Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Meet Ezra.

Ezra is Joe and Ande's second son.  He is also Grandpa's buddy.  He requests daily to call Grandpa. He never says a thing, he just wants to see and hear from him.

Ande wrote this perfect description of Ezra:

"Ezra, you are determined. Whether you solve your problem or yell about it until someone helps you, you get what you want. You request "Puff the Magic Dragon" every time we are in the car. I usually limit it to 4 times on repeat. You require no less than 6 stuffed animals in your bed. A donkey, a rabbit, two (identical) Curious Georges, a moose, and a puppy baby toy that rattles. You love and hug them all. You point out every "dig-dig" at every construction site and every airplane (and anything that remotely sounds like an airplane). When you are happy you have a waddling walk and toothy smile. Without fail you take your shoes off the second you get in your car seat. You usually want nothing more than to be Zeph's buddy, expect when you want to be ornery. You love to hug and climb on and jump on your dad. You've decided to stopping hitting Winnie, and now pet her and try to make her smile. I'm so glad I get to be your mom."

Ezra reminds me of Pigpen on Charlie Brown -- he loves the dirt and loves even more to be covered in it.  Dirt looks so healthy on him.  Ezra has a raspy voice and his vocabulary is limited, so each word he says is like a nugget, especially when the word ends in 's'. It's so cute, but he does not like to repeat himself. 

Ezra waves to everybody.  He will stand out in the middle of the yard and wave at airplanes who are miles overhead as if the pilots and passengers can see him.  He does it dutifully for each airplane. It's simultaneously cute and sad.

He's such an agreeable little pal.  He loves to work and follow behind you helping.  He loves to feed the animals and can be found sharing his sucker with the chickens.

I'm so grateful for families, inquisitive curly towheads, children who love the dirt  . . .  and Ezra Wilhelm.

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:


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?