Friday, April 29, 2011

Life in My World – Conversations from the Week

It’s a rare week when I don’t use all 60,000 of my allotted words.  Ask Calvin.  

Here are two conversation snippets from my week:   

Ande said, “Mom, you love a good conspiracy.”
I replied, “No, I don’t.”  Conspiracy sounds like it could be suspicious gossip’s kissing cousin. 
Ande said, “Oh yes you do.”
I said, “No.  I just wonder at history when it repeats itself and marvel when prophecies are fulfilled.”  I do believe, however, that Satan is alive and well and conspires for the hearts and minds of men. 

It was a short conversation, but it has made me think for several days.  What qualifies as a conspiracy? 

And with that thought, I heard the movie The Conspirator was really good, and you know how I love Abraham Lincoln.

Our internet went down last Friday night.  You know how frustrating that can be even though it’s neither a life nor death situation.  Saturday afternoon, I finally got a hold of Bob.  Bob installed our internet nearly thirteen years ago.  Because we live in a dip surrounded by trees, Bob had to come out fairly frequently at first until we could continuously reach the satellite signal.  Sometimes the problems were big like no signal coming from the tower, other times it was because the trees or haystack blocked the signal, and once it was because I cut the cable with the lawnmower.  However, other times the problems were small like when I unknowingly unplugged the internet wire from the wall while vacuuming.  No matter the size of the problem, Bob has come and fixed it with a smile, a little laugh, and an “It’s okay.  Glad I could fix it.”

Bob has worked his way up the company now until he is very important.  We haven’t seen him for a couple of years, but Saturday (Easter weekend) Bob was on call.  It took him two minutes to find out our problem.  Once again I’d accidently hit the plug with the vacuum and knocked it out.  I apologized profusely.  I felt stupid I’d pulled him away from his family and projects on a holiday weekend.  Cali teased me, Calvin teased me, but Bob just smiled, laughed a little, and said he was glad it was a simple fix.  By the time he left, he’d made me almost feel like I’d done him a favor.  He’s that kind of nice. Calvin, however, said I owed Bob a pan of cinnamon rolls for his trouble, so I made a batch and Calvin took them to him.  I got this e-mail in return:  


go ahead and unplug the internet anytime. The Cinimon Rolls are worth it.



What's a conversation snippet from your week?  (I think conversations are usually the best parts of a book, and am excited to read what yours are.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Homemaking Tip – Tied Up with String

One of the interesting things about living through several decades is seeing things resurface – like baby names, dress patterns, and . . . colors.  Oh sure, colors are usually renamed – “avocado green” is now “asparagus” and “burnt orange” has become “terra cotta” – but anybody that wore those colors or had household appliances in those shades knows they’re really the same.  I like when vintage becomes modern.  It’s like history has made peace with herself.

Twine and waxed paper are two of those vintage things. 

When I was in grade school, we had a grand hot lunch program.  Mrs. Duffy was a great cook for the mass of kids.  She made all of her rolls by scratch as well as her noodles.  Apple crisp, cinnamon rolls, spaghetti –the smells permeated all three floors of our old brick school.  Everybody looked forward to 11:25 when the first grade class climbed the stairs to the lunch room.  Every ten minutes another class joined the lunch line.  Lunch competed with art, P.E., and after-the-noon-bell-reading for the best part of the day. 

However, as great as our hot lunches were, there was one boy that always got to bring his lunch from home, and I envied him.  I wished I could bring a cold lunch.  His sandwiches came wrapped in waxed paper and when he had finished eating his lunch, he stuck the waxed paper in his pocket and took it out on the playground.  He climbed the tall metal slide, pulled out the piece of waxed paper from his pocket, and waxed the slide.  Every kid called dibs to ride down after he was finished.  We were convinced that that waxed paper rubbing made the slide faster.    

Once Ziploc baggies hit the market, waxed paper was used less and less.  And whereas every home used to have a ball of string in the cupboard to tie a package shut or truss a chicken, it seemed to go the way of the roll of waxed paper – to the back of the cupboard.  But they’re making a cute comeback.  Waxed paper bags are now novelty items and sell for three times that of a plastic bag and a little cone of string sells for $14.   

Or . . . if you never ever quit using waxed paper because you remembered how neatly that boy's sandwiches always looked, and how useful it was for slide polishing and such, well . . . you’ll find it’s as economical as it ever was.  And things wrap up real cute in it, too.  Today I individually wrapped cookie dough brownies in waxed paper and tied them with inexpensive blue twine that I had in the cupboard.  They looked much nicer than if I'd have just plopped them down on a napkin, or even slid them in a baggie with a zipper on top.  It's like they were a package all wrapped up just for you.  

It's a shame all the playground slides are fiberglass now.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Life in My World – An A-Z Post Should Catch Me Up

Mr. Yarbro, the auctioneer, broadcasting Cortney's
voice to the audience.

Austin’s Auction.  What a success.  We saw the widow cast in her mite and the wealthy cast in his riches.  It was an electrifying evening and great to be a part of it.  Thousands and thousands of dollars were collected from this little community.  At the end of the evening, the auctioneer put the phone to the microphone so that Cortney could thank everyone for their help.  Calvin said on the way home, “Did you know that there wasn’t one woman in the room that didn’t have tears in their eyes the minute they heard Cortney’s voice?”  I did not know that, but it did not surprise me.  Everybody in that room was pulling for a little three year old boy that most had never even seen before.

Blink.  I’ve been listening to Blink by Malcolm Gladwell this week as I’ve been working in the yard. Hmmmmmm.  If I just thin-slice it and don’t analyze it, I doubt some of his information.  If I analyze it, I think he may be right.  He encourages us to thin-slice.  I’m in a quandary.   

Croaks.  The frogs are back, which is to say that spring may finally be coming.  Frogs are realists.  They don't croak in the winter.  Our hydrangea bush, on the other hand, is an optimist.  Three times she's sent out green shoots only to be bit back by the frost.  I'm banking the frogs know the weather better than the plants.

Dan.  He’s an Anne Geddes wannabe.  This is his favorite pose.  He’ll only like it better once sunflowers bloom around him.  Dan loves to go jogging and walking with me (and he makes me feel like a million bucks because after we’ve finished he comes home and sprawls out on the grass and just lays there for an hour recuperating).  While we jog, he stays right next to me until we get over to the machinery pile and then he trots off to find a rabbit to chase.  While walking, he periodically trots up to my fingers, licks them, and then drops back in stride.  He does not like it when the farmers or ditch-riders stop to visit.  When one stops, he jumps up and puts his feet on my chest, and looks at the man and just barks, and barks, and barks.  It’s pretty hard to compete for air waves with a barking dog.  One ditch-rider said, “He’s a bit protective of the little mama, isn’t he?”  That he is.  He’s never obnoxious until they stop and after they drive away, he chases their vehicle barking like he’s the alpha-male that drove them off.  Calvin hurt Dan’s feelings Saturday really, really bad and Dan moped the whole day.  Truly.  It was the funniest thing.  He kept his tail between his legs and just stayed right next to us all day long while we worked.  He kept it up for so long we worried he was sick.  Nope.  He just had his feelings hurt.

Easter.  Best holiday of the year in the big picture of things.  That is one of the things I appreciate most about the Savior, He never lost sight of the big picture.  Even when things were ugly.  Even when He was being scourged and whipped and derided.  Even when He was all alone in the garden carrying such a magnificent weight.  Even when He hung nailed to the cross.  He never lost sight that we were depending on Him to make an atonement in our behalf.  He never lost sight of the big picture. 

Food storage.  Last fall Calvin and Trevor added a storage room onto the house and this past weekend we transferred a ton of grain to it from the garage – one fifty pound bucket at a time.  I felt positively primate by the time the last bucket was carried; my shoulders were hunched and my arms stretched so long that my knuckles could have dragged along the cement.  I do love the feeling of being self-sufficient and am grateful we have the skills of how to cook with the food we store . . . and like it.    

(This is a Calvinism -- sometimes he uses words that don't fit.  Bonsai is one of them.  He
says it at random.  However, at least this time there were trees around when he said it.)

Grafted Tree.  We planted an apple tree last week with four different varieties on it:  Gala, Fuji, Golden Delicious, and Honeycrisp.  Calvin dug the hole.  I watered it.  By the time I got back with the camera, he'd already stuck it in the ground and filled it in.  I do hope it grows well—especially the honeycrisp branch.

Husband.  I’ve got a great one.  It was a sad day each time one of the kids left our home to go to college.  We missed them.  We were quite attached to them.  I suppose much like a dog is to his tail.  I imagine if we cut a dog's tail off an inch at a time, it would be quite painful for them, too.  But, now that the kids are completely gone and thriving in their own new worlds, Calvin and I are enjoying the time and freedom we have to spend with each other.  I don't think twice when he comes in and asks if I want to go with him, like a dog, I just jump in the pickup and go.

Ice.  Every morning this week.  But the frogs say spring is soon, remember.

Jelly beans.  Pear Jelly Belly beans, and regular, ole, cheap, black licorice jelly beans are my two favorite flavors.  Cinnamon jelly beans come in third.  I’m glad the two holidays that celebrate the Savior are surrounded by candy.  It makes them even better. 

Kind.  I appreciate the kindnesses shown this week.  One friend lives 70 miles away but asked if we could get together when she came to town.  I appreciate that she instigates visits and makes time for them.  Another friend called and asked if I’d like a couple plates of mint brownies and when I stopped by to pick them up she invited me in to visit.  Still another bought me a milkshake and gave me a ride home.  Kind people are just the best kind in the world. 

Learned a new song on the piano this week and accompanied the sister missionaries when they sang that song at a baptism.  I had to quietly count out loud so as not to get us all off beat.  I wish music came more naturally to me, but not enough to practice more to make it natural.

Mother-of-the-groom dress.  It came in the mail.  I ordered it on-line.  It does not fit.  They expected me to be bigger on the top and smaller on the bottom.  I always expected me to be that way, too. 

New sandals.  Ordered them with the mother-of-the-groom dress so they would match.  They expected my toes to be lean and long.  They are neither. 

Organized.  I decorated two file folders – a black one for personal documents and a red one for scrapbook items.  I told you I run a good idea into the ground.         

Pecking Hens.  Grandma and Grandpa Hoops used to have some pecking hens similar to this.  It was the best toy in their house.  My sister, Rachel, brought me one home from Europe.  She wrote, “This was my favorite thing in G&G Hoops’ house.  I did not realize how German they were.  So, this is to remind you of your heritage. (We are part German, right?)” Right you are, Rachel.  Grandpa was just barely born on American soil and was named Wilhelm, but we only knew him as William.  Rachel also brought Calvin home a shell from Normandy beach.  She wrote, “I was struck again by the courage and perseverance of the D-Day soldiers in the face of adversity.  This shell is for your pocket to help remind you when times get tough.”  He put it right in his pocket.  Aren’t those the best gifts?

Question.  Do you know why we serve ham for Easter?  Where did we get that tradition?  Is it an intentional stab to the Jews because they don’t eat pork?  One source suggested ham became an Easter tradition because back when our great-great grandparents butchered and cured their own hogs in the fall, the hams weren’t ready until spring and Easter was the first holiday after they were ready.  Do you know why we serve ham? 

Roycroft Brass from Sherwin Williams.  That’s the new color of paint we just got for our home.  We planned to paint it ourselves until we found the paint on sale, and met an experienced painter who was also in the store buying paint for one of her customers.  (She even wore painter paints.  I wore those in junior high/high school.  They came in every color – green, red, blue, brown).  When the painter could see the salesman was struggling to answer Calvin’s questions, she piped in with her two cents.  Before long she’d given us several dollars worth of advice.  She gave Calvin her business card and said she’d be glad to answer any other questions he might have when he started painting.  After we left the store Calvin and I started figuring.  The cost of buying the paint supplies, added to the price we’d saved by getting the paint on sale would nearly pay for the woman and her husband to come and paint the house for us.  They’ll start painting in another week or so. 

Stuff.  I made a scrapbook and sewing stuff room out of our water heater closet.  Years ago, Hilda, a sewing legend, turned her family room closet into a sewing room.  She has made hundreds of dresses out of that closet and altered hundreds more.  She has quite a business.  I’ve always been so impressed that she took such a small space and made it so efficient and workable.  This last week I turned the water-heater closet into a craft room.  All I had to do was absorb the stuff that was already in the closet into other places in the house and put a red, antique, drop-leaf table in under the existing shelves to have a cute little work space.  Cali helped me organize my scrapbooking supplies into some cute jars a few weeks ago, so I put them on the shelves above the table.  Right after I got the room put together, I sat down and sewed a couple of hooded baby bath towels just to make sure it feels right and works well.  It does.  You’d think I drafted, sawed, built, painted, and wallpapered the room myself with how pleased I am with it.  You can come craft with me if you’d like.  We’ll take turns sitting in it because it’s only a one-seater.

Tumbleweeds.  If I don’t hurry our bushes will have tumbleweeds as filler in the lilac bouquets.  Our weather has been so poor this spring I haven’t been able to burn and rake leaves until this week.  It’s a 40 hour job.  I need to hurry.

Michelle bought Ty a Uof M sweatshirt to celebrate

University of Maryland.  Ty got accepted to grad school and will begin this fall.  Pilot training will now come after grad school instead of before.  He also got some medical test results back:  mono.  Compared to what my imagination worried it could be, mono is welcome news. 

Vat.  Vat of cinnamon.  Vat of flour.  Vat of sugar.  I had three dozen cinnamon rolls baked by 7:00 am this morning.  Every time I pull an early batch off, I think, "Now 'vat is quite an accomplishment."  (Yes.  Yes.  That is one very bad play on words, but I'm leaving it.  It is 'vat it is.) 

Maxine and me. When I was the relief society president, Maxine was my first counselor; when she was the
relief society president, I was her secretary.  She has been a grand example to me.  Some of the best
advice I've ever gotten has been from her.  She's a lady.  Every woman needs a sister like Maxine.

Women.  Marjorie Hinckley said, “It’s a sociological fact:  women need women.”  I love that quote of hers.  It’s true.  Tonight we had a stake relief society activity.  First we were served a supper of salad, homemade rolls, and strawberry shortcake.  Habitat for Humanity and the local crisis shelter gave short presentations of what their programs do in our community.  They offered ideas of how we can volunteer to help.  After our stake president said a few words and encouraged us to be happy – not some day when our dress size is what we want it to be, but today – we put together some hygiene kits for local use.  It was a great evening and I’m grateful to be a sister in this great society of women who work to do good things.

X – as in Generation X, or caught in the cross-hairs, either one.  I’m right between the Baby Boomers and Generation X so experts say I can join either age band.  I didn’t grow up on hard rock music;  however, I don’t identify with Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Al Gore, or Barrack Obama either.  But Paul Ryan?  I liked his budget proposal and can’t wait to see what he else he comes up with, so for today I’m an X’er.

Yellow.  New gardening gloves and daffodils for Clara's grave.  Yellow is such a happy color.

Zenith.  I was driving home tonight and the lights were on at the chocolate house (the place where Legacy chocolates are made).  Nesha and I are giving a bridal shower together, so I stopped to make a few plans with her.  I came home with a mother lode of chocolates – chocolate dipped caramels, toffee, cashew toffee dipped in white chocolate and sprinkled with coconut, a couple chocolate truffles, a pretzel rod.  She also gave me the picture below – what a perfect way to end the week.

I am so grateful that Jesus Christ lives.  

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thursday Thinking – A Force to Be Reckoned With

Tsunamis.  Volcanoes.  Earthquakes.  Hurricanes.  Tornadoes.  A dozen women with a worthy cause.  Certainly these are forces to be reckoned with. 

Three year old Austin Jones needs a kidney transplant.  After a nasty bout with e.coli last summer, his kidneys failed and he’s been on dialysis since.  Austin’s parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents are friends to many in this community.  When it was announced that Austin would need $50,000 to proceed with a transplant, one friend came forward and offered to organize a benefit auction in his behalf.  And you know where there is one woman there will be two, and if there are two women, they are probably going to organize a party . . . and that is what they did.  A dozen women started scouring the county for donations to auction in Austin’s behalf.  Tomorrow the auction will be held at the community grange hall, just down the road.  Because a dozen women organized it, there are dozens and dozens of items.  For space purposes, I’ll just list a baker’s dozen:

A hand-pieced quilt
A steak dinner for 6
A basketball jersey autographed by Jimmer Fredette
Six Mariners tickets
Two nights stay at the Blackbird Bed & Breakfast in Leavenworth, Washington
One-fourth of a side of beef
An hour airplane ride over the Columbia Basin for 3 people
Estate Planning and Will
A horse pack trip
A children’s birthday party
An afternoon of boating, skiing, tubing, and snacks for 4
One of Calvin’s custom made long bows

Oh . . . here is another dozen:

Two hours of pony rides
Transmission flush
Legacy chocolates
One year of wireless internet
Golf packages
Adult and child teeth whitening
Original art work (photography, painting, and steel sculpture)
Six UW football tickets
Auto detailing
One month of fitness sessions with a personal trainer
Fifty pounds of potatoes, fifty pounds of onions, and twenty pounds of apples

If you’d like to be part of a good cause, come to the O'Sullivan Grange, tomorrow, April 15th.  It’s on Hwy 17 and Road 3 SE, Moses Lake, Washington.  The silent auction begins at 5:00, dinner at 6:00, and the live auction at 7:00.  There are dozens and dozens of items for bid.  Now, Austin just needs dozens of buyers.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Homemaking Tip -- Not Big Enough to Post on Their Own, But Useful Nonetheless

One.  A month or two ago I showed you this baby gift idea in blue.  All be darn . . . it's just as cute in pink.   And since I run every good idea I ever get into the ground, I think I'm going to make me one with big-people tabs in my favorite colors.

Two.  One way to make iceberg lettuce stay fresh for several weeks is to core it, wrap it in paper towels, and store in an airtight bag.  Core lettuce by firmly hitting the bottom of the head on the counter, and pulling the core from the center.  Do not wash lettuce until you are ready to eat it.  Lettuce can make it at least three weeks with very little rust and no gooey leaves this way.

Three.  Have you ever scoured the cupboards looking for something . . . anything . . . sweet?  Of course you have.  You're a homo-sapien.  My old solution used to be to melt chocolate, stir in nuts, and drop by a teaspoon onto waxed paper.  No more.  It's much easier just to eat two large milk chocolate chips with every three almonds.    I dare say it even feels wholesome, whereas chocolate-covered nuts feel indulgent.

Four.  Are you a row gardener?  This tip may be a bit premature as our seeds haven't had time to germinate yet, but I'll share it with the confidence that they will.  Carrot seeds and lettuce seeds are especially tiny and a nuisance to plant.  No matter how hard I try to space them correctly, I plant them too thick and we have to thin them (and still end up with intertwined carrots that look like robust ladies dancing with their legs crossed).  It's almost always breezy when we plant the garden, too, so those little seeds scatter to the wind and we find some carrots in with the beans and others with the broccoli.  Seed companies make strips of carrots, lettuce, beets, radishes, and other itty-bitty seeds so that all you have to do is dig a furrow and lay down the little toilet-paper-looking strip of seeds and lightly cover with soil.  Those strips are slick.  I've always thought they were too expensive and a luxury, until I figured in that I have to buy extra packets of lettuce, spinach, and carrots to compensate for wind-loss and too-thick planting.  Suddenly they're almost cost effective.  Another little tip: my sister-in-law plants carrots as a border in her flower beds.  They're ferny, and beautiful when they go to seed.

Have you got a little tip?  If you wouldn't mind, I'd love to hear it.  I love tips.  (Guess what book I took to the hospital to read while I was in labor preparing to deliver Abe?  A Mrs. Something's Household Hints.  I kid you not.   . . . I told you I love tips.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

11 on 11 of April of 11

Ande: "Mom, today I picked you a bouquet. I hope you like them."

Ande:  "Time Capsule"

Abe: "Me watching Grace's birthday present." (Tangled)

Joe:  "Ande makes compromises. Cali's present rules the counters.
And Ninjas guard our kitchen."

Jane:  "I took dessert to a new family in the ward."

Calvin: watching the news

Grace:  "After a long day of shopping, buying a scale."

Ty:  "Here is our very normal day.  We thought it might be fun for
everyone to see our left sides."

Michelle: "Here is our very normal day.  We thought it might be fun for
everyone to see our left sides."

Ray:  "Enjoying late night snack I (Cali) made for him . . . warm chips, fresh salsa,
and guacamole.  He's busy telling me about some exciting stuff
he's working on for work."  

Cali:  "Me showing off my greatest accomplishment from the past few months . . .
only 2 months and 1week to go.  I'm also showcasing the basket Ray thinks
should work  as a crib.  I tried to tell him that a one-year-old won't fit in there and
definitely won't stay in there.  He doesn't think we need to buy a crib."

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Memories -- My Toy Story

Down at the corner of the neighbor’s field where the canal meets the drain ditch, there is a big purple floating ball.  It just drifted there a couple days ago when the irrigation water was turned into the canals.  This morning as I jogged by it, it reminded me of a birthday present I got when I was a kid – I was maybe nine or ten.   
Head-ache balls

It was just like this blue one, but mine was read.  I used it for one day, my birthday, but it gave me such a headache bouncing in the hot July sun I put it in the garage.  It stayed there until someone tossed it . . . or it blew away.  I’m guessing some other little kid felt the same way about his purple ball. 

That ball got me to thinking about a few other odd childhood toys.

1.  I think we called these Clackers.  They were like giant marbles attached to a cord and came in all colors.  My folks brought each of us kids a set when they went on a trip.  To get them smacking, you'd flip your wrist back and forth, back and forth until you got them knocking at the top and the bottom.  Until you got good at it, you had bruises all over your forearms.  Everybody took them to school.  They'd never let these on a school playground now, they'd be juvenile nunchakus, but they sure were fun until our school banned them.

2.  I didn't have one of these machines, but my best friend, Nita, did.  When I spent the night we'd make dozens of creepy crawlers.  There was a little metal tray with bug shapes that you filled with plastic goop.  Then you set the metal trays down inside a hot plate until the bugs were cooked.  I have no idea what they expected us to do with so many rubber bugs . . . give them as gifts I guess.  I do believe I gave everyone I knew a creepy crawler at one time or another.  (Another thing I liked about spending the night with Nita, besides making rubber worms, was that she was an only child and so her folks let her pick what she wanted to eat for supper.  With ten kids, that was unheard of at my house.  Oh, and Nita's folks owned a store, too, so they'd let us pick out a grape bubblegum ball before we got on the school bus.  I was certain she was the luckiest little girl in our school, what with a rubber-worm-making machine, free rein of the gum-balls, supper of choice every night . . . and she had a footsie,

which is like a hula hoop just for your foot.)

3.  Every spring, just as the shorts were coming out of the closets, so were the hula hoops.  I loved hula hooping -- twirling it around your arm, then back up over your head and letting it fall to your neck and twirling it there until you got red burns and scrapes around your neck, then letting it slide down to your waist for several spins, then to your knees, and finally to your foot where you ran around the playground jumping over it as you twirled it.  I think Shel Silverstein must have gotten his inspiration for I'm Being Eaten by a Boa Constrictor from the hula hoop girls.  All Mr. Silverstein had to do was reverse the order.

Oh, I'm being eaten
By a boa constrictor,
A boa constrictor,
A boa constrictor,
I'm being eaten by a boa constrictor, 
And I don't like it -- one bit.
Well, what do you know?
It's nibblin' my toe.
Oh, gee,
It's up to my knee.
Oh, fiddle, 
It's up to my middle.
Oh, heck,
It's up to my neck.
Oh, dread, 
It's upmmmmmmmmmmmfffffffff . . . .  

4.  Roller skating was probably my favorite spring recess activity until I was in 5th grade.  Everybody had a key tied around their neck with a piece of yarn, and holes in the knees of their pants.

5.  I don't know if these count as a toy, but they were another thing that my folks would bring home from one of their trips.  To get the Mexican Jumping Beans moving you warmed them up in your hand until the larvae inside the little beans woke up and made the beans start skipping in your palm.  My beans always shriveled up and died after a few days.  They never hatched.

6.  I think every house had one or seven of these.  Somebody always got one at the classroom Christmas party gift exchange.  

7.  Don't ask me how that jumping red ball could give me such a headache, but the pogo stick didn't.  All I know is we bounced and bounced and bounced.  We could easily go over 100 bounces.  However, it was always a wee bit dangerous to jump right after Mom had washed off the sidewalk.  One hop into the puddle and that pogo stick flew out from underneath you and you fell and cracked your head on the cement.  Not really, we just said we cracked our heads.  (Everybody cracked their heads in the '70's, which is not to be confused with the crack-heads of the 80's.)

8.  I couldn't find a picture quite like the moon shoes that I got for my birthday, but this gives you an idea of what moon shoes are.  My niece Maddie tried to make herself a pair recently from old tennis shoes and bedsprings.  I don't think hers worked any better than mine did.  I'm guessing these became popular after man first set foot on the moon.  I liked these about as well as the red bouncing ball.

How about you?  What's your toy story?  
What odd toys were around when you were a kid?
Were you very good at getting the hula hoop all the way from your arm, to your neck, 
to your waist, to your knees, to your feet without it touching the ground or loosing it's whirl?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

52 Blessings – Rachel's E-mails

Pal telling Cali and Ty about Key to the Treasure -- a favorite book of all three -- when
we visited in December.

My sister Rachel and I have sent weekly, if not daily, e-mails for nearly fifteen years.  Our whole family feels very attached to Aunt Rachel because of these e-mails.  Everybody read them when they came home from school, sometimes we even read them aloud at the supper table.  Even now the kids will ask me to forward her e-mails to them.  Calvin will often say, “What’s new with Rachel’s family today?”  My family knows her.  They know Bert.  They know their children.  And . . . they love all of them.  I have laughed, worried, cried, been asked for advice, and been given advice through Rachel’s e-mails.  Rachel’s e-mails have been one grand blessing in my life.  I’m very grateful for her willingness to frequently correspond, her example . . . and her stories. 
Rachel sent me this e-mail a couple of days ago.  Bert and Rachel have seven children and several of their children have moderate to severe dyslexia.  The public schools could not address the needs of their children and so, through wisdom, inspiration, and even the school’s suggestion, they began to school their children at home.  They’ve been doing this for ten years and have done a remarkable job.  Because of the tremendous pressure Rachel feels to provide all of the learning opportunities for their children, she sometimes feels inadequate and overwhelmed.  Here is an excerpt from her letter:

                I guess I'll end by sharing the answer I got in General Conference on Sunday.
                Thursday I told Pal, “Pal, we need to find something you and I can read while Maddie, Calder, and Jesse have their Latin class – just something special for you and me, something besides Animal Farm. (Yes.  It's that time again.)  Any suggestions?” 
                Pal looked through the bookshelf for a bit and then said, “I really would like to do another Shakespeare.  But I don't know which one.  Which one do you think?”
                I went over and looked and looked, trying to figure out which one would best keep his attention.  I said, “Well, what about Hamlet?  It's about a prince who kills a king.  I think you'd like it.”
                He said, “YES!  That sounds awesome.”  So we began to read.  He was in love.  After every chapter he would say, “More.  Pleeease?  Just a little?”  And I would read one more. 
                I wanted to end that day on an exciting part that would keep him wanting to read it the next time, so I thought I would end it on the scary part.  But he kept begging, so against my better judgment I continued.  I went to the part where he is in the garden and says, “To BE, or NOT to be....”  Then I stopped and said, “Hey Pal, those are some pretty heavy words right there.  You'll hear them everywhere, even on Bugs Bunny.  I bet you that within the next 6 months you'll hear them somewhere.  Any idea what they mean?”  So we talked about it.  And he surprised me at the end by saying, “Is it kind of like those words ‘Et tu Brute?’ and ‘Lend me your ears’?”
                “Yes, exactly!” 
                He was pretty excited and went to write them down on his important-words-to-remember card.  (He made a 5 x 7 card of tiny little sayings and words that he thinks are really important to ‘memrisse.’  It's darling, if I do say so myself.)  So, anyway, conference comes around.  And it's time for me to figure out what I would like an answer to in my life.  Things are not quite so dire financially anymore, and although it's tight we're okay at the moment.  We have one son on a mission, one that just got a scholarship and will be mission bound soon, a daughter whose boyfriend is far, far away on a mission, and life is seeming to give me a small breather.  So what would I like to pray for an answer for?  Then I remembered.  “Oh yeah.  Homeschool.”  All the never ending regular questions that assail and haunt me, “Am I still supposed to do it?  Are we covering the right things?  Am I harming them for life?  Am I on the right track? Am I still ok?  Am I on the right track, even when some of the kids seem behind? etc...” 
                So, that was my question, “Help.  Please.  Does it really matter?  Am I on the right track?”  And then Sunday afternoon - the one session I have Pal watch- we're sitting on the couch and Elder Robbins gets up and begins his talk, “TO BE, OR NOT TO BE . . . ”  Pal gasped.  I gasped.  Then we both just grinned from ear to ear.  It. was. amazing.  Ok, well at first I'll admit I questioned it.  I mean, after all, they are pretty famous words.  But then Elder Holland spoke at the end about getting answers to our questions, and I decided that was the second confirmation and I better not ask for a third if I wanted to keep my tongue and away from a comatose state.  And it's true.  What are the odds that that book would be picked by Pal, Me, AND the speaker?  What are the odds I kept reading just until that point and then stopped for the day?  What are the odds that we would have a very long discussion on it just prior to hearing them less than 72 hours later?  Not extremely high.  It was a very nice little blessing. 
                Much love,  Rachel

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thursday Thinking – Green, Blue, Yellow, Pink

Cali and Ray decided not to find out the sex of their baby before it is born.  Before ultrasounds, there were plenty of yellow and green new baby outfits since we didn’t know what we were having either.  But today, it’s hard to find green without pink or blue dots, or yellow without pink or blue stripes.  I thought it ironic that in a world that seems so confused about gender, there is definitely no confusion in the aisles of Target.  Things are either for boys or for girls.   

We had fun shopping today and when we got home Cali laid it all out as if she was twelve years old and had just gone school shopping.  Calvin was a great sport and looked at each item – well, not completely true, he drew the line at looking at the lotion, Desitin, baby wash, and swabs.

Do you call cotton glued to the end of sticks Q-tips or swabs?