not know that I looked so hideous in a permed mullet.

But then I thought of something my colleague said the other day.  He was preparing for an upcoming family reunion with his adult children and their families, and he and his wife were watching old home videos.  His wife (who is the sweetest woman) said, "Oh Eric!  Aren't you just so embarrassed seeing ourselves back then and how we talked and acted and parented?  This is embarrassing and these are painful to watch."

Eric replied, "Embarrassed?  Why would I be embarrassed?  This life is all about growing, improving, and making progress.  Look how we've improved!  These videos prove we have progressed."

And there you have it.

I no longer wear a permed mullet and polyester pants with static.  I no longer dress our kids in clothes that are too big for them.  I'm improving and this life is all about making progress.

I've applied this logic several times this week in mental reruns of embarrassing situations that are over, wishes I'd used new-found wisdom in earlier decisions, and remembering old annoying habits that have been broken.  Instead of getting discouraged or embarrassed I remembered what Eric said, "Hey, don't sweat it. Those things prove you're making progress."

Perhaps even more encouraging than recognizing past growth is trusting in future growth.  I'm grateful the Lord makes improving possible.  He knew I'd need it.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 - A Fruitful Year


I went to South Carolina to celebrate 
Ezra Wilhelm being born


Calvin and I went to Hawaii


We live simply and try to produce much of what we eat.


We took three carloads of youth to SLC, Utah
for LDS General Conference
with Brent and Nesha Roylance 

Kathryn Cali is born


I become a full time seminary principal and teacher.


Calvin takes us on a drive in the Willys most every night.


The berries in the garden overflow and family
from all over the country comes to visit.


Payne Family Reunion 2015


We said good-bye to the best garden yet


We welcomed Hazel Grace to the world


We counted our blessings again and again and again.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Monday Memories -- Newborn

It was early December 1988. Due to family emergencies we had moved for the second time in six months. The home we’d barely moved into was up-for-sale and, a few days after we'd put our things away, it looked as if the house had sold and we’d only be able to stay there a few weeks. I was nine months pregnant and the baby was due December 27th ; we didn’t only have our little family to move, but also our livestock. Our resources were very limited and our options few.

For days I fretted where our newborn baby would “lay down its sweet head.” The physical and emotional ache of the previous months, along with a 5-year-old, 3-year-old and a 2-year-old were wearing me down. All I could do was take one morning at a time.

That year gave me empathy for Mary and Joseph. The stress that Calvin and I felt was heavy – and we weren’t pulling a donkey.


And then she was born. December 21st. Suddenly it didn’t matter if that baby was going to be put in a laundry basket, a crib, or a box. She was here in all of her purity and innocence and our family was richer for her birth. She came home from the hospital Christmas Eve and no Christmas gift has equaled her since.

A baby can set things right.

Several years ago I read a true story called, “Saved by a Newborn Infant.” It told of a Christian missionary couple and their five small children who were serving in the mountains and jungles of Africa. They lived in a beautiful, yet primitive area and were crowded into a tiny shack. Not long after they had been there, the mother discovered she was going to have another baby. Having children in Africa was hard with the poor food, threat of sickness and infection, contaminated water and lack of educational opportunities. The mother was resentful and said it did not seem fair that God was sending them another child when they already had so many small children and were trying to help the natives. She blamed God and wished He would take the baby from her.

But He didn’t and the time for the birth of the baby arrived and the mother, being weak and in poor health, knew she needed a doctor’s care. But there were none nearby and the couple had no one to leave their other five children with, so the father loaded the family into a car and drove them into a town where there was a good mission hospital. The family stayed there until after the baby was born.

The mother said, “When we returned to our house with the new baby we learned that in the short days we had been gone the dreaded Mau Mau had come. They had murdered every white person in the entire area. Had we been home we would have all been killed. This little darling was sent by God to save all our lives. Never again shall I rebel against His ways for our lives.”

This little darling was sent by God to save all our lives” could easily have been thought by the shepherds when they came to the manger. Mary and Joseph must have thought of it repeatedly as they fed, diapered, washed, and cuddled Him. Simeon, Anna, and the Wise Men, surely they knew it when they found Him.

Baby Jesus set things right in this world and in eternity. A newborn, sent by God to save us all.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

52 Blessings - The First Christmas Spirit

One of my students came in excitedly to class one morning and said, "My uncle is Joseph in the new Mormon Message.  Can we watch it today?"

I loved this video the first time I saw it and loved it even more after the sixth viewing.

I hope you enjoy it, too.

"What would it have been like to raise Jesus Christ? Joseph was a humble carpenter when God gave him the responsibility of being Christ’s father. While traveling the road to Nazareth, Joseph reflects on experiences he and his small family have had so far and on the significance of his Son’s mission to become the savior of the world. Even though he was often overwhelmed, Joseph was always loyal to God and to his Son, Jesus Christ. How will we follow his example this Christmas season?"

Though I doubt the Savior ever told Joseph, "I don't have to, you're not my real dad," nevertheless, it isn't easy being a step-parent and I watched the interaction between the Savior and Joseph with great interest and respect.   One way I want to follow Joseph's example this Christmas season is to listen more carefully to what the Savior says and to quickly act on what the Holy Ghost whispers.

Saturday, December 19, 2015


Having a testimony that Jesus Christ is the Savior brings me peace and confidence in a troubled time. 

I know He lives.  I know He has the power to redeem us from our sins, rebuild us when we're broken, comfort us when we're hurt, and fill in the gaps of our inadequacies.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Fifteen pictures of family for the fifteenth of December 2015.

Folletts: The roast in the crockpot didn't cook. 
we had to go to plan B so Ray could make his
temple assignment tonight. 
Levin sampled the hot chocolate machine at his office. 
Atlas sampled everything else.  

 Zeph:  I chipped my front tooth on the bath tub. 
And I walked on the dock bridge all by myself (it's scary).

Ande:  My favorite view today.

 Ezra:  Sometimes I don't take naps so I can 
have alone time with mom and all the toys.

Grace: me and my babies 

Grace: The newest addition to our family- Hazel Grace Payne.

Henry:  me and Hazel 

Abe: Wrestling with Henry

Jane:  Celebrated Hanukkah with 150 students.  
That’s a whole lot of hashbrowns, donuts, dreidels and gelt.  

Kathryn: In the last week, I turned into both a crawler 
and a bottler holder. Since I'm getting into everything now, 
I might as well give Mom a few extra minutes to clean it up.

Michelle: enjoying the good weather while we still have it, 
while trying to beat both the sunset and the oven timer. 
We failed at both, but had a nice walk.

Ty:  I spend a lot of time in front of this board each day. 
Scheduling for my flight.          

Afton: Sticking it to the man.
If I'm going to nap, I'm going to do it MY way.

Strawberry banana juice: "Hi. How was your day?" 
Orange juice: "Good. How was your day?"  
Strawberry banana juice:  "Good."

I really believe this.  Home is our most important work.