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.