Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Homemaking Tip--More Than You Bargained For


I just knew when we got this water-trough of a sled last winter that we'd use it for more than holding people in the snow, and I was right:


It's perfect and keeps everything nice and cool:


I think it would make a great bathtub on a camping trip, too. (I'll bet you can't wait for that picture.)

What would you use it for?
Would you mind leaving us a tip of something that you use for more than what it was intended?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

SPT—People Seldom Notice a Double Chin if . . .


. . . you give them a big enough smile. Smiles are secret weapons when it comes to photography. But that’s not all . . .

You’ve heard it said, “A smile is the universal language.”—anon But did you know that even dogs can speak it? At least our dog, Blue, could. With her twisted mouth, her smile looked almost rabid, but she made you feel like a million bucks once you knew what she was doing. Recently I stopped by a friend’s home and her dog greeted me with that familiar-looking, twisted mouth. My friend met me at the door saying, “Don’t mind the dog, he’s just smiling.” That makes at least two dogs that can speak it.

Maybe you’ve heard it said, “A laugh is a smile that bursts.”—Mary H. Waldrip But did you know that a smile increases the production of the happy hormone, serotonin, and sometimes the lips can’t hold it all in? A good belly laugh (which starts with a smile) exercises the diaphragm, abdomen, lungs, face, leg and back muscles. With all of the miserable, sweat-inducing, boring workouts on the market today a good laugh is a fun and painless way to burn calories.

Perhaps you’ve seen someone with: “A smile (that) appeared upon her face as if she'd taken it directly from her handbag and pinned it there.” —Loma Chandler But did you know that smiling is so important that even a fake one has benefits? Scientists have discovered that your body doesn’t know the difference between a fake or a real smile and will respond to your happy face as if it’s the actual thing.

It’s true that “The ultimate in shapely curves is found in a smile”—anon Because a study conducted by UC-Berkeley found that women who smiled in their college yearbook photos led happier lives, had happier marriages, and had had fewer personal setbacks in the following 30 years.

You already knew that “A smile is a light in the window of the soul indicating that the heart is home.”—anon But did you know that a smile from a good joke also means the brain is turned on? It takes the whole brain to get a joke—the left side analyzes it, the right side makes meaning of it, the frontal lobe controls the emotional response you give to it, and the visual images of the joke are developed in the back.

Thanks to KnB-photography and Sara Rae Photography for catching my smile.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Memories—Roll Call


Once everyone in our family got to earth we had to have two family cars because not everyone could fit in one, even without the seat belt or infant car chair laws requiring everyone to have a seat belt, and three full bench seats, and someone sitting on a pillow on the little step between the middle and back seats, there was not enough room for all of us. One of our cars was a green Chevrolet suburban—whether a ’71 or ’72 I don’t remember. But what I do remember is roll call. Before we backed out of the garage or parking lot Dad would run down everyone’s name and we would make an accounting by calling “here” or answer by proxy “he’s in the other car.” Our names rattled off the tongue like we were our own alphabet song, interspersed with “Here.” “Here.” “Here.” I loved roll call and being accounted for.

Many insecurities I’ve outgrown, but one that occasionally plagues me still is that our Heavenly Father will forget He put me down here on Earth. I know it’s a silly concern, believe me I’ve wrestled with it long enough to know and had enough evidence to the contrary, but every now and then that fear still crops up and I want to hear Him call my name so I can yell, “Here! Here! Don't forget I’m here!”

This morning I watched this inspiring video—a heavenly roll call of sorts where God’s creations pass by—and as I watched the birds in flight I thought of the scripture in Luke that says, “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God. But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore . . .” (12:6-7, italics added).

Here. Here. Watching this was the second best six minutes I've spent all morning. We are definitely here, present and accounted for.

Do tell, what insecurities do you struggle with?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

52 Blessings—Nephews and Nieces

Hydn and Maddie

I have dozens and dozens of nephews and nieces and always wish for more time and interaction with them. They range in age from mid thirties to not-yet-two and their experiences and views are interesting on everything from hamburgers, heroes and candybars to politics. At least reading what they write (essays, stories, blog posts, shared journal entries and e-mail) helps to close the distance with the older ones. Here is an e-mail Maddie sent me a while ago:

I cant wait to see you!!!!!!! no i cant imagine what it will be with out a voice at least you can write Right? obama? no i don't like him either NO obama thats what i say but try to not judge him by its cover wait that want sound right so dont judge him first thats what im trying to do whith other peopol. but its hard it takes a while. he needs to make better choucies that will be beter if he does. yeah we celabrated Pals birthday it was fun i like it better when someone else is happy some times. Love you so much write more later promiss love Maddie

Nephews and nieces are definitely some very happy blessings in my life.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Life in My World—A Few for Friday

Cali's organized kitchen

1. One unexpected gratification of being a mother is when the kids do something better than I do. I remember specific “first” instances in each child’s case when I recognized them knowing, doing, understanding or explaining something better than I ever could. It started as young as watching one teach another sibling how to tie shoes, explain a scientific process or make a pie that clearly outshone any I’d ever made and multiplies the older we get. It gives me a mini-thrill watching the success of the following generation and seeing Cali organize her home this week was one of those instances.
I’ve always had a make-the-most-of-the-circumstances and love-it-like-it-is attitude; whereas Cali has more of a make-it-into-what-you-want-it and do-it-right-the-first-time attitude. It plum made me proud to see what a good home she makes.

2. While in Seattle, every night we played several games of dominoes. The loser was to buy milkshakes at the end of the week. By the luck of four points, it wasn’t me. Cali googled “best milkshakes in Seattle” and found a quaint and fun place. I didn’t know milkshake quality could vary so much until I had one of these, I not only slurped I even licked the glass (the rim was dipped in hot fudge).

I can’t wait to play Seattle dominoes again, because I know better than to bet milkshakes in any other game with Ray.


3. Today Lori and I gave our niece a bridal shower. Lori is always very generous in sharing her home and hospitality and she served a couple of salsas with chips, taco salad, fresh rolls and ice cream dessert. It was really good and inspired me to add new ingredients to spice up old recipes.

Betty goes to every bridal and baby shower, rain or shine, as well as every wedding reception. It is a sweet gift of support that she gives to our community. When I told her yesterday how impressed I was that she always makes the effort to support the women in our area she said, “It’s the best way I know to get to know them and have something in common with them.” Betty is an expert, prize-winning quilter and her gifts usually have a piece of her in them.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday Memories--Newlyweds

I'm spending the week with Cali and Ray. They have just moved into a beautiful home on the Puget Sound and though I came with the intention of helping them paint and move in, they're treating me like a guest on vacation--this morning I slept in and woke to a fresh sea breeze. While Cali went jogging, Ray and I sat on the deck and watched the ferries come in and go out. We had Great Harvest apple/date bread for breakfast and Cali and I went on a long walk down along the water's edge while Ray went to work. It's just been a great day.

Today as Cali showed me how she'd organized their kitchen and as we fixed supper tonight using new pans, measuring cups, bowls and plates and eating at a makeshift table made from a rubber-maid tub, it reminded me of being a newlywed with a waterbed, a spare bedroom full of gifts, hand-me-down furniture, and a sink full of Dawn dishwashing soap bubbles. I grew up a Liquid Palmolive girl, but Calvin was a Dawn man and so still today the scent of a bubbly pile of Dawn suds reminds me of his cologne, our little basement apartment and that first, newly married summer.

What smell takes you back to being a newlywed?
Are you a Palmolive, Dawn or (fill-in-the-blank) girl?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

52 Blessings--Screens

Yesterday Calvin and I (using I very generously) installed a new screen door--a wooden, two spring, loud slamming one just like the Waltons'. Screens are pretty amazing what with letting the light, sounds and breezes in while keeping the bugs, rodents and malaria out. Screens even make washing dishes quite pleasant what with a sink full of soapy water and a breeze blowing through the kitchen window. Screens; who would have guessed such a little mesh could make life so much nicer?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Life in My World—Bits and Pieces


This picture puts a whole new meaning to panties-in-a-wad—I’m the one with the hiked up shorts.
Rachel isn’t born yet, but Marcia is missing. I wonder where she is.

1. Disneyland opened 54 years ago today. Disneyland is a happy, sane piece of my childhood. Every Sunday night Walt Disney movies played on Channel 11 at 6:00—Davy Crockett, Parent Trap, Pollyanna, Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, Old Yeller, even the talking coyote movie. Every few years our family went to Disneyland (back when no one wanted to steal kids and you could roam the park alone) and after all my good E coupons (for such rides as the Matterhorn and Pirates of the Caribbean) were gone, I pretended on Tom Sawyer’s island or in the Swiss Family Robinson tree house. I love sitting on the bench at the end of Main Street still. And the frozen pineapple whip right next to the Tiki room is still one of my favorite treats.

2. I need a calendar. Several years ago my calendar was always so heavily loaded that I dreaded looking at it, so I threw it away and haven’t kept a regular once since. I decided I would take each day as it came rather than stress the future and expected my brain to remember the really important dates. I realize it is very irresponsible not to have a calendar and there’s nothing like a $216 non-traffic ticket to remind me of that fact. I forgot to renew our vehicle registration last year. Completely. Never even thought about it. However, the other day I was thinking, “Hey, it’s July. We should be getting our renewal notice soon” and not two days later Ande got pulled over and the officer asked her if she knew our tabs had expired a year ago. Of course she didn’t. I didn’t. But we both know now. When I called to renew our tabs, the very kind and helpful receptionist said, “I think you should just wait two more weeks; if you don’t you’ll have to pay for 2009 AND 2010 and you’ve made it this long . . .” So there you have it, we’re driving scared for another two weeks after driving in ignorant bliss for fifty. I shall mark July 27th on my next calendar as “Tabs are Due Day.” $216 would have bought years of calendars.

3. I love new meetings with fellow bloggers and feeling an immediate friendship; one where you might continue a conversation rather than just begin one. Blogging isn’t for everyone but I have certainly enjoyed it.


4. The circle journals a group of us started last November are still making the rounds. I have Sonja’s Family Recipes and Anita’s Favorite Vacations that I’m working on today. (Yes, I should only have one but last month kind of got plugged . . .) I have really enjoyed this circle journal project. At Sandy’s guidance and encouragement, twelve of us selected topics and then created a scrapbook/journal with that theme. We have a rotating order and each month we send the book we worked on to the next person on our list. By November, we will all have contributed a page to each person’s book and will get together and swap them. Part of the fun for me is that Susan passes books to me and each book has been accompanied by a generous plate of cookies tied in a pretty ribbon.

I can’t wait to start this circle journal project in my family, too. I have several nieces/daughters who like to scrapbook and I think it would be a great opportunity for all of us to keep in touch and share each other’s lives. I’m not ignorant to the fact that Sandy has been the key to making our circle journals such a success and need to be prepared to carry it like she has before I start a new group. Ummmm, I’m thinking I might be ready by January. Have you ever done circle journals? Any theme suggestions for next year?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009



I’m taking an on-line World Civilization History Class. I eat popcorn to stay awake while I read, but every now and then I find a paragraph that baits me to read the next one, popcorn or no.

“Mesopotamian gods lived their lives much as human beings lived theirs . . . they could be irritable, vindictive, and irresponsible . . . the motives of the gods were not always clear . . . the best way to honor the gods was to make the shrine as grand and as impressive as possible, for gods who had a splendid temple might think twice about sending floods to destroy the city.”

Argh. Can you imagine trusting a fickle god or trying to please a spoiled one? If nothing else, this class has increased my appreciation for twenty-first century worship . . . and popcorn.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday Memories—Upper Hand

I loved growing up in a big family. With six sisters and three brothers there was always a friend and even if one was mad at you, you still had allies. In our family there was plenty of variety even though most things were done in mass—sandwiches, 4-H projects, pots of potatoes, costumes, pies (I never saw mom make less than 8 pies at a time). I was on the younger end and loved being part of a big family.

One thing, however, that was not insured in our big family was exclusive ownership. We shared dogs, horses, socks, pop, beds, cars, toys, bikes, even my best friend. Pretty much everything was everybody’s. But I had one thing that no one else had; I had a cousin who lived fairly close by who was only eight months older and liked to play with me. When we were young he was in charge because he was older don’t you know. However he had a telescope, a Great Dane and he knew how to safely cross streets at Grandma’s house, so I didn’t mind. I liked him being in charge, except when he was nine and I was still eight, or he was ten and I was still nine and he told me I was too young to do some things.

Casey has good-naturedly used the older card on me for years, but finally, finally the tables have turned. Casey and his wife, Mary Jan (who is a regal woman that writes beautifully like the Bronte sisters) came to Abe and Grace’s reception and, albeit too briefly, it was so good to see them. Now that Casey is forty-seven and pushing forty-eight, he is too old to do with ease so many of those things that sweet, young forty-six year olds like me can still do and I made sure to kindly point it out before he left.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

52 Blessings—Reruns

Cali and Ray feeding Houdini, the turtle, worms~the temple doors~Calvin, Ty, Abe exiting the airport~Ande

Last night I rocked in the rocking chair on the patio and watched Calvin change the water. The sprinklers made their ka-swish sound, the birds made their evening calls, but after all the visiting and hullabaloo of the last two months it was awful quiet . . . and lonely.

And then, I remembered some of the facial expressions I’d seen in the last few weeks and I smiled. And then, I thought of some of the things we’d done and I smiled some more. And then, I thought of some of the words that had been said and I smiled even more. And then, and then . . . after I’d watched a series of mental re-runs I was no longer lonely, but felt extremely blessed.

*I also like Andy Griffith re-runs, but that's beside the point.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Life in My World—Abridged Version

Ray was sad when he realized we forgot to make a sign for Ty coming home from his mission so Cali went in the bathroom and made him toilet paper/paper towel banners. Improvising is one of our family's best talents. What's a talent your family has?

1. Remember that hen that wanted to hatch some eggs? Hmmm, I think I misunderstood her. She just wants to pretend, kind of like playing dolls. Twice I’ve gone out there and her eggs were cold as rocks. I threw the nest of eggs out and am not thinking twice ever again about stealing from her. Ande said the blog world will not want to know this, but I think someone somewhere will wonder whatever happened to that hen’s eggs.

2. I do not have a cell phone anymore. It is mostly a very liberating feeling. We play rotating phones around our house—I start with one and then when one of the kids needs it it then becomes their phone. When another child needs a phone we see who needs one least and redistribute. With few exceptions we’ve passed around all the cell phone numbers and you have to remember who has which number this year. I think we’re finally through passing them around and I suppose I’ll get another one in a few months, but for now it feels good not to be responsible for one.

3. Our garden is popping. I love being able to go outside and have it be like going to the grocery store without having to park, dress up, pay or walk down the freezing meat aisle.

4. Yesterday I called Calvin and invited him on a date. It was one of my best planned ones ever—dinner and an art presentation by a local artist. I really, really wanted to attend. I thought the lecture started at 7:00, but when no one showed up I thought we had the wrong location. We drove to three other locations with no artist and no lecture. I supposed I had gotten the wrong date so we came home. I looked it up again when we got home and discovered the lecture started at 7:30, not 7:00. And now I know why I am never early. It only makes things complicated.

5. Life in My World—Unabridged Version is in this week’s newsletter. You’re welcome to read about it here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thursday Thinking—Service with a Smile

When I was in high school I worked a few summers with my friend at her parent’s service station. Our job was to wash the dirty windows, check the oil and fill up the tank with gas or diesel—and smile. I can’t quit thinking about the service that friends have given to us in the last week or so . . . with a smile:

~A friend hand delivered a plate of fudge.

~Several friends called to see if we needed any last minute help.

~Friends loaned us their suburban so that we could all ride together to pick up Ty from the airport.

~Friends invited us to Sunday dinner because they knew we would be tired from traveling to and from the wedding last week and preparing for a wedding reception here this week. They also sent us home with all of the leftovers (Dutch oven chicken, grilled steaks, potato salad, broccoli/bacon salad, pasta salad, baked beans, cobbler and German chocolate cake so we wouldn’t have to cook until after the reception).

~Grace’s friends decorated for the Utah reception, served at it, took the pictures and made the wedding cake, it was wonderful.

~A dozen friends made fancy cakes or cookies and displayed them on pedestal cake plates for the center of the tables at Abe and Grace’s dinner in Washington. They were beautiful and good.

~A friend loaned us the use of several cake plates.

~A friend made dozens and dozens of rolls for the Washington dinner.

~Several friends stayed behind to help us clean up after the Washington wedding reception when they realized our small, motley crew was only Calvin, Cali, Ande and me. They stayed until the last wire was down and the last dish was washed.

~One friend took all twenty two tablecloths home and washed and delivered them to our house by noon the next day. She and her kids also delivered and unloaded all of the wedding gifts.

~Several young friends volunteered their evening to come and serve the dinner and to help clean up, while another friend from work manned the kitchen.

~Friends gave of their time to come to Abe and Grace’s wedding and receptions; some driving or flying several hours. They also gave of their means in generous gifts.

~A friend helped us string hundreds of Christmas lights from the ceiling.

~A friend brought over four boxes of bakers—washed and ready to wrap—for the dinner in Utah and then two bags of freshly dug, new potatoes for the dinner in Washington.

~A friend gave us the use of his condominium, which is ½ block from the Salt Lake City temple, to stay in during Abe and Grace’s wedding—complete with a “Welcome” bag filled with grapes, strawberries, chocolate, baguette bread, sparkling cider and a gag gift.

~A friend played beautiful piano music during the Washington dinner and ate his dinner cold.

~A couple of friends called and offered spare bedrooms for guests.

~A friend helped Calvin grill 300 shish-kabobs.

Can you imagine all this done with a smile? (And I didn't even mention family contributions.) We are so humbled by it and can’t quit thinking about it. “If I had to sum up friendship in one word, it would be Comfort.” Adabella Radici

Could you have kept a smile while helping like that?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Life in My World--


It’s done! There is now another Mr. & Mrs. Payne in the world. Abe and Grace were married in Salt Lake City, Utah on Wednesday.

We returned home late last night and I’m certain you have busy plans for the weekend, so I’ll keep this short and simply wish you all a Happy 4th of July.

P.S. You probably already remember this, but I think it’s such an interesting fact and who knows, you just may need to remember an interesting fact at your barbecue as you sit around and spit watermelon seeds together:

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson—friends (they have volumes of correspondence), political allies (Adams was President and Jefferson served as his Vice-President), political foes (Jefferson didn’t support Adams’ decisions), great minds that worked together (Adams asked Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence and Jefferson relied on Adams’ feedback)—both died on the same day: 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was written and on July 4th. God be thanked for both great men who understood and stood for Freedom.