Thursday, October 31, 2013

Homemaking Tip - Organic Polymers of High Molecular Mass

The other day I took a stack of these packets to the post office to send.  Three of the four postal workers cheered (no fooling, they cheered) and said, "We've been wondering when these were going to come through."  

I imagine after watching thousands of white letters and tons of brown boxes roll past it would be a bit of a thrill to see something a little more revealing.

But the packets almost didn't happen this year.  I was out of clear plastic.  I used to buy it by the yard in the fabric department.  When they quit carrying it, they suggested clear table cloths.  But this year even clear tablecloths were gone.  The only other thing I could think of was shower curtain liners.  Not only were there plenty in stock, they were cheap - half the price of plastic tablecloths and much cheaper than plastic on a bolt.  Not to mention the free magnets in the bottom of the curtain.

From now on this will be the plastic of choice for future packets and table coverings.  It's a nice, sturdy but pliable, plastic.

Necessity is a great little mother of invention.

(Cali mentioned in the comments that she wished she could link the video of Levin receiving his packet, so I added it as well as a picture of Zeph receiving his.  I think it funny both boys were wearing the same shirt when they got the packets though they are cousins that live 2,916.1 miles apart.)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday Tried It - Illumination

I saw an easy way to paint jar lids on Pinterest last week:  put a grocery bag over the jar, screw the lid on top of it, and spray it.  The plastic sack not only protects the jar, it acts like an umbrella over your hand and wrist shielding them from spray drifts.  Brilliant.

I tried it this afternoon and it works great.  I wish I'd known this trick five dozen jar lids ago.

I also saw a good emergency candle idea on Pinterest.

Since I'm terrible at keeping a nice stock of flashlights and batteries, this idea was a great find.  I fancied the jar lid up a bit so it would look nice sitting on a shelf in the living room.

The jar is recycled, but the candle holder was found at Craft Warehouse and the emergency candles and little matches at the $tore.  I printed emergency ready onto a scrap tag.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday Memories - He Loves Me, She Loves Me Not

Calvin tells me at least twice a day that he loves me. Sometimes he even prays that I will know in my heart how much he loves me. And just in case that isn’t enough, if I ask him if he loves me he’ll say in a teasing, but matter-of-fact tone, “Married ya didn’t I?’ or “Man can’t love a woman more than that.”

A few days ago I came home to a hand-dipped, chocolate-covered caramel on my pillow, and this past weekend after being gone to a scrapbooking retreat with Cali and Grace I came home to supper on the table. It wasn’t just any supper, it was complete with chilled glasses of sparkling lemonade and the red ‘you are special’ plate at my seat. The chips were served in a basket he’d found in the living room and had lined with paper towels, and the fresh, homemade salsa was in a little black caldron dish like you see at Mexican restaurants. He served refried beans alongside them. The next course was Spanish rice and tacos, and dessert was strawberry ice cream. But even more than the great food, it was the kind sentiment of "welcome home, I missed you," behind it.

In short, Calvin is a very loving man so you’d think it would have been a horse-race as to who would say “I love you” first when we were dating.

The first week of January 1982 I had traveled to Phoenix, Arizona with a group of BYU students to show and sell feeder calves at the stock show. Calvin went to Arizona at the same time to visit his family and invited me to meet them. He and his dad came to the fairgrounds to pick me up. I was out on the wash-rack washing steers when they came. I still had some work to do before I could leave so they walked around looking at exhibits while they waited. After the chores were finished they took me back to my motel room so I could change clothes before going to meet his family.

We were staying at a rundown motel in the seedy part of town. Even in the daylight it was scary. Calvin’s dad parked at the base of the stairs near my room and they waited while I rushed upstairs to change my clothes. I put on a gray, pin-striped, lace-collared, button-up blouse and grey corduroy pants. I looked my best. As I walked down the steps to meet Calvin and his dad, I felt their eyes on me. I willed over and again, “Don’t fall. Concentrate. Now is not the time to trip.” I was justifiably nervous. Just the week before Calvin had come to Idaho to meet my family. We’d had a big storm and the roads were slick and so were the sidewalks. I met Calvin in town and we ran an errand for my sister before going home. As we walked down Main Street to the store, I slipped on the ice. Both feet went out from under me and I landed solidly on my tailbone. It was embarrassing. He’d just barely started holding my hand a week or two earlier and the first kiss was still weeks away. Calvin gave a courtesy laugh and helped me to my feet. We walked another thirty feet and it happened again. I fell even harder and nearly pulled him over as he helped me get to my feet. I tried to tell him that I was normally sure-footed (being sure- footed is important in the livestock world, you see, nobody wants a stumbling horse or bull, I've seen them culled for that reason). We walked another fifty feet and I did it again. By now my tail bone was really sore and my Levi’s were soaked. I didn’t even try to apologize or make an excuse for the last fall. I was out of them. I just hoped the rest of the visit would go better than the first twenty minutes had. Now, as I walked down the stairs to join Calvin and his dad in Arizona, I rightly worried I’d step on the edge and slide down the flight. But I didn’t. I didn’t even have to grab the handrail, which was a good thing because, remember, we were in a rundown motel in the seedy part of town.

Calvin got out of the pick-up to let me slide into the middle between him and his dad. After I had slid in he leaned over and whispered, “Your pants are unzipped.” Indeed they were.

We drove to his folks’ home and had a lovely dinner with his parents, two sisters and brothers-in-law, and his brother and sister-in-law. We ate a green salad, roast, and potatoes. It was a wonderful evening. And other than my fingernails were nubbed and my hands grubby and stained with black spray paint and grease from fitting the steers, I didn’t spill or say anything embarrassing.

Late that night, Calvin drove me back to the motel. He seemed a bit uncomfortable as we drew near. Before he got out of the car to walk me to the door, he said he needed to tell me something. He paused. A long time. A very long time. I looked at him, and while I may have wondered briefly if he had decided I wasn’t good or sure-footed enough for him after meeting his family, I soon could see it was something else. I waited for him to speak, but he didn’t. We sat there awkwardly for a few moments. Finally I understood what he really wanted to say. I excitedly stole his thunder, “Did you want to tell me you love me? Is that what you’re trying to say?”

He nodded and carefully said, “Yes. I love you.”

It was the sweetest thing on earth. It was so sincere and so kind. And to see a grown man nervous about a tender thing is always endearing. He loved me.

I looked at him and said, “Ohhhhhhhhh, thank you. That is so kind of you,"  then it was my turn to pause.  I weakly added, "I hope I can tell you that someday too.”

He nodded and we sat there for a minute or two before he walked me to the door.

End of story.

It was just as awkward then as it is reading it now.

I finally told Calvin I loved him several weeks later while we were sitting in the Wilkinson Center at BYU. He laughed when I said it and said my actions had already told him long before.

Calvin doesn’t tease me about the time I fell on the ice or the time my pants were unzipped; nor does he razz me much about the time we were leaning over a map on my apartment kitchen table and my nose dripped on his hand; he hardly ever brings up the date where I fell off a horse when it spooked on a busy highway in Provo.  But he never lets me forget how socially awkward I was when he told me he loved me.

So I’ll say it again, loud enough for the world to know: I love you Calvin.

I married you didn’t I?

(How about you? Who said “I love you” first in your marriage?)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tuesday Tried It - Sound Bytes

We've become a people of sound bytes.  It's an interesting communication phenomena.

I recently printed out several (at least 40) different illustrated sound bytes from the LDS October General Conference and used them in class.  I found them all on Pinterest (which sent me all over the internet including to the Chocolate on My Cranium and Inkhappi blogs).

Each student received one card with a quote.  If it was meaningful to them they recorded it in their journals along with an explanation of why it was important to them or how it could help them.  They passed the cards and started the process all over again.  This continued several turns and the kids enthusiastically participated.

Kids love sound bytes.  They quote movies.  They quote songs.  They quote TV shows.  They quote each other.  Now they can quote General Authorities.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

52 Blessings - Primary Songs

I'm a mean old witch with a hat
And I ride on my broom with my cat.
My chin is pointed and my nose is too.
So you better watch out or I might scare you.
(Big Pause)

We used to sing this song in Primary during the month of October (back then Primary was on Tuesday afternoon instead of during church on Sunday, so it wasn't uncommon to sing about witches and reindeer right along with Jesus).

Primary songs have taken up permanent residency in my brain and I'm grateful for the different phrases that come to mind at various times.

I'm especially glad this song (Give, Said the Little Stream) was learned early and has stayed long.

It seems every Primary child learns I Am a Child of God early, but I have come to appreciate this song even more as a mother and grandmother than I ever did as a child.

Any verses or phrases from songs that you learned as a child that have stuck with you?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Life in Our World - D is for Done

D is for DONE.

This week I canned applesauce and grape juice.  I am done canning for the year since I only have three empty jars left on the shelf.  It fills so good to have them full.

The chickens made good use of the apple peelings and grape skins.  Chickens are like gumball machines, I feed them scraps and they give me eggs.  It's a pretty phenomenal return. 

D is for DONE.

The Statistics tutor became less helpful each time I visited with her and I seemed to get stupider after each session. I didn’t know quite what to do next and then Julie Phipps called and said she’d read I was having trouble in Statistics and volunteered her husband Steve to tutor me.  (Steve was a mentor to Ty at the Air Force Academy and also taught Statistics.  They now live down the road from us.)

I met with Steve for three evenings preparing for the final.  

Steve bolstered my confidence greatly in many ways.  One was by saying that the test questions we reviewed didn't make sense to him the way that they were written.  He also helped me understand a few basic things about Statistics. Namely, that all of those numbers represent a percentage. I had looked at p .07 > a .05 all course long and didn’t know that we were talking about things other than decimals and greater thans and less thans. But the minute Steve saw that same problem he said, “Okay, well this says that 70% of the women believe that Harrison Ford is still a handsome leading man (which sidetracked Julie and me into talking about Harrison Ford look-alikes). Suddenly all of those numbers came alive. They weren’t just some dot on the graph chart, the size of the bears in Yellowstone, or a grade on a bell-curve, they represented people and ideas.

Another time when Steve was teaching me about scatterplots he said, “When Hitler was bombing London he was using _____(a big type of artillery) and we couldn’t figure out whether he was aiming or if he was shooting at random, so we made a scatterplot for pattern detection to see if it was intentional.” Ohhhhh! Suddenly those dots were easy to read when you think they’re bomb droppings — bring on the battleship game. Which lead to a discussion about Germany’s initial bombing of London, which was an accident by a German airman who was disoriented in the air (I read about it in the 7 Tipping Points of Freedom that Changed the World earlier in the month, so that was nice having two random ideas collide and connect).

Steve also helped me to see that I would have to answer each question with a process of elimination, not with rote memorization. He taught me some important steps to help me eliminate the wrong answers.  Steve gave me more confidence (and told me not to base my opinion of Statistics on this experience), basic understanding, and helped me see the numbers as people, events, and ideas.  But because of the way the class was taught, he couldn't help me master the Z or T tables.  I needed to know how to run the equations with those tables for the test.

I was in a bind. I was stuck.  Statistics, for me, was like looking at a 3-D picture with the hidden pictures inside the art. I would study and stare at the problems and then when my eyes were just about to cross from being so statistic weary, I would get a glimmer of understanding.  I knew from prior experience, however, that if I didn’t act quickly that glimmer would leave, just like it does when looking at 3-D pictures, and I’d have to start all over again.

The scheduled day for the final came and I didn’t know whether to act quickly and take the test before I lost the glimmer, or to postpone it and keep trying to crack the code for a better chance at passing. I knew some, but did I know enough? 

What I did know was that 200 hours and $600 were at stake and the longer I looked at 200 and 600 the bigger the numbers seemed to get. I also knew that “the Lord gives no commandment . . . save He prepares a way” – I’ve been preaching that for three weeks now in seminary and institute – and as Pres. Uchtdorf says, “Education is not simply a good idea, it’s a commandment.” But would "the way" be provided on the day I hoped or would my "education" include failing.  That I did not know.  But I did know that 200 and 600 and my sanity were at stake.

I called the tutor for one last stab at the Z and T tables.  When I asked her how I was ever going to remember a certain equation, she said, “Practice. Practice. Practice” like a tight-lipped, hair-in-a-bun, ruler-in-her-hand, school teacher might say. And though I wanted to say that practice makes things permanent not perfect, and if I couldn’t practice correctly I would come out permanently dumber than ever, I still felt stupid at her tone and answer.  I got off the phone with her and truly didn’t know what to do. I was really discouraged.

I looked at my phone and saw a mass text that Calvin had sent to all of our kids saying "pray for Mom she's taking the Statistics final," and all of the subsequent texts and phone messages of encouragement and offered prayers.  I wanted to cry, I felt so appreciative of the kids' and Calvin's support, but was afraid I’d let them down and that I'd already worn them thin with my incessant fretting.

I was at the seminary building when I finished talking to the tutor, so I went into the bathroom stall and prayed telling Heavenly Father that I didn’t know what to do, whether I should go with what I knew so I didn't risk losing what I’d gained in the last fifteen hours of studying, or put more time and effort in and postpone the test.  I told Him how badly the money/time waste worried me if I failed and that that extra worry was sapping any confidence Steve had helped me regain.  I asked Him to help me know whether I knew enough to pass.

I went back to my desk, still not sure what to do when Ray called. He simply said, “Janey Payney, you’re going to eat this test! You’re going to crush it!” I smiled, not feeling at all like I could pass it let alone eat it, but knowing that I’d just asked for direction about whether or not to take the test and Ray’s call of confidence came.  It was enough encouragement for me to take it.

Bishop Stones was my proctor and as he opened the test he said, “Would you like me to say a prayer before you take it?” So he did and then I began taking it.

The test was 91 questions and it took three hours.  When I finished, I knew I didn’t know 10 of the answers, wasn't sure on another 10, and would probably miss at least another 10 to error.  I hoped I would only miss those 30.  I could pass if I only missed 30.

All week I kept checking my e-mail hoping for the grade.  By the end of the week, I started to get really nervous and dreaded the news.  My prayers had changed from “please help me to know when to take the test,” to “please help me to pass the test,” to “please help me handle the news if I don't pass when I open the e-mail."

On Thursday, right after teaching seminary, I sat down to check the e-mail and saw a notification that the test was graded. I dreaded opening the document.

Calvin walked in at that very moment and said, “Hey Janey Payney! Let’s go to lunch."

I told him the test score was in.  He said, "And? . . . "  then came over and read the e-mail with me. I didn't have to read it alone.    

It was a D, 66%! I was so very happy. So very, very happy. I do believe I ate it since I passed with 11% more correct answers than needed. And that is a statistical difference folks.

We went out to the pick-up and offered a prayer of gratitude, then went to Inca’s to celebrate.

While I may still not be able to tell you when to run a T-test or a Z-test or ANOVA or a Chi-square test, I can tell you that the Lord is mindful of us. While my passing Statistics may not have been a priority on His list, passing Statistics was a priority on my list and I am one of His priorities.  The Lord reminded me of that again through this class. Not only did Julie offering Steve's help get me over the hump, but the kids' prayers gave me courage and helped me retain and connect concepts. Several times during the test I thought, “Hey! I know this! I just studied it!” More than once I realized that I would have forgotten the answer to that particular problem had I waited another day to take the test.  Finally, Calvin walking in to invite me to lunch at the right time was the frosting on the cake.

D is for 66%, and for difficult, and for done, and for darn glad the Lord helped me pass the first time.

D is for done.

We had frost this week.  The garden is done.  

It's Saturday night and the laundry, vacuuming, dusting, dishes, and grocery shopping are done . . . and, bonus, clean sheets are on the bed too.  Just in time for Sunday.

D is for done.  Good night.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Thirteen (plus a few more) Pictures for October Thirteen, Two Thousand Thirteen

Cali - holding after-church-nap Levin

Ray - holding ready-to-take-a-nap Atlas

Levin - foraging food for Houdini (the turtle)

Joe - Moving by the other side of the family means more of the same: moving people.
This is the after shot of Kelsey's move.

Zeph - It's a nice night to be naked.

Ande - I wish I didn't fall asleep every time I tried to read.

Jane - a full week of teaching - ten different lessons - and ended today with teaching the 
young women's lesson at church and visiting teaching.  
(Never mind I taught last month's lesson and never even realized it 'til now.)

Calvin - saying good-bye to Abe and Grace

Dan the Dog - saying good-bye
(Jane speaking here:  So glad that good-bye's aren't sad now that they're only a few hours away)

Abe - taking a break from unpacking

Grace - spending time with Clara

Michelle- This is my pillow.  It called to me all day long.

Eliza - wore matching dresses with Afton to church, made by Aunt Grace

Ty - Baking pumpkin chocolate chip bread to thank people for bringing us meals this week. 

Afton - And my parents wonder why they spend so much money on wipes.
(Not pictured: the giant piles of wipes found on an almost daily basis.)

Life in Our World - By the Yard

Calvin asked me before we got married if I had a problem with him hunting.

"Nope," I said, "no problem at all."

I think he may have even briefly considered me as a future hunting partner.

Until he invited me to go scouting for deer one summer morning.  He shook his head when I came out wearing an over-sized white t-shirt, "White," he said, "does not blend in with the trees.  They will see you coming."

I did not blend in with the terrain nor did I step gingerly through the forest; for where I walk, twigs snap, leaves crunch, and logs trip me flat.

So I happily stay at home from the hunts and wait to hear about it.

This past week Calvin and as many of his sons who could arrange their schedules went antelope hunting in Lusk, Wyoming.


Abe and Ray


They were wildly successful.

Abe, Ray, and Calvin made pepperoni sticks with all of that antelope meat.

They made it by the yard.

Grace and Ray

So many yards, in fact, that there were two football field lengths of pepperoni sticks
by the time they finished.

They filled this smoker full three times 

Calvin, Ray, and Abe ground the meat, mixed in the seasonings, stuffed it in the casings, smoked it, then cut it into eight to nine inch strips and vacuum-packed it.  Amazingly, it all fit in one medium sized container in the freezer when it was done.  It is the best stuff.  It really is.  I'm not just being a good sport.

But as good as the meat is, Calvin said the best part of the whole trip was the philosophizing about life and being fathers and husbands, and watching the boys get their animals.

And I happily stayed at home in my white t-shirt with Grace, Cali, Levin, and Atlas and enjoyed hearing all about the hunt when they got home.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

52 Blessings - Aches

One of our friends lost the lower half of his arm in an electrical accident.  His wife told me that the phantom pain was the worst:  his fingers hurt but there were no fingers; his hand throbbed but there was no hand. There's no remedy for phantom pain.

Last weekend Calvin and I flew to Mississippi to visit Ty, Michelle, Afton, and Eliza.  Calvin came home early and I stayed longer.  Yesterday I flew home and several times I "heard" Afton talk, laugh, or fuss at the back of the plane, and when I woke up from a nap I "felt" Eliza resting on my chest.  It was phantom Payne and it ached.

It still aches.  We had such a good time and there is a lot to miss this morning:

1.  The girls - Afton and Eliza.

Afton holding Eliza.  

Afton thinks Eliza is the best.  And every time Eliza sneezes, Afton laughs her deep throaty laugh. 

Eliza is a dream baby.  She peeps when she's hungry and then contentedly watches the world around her when she's full.

Wherever Afton goes she wears little red crocs and holds her arm crooked in the air with a purse dangling from it while pushing her babies in a stroller.  It is so darn cute.

2.  Seeing Ty and Michelle take care of their family.

Michelle is a happy mom.  You frequently hear her singing to the kids throughout the house and laughing with them.  For instance, she comes out with Afton's pajamas on her head calling, "Afton, where are your jammies?  Where can they be?  I can't find them."  Afton giggles and follows her.

It's no wonder the kids love to be with her.

Likewise, Ty takes the girls with him wherever he goes.  He includes them in every part of his life.

It's no wonder the kids love to be with him.

Ty played a song for us to sing on the piano for family home evening.  Michelle is a pianist, but Ty has wanted to learn how to play a few songs so he played one he knows for us.  

One of the things I admire about Ty and Michelle is they don't discriminate and segregate in their family as to who can do things best, they just pitch in, work, and learn together then teach each other.

Every evening they have family scripture study together.  Afton sits in her chair quietly for a few minutes as they teach her about the Savior.  To keep her attention they ask her to repeat a word every now and then.  (She was so excited when Michelle told her to say "Jews" she thought she was going to get juice.)  Afton's favorite part of the event is passing out the books and putting them back in the drawer.  My favorite part was watching her and then the follow-up discussion on what we learned after she'd run off to play.

There are several playgrounds near their home and they frequent them often.

Michelle sewed this quilt for Eliza.  A few years ago she decided to learn to sew . . . and did . . . and does.  I'm still inspired by her learning and execution.

Ty and Michelle are deliberate parents and are always wondering, reading, and thinking about how best to teach and help their family.

(I wish you could hear Afton say, "Help please."  They taught her to say that when she gets frustrated.  You can see her frustration mount as she tries to do something and then all of a sudden, out of her deep, gruff little voice, you hear this higher pitched, "Help please."  Who wouldn't give her a cookie, or unwrap a candy, or open the cupboard, or whatever it is she wants when she says it?)

  3.  The world they live in.

Planes are flying over during all the daylight hours.  Reveille plays at 7:00 am, The Star-Spangled Banner at 5:00 pm, and Taps at 9:00 pm.  Afton recognizes the "Star Song" and puts her hand on her stomach, aiming for her heart when it plays.

It's reassuring watching the military families pull together to help each other find babysitters, support, and encouragement.

4.  Spending time with Michelle's family is an extra bonus.

Afton, Grandma Kathy, Eliza

Brian, Michelle, Kathy, Eliza

We love Brian and Kathy and getting to spend time with them.  

Michelle had spent a lot of time with Afton the few weeks before we got there preparing her for two sets of grandparents simultaneously visiting.  She had made puppets of all of our faces and sang We Are a Happy Family over and over.  Afton was warm and friendly to us all.

Kathy had spent the two weeks before we got there with Ty and Michelle and had the fridge full of fun things to eat the weekend we got there.  Here is her fruit dip recipe that was so good:

8 oz. cream cheese
15 oz. can Cream of Coconut
8 oz. tub Cool Whip

Whip the cream cheese with the Cream of Coconut in a stand mixer until all lumps are gone. Remove paddle and fold in Cool Whip. Serve with fruit or graham crackers.

What a great time.  We're lucky to have a family that it is so darn hard to say good-bye to.  

Ty, Afton, Eliza, and Michelle on Afton's blessing day