Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Perfect Family

Last evening my girlfriend and I had a conversation about the perfect family.

It seems that the family holiday celebrations were marred by a conflict between two of their daughters, resulting in one of them leaving in a huff.

I miss my friend Nancy Pyne. Whenever things like this happened to me she was always there with insight and a laugh to remind me that my family was normal. Nancy, where are you?? (I know, on the other side of the continent dealing with your own version of family fun)

I reminded my friend that a perfect family happens in perfect moments. If you string enough of those moments together you can have memories of the perfect family.

Every family has growing pains as you add new spouses and babies. I like to refer to this phenomenon as the family stew pot. Each new face that joins the family brings their own spice of life. Each spice needs time in the family stew pot to steep and meld until the stew is tastey and delicious with the mellow flavor of slow cooked deliciousness.

In most families, mom is the master cook. It takes a lot of love and patience as she tries to blend all of the spices into the bubbling pot. Sometimes she will worry that the new added spice is too bold for her wonderful stew, but in time, with plenty of love and stirring, the spice will settle in and make the whole so much more delicious than it was before.

As I have spoken to a few friends this week about their holiday celebrations, especially in our new role of grandmother, I have heard phrases such as "Happy Chaos" and "sad affair" (this is from a friend with 30 grandchildren under the age of 12--meaning a little one was always crying over the sad state of life).

Overall my friends have agreed that it was hard work that was worth the effort. Keeping a family strong when you add in marriages and new babies is hard work for the grandparents, but in time it will turn into a memory of the perfect family get together. Small perfect moments strung together with the thread of memory creates the perfect family we all dream about.

I encouraged my friend to write a letter to her daughters reminding them of how much they both are loved. I encouraged her to give it a little time and prayer. Family, it is the place where we feel at ease to let it all out, testing to see if we are still loved, even with our outlandish actions. The answer is yes, there is family love, but sometimes it needs a little time and distance to see the beauty of each family member that comes together to make the perfect family.

The perfect family--created one perfect moment at a time, surrounded by numerous moments that may not be quite so perfect--such is life.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

True Christmas

This Christmas was a bit disjointed for me.

It started last fall when my daughter hurt her back and needed my care for her and her children. We went day by day, hoping each treatment and the bed rest would bring less pain--and soon--4 months had passed.

I added a trip to Indiana to care for my son's family and took my mother to Germany for her first trip abroad. While in Germany I enjoyed the time with my daughter as the Christmas season began in earnest.

The next thing I knew it was December 15th and not a gift had been bought.

I spent a good deal of the season rocking fretful children, softly singing Christmas carols as a lullaby.

I gathered children around me and read holiday stories to ready them for bed.

I looked at trees trimmed with memories in each of my children's homes.

I sat and held hands with my sweetheart as we watched a movie or two that portrayed a heart felt message.

I drove down the streets of town looking at pretty lights in amazement of the magical transformation they make in the season.

Too soon the calendar stated that the time for preparation was past and it was time to sit and reflect.

It was not a year for wonderful home made gifts crafted with love. It was more of a checkbook Christmas which could only hint of my love for those that I call dear.

But, a magical Christmas it was.

I was able to see all of my children and grandchildren during the season. I was able to hold them and kiss them and hug them.

I played games with the children and cooked tastey food that I hope will make a memory far lasting than a trinket I might buy or bauble I might craft.

My daughter received a clear bill of health from her doctor. Though she is tired and weak, in time she will be strong again.

My husband is working his last few days in preparation for retirement in the first days of the new year. We have worked our entire married life for this exciting event, I am looking forward to this wonderful change in our lives.

I am thankful for the birth of my Savior, for his life and atoning gift for me and you. The world is a sweeter place during the Christmas season. I am glad I was able to spend the season rocking little children, looking at the sparkle in their eyes as the magic of Christmas unfolded with each new day.

I hope you were able to make a Christmas memory that will last longer than the falling needles of your once beautiful tree.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Car Seat Adventures

Lately I have had my 1 year old grand daughter staying with me while her mama recuperates from back surgery. She is a jewel of a child, always happy, but, I have been reminded that it is much easier to have and take care of children while you are young.

The car seat adventures were many:

Because taking a one year old with me is not my norm, making sure we had a proper car seat in the car of choice for the adventure we were setting out on was a daily ritual.

After finally getting the car seat into the proper car and securely strapped in it was time to strap in the child--this became a daily adventure as our Christmas weather this year fluctuated from a high that dipped to 40 then just days later soared to 70 necessitating the need of a coat or light sweater depending on the day--thus making the seat belt adjustment over the coat or non coat necessary.

One day after almost finishing this half hour ritual I noticed an aroma coming from the back seat that required a return trip inside to remove the coat, tights and diaper only to put them all back on the baby once again.

We went out for an excursion around the neighborhood one evening to view the lights while carolers loudly sang from the back of our truck. It was a fun evening that we all enjoyed very much, until it was time to remove the car seat again. My husband was at work most days while I played the car seat ballet. On this evening he attempted to help me, not understanding how the restraint system worked he attached the straps to a hinge on the back seat of the truck. When we tried to extract the seat it was an impossible task. He got out the screw drivers and removed the hinges, got out the pliers to pull and tug at the restraint, still no luck. He is a full sized man and our back seat in the truck is a mini sized area. Eventually with brute force he finally dislocated the seat from it's secure position, bending the restraint and his back as he did so.

After a clear bill of health from her doctor, our daughter and her husband came to retrieve their youngest child 2 days before Christmas. It was with a bit of sadness as we said farewell to the child and a lot of joy as we removed the car seat from our car for the last time.

I do not mind booster chairs in the back seat, they do not take up much room and make it easy for the child to see out of the window. Car seats though, are on my list of necessary evils that make the world go around. Ada, I miss you, but I must say that I do not miss our daily adventures with your back seat throne.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


From Germany to the States took almost 18 hours. Tired and worn out before needing to wade through security one last time, we marched on.

We had just finished passport control and found our way to
terminal 3. As we placed our items on the conveyor belt two men jumped in between me and my mother. Mom got through security just fine, the two men were struggling. It was my turn and my items were rolling along when TSA decided to pull me out of line and let me go through the newfangled security machine that can see EVERYTHING.

My health condition requires that I keep my stress low, eat regularly and get enough sleep--none of which were happening on this particular day.

With my arms over my head I tried to stand still as the modern wonder scanned my tooth fillings. I had my hair pinned up on top of my head with plastic clips (to minimize security stress) and the modern "see-all" did not like it. Soon a lady had her hands in my hair, poking and prodding to see what I had hidden in the rats nest she was creating. FUN, it was not.

I was visibly distressed with the poking and gouging from the lady wearing gloves that had been in how many other peoples hair while another TSA lady shouted at me that they could do a full pat down if that is what I wanted.

Now I know that two grandmas coming back from a Christmas holiday with the grandkids are truly a security risk to watch out for. I travel frequently and know how to do security, but these new machines, after a long day, while still facing still another few hours, was just a little too much.

As I look back on the experience I think the dirty gloves and pokey fingers, while being shouted at, were my undoing. I could not get home fast enough to wash my hair.

After the near tear experience at security we walked down the concourse to find our gates. As we looked down the long hall lovely Christmas decorations greeted us. Rich full garlands draped the arched ceiling. The garlands were wrapped in shining red ornaments and ribbons. All of a sudden we were reminded of the joy of the season and why we decided to travel at this time of year.

It was a great trip full of wonderful memories. After 24 hours of travel to reach my home that hot bath felt really good.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Magic

Begin with 2 parents who are lacking in sleep and quiet time

Add 5 children under 10 who are excited about everything

Mix in one basset hound puppy who is almost adult size (but has no manners because she is still in training)

Toss in a Christmas tree, ornaments, toys, blankets, snowboots, gloves and scarfs

Sprinkle liberally with lots of good food to eat (most of which lands on the floor)

For good measure fold in a grandma and great grandma who are a little jet lagged

This is Christmas Magic at it's best--
Crazy and Fun

Monday, November 28, 2011

Giving Thanks

As I have faced numerous family challenges over the last few weeks I am especially aware of my blessings.

I am blessed to share my life with a wonderful man that I love and adore, it is a privilege to be married and that relationship deserves my full attention. I like sharing my time with him and am looking forward to the opportunity of spending all hours of the day together as we enter a new stage of life.

I am thankful to be strong enough to take care of the responsibilities that are mine. My hips are healing and with a little nerve medicine I have the mental strength to deal with most of my daily challenges.

I have 6 children who are happily married and gainfully employed. They face their challenges with prayer, faith and a can-do attitude. They have blessed me with 17 grandchildren who are healthy and happy. Of course each day is filled with growth opportunities for all, but they take each bump in stride and keep trying. My family makes me happy.

I have a comfortable home. It is always nice to go home. The septic system decided not to work this week, but it waited until the Thanksgiving get together was over. All is better now thanks to professionals who know how to do their job. I am thankful for modern conveniences like running water, electricity and appliances such as the dishwasher and refrigerator. These things make housekeeping a much easier job for me than it was for my grandmothers.

I am thankful for modern travel and communications that keep me close to my children and parents who live far away. I am glad I can pick up the phone and call whenever I want. I can get on a plane and within several hours find myself on the other side of the world where 5 of my grandchildren eagerly await my visit. I can get in my car and in a short while be at the home of any of my other grandchildren as well. The distances are small and keep family close even when work opportunities mean we live far from each other.

I am thankful for modern medicine that can help mend a broken back, and repair shoulders, hips, feet, belly buttons and teeth as needed. We live in an era when it is relatively easy to be healthy, all it takes is a little patience (hang in there Cara).

I am thankful for an eternal perspective and the spiritual awareness that there is a God in Heaven who loves His children on earth and He wants us to be happy. I am thankful to have the freedom to worship as I please. I am thankful for children who were open to learn from their parents and recognized truth. I am thankful they are building strong homes where truth is taught to my grandchildren.

I am thankful for good parents who taught me well and provided me with all that I needed while growing up. They supported me and helped me to grow. They continue to show love and encouragement as I go through the experiences of life.

I have a lot to be thankful for. Life is good and worth living with a smile.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


I have had visiting grandchildren almost every weekend this last month. Sometimes it is fun to stay at home and watch a movie and go with grandma and grandpa's everyday style. But, sometimes it is fun to mix it up and do something different.

We decided to do the something different lately. We ventured to the flea market with a few grandchildren to see what we could see.

The children were amazed with the treasures that were to be discovered there.

We told each child that the goal of the day was to find the best deal for $1.

We looked and looked at do-dads and thing-a-ma-bobs. We pointed out items that were popular when grandma and grandpa were children, things their parents used to like to play with and items that my grandparents might have used on a daily basis.

We found good things to eat and plenty of sights to see. Some of the granddaughters found necklaces, a grandson found a special book, some fast miniature cars and cast iron figures were among the choices. Grandma found some vintage hats and white day gloves and Grandpa found some comfortable socks.

When we lived in Delaware we were tight on money and chose to go to the flea market for weekend entertainment quite often. We would each have a dollar and look for the best deal of the day. My husband once got a whole box of combs, we came home with a box of juice glasses, we combined our dollars one day and got a floor lamp. My best dollar buy was a pewter teapot.

I have plenty of furniture such as dressers and end tables that came to us from the flea market. Most needed some cleanup and a fresh coat of paint or paint remover to make it into the house, but the labor of love added to the few dollars to purchase made them ours. The best luck for furniture was when I was looking for a dresser. We were late getting to the market and I was sure all of the best deals were gone for the day, but, I found a nice dresser that would do well and it was just $35--oh, and by the way, the bed goes with it!! I like the way it looks in my guest room.

One time I needed a table with some drawers for our bathroom. It was a cozy space in our tiny bathroom and our money was limited. I said a prayer and was off to see what I could find. It was $5, painted orange and at one time had a twin and a mirror, but the dressing table console with two drawers would be the perfect fit after a bit of paint was removed. Later it served as a night table in the bedroom, now it sports a white coat of paint and stands proud in my sewing room holding specialty threads and do-dads.

I enjoyed going to the Rodium with my parents and grandparents when I was young. It was a drive-in theater at night that served as a swap meet during daylight hours on the weekend. It is still in operation as a swap meet almost everyday in Southern California. When I get out west to visit, my Aunt Zella and I still enjoy a walk around the Rodium looking for the best deal of the day. With her I have picked up dinner napkins. table cloths, sterling silver, glass jars that have turned blue, dishes like grandma used to have, fabric, lace and buttons.

You have heard the saying that one man's trash is another man's treasure. Well I have found quite a few treasures over the years lurking under dirt, grime and some ugly paint. Now I am enjoying showing my grandchildren the joy of the search for the perfect item at the perfect price, a treasure in the rough.

Maybe in all of the searching, the best treasure to be found, is a memory that will last a lifetime.

Monday, October 17, 2011


When my grand daughter and I were walking today she got very excited to show me the squashed witch on her neighbor's door. As we neared the house Eden broke out out into a run, tripped and fell, scraping her knee. The tears fell like Niagara Falls, and all of a sudden she was not able to walk another step. She perched herself on the stroller and when we reached her house she hopped all the way up the stairs to where her mother was resting, hoping some mother love would heal the bloody (two drops worth) mess.

As her mother tried to console her the tears fell again, and even harder as the bandage was put in place. Eventually a popsicle eased her pain and within time (an hour) she declared herself all better!! Amazing recovery.

Now if only that amazing recovery could work for her mother and grandmother.

Over the fourth of July my sweetheart and I put a tile floor down during our laundry room remodel. In so doing I put my hips out. A few trips to the doctor and a number of weekly trips to my favorite Physical Therapist and I am on the mend, hoping that someday soon I will be all better.

About the time of Labor Day my daughter put her back out again. She was in an automobile accident a number of years ago and suffered a broken back. After 3 pregnancies and reaching the ripe old age of 30 her back is just not as strong as it should be. Now every activity in her busy day is an exercise in terrible pain.

I wish I had a magic bandage and miracle kiss to make her booboo all better. Instead I say a prayer for her and drive the 3 hours to stay for a few days to give a little help with her family.

Booboos are no fun. Most can be mended in time. Patience is a word I wish I did not have to hear so often. I wish the back and hips could heal as quickly as that bloody knee. That was an amazing recovery--Oh to be young again.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wonder Oven Magic

I took a class at church a few months ago and was amazed.

It was a cooking class. The bread was moist and delicious.

The instructions spotty.

My desire to learn--high.

I came home with a pattern and a few website addresses.

I eventually gathered my tools:
left over fabric
a bean bag chair
locking top large plastic storage bin
large stock pot that would fit...
...3 metal juice cans

The pattern, though strange looking, sewed up surprisingly easy.

I laid out a sheet and filled up the two odd shaped pillows with the beans from the chair.

When they were just full enough I put them in the storage bin.

And then I started cooking.

Mix up the bread as usual, place dough in the cans and let rise a bit in the stock pot filled half way with warm water, cover and secure each can and turn up the heat. Put the lid on the stock pot and tie in place while letting it boil for 10 minutes. Transfer to Wonder Oven and let set for 2 or more hours.

Delicious hot, moist bread that will melt in your mouth, never overdone.

The same directions for soup or stew. Fill the pot with soup ingredients, boil for 10 minutes with lid on pot. Place in wonder oven and leave for 2 or more hours--hot dinner when you are ready.

Today I am painting, but I am not worried, dinner is in the Magic Wonder Oven doing it's thing waiting for dinnertime. I may be a dirty mess, but a hot delicious home cooked dinner will be ready when we are.

15 minutes on the stove and a roast, 3 loaves of bread or a large pot of stew is hot and ready to go when needed--from 2 to 6 hours later--no more fuel needed.

Perfect for camping.

Perfect for a busy day.

Perfect for a hot summer afternoon.

I am still learning, but I have experimented enough to know that magic comes from this wonderful box sitting in my kitchen.

I may live in the modern age but there is still quite a lot I can learn from my pioneer forebears. They got up in the morning and prepared for the day's travel by putting a hot pot in the hay box so dinner would be ready to eat when they stopped for the night.

I have a magic box and wonderful things appear when you open the lid.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Joy of Motherhood

I've been thinking a lot lately about the joy and privilege it is to be a mother.

At times the task seems overwhelming, yet at other times the joy is so great it seems as if there is not enough room to contain it.

There was a time in my life when I did not know if the gift of earthly motherhood would bless my life. And then I blinked and there were four little babes under 4 years old sitting on my lap.

Once that first baby arrives a woman's life changes forever more. From that day on her first and last thought of each day is for the comfort, safety and happiness of her children, no matter how old or young her children might be.

A mother's love does not diminish with numbers. She loves each and all of her children. Every child is a unique gift and opportunity for growth for both the mother and the child.

A good mother knows that taking care of her children always comes first. When baby and mommy are both hungry, mama will quickly take care of sweet hunger cries before her own rumbling tummy. When a teen comes in with a broken heart, sleep waits till the story is told and tears are stilled. When a daughter hurts her mother longs to ease the pain.

Mothers are not always perfect, they make mistakes, but try their best.

One of the greatest joys in motherhood is watching your own children become parents.

I found this thought:

Blessed is she whose daily tasks are a labor of love;
for her willing hands and happy heart translate duty into privilege,
and her labor becomes a service to God and all mankind.

The joy of motherhood is a gift, duty and privilege. I am thankful for the trust.

Monday, September 19, 2011

When Mother Sings

When Mother sings the home is sweet,
And peace and joy abound;
Troubles seem to fade away,
Before this happy sound.

Children smile and baby coos
And dad forgets his care;
Faith and hope and harmony
Dwell securely there.

Singing mothers everywhere,
Patient, tender, strong,
Send to Heaven this daily prayer--
"Lord make my life a song."


Thursday, September 15, 2011


I have a white pitcher that belonged to my husband's grandmother. It has graceful lines and sits on the shelf above my kitchen sink. It shares the shelf with an old white porcelain pitcher and another tall white pitcher that was made in Italy.

My kitchen cabinet is filled with assorted white serving bowls and platters, some are newer, some wear the marks of time. Some have straight lines, some are curvy. Each are unique in shape and size and do their job well in holding the various foods I choose to place on my dinner table.

I have a closet in my home that bears the weight of 200 dinner plates. When my oldest daughter got married she wanted a sit down dinner for her 200 guests. Purchasing the plates from the Pfaltzgraff outlet was less expensive than renting, and I have enjoyed and used the dishes for large get togethers and weddings for about 15 years now.

I have a drawer of lace doilies that my husband's grandmother crocheted and a drawer of white tablecloths in assorted sizes. I have tablecloths in cotton poly for everyday use and some linen ones I iron for special occasions. For Shawna's wedding we also made 200 lace edged napkins to wrap the silver in. Over the years I have collected some pretty embroidered napkins as well as some that are monogrammed that I use on special occasions.

Some of the dishes have a special meaning for me, like the ripple edged cake plate that was one of my mother and father's wedding gifts. I enjoy the fruit design on the stemmed white glasses that were my grandmothers. The gravy boat that Michael and Kendra gave me gets put on the table almost every Sunday. I like cutting bar cookies and placing them on the rectangular plate that Kevan picked out. I have bowls that were made in Portugal where Michael served his mission

There is something special about setting an all white table and letting the pretty colors of delicious food take center stage. One of these days I will need to disperse my 200 dinner plates amongst my six children, but for right now they are happy on the shelf awaiting the next call for a celebration.

In the mean time, mmmmmmm... what shall we fix for dinner tonight?

Friday, September 9, 2011


Life is full of choices. Some easy, some not so clear. The trick is to keep yourself centered so you can see the bad choices as they come along.

My mother taught that

It is better to be right and alone
than to be wrong and have company.

I am teaching a lesson on moral cleanliness this Sunday. As I have studied and prayed for inspiration I have learned that we need to :

Place the wisdom of the Lord above our own wisdom.
For the Strength of Youth pamphlet


Don't rationalize that wrong is right.
Being honest [in all things] requires courage
and commitment to do what you know is right.
For the Strength of Youth pamphlet

It is good to be in the right place with the right people. If we find ourselves in questionable circumstances we should be like Joseph of old when he

left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.
Genesis 39:12

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


In every walk of life we interact with others; family, co workers, business associates, classmates, church associates, friends, neighbors, our spouse. Sometimes those relationships are difficult to bear.

The interactions that grate on our nerves make us want to run for the hills, yet most times we must endure. These are the relationships that need a change and we pray for an end as we try to figure a way out.

In a lesson last Sunday this truth was spoken:
If you keep doing what you've always done, nothing will change.

My mother taught me this truth:
The only person that you have control to change is yourself.
Your actions and reactions are your choice at all times.

So, if it is time for a change, look in the mirror first!!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Home is a great place to be.

I love my home, I love my house, I love the land that my house sits on.

I enjoy walking out in the yard and seeing the pretty flowers in bloom.

I am treated to a paradise of thought when I really look at the pictures on the walls of my home.

I feel content when I put on my apron and get to work in my cozy kitchen.

I enjoy the feel of the worn wooden floor under my feet as I wander from room to room putting things in their proper place.

I feel enlightened as I choose a book from the shelves that are filled with knowledge, thoughts and mental getaways.

I love the feeling of coziness I get in our family room when it is lamplit at night and I am wrapped in a warm quilt.

I enjoy my home when it is brimming with the laughter of small children running about exploring corners to be found only at grandma's house.

I am thankful for a peaceful moment when a loved one will sit on the lawn swing with me and talk about what is happening in their life.

I am thankful for the energy to still be able to take a piece of sand paper, a paint brush or a trowel and continue the work that is making my dream of our fixer upper come true.

I have traveled the far corners of the world this summer. I have been home but a few weeks and have spent the time digging into deep corners that have wanted attention for a while. I have enjoyed vacuuming away cobwebs and dusting edges that sit and wait until it is their turn.

As the saying goes:
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.

I am glad for the opportunity to travel.

I am thankful for a sweet place to come home to.

Monday, August 29, 2011

August Remembrances

In one week we celebrate and remember 6 family birthdays.

We started this birthday week last Wednesday when Cooper turned another year older to reach the ripe old age of 7. We celebrated by going to the Baseball game, an all American pass time. We got our money's worth, but had mixed feelings, when our team lost in the bottom of the 13th inning. Cooper is in the 1st grade and is a whiz at reading and math. He is a gentle giant, a very kind young man who makes me very happy.

On Thursday we celebrated Victoria's 10th birthday. She is now in the 5th grade and has many friends. She is celebrating by going to Tropical Island (a celebration destination in Germany) with her family and a few friends. She is the oldest in her family and a good help to her mother. Sometimes she seems as if she is growing up way too fast, and I miss her.

Friday brought the first birthday of Miss Ada. She enjoyed her cake and a quiet family celebration, seems a certain hurricane named Irene kept us from traveling last weekend as planned. Ada is working hard at growing up. Now that she is a whole year old she wants to walk and eat big girl food. So many milestones to pass in just one quick year. She loves to jabber and figure things out. She is a happy baby that brings her mother great joy.

Today, on the 29th, I take time to remember my grandmother, Beatrice Kent Kidman. She was born in 1905, the daughter of Nellie Van Lueven and Jesse Clarence Kent. She married Lewis R. Kidman on May 26th, 1923 and raised 5 children. She was a wonderful cook and had a strong testimony of truth. She worked in the Los Angeles Temple for many years. She has always been someone for me to admire and I choose to try to be like her in many ways.

Tomorrow we remember our sweet angel Caroline. She was born 7 years ago, and for living only 6 months, she has touched our lives in such a tremendous way. I know where she is and I am trying to live my life so I can be with her again.

On Wednesday we complete our week of August remembrances by recognizing Jeff, my first son in law to join the family. He is a good man who loves my daughter and their children. He is kind to me and a wonderful example of manhood. I am proud to call him my son.

A busy family week. I know that family things happen on family days for a reason.

Happy Birthday loved ones. May this next year bring you joy and happiness as you continue to grow in love and understanding.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


This question was posed at church on Sunday and I have been thinking about it ever since:

What do you think about
when you have nothing to think about??

What you are thinking at those times reveals a lot about what is most important in your life.

What's in your thoughts??

Saturday, August 20, 2011


I am teaching a lesson on marriage tomorrow and have enjoyed doing some research. I found this counsel from Thomas S. Monson that I think deserves some thought time:

Choose a companion carefully and prayerfully; and when you are married, be fiercely loyal one to another. Priceless advice comes from a small framed plaque I once saw. It read, “Choose your love; love your choice.” There is great wisdom in those few words. Commitment in marriage is absolutely essential.

If any of you are having difficulty in your marriage, I urge you to do all that you can to make whatever repairs are necessary, that you might be as happy as you were when your marriage started out. Do not let your marriage get to the point where it is in jeopardy.

Realize that you will not be able to anticipate every challenge which may arise, but be assured that almost anything can be worked out if you are resourceful and if you are committed to making your marriage work.

If you choose wisely and if you are committed to the success of your marriage, there is nothing in this life which will bring you greater happiness.

A good marriage is worth every effort.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hot and Humid

On a hot summer day I am reminded of the old song:
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer,
Those days of soda and pretzels and .....

I love the slower pace of summer. A hot lazy day with a book is my idea of a good summer experience.

It is true that in the south it can be a bit heavy outside with the heat and humidity, but, we are lucky to live in the era of air conditioning. I run quickly from the cool house to my air conditioned car, step briskly into an air conditioned store then repeat as needed until I am home again enjoying the coolness of forced air and ceiling fans.

A summer afternoon in the south is not the time to explore the great outdoors unless it includes a water feature, like a pool, lake or stream. I will leave the exploration for the spring and fall.

I enjoy looking out at the blooming flowers and leafy trees that shade our property. I have a nice seat by the window in our family room that overlooks our yard. Sometimes the deer walk right up to the house to nibble on my flowers, then I am torn between the beauty of the creature and the desire to save my flowers. During the summer heat I have discovered that flowers in the garden make the whole house and yard seem much cooler.

All winter long I look forward to the days that I can go out and there is no need to wrap up from the cold. There are plenty of months to huddle and shiver. Summer is the time to wear light clothes and leave the sweater behind. It seems liberating to me to be able to just walk out the door.

In the south it is hot and humid. Women glisten from the dampness in the air. Yard work makes for a river running off the end of your nose. It seems odd to me that if it does not rain for a few days we worry about a drought.

Humidity makes the hots hotter and the cold piercing. I think I would rather take the hot since we have air conditioning. Without cool air this heat would be unbearable. I do not know how people lived in this type heat for centuries before air conditioning.

When we first moved here the school my children went to was not air conditioned. They would cut the school day short on the hottest of days and send the children home to go to the pool. Now all of the schools are air conditioned and the children attend year round.

Hot and humid, this is where I live. I am thankful for air conditioning and ceiling fans, especially this year with record breaking days in excess of 100 degrees. Blow baby blow.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I had to teach a lesson at church on Sunday about the family. During the last few weeks I have had many opportunities to think on the subject of family and the work it takes to be happy.

My grandparents had 5 children that they were raising during the great depression. My grandfather was a plasterer. During the depression there weren't many opportunities for work. When my grandmother was expecting their fifth child an acquaintance of theirs came and offered to take the baby because of the financial situation in the country. They thought that they would be better able to provide during such low times. My grandparents thanked the childless couple for their concern and sent them on their way with their testimony that the Lord would provide.

My grandfather was a hard worker. He was a man of great faith. At the beginning of the depression he put away a few hundred dollars just in case they would need them. As the country pulled out of the financial mess my grandparents had consumed plenty of beans and had gone without quite a bit, but those few hundred dollars were still safely tucked away. Their family had grown in size and stature while enduring the trial and they were better for it.

I was the second oldest of 15 grandchildren. As we all started to come along Grandma and Grandpa made many efforts to keep their family close. Over the years my husband and I have discussed what they did in order to keep us all wanting to come back for more. They had a normal family with personality conflicts between the children and the new in-laws occasionally. Not everyone agreed with the choices that grandma and grandpa made concerning their interpersonal relationships, yet they had a close and happy family that chose to be together often--why??

Grandma and Grandpa were not perfect but they had love to give. They loved each other dearly and it showed in their daily interactions. They would dance in the kitchen, laugh and pray together. They did not always get along perfectly, yet they figured out how to solve their conflicts peacefully, reaching a middle ground where both felt an equal part in the marriage.

Grandma knew her role as the mother of the family. She nurtured her children, home and garden with love and tenderness. She was a master cook with the few items she had and fed her family well. She taught her family to work and pray and she took time to play with them. Grandpa was the head of the home and when he came in and suggested a ride in the car she would grab the baby and a diaper, round up the older children and off they would go.

Grandpa knew his role as the provider and protector of the family. He taught his sons how to plaster and that skill has passed through generations. He planned for uncertain futures and kept his family safe as the world endured wars and turmoil. He took his family to church and gathered them for prayer and scripture study at home. He was a leader at church, eventually becoming a Patriarch. He was a leader in their home, he loved his wife and children and was steady during tough times.

The children knew their place, they were to obey. They learned to work around the house and yard. They ate their beans, drank their milk and laughed and played. They helped care for their grandparents who lived with them. The boys learned to plaster and build, the girls learned to sew and cook. Even after I came along I knew that after a meal the women would gather in the kitchen to do up the dishes and talk and laugh. The men would gather around the TV to enjoy a sporting game while they laughed and talked. The children would entertain themselves outside in grandma's garden.

Grandma and Grandpa provided plenty of opportunities for all of us to get together; family dinners, holidays, camping in the mountains. We all went to church together and knew that our faith was the thread that kept us knit together in love and harmony. I am thankful for my mother who did not always enjoy the family get togethers, yet went anyway so her children could have the experience of extended family, she made great sacrifices so I could understand what family was all about.

As I gather my growing family around my grandmother's dining room table I hope that I have learned the lessons she taught about joy and family living. It is not always easy to have so many people together with all of the different personalities and expectations, but Grandma taught me that with hard work it can be done and we can be better for it.

A strong and happy family is hard work that can bring great joy for many generations.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Family Reunion

My sister and her husband attend a family reunion from his side of the family every year. I remember attending a family reunion or two as a child, we went to the park and played and had a picnic--I enjoyed the twirly slide.

When my daughter comes from Europe I try to get all of my children together for a few days so cousins can bond and siblings can share. She comes about every 3 years unless there are unusual circumstances. Last summer Shawna was with us and I was able to get us all together--not all at once--but one weekend we rotated in and out. Shawna took pictures and published a small book then sent a copy to each family. She called the weekend a family reunion. As I look at the pictures of cousin fun in the sun I remember the joy of having my family together as best we could.

I boasted it as a cousin overnighter. We started in early evening with some lawn games like a water melon spitting contest and a shaving cream slip and slide. We had a barbeque and melted in the summer humidity of the south. My husband and I sent the parents off while we kept the children for a sleepover at grandma and grandpa's. The next morning all families headed in their own directions. That was it: 15 hours, food, family fun and a daughter with insight to make it an event to remember.

This year we had a new baby to bless. We were returning from our Disney adventure with two 8 year olds. Michael and his family drove down from Indiana and met us at the house when we returned. On Saturday four more families showed up one by one.

It was fun to watch the cousins play and figure out their place in the family. Two 4 year olds realized they had a lot in common and had fun dressing up together and stealing everyone's pillows. Babies cooed and gooed together as they scooted around on the floor. Girls got busy drawing and creating, boys had fun at the foosball table. Brothers helped their dad figure out the wiring for the television. Sisters talked about children and coupons. When the children were quiet the cards came out and the laughter started. I enjoyed cooking for the crowd.

We spent a little over 24 hours together. We went to church and welcomed the newest member of the family. There was a circle of 12 worthy men gathered around that new baby, my heart swelled with joy to see the sight. We had 24 members of our family gathered in our home to visit and share.

We were missing one family in body, but they were here in spirit. When the girls were drawing and creating they made an icon for each cousin, colored it, cut it out and taped it to the game room door. When I stopped to look at the creation I realized they put one up for all cousins, for those in Germany and our little angel in heaven, 17 in all.

What is a family reunion? An opportunity to get together and share? When my children make an effort to come it deserves my recognition of their sacrifice to be together. Fun and games, happy memories of family bonding, good food. On Monday I had mountains of laundry to do and piles of hidden treasures to find. I have decided that a family reunion is what happens when my family has the opportunity to reunite after being away from each other. We live states and countries away from each other, but our hearts are knit together. Opportunities like this last weekend are what keep us close even though miles and time separate us.

Building a strong family is hard work that is worth the effort and sacrifice.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Family Vacations

Over the years my husband and I have tried to take a week or so each summer to play and party with our children. We would select a destination each year that fit with our travel and cash constraints. Some years we would go camping, sometimes we would rent a beach house, a time or two we headed south for a bit of Disney Magic, we have gone on Church History trips and had a few American History destinations as well. Anything was fair game as long as we had the time and money.

It was fun to set up the destination, organize the travel arrangements and set off for a bit of fun and relaxation away from our everyday lives. As the children became busy with their own schedules as teenagers and college students it was sometimes challenging to figure out a time we could all be together, but we usually were able to figure it out. Now that our children are grown, have children of their own and live in different states and countries it is becoming quite difficult to get everyone together, but still we try.

Sometimes one of our children will invite us to come along with them as they take their children on an adventure. We have enjoyed traveling cross country, the beach, camping and amusement parks this way.

It is fun to get away from it all and see the world with different eyes for a few days. I have learned that it is nice to make the trip as long as possible because sometimes it takes a few days to let go of the stress of home and work before you can start really enjoying the fun of something new. I have also learned that you need to be flexable, such as the year we were going to go camping at the beach until the weatherman predicted rain for the week, we quickly adjusted the budget and found an inexpensive cottage that was worth the price.

Families grow together when given the opportunity to work, laugh, cry, pray and play together. I have vivid memories of family vacations as a child. I tried to give my children opportunities for fun and travel when they were young. I am enjoying watching them take time to travel with their children to fun destinations that will make memories to last a life time and bind the family together in love and happiness.

Family, hard work that is worth every effort.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Mountains

This week my parents are off camping in the High Sierra Mountains of California. My grandparents started this tradition when my father was a baby. My father introduced my mom to this adventure when she was a young bride. I have many happy memories of roughing it with my siblings and cousins for a week or longer every summer of my growing up years. When I was married I took my husband and children as they came along. It has been a family tradition for over 75 years.

I grew up thinking my cousins were siblings and knowing I could rely on my aunts and uncles for direction and love, all because of the close bonds that were formed from these family vacations.

I can call it a vacation, because for the most part I was a child enjoying the fun of it all, when in reality it was hard work for my parents and grandparents. We packed it all in--tents, food, stoves, fuel, tables, chairs--everything we would need for the stay. Once we were in we stayed until it was time to leave. It gets cold in the High Sierra's and it is dirty there. Hard work for the parents of little children. But the memories, incredible.

When my husbands job moved us away from the west coast our opportunities to go camping with the extended family became few and far between, but during this week each year my heart travels with my family across the Southern California desert, up past Bishop and into Mammoth and then down the side of the mountain to Agnew Meadows where we have pitched tents and camped every year for decades.

I long to get up early and help cut the cantaloupe and cook the ham, eggs and pancakes for the 40 or so that will be gathered for breakfast each morning before heading off to hike and fish for the day. I think of the women that stay in camp enjoying a quiet reading moment and the puzzle and card games that are happening. I have vivid memories of my grandmother cooking good and simple food for her large family to fill us up at the end of a wonderful day. I enjoyed watching my teen and 20 year old sons take their turns with the ax and the logs for the nightly fire.

I am hoping that soon my husband will retire and we can take a trip out west and join the family reunion another time or two with my parents, aunts and uncles, siblings and cousins. We have made an effort to continue the tradition of camping and family get togethers with our children and grand children, but in my mind, camping as a family group in the High Sierras is the high standard to meet.

Family, hard work that is well worth the effort.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Road Trip with Connor and Ella

Last week was a wonderful adventure for two cousins and their grandparents. We put 2500 miles on the car as we made a circle from NC up through 2 more states before spending the weekend in IN. On Monday we headed south driving all day until we found GA where we spent the night and celebrated Grandma's birthday with a bit of ice cream from Cracker Barrel. Tuesday we finally entered Florida and checked into our amazing hotel.

The bathroom was the highlight of the lodgings, the tub was free standing and when you turned on the water it fell from the ceiling. We had two bedrooms and a fully stocked kitchen, a balcony and lovely living room. WOW. Grandpa and his points sure do treat us nicely.

On Wednesday we were at Disney's Magic Kingdom before it opened and we stayed until after it closed--8:30am until 1:30am--seventeen hours of full on magic and fun. We had a touring plan, rain ponchos, a water bottle, snacks and extra socks (we needed it all), With the plan we never waited in line except at Pirates of the Caribbean and then only for about 20 minutes. We rode all of the rides we wanted to and a few twice or three times.

On Thursday we lounged by the pool, went miniature golfing and had dinner with the King and Queen watching the jousting matches at Medieval Times. It was fun to wear a crown and be called Sir and Milady, we felt quite royal.

Friday we got up early and made scrap books of our travels before heading to the pool for one last ride on the water slide before settling back into the car for the ride home. Along about SC we decided to extend the trip for a few more hours and got a hotel room. Of course we headed to the pool for some water fun before turning in for the night. Saturday morning we were off and running again, dropping Connor at home and then taking Ella back to our house to meet her parents who were on the road as well.

2500 miles with two 8 year olds was quite enjoyable. They had movies to entertain themselves with. We listened to books 1 and 2 of the Harry Potter series. They had their personal entertainment devices as well as a book to read and notebooks, colored pencils and stickers for artistic impressions.

A trip like this with 8 year olds is nice because they are old enough to take care of themselves yet young enough to think that the speed grandma and grandpa go is just fine. They go along with whatever we come up with and never complain. They are cousins, not siblings, so the bickering is minimal, if at all. All in all, one of the best trips ever taken with children.

We did this two years ago with Logan and Dallin, and a side trip with Victoria. Now, as 10 year olds they had sage advice for their cousins and siblings. The two years since their big roadtrip our relationship with them has deepened and matured. I think it was worth the effort.

We are scheduled to go again next year and almost every year thereafter for the next 8 as we take little ones on a road trip to Disney with grandma and grandpa. I wonder how we will do when we are 65 and 71?? I try to remember that 8 year olds are young enough to think it is fun no matter how slow or silly it is to be with grandma and grandpa. I also know that this grandma and grandpa are enjoying the adventure of being with 8 year old cousins, watching them have a fun time, building bonds to last forever.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

200 posts

I started writing my blog 18 months ago to record my thoughts and dreams as well as memories and insights. I was spending plenty of time on the couch recovering after foot surgery and my husband brought home the movie Julie and Julia that I enjoyed and it started me thinking. My daughters all had blogs, my good friend Nancy had a blog that I enjoyed, and I had musings that I thought I might like to record and share. I thought about it for a while and decided that I would try it out.

My blog is different from those my daughters write. I do not add pictures (don't know how), but I try to paint a mental picture of things that I have enjoyed or thought about.

I had my 57th birthday last week, I have been married for 38 years. I have 6 children who are happily married and they have blessed me with 17 grandchildren. With all of these life experiences I had a few things I wanted to say and I have enjoyed doing so.

Since I started this blog I have added 3 new grandbabies and I have traveled around the world to see my grand children who live far away. I am in a transition period of my life--from working woman to full time grandma (I hope that soon my husband will be able to join me in the full time grandparent department). In the last 18 months we have remodeled our kitchen and laundry room as well as finishing up the master bedroom and bath redo. Many changes for a short period of time.

Today is a warm summer day in the south, we are going for a record hot summer. I have 4 beautiful grand children visiting with their mother for the week and we are having a good time. Today we went for a picnic at the park, yesterday we went with 3 local cousins to their pool. Thursday we will take a day trip to the beach, Saturday 3 more cousins will show up for some hours of fun before we go to church on Sunday to participate in the blessing of the newest cousin, Preslee. After the baby blessing we will all gather here at the house for some good food and laughter as cousins play and siblings talk, tease and bond.

Tonight I sit on the couch after gargling salt water and drinking down a glass of warm tea made of lemon juice and honey. I am trying to get well--seems my sweet Ella caught a sore throat from her daddy and she has shared it with me. I am trying to rest, but there are grand children visiting and fun to be had. Gotta get well, I have some memories to make, Ella would like me to create in the sewing room with her. Brody would like me to read him a book, Coleman loves to cuddle as he drinks his bottle and Dallin has a pancake eating record to set.

I can't believe I have now written 200 posts. My grandmother filled a number of journals recording her thoughts and memories. I am enjoying my blog and hope you have found something interesting here that makes you think. Sometimes it is good to stop and realize that life is good and worth living in the happy lane.

Friday, July 29, 2011


Now that I am a Grandma I love to go visit my grandchildren in their own homes sometime over the summer to watch them enjoy a summer day. Summer vacation is when you get to have your kids to yourself to enjoy unencumbered hours without the worry of bedtime and homework. Eventually, as the days wear on, the children relax and you start to see who they really are.

During the summer my children would have time to make up plays, we would do crafts and find plenty of time to explore the treasures of the kitchen as well as quiet reading time. We enjoyed finding a few tomatoes in the garden or a peach off of the tree to add to the dinner menu. Some summers we would go explore museums or pitch a tent and camp. When we lived close enough to the beach we would make that a destination for the day or week.

Now that my children are grown and married I love watching how they bring their childhood adventures to life for their children. They are offering their children wonderful opportunities and hours of fun on a warm, stress free summer day.

As I visit Michael's home I enjoy listening to Kendra read novels to her children like Little Women or Little House on the Prairie. Shawna's house is filled with markers, glue and glitter. Cara always seems to have something delicious coming from her kitchen and a backyard filled with hungry children to eat it. Teri and her children invite us to come to the pool and enjoy a cool and watery moment with them. Kevan and Brooke snuggle their new baby, giggling and laughing together at her coos and goos. Brian and Cheri enjoy firing up the grill to make a delicious dinner to share.

Summer is the time to relax and slow down. It is the time to enjoy watching the grass and children grow. It is a wonderful time to read a book and cool off by the side of the pool. I hope you are able to take a few moments and enjoy a summer moment with someone you love.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Birthday Wishes

I have heard that if you go to Disney on your birthday you get in free!! If I could switch birthday's with my daughter it might work, we will be in the park on Shawna's birthday. She loves Disney so I will take one extra ride on Pirates just for her!!

Two years ago when we came on this trip with Logan we were just a few day's off of her birthday as well. She celebrates another year on Saturday.

This year I celebrated my birthday while driving somewhere in Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia. Lucky for me to have two great kids with me who were fun to be with and they remembered to sing to me as we drove along, watching movies and enjoying each others company.

Another year older and I hope another year wiser.

It is a great week to have a birthday.

Shawna and Logan--Please know that I love you and wish for a happy day for each of you.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pool Time

Time passes quickly. It seems like just yesterday I was facing a busy summer with 6 small children. Now those children are all grown and between them they are raising 17 little ones with summer dreams in their eyes.

When my children were young and at home we spent a lot of time at the pool. On a hot summer day it was a great reward for doing our morning routine--making the beds, dusting and vacuuming, cleaning up the kitchen and reviewing a few of the things we remembered from the school year.

After lunch we would pack up some snacks and head out for a cool afternoon of water fun. It was a treat for me because the kids were so busy dipping and diving they did not need much from me except a set of eyes to watch.

After the pool I would bring the tired children home and let them have some time to read or watch a movie while I made dinner in the quiet kitchen.

I remember on a busy Saturday filled with chores and home remodeling we would end the day with a trip to the pool to cool off and add some fun. As the time approached to go home we would put a dab of shampoo on the kids hair and put them under the shower at the side of the pool. As the shampoo and water washed over their bodies they were clean and ready for pj's and bedtime.

I will soon have grandchildren visiting for a few days. I do not have a neighborhood pool to take them to any more, but I do have a wading pool that I put on the deck and fill up. Sometimes they play in the pool as they pour water on each other and the deck. Sometimes we just put our feet in as we sit by the side and eat a popsicle. Sometimes I turn on the sprinkler to water the lawn and let the children play in the droplets. Sometimes we get in the car and drive to visit Aunt T and her neighborhood pool.

What ever the opportunity affords, I do believe some water and sunshine help children grow in body and spirit. It is time to enjoy a summer day by the waters edge.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Load 'em Up and Head 'em Out

The week is running away with me. Gotta get the car washed and oil changed. Gotta load up the ice chest and suit cases, find the kid movies and organize the snacks. It is time to take two wonderful 8 year old cousins on a grandma and grandpa trip.

We did this two years ago with our first set of 8 year olds, now it is time to take the second set. The last trip was the BEST TRIP EVER, and we have high hopes for the same success rate this time, after all, how can you go wrong when you mix children and Disney??

We will leave on Friday afternoon and drive the 3 hours to pick up Connor. Then we leave early Saturday morning, (Connor loves to wake up at 4am early) for the first real travel day as we head up to Indiana to pick up Ella. It will take two days in the car to finally make it back south to Florida and the Magic Kingdom where Grandma and Grandpa have a comfortable hotel waiting.

We are planning to be at the Park before it opens and stay until it closes. We have our comfortable shoes packed, a water bottle, some small snacks and our hats. It should be a great day.

I love taking the 8 year olds. They are old enough to take care of themselves, yet young enough to think that Grandma's ideas are fun and good. They are cousins, not siblings, so they get along well.
We are taking them to visit Mickey and the gang. The dynamics of the trip are quite favorable.

I love Disney, I grew up just a short drive from Disneyland and loved to go there at least once a year. That was back in the days of the "E" ticket. I think I found a few of those old tickets hiding in my 'keep it' drawer when I was cleaning out last time. Happy memories and happy times.

We have been so busy with missing the whole month of June (that was Germany and Alaska). We ripped out the laundry room and pantry over the 4th of July, and here we are, ready to go again, trying to get our minds out of the paint cans and excited about Disney and two wonderful 8 year old cousins who are waiting for their turn.

I only have a few things left to put away and clean up before we load it all up and head out for the trip of the summer. It will be fun and memorable. Connor is already packed and ready to go, Ella gave me her list of favorite travel foods--I think it will be a good trip--48 hours in the car--it will be fun-----

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Paint and Paper

I have been wearing my designer painting clothes all week. They look very interesting with their splotches of color I have dripped and wiped away. I always wonder why I choose the light colored paint clothes when I am using dark stain and the dark clothes when I am painting with white?? Sometimes my choices are a bit questionable.

I have been climbing on ladders, squatting near the floor, reaching and twisting trying to finish this project before we head out to pick up two sweet 8 year old grand children--but that is next week's story.

I have learned that a bit of paint and some clean lines make a space seem bigger--even when you put the same amount of things back into that space.
We painted all of the woodwork white and found a pretty shade of taupe for the walls that make the white woodwork stand out--yet when you look into the room it seems quite neutral and light.

A number of years ago
I transferred my dish washing detergent into a pretty bottle. The pretty bottle sits on the counter ready for service looking lovely and tidy. When it is near empty I fill it up again from the bottle with a label that I keep hidden in the cupboard. Using a bottle that has a pretty color and shape makes the sink edge look lovely and not just functional. Now I am working on my laundry room trying to get the same effect with laundry detergent, bleach, oxyclean and fabric softener. I have a number of baskets just the right size and a few white buckets that just might do the job.

One lasting thing that happened from all of this fun is that I twisted myself into a permanent pretzel. My hip hurts like the dickens.

Usually when I over exert myself it takes a few days for this grandma body to recuperate and soon I am back to being myself again. This time everything started feeling better except my hip. OH NO!! In fact it has hurt so bad it is difficult to sleep and is worse in the morning.

I called my doctor to see if I could get a recommendation to see my favorite physical therapist (we became quite friendly over the year long frozen shoulder, but that too, is a story for another day). Unfortunately, when I call the doctor I get the people at the desk and they do not always feel the urgency or timeliness I try to communicate through my pleas. I thought that with the two weeks before our trip I might be able to work in 4 or maybe 5 visits to the physical therapist. NO!! They would not let me see the doctor until 5 days later.

The doctor was apologetic as she gave me a shot to ease the pain. She recommended some rest while others finished my project. Now, I do not know about you, but if I want to find something I really should be the one putting it away in the first place. I pretty much can tell you where most things are in my house. But, my sweet husband still asks where items in the kitchen go when he empties the dish washer and they have lived in the same place since we remodeled the kitchen 10 years ago and he is a regular kitchen helper.

The room will get put back together this week slow and steady as I limp along. Finally, after two weeks the washer is hooked up and ready to tackle the mountain of wash we have waiting. The new freezer will be delivered on Tuesday. By Friday the house will be tidy, the car will be packed and we will be off to the next adventure--taking two cute 8 year olds on a roadtrip to remember.

Today, I am thankful for Sunday and the commandment to take a day of rest. I will tackle all of the chaos in my house again tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I taught the lesson on Obedience last Sunday.

As the sisters and I discussed the topic I realized that the thought of being obedient in all things is easy--there is not much that we are asked to do that is difficult--say our prayers, read our scriptures, make time for family and spiritual things, be wise in our choices and decisions, be generous in our tithes and offerings. Unfortunately the doing of these things is often quite difficult.

Aristotle had this to say:
Wicked men obey because of fear
and good men obey because of love.

Now the question is....Why do I obey??

Monday, July 11, 2011

Wild Oats

Our talks at church yesterday were on choices.

Dennis Perry told this joke that I have thought about ever since:

Some of us daily go about sowing our wild oats
only to show up at church on Sunday
and pray for crop failure!

In some ways I am sure that is true for all of us. How many times do our actions directly conflict with our prayers for joy and happiness??

Friday, July 8, 2011


We purchased our fixer upper house 12 years ago. We were at a crossroad in raising our family. All of a sudden we had 3 married children and another daughter with diamonds in her eyes. Our two youngest were both in high school and the only children still living at home. The big 6 bedroom house that we had when everyone was living at home was no longer needed. Plus, after 3 weddings in 18 months our finances could use a smaller drain.

We sold our big family home to a friend with 7 children and they still love the kid friendly house. We finally found this house after a long search and almost giving up. It was smaller than we wanted but had potential. The house was sturdy and would provide opportunities for our two young sons to learn some home improvement skills. One bonus that we had looked for, was land, our home sits on 6 acres with a stream and small orchard that the deer love. After plenty of negotiations the price was right and our adventure began.

We purchased the house and spent a month cleaning and refurbishing before we could move in (on the hottest day of the year). We figured we were not going to get any younger and we probably had just enough energy left to remodel one more house. With the help of our children we have built a deck, remodeled the kitchen and a bathroom, built a road and some sheds as well as turning the garage into living space with a front door and porch.

The project we started this week is the laundry room that also doubles as a pantry. It is a wonderful room that houses a washer, dryer and a freezer as well as an extra refrigerator. This room is center to the workings of the household that you must walk through to reach my sewing room--another wonderful room that makes my life easier.

We found tile on sale and decided a tile floor would be nice. Last weekend after moving out all of the appliances into the kitchen and dining room we started laying the sub floor, backer board and finally the tile. We worked and worked for two days. About 10 pm on Saturday night I looked at the 20 or so tiles we had left and decided I just could not do any more. My husband agreed that finishing these few tiles on another day would be to our benefit.

We had grand intentions of coming home on the 4th and quickly putting down the last few tiles but my body ached. Over the weekend I found it difficult to stand, sit, bend over, walk, breathe, sleep, move or be still. My sweetheart and I are realizing that we have aged quite a bit over the last 12 years and it might be time to finish this fixer upper project.

Today we are starting another two day stint on the room. First we will paint and work on the shelving and if there is enough energy, tomorrow evening we will put down those last few tiles. When I look at the empty space where the tiles belong my ankles quiver and my knees go weak.

We can mark the birth of our grand children by the house projects we were tackling at the time. The first three, Dallin, Logan and Victoria inspired the kitchen remodel for a safer cooking situation. The front room was inspired by Ella and Connor and the need for a larger room to gather our growing family in. We were working on the front porch when Alexandra, Cooper and Caroline were born. We were in the middle of the bathroom remodel when Bella joined our family and baby Preslee and her mama loaned Kevan to us last weekend for the tile and floor adventure.

I guess it is time to stop talking about the fun awaiting the 36 hours ahead and just get to it. The paint is a pretty color--not quite grey or pink or beige or lavender--sort of taupe. White shelves and cabinets, a new freezer (to replace the green one we have had for 34 years) will be delivered next week and will want a finished floor to stand on. Fun, fun, fun---ohhh, steady my knees--you will survive.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


One of the blessings of living in the same place for over 20 years is that you get to see the kids grow up, get married and have children of their own.

Last Sunday at church 3 of my youngest boy's friends from their teen and early 20's were visiting with their wives and babies. It was fun to see these young men wrap their arms around their wives, care for, kiss and coo at their babies. They have grown into fine men---and I remember when I had my doubts---but time and experience show that, thank goodness, teenagers usually grow up into fine adults.

At the family reunion the "Wedding Game" was played (Newlywed Game). They ask silly questions to one spouse and the other has to guess the answer. Well the question to the women was "Before we were married my husband used to _______ but now he ______ ." One fellow had the greatest answer....Before we were married I used to raise he... but now I raise kids.

It has been fun to watch the youth in our area find someone special to marry and then start their own families. Some have struggled with starting that family and it has been a delight to see them finally hold a prayed for and worked for baby that they cherish and love. Unfortunately sometimes it takes longer and the outcome is not as hoped for.

Today I am attending a funeral for a friends grandbaby. I am reminded of my own sweet grandchild who is an angel in heaven. As I pray for my friend and her daughter as they mourn their loss, I pray for their strength to make it through the years and see blessings for this experience. I say an extra prayer for my Caroline and her parents. I am thankful for eternal families and the blessings of eternal truths.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Independence Delight

We shared a wonderful weekend at our daughter's home. She invited us to come celebrate Independence Day with her and her family. She told us it would be a quiet weekend, a simple cookout and plenty of time to just relax.

After all of our travel of late, and the mess we have made of the house in the effort to redo the laundry room and pantry, a few quiet hours at her lovely home sounded most welcome.

I have enjoyed watching my daughter grow up and mature. She is creative and has quite the artful eye. Her home is happy and joyful. I love spending time with her. Her family is active and busy doing the normal things a happy family does.

Now, when you tell me we are going to cookout for the Fourth of July I think of hot dogs and hamburgers with sides of potato salad, watermelon and baked beans. Little did I guess of the feast that awaited.

I love to cook for my family. I feel happy when they come to visit and find me in the kitchen, apron on and the stove working hard with a pile of dishes on the counter in some stage of cleanliness. At the end of the day I am tired, tummies are full, children are content and smiles abound. That is a good day for me and a happy memory of when I used to go to grandma's house.

When we arrived at Cara's on Sunday evening dinner was waiting on the table. Fresh made Lava Cake was served for dessert--YUM. We ended the evening teaching the new card game we learned at the family reunion. A delightful day.

On the Fourth I woke up to the smells of a busy kitchen--scones for breakfast--a tradition handed down from my grandmother. As we finished breakfast the first of the cookout treats started to show up as the timer called us to rescue the cupcakes from the oven. Then the second layer to the 3 layer jello surprise was added and the crab salad was started. The cupcakes were not just frosted, they were also a bit of eye candy in the presentation. Baked beans were on the menu for tradition and delightful cooked mushrooms topped the steaks that were perfectly grilled by the grillmaster. This was a feast to rival those I have tasted over the years prepared by trained chefs.

Kevan and Brooke brought their new baby to share the day with us. Greg's mom came and together we enjoyed hours of play with the grandchildren. Eden won a hand of War and Connor stuck in there until the final card was played in another card duel. We taught Grammy the new family game and had fun playing all afternoon, smiling and content as a happy satisfied family can be. Ada and Preslee enjoyed a few quiet moments with their mothers, cooing a gooing as they nursed, completing the family picture.

We set off a few fireworks before the weather changed and we had to begin the journey home, facing work and real life again tomorrow. It was a delightful weekend with a fabulous feast. Happy people, full tummies, a tired mommy, wonderful memories.

I am so thankful for the privilege of living in a free country. I am thankful for those who work to keep us safe. I am thankful for home and family. I am thankful for memories filled with love.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cynthia Cluff

When my parents were newly married my father joined the Navy and was sent to Oak Harbor, Washington to serve on Whidbey Island. That is where I was born. My father's sister and her husband were also newly married. My uncle was in the Army and they were also sent to Washington. That is where my cousin was born, just 25 days before me.

Cynthia and I were fast friends. Our mothers dressed us alike and for our entire lives we always had a lot in common. After the service my father took our family home to California. Cynthia went with her parents to Arizona. She and her brother would come at least once a year to visit. As we got older and able to read and write we became pen pals, writing to each other of experiences we shared in our young lives.

Cynthia was 10 when tragedy struck and her mother died. Cynthia's life would be altered forever. Aunt Peggy was a happy person. She loved her husband and children. She enjoyed being a wife, mother and homemaker. She sewed, cooked and always had a smile on her face. Her life was cut short by breast cancer.

Uncle Milford quickly married again to a young widow with two children. It was not a marriage of love, but of necessity and companionship for two young widows with a need--hers for support and care--his for two young motherless children. The family continued to grow--5 more children were added to the union. In this large family Isabel ruled with order and firmness. Each child had a responsibility--Cynthia became quite the seamstress, making clothes for the entire family. Other daughters did the cooking and cleaning--each had a specific assignment. The three boys kept up the mini farm with their father. If it was not a home of love it was certainly a house of order.

Cynthia and I kept in touch. Her visits to California were more seldom, but we still wrote letters. We were both married quite young at the age of 18, me in March, Cynthia in May. Our first babies were born a year later, hers in May, mine in July. Our next three children all came along in quick succession totaling four children each, all under 4 years old. Cynthia and I loved to get together and discuss our crazy lives--being newly wed (5 years) and having 4 children was quite the challenge--it was good to have a friend who understood what I was living.

As the years progressed the lack of maternal attention started to show in Cynthia's life. Her postpartum depression increased after each baby. She had her fifth baby when my sixth was born. This time I don't think she ever recovered. When we would get together and visit I felt like she had the personality she inherited from her mother peeking out and it would clash with the training of her step mother. It was like she had two opposite personalities dwelling in the same person and she did not know how to let them live peacefully together. Our families were young and large. We were young--under 30 years old and married just over 10 years. As I read back over my journal entries of those years I am reminded of how difficult everyday living was.

Soon Cynthia could not handle it any longer and walked away from her husband and family. She walked away from her parents and siblings. She started pursuing an interest in acting and enjoyed community theater. She met and married Joe Sorensen, changed her name to Amber Dawn and started her life again in a quiet, solitary way. She kept minimal contact with our grandmother. For over 20 years I had very little knowledge of where she was and how she was dong. In the last five years I occasionally made an effort to find her but met dead ends or non returns on my efforts.

Last summer I decided to try again. I left a message on the answering machine, but unlike in times past, a few days later my call was returned. Amber and I talked every few weeks over the course of the next 9 months. We caught up on all of the lost years. She had reunited with her children one by one. She was a happy grandmother busy crocheting blankets for each of her grandchildren. She and Joe had made a happy life together. She, like her mother was dying of breast cancer.

We still had a lot in common. She told me she always thought of me as a sister. I must admit our bond was close and I too had those same feelings. I missed our companionship during those middle years as she floundered trying to figure out who she was--torn between the teachings of a step mother and the inborn creative personality of her natural mother.

I asked why she chose her new name and she answered it represented a bright new beginning. She was born Cynthia Cluff, daughter of Milford Cluff and Peggy Kidman. She married Stan Thompson in her youth and together they had 5 children: Jared, Tenay, Kendra, Tesha, and Ryan. She finished her life as Amber Dawn, married for 25 years to Joseph Sorensen. She was happy and content. She passed away April 28th after a 3 year battle with breast cancer.

Today Amber would have been 57 years old. Happy Birthday, Cynthia. I love you and pray you are finding peace in your mother's arms.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Where have all of the days gone?? Where are the blog postings??

Packed in my suitcase, tucked away in the memories of my mind and images of my camera.

I loved the days with Shawna's family. Making memories, having fun. Deer eating from my hand, Saturday at the baseball diamond, watching the Europeans sunbathe at the lake, trampoline time, sunlight from 4am until 11pm, walking in the woods.

I rushed home from Germany and was greeted at the airport by my new grandbaby and her parents--was it just 9 months ago they met me at the airport to tell me the baby was on her way??

Beautiful baby Preslee is the sweetest new baby, sleeps well, eats well and is up to date on the fertilizing task. Her mom is healing nicely from the surgery--what a scare. Kevan and Brooke are enjoying Kevan's time off from work as they wrap their arms and hearts around Miss Preslee and the joy she has brought into their home.

After only two days at home the suitcase is repacked and we are off again. First stop, Oak Harbor, Washington--my birthplace. My father was in the Navy when I was born. Only lived there a few months and have never returned until now. We had a lovely day exploring the sights of the town and driving through the base. Bought a vintage tablecloth to tuck into my bag to remember the moment--it was brand new the last time I was in town, now it is an antique--what does that make me??

Family reunion with my parents and siblings--cruising to Alaska. An amazing vacation, beautiful sights, family memories. Breath taking views. Thoughts of my forebears who traveled to the US many years ago in the strong holds of a ship under very poor circumstances. Giggling with my sister and mother as we went on a treasure hunt for jewels and gems. Delicious food. Family pictures. Watching my dad fulfill a dream. Making my mother proud. Seeing my brothers be happy in marriage. My sweetheart's birthday and thoughts from my siblings of their love for him. Family time.

Home again for the three last days of the month. Baby Preslee has grown and changed. Having fun teaching the kids a new card game. Organizing the travel trinkets; hats, bags and jewels. Help Teri remake a dress for her cross country trip. Unpack, do the laundry, tidy the house, pick up the pieces of my everyday life. Prepare to dismantle and remodel the laundry room (we have 3 weeks to accomplish the task before packing our bags again for the north/south 8 year old adventure trip scheduled for the middle of July, but that is next month's story).

The month has flown by, my flowers are blooming and the grass keeps growing--in spots--guess it all grows better with a little bit of attention. The answering machine is full and I have not had enough courage to look at the list of emails awaiting attention.

5 days at home--not all together--is a very short month.

Memories a mile long and a world wide.

Content to be at home--for a while.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Summer Dresses

As I have been staying with the grandchildren while their parents are away I got out the sewing machine and got busy. I brought the fabric and pattern with me. Simple little dresses that look like a bowl of rainbow sherbert. Four of them from sizes 2-10 for four little blondes that are ready for summer fun.

As I was cutting the dresses out, trying to match the stripes, my daughter asked if I could also make head scarfs for the girls. Then she mentioned curtain dresses and a singing family from Austria. I guess we are a close neighbor since we are in Germany--any way I hope they will be fun summer play dresses.

As I was finishing them up I realized they would need a slip under them and the girls did not have slips. I was here without transportation or resources--only my imagination. I remember one time when we were traveling and the children were small. One of my daughters forgot her slip and a slip was needed for the dress she was wearing. I took a pillowcase, undid the top seam and pinned two pieces of ribbon to hold it up--got the job done. As I thought I remembered some extra plain white sheets that were here when they arrived, before their own things showed up. One small sheet should be enough for 4 little slips.

As the girls dressed for church today they looked so sweet--almost delicious walking along in their simple summer dresses. We wouldn't want their brother to feel left out so he put on his orange tie to match their dresses. When we got home the girls put on their scarfs and Max donned his new orange t shirt.

Shawna returns home tonight from a few days R&R with her sweetheart. The grand children and I have had a wonderful time. I need to pack my bag again for my return trip on Tuesday. I will miss being here but I know each time the girls put on their summer dresses they will remember the fun time we had making them and that their grandma loves them.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Another Year Older and New Beginnings

I am thrilled to announce that we have a new baby to celebrate. Miss Preslee Brynn was born earlier this week after a little scare for her mother and father. She decided to greet the world face first--though it was a wonderful thought, it presented a grave issue that the inspired doctor was able to deal with. I know that mommy and daddy had not gone into the birthing center with thoughts of a C-section, but when Preslee decided to enter the world in her own unique and very rare way the entire family was thankful for a healthy and happy outcome for both mommy and baby. Miss Preslee weighs in at 7 pounds 8 ounces and is 20 3/4 inches long. She has a smattering of light brown hair and a sweet little cry. Her grandfather says that she is definitely a member of the family--After the scare he noticed a few new grey hairs--Yes, she is ours.

The day after Preslee was born we celebrated 27 years for Uncle B. Brian admits that he was a bit disappointed that Preslee came 2 hours and 6 minutes too early to share his birthday, but we all agree a healthy baby two hours earlier than expected is a much sweeter prize than the distress her mother was beginning to feel and the strain on the babies neck.

Later this week we will recognize the decade remembrance of our oldest grandchild, Dallin. It seems like just yesterday when he was the sweet new baby we welcomed into the world on a warm June evening. Now he is an active and happy 10 year old boy who still brings his family great joy.

On that same day I take time to recognize my sweet sister, Ann, and the pleasure it has been to have her for a sister. I am excited because next week I get to go and spend an entire week with her. Lucky me.

To round out that family day I also take time to remember my great grandmother, Marie Elizabeth Sorensen Jensen. She was a strong and great woman who raised her family alone after her husband died young. It was at her request that I have my name, after her mother.

Now that is a busy week--but the birthday fun is not over yet--a week later my sweet husband will celebrate another year closer to retirement, meaning more time to go and visit these wonderful members of our family.

Happy Birthday everyone, and welcome to the family my sweet Preslee

Monday, June 6, 2011

Church Bells

I am in Germany enjoying the 5 grandchildren who live here. The youngest two like to sit in the wonderful double stroller my daughter has while I walk them around the neighborhood. The other day we were walking and I could hear the church bells ringing. Thy rang louder and louder for about 10 minutes. The girls and I were making up words to go with the ringing--

Church bells ringing
Hear us singing
Everyone gather
Time for prayer

The next morning as we were out walking, again we heard the bells ringing, calling everyone to come to the church and worship.

When I was a girl living in Yucaipa, California there was a church in town that would ring the bells every day. It was a beautiful sound that brought comfort.

The other day when we went to pick strawberries, the neighborhood church bells started ringing. The bells played songs for about 15 minutes. It was lovely and soon I found myself singing along with the hymns the bells were pealing off.

The bells here in Germany were not playing songs, just ringing and ringing, hoping some of us would stop what we were doing and think of spiritual things for a few moments. Later I found that it was a holiday--Ascension Day.

As I thought about all of the turmoil that the city of Berlin has suffered in just my lifetime, and then thought about the meaning of the holiday as I listened to the church bells, I was filled with awe.

How often do we stop what we are doing and listen for that spiritual awareness. Most often it is not bells ringing, but a still small voice telling us to call a friend, send a note or bake and take something delicious to an acquaintance. In order to hear the call it is best to be quiet for a moment and look out from yourself. Wait a moment--you will hear--it is soft and quiet, gentle and still...a quiet call to action..

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I am visiting my daughter in Germany these next two weeks. Today we were at the gas station and a white 60's vintage Mustang convertible was parked next to us. While my son in law pumped the gas I watched the car and thought of one of the first times I remember seeing my husband. I was helping at a friends wedding reception. After the reception there was a group in the parking lot and I remember seeing this guy pushing his Mustang to get it started. That was my soon to be sweetheart and his soon to be departed car--He has mourned the loss of that car ever since.

The other day I was driving down the highway and a new red Camero pulled out next to me. It looked and sounded beautiful on the road and reminded me of Jim Taylor from my graduating high school class and the beautiful red Camero he used to drive. He was a nice guy and I liked his car.

While I was still sitting in the family van at the gas station the owner of the Mustang sauntered over and climbed into the car. It was an odd sight to see in Germany--not very many American cars on the road here. As he started the car I heard the low rumble of the engine and smiled to myself, maybe with a bit of a wistful sigh. As the car started to pull away I heard my 3 year old granddaughter in the back seat quietly say "I wish I can have a car like that."

It is always nice to have a dream.

Monday, May 23, 2011


I am helping with a wedding this weekend.

I have had many opportunities to talk with the bride and groom over the last several months as they went through the process of being friends to the commitment of marriage. They are not in the first blush of youth in their lives, yet making the commitment to marry and share their lives forever seems overwhelming at times.

We had many opportunities to discuss this thing called love. Is it a feeling?? Is it a commitment?? Is it passion??

As we talked, and I continued to think, I realized that truly loving someone is trust and contentment. It is deciding to walk the path of life together and then working to make that walk enjoyable. Sometimes there is passion. Sometimes the feelings of joy are overwhelmingly wonderful. But, most often marriage is trust.

I am thankful that I was able to find someone to love and trust early in my youth. We have had a good marriage and I do love him more today than when we married 38 years ago. After many life experiences I trust him more too. Has our life been easy?? NO!! Have we made mistakes and disappointed each other on occasion?? Yes. Yet we have tried to work out the differences and keep walking, learning to trust and depend on each other through each bump we encountered.

I tell my children that they can win in the game of marriage only when they keep trying. It is if they choose to quit that they will lose. Trying to figure it out is a winning effort. In time everything improves.

Yes, love is passion, a feeling and a commitment. But, mostly it is trust and a feeling of contentment.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Stitch in Time

I have spent a good deal of time in my sewing room lately. Not sewing from a piece of fabric and a pattern, but taking things from my closet and store rack that are not quite what I want and unpicking and restitching until it is.

It has been quite rewarding to remake a few garments that fit my budget but not my taste. Through all of this remaking I hope to have a few items in my wardrobe that will gracefully go from suitcase to summer event. We have a bit of travel planned for the next few months and I want to feel pretty.

I have learned that just because something does not quite fit the latest fashion does not mean it has finished it's wearability. Sometimes it just needs a new hem, changing out a cuff or choosing a different waistband. Every girl knows that adding some new jewelery makes a big difference as well.

I have had fun creating in my treetop kingdom of lace, ribbon and elastic. I hope all of our plans for summer fun come together as well as the ruffled blouse has.