Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Memories – To Infinity and Beyond . . .

I should have known Saturday would be a good day. We were at my sister Chris’ house in Idaho and we got to sleep in. Then niece Charlie and her friend Nephi fixed us sausage and pancakes for breakfast and did the dishes. Next everyone gathered in the living room to visit, and I hemmed pants for my nephew Jake and my brother-in-law Bruce, while my sister Marcia folded clothes, and niece Haley ironed clothes for everyone.

Then we went to town and saw my niece Jenny, her husband Ed, and their five little boys. Jenny is a creative homemaker and it was fun to see the new curtains she’d sewn. The little boys showed us their costumes and how they could jump from their top bunk to the double bed without getting hurt or hitting the ceiling. Those little boys were so gracious and excited for company and Chris, Marcia, and I are just the great aunts. Next we stopped at the bookstore and I was happy to run into an old friend. And then as if that weren’t enough, they had fry sauce at Five Guys and Fries. I should have guessed with all these good things lining up it was going to be a great day, but there was no way I could have supposed exactly how wonderful it would be.

Saturday afternoon Bruce and Chris were sealed in the Twin Falls, Idaho LDS temple, then their children Charlie and Jake were sealed to them. It was such an incredibly sweet experience. Bruce and Chris were married in an LDS chapel 31 years ago by Karl Nelson, who was then our stake president. Bruce wasn’t a member of the Church then, but a year ago he was baptized. Saturday that same Karl Nelson, who is now the temple president in Twin Falls, officiated at their sealing ceremony. It was an incredible event to be a part of. I won’t ever forget the look on Bruce and Chris’ faces. Ever. There was such deep emotion exchanged as they looked at each other; it was like we could see into their hearts through their eyes.  

It was beyond great to see them so excited and united as a family.  As we drove to their home at the end of the day it felt good to reflect and reminisce with them.  They have not only been family, but our friends.  

Bruce and Chris watching the airshow at Ty's graduation

As Chris often types in her e-mails: 

 to infinity and beyond . . . 

This video helps to explain why being sealed in the temples is so important to us.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday Thinking – “Every path hath a puddle.” – George Herbert

There is just no getting around it. Some of life’s challenges are not pretty. They don’t look pretty. They don’t smell pretty. They don’t sound pretty. But. They’re our challenges, we carry them, and we own them.

On the other hand, some challenges have a romantic nature. Others cheer. They pray. They send flowers. They write songs about them. They hold their breath and hope the challenged will conquer.

Regardless of whether our challenges are public or private, inspiring or discomfiting, short-lived or long-term, they have the capability to first soften, slowly refine, and at last strengthen us. That is the purpose of them, right?  To help us be the best we can be – to make our backs a little straighter, our necks more bowed.

Like you, I have had both kinds of challenges:  the pretty and the ugly. Regardless of their nature, all. were. difficult.  

Photo by Tony Mills -- National Geographic

Like you, sometimes I have been able to stay balanced and remain poised while I carried them . . . 

while other times the challenges dangled from me as I slumped with little dignity intact.

Today I watched this music video. I especially enjoyed the last few seconds where it shows a variety of challenges that people carry. Regardless of our challenges, be they publicly celebrated or quietly carried, they’re ours for the growing and, God be thanked, He doesn’t expect us to carry them alone.  Nor does He not give us something in return for carrying them.

That’s what I’ve been thinking about: what others' challenges are and if there is something I can do to help carry them rather than just telling them how to readjust their load so it isn't so uncomfortable watching them carry it.

How about you? What have you been thinking about?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Homemaking Tip – It's Seldom Convenient

When I was about twenty-five, my friend Teri said, “Serving others is seldom convenient.” I had never thought about that before, but knew she was right on cue when she said it. If I waited for helping others to easily fit into my schedule I wouldn’t be doing much for anyone ever. Still today I often hear Teri’s voice “Serving others is seldom convenient” when I see someone who needs help right away. Recognizing that it’s senseless to expect serving others to be convenient helps me to better seize opportunities.

I’ve decided canning is like that, too. It’s seldom convenient. It seems the things that need to be bottled are ready the very week that is already stacked high and deep.

Like grapes. They’re ready so I’ve been canning grape juice for the last few days. Not only was the ripening of the grapes not convenient, but neither has juicing them been. The bottom broke out of one of the bottles when the scalding grape juice hit it. It filled a drawer with grape juice and trickled down to other the drawers as well. It splattered across the kitchen floor and down the sides of the stove. Sticky. Purple. Everywhere. Later, the little metal juicer spout fell into a bottle. I didn’t notice the spout was gone until jars and jars were filled and then had to search the bottles of juice to find it.

No, serving others and canning are seldom convenient. In fact, now that I think about it, most worthwhile endeavors are seldom convenient, and expecting them to be so only makes it easier to procrastinate or desert trying altogether.

And now the buzzer is beeping again telling me it’s time to fill more bottles. Grapes have no regard for blogging. I’m telling you, canning is seldom convenient.

And that's my tip for today:  don't expect for good things to be convenient.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Memories – Calvin’s Toothpicks

Along about my 4th grade year, cinnamon toothpicks were a big fad. The sixth grade boys especially liked them. If your mom wasn’t going to the store soon, you could make your own by sticking plain wooden toothpicks into little vials of cinnamon oil and letting them soak over night. Lots of us did that and then promptly burned our eyes by accidently rubbing them after touching the fresh toothpicks.

My childhood best friend, Nita, said the doctors had to operate and take a ball of wood the size of a golf-ball out of her dad’s stomach because he used to chew on toothpicks all the time. Nita said she never saw the ball, but that it was true. I didn’t doubt it. Nita said that’s why her dad said we shouldn’t chew on toothpicks but should just suck the cinnamon from them instead.

When we got married I told Calvin about Nita's dad, because he liked chewing on wooden toothpicks too. One day Calvin discovered plastic toothpicks and he began chewing on them instead.  You may notice that a lot of the pictures of toothpicks that I post on the blog have Calvin on the other end. 


Calvin always tucks his toothpicks in his pocket for later, but they come out somewhere in the wash instead.

For several years I subscribed to a food magazine and each issue had a drawing of a wooden toothpick hidden somewhere in the magazine. They called it searching for Ted’s Toothpick. Abe always looked for it and often found it, but we never claimed the prize. A week ago while I was at work something kept poking me. I knew what it was without looking; it was one of Calvin’s toothpicks. I went into the bathroom stall, lifted up my dress, turned it inside out and started feeling the seams, searching for Calvin’s toothpick. I thought, “This is just like searching for Ted’s Toothpick, except there is no prize and I don’t have Abe’s help.” Toothpick #87 was in the blue and black floral dress, right side seam, waist high.

A day or two later Calvin was sitting on the bed while I was pulling out toothpick #93 from a pair of socks. He watched me carefully unweave it from the fabric and said, “Someday you’re going to miss finding my toothpicks everywhere.”

I said, “I promise you I won’t. I will miss a lot of things someday, but I will not miss finding toothpicks in the washcloths, in the socks, especially in my whites, in my dresses, in my coats, or in my shirts. That is one thing I can promise you I will not miss.”

He laughed and said, “Oh yes you will!”

Last week Calvin left to go hunting. Guess what I found in the carpet right after he left? Yes. Toothpick #106. I picked it up and set it on my dresser with every intention to throw it away. Five days later there it still sits next to the love note he left on my pillow.

He told me so.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Life in Our World – Seven for Saturday

1. Calvin has gone hunting with Ray. They met up with Trevor, and my brother-in-law Bruce, and nephews Jake and Ryan, too. My sister Chris and her husband Bruce have a loft above their garage with several beds and a gas stove in the corner. (I’ve mentioned it before, it’s where we stack high and deep to sleep when we celebrate Thanksgiving with them.) Calvin’s been so excited to go hunting. I asked him why they weren’t going to camp since they love it so, and he said, “And not stay at Chris and Bruce’s? That doesn’t make sense. Staying with them is much better than camping.” I think bacon and eggs for breakfast, soft beds, warm showers, and prime rib for supper has something to do with it. My hat is off to Chris for taking care of everyone. She wrote me an e-mail today saying she’d taken Trevor in for stitches. Evidently deer don’t wait for the wounded, so Chris took Trevor to the doctor while the rest went to find the big one.

2.  Speaking of hunting and thinking of bears. Calvin ordered some pine nuts (still in the shell) last spring. They arrived in a muslin sack a week or so ago - just in time to take hunting. However, every night until he left Calvin cracked and ate a bowl of them. One night while I was typing on the computer, he was eating pine nuts on the couch behind me watching a program on bears. The narrator said that the pine nut is what gives bears the extra stores of fat to help them ride the winter out in hibernation. A few nights (and several bowls of pine nuts) later, Calvin wondered why I didn't eat them with him. I said, "After listening to that program on the bears, I figure I can't afford them. And . . . maybe you might want to be careful how many bowls of them you eat a night?" He did not remember hearing anything about pine nuts in the bear program. (I remember someone saying my grandpa had selective hearing and I didn't know what that meant. I so know what that means now.  I have it.) I reminded him, "Pine nuts are what give the bears enough fat to get through the winter." He said, "No way." I said, "Yes way. I'll look it up." I googled pine nut nutrition. Oh boy. It was worse than I could have exaggerated. One cup of pine nuts is 909 calories and 92 grams of fat. 

The potatoes are from the neighbors.  Aren't they beautiful?
A farmer asked me the other day if I could tell the difference
between Idaho potatoes and Washington potatoes.
I said, "I used to be able to.  When we moved here Ty and I could
both tell the difference, but I doubt I can anymore."
He's got me wondering.
Ty, do you think we could still tell the difference?

3.  Calvin called on his way hunting and said, “Don’t forget it’s supposed to freeze. Will you please remember to pick the peppers, tomatoes, and squash before it does?” I know I’ll be sad in a few weeks when the last ripe tomato has been eaten, but for today I think, “Please freeze and put everything out of its misery.”

4.  I’m just finishing up an on-line class for writing a personal history. I only have the final product to submit. Whoooooa. I thought the professor would like a nice five or six page summary of our lives. No. This class requires chapters – with a table of contents. It has been emotionally exhausting and I’m here to tell those of you that don’t already know, a steady dish of yourself is nauseating – worse than cold oatmeal. However, now that the assignment is almost complete, I am so glad I did it. It is never too early to begin (especially if you’re writing chapters). I’m so glad I got things recorded. My love for my family is in writing, etched in ink, permanent, and left for all to remember. (You use enough phrases and adjectives you eventually get those chapters written.)

5.  Today several women from our ward (local church unit) went to speak or sing at a stake Relief Society conference (community church unit) in a neighboring town. We had a great time. One of the things I love about women of the Relief Society the world over (well, as far as I’ve traveled the world at least) is that they are hungry to learn new things. They are eager to listen to what you have to say. They want you to succeed, and they do all they can to help you by listening attentively. Today was no exception. Our topic was “Weathering Life’s Storms.” I loved hearing the messages and songs from the other participants. And look!

The conference organizers sent us home with supper – as far as I can tell all the food groups are represented. After I finish this blog post I am going to put in a movie or read a book and eat peanut brittle, sugar cookies, caramel apples, apple cake, and ice cream with chocolate fudge sauce. Each woman that helped to organize the conference put something that she does well in our bag as a gift. It was like trick or treating without the costume or the begging.

6.  I chose to share as a piece of my talk the story of the women in Moses’ life. And because I love the message that these women taught through their actions, I'm sharing it with you as well:

Moses is known as the great law giver, even today. No nation has long endured that did not base itself on The Ten Commandments and the Law of Equity and Justice that the Lord revealed to Moses. Moses wrote Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy – books still read and accepted by several religions. He led millions of the Children of Israel out of Egypt and from the crushing hand of Pharaoh. He conversed with God face to face. He restored the keys of the gathering of Israel to Joseph Smith. Moses has had an incredible affect on mankind – my life and yours.

But before Moses, there were women who protected, preserved, nurtured, and taught him.

First, we have midwives Puah and Shiphrah.  

Pharaoh told the midwives to kill the baby boys.  Puah and Shiprah were professional midwives, they had no families of their own.  They feared God and reverenced life.  They refused to obey Pharaoh and because of their heroic efforts Moses survived Pharaoh’s devastating edict. 

Next was Jochebed.  She was Moses’ mother and she protected him from Pharaoh.  For three months she hid him.  I can only imagine how many hours she spent nursing him to keep him quiet.  

When she could no longer hide him, she made a basket of reeds and daubed it with pitch so that it could float in the Nile where his cries wouldn’t be heard. 

Then we have Miriam, Moses’ sister.  She protected and watched over him.  She nurtured and strengthened him.  When the time came she bravely stepped forward and offered solutions and advice on how best to care for Moses. 

 Then we have Pharaoh’s daughter.  She had political influence.  When she saw Moses, he was crying.  She had compassion on him and took him as her own.  

She may not have been able to save thousands, but that did not keep her from using her influence to save one. 

Later we have Zipporah and her six sisters. Zipporah married Moses and helped him to understand his responsibilities and covenants. She helped him prepare to meet God where he could learn of the great mission God had for him to do.

If we put these figures in modern context, we have women just like us. Professional women, mothers, sisters and aunts, women of influence in their communities, and wives who strengthen, support, and love their husbands – women of all ages and abilities. Each of these roles had an incredible influence on Moses. Moses in turn had an incredible influence on the world. As women we have the privilege, responsibility, and opportunity to make life safe for others from the evils of the world, and good for others no matter what our station in life is. We have the power to make a difference in a world racked with evil – be we professionals, single, married, homemakers, mothers, sisters, wives, or community leaders.

I just love this story in Exodus 1 and 2 that tells of these women in Moses' life.

Because I thought I was speaking after the luncheon instead of before it, I didn’t take my notes or power point presentation in, but rather left things in the trunk of the car. I thought I would set up everything during the luncheon so that the equipment didn’t interfere with the other participants. I didn’t realize until it was too late that I would have to speak without even so much as my notes or my scriptures. I also realized that one of the worst things a speaker can do is make excuses, so I couldn't even reference my dilemma either.  You can imagine as I walked to the pulpit how desperate my prayer was that I would be able to remember what I felt I should teach. God answer prayers. He answered Jochebed’s and He answered mine.

7.  What would you choose tonight? The book (The Cape Ann) or the movie (Pride and Prejudice)? Oh wait. Maybe I'll watch Psych first. It's too scary by myself at night (bravery is not my strong point).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Homemaking Tip – $tore Leaves

That bag of leaves from the $tore has come in awfully handy this fall.  First I used them as caramel apple toppers

and then as a pumpkin-y affect, along with a little green ribbon, for a popcorn ball.

Jello Popcorn Balls
1 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1 3 oz package jello

Bring syrup and sugar to a boil.  Boil 1 minute.  Remove from heat and stir in gelatin.  Add 1/4 cup butter or margarine.  Stir to melt and then pour over 5 quarts of popped popcorn.   From into balls and wrap in waxed paper.  Makes approximately 20 balls.

My friend Donna always says, "It's all in the packaging" and those leaves have certainly been a little bright spot of help.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday – Flanks, Flowers . . . They're Pretty Much the Same

Yesterday in class we read in Leviticus about peace offerings.  The peace offerings in Moses’ time included an animal’s kidneys, cauls above the liver, the flanks, and the fat that covereth the inwards.  Part of the peace offering was a sacrificial meal that symbolized friendship and a state of gladness.  I’m sure all of this made perfect sense to the children of Israel.  

Later that afternoon I came home from jogging to this bouquet of lilies sitting in the middle of the table and a meal of chicken tacos nearly prepared.  I went out in the garden to find Calvin who was hunting for a couple of ripe tomatoes.  I said, “They’re beautiful . . . .”  He smiled, gave me a big hug and kiss, and said, “They’re my peace offering.”  It made perfect sense to me.

What a funny and wonderful coincidence.  Flanks, flowers, feasts . . . they work. 

What’s your favorite peace offering?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

52 Blessings – A Prophet to Sustain

I love this picture.  I framed one for our home this week.  It depicts the story in Exodus 17 of Aaron and Hur supporting Moses’ arms as the children of Israel waged war under Joshua’s direction.  The Lord promised the Israelites that they would succeed when Moses’ arms were outstretched, but if they should fall to his side the enemy would prevail.  Moses’ arms became too heavy and he couldn’t keep them up.  The children of Israel started to succumb to the enemy.  Recognizing the gravity of the situation, Aaron and Hur rolled a rock over for Moses to sit on and then they propped his arms up so that Israel could conquer.

Heavens knows that I’ve been sustained and helped by strong people my whole life, and I’m grateful to them.  This week I’m especially grateful for the incredible blessing to live when there is a prophet of God to sustain and support.  I’m grateful for opportunities to help him move the Lord’s work forward. I loved the words that President Monson spoke two weeks ago when he said he prayed for us and asked if we would pray for him:

“I assure you that our Heavenly Father is mindful of the challenges we face in the world today. He loves each of us and will bless us as we strive to keep His commandments and seek Him through prayer . . . I love you; I pray for you. I would ask once again that you would remember me and all the General Authorities in your prayers. We are one with you in moving forward this marvelous work. I testify to you that we are all in this together and that every man, woman, and child has a part to play. May God give us the strength and the ability and the determination to play our part well.”

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Life in Our World – Trivia

It was so beautiful this morning when I went jogging.  It was worth coming back inside for the camera and then toting it in my pocket.

One night we had yellow tomatoes out of the garden (still going strong those tomatoes are), bacon and sausage quiche, and corn on the cob.  Calvin said, "Hey look!  Everything is yellow tonight.  This is worth taking a picture."  He has developed blogger's eye.

And while I'm on the subject of food, I fixed Calvin breakfast in bed this morning just because.  Yes.  I broke every yoke while transferring them from the pan to the plate.

Our neighbor asked me if we had any fertilized eggs.  I hoped he would take a rooster or three but he just wanted the eggs.  He's got a hen that wants to set.  I'll have to ask him tomorrow if she took to them.

When I came in from jogging, I wished I'd made our bed before I left.  Calvin had commandeered it with hunting paraphernalia.  He packs heavy.  I pack light.  He packs everything you might ever need.  I pack nothing.  Bet I know which one you'd rather go camping with . . .

I went to an Eagle Court of Honor tonight.  This particular Court of Honor reminded me of Follow Me Boys with Ed MacMurray and Kurt Russell in more than one way.  Have you ever seen that Walt Disney show?

One of my assignments this week was to help our Relief Society make chocolate dipped caramel apples.  To make the activity efficient, I dipped the apples in caramel first so that all the women had to do was dip them in chocolate and sprinkles.  Unwrapping caramels took me through one episode each of Psych and Monk.  It also lasted through one episode of silence and several pages of an audio book.  That's a lot of unwrapping.

What's some trivia from your world this week?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thursday Thinking – "You is smart. You is kind. You is beautiful."

"You is smart.  You is kind.  You is beautiful."  That phrase kept thumping in my head when I woke up this morning.  Funny how some words get stuck. (Albeit I am a bit off with this one, what Kathryn Stockett's character Aibileen really said was, "You is smart.  You is kind.  You is important.")  Who knows what I was dreaming about, I just woke up repeating that phrase and that I ought to tell _______ that very thing at some point, soon.  Very soon.

This week I've had several exchanges with the professor of an on-line class I'm taking.  Her positive words and suggestions have given me confidence.  This class can't be the high-point of her career, but she treats my work like it is great stuff.  

I've been thinking about the incredible power behind sincerely expressing appreciation for and confidence in another.  It matters.  A lot.  It's like the message in this video, there are things that matter most, and then there are things that are simply matter.  There are words that really matter that need to be spoken to others, and then there are just words.  That's what I've been thinking about.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Homemaking Tip – What’s Your Secret Ingredient?

One of my favorite features in the Taste of Home magazine is the “What I Add to Make _________ Special” section (or something like that).  One lady said that she always adds grape jelly to her spaghetti sauce, so whenever I have grape jelly in the fridge and I’m making spaghetti I add a spoonful.  I’m not sure grape jelly makes a big difference (at least not like garlic), but it feels good to add it because that lady is sure it makes spaghetti sauce special.

This afternoon I fixed supper for a couple of families and thought chicken noodle soup might be a good choice (because fresh bread is always a good choice and it goes with soup).  The best thing about sharing soup is it’s easy to make a big pot, the not so good thing is chicken noodle soup varies from batch to batch and you have to hope this one turns out respectably.  To the potatoes, onion, celery, shredded carrots, diced chicken, chicken bouillon, handful of rice, salt, pepper, parsley flakes, and homemade noodles, I add some yellow food coloring and poultry seasoning.  Those are the two ingredients that help the soup taste similar from batch to batch (the food coloring makes you think it's extra chicken-y which is a necessary flavor for chicken noodle soup, right?).   

Another little tip is to not let the homemade noodles intimidate you.  They make the soup (yellow food coloring and poultry seasoning only help the soup).  Homemade noodles are quick and easy to make . . . and cheap.  Just melt a couple of tablespoons of butter and add a half teaspoon or so of salt, then add a beaten egg and a cup or so of flour.  Stir well until you have a nice dough, then roll it out on a well floured counter until it is about ¼ inch thick.  Cut the dough into skinny strips and drop the noodles into your boiling soup.  Continue cooking (stirring occasionally) for 20-25 minutes or until noodles are done.  That’s it.  

Do you have a secret ingredient that you add to something?  Praytell, will you share it?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

11 on 11 of Oct '11

All the pictures finally came in!  And here they are in the order received . . . 

 Joe – This is Chinese Mama's, one of my favorite places to eat. 
Ande likes it too, but says it's a little too spicy. 

Ande – These are the Aladdin pants Joe brought me back from his latest trip 
overseas. He said he looked for the loudest and most colorful pair, knowing 
I would love them. The little Asian ladies said they were one size fits all. 
Not only are the super comfortable and match with everything, 
they are also very versatile. I mean, look at that stretch! 
I think I could even do yoga in these. 

Michelle – Teaching seminary this morning. 

Ty – While Michelle went to a Relief Society Activity, I set about doing the dishes and while doing them, 
I discovered mice rice.  The WAR is on!  We set two traps tonight and we'll set more if we need to.

Grace – The Young Women surprised me and brought me a nice card and cookies, 
telling me that I embody “Divine Nature.”

Abe – Rubbing my feet after a long day of training . . . 
just like dad, only without the “Ah Yeah!”

Jane – Finished a wonderfully sad book that made me cry.  
Can’t remember the last time I cried during fiction.  
Swatted flies while I did it.

Calvin – Teaching Dan to count bullets out in the shop.

Ray, Cali, and Levin – I'm afraid Levin stole our family's spotlight for 11-11.
He spent the day working really hard on rolling over.
Don't let the pictures fool you . . .
He didn't roll over ALL on his own, but he tried really hard and I only had to give him the tiniest of a nudge. I just hope helping him roll isn't analogous to helping a hatching bird break open their shell. I think I read somewhere that helping them kills them… doesn't allow them to struggle and become strong. Levin, if you never learn to move your own body, you can blame your mother. If you can skip by the time you're one, you can blame your father.                    

Family, you are the best to play this game with me each month.  Thank you.