Friday, July 30, 2010


Logan Ann, our first granddaughter, celebrates her 9th birthday this week as well. We shortened her name to La (for Logan Ann) when she was little and it naturally became Lalie. Logan is a sweetheart who loves to create.

When I called her and asked what flavor of cake she would like she replied "Chocolate, with vanilla frosting. Make the frosting for the cake green, put pink hearts and yellow stars on it and I would also like some blue on the cake, and flowers as well--that will be good--Oh, and no chocolate chips please."

Logan loves her little brothers and is very nurturing. When she was about two she was curious about the things I kept hidden in my drawers, like makeup and perfume. Whenever she came to visit and it got quiet for a bit we knew where she was, and beautiful does not begin to describe what we would find.

One of her favorite things to do is lay in bed and have someone, usually her daddy, read her a book. She loves to ride the bus to school and fix her own lunch to take. I really enjoyed our trip to Forida last summer. It was fun to be with her, she collected every interesting brochure the rest stops had to offer--plenty of reading material for the long drive. Lalie and her brothers come for Sunday Dinner almost every week so I get to see her grow and she is growing into a beautiful young lady.

Gotta get busy on that cake! Happy Birthday, Lalie.

Monday, July 26, 2010

First Born

Thirty six years ago--2 days after I left my teens--I became a mother, a career to last the rest of my life. My first born, a daughter, was born on a Saturday afternoon in Southern California. My husband and I were ecstatic. She was beautiful and perfect and changed our lives forever.

When she was little she could not manage dirt. Just a spot of grime and the clothes had to be changed. When she was a teenager she became the self appointed 'fashion police' of the whole household. With her own sense of style she would regularly paint her fingernails each a different color and her signature outfit was a pair of bermudas with patterned tights.

In her twenties she ventured across Europe and Scandinavia with a girlfriend, sleeping who knows where. She has always had a sense of adventure, then she met Sean and her adventure really took off. Now she has 4 beautiful daughters and a son of her own. There is always something happening that keeps their place hopping. Active, curious children exploring and creating chaos and joy is the norm of the day.

Shawna is a contented mother, patient and gentle with the antics of her brood. She travels regularly with all of the little ones and does it with style. Last fall, when she was 8 months pregnant, she came on a 24 hour flight, by herself, with her 4 little ones. She managed well and I was proud of her.

Together, Sean and Shawna live an amazing life filled with as much as they can handle. There is never a dull moment in the Flanabode as they go about their Flanaventures.

Thank you Shawna, for the richness you have added to my life. Happy Birthday Sweetheart.

homemade laundry detergent

Today is laundry day again. When the kids were all at home I did 2-4 loads a day. Today it is tablecloths from the 200+ guests at the dinner I helped serve over the weekend. A few months ago our septic system started acting up and we decided we needed to cut our water usage--especially with our daughter and her family coming for an extended stay. With 11 people in the house that is a lot of laundry, showers and flushing--SO--my husband bought me a new washer that uses much less water. We are enjoying the new washer and find ourselves watching the machine do it's work with amazement.

I was concerned about the need to purchase expensive HE detergent for the new machine, however, while researching for my new washer and dryer I found a number of recipes for making your own detergent. They all called for ingredients I was familiar with (as a bonus they were a fraction of the cost of commercial detergent) so I thought I would give it a try. I have been using the homemade detergent for about 3 months now and I think my whites are whiter. The clothes are clean and smell wonderful. A years supply of the new detergent costs the same as a months supply of what I used to use. You, too, might want to make the switch.

Homemade Laundry Detergent
2 bars natural soap *
3 cups washing soda**
3 cups borax***
Finely grate the soap. Mix with washing soda and borax. Store in airtight container. For normal loads use 1 tablespoon. For extra large loads or heavily soiled loads use 2 tablespoons. For whites add oxyclean and an extra rinse.

*The best soap to use is Fels Naptha, Zote, Sunlight or Ivory. Fels Naptha comes highly recommended but I could not find it locally so I used Ivory.

**washing soda is different than baking soda. It is made by Arm and Hammer. Find it in the laundry aisle. I found it at Kroger.

***Borax is found in the laundry aisle and is made by 20 Mule Team.

To really make your whites clean try hanging them out to dry. You will not believe how white they can get or how good they smell!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Character vs. Aging

Character takes time to grow,
like the facial lines of those that are growing older,
lines that are the steady imprint
of a persons evolving character.

Today starts another busy birthday week--beginning with ME!!
Another year, more memories.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


It is time to run FAST. I am on the food committee for Youth Conference--
200 youth
aged 14-18
3 days
9 meals or snacks
Home made cookies
Home made bread
chicken stew
Water--LOTS of water
dish towels
and so on and so on....

Today's Thought:

There are three kinds of people:
those who make things happen;
those who watch things happen;
and those who have no idea what has happened.

I hope I have an idea. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Today's thought to ponder:

To govern yourself, use your head;
To govern others, use your heart.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Today is laundry day. I love washing the clothes and making everything clean again. My daughters have amazing throw away diapers for their babies, however, when they were babies I had to rinse out and wash those awful things. Something magical happened somewhere between putting those really dirty items into the washer and retrieving them from the clothesline at the end of the day. It was a joy to fold the sweet smelling diapers and stack them ready for service again. I am thankful for wonderful machines that take filth and make it clean and sweet.

When we went to Italy with our son and Azerbaijan with our daughter it was a common sight to see laundry hanging from the side of the building, billowing in the breeze. It was a sign of everyday people taking care of everyday tasks. It made me happy to see it. My kids thought I was silly to take pictures of other peoples laundry blowing in the wind, but laundry has been a part of my life for 40 years. Clean clothes are a good reward for a job well done. I don't have to wash our clothes by hand, I have a machine. I don't have to hang mine out to dry anymore, unless I choose to, I have a machine.

Our lesson in church yesterday was on the Atonement and the gift of repentance. As I do the laundry today (putting the dirty items in with the soap and watching the water work its magic) I am thankful for the gift of repentance--where the mistakes we make in life can be washed clean. The price has already been paid, all we have to do is recognize the need and take action.

I enjoy laundry day. I like clean clothes and sweet smelling babies. Everyday work for everyday people. Just like repentance.

Friday, July 16, 2010


William Thackeray is recorded as saying:

He who cannot forgive others
breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself

I have learned that forgiveness is a gift of kindness, love and charity. It is one of the best gifts we can offer. If we choose to look for the good in a person and try to determine what is right rather than who is right, our lives would be filled with so many more happy moments.

There is enough fighting and competition in the world. We need more joy and gentleness--especially at home. We have been taught to love our neighbors. The closest neighbors we have are those in our own homes. If everyone learned to get along at home that attitude would leak out to other relationships--like the workplace and in the community.

I saw a thought that deserves time to ponder:

Our love cannot exceed our ability to get along

Forgiveness is a great gift. I like living in a happy home. I like nice people. Yes, forgiveness is a great gift.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I have been spending some time in my sewing room lately. It is pleasant to be in there to create or repair that which needs and desires to be done. I have an important tool that I seem to be using quite often lately--the
seam ripper.

As I have been removing stitches and redoing that which I did wrong, I have been thinking about mistakes in life. It is unfortunate, but true, that everybody makes mistakes. Most are not intentional. Quite often, in hind sight, we can see where we might have been at fault. But, everybody makes mistakes.

I have realized that the words I AM SORRY, MY FAULT, and EXCUSE ME, are seam rippers in the fabric of life. Believing that you do not make mistakes does not make you the one and only perfect person living on the earth--it makes you WRONG, PROUD and A DIFFICULT PERSON to be around.

I have learned that using the three little words--I AM SORRY--(even when in truth, from my point of view, the misunderstanding was not mine)--make the living sweeter. Having smooth seams and a good fit are more important than being RIGHT or WINNING. Saying "I am sorry" smooths the fabric of life.

The only perfect person lived on the earth 2000 years ago. Every person before or since has made mistakes. I am so glad that those three little words (I am sorry) are in our vocabulary. When coupled with three more--I LOVE YOU--you have what is needed for a happy life. If we all used the six together more often, life would be easier for everyone. Because, everybody makes mistakes.

Monday, July 12, 2010


We have a new freeway that has made life much easier until the other day when we tried to take the offramp to church and it was closed with a DETOUR sign. We ended up late because detours are not always easy or time sensitive to maneuver.

This morning was another adventure in DETOUR.

Plan A: 5 days and 5 nights at home ALONE
!!!--Just the two of us--YIPPEEEE
DETOUR 1: Last minute business trip--make that 4 nights and 3 days

Plan B: Go to bed early for good night sleep before EARLY flight in morning
DETOUR 2: Enjoy unplanned late visit with son and daughter in law

Plan C: Catch flight
DETOUR 3: Leave wallet at home

Plan D: After wife brings wallet RUN like the dickens to security to make flight
DETOUR 4: TSA unsympathetic to time sensitive security passage

Plan E: Take a later flight
DETOUR 5: No flights or seats available today

Plan F: 4 days and 5 nights at home ALONE!!!--Just the two of us--yippeee

(try this again tomorrow)

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Family Blizzard

A good friend once reminded me that trying to clean your house with small children at home is like trying to shovel snow in a blizzard. Slowly but surely my small children have all grown up and now have small children of their own. I did not realize that my family blizzard was only an occasional visit now and not a daily occurrence.

My daughter and her family of 5 small ones have been staying with us this last month. Cherrios in the carpet and juice drip smiles. Sticky fingers and sweet kisses. Toys and books, dreams and schemes. It has been a wonderful month.

I have spent the last three days wiping off the stair rail and mopping up the floors. I miss the little ones, (they have gone to visit their other grandparents) but not the blizzard they bring with them. I will clean and scrub for the few weeks they are gone and look forward to their return. A daily blizzard is a small price to pay for sweet kisses and tight hugs.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


We went to the community fireworks display the other evening. There were 15 of us--8 were children. It was a wonderful evening. The weather was warm without being hot. The music was inspiring and the fireworks were beautiful--I saw a new one--heart shaped.

The best thing about the evening was watching the children get so excited. The two year old was the best. She could hardly contain herself. She was marching and leading the music. She was singing and squealing. Her eyes were bright with amazement. She could feel the joy of the celebration.

I am proud to be an American. I have enough stamps in my passport that I have something to compare home to and I always feel elated when they tell me "Welcome Home." (Maybe that is because I am so tired from traveling--but, that is a different story)

The United States is not perfect. My community over regulates sometimes. Other communities don't regulate enough. Some people are mean and selfish. Some people are lazy and sloppy. Our laws are not perfect and our leaders make mistakes.


I have the right to choose. I have the right to vote and my vote counts. I have the right to express my happiness and displeasure. I have rights. I am thankful for men who were courageous and willing to risk everything to write the constitution and set up a government with checks and balances. I am thankful for those who fight to keep our country free today. I am proud to be an American.

I try to express my pride in my country by the way I take care of my home, treat my neighbor, and express my views at the voting booth. We can't all be like the two year old and let the emotion pour out in squealing delight, but we can show it by our choices and deeds.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

family time

When I was a little girl I lived just a few blocks away from my paternal grandparents and about an hour from my maternal grandparents. With my dad's family we were always together with cousins and aunts and uncles. Grandma cooked dinner on Sunday's, Thanksgiving and Christmas for her large extended family. After school I would walk to her house on some days for a treat or cooking lesson in her small kitchen. My cousins were like my siblings and when my aunts and uncles spoke I knew I need to jump. Once a year we would pack it up and ALL of us would head to the High Sierras to go camping. Grandma made it look so easy.

On my mom's side things were not quite so chaotic, but still lots of fun. Nana and Papa had a pool and we would spend summer afternoons swimming and lounging outside. We would have a special Christmas get together the weekend before Christmas at our house with all aunts, uncles and cousins. This family group was a little different since I have an uncle just 4 years older than me (he is younger than my husband!!) and our cousins were younger than us, but we still had lots of fun--just different.

The last 30 hours have been so much fun and so busy. Let's call it a mini family reunion--though we never had everyone here at the same time. Two came late last night and one had to work this morning--BUT, we had all cousins together for lots of fun and frenzy the whole time.

We got out the giant blue tarp, sprayed the kids with shaving cream and had so much fun slipping and sliding. We had contests like watermelon seed spitting and eating gummy worms from oreo cookie dirt like a bird. We spread PB our our hands and counted how many marshmellows would stick and used chop sticks to pick up grapes. Then my sweetheart fired up the grill and we had grilled corn, hot dogs, BBQ, fruit, baked beans and potato salad. We topped it all off with Chocolate cake (see recipe on side bar) and home made ice cream.

We gave the parents the night off and all grandkids without diapers were invited for a sleepover. We had 10 kids sleeping all over the house, and sleep they did from 10pm till after 7 this morning--pretty good.

My Grandma made it look so easy. I have many wonderful memories of fun times with cousins. I remember taking my children and having fun with my cousins and their children. Today I am exhausted and there are leftover things everywhere. But I also have a giant smile on my tired face.

I am thankful for my children and their spouses who sacrificed so much to come and share this time with us. It was good to see my sons play and have fun together with their brothers in law. It was nice to see my daughters visit with their sisters in law and talk about their homes, families and babies. It was especially enjoyable to see all the cousins play and bond and have fun. Today we number 28, by September we will be an even 30. Getting everyone together is not an easy task. My oldest and her family will be going back to Europe in August and will not be able to travel back here for 3 years. Three year old Brody commented after his 10 hour drive--"Wow, that took a really long time!!"

I know it is difficult when you have 6 busy families to coordinate times and schedules, but I appreciate the effort. Thank you, my children, for making me very happy. Thank you for pitching in and helping prepare the meals and clean up the messes we all made. Thanks for playing the games and having fun and laughing. It was a wonderful day and a half--You are the best. Can we do it again sometime??? Three years, let's make a date.

I am so proud to be your mother. It was a great 30 hours.