Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Homemaking Tip—This is a recording . . .

A few weeks ago our computer made a popping noise and died. It took a week of rebooting, rewiring, and restoring. When it died, I knew there was a chance I might lose a year’s worth of journals. I deserved it. I knew the rules of making back-ups. I had been slothful. I consoled myself that there was a plethora written on my blog and weekly newsletter and my posterity would be relieved not to have more to read.

And then . . . and then . . . I remembered something written in that journal that isn’t recorded anywhere else. Taking the counsel of Henry B. Eyring I had started to record when/where I had seen the hand of the Lord in our daily living. If I lost those journals I would also lose those quiet, blessed writings. That made me sad. I wasn’t consoled. I was bummed, that is . . . until the computer was fixed and my journals were safe.

Ty also keeps a journal and occasionally sends me an entry. I noticed in the last entry he sent that he has an organized format for recording. I’m going to adopt that and thought you might find the idea of an organized format helpful, too. Ty has three areas that he daily records:

Studies: what he has learned that day

Service/Hand of the Lord: opportunities to serve, or an experience where he recognized the hand of the Lord, or both

Daily: events, trivia, thoughts of the day

One of the good things about recording in a journal is it makes me more aware. Experience deems it so. I subconsciously became more aware of the special little things in life once I began writing about them. So when this experience happened last week, I thought, “No wonder . . .”

We were moving Grace home from Colorado. The pick-up and U-haul trailer were stacked high and deep. Ty rode in the back seat with me. I sat in the middle because my legs are three inches shorter than Ty’s. Next to me were uniforms, computer equipment, and Tiffany goblets in an aqua box which pushed me over and into Ty's space. He never once said scoot over or that I was squishing him. He offered to take the middle every stop. In short; Ty and I were welded at the side for 25 hours and he wasn't cross once. (Okay, neither were Calvin and Grace but they were up front.)

On one long, dry, uneventful (yea, even boring) stretch of road in Wyoming, there was a truck in front of us that said, “How’s my driving? Call 1-800-blah, blah, blah.”

After we followed him for several miles, Ty picked up his phone and called. This is what I heard: “Hello my name is Ty. I’m somewhere out in the middle of Wyoming and one of your trucks with license plate number blah, blah, blah, is doing a very fine job of driving today. I just wanted you to know. Thank you.”

Oh ho. I’ve seen that call to call a hundred times and haven’t once done it. Because Ty often records opportunities for service I think he sees them more. Recording makes you aware.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday Treats--The Best Nest


I ate the last rice-crispy-treat-nest last night. I wish I had one for breakfast.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Memories—Déjà vu in Reverse


(Jerusalem 1978)

When I was young I got to travel a lot. By the time I was eighteen I had seen much of the western United States and part of the Midwest, gone across the border into Mexico, visited the East Coast, traveled to Israel, and attended school in Hawaii. I loved seeing and experiencing the new places and assumed life would be full of travel. Ahem. First came love, then came marriage, then came years and years and years of Calvin and me pushing the baby carriage—around our own little neck of the woods and not much further. However, that early travel has been a blessing and come back to visit me again and again.

The bicentennial tour I took when I was fourteen included New York. Mr. Kuykendal, our teacher and chaperone, broke off from the main group one afternoon and chartered a bus for the few students from our high school. He said, “I think it’s important you see West Point . . . and Sleepy Hollow.” So we did.

A few years later Grandpa and Grandma Hoops invited me to go to Israel with them. I hung a map of the Middle Eastern region on the wall of my bedroom and studied The Old Testament for six months preparing for our trip.

Two years later I attended my first semester of college in Hawaii. I can still smell it.

Nine months later while touring the Midwest on an animal science field trip, Dr. Orme, our teacher and advisor, insisted we stop and tour the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

I never would have guessed then that what I was seeing would be a part of my life later through the experiences of our children. Thank you Mr. Kuykendal, Grandpa and Grandma, Dr. Orme, and Hawaii.

Abe wrote the other day about their traveling: “It was almost an hour long drive. I had a good nap. We also got to see a little bit more of the country. It is still really flat, with almost no vegetation. We saw a herd of camels with a camel herder. It was pretty cool to see them. There were a bunch of them...big, small, medium, babies...everything.”

I can picture his description perfectly. Thank you reverse Déjà vu.


By the way, camels are not only patient, good-natured, and smart, they’re also wise:

Camels do not pant, nor do they sweat much—that would waste valuable water you see. Instead, they have the ability to raise their body temperature to keep them from sweating. No other mammal can do this.

You know how we humans huddle to stay warm? Camels huddle to stay cool because their body heat is often lower than the air heat.

Camels have a double set of eyelids, of sorts: a thin, clear, inner one that keeps out the sand but lets in the light, and a regular one. They also have two rows of extra-long eyelashes to help keep out the sand.

So let that be a lesson to us: Don’t sweat it, stick together, and longer lashes ARE better.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Life in My World--

(I swear the skies are bluer in Colorado than they are in Washington,
but I don’t know enough about science to know if it’s fact or figment of my imagination.)

Last weekend the whole family gathered in Colorado Springs to say good-bye to Abe as he deployed to Iraq and then to pack Grace and their things up and bring her home to Washington to live with me and Calvin for the next year. We had a wonderful weekend.

We were busy . . .


(Abe hadn’t yet heard the heartbeat of the baby, so Cali arranged
with the hospital for him to come in and hear it before he left.)

we were not.


(Ty and Cali playing the game of “Nothing.” Invented by them.)

We hit Abe’s favorites: Chipotle, Texas Roadhouse, Cheesecake Factory . . . and Papa Johns.


We were quiet . . .


("In Memory of our Fellow Graduates Who Have Fallen in Battle"
wall at the Air Force Academy)

We were not . . .


(At the Sandhurst room where Ty does his training.)


(At "The Incline"….Ty and Abe expect the rest of us to be prepared and
ready to climb it with them next year.)

We studied maps.


We met Ty's friends and . . .


. . . Abe's friends.


We worshipped and prayed.


We were humbled by the willingness of so many who protect America.


We said, "Good-bye."


Thank heavens families can be together forever.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Homemaking Tip—Mush

I know, I know. Mush is mush, but have you tried steel cut oats lately? They have staying power. I recently picked up some steel cut oats in the bulk section at the grocery store. Where have I been?

1/3 cup steel cut oats
1 cup water
A few shakes of salt

Bring water to boil and add oats. Return to boil and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until oats are tender. Add salt. And then you can add whatever you want: butter, sugar, brown sugar, craisins, raisins, strawberries, blueberries, cinnamon, cream, jam, syrup, or . . . nothing. They are even edible unadulterated.

Mush. It’s a funny word, isn't it? It can be something soft and pulpy or the encouragement to go-dog-go. Steel cut oats is both.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Touchy Tuesday

In the last decade of his life Einstein approached several touchy topics. I didn’t always agree with his views, but I did appreciate how he arrived at them. Many chided Einstein for tackling sensitive subjects. He responded to his older colleagues by saying they had a responsibility to tackle the unpopular ideas both in the field of science and in politics. He reminded them that the younger colleagues were busy establishing themselves and to broach such subjects would be career suicide for them, whereas he and his colleagues were securely established it was their responsibility to take chances for the younger generation.

I’ve thought a lot about Einstein’s observation. I think he was right. At some point it becomes the responsibility of the older generation to take on the projects that are too time-consuming for the younger generation who are actively involved in establishing families, careers, lives. My Grandpa Hoops did for us what Einstein did for his younger colleagues. He made large donations to groups advocating the Constitution. He worried about the economic status of the nation (remember the inflation of the '70’s?) and kept us abreast. He organized trust funds to help educate future generations. Naturally, I became interested in government and the older I get the more responsibility I feel to be aware.

When I asked you for Tuesday Topics, “Tacky Tuesday” (a personal view on politics) was suggested. I determined that Touchy Tuesday would probably be a more appropriate title. For while governance and politics concerns and affects us all in a very real way, it has become a polarizing and often ugly conversation piece.

I have turned off comments on this post. While I appreciate your views and would love to read them on your blog, for today my political and religious beliefs are not up for debate.

I watched Vice President Spiro Agnew resign on TV. It was on the news and I remember stopping whatever it was I was doing to watch it. I sensed it was an event. Later, I watched President Richard Nixon resign. I remember the Viet Nam war and singing “The Green Berets” in music time at school. I also remember the night Jimmy Carter was elected president. It was 1976—the bicentennial year—and I was in New York City when the election results were announced. Though I was only fourteen-years-old, I remember the anxiety I felt when Mr. Carter was elected. He was our first pro-abortion president and I wondered how it would impact the future of our country. I remember wondering how mad God would be at a country that kills babies. I believe all people have unalienable rights—rights given by our Creator—and those rights are as defined in the Declaration of Independence: the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I believe abortion strips a human fetus of those rights that God gave it.

The only abortions that our government has funded are those covered under Medicaid in event of rape, incest, and life endangerment—situations where I believe abortion could be an acceptable alternative. Currently with legislation that is being debated, the government would fund other abortions to interested citizens. I do not agree with this in any way, shape, or form and fear the judgments of God should this bill be enacted into law more than I did that night in New York City. Federally funded abortions is but one of my objections to the health-care bill.

I believe we should be self-reliant as individuals and as a country. The burgeoning national debt is not only debilitating it is enslaving. I think the disbursement of tax revenues has become fraudulent and corrupt.

I believe our Constitution is inspired of God. My heart swelled the days our boys took the oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. I believe the Constitution was designed to protect us. I believe we must protect the Constitution to stay free. I also believe it is as John Adams said, “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” I believe that we are a good nation with good people, but that if we allow immorality to govern we will fall.

I believe that there should be no state-run Church and that all should have the freedom to worship “according to the dictates of our own conscience.” I believe that the quest to strip God from our public lives and governance is endorsing a state-run church of godlessness.

I believe that freedom requires sacrifice.

*I believe that government should have limited powers. I believe its purpose is to protect us against bodily harm (life), involuntary servitude, (liberty), and theft (happiness). “No individual possesses the power to take another's wealth or to force others to do good, so no government has the right to do such things either. The creature cannot exceed the creator.” (Ezra Taft Benson)

I believe that if we want a strong nation, we have to have strong families. It we want to have strong families, we have to have strong marriages. I believe that marriage between a man and woman is the only marriage sanctioned by God.

I am concerned and watch our relationship with Israel closely and also the conflicts between her and her neighboring nations. I believe in the scriptures' prophecies of events both in America and in Israel.

I believe we are a great nation with unlimited potential for good. I appreciate this quote by J. Reuben Clark, Jr. “I have a complete confidence in the aggregate wisdom of the . . . people if they are given and made to understand the facts. The wisdom of the mass is always greater than the wisdom of the individual or of the group. The few may be more subtle, more agile-minded, more resourceful; they may for a time push to the front and scamper ahead in the march; they may on occasion and for a time entice us down the wrong highway at the crossroads. But the great slow-moving, deliberate-thinking mass plods along over the years down the Divinely appointed way. Led astray, they slowly, cumberously swing back to the right road, no matter what the toil or the sacrifice may be, and when they start the return, they crush whatever lies in their path. So has humanity come up through the ages.”


Monday, March 15, 2010

Memories—In the beginning . .


We were at a big, new lodge in the mountains holding a scrapbook retreat when I first met Ray. He had come to pick up Cali and take her to dinner. The lodge was swarming with busy, creative ladies. Alyson, who is about Cali’s age, had been outside when Ray pulled up in his car. She came into the lodge breathless and laughing exclaiming, “There’s a MAN out there!” She said it with the same enthusiasm and inflection that Jethro’s daughters used in The Ten Commandments when they found Moses lying in the desert.

Alyson’s declaration reverberated throughout the lodge and Cali, who was hoping to leave discreetly, left to a chorus of well-wishers in the lobby. Ray, the only male on the premises besides the owner’s dog, was so professional with us all—he shook our hands, looked us in the eye, and asked us about ourselves before Cali steered him out the door. After they left, my niece Jenny observed that Ray must be trustworthy because, “I see Cali left her cell-phone on her bed.”

The lights seldom go out at our scrapbook retreats. Scrappers like Darla and Debbie can create until 3 or 4 am and more than once we have passed in the night—them going to bed while Susan and I were getting up to work. There was no way, no how Cali was going to quietly sneak back into the scrapbooking routine. As I recall, Heather won the award for the most pervasive questioning about Ray. And that was my first memory of him.

At the next year’s scrapbooking retreat, Ray again came to pick up Cali for dinner. This time he joined us in the scrapbooking room, sat in front of the fireplace, looked at scrapbooks, and visited. When Cali and Ray got married a few months later, several scrapbookers drove long miles to attend their reception. He was one of us you see.

Today is one of Ray's birthdays. My memories of him make me smile, laugh, and my eyes mist—in short, they warm me through and through. I'm so glad there are many more ahead.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

52 Blessings--Problem Solvers

you're never too young to be a problem solver

I’m not a fan of daylight saving; I enjoy morning productivity more than evening productivity, but I can appreciate that someone used daylight saving as a creative answer to a problem.

Stanley Mason, the man who invented the pull-apart package on band-aid strips, said, “The best inventions have happened because someone either solved an existing problem, or in the course of solving one problem came up with a solution to another problem,”

Long before we had pull-apart band-aid packages we used to pull on a little red string that ran up the inside of each individual band-aid package to open it. Not only were the little red strings hard to find without an emergency, they were even harder to find in a band-aid emergency so Mr. Mason solved the problem by inventing pull-apart packages. (

Another man, Art Fry, had a hard time keeping his paper bookmarks from falling out of his hymnal during choir practice. He floundered between songs. Frustrated, he thought of a useless adhesive that had been developed at his work. The glue when applied would adhere, but not stick permanently. Mr. Fry, wondering how to get his paper bookmarks to stay in place, thought that he might add a swipe of the useless glue discovered at work to the bottom of his bookmarks and see if they’d adhere to the hymnal pages without sticking permanently. They did. Welcome “post-it” notes—one of the top five selling office supplies in America. (

So though daylight saving time isn’t my favorite, I recognize it is for many others and I appreciate problem-solvers like Mr. Mason, and Mr. Fry, and Benjamin Franklin (even though it was his suggestion, written in jest, which started the daylight saving ball rolling) for their problem solving abilities. My life is much better for the problems they've solved.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Life in My World

Last night Seemore fetched dead black birds and left them on the door step as trophies. Last count was 25. Ugh. I hate to spoil a bird dog's enthusiasm, but you only need "four and twenty to bake in a pie." (No, no. I won't be using them.)

Remember when meme’s sped around blog world? I haven’t seen them for a long time. Here’s one for today if you’d like to play along.

What do you usually have for breakfast?
A peanut butter sandwich with a scoop of applesauce on the side. It may not be appetizing, but it’s portable.

What are three characteristics in others that you appreciate?
Confidence. Humility. Skills.

What are three characteristics in yourself that you appreciate?
I like people. Happy. Grateful.

If you could visit any period of history for one month, which one would you definitely NOT choose.
Anything during the dark ages. No knights, no round table for me.

What was your favorite toy as a child?
Roller skates, jacks, or bike.

What is one of your little talents that has given you big rewards?
Teaching. Listening to students add their two cents, or watching them grasp a new concept, or hearing them re-teach what they have learned has greatly enlarged my understanding and knowledge.

What fruit describes you best and why?
A banana. They’re predictable. You always know what texture and taste to expect from a banana, unlike an apple, orange, or pineapple.

What do you think would improve your country?
A return to family values.

When you’re shopping are you most like a skunk, whale, bear, or eagle? Why?
Skunk. Definitely skunk. I’m black or white; I either love shopping or hate it.

When you’re working are you most like a mountain, river, ocean, or meadow? Why?
Ocean. I’m always trying to steer people to bigger horizons.

What do you most appreciate about your family?
I appreciate that they are quick to forgive and take care of each other.

If a movie were being made of your life, what actor/actress would you like to play you?
I’d hate to ask her to put on forty pounds, but Sandra Bullock could make my foibles endearing rather than disgraceful.

What do you usually have for breakfast?
What are three characteristics in others that you appreciate?
What are three characteristics in yourself that you appreciate?
If you could visit any period of history for one month, which one would you definitely NOT choose.
What was your favorite toy as a child?
What is one of your little talents that has given you big rewards?
What fruit describes you best and why?
What do you think would improve your country?
When you’re shopping are you most like a skunk, whale, bear, or eagle? Why?
When you’re working are you most like a mountain, river, ocean, or meadow? Why?
What do you most appreciate about your family?
If a movie were being made of your life, what actor/actress would you like to play you?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thursday Thinking—M Communication

Sometimes when the kids were little and would say something inappropriate or spout about something they knew nothing about, I would hiss, “You’re ignorance is showing” like it was a dangling, lacy slip or something.

Well. My ignorance is showing. I’ve been taking an M Comm class (I’m half way finished with the course) and I had no idea what the M stood for until I began writing this post. I thought it was Mass Communications—communicating with the masses. Nope. It’s Management Communications. I’m learning to communicate with the management.

Regardless of my ignorance, I have quite enjoyed the communication that the instructor (his first name is Crickett) sends in regards to my assignments. He sends me great encouragement and gives me 100’s. A’s. Sometimes he even says kind things like, “Well said. I never thought of that,” or “You write well.” And even when I nearly failed the grammar test, he didn’t hold it against me. Tomato, tomata. Comma, semi-colon. It’s all in the pronunciation.

Today I was to use a direct and an indirect approach to try and persuade someone. Here are my results as written to my instructor:


Tonight is our stake play, “Hello Dolly.” For the past two years, I’ve gone to the stake plays and have really enjoyed them. Calvin, my husband, has no desire to attend them. Last week I asked him directly, “Will you go to the play with me?”

He promptly said, “No.”

Today I asked, “How would you like to go on a date with me? We could go out to dinner . . . ”

Calvin pressed his lips together, raised his eyebrows—considering. I continued, “. . . and go to the play.”

He still said no.

Directly or indirectly, Calvin is not going to be persuaded to go to the stake play tonight.

Another assignment was regarding e-mail correspondence:

To: Cricket ­­­_________
Subject: Jane Payne’s Personal E-mail Analysis

I received many helpful guidelines for maintaining e-mail communication from this lesson. Sadly I found that I have been ignorant of many of them:

1. Read your e-mail messages at least once or twice a day.

I excel at this task. Not only do I check e-mail once or twice, I check it twenty or thirty times.

2. Delete all spam messages.

I can happily report that I do not look, like, or let linger spam messages.

3. Read and then delete personal messages. File them in another folder if you wish to keep them.

Currently my inbox has 3,151 messages, and that is after a recent heavy purging. I needed this memo.

4. When sending e-mails, be careful what you write. Remember they are not private.

It only took me one mistake. I replied to an e-mail asking my opinion on a muffin recipe. I replied that I’d found that most recipes coming from the woman who sent the recipe were extremely dry and I wouldn’t trust it without trying it. I didn’t realize that when I hit reply it included an e-mail to the muffin-baker. No one likes to be accused of dry muffins.

5. Read your e-mail out loud before you send it.

If they are formal e-mails I read them aloud repeatedly, yea ad nauseum . If they are e-mails to family they get what comes off the tip of my fingers.

6. Don’t become too lax in your writing.

Not guilty. I’ve never used j/k or lol. Ever. I won’t either, as I think they are absurd since I already know when to laugh at a joke. (Please don’t tell me you are the man that invented those abbreviations, no one likes to be accused of dry muffins or stupid abbreviations.)

7. For emails longer than a few lines, consider using OABC and HATS to enhance readability.

Consider this advice heeded. Thank you, it was timely.

A third assignment was to create sentences using a combination of reason and emotion strategies to get people to exercise. Here are my sentences:

(Cause and effect) If you begin developing an exercise program now, you can expect a healthier heart, bones, and lungs to aid you in your life-long pursuits.

(Pride) Imagine how great it feels to not be embarrassed at the beach in a swimming suit during summer vacation; exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight.

(Fear) Without regular physical activity you have a higher susceptibility to high blood pressure which may cause chronic diseases such as diabetes, osteoporosis, and some types of cancer.

(Fair play) Exercise takes a lot of effort, but its rewards include higher energy levels, better restful sleep, and are even known to improve your sex life.

(Bandwagon) Many families have discovered the benefits of strong interfamily connections after biking, canoeing, hiking, rock climbing, and swimming together, and that even takes into account the family fights while doing so.

(Ethics) You owe it to your body to take as good of care of it as it takes of you.

This closes my communication with the masses through The Neighbor’s Blog. Exercise, will you please?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Take a Break Tuesday—The List Be Hanged

When I asked all of you for topic ideas for Tuesday, “Take a Break” was one of them. The post was to be about something I decided not to do that day/week.

But my list was so long and seemed so important this morning, I decided to stretch today’s post topic and write about what I would do if I could take a break. I was slowly making my way through the list when a better idea than anything in front of me presented itself. Ray was in the area (using that phrase loosely as he was 104 miles away) and said he could meet us for supper. We found a Mexican restaurant mid-way in a town with less than two thousand people and Calvin and I went to meet him. What a great time we had. It was fun to catch up with him and share the events of our day, and since we were taking a break I didn't take a picture.

The list be hanged . . .

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday Memories—Cloud Cover

thank you Google images

One day last week I saw a scene like the one above, and it reminded me of a time when Cali was about three and we saw something similar together. I thought the display was beautiful enough, but was too busy thinking about a hundred things that needed to be done to appreciate it. However, Cali just stared and stared at it and then quietly said, “I wish the cloud would move so I could see Him.”

I seldom see a brilliant shining cloud now without thinking of what she said.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

52 Blessings--52 Blessings

I’d have never guessed that posting a blessing each week would be the blessing. Like you, I’ve long known the benefits of gratitude; however, I didn’t know the payback that weekly sifting through my blessings and then narrowing them down to one to share would bring. Specificity begets realization.

As I was reviewing the week, trying to pick one blessing, I considered a dozen or more:

People that do their jobs well
Dr. Seuss
Cell phones in parking lots
Heart rates
Second chances
Kids’ curiosity
The Holy Ghost

After thinking about them, I realized that it was the reviewing of all of these things that was the real blessing for me this week. Posting 52 Blessings is like saying a blessing over our food that includes home-canned green beans. Usually before each meal I just say, “We’re grateful for this food. Please bless it.” And I mean it. However, on occasion when I’ve been worried about the home-canned green beans (wasn’t positive I heard the lid pop when I opened them), then my prayer is much more specific, “We’re grateful we have plenty of food. Please, please bless it (and then so as not to alarm Calvin or the kids only mentally include, especially the green beans.)” And here we are, bottles of green beans later, alive. 52 Blessings has made my blessings live longer in my mind and heart and for that I'm very grateful. Thank you whoever it was that started 52 Blessings.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Life in My World—By Numbers

Jogged ten miles.

Ate nine chocolate, peanut butter chip cookies.

Took an eight hour trip to the temple, via the grocery store, church, and Red Robin.

Gathered seven eggs.

Bought six Mr. Goodbar’s to make a couple Good-luck bars.

Worked five days.
Donated four minutes and a pint of blood to the Red Cross.

Finished three books.

Bought two shoes.

Couldn’t wait to share one announcement.