Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tuesday Tell All

Thank heavens we have 26 letters in our alphabet. It’s just the right number for me to memorize and manipulate. It also is the right amount for summing up favorite things of our last few weeks. Here’s to alphabets . . . and favorite things blog posts.

As a preface, we (Calvin, me, Abe, Grace, Ty, Michelle, Ande, and Joe) gathered in Disneyland before Christmas to celebrate Ande’s college graduation, and then we (Calvin, me, Ty, Michelle, Ande, and Joe) came home to celebrate Christmas, and then we (Calvin, me, Ty, and Michelle) went to Seattle to celebrate New Years with Ande, Joe, Ray, Cali, and Levin. These memories are in no particular order, they're just some favorites. Thanks to Joe and Ande for most of the pictures.


Airports. Five days before Christmas most of our family met at Disneyland (California) to celebrate Ande’s graduation from college. Ty, Michelle, Calvin, and I spent several hours in the airport on Christmas Eve awaiting our flight home. This card table made of suitcases worked perfectly to pass the hours.

While awaiting one flight I saw a soldier sitting by his mother, both were very sad. I went and talked to them and they both cried. The young man was deploying to Afghanistan and he was scared and so was his mom. I gave him a big hug and told him I was proud of him and was grateful he’d take care of us. He smiled real big and I was glad I was brave enough to talk to them. Later, somebody on our flight gave him a first class seat and he showed a bit of excitement. A little thank you seems to go a long way when someone is sad.


Birthday. Ande’s birthday was the first day we were at Disneyland. She wore her birthday badge proudly and the barbershop quartet sang to her. One of the things I love about Ande is that she is happy. She is fun to be with because she not only feels the magic – of family, of Christmas, of birthdays, of Disneyland – she helps spread it.


Christmas gifts. Like Chewbacca, the puppy Ande gave Joe for Christmas. Joe has wanted one forever, but it took Ande several months to come around to the idea. It was a big surprise to Joe. A BIG surprise. Michelle cried when she opened the gift she received from Ty – a free piano from Craigslist and music to go with it. Michelle is a wonderful pianist, but hasn’t been able to play since they moved East – her soul needs music.

This year for Christmas each family gave three of their favorite things to each other family. What a great gift exchange it was. Here are some of the ideas:

Ray and Cali keep a hummingbird feeder filled out their kitchen window and Ray especially loves to see the hummingbirds feed, so they gave each of us a feeder to enjoy as well as an invitation to join his non-profit “Operation Feed Hummingbirds in the Winter” organization as well. They also gave us i-tunes gift cards so that we can download the This American Life podcast apps to our phones, because that is one of Cali’s favorite things to listen to while cleaning house and folding laundry.

Abe and Grace gave us each a Nalgene water bottle with the instructions to find a hike in our area and go on it because that is one of their favorite things to do. They also gave us a cd with 20 of their favorite songs.

Ty and Michelle gave everyone a wooden marble game like the one Grandpa Payne made for our family. Calvin and Ty spent several hours out in the shop making them and I am so happy I don’t have to chop ours up to fairly split it between them now. They have all wanted it. They also gave us a gift of time by sharing one of Michelle’s favorite family traditions – watching the Muppet’s Christmas Carol and eating ice cream together.

Joe and Ande gave us each a recipe journal where they recorded two favorite recipes – onion rings and lasagna. They also gave us individualized gifts of meaningful pictures Joe took that Ande transferred to canvas through a new art technique. For example, the picture Joe took for Cali and Ray was one of boats down at the docks with the Seattle skyline in the background. It is to remind them of their Christmas sailing, their time in Seattle, and their love of water. The one for Abe and Grace was taken in the Philippines of their national flower; its daintiness reminded them of Clara, and the Philippines of Abe’s love for the people he served on his mission there. The picture for Ty and Michelle was taken in San Francisco, where they went on their honeymoon. The picture for Calvin and me was taken in Turkey of a famous painting of John the Baptist.

Calvin and I gave them a gift of meats that Calvin cured – bacon, Canadian bacon, and jerky. We also gave them a gift of a warming bag, chocolate covered nuts, and a book that we both enjoyed this year because curling up with a warm bag, candy, and reading a book is one of my favorite things to do.

We voted to keep this tradition another year. I’m glad gifts are a part of Christmas.


Disneyland. It’s magical. It really is. I have fond memories of going there as a child and now our children have fond memories as well. The girls and I were visiting with Ariel, the mermaid that grew legs. Ariel whispered to the little girl ahead of us, “You know sometimes when you see a big group of fish together? If you lean over the boat and say, ‘Where’s Flounder?’ they will all scatter and swim away to tell him that you’re looking for him. Try it. It happens every time.” Only magical places have clever answers like that and know what fish think.

My niece Charlie worked at Disneyworld last year and she said that her response when someone asked her “How many Mickey’s are there?” was “One. There is only one Mickey Mouse.” Sometimes they would say, “But I just saw him in Fantasyland and now he’s here.” And she would say, “No way! Do you know what Mickey just asked me a few minutes ago? He wondered how many of you there are in the park. He said, ‘I just saw that boy with the striped green shirt and glasses in Fantasyland and now he’s clear over here. How many of those little boys are in the park?” and I told him, “One, Mickey. There’s only one little boy like him. There’s only one of everyone.” Only magical places have clever answers like that and one Mickey.

Grace, Calvin, Abe

Exercise. We logged between 10-12 miles a day each day we were at Disneyland (you can get a third of a mile just weaving the lines). We were dogged tired every night . . . and sometimes during the day during the rides.

During the Christmas break Ty went jogging with me one morning. He said I jog faster than he thought; either I was showing off or his expectations were very low. Ande and I took Chewie on walks, too. I loved the chance to visit with the kids as we exercised.


Food. I like it. All of it. Our family has the tradition of each person picking their favorite food for our Christmas Eve meal. Even though it occasionally gets hectic, I enjoy everyone cooking their choice. Our Christmas meal is so easy now because they're all good cooks.  This year Calvin cooked prime rib, Joe made scalloped potatoes with a sweet crumb topping, Ande fried onion rings, I boiled corn, and Ty mixed a cheese ball. Now that everyone is older our meal is somewhat coordinated (someone might say “Has anyone chosen a side dish yet?” and then make his decision), whereas when the kids were little it was positively carnivorous. We also had pizza twice – once for Michelle and once for Abe. We never did eat Grace’s favorite food.

During the vacation the kids also cooked at other times.  Ty cooked Chinese food for Joe and Ande, Michelle cooked us one of hers/mine favorite recipes and they helped in the kitchen often.  I forgot how fast dishes can be done.



Games. During the holiday we played:

Rummikub (where have I been? I’d never played it before. It’s better than dominoes!)

Clue (we played by the official rules and hence, I lost. I knew there was a reason we changed the rules)

Hearts (I shot the moon once, but lost anyway. I hate it when I have to eat the queen and I ate her a lot)

Banana-grams (still not very good, but I do love it)

And . . .

Celestial Companions (a game Michelle’s sister gave her for Christmas – think The Newlywed Game with your host Baaaaaaa-bbbbbbb Eubanks.).

This picture of Abe sums up our Celestial Companions game.

We played CC one evening at the hotel while we were in California. One of the questions was “On a scale of one to ten rate your husband as a Casanova.” Three of us wives played it safe and said, “A ten. Definitely a ten.” One of us was honest and said, “A seven.” When her husband winced with the wound, she said sweetly, “It’s true if you think about it . . .” Wouldn’t you know that couple went on to win Celestial Companions? Their honesty thumped us in the long run; I’m sure there’s a moral in that story somewhere.

Abe and Grace

Happy. Last year Abe was in Iraq and Grace spent Christmas alone with me and Calvin. I couldn’t help but think what a happy time it was for both of them to be together this year rather than skyping. Last year Ande and Joe and Ty and Michelle were engaged, but very much single. I couldn’t help but think what a happy time it was for them to be married rather than dating. And when the kids are happy, it makes the dad and mom even happier.


Inside jokes. I’m only a fan when everyone that is hearing it is on the inside of it.  For good or ill, thanks to Ty, Michelle, and Joe this trip created several new ones for the Payne's.  Ice cream will never mean the same.

Ande Jane and Mama Jane

Jolly. Excited. Jubilant.

There was a girl from Pakistan that sat next to us on the submarine ride. She had no legs and was missing both of her hands, however it didn’t keep her from moving independently. She is a foreign exchange student and her host family had come from Oregon to show her California. The submarine ride was her first attraction, and she was so happy and excited as was her host family. Watching her enjoy this opportunity enhanced mine.


Kaput. The pipes in the pump house broke – completely went kaput – while we were gone to Disneyland. Why is it a favorite memory? Because when we got home at 12:45 Christmas morning, Calvin fixed them so we could have water on Christmas day. I told him it wasn’t a big deal and we could work around no water, but he said he’d rather fix them so that everyone could enjoy Christmas. The kids were asleep, so while he worked outside on the pipes I unpacked, did the laundry, and put Christmas breakfast in the oven on time bake. It was like old times. By the time we went to bed at 3:30 a.m. it looked like we’d been patiently waiting for Christmas all week. I am so glad Calvin is handy and usually has a solution.


Levin. This little boy grins from ear to ear and squeals when he sees you. He makes you feel like you are the most important thing to him on the planet. And then he does it to the next person and makes them feel just as important. He has the funniest squeal. It is high pitched and he does it when he gets really excited and intense and wants you to be happy with him.

Calvin kept worrying aloud about Ray, Cali, and Levin while they were on their trip abroad. He worried the sharks would eat Levin’s legs off as they dangled in the water. He worried the boat would capsize in a storm. Finally I said, “Calvin, my imagination has enough worries without adding yours. How about we both just keep our scary thoughts to ourselves until something happens?” It's a toss up as to who was more relieved when the Follett’s returned home safe and sound.


Music. One of my favorite things of Christmas is the music. I love to sing along. I love to listen. I love to swing my foot to the beat.

And while we don’t take pictures during our church meetings, one of my favorite memories of this Christmas was sitting on the church pew Christmas morning singing and listening to songs of the Savior with my family. It was just so very, very good. I wish every Christmas fell on Sunday.

Ray's arm

New Year. We rang it in at Ray and Cali’s. Ray said 2011 was his best year yet. I love his attitude. It really should be that way – every year should be better than the last if you live it right, circumstances notwithstanding.

Ty and Michelle

Opinions. One of the most rewarding things in the world is when your kids ask your opinion on a matter, or for advice. There is no one in the world who better knows your mistakes and imperfections than your kids, so to have them forgive you of your stupidities and acknowledge your successes by asking what you think or what you would do is very kind. The kids often ask for our advice on parenting, marriage, career paths, vehicles, politics, brands of mayonnaise, and matters of faith, and this trip was no exception. To hear them humbly ask and quietly listen is something Calvin and I don’t take lightly or for granted.

Calvin coming out of a partridge in a pear tree twirl.

Parts. As in Partridge in a Pear Tree. One of our Christmas traditions is to have a family night on Christmas Eve where everyone has a “part.” I love Christmas Eve family night. We decided to celebrate Christmas Eve on the 23rd so that Abe and Grace could be with us. Abe and Grace had us sing and do actions to the Twelve Days of Christmas for their part.

This year Joe and Ande mimed a scene, and Ty and Michelle taught us a dance. (Mind you this was all done in the confines of a motel room so Ande danced on the bed.) Mine and Calvin’s part was to share our 11 on 11 of ’11 photo project. I compiled each month’s photos into an album for each family which also included our family appreciations for the year. Traditionally, my Christmas Eve part is to have everyone sit in a circle with a piece of paper with their name on it. While we listen to instrumental music we write down the things we appreciate about the person whose name is on the top of the sheet and pass the papers every minute or two. But since Cali and Ray wouldn’t be with us and I knew we would be pressed for time, everyone wrote their appreciations ahead of time and sent them to me and I compiled them. What a great thing to be reminded of all the good traits that others appreciate us for. It is not only fun to hear them read, but to have a chance to let others know of our love for them.


Quid pro quo. There was a lot of give and take this Christmas. Like riding the merry-go-round. Michelle and I were going to ride it while we waited for everyone else to come off the roller coaster, but before I knew it they’d come back and jumped on with us. And even though there is no line at the merry-go-round you can’t fool me that was anyone’s first choice.

Before we went to Disneyland the kids were assigned the job of finding the best motel room – meaning price, cleanliness, and location. Several options came back, but when it came time to the final decision we started side-stepping so as not to step on toes. Ande wisely wrote to all of us: “Personally, I think every couple should send their vote between those two hotels and then we'll make reservations with the majority. Saying, ‘I don't care,’ is very thoughtful, but not helpful, so everyone has to make a real vote. I think it goes without saying that we are all willing to do what the group wants over what each of us necessarily wants as an individual, so make a vote and we'll make a final decision based on the group, knowing no one is feeling bad or disappointed or sad.”

I often thought of this comment – “I don’t care is thoughtful but not helpful” – and sometimes referred to it when I was in charge of seeing a decision was made. Everyone was willing to take one for the team or to step up and make a request throughout the entire holiday and it was great. As our family grows our dynamics are changing and it’s a big relief when the adjustments go smoothly.


Reading. Calvin started and finished Killing Lincoln on New Year’s Day. I’m still reading it.

During the vacation Ty was completely engrossed in the books Michelle gave him for Christmas. He’s a funny kid, he has amazing self-discipline and control . . . until he gets in a good book and then he can’t put it down. I love seeing a passion for good reading.


Shopping. Calvin and I gave each other a computer for Christmas. Buying a new computer before the old one is completely dead is a very grown-up thing for us to do. We are quite excited to have been so responsible and to not have lost one single file. Joe and Ty greatly helped us make our decision of which computer to buy. Ty rewarded Michelle and Ande with a smoothie for making it through the tedious, boring process.

It's a Small World

Thrills. Thrills like Tower of Terror. I should have guessed. The family told me Tower of Terror was like the Haunted Mansion and that not only would I like it, I would love it. It might even replace Small World and be my favorite they said. They also said it was supposed to be scary but that it really wasn’t; it just played with your mind a bit. Grace led the charge. And if I happened to question someone they would say, “Grace, tell Mom what it is like,” and she would pat my arm and say, “You’ll love it.” I believed her. Oh man. Oh man, oh man. I should not have. There is a reason the Tower of Terror ride is not called Small World. It was not touchy. It was not feely. It was scary. I could not have been happier than when it was over.

Cinderella's stepmother was a funny addition to the Disney Parade.


I was so grateful that our group was so unselfish. E.v.e.r.y.o.n.e. – even when they were tired or sore or blistered or hungry.

Michelle couldn’t go on any thrilling rides because she is pregnant. She patiently waited in line with us on the scary rides so she could be a part of the visiting, and then sat at the exit holding our coats, bags, and cameras until we finished.

After Soaring over California for four or five times I asked Abe his choice between two rides and he said, “Actually, once of Soaring was enough for me, but everyone else loves it so I didn’t say anything.” I would have never guessed it wasn’t his first choice. He also led out and walked ahead by himself so that we wouldn’t get stuck in a cluster and frustrated by indecision and the crowds.

Calvin went on every ride anyone suggested. It didn’t matter if it was the carrousel or the rollercoasters or the water rides. Actually he was the water rides proponent, but he was game for anything and everything the whole time even after his schematic nerve (that’s what he calls it) begged him to give it up.

Grace wore her Santa hat even though it messed her hair up because we asked her to. She also got excited for every little thing; she’s a paradox in that she calms through her excitement. Every group needs a Grace.

Ande’s enthusiasm energized everyone. She also made each of us a great big bag full of dried apples, fruit leather, nuts, and candy. Each bag was immense and so good. She also packed wet-wipes and hand sanitizer. Ty and Abe wore backpacks and happily toted everybody’s snacks, water, and sweaters every day all day and didn’t make you feel bad once when you asked to retrieve something or added something to the pile.

Joe was the photographer and happy to accommodate everyone as well as make great suggestions. He never hesitated to find the answers to our questions and knew how to navigate all things Disney. He even happily acted out the part of a bear in the Golden Horseshoe Saloon skit.

I was so grateful for everyone’s kind and unselfish attitude which made the trip not only possible, but fun. Everyone’s willingness to come and celebrate with Ande was appreciated.

Ande, Calvin, me

Vertigo. The kids laughed when Calvin requested this ride a second time, but they were happy to oblige. I made it once. It takes me awhile to recover from the dysfunction of the vestibular system in my inner ear after one loop. Calvin's ear seems to thrive on it and every other ride that makes you dizzy.

Ty, Michelle, Abe, Joe, Ande, Calvin

Waiting in line. At the end of our Disneyland trip we asked everyone what some of their favorite things were. The universal answer was “being together.” Oddly enough, I really enjoyed waiting in the lines. I loved them because of the conversations. Sometimes it was all of us talking together – like the time we waited at Soaring over California and discussed how often we argue as couples and how we handle disagreements. Sometimes it was conversations between two or a few – like the time at Toy Story Mania when Ty and Joe spent the entire time figuring out how to better their scores after Ande thoroughly thumped everyone in round one. It was great visiting and catching up no matter where we were. Waiting in line gave us the chance to really be together.

Michelle and Ty

X-hairs. Right after we finished this ride, Ty called, "Hey Dad! How come your glasses are still up on the top of your head?"  Calvin wondered why he took last place.

Whenever Ande saw Lotso, the mean and nasty bear in Toy Story III that
smells like strawberries, she stopped to smell him.  Joe surprised her
with one in her stocking on Christmas morning.

Yuletide season. Many mornings Calvin gave a little devotional. One of my favorites was on December 23rd, Joseph Smith’s birthday, when he read from the scriptures about Joseph Smith and then bore his testimony that he knew he was a prophet of God. I left the tree up longer than ever before this year. I only made peanut brittle and chocolate covered peanuts and cashews. We made four or five dozen tamales one afternoon and ate on a cheeseball for over a week. It’s been unseasonably warm. Truly twas a season to be jolly.

Grace, Michelle, Ande

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay, 
My, oh my, what a wonderful day!
Plenty of sunshine, headin’ my way,
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay!

Splash Mountain plays the story of Brer Rabbit looking for his laughing place, his happy place, as the boat floats through animations representing happy times. Right before the edge of the waterfall, there is a sign that says, “You can’t run away from trouble; there’s no place that far!”

The laughing place. The happy place. That is what home and family is intended to be:  a safe and happy place to help us withstand the troubles of life that we can't run away from. This Christmas reminded me of that again and again. It made me grateful for our family and families everywhere.  In the words of Tiny Tim, "God bless us every one."


Barb said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Your ABC posts are always the best. We are taking a trip with our kids this summer - our first family airplane vacation - and I will remember the luggage card table.

Deanna/Mimi said...

What an absolutely wonderful life you live! It is hard to capture the feelings one gets when reading your blog, but your experiences make the rest of us feel happy, encouraged, lifted and complete. Thank you for sharing. How very blessed you are to have your beautiful family that is full of beautiful ways.

Haley Krumblis said...

I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for this!!! Yay!!! It lasted me a WHOLE hour! I would read 5 letters and turn away to do something and then come back and read 5 more. Oh how fun. We so wished we could have seen you all over Christmas. I have to laugh when you wrote about Abe walking ahead to avoid indecision and crowds...that is RYAN to a "T"!!

Grace said...

YAY! I loved seeing all the favorite memories. What a great time we had :)!

Ande Payne said...

This was so fun to read. Thanks for recapping all of the best parts. I loved our vacation!

Lucy said...

What a lovely Christmas! Going to Disneyland last year for the first time in 30 years, I concur that the place is magical. To experience it with your adult children and in-laws - together sounds wonderful. Your love of family is inspiring.

I loved the Tower of Terror. I feel bad because I kind of did the same kind of persuading with Henry who did NOT like the ride. Small world. Giggle.

Marie said...

I. Love. Disneyland. It really is completely magical.

I'm so glad to have a big catch-up post like this. It was a wonderful read.

(and that picture of Levin is too cute!)

Cassidy said...

I love this post! Thanks for the updates and pictures!

Derek-Jenny-Kaitlynd-Ethan-Dylan said...

What a great trip!

*Tower of Terror......I will never be the same again. That is not a good thing. I sat in the back corner second to the end, Ethan was on the end, and I prayed over him the entire time. I prayed.
In doing so, I did survive, but I think I messed up the fluid in my semi-circular canals (in my ears)! Maybe I am crazy, but I had vertigo for a long time after that ride. UGH....but I had to tell you my story!

Glad you had such a good Christmas! Congratulations Ande!!

Alisa said...

I too loved this post. It made me so very happy. You gave me some great ideas for gift giving- I love reading about your family Jane!
(did you see many hidden mickey's?)

michelle said...

Goodness gracious! I can't even imagine how long it took you to write this post!

Max's soul needs music, too, I totally get that. How wonderful that Ty got a free piano!

I love the thoughtful gifts you all gave to each other. Such a great idea. I also love the way your family seems to evolve with new traditions, it's inspiring.

I think that Q was my favorite letter of all.

Deidra said...

Sounds like the perfect way to celebrate graduation! I got snow in May for mine.

Too much goodness in this post to comment on it all.

Susan Walker said...

Oh, Jane, you make me smile. I know I've said that before, but it's necessary to say it again. You have got to be one of the most beautiful people who ever lived. Your joy and appreciation for everything and everyone around you inspires me.

I loved the Disneyland pictures; my husband, kids and I are going for two days at the end of this month for my 44th birthday. I will never stop getting butterflies in my stomach when I think about Disneyland. That's a good thing, right?

Glad to see the Dapper Dans sang "Happy Birthday" to your daughter. I actually sing with the Sweet Adelines these days, which is Barbershop-style, four-part harmony, and I just love it. Adds a lot to my life.

Thank you for being you, and for sharing yourself with others through your blog.

Cali said...

I loved that. I felt like I got to be a part of it. Thank you mom.