Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Monday Memories - Welcome to the World

December 29, 2014

Ande and Joe have a new baby boy.  He weighs 7 lbs. and 5 ozs. and is just as cute and sweet as he can be.  Ande and the baby are both doing well . . . and so are Joe and Zeph.  Zeph went straight for his nose, tweaked it, and said, "Honk. Honk."  I'm loving being here with them all.

Wilhelm is the name of my smart and thumb-twiddling grandfather (he later went by William). He was a good, industrious man that served others. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

52 Blessings -- No Harm or Accident

Safety.  It seems like "please bless that no harm or accident will fall upon us" is a frequent phrase of many prayers.  But just because it's repeated often doesn't mean I'm any less grateful for it.

We left Idaho early this morning and as we knelt on my sister's kitchen floor she prayed that we would be protected and watched over as we drove home on slick roads.  Her pleading was so simple and so sincere it brought a warmth then and a comfort the whole way home.

We made it without harm or accident and had an enjoyable trip listening to Undaunted Courage, the story of the Lewis & Clark expedition.  (Who also enjoyed great safety in their travels.)  And, because the roads were bad, traffic crawled, and the trip lasted a few hours longer than normal, we got to listen to lots of the book.

I'm grateful for safety.  Always.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Life in Our World - Final A-Z Post of 2014

Aged for 60 Days.

After literally eating a ton of beef, Calvin has perfected the prime rib. No more guessing. No more hoping it turns out. It’s now a science as well as an art. Christmas dinner was very good.


I didn't do much Christmas baking this month as our home was under renovation, but the regular cooking still went on.

Cookies for Santa.

Levin and I baked a few cookies on Christmas Eve for Santa.


I like to think I run an organized home, but every time I deep clean there is more stuff to give or throw away, so I doubt my perception.  This time I finally let a Christmas gift from 1999 go. It was a box of first aid supplies from the Ellsworth family.  It included I.V.’s, sutures, and medication -- all things a veterinarian would have a supply of.  Even though many of the things had expired five or ten years ago, I had held on to them because they were my security blanket -- someone might need me to stitch them up in the face of a calamity or catastrophe.  I hung on to the bandages, though.  I can still stop bleeding.


All the new hens are laying now and they make such pretty eggs.

Family Night.

We spent Christmas with the Follett family, which included Ray’s brother Rob.  We ate seafood, shared traditions, read the story of the nativity from the Bible, and sang carols.  It was a special evening.

Girl #3.

Ty and Michelle just found out that baby number three is also girl number three!


Ray bought remote control helicopters for his brother Rob, Calvin, and himself. They made an obstacle course in the basement and practiced landings and take-offs.  Sometimes it took great restraint as a spectator not to swat the helicopters out of the air - especially when they buzzed your head.


We left Seattle the day after Christmas, stopped at home for more clothes and to feed the animals, then made a quick trip to Idaho for Bert's funeral.  (Bert is the father of Bruce, my brother–in-law.)

The parking lot of the funeral home was filled with pick-up trucks, and the funeral chapel was filled with men wearing wranglers, cowboy hats, and sports coats.  One of my favorite stories shared was that Bert often came into the house in the morning after feeding his calves and would ask his daughter or wife to make a couple of extra-thick bologna sandwiches and fill a quart jar with milk.  Bert and his family lived on a highway and men hitch-hiking their way across the country would often stop and sleep in his haystacks.  He found the men while he was doing chores and would get them something to eat before they moved on.

Calvin and I very much enjoyed seeing and speaking with friends from the community -- former neighbors and friends, people I used to babysit for when I was a young girl, the country vet, school bus-drivers, the Red Cross instructor that certified me in first-aid, the kind woman that was the chorister when I was the church pianist and organist in high school, and even a friend I rodeoed with.

The sweetest part of the funeral was the military honors performed by the Marine Corps and the final Taps.


Ande posted this picture and caption on Instagram:  Joe was a successful Santa (at the church Christmas party), even with his beard showing.  If successful means scaring the beejeebers out of your own kid.  


Ray and Cali made this kitchen for the boys.  Levin immediately proceeded to feed us broccoli and Atlas tried to drink the boxes of fake juice.  It was perfect for them.


Our mailbox was filled with Christmas cards and letters this month which we enjoyed very much.  I received this email on Christmas Eve from my WWII friend George who lives in North Carolina:

Jane, it is after 4 pm in the East, cloudy-been slightly raining all day and I just had to go across town to the bakery for a coffee 
cake.The town is desertd and the streets are as quiet as 
Bethlehem. I would imagine you are having rain also.
this year I will celebrate my 90th Christmas-outside the womb.

I hope you will have the most joyful holiday ever. 
and continue to drop me a note as often as you are moved to do so.
Friendship and love are intertwined and very delightful. 
Sleep easily tonight.  as ever,George 

Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus


Last year Calvin and I gave the Little People Nativity to the grandkids for Christmas. It was fun to see the kids play with them throughout the month.  

On Christmas Eve, Abe posted on Instagram:  The Nativity after Hankzilla comes through.  #wetried  
Michelle replied:  We tried showing our kids the Nativity story tonight.  But then Eliza showed up. Utter destruction.

Ande replied:  Ours is usually thrown with extreme force across the living room.

Cali replied:  Atlas end-zone spiked the angel tonight.  Gabriel was not pleased.  

Calvin and I are grateful the kids work so hard to teach their families and that Little People make sturdy nativities.

Nailed-it. Not.

I saw chocolate dipped, candy cane reindeer on Pinterest and thought for sure it was a craft our Young Women could be successful at. I couldn’t figure out why ours looked like the little dog that pulls the sleigh in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas until I looked at the Pinterest picture again and realized they’d used full length candy canes. 

There is a difference.  

Next time.


I had another teaching observation this month.  They're a bit stressful, but the feedback and a fresh perspective is helpful. One thing I worry about in teaching is that I don't stretch the kids enough.  One piece of the feedback was that I expect a lot from my students and they deliver.  That was as good a piece of news as getting an e-mail from George.  I really do have incredible students.  


This is the crew that made our home beautiful. The thing I like most about their work is they pay close attention to detail and want to make their customers happy. Our home is one shade of gray (except for two half walls that are a deeper shade of gray) with white trim.  

One morning as I drove to work in the fog, I worried, "Calvin Hates the fog with a capital h. What have I done?  I've made one big house of fog for him now.  He's going to be miserable.  He will probably Hate it." But he doesn't.  Now that it's finished, it is serene and calm . . . and light, and not at all like a foggy day.


My sister Chris often gives me cookie-cupcake toppers to use in my classes or for our grandkids. I have used hundreds decorating cookies, suckers, and cupcakes.  Just when I'm starting to whittle down my pile, she sends me a new, fresh, substantial supply.  Neighbors, feel free to use from my stash.    

Road Trips.

Calvin likes to drive and I like to sleep and write blogs and read while he drives. He listens and sings to the radio and shares his pop and m&m’s with me. We enjoy road trips very much and have had a few this month.  In fact, he told me this morning, "With the amount of miles we will drive over this vacation, I could have driven us back to Ande's (in South Carolina)." 

That's a lot of pop and m&m's.


A long time ago, in my life before this one, I used to make and sell crafts to supplement our income. I made dozens of these Santas. 

This month I resized the pattern and made new ones from Calvin’s old wranglers for the kids for Christmas. We put dollar coins in the bag. 

They were pretty cute.

Temple Trip.

We took the youth to the temple at the beginning of the month. Temple attendance is seldom convenient, but is always worth it. Many in our group had family names they’d found. I also got more family names ready to take to the temple and that always feels good.

Under $2.

Gas prices in Washington.   Some gas stations are 50 cents higher than others in the same town. Crazy.  Makes it nice for all of the traveling we've done.

Vinyl Flooring.

Our kitchen and dining room was in bad need of new flooring. We bought some vinyl planking and Calvin laid it. It’s beautiful and sturdy.


Calvin's dad made us a stool many years ago and our kids have begged Calvin to make one for them. He made them for Christmas.  The tops are hand-hewn with an axe from a log and the legs are apple limbs.  They are pretty cool. And sturdy. Sturdy seems to be important to me this year.


Ande is having a baby next week. I’m flying out Monday to stay with them. Can’t wait for Zeph to have his sibling and for a new child to join our family.


While in Idaho, Chris gave me some old pictures she'd found.  Calvin and I were little people once upon a time ago.  In this photo, I'm expecting Cali.

Z end.

What a grand year 2014 has been.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Homemaking Tip - When the Microwave Blows a Magnetron

When you don't have a microwave to soften cold butter, but the chocolate-coconut truffle cupcakes need frosted now, grating it really does work.  Grace and I know this for certain now.  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

14+ pictures for the 14th of December 2014

Ty: making crepes for a special Sunday breakfast.

Michelle:  Family selfie on the way to church

Eliza: the backpack and my sippy cup kept ALL of us sane at church today.
2 more weeks of 1pm church!

Afton: Singing "Flying in an Airplane" with a quail hairdo.
(Jane speaking here:  Ty tried to do Afton's hair using the vacuum as a blowdryer.)

Michelle: The best belly picture I could get!

Zeph:  Levin "Wevy" and Atlas "Ah-Ah" and Cali and Ray left this morning.
Zeph is going to go through a lot of withdrawals this week
(he loves those little boys and loved that they got to watch extra
Curious George while Cali and I did projects).
I think I'll go through withdrawals too.
Our house is too quiet and lonely.

Ande: After a great Sunday at church.
Joe forgot he was supposed to speak, 

but gave a wonderful talk about the Savior and the Atonement. 
I got to teach Young Women's. 
Zeph sat through all of Sacrament Meeting 
with the help of marshmallows and looked at books of Jesus (who he calls "JeJe"),
 and got to play with balls in nursery. A very good Sunday.

Joe:  Ande wants to remind Cali of another great reason to come back soon . . .
the fact we forgot to light a fire while they were here.

Cali:  Leaving Joe, Ande, and Zeph

Ray:  Who wants to sit by us on the flight home?

Atlas and Levin:  Trying to keep from crying on the plane.

Abe and Grace and Henry:  post Church photo

Grace:  Henry's new curtains courtesy of me and Mom

Abe:  Reading and singing to Henry before nap time.

Henry:  my healthy legs

Calvin and Jane:  post Church picture with Henry

It was another successful year of 14 on 14.  It's fun to look back at the growth, opportunities, challenges, and changes in our family month by month through the last four years of this photo project. Good thing next year is 15 on 15, because we keep growing.

Thanks to family for sending pictures in each month, and thanks to you readers for viewing each month.

I hope your 2014 was a good year too.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Life in Our World - "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving."

Community Nativity.

There was a Community Nativity held at one of the LDS churches here in town.  Our stake Relief Society presidency was in charge of decorating the foyers of the church.  Chris, our Stake Relief Society President, has talent and vision and she drafted and created the scenes with a lot of help from her husband and a little bit of help from the rest of the presidency.  The finished project was really beautiful.

The whole Nativity event was incredible.  Carrie Welty and her committee had over 300 creches artfully displayed, a nativity photo booth, and beautiful musical numbers that played continuously.  It was a wonderful and energetic way to celebrate The Season.

Beautiful Chaos.

Our house is still in the chaos of being painted.  But there is always beauty, even in chaos, and two of the beautiful things are:

I found clue #12 from the blue team's Thanksgiving scavenger hunt.  It was on the back of the giant star that hangs on the wall. 

Calvin's closet is clean and organized and so is every other closet and cupboard in the house. De-junking makes me happy. Order is beautiful.

Army-Navy Game.

It was the annual Army-Navy game on Saturday and we went to Abe and Grace's to watch it. They had prepared fun game food - buffalo wings in four flavors, truffle cupcakes (complete with black and white cups and a yellow cupcake stand), mozzarella cheese sticks, and other game foods.  

Wings prepped and ready for the oven

Wing sauce choices

We watched the march-on and pregame shows. A fellow cadet of Abe’s walked a kilometer for each fallen soldier in Afghanistan and Iraq.  He walked the last kilometer with the widow of his good friend, fellow teammate and quarterback of the Army team. The soldier and the widow finished the walk and entered the stadium just before game time.  It was a touching tribute to the fallen soldiers and reminded us of Abe’s fallen buddies that were part of those kilometers.

Army lost the game, but it was a respectable loss.  Next year.  There is always next year.

After the game, Grace and I worked on curtains for Henry's room while Calvin and Abe did house projects.  Henry watched and played with the balls on the Christmas tree.  We had such a great weekend.

Albert Einstein is smart, right?  He said, "Life is like riding a bicycle.  To keep your balance you must keep moving."

Calvin and I must have been very balanced this week.