Sunday, December 18, 2011

Life in Our World – Christmas Things


We had a cookie exchange with the Golden Girls for Mutual on Wednesday.  The Golden Girls are all the women 70 and over in our ward, the young women are all between the ages of 12 and 18.  We had dozens and dozens of cookies.  The girls served the women cookies, hot chocolate, hot apple cider, or a glass of cold milk and then sat and visited with them.  The girls also filled plates of cookies for the Golden Girls to take home with them.  Both the girls and the women told Christmas stories.  Some of the Golden Girls remembered bathing behind a makeshift curtain by the kitchen wood stove in a galvanized tub.  One was certain that on a backyard trip to the privy she saw the image of Santa and his reindeer go across the front of the moon.  Another remembered that her parents told her and her siblings that their Christmas present that year would be a new baby.  The parents did a really good job of convincing the kids that they would need no other present, the baby would be enough.  They eagerly awaited the baby's arrival.  She was anticipated.  She was loved.  But the problem was the baby came early in November and by Christmas time all of the kids had forgotten the magic of a new baby and were sorely disappointed that she was the gift that year.  The young women concluded the evening by singing a couple of songs to the women.  It was a sweet, sweet evening in more ways than one.  

Golden Girls and Young Women and their leaders

Levin and Cali

Cali and Levin came over to see us while Ray was traveling on business this week.  Ray, Cali, and Levin fly to Thailand this weekend.  Calvin and I didn’t think we’d get to see them until after Christmas, but she called to say they were coming and it was such a great surprise.  It was fun to laugh and play with Levin.  He’s in the stage where he attack kisses you.  He has figured out how to blow raspberries on your cheek and he loves doing it.  He can’t always remember how to do it, but he remembers just well enough that he keeps trying and succeeds once out of every three tries and leaves your face sticky with his slobber every time.  We got him a little Fisher-Price tractor with a farmer, cow, and pig for Christmas. 


I mentioned that this year for exchanging gifts in our family we're all giving three of our favorite things to each family.  Favorite things might be a movie rental for a movie we liked this year, a new recipe, a song, a cooking utensil, a book recommendation, game, ink pen . . . whatever we can think of that we want to share with everyone else.  It's been a fun challenge.  I would have loved to give everyone a Bosch mixer, Cali wanted to give everyone an iPad, Calvin would have liked to give each family a gun safe.  Obviously we had to rethink our favorite things.  Calvin and I have been busy making our favorite things -- you can smell the gift he thought of, you can touch the gift I thought of, and we both chose the gift that you can see.      


Ande finished her student teaching!  The students brought her gifts and cards and asked her to come back.  Her supervising teacher wrote her a wonderful review.  I said, "Oh Ande.  You must have made a difference." (She taught To Kill a Mockingbird as part of her syllabus.)  She said, "Oh not really, they probably do that for everyone."  I said, "I don't ever remember taking a gift to a school substitute or begging them to come back."  

She was bemoaning her graduation a month ago and said, "We went on a trip to Hawaii for Cali's graduation; we went on a trip to New York for Abe's graduation; and we went on a trip to Colorado for Ty's graduation.  Who wants to go on a trip to Rexburg, Idaho in the middle of winter for my graduation?"  I told her I did and that we didn't go on trips to those places, we went to those states to watch a graduation, and that we would love going to Idaho because that was where she was graduating from.  She was not convinced.  She said, "Let's go to Disneyland for my graduation."  She was certain she did not want to walk at graduation.  I called the other kids to see if Disneyland was an option and they all agreed it would be a great thing to do for Ande.  So, with the exception of Ray and Cali (who are in Thailand), we're meeting at Disneyland next week for Ande's graduation.  It just so happens to be her birthday while we're there as well.  I imagine she will wear her birthday badge with great enthusiasm.  We are so very excited.  And so proud of Ande.  I have loved listening to her classroom experiences and how she taught different concepts and handled different situations.  As Ty always says, "She's a natural."

This was the last time we went to Disneyland.  Ande made a chain and strung it down the hall and then when it got short enough hung it from the refrigerator.   This time there was no time to make a chain.  We're just going.
(This is what a picture taken with a 2 mp camera looks like . . . and we thought we had arrived.)

Cali, Ty, Calder, Ande, Abe, Cache, Jesse
So much has happened since our last trip to Disneyland.  The kids have grown, graduated, married, and are having their own children.  The Ellsworth Cousins -- Cache just finished teaching English and taking a walk-about China, Jesse is an artist and paints windows for businesses while finishing up high school, and Calder is taller than Ty.  Good thing we're going again.  We need a new picture with Grace, Michelle, and Joe in it.  And then, we'll have to go again to get Ray and Cali in one.  And then we'll have to get one with grandkids.  I see many trips (and Dole pineapple whips, one of my favorite things at Disneyland) in our future.


A merry Christmas to you, blog readers.  Thank you for reading and commenting and sharing a part of your lives and time with us.  It is very much appreciated.

Dear Family and Friends,                                                                                                                                      December 2011

                A merry Christmas to you all.  We hope you’ve had a great year.
                Eleven is considered a propitious number in our family, so we’ll sum up the year with eleven of our favorites –

1.     Calvin moved Grace to their new home in Colorado in February.  Grace had been living with us in Washington while Abe was deployed.  It was sad to see her go as she’d been our buddy for the whole year, but it was great seeing her finally get to set up their first permanent home.
  1. Abe returned home safely from Iraq in March.  Calvin and I flew down to join Grace to welcome him home.  What a wonderful sight it was to see the soldiers reunited with their families.
  2. A week later Ande and Joe got married in the Seattle temple.  As the family sat together in the sealing room I thought, “It just doesn’t get any better than this.”  Joe is a fun asset to our family and we are lucky to have him.
  3. Two months later Ty graduated from the Air Force Academy.  Two of my sisters and their family joined us at this event.  Ty was a top graduate which made the ceremony that much more enjoyable.
  4. Two days later Ty married Michelle in the Denver Colorado temple.  Déjà vu.  It just felt so good to be there with all of the kids.  Michelle is quick to laugh and quick to love.  We are very blessed she chose to join our family.
  5. Calvin and I officially became empty nesters.  While it was pretty darn painful as each child left home, once they all took flight it has been anything but sore.  It’s amazing how often we have grilled cheese sandwiches for supper now or run into town for nothing but an ice cream cone.    
  6. In June Ray and Cali had a son, Levin.  What a fun thing to see the kids be parents.  What joy to have a baby to hold and love.  Ray swears Levin has my feet.  Good thing they’ll be big, because it looks like he’ll be Ray’s height.
  7. In September I started my 11th year of teaching seminary.  Who knew?  It was a one year commitment when I started.  It’s been a real blessing.
  8. In October Calvin, Ray, and Trevor met in Idaho to go deer hunting.  They met up with my nephews, Ryan and Jake, and also my brother-in-law Bruce.  They had a great time and came home with meat. 
  9. In November Calvin and I flew down to watch the Army – Air Force game in Colorado Springs with Abe and Grace.  Later in the month we celebrated Thanksgiving at Ray and Cali’s with their family, and Joe and Ande too.   The best part of being an empty nester is having four more homes.  The kids are great hosts and we are proud of them.       
  10. In the middle of this month Ande will graduate from BYU-I with a secondary teaching certificate in literature and art.   How I wish I had had her for a teacher in high school (or for our kids’ teacher).  Even Shakespeare makes sense when she interprets him for me:    “'Tis but an hour ago since it was (ten), And after one hour more 'twill be (twelve); And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe, And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot; And thereby hangs a tale.”  ~William Shakespeare  

                It’s true.  We are happily ripening and rotting as we write our tale.  Thank you for being one of our blessings and a wonderful part of our tale.  Have a merry, merry Christmas, and here’s to 2012!
                    Calvin and Jane Payne

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Homemaking Tip –

The other day Calvin and I cleaned out the lean-to and every time we came across a bucket he said, "Put it in that pile."   While the lean-to looks very lean and organized now, there is a big stack of buckets.  He has a thing for buckets like I have a thing for baskets."

I found this child's chair at a flea market last summer for $2 or $3.  I hung it on the wall and it makes a perfect shelf next to the fireplace.  I can't decide what to put in the basket.  Apples?  Pinecones? Popcorn balls?  Christmas cards?  Books?  Mini-photo albums?  Keys, glasses, wallet?

What would you put on the shelf or in the basket?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

11 on 11 of December '11

Calvin - Prepared plates to take to the bishopric and clerks to eat during tithing settlement.  I told him to smile for 11 - 11 and he said, "I'm Dasher.  No Dancer.  No Prancer.  No . . .  what's the other one's name?"
Rudolph.  He's Rudolph.  

Ty - My picture is with Hu Wentao right after I spoke in the Mandarin Branch 

Abe - enjoying the first roast we have ever made together. It was a success!
And Abe even enjoyed the cheesy scalloped potatoes Grace made, too.

Michelle - appreciating our advent box 

Jane - It has been so foggy that we have stuff on the ground that looks like snow.  
 It’s kind of cool – snow without snowing.

Joe - Notice the mantle decoration tumbling over and into the re-purposed Christmas village

Ande - grading 130 high school essays really puts a damper on one's weekend.

Grace - Went to friend's (Chelsea Heaps) house while Abe went to a church meeting.
Abe and Grace love Payson, Shayne and Chelsea’s little boy.

Cali - Me bathing Levin.  At the last minute, he decided to take a break from drinking his bath water and poked his head up, so he could be in the picture.  I'm not kidding on any account.

Ray - Ray watching his first of many masterpieces.  It is a good thing I have Ray as a co-parent.  He was the one that discovered Levin can sit-up on his own, if you get him in the position.  I was preoccupied with the fact that he STILL can't roll-over, so therefore he must not be able to sit-up yet.  Silly me.  If I were a single parent, our children probably wouldn't walk until they were 5... assuming ALWAYS gets me in trouble.

Levin - He has discovered his feet, but his torso is SOOO much longer than
his legs,  so there is NO hope of those feet ever making it to his mouth...
where he REALLY wants them.  Ray gave Levin a mohawk last night.
He was very concerned with how whimpy Levin looked the night
before when I pulled out a comb and gave Levin a nice respectable
comb-over.  With his comb-over he looked like Calvin
(Calvine & Hobbes) on picture day.

52 Blessings – Nativities

I didn’t even realize I had a Nativity collection until this year as I was unpacking the decorations. I was surprised at how many had accumulated over the years. One was made by a friend whose little nine year old daughter had just passed away.  She said she felt called to make them.  I know she found great peace that year stitching the Nativity from felt and spools.  I think of her and her daughter every time I unpack it.  Five of the nativities are gifts from nieces, students, friends.  I stitched one nativity wall-hanging during a wrestling season of Ty's.  The big, nice nativity is one Calvin and I picked out together.  Thank heavens for Costco.  And then there is the picture of Mary holding the baby Jesus clothes-pinned to the fridge.  It's just a calendar picture and Calvin requests it be hung every year.

One time a teacher asked what or who we would have liked to have been if we had been there the night the Savior was born. Some said an angel, some said a shepherd, a few said Mary, and a couple mentioned Joseph. One said, “The stable so that I could have protected Jesus,” and two more added, “The straw so I could have given Him comfort,” and, “The manger so I could have given Him a place to rest because He has a hard life ahead.” Another said, “The star, so I could have shown people where He was,” and one said, “The goat. Goats are too stupid to do much thinking so I’d have wanted to be the goat. Then I could have watched the whole thing, but I wouldn’t have been smart enough to say something dumb and ruin the spirit of it.”

What or who would you have wanted to be? I’m still not sure . . .

An angel would have been a thrilling assignment. I don’t know if heavenly choirs require angelic voices or not, but if they don't I would have loved to have sing “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” It would have given me goose bumps from my neck to my knees. I would have loved to have been an angel singing in a choir big enough to fill the whole universe.

I would imagine keeping the night watch as a shepherd, searching the outskirts for the shadow of a thug or the eyes of a wolf, would have made a bit jumpy. And then to see something come unexpectedly out of the night sky would understandably have given me a fright. But to be comforted by an angel saying, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy . . .” and then to say where the “Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” could be found would have been a most exhilarating experience. I would have loved to have traveled with the shepherds to see the new baby king.

I don’t know if Mary experienced the baby blues or newborn euphoria, either way there would have been a thousand and one things to worry about if I had been Mary. I imagine the least of which would have been how to deliver, wash, diaper, feed, and care for a newborn. Every mother knows the privilege of caring for a new little baby that cannot care for himself, so to be given the charge of taking care of and teaching the One who would later take care of and teach everyone would have been a privilege indeed. Surely Mary was “highly favoured,” the Lord was with her and she was “blessed among women.” I would have loved to have cradled and cared for the baby Jesus.

As with Mary, there would have been a thousand and one things to worry about if I had been Joseph. How to come up with tax money, plan a family trip, transport a full-term pregnant wife, and pay for the motel, food and hay for the donkey, besides introducing your new wife in her “circumstances” to your extended family and friends back in your hometown would have been taxing at best. Joseph must have had a wonderfully large heart and strong protective hands to care for Mary and Jesus. I would have loved to have met him and thanked him for his part in the nativity, and asked him if there was something I could do to help.

It would have been a great opportunity to share wealth, talent, and blessings with Mary and Joseph to help them with their responsibility of raising the Son of God.  I imagine the conversations around the campfires at night as the wise men followed the star would have been incredible too. 

To protect and defend the Savior of the world is a privilege. The stable would be a sturdy and admirable choice.

The Lord is so generous at providing us with comfort. To have helped meet His mortal needs, even if it were only by being the straw, when He was helpless would also have been an honor. I don’t think I would have wanted to be a goat, but then I didn’t think I would want to be a donkey either until I read this poem:

Mary's Donkey 
by Ann Lundberg Robinson

like Mary's donkey,
we may find
that our greatest glory
has come from
carrying life's burdens with
simple dignity,
from being of humble
service to others,
and taking one earth step
at a time
from patiently enduring. 

And Jesus himself was referred to as the Lamb of God and lambs are cousins to goats. So maybe there really was no insignificant role in the nativity, since all things bear record of the Savior.

I still don’t know who or what I would have wanted to be. But, I do know who I wouldn’t have wanted to be under the new star that night. I would not have wanted to be the inn keeper or the guests. I would not have wanted to be that close to the greatest event in history, a real spiritual opportunity, and then miss it because of my own ignorance or busyness. I would have lots of regrets if I had been the inn keeper or the guests.

I remember rearranging our nativity as a little girl. My younger brother and sisters would rearrange it after me and I’d move them back to the spot I thought they should go after they left. Funny how we get a little certain in our minds about how things must have been that sacred night, and we don’t want them messed with. Like the real story gives me in real life, nativities add substance to the season for me.

What would you have wanted to be?  
Have you got a nativity you feel fondly towards?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Life in My World

It’s been beautifully foggy and gray the last two days.  This morning I wore a gray skirt, a gray sweater, and a gray coat.  As I got ready to go out the door Calvin said, “You better not go outside, you might get lost and no one will be able to find you.”
He must have forgotten that I got some great little flashlights at his work party gift exchange last night so he can use them to come and find me. 

A couple of you have asked where I got our grandchildren ornaments.  I ordered them from .  I doubt if you ordered them now they would arrive before Christmas as the ornaments seem to take longer to process than most of the other items they offer, but they are pretty and the quality is good.  (The kids tease me that I overuse artscow, and they just may be right, but I do like their photo-things.)  I order two ornaments when each grandchild is born (one for us and one for their parents), and the plan is when the grandkids get older and come to our house they can see their cousins and look for their picture and know they are all loved and remembered.  (I plan to tape a little chocolate coin or some surprise on the back of it for them to find, too.)  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thursday Thinking – Little Boxes

I’m having a hard time thinking of anything else but these boxes (posted below) because I had planned to post this on Monday as a memory.  When that didn't happen I thought Tuesday as an anything goes post.  When that didn't happen then I thought Wednesday as a homemaking tip.  But, as you can see, that didn't happen either, so it's all I can think of today and it's Thursday.  

In high school we had to take the scholastic aptitude tests in the auditorium.  Not that it matters, but we had feathered hair, thick handled combs in our back pockets, and wore down-filled vests.  Oh.  Except some of us, I didn’t keep a comb in my back pocket.  I kept it in my sock.  We wore knee highs with strong elastic at the top and they were long pockets just waiting to be filled, so I kept a comb, couple pieces of gum, lunch money – everything I might need in my sock.  (By night, my legs had fossil-like marks all over them.)

I liked taking the auditorium tests, except for the ones that included box folding.  Those were hard for me.  The box folding questions consisted of a pattern of a box laid flat.  All the tabs of the box were labeled a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i – these were complicated boxes mind you with lots of tabs and extensions.  We were supposed to assemble the box pattern in our brain and choose the correct picture of a box from the several folded box shapes from the right column.  Man, I struggled with those boxes.  I learned to look at the pattern, make a guess, and save my brain for the other questions.    

When my scholastic aptitude test came back with “shoemaker” in the suggestion box, I thought, “Noooooo, don’t you understand?  Shoes are like boxes, you have to fold them in to a shape.  I don’t have the right imagination to fold cardboard OR leather."  Then later, "I am so glad I don’t live in Russia or China because they would make me be a shoemaker and I don’t want to be a shoemaker.  I want to be a teacher . . . a teacher that doesn't teach how to fold boxes.” 

Thirty years later and I've had time to think about those tests.  I think:
  • a) that scholastic aptitude test was on to something.  I really do love folding boxes
  • b) my brain kept subconsciously working on those box-folding problems long after I quit taking tests and finally figured them out
  • c) I am a lucky guesser
  • d) I just needed box-folding questions that only required four folds
Multiple choice, you pick.  

No matter the reason, here is a cute three sided box pattern.  You can make them out of Christmas cards, or note cards, or cardstock – it’s up to you.  You can make them big or small.  You can make them short or tall.  Sam, you can make them here or there, you can make them anywhere.  

 They're fun and easy to fill: a chapstick, McDonald's gift card, dollar piece, Christmas candy, hair bands, nail polish, bracelet . . . what the little box will hold is your limit.

A good size of card or paper to start with is 5 inches by 8 1/2 inches.  You can trim a Christmas card or cut paper to that size.  

Fold the paper in half (if it isn't a card with a center fold already).  Mark the center of the paper on the top and bottom edges.  Score a line from the top center to the center folds.  Do the same with the bottom center.  (I drew a line to show you where to score.)

Fold and crease on score lines.

 Gather all the corners to the top.

Pinch the box closed and punch holes through all the layers at once so the holes match up.  

Fill the box with surprises, and close again.

Tie shut with ribbon, twine, or string.

 These little boxes kind of remind me of a song sung by the Womenfolk in the 70's:

Little boxes all the same.
There’s a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one.
And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same.

And while the Womenfolk's song was about American homes in the suburb it fits these little boxes, too.

Did you have feathered hair?
Did you plaster your hair with hair spray, or keep a comb in your pocket or sock?
Any more ideas for gifts inside the box?  I'd love to hear them.
Were your aptitude tests right?
Do you remember the Womenfolk?
So many questions.  So many questions.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

52 Blessings – Life in Our World, Old Friends, Christmas Devotionals, Little Girls Singing, Christmas Ornaments, Sapphires . . . you know, Stuff

Dear Kids,

We’ve had a great week.

Monday night for family night we watched Mormon Messages. That is the best back-up plan ever. We were supposed to finish your dad’s “I’m a Mormon” segment, but he couldn’t remember his password and surprisingly enough it wasn’t the one he always uses for everything . . . or any form of it.

Tuesday night we went to the temple. First we stopped at Costco and refilled an ink cartridge and picked up one of our favorite-things gifts for everybody. It was nice being at the temple on a weeknight because it wasn’t so crammed full. It was also nice going out to eat in the middle of the week at Red Lobster because there was no waiting line and the restaurant was quiet and the meal was served quickly. I think we’ll rethink what day we go to the temple in the future.

Wednesday night was Young Women in Excellence.

Thursday we went to the wrestling match. There are only two home matches this year.

On Friday your dad had the dumpster delivered. The whole shop could fit in it.

I know it's been killing some of you kids that you aren't here to sort through things. More than one of you has called and warned, "Save anything good, don't through it out!" Your dad hasn’t found many treasures, just mostly junk. But one treasure was his army helmet.

I’ll let you imagine which Calvinism your dad is saying in the picture.  If I could spell it I would, but since I doubt it's a real English word and I always worry it might be a swear word in another language, I'll let you fill in the _______.

I decorated the Christmas tree, set up the nativity, hung the joy banner, and put the garland on the hearth Saturday. I hung Clara and Levin’s ornaments. Last year I ordered an ornament for us and Abe and Grace, and this year I ordered one for us and Ray and Cali. They look cute. Next year I’ll order one for us and Ty and Michelle . . . and any others that might be needed.

Today Glade, an old mission friend of your dad’s, called and said he was passing through and wondered if we’d meet him for supper down in Tri-Cities. He and your dad call each other every now and then and whenever he's within a hundred miles your dad meets up with him, but I hadn't seen him in over 20 years. No matter. There was no way I'd miss Glade once I saw him. It was so good seeing him again. We swapped kid stories (he has nine) and ate chips and salsa.

Glade was hauling mining equipment to a friend’s sapphire mine in Montana. He gave us each a sapphire.  I have never worn or owned a sapphire.  Your dad’s is the blue grain of rice one and mine is the cut one.  Glade is and has always been very generous and giving.  Your dad has come home from meeting Glade with more than one hat that wasn't his when he went, and see that book under your dad's arm in the picture above?  Glade was reading it but thought your dad would like it and so he gave it to him.

Tonight after we got home from visiting Glade we made chex party mix to eat during the First Presidency Christmas Devotional (something to eat during it takes the sting out of not being there in person to watch it.  I was quite excited they had free seasoning packets next to the pallets of chex at the store. Not only that, but chex was $1.99 which is a very good price for here). We enjoyed the devotional very much. One of my favorite parts of the Life of Jesus Christ movie is when Mary and Elisabeth spend time together. I have always loved that part of the story. I'm glad the extended versions are already posted ( I’ll bet you can’t guess what we’ll be doing for family night for a few weeks.

Today in church we sang “Angels We Have Heard on High” for the closing song. We were sitting in front of the Davis family. They have two girls about 8 and 10 years old. They sang the “Gllllllloooooooooooooooooooo – ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo – ooooooooooooooooo – ria” so sweetly and with such fervor. I stopped singing so I could hear them, then I whispered to your dad to listen to them. We both agreed it was one of the best parts of the meeting.

I just finished a children’s book (Red Scarf Girl) about a little girl that lived during the revolution in China. That is a crisis I can’t imagine surviving. All I can say is I am very blessed.

I love you.