Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Homemaking Tip—When Company is Coming

Our family is headed to Seattle tomorrow for one last bang before everyone heads home. We’ll do Seattle things during the day and on Friday night attend an All (Military) Service Academy Ball with Ty. We’re leaving early in the morning and Ty’s date is staying with us tonight. I just asked Ande, “Did you put out a towel on her bed?”

“Yes. And a washrag.”

“How about a mint?”


“Did you put out a little lotion, shampoo and soap?”

“Not yet.”

In the summertime we add a flower. It’s just a little thing, but it’s our way of saying, “Thank you for coming to visit. We hope you feel welcome.”

What do you do when company is coming?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009



Ty, Ande, Abe, Grace, me, Calvin, Cali, Ray

Each Christmas Eve we have a family program where each member brings a part to share. This year Calvin told each of us why he loved and admired us (sniff), then for my part everyone took a turn telling each person in the family one thing they appreciated about them (sniff. sniff). Ande quoted Shakespeare, Ty did a memory game, Cali quoted the Gettysburg Address, Grace did a card trick, and Abe taught us a Filipino song. Ray had had each of us take a personality assessment earlier in the day and bring our computer print out with us to the family program. He prefaced his part by saying, “Our family is growing and changing and I thought it would be beneficial to all of us if we better understood what makes each other tick.” We all identified our print-out results (I’m an ESFJ) and he read the characteristics that are frequently associated with each of our types. As he read, there was much nodding of the heads, laughing, and outbursts. It was fascinating, more accurate and helpful than other personality quizzes we’d taken, informative, and fun. It helped us to see

1. Where we prefer to focus our attention and energy (extraversion or introversion)
2. The way we prefer to take in information (sensing or intuition)
3. The way we prefer to make decisions (thinking or feeling)
4. How we orient ourselves to the external world—with a judging process or a perceiving process

It felt good to be validated by hearing the assessment. It was even better understanding why members in our family do what they do. But the very best part was realizing/trusting that keeping a family functioning is not just Calvin and my responsibility anymore, that the kids claim ownership in improving and helping our family to succeed. Now that is a gift.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday Memories— “If you would hit the mark, you must aim a little above it; every arrow that flies feels the attraction of earth.” ~Henry Wadsworth

Ty had a late birthday so we held him back a year in school. He was more than ready for some added responsibility and interaction that fall, so I promised if he would tend Ande while I milked the cow when I returned we would play the game he liked best: Tigers. It was supposed to be nothing more than both of us on all fours growling and clawing every now and then, but it was much more to Ty. He attacked and pounced on my back and couldn’t be shaken no matter how hard I shook or tried to pull him off. I called uncle within a month and declared him the king of the zoo.

Oh gee. Enter today. Ty asked me to sit down and help him form some of his goals for the year. Feeling ambitious, I thought I’d formulate a few of my own while he built his list. The last two years I chose to focus on a word for the year (and, thanks to Hannah and Donna, had wonderful canvas art to remind me of my words). I decided this year to return to my four point format and set spiritual, physical, social and intellectual goals (based on Luke 2:52). I quietly wrote my list in a recycled notebook while Ty sat across from me and typed his. After quite some time he said, “How do these sound?” and read me perhaps three dozen goals and then asked for more improvement suggestions. His goals were very specific, very comprehensive, very big. After I uncrossed my eyes, I looked at my little list and chuckled inwardly, “Don’t hurt yourself stretching, Jane” and “Who gave birth to him?”

Ty carries 22 credits, military duties and participates on the Sandhurst team; I hope to accomplish 3 classes. Ty runs 25 miles a week; my goal is to run a 5 K in five months. Besides accomplishing an act of service daily, Ty plans to volunteer monthly on a larger basis (tutoring, boys & girls club, etc.), while I didn’t even have a service organized. I certainly recognize that we are different people in different stages with different opportunities, but I felt inspired when he finished reading his list and knew I could try harder to be better.

Look out 2010, I aimed high and someone is riding my back. (The other day we were out jogging and Ty said, “What did President Kimball always say?” I wasted a valuable breath and puffed, “Lengthen your stride.” Ty said, “Uh-huh. That’s right. We’re going to measure our strides and then improve them. You’re bouncing too much. Start counting.” And that was before I set the 5K goal.)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

52 Blessings—Ibuprofen

Yesterday we went to the church to play kickball with a couple of families. January to June birthdays were on one team, July to December birthdays on the other. We have gotten together to play games with these friends several times. There is enough competition in all of our blood to keep the games moving and exciting, but not enough to do damage to relationships.

Kickball is a good game for all of us: there is enough movement to make us feel like we have exercised but the bases are close enough we can run around more than once, and all ages can play.

In my head I am still coordinated. Not so. Not so. My first kick the ball didn’t go very far, but my shoe did--flew up by the pitcher’s head. I put my shoe back on and kicked again and made it to first base, but running to second the other shoe flipped off and flew towards the pitcher. Besides losing coordination, I have also lost some good sense and what kind of shoes are kickball appropriate.

It was entertaining watching the old and young play together. The young can jump, duck, slide, and catch the balls. The old have the bravado and voice but can’t back it up without getting hurt. Calvin hit the floor once, Ken got hit in the face by the ball as he attempted a beautiful slide into second base, while Brenda stayed off the floor but feared for her back as she bent to avoid a throw. Janet was already sidelined with a previous injury. Brett was hale and hearty and covered home base nicely. Abe knocked me flat on one play and all I could think was “Pleeeeasse don’t let something break” as I went to the floor. I’m not a graceful faller, I imagine I would thump if I fainted, so everyone kept asking if I was going to be okay. I said I was because I kept thinking, “I don’t hurt nearly as badly now as I will tomorrow.”

playing Up-Jenkins

We all came to our home after kickball and played some more games and ate dinner . . . and I sneaked in three ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is a great blessing to my tailbone and wrists today and the arthritis the rest of the year. I am grateful for those little round pills of relief.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Life in My World—And What a Christmas It Was

my grand-niece looking at our Nativity

It was all Calvin and I hoped. There were sacred moments. There were warm and caring moments. There were growing moments. There were fun moments. It was good. Very, very good.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Homemaking Tip—Tradition


Today is Joseph Smith’s 204th birthday. I love Joseph Smith. He is a prophet of God who translated the Book of Mormon and was an instrument in restoring Christ’s church. I appreciate his example, personality and courage.


We celebrated Joseph Smith’s birthday by going to the temple. We had to leave early in the morning to get there on time, and several projects are running behind the Christmas deadline out in the shop; however, no one complained or even suggested we stay home. I thought of the wonder of that (we are a family never short on opinions) on the drive down to the temple and thought, “It’s because it is tradition. When something is a tradition you don’t have to re-decide, you just do it.” Behold the power of a good tradition. They make life so much easier.

Another tradition we have is to go shopping and out to dinner together before Christmas.

(clockwise: Ande, Abe, Grace, Ty, Ray, Calvin, Cali)

(the Famous Dave's trashcan lid platter)

(Ande, Cali and Grace mall shopping)

(Ty and Abe mall walking. They didn't buy a thing.)

Good traditions make life so much better. What is one of your favorite good traditions?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bells, Bells, Bells


Kelsey and Ande met in fourth grade and today we attended her wedding. Kelsey had a tear running down her cheek a good portion of the ceremony. It was the sweetest thing. And when Calvin hugged her afterwards and whispered, "We'll miss you Kelsey Payne" she squeezed him hard and made more tears come out. (Not one mascara smudge, mind you. She cried so daintily.) We're grateful for the friendship Kelsey and Ande have had.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Memories--Golden Birthday

mimicking Fraulein Maria in Austria

Today is Ande’s golden birthday and we celebrated it in a big way: a crab pot and taking family pictures.


After eating supper and opening presents we each shared a favorite memory of Ande. Grace and Calvin’s memories both involved the chickens. The memory Abe shared was of the two of them doing homework together while visiting and listening to music. Ty’s favorite memory was them reading aloud to each other (they’re reading Great Expectations together now). Ray’s memory was the first time he saw Ande’s hair early in the morning, he fondly calls her Medusa (it really is a fright some days). Cali’s memory was a sweet one from the night before she got married and realized she would no longer be sharing a bed with Ande. We all have lots of favorite memories of Ande, because she makes so many of them. She is quick to laugh and willing to be a part of things. She is a good friend to everyone in the family.

Though I shared the memory of hearing her little feet pitter-patter across the floor when the furnace kicked on every morning, so as to be first to sit on top of the heat vent, this picture is another favorite memory:


Ande would wander out to the barn in her bare feet and pull the spare milk stool up next to me when I was milking the cow. Since the cow’s legs were hobbled, there was no harm in her being kicked, so she held the cow’s tail so it wouldn’t swish us in the face. Whenever the cow stomped her feet or tried to swing her tail free from Ande’s little hands, she’d holler, “Quit it, mama.”

Sunday, December 20, 2009

52 Blessings—The Heart

This morning I had Calvin, Ty and Ande open and close their fists again and again. After fifty or sixty pumps, Ande started to squeal, “I don’t know how long I can do this!” so I asked them how many minutes they thought they could do it.

Ty said he could probably go five to ten minutes (he regularly uses a little squeeze ball to build his grip for rock climbing).

Ande said, “Just a few minutes.”

Calvin didn’t answer but instead kept asking, “What are you doing this for?”

After asking them to pay attention a few times, I read them this quote:

“The heart is an incredible pump. It has four delicate valves that control the direction of blood flow. These valves open and close more than 100,000 times a day—36 million times a year. Yet, unless altered by disease, they are able to withstand this stress almost indefinitely. No man-made material developed to date can be flexed so frequently and so long without breaking . . . Each day an adult heart pumps enough fluid to fill a 2,000-gallon tank.” ~ Russell M. Nelson

Yes, the heart is simply amazing. Not just in the ability to keep blood flowing through my arteries and veins, but because of what it feels, records, and knows. Here are four sweet little experiences from this week that touched my heart:
  • Last week I saw Brian walking across the church parking lot. It was teen temperatures and I asked him if I could give him a ride home. I knew he often walked, but until I drove him home I had no idea it was an hour and ten minute walk. Month after month, Brian has walked to church without anyone knowing of his effort.

  • Our neighbor wears a fitted, green velvet dress with white fur trim to church the Sunday before every Christmas. The dress was her grandmother’s. It’s a simple little tradition she started for herself and her kids to keep her grandmother’s memory alive, but it has also become my tradition because I look for her in that velvet dress each year. She laughed today as she sucked her stomach in and whispered, “I almost didn’t get it zipped up this year, but at least I finally fill in the top.”

  • I got a card in the mail from an anonymous friend. She said that her friend was celebrating her 70th birthday and that there was only one gift that her friend really wanted. That gift was for each invitee to write a note to someone in their life who would be happy to hear how much they cared about them. My friend then shared a sweet quote that reminded her of me along with a special thanks for being her friend. It was signed, “Love Always, Your Friend.”

  • This post that Ande wrote.

The heart is an amazing blessing and I am grateful for it physically, emotionally, and spiritually. What simple little thing has touched your heart this week?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Life in My World—Let the Party Begin

Yesterday Calvin and I had two different acts of service to choose between. We chose door # 1 and 240 miles to take our friends to catch a flight so they could go on a cruise. It really shouldn’t get to count as a service however, because Calvin then took me out to dinner.

We came home to Ande! Ahhhh, what a good feeling. She and her roommate got here about 20 minutes before we did. We fixed them dinner and sat down to watch a Christmas movie together. I didn’t even make it until baby Jesus was born.

I have to get up really early every morning, so even on weekends when I sleep in, it’s only 5:00. I love those early morning hours. Not very many people in the world want them and so they’re always quiet and peaceful. This morning I read and prepared for the day, then woke everyone else up so that we could be on the road by 6:45.

We drove halfway to Seattle (Cle Elum) to pick up Ty. Ahhhhh, what a good feeling. He had flown into the airport there and then spent a few days with Ray and Cali. Ray called with a challenge: first one to Cle Elum would pick the place to eat breakfast and the last one there would buy. We bought, even though we tried to trick them by never telling them where on the road we were. What a fun morning. Here is what people ordered:

Eggs Benedict
Oatmeal and a fruit crepe
French toast
Cowboy Benedict
Pancake/sausage/scrambled egg

There was a whole lot of plate swapping going on.

Then we went to the meat store. Calvin loves this place. One whiff of it and I was ready to go across the street to the bakery. When I was pregnant with Cali I worked at BYU’s meat lab. Who-eee, one whiff triggered a whole lot of old gag reflexes.

The girls and I went to the bakery and since we were still full from breakfast decided to get a pretzel looking thing to share. Hmmmmm. One bite made us glad we had only gotten one for it was as Ande said, “It tastes like I took a bite of shortening with some potpourri sprinkled on it.” To be fair, the bakery has really good things, we just chose a bad thing. I think it was made for dunking.

After dropping Ande’s roommate off we came home to find I had made a big, big mistake. A gentleman had ordered twenty boxes of chocolates through the Neighbor Jane Payne store and I hadn’t seen it. He was wondering why none of the candy had been delivered. Oops. Oops. Oops. Still feeling badly about it even after Brenda and Nesha filled the order. It was a crisis for them and the gentleman. I really dislike it when I am incompetent, especially when it makes things hard on other people.

This afternoon Ande made some caramel for turtles, I made cookies (Ty's eyes got big when he saw me put a pound of butter in them), and Ty and Calvin worked on projects in the shop. It was fun being in the kitchen and visiting with Ande and hearing her laugh. It was also good to hear Ty whistle whenever he came into the house. Late in the afternoon a couple of friends stopped by to visit Calvin just as the clam chowder was hot so they joined us for dinner. We had a good visit.

Tonight we went to The Blind Side. Ande and Ty hadn't seen it yet. They enjoyed it as much as we did.

Abe and Grace fly to Seattle tomorrow and then Ray and Cali will bring them here on Monday, just in time for Ande’s birthday. The party has begun.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Homemaking Tip—Christmas Fruits

I made some Cinnamon Apples for supper tonight. The whole house smells good and cinnamon-y. I thought I'd share a couple of quick, inexpensive and Christmas-y ways to serve apples and oranges. The great thing about both recipes is you don’t need a recipe or exact measurements because they are made to your taste. Another nice thing is they make the kitchen smell really good and Christmas-y. And still one more good thing, these recipes revive your softening apples and not so flavorful oranges so you don't have to toss them. Here are some general guidelines for making Cinnamon Apples and Sliced Oranges (such original titles).

These are actually red, not orange. . . sorry poor lighting, poor photographer

Cinnamon Apples

Peel and quarter six apples into a medium saucepan. Cover apples with water, add five or six drops of red food coloring, a scant 1/4 cup of sugar and a bit of oil of cinnamon.* Bring to boil and cook until apples are tender. Serve hot or cold.

*How much depends on how hot you want your apples. I use about 1/4 tsp. You can find cinnamon oil wherever candy making supplies are sold. Red Hots (candies) may be substituted for sugar and cinnamon oil. Just add them with your apples and they will dissolve as they boil.

Sliced Oranges
Peel and slice oranges. Arrange on plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Not only does the powdered sugar add a bit of sweetness, it looks like snow on the oranges, so they're pretty and good. We like these for breakfast or supper.

Do you have a quick and inexpensive way to serve fruit in the winter?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

SPT—Christmas Past-Present-Future Meme

This week’s self-portrait is painted with words.

  • Which relative were you most excited to go and see or have come and visit your home during the holidays?

Grandma Chadwick came a few weeks early and visited and played games of Scrabble with us. I liked her conversational manner. However, Grandma Hoops’ arrival meant Christmas Eve afternoon had come. I appreciated the personal interest she took in us kids. But when my cousin Casey and his family came it meant the party could begin, so I was probably most excited for his family to come. Sometimes they brought cases of bottled pop which was a big deal to me. Casey, my brother, Tim, and I used to get rug burns on our stomachs from sliding down the stairs while we waited for our Christmas Eve supper.

  • What is your earliest Christmas memory?

My sister, Lila, drew my name and gave me a Barbie doll (a short haired one that wore tennis shoes). Someone told me that night that I had better hang on tight to it as Santa Claus might take it and give it to another little girl. I was mortified he would steal from one to give to another and slept with her and the plastic case she came in. I was always a bit suspicious of Santa after that.

  • Do you still swap gifts with childhood friends?

Nope. Sadly I’ve lost communication with all of them.

  • What is a traditional act of service you do or remember doing at Christmas?
I don't know if this memory counts as tradition or not, but Grandma Hoops always brought fudge when she came. By the time Christmas Eve had come, we were pretty tired of homemade candy and ready for the store-bought stuff in our stockings. I noticed Grandma watched the plate to see if anybody ate her fudge. It killed me to see her so disappointed, so when she wasn’t looking I took several pieces and put them on a plate and hid them under my bed until after she went home.
  • What is the most romantic Christmas gift you have received?
The year before Calvin and I got married he drew me a picture. I was too embarrassed to open it in front of the family (I feared he wasn’t very good). I should not have worried. It was wonderful. I mean really good. He hasn’t drawn anything since and I cherish that picture.
  • What is the worst gift you’ve ever given?
Oh gee. I do my best to forget these. I have given more than one. One was to Cali. She hated to cook when she was a little girl and I was determined to help her like it. Santa (as her main gift) gave her a box of cake mixes, spatula, an apron, etc. . . . not cute little girl, easy-bake ones, but practical, store brand, mother ones. Hmmmm. She never used them, so I finally absorbed them into the kitchen. There is a reason she doesn’t trust my surprises.
  • Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?
He wraps them. His elf sends one, too, for the whole family. Oh ho. I can hardly wait for the kids to see what Calvin has configured up for the elf’s gift this year. It is so Calvin.
  • What is your favorite homemade Christmas candy?
Caramel or peanut brittle. Or toffee. Or peanut clusters. Or cashew clusters.
  • What is your favorite holiday dish?
This is a tough one. Not only do I like lots of foods, but our holiday meal changes every year. I’ll go with some kind of dip or cheese ball since we seldom have them any other time of year.
  • When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
Randy M. told me on the boys’ stairs at the school when I was in first grade. I never much cared for him after that. The two of us were just sitting there watching the kids play on the playground when he said, “You know Santa Claus isn’t real don’t you.” Even though I questioned Santa’s ethics, I still would have liked to have believed another year or two.
  • Can you ice skate?
I can. Not well, but I can. We had a pond about a half mile from our home and sometimes the neighbor boys and I would walk down to it and ice skate. Though I can’t go backwards, or gracefully glide with one foot straight out behind me, I can go forward.
  • What is your own true sentimental Christmas story?
Cali hates Christmas stories. She runs and hides if we pull out the book. She says they are all designed to make us feel guilty and she is not going to feel guilty at Christmas. (I should confess it’s my own fault. I read a traumatizing one when the kids were little, one that made us all cry even Calvin, and she’s never felt kindly towards a Christmas story since [besides the real one]). But this story is true and sweet. It’s about my sister, Rachel, and her son Cache. If I replaced all of our other questionable-authenticity stories with ones like this Cali would no longer have to leave the room when we read them.

Dear Jane,
One great thing about Christmas was a gift that Cache (12) got me. We drew names a couple of weeks ago and Cache finagled it until he got mine. We took turns opening them and it finally got to me. I opened the bag and there was a scout shirt on top. Cache hadn't had time to wrap. In fact, we had to wait on him while he found something to put my present in. I thought the scout shirt was just to cover what was inside. I pulled it out and found another scout shirt underneath, and another one under that, and two sashes below that. It dawned on me about the third shirt—Cache had taken everybody’s scout shirts and all of the badges he could find, and hand sewn each and every one of them in the place that they should go. I didn't even have the troop number sewn on them. (At one time I stapled one on, but it fell off.) I started to tear up. It was just the sweetest, most thoughtful thing. I kept telling the kids I would sew the badges on. I knew it was important to them, I just couldn't seem to find any extra time, but I told them I would do it the whole week after Christmas. Justin (14) said that every night Bert and I went on a date; Cache would sneak the scout shirts and badges out while we were gone and work and work on them. This has gone on for over three months. Cache would get so frustrated he would throw them up and say, "I give up". Justin said, "everybody would always tell him how good he was doing, and not to give up. Sometimes Jesse (10) would help him rip them out to start again." Cache finally got all but one sash done and he wrapped them up for me for Christmas. I tell you, I should write my OWN TEAR JERKER CHRISTMAS BOOK. What a kid. What a great kid. What great kids to cheer him on. And not one whisper of it to me. Even when he couldn't find the one and only needle in the house for two weeks! Amazing. And very, very humbling.

  • A picture from a past Christmas.

Well, this isn't Christmas, but it is Christmastime and the night of the school play. Our mothers always painted our lips with red lipstick before the play. I always felt a bit ridiculous in it as my lips were big enough with out painting them barn red. I already mentioned in a previous post that the Christmas play was a big night in our community, but in this picture please note the candy house and tree that Aunt Jean built for our family. It was my favorite Christmas decoration and it lived for years, thanks to hard-as-a-rock frosting that wouldn't let a piece of candy loose for anything.

  • What do you look most forward to in future Christmases?

More of the same, and yet new memories as our family expands. Last year Ray brought little gadgets, gizmos, magic tricks, etc. for everyone’s stockings. He put an Abraham Lincoln sucker in mine. Santa has always had a far-too-practical bent in our house (remember the cake mixes) so it was fun having Ray's enthusiasm, ideas, personality, and traditions added. I look forward to many more Christmases.

Feel free to grab this meme for your own blog.

Which relative were you most excited to go and see or have come and visit your home during the holidays?
What is your earliest Christmas memory?
Do you still swap gifts with childhood friends?
What is an act of service you do or remember doing at Christmas?
What is the most romantic Christmas gift you have received?
What is the worst gift you’ve ever given?
Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?
What is your favorite homemade Christmas candy?
What is your favorite holiday dish?
When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
Can you ice skate?
What is your own true sentimental Christmas story?

A picture from a past Christmas.
What do you look most forward to in future Christmases?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

52 Blessings—Gifts of Christmastime

Just like we get the gift of blossoms in the spring, sunshine in the summer, and apples in the fall, Christmastime comes bearing gifts, too. They are many of my blessings this week.


The crèches, nativities, carols, sermons, programs and the carols help everyone focus on the Savior more frequently, which in turn makes us a little more gentle, a lot more kind. Kind is a great Christmas gift.

The music—from the silly to the sublime—is a happy Christmastime gift.


People taking the time to say hello and share a bit of themselves through their cards and letters is another gift of Christmastime.


The food (cream, cheese, cream cheese, sugar, oil, nuts, potatoes, oranges and the combinations thereof) and the food memories.

The traditions, the customs. Security is a welcome gift.

An opportunity to focus on Something and Someone bigger than ourselves is one of the best gifts of Christmastime.

What gift of Christmastime is a blessing to you?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Life in My World--It's Almost Christmas

This week was the Day of Infamy. To most that means the bombing of Pearl Harbor, but to me it means the day that Calvin discovered he loved me. One day several years ago I asked him, “Calvin, when did you first know you loved me?”

He got a sick look on his face that said, “I cannot win with this answer. There is no way in heaven or hell I remember when I first loved her, but to admit that will hurt her feelings because she always remembers those kinds of things.” But, Calvin’s not slow-witted, no sir, he quickly said, “December 7th. Day of Infamy. That’s the infamous day I knew I loved you.”

Oh ho. I called him on Monday and said Happy Day of Infamy. He knew exactly which event I was referring to.

We’ve had a fire going in the house and in the shop this week. It’s felt good in both places. More than once I sat down to read and fell asleep. Calvin has a couple of Christmas projects going out in the shop and I love it when he’s working out there. While he’s sawing and sanding, the dog lies in front of the wood-stove to keep him company. He keeps a tin of cookies or cashews in the tool box. It's fun to walk out and visit him often. If I look at it through Norman Rockwell eyes, it’s picture perfect. (If I don’t, well there are mouse tracks, clutter in the corners, spider webs and only Calvin can find anything.)

My to-do list, I’m sure, looks much like yours. Ty called a bit ago and asked me what I had going. I told him I’d read him my list. He suggested I paraphrase it. I read it anyway. He started to laugh and said there was no way I’d finish it. I’m out to prove him wrong. Catching up the blog was on the list.

Speaking of Ty, he is finishing up his finals this week at the Air Force Academy. Between Ande, him and me we have been battling for bragging rights over who has the coldest temperatures this week. So far -34 degrees wins and it wasn’t here. This is what it is like some days for Ty:

The wind is blowing these cadets along. Between the ice, wind and slick-bottomed shoes, it's treacherous.
*ooops. updated to add. I just realized the cadet filming this curses at the end (I've only watched it on silent before now) . Please keep your volume off.

I can’t wait to see Ty. When he returned from his mission this summer, we had two weeks with him before he had to report to duties. Though he frequently calls and e-mails daily, I haven’t seen his face much in two and a half years. It will feel good to be with him.

Ande had an emergency root canal yesterday. She called Calvin from the dentist's chair, "Do I save it or pull it?" She was moaning afterwards and asked, “Do you know how much it hurts?”

I replied there is a reason people say they’d rather go through labor than a root canal. I feel sorry for her. She has finals next week and two of her classes this semester are Shakespeare and Head Drawing. Another class she is taking is an education class from my sister who teaches at BYU-Idaho. This semester has stretched her as she also works two part-time jobs and, like many students, sells plasma for grocery money. She’s ready for a break. I can’t wait to have her home.

Grace spent a couple of days this week making cookies while Abe was out in the field training. We swapped recipes back and forth as she prepared plates to take to their friends.


Abe has really enjoyed learning about and driving tanks. I asked him what kind of steering wheels tanks have. Who’d have guessed? They have handle bar steering. I can’t wait for Grace and Abe to come home.


Cali spent the last week with us while Ray was gone hunting and on business. We had a great week doing and being. Cali set up the nativity while I set up the tree. We also went to Tri-Cities to go to Costco and Craft Warehouse so she could get the things to make her Christmas cards. They are beautiful. It was fun having someone to do all of the little things with like walking, cooking, dishes, visiting. We had a great week.

Ray stopped by in between his hunting and business trip with his brother, Johnny. We got a few good games of dominoes in and some visiting. We sure enjoy having Ray and Cali close enough to get together often. I can't wait for them to come back next week.

Ray and Grace have joined our family in the last year. Abe deploys to Iraq in a few months and in between Abe and Ty's missions, this will be the first Christmas in five years we’ve all been together. It will be a poignant (which is not to be confused with poinsettia) Christmas.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Monday Memories--BYU Fine Arts

Amazing how Thursday slips into Friday which gets swallowed by Saturday and eaten by Sunday and then we’re back to Monday again.

One thing I loved about college was going to the choir concerts. I clearly remember a Christmas concert presented by some of the specialty choirs at BYU-Provo. One of the bonus features of the night was from an elderly gentleman who came out on stage booming in a rich, deep voice, “The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy.” I’ve never forgotten what I felt when he sang. Years later I discovered that voice was the voice of God on The Ten Commandments, and the white haired gentleman was my friend’s grandfather. I’d have asked him to sing that song to me every day if I’d have been his granddaughter. And with a voice as deep and powerful as his it would have drowned mine out so we’d have sung in perfect harmony.

Today I received the link “Joy to Everyone This Christmas”. It’s a BYU Fine Arts production. It is a happy, feel-good tune just like the one I heard so many Christmases ago. But this one has pictures instead of a memory. If you haven’t yet planned a family home evening lesson for tonight, this short video clip could bail you out.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Homemaking Tip—The Tins (part II)



Michelle Rogge brought these tins filled with candy for everyone at our scrapbook retreat a couple of weeks ago. She ordered the tins from (83 cents each) and then tucked nine Hershey Nugget candies wrapped in patterned paper (she said that mailing labels are another option) inside. She wrapped the tin with a band of patterned paper for a finished look. As you can see, the candy tins are absolutely darling. Michelle has used them for birthday party favors as well.

Cali emptied her candy and put marble fridge magnets she’d made inside. The magnets attached to the metal and held them firmly in place. They, too, looked cute and present-y.

Michelle also put some hot cider with a cinnamon stick and a few pieces of caramel in a tin and called it Reindeer Soup.

Michelle had some deeper tins (99 cents each) that she put 25 handmade cards (corners round-trimmed) inside. She also put a mini-photo album in another deep tin. Again, they were really cute.

Store-bought or homemade candy, cards, magnets, mini-albums, hot cider or hot chocolate packets—all of the ideas were really fun, doable and inexpensive.

What are some other things that you would put in a gift tin like this?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

SPT—Melanie & Me


Melanie is moving to Big Town. Melanie has cut my hair for years and years—even before there was a Milo, Katherine, Nathan, Dane or Reed. Melanie soothed my feelings when I lost a bowl-sized spot of hair to a hot blow-dryer, and helped me develop the comb-over ‘til it grew back six months later. Melanie calls when she knows I have a big event coming and says, “When works best for you to get your hair done?” Melanie makes me feel funnier, skinnier, smarter and prettier than I am. I will miss knowing Melanie is in town. I know we will still keep in contact (thank you blogging) but the security of proximity has my feathers a bit ruffled. I love, admire and appreciate you, Melanie. Thank you.

Is your hair stylist loveable?