Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday Memories – The patriot's blood is the seed of Freedom's tree. ~Thomas Campbell

Hydn saluting his cousin Ty immediately after Ty became an officer in the United States Air Force

What a tremendous week we have had with Ty’s graduation from the Air Force Academy and his and Michelle’s wedding two days later.  I have the cold sores, canker sores, and a sty to prove it.  But first . . . Memorial Day.  After being among so many servicemen and women this week, and walking through halls named after war heroes who died protecting America, and seeing the servicemen’s garden of trees planted in honor of those who fell in Viet Nam – first I need to say thank you to those men and women who died to leave America free for the rest of us. 

No one is positively sure where the first Memorial Day started (over two dozen cities claim the honor), but its purpose was clear:  to honor those who had fought and died in the Civil War.  General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, ordered that May 30, 1868 be officially recognized as a day to honor the fallen soldiers from both the North and the South.
Slowly, but surely, Memorial Day has evolved into a holiday where we decorate graves with mums and lilacs, wildflowers and sagebrush, plastic-flowered-wreaths and flags to remember all of our dead, not just soldiers killed in battle.  Memorial Day is a time to honor our loved heroes.
A few years ago Cali showed me this nest full of baby robins. 

I thought profound thoughts about being a mother when I saw the nest full of baby robins. Something like how only a mother could love and hope that something that started out this ugly could someday be beautiful . . . but then, they all DIED.  That’s right.  Every last baby bird died.  We turned the sprinklers on the yard without realizing that the nest was in the line of fire and each little bird drowned.  Oh, we felt so very badly. 
I was rather perplexed disgusted guilted mixed with emotion when Cali told me that all the baby robins had died, but mostly I was mad at those baby robins’ mother.  Suddenly I had no profound thoughts about her being a mother, but rather accusations.  Where was she when they had needed her most?  She’d squawked at us whenever we went near the tree but suddenly when there was a real crisis, where was she?  Why didn’t she protect them and shelter them from the water?  I felt quite unkindly towards her.  Later when I peeked into the tree to see the sorry sight for myself, guess what I saw?  The mother.  Drowned herself.  Oh, the saga.  Suddenly my mother robin was much more than a cheerleader to those ugly little babies — cheering them on to featherhood and red-breastedness — she was a pureblooded hero.  She did all she could in the line of fire to protect the innocent.  She was an unsullied example of a mother and a patriot.
It is not likely I will die in an act of bravery, no military in their right mind would put me on the front line or as a night watchman, nor is it very likely that my death will be in a gallant act of service.  And yet, I can remember and emulate those examples of heroism.  I can see that those stories and ideals are passed on to future generations so that they can remember that someone paid a price for our freedom and we should never take it for granted or expect someone else to provide it for us.  I can live every day as a memorial day . . . and always be mindful and grateful that my safety comes at someone's willingness to defend me and stand in the line of fire.  

Here are a few Memorial Day observance ideas that  suggests and which also teach future generations of its origins: 

  • visit cemeteries and place flags or flowers on the graves of fallen heroes
  • visit memorials
  • fly the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon
  • fly the POW/MIA Flag as well (Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act)
  • participate in a “National Moment of Remembrance” at 3 p.m.  Americans everywhere are encouraged to pause for one minute “to remember and reflect on the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom for all”
  • play or listen to Taps
  • renew a pledge to aid the widows, widowers and orphans of our fallen dead and to aid the disabled veterans
Memorial Day is also known as the kick off for grilling and camping.  Here is one of Calvin’s favorite beef rib rubs.  Calvin is great on the grill and I’m great with the dishcloth and broom following behind him.  It’s a match made in heaven (and by the way, Happy 29th Anniversary to us this past weekend!).

Beef Ribs
2 racks of beef ribs (2 ½ -3 pounds each)
3 Tbsp paprika
2 tsps cayenne pepper
2 tsp mustard seeds
3 tsp coarse salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin

Rinse the ribs under cold running water and blot dry with paper towels.  Combine spices in a small bowl or spice shaker.  Sprinkle about 1 Tbsp of rub on the meat side of the ribs and ½ Tbsp on the bone side of the ribs.  Let the ribs set for 30 minutes to 1 hour and preheat the grill to 250-290 degrees.  Grill ribs for two hours.

A Happy Memorial Day to you . . . and a huge thank you to our fallen dead and the families they left behind.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Life in My World – The Gamut

1.  I’m happy that today is sunny, warm, sweet-smelling, and productive and that tomorrow begins a week of family.
2.  I’m chagrined that I fell asleep while a friend was talking yesterday.

3.  I’m surprised that I got a pedicure today because I usually guilt myself out of getting one.

4.  I’m fatigued because four-thirty am was a long time ago, and four miles is a long ways, and a nap is not in the forecast.  

5.  I’m mad that President Obama endorsed the Palestinians' demands and told Israel to relinquish their land.

Why are you happy, embarrassed, surprised, fatigued, and mad today?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ten Things That Made Tuesday Terrific

1.  It was sunny.

2.  It was magazine day.  Sometimes I come home and there is an 18 inch stack of magazines waiting on our doorstep – everything from The Economist to Martha Stewart Living to Backwoods Home to the Gurney Seed Catalog.  My friend Brenda brings them every month or two and today was the day.  The whole family has enjoyed her generosity through the years.

3.  The lilacs are in full bloom.  Every year my goal is to have all of the spring yard clean-up done by the time they bloom so that we can fully enjoy them.  That is not my best thinking.  We should wait to even start cleaning up the yard until they bloom; it smells so wonderful everywhere that it would make all that raking and hauling a pleasure.

4.  The tree that Calvin carved our initials in died.  We thought.  That is not a good omen.  Tonight Calvin was getting ready to cut it way back, but found enough green growth to give us hope that it might pull out of it.  Long live our tree.

5.  I went to the temple.  We’ve got a great couple of weeks coming up – stacked with activity and interaction.  I want to soak it all in and I knew the only way I’d have enough room for it all is if I went to the temple and got perspective first.  I came away even more excited for the next two weeks of celebration if that is possible.

6.  I wore my favorite dress today.  It is not the most attractive dress, but it is the most comfortable.  Two random people said they thought it was pretty.  Long live comfortable, I shall continue to wear it. 

7.  I stopped to see my friend Melanie when I drove down to the temple.  I just found out this morning that she is expecting a baby and it was fun to drop by and tell her congratulations to her face.  A few minutes with Melanie is like a drink of cold, fresh orange juice.

8.  A world-class chocolate ice cream cone from Baskin-Robbins.

9.  A Neapolitan sunset.

10.  Bed and sleep.  It's such a nice reward to a good day.

What made your day terrific?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

52 Blessings – May 15, 1829

One of my favorite relationships in the Bible to read and think about is the one between John the Baptist and the Savior.  Perhaps that cousin relationship between John the Baptist and the Savior seems real to me because our son Abe and our nephew Levi are just a few months apart and were best friends.  We lived near my sister’s family for the first ten years of the boys’ lives, so they spent a lot of time together negotiating and playing in the dirt, water, garage, and living room.  I suppose Abe and Levi’s cousin relationship is what first helped me to wonder about John the Baptist and the Savior’s cousin relationship.

I like to think that DaVinci meant this to be
Mary, Elizabeth, Jesus, and John

I imagine John and the Savior knew of each other well, since Elizabeth (John’s mother) was who Mary went to spend time with when she was carrying the Savior.  I imagine the two women strengthened each other in their coming roles as mothers.  When Herod ordered the death of all the male babies and Zachariah (John’s father) was killed, that left Elizabeth as a single mother.  The Bible says Elizabeth then raised John in the dessert.  I wonder if when Mary, Joseph, and Jesus returned from Egypt if the boys ever got to play or learn together.   

To Fulfill All Righteousness
by Liz Lemon Swindle

It makes sense that Christ would ask John to baptize him since he held the proper authority to do so.  I can imagine the two cousins standing in the River Jordan and the feeling of love and solidarity that existed when that sacred ordinance was performed.  To hear Heavenly Father say, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” would have been incredible.

Those that had been taught the gospel by John felt some umbrage when Jesus began teaching in the same vicinity.  They saw people following him and it bothered them.  More loyal to their teacher than they were to the Gospel, they ran to John and told him what they saw.  They wondered what he’d do.  I love John’s response.  First he reminds them that Jesus is the Savior who he had taught them of all along and then said, “He must increase and I must decrease.”  (John 3:30)  John understood the Gospel, understood the divinity of the Savior, understood his call to testify of the Savior, and humbly carried that knowledge and understanding.   

The blessing that I’m thankful for today is that John the Baptist restored that priesthood authority that he used to baptize Jesus Christ.  On May 15, 1829  –182 years ago today–  John appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on the bank of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania and, under the direction of the Savior, conferred the Aaronic Priesthood upon them.  It makes perfect sense it would happen on the banks of a river. 

I was baptized by my brother who held that same priesthood that John conferred and today renewed that baptismal covenant by taking the sacrament that was served by young men also holding that priesthood.  I’m really grateful for the blessing of having the power of God restored on the earth today.  

Friday, May 13, 2011

Life in My World – The House of a Different Color

That was then.  

This is now.

Thanks to Tara, owner of Eye For Detail (509-361-3731 or 509-361-3747),

and the help of Larry and Jose.

Calvin and I recommend them.  They’re conscientious, thorough, pleasant, fairly priced, and good at what they do.  It feels great to have the house freshly painted and it looks so nice.  It adds one more shade of green to our yard.  

You'd never guess my favorite color is blue.

And that has pretty much consumed life in my world this week.

This Homemaking Tip Post Has Been Preempted for a More Important Message

Ty's first year at the Academy, six years ago. 
He looks so young!  How did we let him go?

He did it!  Ty took his last test on Monday and turned in his last paper today.  It's official . . .

He took the traditional jump in the air garden fountain to celebrate having taken his last final as a cadet.

Remember when I told you there was no quit in him?  He's graduating in the top 2% of his class.  The whole family is proud of him and how hard he works.  (Oh.  And he gets to fly solo next week, too.)

Now, back to our regular scheduled programming . . .

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

11 on 11 of May '11

Ande -- Cali & Ande after our book club (Cali hosted).  We had discussed Why Gender Matters.  
Ande made our dessert chocolate/chocolate chip muffins with ice cream and caramel.

Cali – Ray spent the night hiding in the bedroom playing with his new, bestest toy.  
He said he could hear us out there laughing and discussing and laughing and discussing.

Cali – Me showing you my maternity pants.  
I finally had to stop wearing normal pants today.  
I think this is a mile marker or something.

Abe, Grace, Ty, Michelle eating dinner at L&L Hawaiian BBQ 

A pile of Ty & Michelle’s things accumulating on Michelle's bedroom floor.  
These are mostly boxes of granola bars and other food Ty has collected from 
Mitchell Hall (the mess hall) for our food storage. :-)

Michelle sees Ty walking back down her driveway just about every night.  
This is the last 11th that this will happen though! 
(And yes, that is snow in the air.  Mother Nature has exactly 16 days to get her act together.)

Calvin – forever and always watering the garden and yard

Jane – potting flowers.  I found pony packs of six for 88 cents!

Joe – I decided to take a picture of our home decor. Ande's been working hard on it lately. 
These two are our secretary's friends. 

Abe – our nightly toothbrushing party

Grace – our nightly toothbrushing party

Monday, May 9, 2011

I'm Not Surprised.

All right.  Embarrassed or not, I’m just going to spill it even though half of the surprise is still not picture ready.

We painted the exterior of our house and it looks beautiful.  The painters thought it would be finished by Friday, but weather stalled it.  Then it was supposed to be finished Saturday, but weather stalled it again.  I was certain it would be finished by today, but nope, maybe tomorrow or Wednesday.

The other half of the surprise is picture ready.  Cali and Ray painted and hung cupboards in our laundry closet    room.  

Heretofore the shelves in the laundry room were 1” x 10” boards laid across grey metal brackets.  

To hide those unsightly shelves, I made muslin curtains and hung them across the front of the closet room.  But no longer.  We now have an official laundry closet room with no need of muslin curtains as I painted the little room this afternoon and it has real shelves.  It looks so nice.   

And . . . guess what else?  I got two unexpected packages in the mail today.  Perfect timing! 

1.      My niece Charlie has been working at DisneyWorld and she sent me this hat.  Oh ho.    

2.      Ty and Michelle wrote a kind letter on a water-colored picture they painted.  They also put some almond joy bites and peanut clusters in the box as well as a note saying that they, along with Joe/Ande, and Abe/Grace are taking me shopping for new running shoes when we go to Colorado in a few weeks.  They said it was non-negotiable.  What a nice surprise indeed.  I started jogging in Calvin’s tennis shoes a year and a half ago to get me by and they’re still getting me by.  I’m sure I’ll be able to jump higher and run faster in new shoes.

Thank you for being so funny about this little episode.  I believe Josh Billings pegged each one of you, “There is no greater evidence of superior intelligence than to be surprised at nothing.”

***Tonight Calvin and I worked in the garden for Family Night.  Those seed strips I told you about a few weeks ago have germinated very nicely.  

Life in My World – Surprise, Surprise, Surprise. Which Has Now Turned Into a Monday Memory

Oh dear.  Stop.  Please don’t keep imagining.  I did it again.  Now I know exactly what Cali meant.

One day, shortly before she turned eight years old, we were discussing her birthday.  I explained that she would receive a really special birthday present from Grandpa and Grandma Payne – which was true; they always gave their grandchildren a set of scriptures on their eighth birthday.  Cali was excited to not only be getting presents, but a special one. Her birthday came and went and I forgot about our conversation until a few years later when I told her I had a surprise for her.  She said, “No surprises, Mom. Just tell me what it is; my imagination is always bigger than your surprises.” She continued, “Remember when I turned eight and you told me I was going to get a special surprise from Grandpa and Grandma?  I was so excited.  I thought and thought of what could be really special and I decided they must be getting me a swimming pool (Olympic-size of course, because that one, she doesn’t dream small).  I knew a swimming pool would be a really special surprise.  Can you imagine my disappointment when I opened a box with scriptures in it instead?  Very No surprises for me Mom, your surprises just can’t match my imagination.”

I’ve done it again.  I told you I had a third surprise and now after just getting off the phone with a friend who called with great enthusiasm, “What is it?!  I’ve been wondering.  What is it?!”  And having two friends ask me at church yesterday what it was, I realize my surprise can never match my good readers’ imagination any more than it could match Cali’s.  I’m almost embarrassed to show it now.  I think I’d better try and think up a new surprise.  Anybody got a swimming pool they want to give away?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

52 Blessings – Being a Mother

I went into labor for the first time 28 years ago today.  One of Calvin’s phrases of encouragement to get me through the contractions was, “You can do this, a million other women have done it.”  I didn’t find much solace in that fact, and worried I’d be the one in the million that hadn’t been able to do it.  Little did I know then that the experience of being a mom would be one in a million.  I love being a mother.  I appreciate being a mother.  I love and appreciate those to whom I get to fill a mother's role: 

One thing that I appreciate about Ray is that he is a builder and a repairer.  He builds things like cradles, businesses, and people.  Not only is he good with his hands, but he’s good with his head, and he listens with his heart.  When you’re telling him a story, his eyes follow the emotion of the story – they sparkle when it’s exciting and they mist when it’s sad.  People are better people after they spend time with Ray.  I love Ray.  Every mother would love a Ray.

One thing I appreciate about Cali is her sense of wonder.  She loves to observe and if she finds a never-before-seen insect, or an abnormal growth on a tree, or even just a dead snake she stops and studies it.  One time we saw a really odd bug while we were on a walk.  I wanted to keep moving and pretend it didn’t exist, but she wanted to stop and watch it.  She said, “But we might never see something like this again in our lives.”  Yesterday she went out to find deserted eggs in robin nests and came back 30 minutes later with a handful of little, cold, blue eggs.  Her happy meter had jumped 60%.  I love Cali.  Every mother would love a Cali.

One thing I appreciate about Abe is that he is a reader.  He reads books and he reads people.  He can tell when people need a friend and he offers that friendship.  I love and admire his sensitivity.  Grace told me today that Abe took her out to dinner last night.  It was prom night and they watched several couples at the restaurant.  They noticed one couple that sat alone.  They were awkward with each other, and the situation looked even more awkward.  Abe anonymously paid for their meal and told Grace that the young man looked like he could use a boost.  I love Abe.  Every mother would love an Abe.         

One thing that I appreciate about Grace is how grateful she is.  I’ve often wondered if I could have left everything familiar to me and moved in with my in-laws and whole-heartedly accepted them, their traditions, and their idiosyncrasies for a year while my husband was away . . . and have a baby while I was at it, and be so gracious and grateful.  Any kind act is acknowledged by Grace and she is appreciative of the smallest things, like corn on the cob.  Calvin and I have a thank you card from Grace sitting on our cupboard as I type.  I love Grace.  Every mother would love a Grace.

One thing I appreciate about Ty is his doggedness.  I don’t care if he’s running a marathon with a sprung knee, reading Harry Potter in Chinese, or arguing his point, the kid will. not. quit.  He’s funny when he debates a topic with you, because he won’t drop it (even when you’re right).  And even if something like church, supper, or sleep interrupts the conversation, like McArthur, he will return to it.  That doggedness admirably follows him in every aspect of his life.  I love Ty.  Every mother would love a Ty.     

One thing I appreciate about Michelle is her enthusiasm for life.  She sprinkles her experiences with a lot of laughter and it lightens the hearts of those around her.  I love hearing her retell experiences like from playing basketball, serving a mission, or even getting a scalp treatment at a hair salon (“it’s like your whole head is sucking on a mint”).  Michelle’s enthusiasm boils over into making sure life is good for others, and she does not offend easily.  I love Michelle.  Every mother would love a Michelle. 

One thing I appreciate about Joe is that he is a decisive problem solver.  I’ve seen it in several situations.  Once was while he was cooking eggs with our broken spatula.  When he realized I didn’t have a better one he pulled out his phone and ordered me a new one from Amazon on the spot – the transaction was done before the eggs were.  “It should be here in two days,” he said.  Joe is like that.  He’s astute and then makes a decision on how to proceed.  I love Joe.  Every mother would love a Joe.

One thing I appreciate about Ande is how companionable she is.  She has many talents and interests so she can easily participate in your activities with no loathing (except grocery shopping), or she’ll initiate her own and invite you along.  She has a guttural laugh that adds to any experience.  Calvin will watch chick flick after chick flick with her just to hear her laugh.  It doesn’t matter whether there is conversation or silence, nor does it matter whether she’s ironing, reading, or going out to lunch with you, Ande has a soothing presence.  I love Ande.  Every mother would love an Ande.

One thing I appreciate about Trevor is how loyal he is.  He calls his dad faithfully two or three times a day.  He always checks to see how I’m doing and how all of the kids are doing, too.  He’s a loyal dad to Michelle’s three girls.  Saying that Trevor is loyal like a dog is no insult because he is faithfully loyal to his dogs, too.  Trevor loves family.  I love Trevor.  Every mother would love a Trevor.

One thing I appreciate about Michelle is her personality.  She’s easy to visit with, she’s easy to shop with, she’s easy to cook with, she’s easy to laugh with, and she’s easy to do projects with.  She accepts your warts and, like Ty’s Michelle, does not offend easily.  I love Michelle.  Every mother would love a Michelle.

And one thing I really, really appreciate is . . . being a mother when Calvin is the father.  He is a remarkable co-parent.  

Being a mother is a blessing for which I am eternally grateful.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Life in My World – Surprise, Surprise, Surprise.

The third surprise is coming.  It's just still in the surprise stage is all.  But it's coming, I promise.

Life in My World – Surprise, Surprise, Surprise.

Surprise!  Two deliveries in 24 hours.  Both wonderful.  Both fun to get.

Coming in a few more hours.  The final surprise.

Life in My World – Surprise, Surprise, Surprise.

I guess I lied in that last post.  At least I don't know what I was thinking.  I've gotten several surprises in the last couple of days, and I've loved every single one:

Surprise One.  Ande got her and Joe's wedding post blogged.  It was worth the wait.  Click here to see their post and pictures.  Coming in an hour or two is Surprise Two.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thursday Thinking – And that is why . . .

I wear the same size pants and dress that I did when I was in high school – no, wait . . . sometimes I wear a size smaller now.  No one is going to convince me that the extra thirty pounds I’ve gained are clinging only to my ankles.  No, sir.  Liz Claiborne hit a marketing goldmine when she realized all she had to do was size things smaller while making things bigger and people would love her product.  Didn’t take long for others to follow suit and lo, the smaller size for larger bodies was born.  (Oh ho.  I just caught that pun, “follow suit.”  That was wasn't on purpose.) Be that as it may, I went to see Hilda the dress-making-wonder and she said, “You need to add three sizes to the dress-size you currently wear for the pattern you are going to buy.” And then, because Hilda talks fast, she added, “But I don’t tell the young brides and pageant girls that when they come in, I just take their measurements, ask them their dress size, and nod my head.”  Which perfectly explains never outgrowing high school. 

And that is why no one sews anymore.  


 A.n.t.i.c.i.p.a.t.i.o.n.  I’ve never been one for surprises.  I’d rather see it coming down the tracks and have a plan by the time the train stops.  It doesn’t make me the life of the party, but it keeps me from fretting and feeling disoriented.
            Cadets’ parents start planning for graduation on the day their child enters the academy, so we’ve been anticipating that for six years now.  Parents start anticipating their children’s marriages long before that.  But now both of those events, Ty’s graduation and Ty and Michelle’s wedding, are only two weeks away.  A couple of my sisters and their families are coming as well as my brother and his family, too.  We’re putting the final touches on the agenda, planning menus, making reservations, and getting very excited for the celebrations.  There will be an air show, military parade, commissioning ceremony, military ball, and an award ceremony, besides the graduation.  And since we’re together and Colorado is beautiful, we thought we'd throw in a couple of little hikes, too.  All of this leads up to the most important event of the week, the wedding.  I can't wait. 

And that is why anticipation is such a great thing.  It makes an event last three times as long.

I’ve got lots of thoughts and opinions on current world events right now.  But everyone has lots of thoughts and opinions on current events and Bin Laden’s death so you hardly need to read mine, too.  Sufficeth me to say, we live in an exciting time with a lot of plots and subplots, heroes, heroines, and villains.  The chapter we’re in is full of tension.  But, the book of life was written by the Author of authors who gave us a preview of how the book would end in the prologue.  It has a very satisfying and wonderful ending and I’m confident the Author can carefully guide us through the intrigues of the story and future chapters if we don’t skim or skip ahead but stay focused on the text. 

And that is why we should read good books so that we know what is going on.

That’s what I’ve been thinking about this week.  How about you?  What have you been thinking about?