Thursday, April 20, 2017

Meet Kathryn.


Kathryn is Ty and Michelle's third daughter. She is Ty's mini-me and Michelle's sidekick. Michelle wrote this oh-so-accurate description of her.




"Kathryn is my little buddy. She makes me laugh with all of her funny quirks. She is happy-go-lucky and loves to do everything her big sisters are doing, whether or not that's actually a good idea. She's the perfect mix of being spunky, passionate, easy to please, fiery, cuddly, adventurous, happy, intense, and sweet. She loves to laugh and tease. She's been talking a lot more lately and it's so fun to be constantly surprised by the words she knows and ideas she understands. She's also recently become (finally!) interested in books, and her favorites are Little Blue Truck, Pout Pout Fish, and a knock knock joke book. I'm actually having a really hard time explaining her because she's just such a unique little person that I feel you can't truly get a taste of what she's like without spending some time with her. She really is a true joy. She brings me a lot of peace and strength that I didn't know could come from simply being loved by a special little girl. At times, when life is stressful with our three little girls, Kathryn being born just a month after Afton turned three, I remember how strongly we felt that she needed to join our family, and realize that Heavenly Father knew we needed a little girl who would be our super glue. She is absolutely wonderful and I love her."

Kathryn does not know the word "can't."  She is thoroughly convinced she can do what every one is doing -- never mind they're a foot taller or one hundred pounds heavier.  

One of my favorite things about Kathryn is her determination and ability to imitate what she sees. Another favorite is her raspy voice and clear enunciation.  I love how she clinches her legs around my waist so I can carry her and she can be a part of everything.

I'm so grateful for families and determination and laughter and hope . . . and Kathryn Cali.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Seventeen + Pictures for the 17th of April 2017


Each month every one in our family takes a picture of their ordinary life on an ordinary day.  It helps us to stay connected as a family and watch each other grow and change.  It's a wonderful little tradition.  I'm grateful for my family.

Abe:  Tomorrow is Grace's birthday but she has a meeting so we
celebrated tonight.  Henry helped her blow out the candles.

Afton: our next door neighbor's dad made him a pedal bike airplane,
and I got to test-drive it
.

Ty:  Afton gave me this picture of Little Critter's family.

Atlas:  Our new bike trail has lots of cool stuff on it.

Levin:  riding on the bike trail by our house.

Calvin:  Scooping manure out of the steer pen.

Eliza: our family is working on being more grateful.
Today I drew some pictures of things I'm grateful for,
and tried to remember to say thank you a lot.

Grace: tomorrow is my 30th birthday and I'm feeling old.
I am far from ever being as flexible as Hazel.

Hazel: loves saying "cheese" for the camera and giving a big toothy grin.

Henry: counts the days down to family night.
Here he's showing off his trick jumping as
far as he can to dad.

Jane:  After a very fun and fulfilling Easter weekend with Ray, Cali, Levin, Atlas, Abe, Grace,
Henry, and Hazel, this was the only sign they'd been here -- a very saggy, baggy Pooh tossed
on top of the piano.  He seemed to miss them as badly as I did.

Kathryn:  Mrs. Potato Head

Cali:  Slowly but surely we're getting settled in our new home.

Michelle: My incredible husband gave me some delightful
kid-free time today so I could go on a refreshing run
down by the airfield this morning.

Ray:  Lifting Levin up to retrieve someone's birthday balloons out of a
tree at the park. We didn't have them more than a minute before he lost
them. Easy come, easy go.

Winnie: How I do the pool -- in the stroller sucking on a pineapple spear.

Ande: Zeph and Ezra trying to encourage Winnie to crawl.

Zeph and Ezra: The picnic started out sweet and ideal. It ended with me (Ande)
 spraying them off with the hose, giving a lecture about not rubbing
peanut butter on our bodies and being wasteful,
and watching a YouTube video about hungry refugee children.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sweet Things.




This week I took a very long walk in town.  When I saw a little patch of weeds with dainty flowers and later the dandelion, I thought, "Even God's 'trash' is beautiful."

Then I saw man's trash.  It was a stark contrast.  

The difference made me think of the scripture in Isaiah 55:8-9  "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Trusting the Lord implicitly, with no qualms or reservations, made complete sense when I saw our trash lying side by side.  This visual will guide me a long time.  It was such a gentle way to remind me to always trust in the Lord.


************

Last week I wrote Paul Cardall a thank you note for the beautiful music that he plays.  I listen to his work often and wanted him to know that he is appreciated.  





Dear Brother Cardall,

I hope this letter gets to you because I want you to know how healing and inspiring your music is. Truly. Your ability, talent, skill, and work has blessed my life in very real ways and I thank you for it. Please know that I use your music to inspire others as well as myself; students work and contemplate to it playing in the background, our grandchildren calm down and go to sleep to it, anxious souls relax when they hear it playing in the background, the Sabbath is sweeter and more reverent as your songs play in our home, it makes powerpoint presentations poignant. As you struggle with heart disease, your skill and spirit calms our hearts. Thank you.

Jane Payne


I quickly and unexpectedly received this gracious reply:


Jane,

Thank you for sharing these kind words with me. I am happy my music has helped create an environment of peace. Thank you for using it to bless your family. I really appreciate your goodness.

Warm regards,

Paul Cardall



Of course!  His music is so calming and beautiful because humility is such a beautiful harmony.


Friday, April 7, 2017

Meet Hazel.


Hazel is Abe and Grace's daughter and the second newest member of our family.  Grace wrote this sweet snippet:



"Hazel has a colorful and fun personality.  Some of her favorite things include hugging and kissing her stuffed animals, she loves babies, kisses, being "pretty", helping mom around the house by putting everyone's shoes away and doing the laundry, climbing on everything, and pestering her brother, Henry.  She also needs to know her mama is always in sight or you'll hear her yelling 'MAMA!'"

Hazel does a lot of smiling and she does it with her whole face: her eyes sparkle, her nose curls, and her teeth show.  She's very feminine, until she laughs.  She has the deepest, throatiest, most masculine guffaw not fitting her feminine nature.  You can't help but laugh when you hear it.  

One favorite memory is rocking Hazel for over an hour listening to "Bring Him Home" by the Piano Guys.  She was fast asleep and I just quietly rocked, and marveled at her, and cried.  

I'm so grateful for families and inspiring music and rocking chairs . . . and Hazel Grace (and her sweet little hands in the picture).
  

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Meet Winifred.


Winnie is the newest member of our family and the daughter of Joe and Ande.  Ande wrote this sweet description of Winnie girl.



"Winnie, nine months later.  I'm not sure I can adequately describe how absolutely delightful you are.  You smile so easily, and when you do your nose scrunches and your cheeks bulge.  You happily squeal when you see something you love.  Like Ezra trying to make you laugh.  Or your reflection.  Your brothers truly adore you and fetch you toys and give you kisses all day long.  This morning you ate an entire egg and a piece of toast, all by yourself, and despite a lack of teeth.  You are almost always content.  You love to jump and bounce and squirm.  You've brought a softness to your dad I didn't know was there.  You've brought a deep and satisfying joy to me.  You, my sweet girl, are special."

Here is my journal entry for the day Winnie was born:

June 24th: It’s 4:46 am and Ande is in the hospital having their third baby. Birth is a miracle. Every. single. time. I’ve been dozing in and out since 3:00 am and feel the anxiousness that comes as I wait for news of baby's safe arrival.

(Edited later to add:) I woke up a couple of minutes before Winifred Grace was born with the thought “Pray for Ande and the baby. Pray the baby doesn’t inhale.” I immediately got on my knees and prayed for those two things.

When Joe sent the text when Winnie was born I realized I had been praying at that moment. Later, I got a text from Ande saying that Winnie had breathed in a little of the amniotic fluid and it had meconium in it. The nurses told her to stop pushing so they could suction Winnie’s nose and mouth, so she wouldn’t inhale more. They had Ande wait out a contraction and not push until they could make sure she wasn’t going to breathe more in.

I texted her that I had woke up with the prompting to “Pray the baby doesn’t inhale” and that now I understood why.

Ande said, “She’s doing fine, but they were very glad she didn’t breathe in any more. Thanks for following a prompting.”

I’m so grateful for families and prayers and babies . . . and Winifred Grace.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Meet Jane.


Helping Calvin unload a ton of grain one scoop at a time.

My official work-away-from-home experience began as a teenager working each Wednesday in the summer at a roadside gas station (back when we washed your windshield, checked your oil, pumped your gas, and took your money.  There were no such things as tips). I also hoed beans and picked cockle-burs for a neighbor. Later I worked at the BYU meat lab wrapping meat and curing bacon, followed by eighteen years of being a mother with a craft business in our home (making and selling primitive rag dolls and the like). During that time I also babysat several children as I cared for our own. For the past sixteen years I have taught release-time seminary.

My husband, Calvin, and I have six children and almost 14 grandchildren. One of the best surprises of marriage is discovering that loves gets gentler and deeper as you age. That aging and softening love is also true of what you feel for your posterity. Family and love is a beautiful combination.

I’m lucky because my hobbies are also my work. They both have everything to do with faith and family. I love gardening, and caring for the animals we raise on our few acres. I enjoy going on walks while visiting with family about life, ideas, and problems. I love homemaking – baking, cooking, cleaning, organizing, laundry, and hand-sewing. I enjoy writing creative non-fiction, and reading biographies. I also love to teach – whether it’s how to make bread, find the best prices on groceries, or the scriptures.

I have a simple, but rich and sweet life and I'm thankful to Heavenly Father for it.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Meet Calvin.


Calvin helps the Young Women program in his church calling.  In this picture he's helping them screw together a back drop for their Young Womanhood Recognition Evening.  Recently they needed a bio to introduce him. I included it below the picture.

He's a very good man.




Calvin grew up in Southern Arizona where everything stung, poked, or bit you. He’s held a scorpion, Gila monster, and lots of rattlesnakes. Once, while checking beaver traps, he was bit by a rattlesnake.

Calvin served a mission to the state of Washington and has also served in the United States Army.

Calvin met his wife, Jane, at BYU in the animal science department. They got married and he graduated a year later. Calvin and Jane moved to Southern Idaho where they ranched and then he began teaching at the College of Southern Idaho. After teaching for ten years, they moved their family to Moses Lake.

Calvin is the father to six children and a grandfather to 13. He enjoys making guns and bows in his shop, and watching Andrew Zimmern eat exotic foods from around the world.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Inch by Inch





A few months ago, Ande shared the Habit Tracker with the women in our family. It doesn’t replace our to-do lists, but rather helps us to build good daily habits that might never see a to-do list.

The Daily Habit Tracker has kept me flossing faithfully, drinking more water day after day, and to quit biting my nails, among other habits.  You know the old adage "Inch by inch, life's a cinch.  Yard by yard, life's hard."  The habit tracker helps me inch along.

A week ago I added "create" to my  Tracker.  "Create" is broad and might come in the form of mind-mapping my scripture studies, preparing a creative way to teach a concept in class, blogging, or solving a problem in a new way.  It's a habit I look forward to each day.

Listening to General Conference this weekend provided lots of additional habits to add in the coming weeks and months.  Inch by inch, I'll improve.



What's a habit you'd like to have?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

17 Pictures for the 17th of March 2017

Levin:  Hope is knowing we'll be finished moving into our new home soon. 

 Kathryn: Hope is thinking all five of us will sleep well in the same house tonight.
(Editor's note: Kathryn is the only one that didn't get up in the night.)   

Ty: When I've had a long day, hope is 8pm.

Afton: Hope is thinking running away will solve all problems.

Michelle: Hope is spending all morning making dinner roll dough
and five different kinds of cookie dough for people to
sample for a Young Women's fundraiser.

Eliza: Hope is convincing Afton over lunch that she doesn't want to live in the backyard forever.

Ray:  Hope is being stronger than a stuffed alligator.

Ray:  Hope comes from a wet winter.

Joe:  Hope is knowing we'll all feel better someday.

Ezra: Hope is giving the chickens your sucker so they'll be your friends.

Zeph: Hope is asking the same question over and over
(in this case "will you bounce us again?") and expecting mom to say, "sure!"

Ande: Hope is a baby and sunshine.

Abe:  Hope is spending time watching an
ASU baseball game with Dad and Hazel.

Hazel:  Hope is knowing I can keep Henry from taking my toys.

Henry:  Hope is knowing my dad can put things together.

Calvin:  Hope is candeling quail eggs and expecting a good hatch.

Jane:  Hope is having a family.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Differentnesses


This afternoon I watched this 60 second video from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:




A little later I gathered the eggs from the chicken coop.  As I washed them and put them in the old tin strainer, I saw a lot of similarities between the eggs and the video.




There were all kinds of shells -- little, big, pointed, rounded, double-yokers, single-yokers, green, blue, brown, tan, spotted, plain, white, smooth, rough -- and they all taste the very same.  Inside they're just as good as they can be and, combined, do a wonderful job making cookies, cakes, French toast, pancakes, muffins, and crepes. Once they are out of their shells, I'm never be able to single them out in a frying pan of scrambled eggs and say that one is better than the other.  They're all good and, combined, they're substantial.

We, like eggs, don't have to be the same to be good.  When we combine our efforts and differentnesses and act as one, we can do substantial good where everyone benefits.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." -- Albert Einstein




One day when Abe and Ty were boys they asked if they could go on my daily walk with me. We visited about school and recess, and I told them that Albert Einstein had said that imagination was more important than knowledge, and what did they think about that? They debated the issue for two miles.

A dozen years later, Abe wrote in a letter, “Mom, I remember you used to always talk to me about Albert Einstein’s quote that knowledge without imagination is nothing. I would always argue that knowledge was more important but . . . Albert was right.”

I don't know what changed Abe's mind, but I do believe that imagination is what makes knowledge useful. Imagination is what puts color in a rainbow; fact simply states it is light meeting water. Children understand imagination far better than adults.  

I love to watch our grandchildren pretend and imagine whether it is Eliza wearing strips of toilet paper clipped to her hair pretending to have long hair, or Afton stuffing the top of her dress so she can be a mom, or Atlas pretending to be a mechanic on a submarine, or Levin pretending he is an airplane pilot, or Zeph building houses for bugs, or Hazel pretending to put lipstick on.  Their imaginations build them.

Linda Nowicki said, “Children have an endless well of creative energy. It shows up in the whimsical lyrics they sing, their imaginative play, and in their innate ability to make something out of anything. Because they don't fret over what anyone else will think, they are free to live an authentic life that reflects their unique style. But something happens as we grow. We begin to look outward instead of inward for approval. We let magazines tell us what is stylish and how to decorate our homes. We listen to the music of others instead of creating our own. When we look at our children, it's difficult to imagine that creativity ever came that easy to us. But it did.” 

In light of that quote, Albert Einstein’s dress and grooming makes a lot more sense.  He simply never outgrew his imagination.  He believed there were more important things than what others thought. That is wisdom worth practicing.

Today is Albert’s 138th birthday.  Here are other bits of Einstein wisdom:
  • There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
  • I want to know God's thoughts . . . the rest are details.
  • Do not worry about your problems with mathematics, I assure you mine are far greater.
  • Only a life lived for others is a life worth while.
  • I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves - such an ethical basis I call more proper for a herd of swine.
  • Two things inspire me to awe—the starry heavens above and the moral universe within.
  • I have no particular talent. I am merely inquisitive.
  • It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.
  • When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Sharps


30 Day Writing Challenge:

Write about a lesson you learned from a mistake you made.


I suppose every marriage has “a Sharps” or sore spot in it at one time or another. The Sharps in our marriage was caused by a rifle, namely a Shiloh Sharp Rifle.

L-R
Grace, Abe, Calvin, me, Ty, Ande, Cali, Ray
Calvin has made all of the guns in this picture

For thirty years Calvin has made beautiful guns. He takes a chunk of wood and carves and sands it until it is a handsome gun stock. He buys a barrel, but molds the other pieces by hand, even carving the tiny springs in the trigger. Making a gun takes him well over two hundred and fifty hours. Calvin is very talented with his hands and eyes and he loves making guns, and even though I often get his guns confused with each other, I really admire and appreciate his abilities. He has made several guns so why one gun caused such grief I’m still not sure, but it did.

The Sharps was a special order gun, one that Calvin wouldn’t be making, and he had wanted it for a very long time. He ordered a Shiloh Sharp rifle knowing there was a several year waiting period, except in this instance it was not several years, but only a few months. Suddenly the company called and said the gun was ready to ship and they were waiting for the final payment. Calvin didn’t have enough money saved for it and that is when I learned about The Sharps. We had to dip into some saved funds to pay for the gun and I’d tagged them for something else. Calvin still swears he told me when he ordered the gun; I swear he thought he had several years to prepare me so he hadn’t mentioned it yet. Regardless of who swears most accurately, the gun arrived.

The Sharps was a source of contention. I felt betrayed. I felt second rate. I felt a thousand things that I wanted to feel whenever I wanted to feel them because of The Sharps. Calvin called the gun an investment, but I didn't see it that way.  I saw it as his toy that went on every father-son outing, scout over-nighter, and hunting trip. The gun had a little flip-up site that really was cool and every man loved to shoot it.  After a few years, I warmed up to it a bit (it’s hard not to like something that everybody else likes), but then I would remember The Sharps stood for perfidy and I'd get mad all over again.

Several years went by and then we needed money for a trip. Out came The Sharps and Calvin sold it as quickly as he'd bought it.  He said it was an investment.

Surprisingly, I mourned its loss.

Calvin was right, it had become an investment.  Not only was it a nest egg of memories for him and the boys, but it had become a place to stash my grievances. It was proof for whatever I wanted it to prove.

Calvin has been talking about ordering another Shiloh Sharp rifle.  I learned a lesson from the last Sharp's: a stash of grievances never pays.

I'm even considering offering to help him raise the money for the new rifle just to prove I learned my lesson.



Wednesday, February 8, 2017

"As White As Snow"


30 Day Writing Challenge

Tomorrow will be better because today I learned . . . 

Today my seminary students worked on a self-guided project studying the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The room was quiet. The students kept their fingers in between Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and flipped back and forth between the 4 books writing things they didn’t want to forget in their scripture margins and journals. There was a peaceful reverence in the room as they studied individually what the Savior had endured alone. It was still and so sweet watching them focus. I stood and soaked in the calm and watched them learn. Occasionally I walked (as quietly as my squeaky shoes allow) around the classroom and whispered to the students to teach me what they’d discovered. Several times I stopped at the window in the back of the classroom and watched the snow fall. It never quit. It was a beautiful insulation – soft, white, and silent. It covered the litter and smashed the weeds in the vacant lot by us. It silenced the kids’ yelling and the revving motors that come from the busy high school campus across the street. It dulled the lights from the emergency vehicles at the assisted living center next door.

Before it was time for the students to go back to the school, several shared what they’d learned and what they planned to do with it. One said the irony and hypocrisy was what most impressed her. The chief priests, Sadducees, and Pharisees prided themselves on their strict observance of law and yet they broke several laws when it suited their goal to have Christ crucified. She said she saw it in herself. She knows to be kind and to love and look for the good in everyone, and does for the most part, but she doesn’t hesitate to set that aside and yell defeat and hurl sarcasm when she’s on the soccer field or in the bleachers because they’re “opponents.” Another student said that she had never really been able to fathom His pain, but having just dislocated her knee cap and reading how the guards had come to break Christ’s legs as He hung on the cross (but didn’t because He was already dead) put a new perspective on the price He’d paid so she could have eternal life. She said she wouldn’t take His pain for granted so easily in the future. Another student said he was so grateful for the control over anger and revenge that the Savior showed in the middle of suffering. He said he could better control his frustration watching the Savior’s example. Another student said that it was obvious to feel Christ’s love and unselfish care for those who followed Him because He never worried about His own needs as He hung on the cross until after He had taken care of everyone else. First he asked the Father to forgive the guards and then asked John to care for his mother, and only after they were cared and prayed for did he say, “I thirst.” The student vowed to be less selfish.

This rather ordinary day was a rather extraordinary object lesson for Isaiah 1:18

Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord,
though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow, 
though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool.

But it wasn’t an object lesson for the students because they didn’t see it, they were part of it. It was an object lesson for me. The Savior's object lessons are the best because He uses real things – fish, loaves, coins, sheep, snow – and people. He never forgets His people and today it was His students.

Each day the kids walk across the high school parking lot and the street to get to the seminary building. Most days I glance out the window and watch them. Sometimes they walk in groups and sometimes they walk alone; sometimes they laugh (like today when two boys hit a patch of ice and both went down) and sometimes they don’t (like today when they pulled their hoods up, put their heads down, and walked neck forward into the blowing snow); sometimes they want to come to seminary, sometimes they don’t. They walk in perfect weather and they walk in storms. They come to reason together with the Savior and learn about repentance and forgiveness. He teaches them He can remove the litter and sin from their lives and He has the power to blanket them with forgiveness. Today as it snowed and my students studied so diligently to learn about the Savior's last hours on earth, they taught me more permanently of His power and purpose.  Tomorrow will be better because of it.  

Thursday, February 2, 2017

“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread and pumpkin pie.” -Jim Davis


30 Day Writing Challenge

Write about something to think about.




Tonight Michelle and I were talking on the phone about healthy eating -- mostly vegetables.  I was reminded of this fascinating article* that I read eight or ten years ago.  I think of it quite often, especially when I'm out in the garden.  I have no idea if it is scientifically correct, but it's worth thinking about:

We’ve all heard we are what we eat, but did you know that studies show that every whole food we eat has a pattern that resembles a body organ or physiological function and gives us a heads up on what benefits that food might provide us? Here are a few examples:

· “A sliced Carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye...and science shows that carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes.

· “A Tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart is red and has four chambers. All of the research shows tomatoes are indeed pure heart and blood food.

· “Grapes hang in a cluster that has the shape of the heart. Each grape looks like a blood cell and all of the research today shows that grapes are also profound heart and blood vitalizing food.

· “A Walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds are on the nut just like the neo-cortex. We now know that walnuts help develop over 3 dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.

· “Kidney Beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys.

· “Celery, Bok Choy, Rhubarb and more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23% sodium and these foods are 23% sodium. If you don't have enough sodium in your diet the body pulls it from the bones, making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.

· “Eggplant, Avocados and Pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female - they look just like these organs. Today's research shows that when a woman eats 1 avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight and prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? ... It takes exactly 9 months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are over 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition in each one of these foods (modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them).

· “Sweet Potatoes look like the pancreas and actually balance the glycemic index of diabetics.

· “Onions look like body cells. Today's research shows that onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells. They even produce tears which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes.”


If this is correct, my heart and bones are in great shape, but my brain is suffering.  I wish I could think of another food that looked like the brain so I could substitute.

According to this article, what should be healthy on you?


(Source attributed to David Bjerklie, of TIME Magazine)