Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday Memories--Your Mama Wants to Make a Memory

Oh gee, we got a phone message tonight that just made me sad. There's not one thing we can do about it, either. It went somewhat like this:

"Hi! This is mama. We just thought we'd come up and go camping. We'd love to have you join us. You don't need to bring anything but your pillows, we have all the food and everything. Just appear like a vapor if you want. We won't be able to call you again, we're having trouble with the cell phones and the credit card, but we sure hope you'll come see us and spend some time with us. We love you and hope to see you and your kids."

So whoever might have a mama that would blow in like the wind and beg you to bring your pillow and come see her . . . well, she's in camp spot # 7 and she is waiting for you.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

52 Blessings—Cali


Last week’s comments to 52 Blessings—Ande made me laugh. Cali started the family interchange with, “And mom, I'm going to be your blessing next week, huh. I'll e-mail you a picture to put up” which then lead Grace to write, “I'll be finding a picture so I can be your blessing after Cali for the next week!” which then prompted Abe to write, “when do i get to be the blessing? i love you” and ended with Calvin saying . . . well . . . you’ll have to go see what he wrote . . .

So not only is Cali one of my favorite blessings, she is the source of so many others as well. Appropriately, one Christmas Calvin gave her some drink-stirring-sticks in her socking because as he says, “Cali you are the straw that stirs the drink in our family.” She puts an incredible amount of effort in developing and maintaining family relationships and we all benefit from her camaraderie, skill and wit.

I have learned much at Cali’s expense and so appreciate not only what she has taught me, but what she prepared me to teach the others. She is definitely one of my favorite blessings and I thank God for her.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Life in My World—Five for Friday and a Sixth One for Saturday

1. We canned peaches for Cali and Grace and then the two of them made peach pies. Ande, who was away working, felt a bit of a threat to her pie-queen throne when she saw the beautiful crusts. She just may have to share the chair as the pies were flaky, flavorful and beautiful. Thank you Betty Crocker, Grace and Cali.

2. This was a first. The other night we knelt down for family prayers before going to bed and guess who was in the circle? Just Calvin, me, Ray and Grace.


3. I never get tired of seeing the kids smile. Never.

4. I served Ray a piece of pie last night and he pointed his hands together to the ceiling and bowed his head towards me. I said, “Hey! I just read about that religion this week. It’s called (pause) . . . Jane-ism.” Oh ho. I do love a good pun. (Truly, I did read about Jainism. It is a non-violent belief and when practiced in its extreme, believers don’t wear clothes because it shows a connection to worldly things and takes the life of plants [cotton, silk].)

5. Grace and I went to see a friend this week and came home with more than we took. It always happens that way.

6. Today we went to three weddings. We got up early and drove 120 miles for wedding number one. In fact, we were even early so we stopped at JoAnn Fabrics to kill time. Unheard of. After the wedding, Calvin did the very sweet and kind thing of choosing a food buffet restaurant. (Much to my family’s chagrin, I love cafeteria food—the blandness of it all, the funny combinations, the one-price-includes-it-all-even-a-pop.) Then we returned home just in time for wedding number two. After congratulating the couple, we came home and Calvin took off his suit and tie and changed into slacks just in time to go to wedding number three. It was great seeing three new families formed in one day.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thursday Thinking-Hmmm . . .

Yesterday Grace and I went to the county courthouse so she could register to vote. Below the sign “register to vote here” was another one that said, “say good-bye to Faith.” In this politically correct world it was a pretty bold statement and I laughed aloud at the suggestion. However, when we entered the room there was another sign that better explained, “Faith is retiring, come say good-bye” and there behind the counter stood a beaming Faith, the veteran-sixty-pushing-seventy registrar.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Homemaking Tip--If the Bed Fits, Sleep in It

Ray sporting 8-year-old Pal’s Union hat at West Point

Now today's post may just seem like a little common sense, but it might have helped Abraham Lincoln's hosts 150 years ago. You see, Abe seldom fit in any bed they tried to give him. Once, when he was floating down to see the troops on the front line, the captain offered his berth to help protect the President from would-be assassins. It was one long night for President Lincoln curled up in the bunk, so the next day the captain determined to cut out the wall to give him enough room to stretch his legs. Mr. Lincoln, obviously used to discomfort, refused.

President Lincoln was 2-3 inches shorter than our son-in-law, Ray. When Ray called last night saying he was in the area on business and could come see us, he said he would only spend the night if he could sleep on the floor. Now I know he said it with the intent that he did not want to kick anybody out of a bed, but I’m also not going to put an adult guest on the floor if it can be helped. Since none of our beds are long enough for Ray as it is, I could answer honestly and tell him he could sleep on the floor. Then we took the mattress off a bed and put it on the floor so his extra six inches that don’t fit on the mattress don’t have to fall far. It’s a fit . . . for now.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

SPT—Itchy Feet


Remember when Pa would get itchy feet and want to go west in Little House on the Prairie? Each fall I suffer the same malady, except I’m about as far west as I can go so they must be itching to go another direction.

This morning the girls and I were out walking and we were talking about fall fashions and shopping, and what lies ahead of them, and pretty soon my feet started remembering how fun it was to get to where I am . . . and wondering where they have yet to go. Fall makes my feet itch. Especially when I wear shoes.

Which season makes your feet itch?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday Memories—We’re Not So Different

the same summer range, the same sagebrush some 25 years later

I’m no Dr. Doolittle, that would be Cali or my niece, Jesse, but I do enjoy watching animals. Growing up on a large farm and ranch, every summer we moved the cows up to the hills to pasture and I enjoyed watching them interact. Mile after mile we trailed behind them on our horses, so there was plenty of time to observe the same old cows. Before long, I couldn’t help but name them after the women in our community/church: Susie, Elsie, ErmaLee, Claudia, Josie, Ruth, Norma, Vera, Margarite—there was a cow for each. There was always one that thought she should be in charge, and another that was timid and glad to follow. There was one who was constantly in every other cow’s business and one who liked to hang back with the calves. There was the slow, fleshy one and the wiry, fast one. There was the one who walked ten yards to the side of everyone else and the one who was always stuck in the middle. There were some with distinguishing body marks and some who just blended in with everyone else. There was the messy one and the one who kept her tail moving. There were the nervous ones and the ones that couldn’t be hurried.

Those days were a long time ago, but I still think animals and humans are a lot alike. Our dog, Seemore, reminds me an awful lot of Ty—he’s just so eager, energetic and glad to be alive. I wonder if I would recognize myself in a cow today.

A friend recently lost her dog of sixteen years. She was really, really sad and asked me what I thought animals’ status is in the hereafter. I told her what I believe and then concluded, “I’ve been around some cows that are so mean spirited they'll be lucky to get out of hell in a thousand years, and others that are so kind and gentle there is no way you can keep them out of a celestial pasture.”

Have you ever known an animal that was kin to the devil?
What animal were you the saddest to lose?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

52 Blessings--Ande

oh boy, I’m gonna get it when she sees I chose this picture to post

I knew before I asked what she would say and I was right. When I said, “Ande, what is one of my blessings that I can write about today?” She didn’t even stutter when she said, “Me.”

She’s right. She is one of my blessings. A big one. From the time she was born. Rocking her was like applying a poultice of Balm of Gilead. When she crawled she kept her forehead on the ground until she bumped into the couch, chair, toy or refrigerator and then she’d look up and smile. She still has that attitude, “Keep your nose to the ground and hurry because there is a party . . . or book . . . or trip . . . or gelato at the end.” Ande is companionable—every sibling always wants her along because she's witty, encouraging, and happy. Ande is one of my favorite blessings and I will sorely miss her daily companionship in a week or so when she heads back to school.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Life in My World--4:41 pm

I'm still in my pajamas and it is 4:41 pm. I don't think I'll get out of them today. I'm not sick. I'm not tired. I'm not lazy. I'm just not doing anything that I couldn't do in pajamas . . . at least that is what I like to think. I do believe the Emperor in his new clothes and I would have been fast friends of denial.

Ande and Grace are in the throes of scrapbooking. I'm just dabbling around the edges, but it is fun to see their pages progress.


I fully intend to get dressed tomorrow. We're just about out of Reese's peanut butter cups and M&M's and someone has got to go get more or production output could suffer.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday Thinking--Lesson Learned . . . again.

A couple of weeks ago when family was here for my niece’s wedding, one of my sisters and I were talking about parenting. I told her about a realization I’d had a few years ago: Cali and I were out walking and she had a problem on which she wanted advice. Since it was a decision between good and good and she would be the one living with the result, I felt the best counsel to give her was to tell her I believed in her ability to make a good choice, would support her decision and that forever, for always and no matter what, I would love her. Cali got very frustrated with my response and said, “You’re always doing that. I already know you believe in me and love me and think I can make good choices, I want REAL advice.”

It occurred to me then that I was the parent I had warned the kids about becoming. I had seen parents who might have been monetarily deprived in their childhood lavish products on their own kids past the point of wisdom: if they were embarrassed of their shoes as a child, they made sure their kids wore the most expensive shoes; if they had wished for a bigger Christmas as a child, their children were inundated with gifts; if they were embarrassed of their car as a teenager their kids had a new one—that type of parenting. And it wasn’t limited to money issues but also cropped up in discipline. Without looking at the pros and cons of spanking, time-out or grounding, some parents followed a preconception or fad. I told the kids that rather than seeing what their children needed, some parents tried to fulfill their own unfulfilled wants through them and so “we shouldn’t make the same mistakes, now should we?” We had this discussion more than once through their adolescent years because our kids grew up on hand-me-downs, modest Christmases, old cars, as well as spankings and no grounding. I thought it our responsibility to warn the kids to be prepared to meet the needs and teach the truths to their children rather than living up to a preconceived or popular view.

So, that day Cali told me she needed more than what I gave I realized I was doing the exact same thing to her that I had warned the kids about. Not in a physical way, not in a disciplinary way, but in an emotional way. Instead of parenting her like she needed to be parented I was parenting her like I wished I had been parented.

In this same conversation with my sister, I also said that I wished I hadn’t used the distraction technique so much as a parent, for though it created temporary harmony it had the potential to create bigger problems down the road. I said that I now recognized that sometimes you just had to work through the un-comfortableness rather than constantly trying to get the kids to avoid or forget about it.

Then we changed the subject and my sister and I talked about the price of rice in China and other important things.

A couple of days ago Ande was frustrated with a project she is working on. Not being a perfectionist like she is, I often have a hard time empathizing with her and fell back into old parenting. I kept trying to distract her frustration by suggesting alternatives, changing the subject or laughing at the situation (thinking she’d see the humor if only I laughed often enough). It didn’t work. It made the situation worse by adding new elements. Finally I quit “helping” and let her work it out on her own. She left for work madder, more frustrated and with even less of a solution. But, she did come home with this:


It may be an “I’m sorry” bouquet to her, but to me it’s a “remember what you learned in parenting and don’t keep making the same mistakes” bouquet.

If I'd only realized earlier that less distracting might have led to more bouquets.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Homemaking Tip—Bed Bugs

I don’t know if you’ll thank me for this tip or not, sometimes ignorance really is bliss, but I do think you'll be glad I didn't post a picture.

Remember the nursery rhyme, “Good night, sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite”? And if you knew the extended version: “And if they do then take your shoe and beat ‘em ‘til they’re black and blue.” Were you really afraid of bed bugs? I wasn’t . . . until I talked to my sister-in-law who is a head housekeeper.

She said bedbugs are every hotel’s nightmare. They

1. eat blood
2. come out at night, usually just before dawn while their hosts are in their deepest sleep
3. are averse to sunlight
4. eat every five to ten days but can live a year without food
5. are drawn to carbon dioxide emissions and warm body heat
6. have been infesting American hotels since the US outlawed the pesticide DPT and international travel increased

However, she also taught us how to spot them. She said to look for a smattering of small black dots, like a fine sharpie marker would give, on the headboards of your bed, or a splattering on the wall that looks like someone opened an exploding can of Coke. (This gave me the willies, because I have seen that in motels and wondered why they didn’t clean up the spill.) My sister-in-law told us that if we do see the signs of bedbugs to tell the hotel clerk and we would promptly get a new room—evidently cooties are bad publicity. She also said to keep our suitcases off the bed, couch or floor so bedbugs wouldn’t hitch a ride home with us.

Have you got any more info or experience to add? I do hope Lelly weighs in on this subject.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

SPT--Grace & Me


Three weeks after Abe and Grace married, Abe left for training down South. Grace has been staying with us until the Army lets her join him. Though they can't wait and we're excited for them to be back together, we sure love having her with us.

I set up the scrapbook table today and we plan to get lots done in the next few weeks. I can't wait to do this picture.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Memories--Nothing Fresh

For the life of me I can't think of a memory today. I did post one and then when it seemed real familiar searched the archives and discovered I published it last year so quickly deleted it. Which reminds me of a good friend I used to visit. Senility was setting in and as she finished a story the ending always reminded her of the beginning and she would start it all over again, never missing a detail. Listening to her was like the song on the PBS show Lamb Chops that Sherry used to sing, "This is the song that never ends, it goes on and on my friends . . ."

I'll think of a fresh memory for next Monday . . .

Sunday, August 16, 2009

52 Blessings--Ice Cream Cones

There is magic in an ice cream cone:

I used to get one after every OB checkup. Besides wearing a paper-towel dress and carrying your urine sample through the hall and having to step on the scales before a slender little nurse that quietly clucks her tongue and you know next week it will only be worse in this world where less-is-more as far as weight is concerned, you feel a bit exposed. An ice cream cone is a nice little tonic for the overexposed (and run-on sentences).

After dropping the boys off at the Missionary Training Center we headed straight to the BYU Creamery where they had almond joy ice cream (and the scoop is generous). Dropping off your kids at the MTC is a thrilling experience, but thrilling or no, saying good-bye for two years is emotionally draining. An ice cream cone soothes the sorrows.

If Calvin has to drive somewhere that is long and hot and dusty and maybe a tad bit boring, he'll invite me along and I'm more than happy to jump in and go with him, because I know somewhere he'll find me an ice cream cone (Drumsticks at the gas station count). An ice cream cones is a great monotony buster.

Saturday evening after Laurie's funeral . . . (which was incredible. Michelle, Laurie's sister, gave a wonderful life-sketch [I had forgotten all about Laurie being young mother of the year when they lived in Hawaii] and didn't know about the time when the twins were a week old that Laurie lost track of who was who. She had taken them in for their one-week checkup and the doctor had her undress them and then he temporarily left. Laurie was busy trying to keep the undressed twins soothed and two-year old Nathaniel happy while waiting for the doctor to return. In the process, the boys got mixed up and she couldn't figure out which one was which; they really are identical. Finally she thought she could tell so she grabbed the fingernail polish out of her purse and quickly painted one boy's toenails. To this day they're not positive Ben is Ben or that Zach is really Zach. After Michelle's life sketch, each of Gary and Laurie's boys spoke, even Abe, their son who is in the MTC. Abe sent his talk in a letter and their bishop read it to us. It was a wonderful, uplifting service. Gary and the boys have good things ahead of them and it was nice to be with them and bask in the peace and strength they've been given during this time) . . . we went out for ice cream at Husky's. Something about being surrounded by Cali, Ray, Grace and Calvin while licking an ice cream cone just made a good end to the day. Although it's frozen and warm milk is warm, an ice cream cone has the same effect and is much more palatable.

I'm grateful for the little things like ice cream cones that make life taste good while you go through it.

What little thing tastes good to you while you go through life?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Life in My World--This, That and the Other


We are going over to the big, big, big city on the other side of the mountain today. I could be The Little Engine That Could as I just can’t go to the other side of the mountain without taking a load. (Last time I took a big box of green beans. What was I thinking? Ray and Cali can’t eat a bushel of green beans.) Today we’re taking a big box, but it has doesn’t have green beans, it has cucumbers, beets, potatoes, peppers, squash, tomatoes, onions and carrots from the garden. And Cali’s shoes.

I’ve written about the shoes before. When Cali lived at home we had a matching pair of shoes a half size apart. Mine wore out first and Cali got tired of hers so she asked me if I wanted her pair. I did, but a half size too small is a half size too small no matter how optimistic you may try to be, so after one day of wearing them I said, “Never mind, but thank you anyway” and put them in her closet. She said they were my responsibility to dispose of because she gave them to me. She would not take them back. I kept putting the shoes in her closet and she kept putting them back in mine. Since that debate, we’ve had at least a dozen trips to drop stuff off at Goodwill, but the shoes never go. Why? Because it would dam our game, or more likely the better answer is that one of us would have to give in. You see, I quietly hide the pair of shoes in her belongings and then when she finds them she quietly hides them somewhere in mine. One day I opened my temple bag and there were the shoes, right and proper and out of place. Another time when she unpacked her sleeping bag, there were the shoes stuffed in the bottom. Back and forth, back and forth the shoes have gone. We lost track of them a few months ago and couldn’t remember who hid them last or where. But last week when company came I had to add extra leaves to the table and there were the shoes, hidden under my bed between the table leaves. When I told Cali that I had finally found them and planned to bring them over to her house next time, she wailed into the phone, “Nooooo faaaiiiir. I’ll never find them in this house; there are too many places to hide them.” Exactly.

I shared a recipe in the newsletter today that Laurie had given me. Several years ago Calvin was going back to West Point and Laurie wanted to send her son, Nathaniel, who was also a cadet at West Point, a loaf of his favorite bread. We couldn’t coordinate a dropping off point and still have fresh bread, so Laurie sent me the recipe and I made it for her. This morning Grace and I made a few loaves to take to Nathaniel and his brothers. Grace also arranged a mixed bouquet of sunflowers and lilies for the funeral. I told Laurie once that she reminded me of a sunflower.

In other news, I have to take a class to graduate that I already teach. Oh ho. I’ve never felt as smart in my life as I do on the days I take the tests. It is a stupid requirement really and I begged them to waive the class, but they wouldn’t so I feel faux intelligent.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Homemaking Tip--It Beats a Flyswatter

thanks to Whidget's blog for the photo of my niece with her nieces and nephews (with lots of tulle in those little dresses and Liberty's veil)

You're going to have to imagine with me on this tip because I didn't have the camera close by:

Last weekend my niece got married and had an outdoor reception. Here, outdoors means the flies are invited, too. To keep the bugs off the refreshments, someone draped lavender tulle (fabric netting) over the top of the trays. I don't know who did it (we all wanted to take credit), all I know is it looked nice and it worked! The next time I go to the fabric store and see tulle on sale I'm picking up several yards of it for future picnics because it sure beats fighting plastic wrap or someone trying to be an inconspicuous shoo-er.


Army/Navy Game last December

Along the Oregon trail and beside the Snake River there is a place called Farewell Bend. After enjoying plenty of food and water while traveling by the river, pioneers would rest a few days at Farewell Bend before leaving their security to go overland. We drive by Farwell Bend a couple of times a year and tonight I feel like I'm at Farewell Bend . . .

My friend, Laurie, died of cancer yesterday. She leaves her husband and three sons in the military, one son in the Mission Training Center preparing to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a fifth son in high school and a newly pregnant daughter-in-law. Laurie was a respite--she provided fun, love and enthusiasm to her family and friends. I shall miss Laurie very much and count myself blessed to have shared life together. I just wish the bend could have been a little further down the road.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thursday Thinking—To Be

I’m stalling on finishing the last few chapters of a wonderful book I’m reading. I know how it ends (it’s an historical book) and it isn’t going to be pretty . . .

We’ve had an incredible year with unthought-of opportunities. Sometimes I wonder if we have already used up all of our fun for the year . . .

Calvin keeps saying he’s aged. I remember his dad this age . . .

Summer is winding down, the potato vines are dying and schedules are picking up . . .

With that line of thinking, today I was extra glad to read: “We can’t predict all the struggles and storms in life, not even the ones just around the next corner, but as persons of faith and hope, we know . . . the best is yet to come.” (L. Tom Perry) Robert Browning was right, “The best is yet to be” and I should know that's true because we’re having slow-roasted brisket, homemade rolls, french fries and corn on the cob tonight and last night we only had hot dogs. But still, somehow, I needed to hear that today . . .

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Homemaking Tip--Leave Room


I saw a stitchery pattern several years ago of a beehive in a garden of flowers with bees buzzing. The caption underneath said, “Leave Room in Your Garden for the Bees to Dance.” I came home and drew a pattern that fit my limited abilities, traced it onto muslin and primitive stitched it, later making the muslin squares into decorative pillows.

I really like the saying, it politely says: one, recreation is important to the sanity of the soul; two, don’t underestimate the quiet guy, he is often what makes things happen; and three, it’s all about having balance in life.

I’ve given away all the pillows now but a couple of days ago I saw a gigantic bumble bee sitting on a pink flower in the garden—he needed a big space to do his dance—and so I dragged out the pattern. I think it's time to stitch it again--maybe on a kitchen towel or the hem of a table runner this time.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

SPT—Summer Food


I do love summer food and what with the grain, dairy and fruit group covered in blackberry, raspberry, peach or apple pie and ice cream it’s even easy to eat healthy.

Here are a half dozen of my favorite summer garden foods:

creamed peas and red potatoes
corn on the cob
fresh salsa (made from tomatoes, peppers, onions and cilantro)
summer squash
cucumber and tomato sandwiches

What summer foods do you like best?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Monday Memories—Rachel and Ande

My sister, Lynn, and I have kids the same age, in fact just weeks apart: Cali and Will (26ish), Abe and Levi (24ish), and Ty and Rachel (23ish). Ande was cousin-less, so Ty and Rachel included her when she was big enough to follow. We lived within 100 yards of Lynn and Fred and for a good decade the kids played together nearly every day—dress up, cowboys, school, forts, board games, jumping on the trampoline, Duck Hunt—and most summer Sunday evenings our families played Hide-n-Seek together. In short, there were a lot of play hours logged between our families.

One of my favorite pretend games that Rachel and Ande played was when they were orphans and would only refer to my sister as Miss Hannigan (from Annie). “Yes, Miss Hannigan” they’d whine obnoxiously when she’d tell them to run to the basement for a jar of green beans or to pick up the toys. And Calvin used to get so mad at Ande and Rachel because they’d drag his tools out of the shop to their forts. In fact, whenever we were missing anything we’d holler, “Ande and Rachel! Where’s the ______?” and one of them would run to their fort and retrieve it. But, one thing they seldom did together was take naps. We had quiet time every day, but that's where the kids parted ways.

Even though we moved 500 miles away, the kids’ friendships have remained strong. Cousin Rachel (not to be confused with Aunt Rachel) is staying with us this week. I went to check on her and Ande a few minutes ago and found . . .


And a few years ago when we went shopping and I couldn’t find them, I eventually found them sound asleep . . .


. . . on the display bed. And they weren't even ashamed when I woke them up. I wished they’d have liked naps when they were little, that’s one game Miss Hannigan and I’d have been happy to play with them.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

52 Blessings--Parent Paydays


( photo courtesty of )

Parent Paydays seem to come just often enough that you don't get discouraged and just seldom enough you can't take being a parent for granted.

When the kids were little the pay might have been a crackers-and-chocolate-chips note on my pillow, or a "you're an inspiration to me" comment after a ballgame, or a "you're the best mom in the whole world" with a chubby armed hug, or watching a child's faith solve a crises. This week I got a parent payday from each of our children (you know by now that always includes Ray and Grace) in their own way and I dare say I'm one of the most well-paid women in the world.