Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Thankful Happy New Year

Look what I found on my old camera!  Connor sat on Santa's lap too -- at the extended family Christmas party.

Today was a good day and I think this will be the last post of the year.  Don't be sad.  The new year is about to begin!

I'm thankful today that I felt well and got a few things done that usually don't sound like fun, but did today (I cleaned out half of the filing cabinet and the office closet ).  I'm happy that Derek got to come home early from work.  I'm thankful for nice neighbors.  I took one neighbor a thankyou note today because she brought me a gift and my family a treat for Christmas.  I hadn't done anything for her and thought she should know that I appreciated her thoughtfulness.  I was greeted with a "Come in!  I was just going through my books and thought you might want some."  So I came home with more presents for me!  How nice is that?

Kayli keeps cleaning and cleaning and I've given up on trying to convince her to relax and so I'll just enjoy her help.  And, just a minute ago I got to talk to a friend who lives on the other side of the country.  She gave me the Lion puppet that starred in "A Christmas Carol Puppet Show" at the family party.  It's good to have helpful, thoughtful friends.

I'm thankful for Angela because I got to talk to her a couple of times lately and it made my day.  Besides, cousins played and had a good time and happy kids help Mom be happy.

I'm thankful that Russell is around to help me troubleshoot my computer when my equally helpful brother Brian is a bit far away.

I'm thankful that I made dinner for a change because I was really hungry and those hamburgers hit the spot.  I'm really quite thankful for the idea of writing about what I'm thankful for.  It helps me to think every day about how many blessings I have. 

Thanks again to all of you.  You have helped me throughout the year in many ways.  May we all have a thankful, happy new year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Latest List

I thought I'd better write before you wondered if I was not finding anything at all to be thankful for -- which would be tragic.  So here are a few things that I have been thankful for lately.
 I'm thankful that we all look totally awesome in our new pajamas.  This is our traditional Christmas Eve pajama picture.
 I am really thankful for enthusiasm over gifts -- even pajamas.  Connor is great at showing enthusiasm.

 I'm thankful that Derek was willing to put his new puppet on his hand and make us all laugh.  Of course, he said I could give him a puppet but I couldn't choose its personality.  This "knight in shining armor" is a bit like Sir Lancelot.  He thinks he's very wonderful -- esecially for the ladies.
Jake took this picture of me so that I could show you my new Superwoman shirt.  I can wear this on days when I feel like Superwoman, or on days like yesterday when I want to feel like Superwoman.  Okay so I can wear it whenever I want. 
 Those of you who are observant will have noticed that Trisa was missing in the pajama picture.  If we are all wearing our pajamas on my blog then she should have to also -- right?  She came on Christmas morning (which we were VERY happy about) and we had her change into her new pajamas before opening gifts.
Tia got me a warm, fuzzy, cheerfully colored blanket and Kayli got me warm fuzzy slipper socks.  These are great gifts for me since I am perpetually cold.  The note from Trisa warmed my heart.
This is Derek's knight and my princess posing on the bed posts.  I did this one day to make Derek smile when he got home from work.  I forgot to be in my room when he saw it though and so I can only assume it worked.  What's not to like about being greeted by two slightly humorous smiling faces?

Other things I've been thankful for:
* Erin and Russell and family came over on Christmas and helped us have a happy day.
* Russell helped by fixing Trisa's computer.
* Derek and I got to sit in his parents fabulous seats for a basketball game.  Fourth row is awesome!
* Music -- to work up enthusiasm for today I played some favorite hymns "Onward Christian Soldiers", "Called to Serve", and other of the marching type of hymns.  It worked.  I also enjoyed "C'est Moi" from Camelot -- sung by Sir Lancelot.  Really, he is conceited and this song is kind of funny.
* I got to talk to my Mom.
* My presents included another game that can get me some exercise on the Wii.
* I really have the best family and friends around. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Illustrated Blessings

Here are a few illustrations, and explanations of things I am thankful for.
I'm thankful for Kayli who turned 15 on Sunday.  This is her pretending to blow out the candles on her piece of pumpkin pie.  I have a new camera and so operator error caused me to miss the real blowing out of the candles.  I'm not sure what Derek is doing --maybe helping her pretend?

Here is Dan with Santa Claus.  You can see that they are great friends because Dan is such a good boy.  I'm thankful for all of my children.  They are all on the nice list.  Dan was just the only one who posed with Santa.

We'll call this photo "Live long and Prosper".  Derek has been a fan of Star Trek since he was a boy.  His friend at work got him this Star Trek Snuggie.  Derek was modeling it for us while we all joked about Snuggies in general.  So, I'm thankful for Derek, his sense of humor, Derek's friends, and the amusement the Snuggie provided for me and our guests (Quinn and Tonya's family).  I'm also thankful for Star Trek.  We used to have a tradition of watching it with my sister Tina's family every weekend.  Star Trek gave us entertainment and a reason to get together. 
I'm thankful for awesome moves.  Need I say more?

I like Dan's self portraits too.  Are you smiling?

Our weather forecast yesterday called for an inch of snow or two on the valley floor.  We woke up to a good foot of snow which has piled up to 18 inches.  The power even went out for a while.  School was cancelled and I've never seen that happen here.  Derek and Connor went out early and helped shovel people out.  Derek shoveled and shoveled and, after a few messages on his phone, decided he'd better go to work.  He took the truck.  We got to keep him all the way until 11:00.  That was great.

*Kayli and Connor built a snow fort with friends.
*Trisa and Jake are improving in health.
*Dan got on his coat to go play with Dad.  Fortunately I followed him out since Dad didn't know he was coming.  We followed the path that Dan was sure his Dad had made just for him into the backyard and jumped on the trampoline (which Derek had cleared).
*Tia was pleased that both of her schools were cancelled and headed off to build snow forts with her friends too.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Grouch Returns!

 A few of you will have heard me complain that my Oscar the Grouch shirt was missing.  Thankfully it is found!  I was probably on the phone while folding laundry and it ended up in Connor's pile.  He somehow didn't notice the bright green shirt he was shoving in his drawer and he didn't find it for a couple of weeks.

I like to wear my grouch shirt when I wake up grouchy (unless that happens for days on end -- then I would smell like a trash can).  Wearing my grouch shirt cheers me up almost every time.  I think it's kind of funny to wear a particular shirt because I'm grouchy.  Sometimes the grouch shirt days are the best days of all.  Here I am, wearing my grouch shirt on a day that started off rough but ended up with me getting my early Christmas present of a camera that works.  Dan loves it and took a lot of pictures including the two below.
Above is one of Dan's self photos.  He saw my camera while I was typing this and he's at it again. 

Other thankful items:
1.  Erin chatted with me on the phone on Sunday which was a very happy thing for me.
2.  I don't have any cavities.
3.  It turns out that Tia's cavity wasn't really a cavity, it was "calcium buildup" and that saves me money and her some pain.
4.  Angela watched Dan for me and even fed him lunch while I reclined in the dentist chair.
5.  I have amazingly musical friends that I got to practice songs with last night and that was fun.
6.  Derek had pity on me this morning and shoveled our surprisingly large amount of snow (it was supposed to be just a little on the valley floor - not about 6 inches!).  That snow was heavy and I was hungry.
7.  Tia's new phone took a dunking but it appears to be making a recovery.  It's sitting in a bag of rice.
8.  I have had a great primary team teacher for two years. (I'm still working on being thankful that she has a different church job now and I'm on my own).  I had a different great team teacher before and hopefully I will again.
9.  I'm almost done sending out my Christmas letters and I've gotten more in the mail.
10.  Trisa gets to come to the Christmas party on Saturday.  Hooray!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Elise Mommyop, Elise Mommyop: I Want to Wish you a Merry Christmas

I just thought I'd type this in quick since Dan was just singing this over and over.  Elise Mommyop is really Feliz Navidad.  I guess I know what he thinks they're saying now.

Other things I'm thankful for:
1.  The chance to go with Erin and Russell to his work party and see Russell win twice.
2.  The chance to laugh at Brian Regan again.
3.  Jake and Dan were really good at the dentist -- nevermind that they have multiple cavities.
4.  Jake and Dan were really good at Tia's school having their hair cut.  Jake liked chatting with Tia and Dan is always popular.  He was singing Christmas Carols for all to hear -- which did seem to bring Christmas cheer.
5.  We got to have one of my nieces and one of my nephews over to play this morning and they were cute and good and we were glad they came.
6.  My piano teacher friend came Christmas shopping with me yesterday.
7.  The boys actually slept through the night -- I think.  At least I did.
8.  We got some Christmas letters yesterday.  I love those.
9.  I don't have to go anywhere today if I don't want to.  Nice.
10. Have I mentioned my great family and friends lately?  You're all terrific!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Long Time Friend

I have a good friend that I met about seventeen years ago.  The first time I saw her was at church.  She had a new baby and she looked beautiful.  Her hair was done just right and her makeup was perfect and I thought "Wow, we would not have anything in common."  I was thinking (in a sadly judgmental way) that I, who didn't wear makeup and combed my hair once a day and called it good, would just not know what to talk about with someone who did.  Silly me.  We ended up working in primary together and became fast friends. 

We are both Moms with good families and good extended families.  We both like to chat and we didn't have (and still don't have) any trouble coming up with things to talk about.  Back then we talked almost every day.  I would hop her fence (or she would) and we'd make fancy meals of macoroni and cheese or quesadillas and our kids would play while we talked.  Because of her those years when it was just me and little girls at home during the day were a whole lot more fun than they would have been.  We went places and, even though it was always a bit crazy, we went again and again.

We may not have everything in common, but we have the important things in common.  Yesterday I got to spend another day with her.  We got to chat and help her sister with a painting project.  My first thought 17 years ago came when I made the mistake of comparing myself to her and being intimidated.  I still think she's a bit intimidatingly beautiful but she's also compassionate, and kind, and fun, and generous, and thoughtful.  Many of you will recognize the fact that I'm describing my good friend Shannon.  It's her birthday soon so she will be as old as me:).  I hope it is the best birthday ever.  Time has a funny way of speeding past at alarming speeds and before we know it days and even years have gone by.  I am thankful that I have had, over many years, the blessing of having Shannon as my long time friend.

Monday, December 6, 2010

You're as Handsome as a Cactus

We have a Grinch ornament at our house that sings a part of the song that was in the original Dr. Suess holiday special (animated) sung by Thurl Ravenscroft.  The words the ornament sings are these:

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch
You really are a heel,
You're as cuddly as a cactus,
You're as charming as an eel, Mr. Grinch,
You're a bad banana with a greasy black peel!

Dan loves this ornament and presses the button to make it sing so often that his brothers and sisters keep trying to make him promise not to do it again until next year (much to my amusement).  Dan sings along with the ornament with slightly altered words.  He sings:

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch
You really are mean,
You're as handsome as a cactus,
You're as charming as an eel, Mr. Grinch
(Then he starts to mumble because he doesn't know these words yet).

When he first started singing it was something like "huggy as a cactus" and then it changed to "happy" as a cactus.  Now Mr. Grinch is as handsome as a cactus.  I like it when Dan pushes the button because he sings with such enthusiasm.  When I get tired of it I won't try negotiating, I'll try hiding the ornament up high in the back of the tree!

Other happy things I haven't reported:
1.  I got to spend time with a long time friend.
2.  I watched last years Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Special.
3.  I got a new Christmas CD (Motab again:)
4.  We got to go to the extended family Christmas party and enjoy seeing the nice people we're related   too.  Derek didn't entirely lose his voice being emcee.
5.  Derek and Jake had a good time at the baby blessing for cousin J.D. and got home safely.
6.  I got to talk to a good friend on the phone today.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Superwoman and the Rock Star

Yesterday was a great day.  I was feeling like Superwoman all morning!  I had this incredibly long list of things to do and I was done with all but two by lunch time.  It was great.  Of course, my head could barely hold itself up by 9 o'clock but still -- to be Superwoman for half a day was worth it.

While recuperating from all of my super activities I was sitting on the couch with Derek when our rock star made an appearance -- for real!  Here came Dan who ran down the hall with his black hair looking just like that hair he created for the Wii.  It was, of course, a wig from the Halloween box.  We cheered for our rock star and he took the wig off to show us that he was really Dan.  He's always a little worried that we'll forget who he really is when he's dressed up like some character or another.

His fears might be well founded!  This morning I went to get Jake's backpack, shoes, and coat.  I came back with his coat and backpack and could not find his shoes, which I could have sworn I had just seen, anywhere.  We both looked and looked.  Finally, an odd thought occurred to me and I looked in his backpack.  Sure enough, when I had put his lunch in, I had also deposited his shoes.  At least, though his feet might have frozen, he would have gotten to school with dry shoes!

Other things I am thankful for from yesterday:
1.  The music on the album Ring Christmas Bells by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  In particular, the song Processional on "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman".  I had forgotten about this song -- which I love.  When we listened to it in the car Dan somehow thought they were saying "tiny Christmas" instead of "tidings of comfort and joy".  He laughed at the words that made no sense to him.
2.  Trisa called and shared all of the funny stories from her life.
3.  I actually got to see Tia and talk to her for a few minutes.
4.  Kayli got a new haircut and loved it.
5.  Texting.  Derek doesn't mind if I text him at work whenever I want (within reason).  It's great!  Also, I was able to get in touch with a hard to get in touch with friend that way and I get to see her today.
6.  Connor babysat without complaining, did some work on a merit badge without complaining, and in general was happy.
7.  Jake helped out with Dan when I went to Jake's school.  Dan, who didn't "need" to go potty before we left all of a sudden really  needed to once we arrived.  Jake took him.  Hooray for good big brothers.
8.  My comfortable bed.  Nevermind that it was a jack-in-the-box type of night.  The bed was comfortable anyhow.
9.  I'm thankful that, even though it's fun to be Superwoman, I don't have to be her everyday -- sometimes I can me just regular me -- the rock star's Mom.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Joyful Season: Mustache or no Mustache?

I can't resist choosing this as my thing to be thankful for -- even though the day isn't over.  I'm thankful for all of my children -- but today I'm thankful that Dan is sometimes really funny.

This morning at family prayer Dan propped up his stuffed animal bunny into the praying position and then knelt beside him.  I wished for a camera.  I thought it would be inappropriate to go and get one during the prayer.

Then it was time for an after breakfast game on the Wii.  Well, sometime this weekend Dan's Mii (the character you can create who represents you in all Wii games) got changed.  He threw a fit about it yesterday and so I thought he should fix it today.  His character is called "Sweet Boy" because that is what I've called him since he was a baby.  His Mii used to look like him a little -- blond and cute.  Someone switched it to a chubby looking dark haired man with glasses.  I naively thought Dan would turn it back to how it was -- or something close.  No.  After going through every possible feature he changed the glasses (but he kept them), added a mustache (said moo-stash) changed the mouth, changed the eyes and the nose, and changed the hair style.  Then he went back and decided against the moo-stash.  The outfit stayed black. The hair also stayed black -- just in a shoulder length style that is apparently "cool".

So Dan, with no mustache, began playing and he said to me "Mom!  Look at me!  I have cool hair.  I'm a rock star!

My reaction?  I chuckled and wondered where my four year old learned to like long hair and where he learned about rock stars!  He said another funny today too but it is as inappropriate as getting up during the prayer to find a camera. 

Hooray for funny boys and no mustache!

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Joyful Season: Visiting Teachers and Good Sports

I think for the Christmas season, whenever I decide to blog, it will be about something that happened that I am thankful for that day.  This will help me take the time in all of the busyness to notice blessings.  So for today I am thankful for Visiting Teachers (two women from our church congregation that are basically assigned to be my good friends) and for a family full of good sports.

Today I got a visit from my new visiting teacher (singular because one had a sick child).  She took the time (since we had never met) to learn a little about me.  We even discovered that we are reading the same book!  Then she left me with a lesson and a prayer.  I am happy that she came and I'm already looking forward to her (and her companion) coming again.  Shortly after she left one of my former visiting teachers stopped by to give me a gift and to tell me that she loved me and would miss being my visiting teacher.  Wasn't that nice?  Some of my very best friends have come through visiting teaching.  It is an inspired program.

For family home evening (that thing us Mormon's try to hold on Mondays) we worked on service ideas and then we put together gingerbread houses.  They were tiny, and some were broken, and the frosting stuff was frustrating, and we only had one tube which we had to share.  Aside from one comment that making gingerbread houses is stressful (which is a very true statement) there was no complaining, or whining (well except at the end when Dan wanted something and we weren't quick enough on picking up on exactly what it was).  Derek mixed up the frosting and helped with Dan's house and Jake patiently put up with my attempts to "glue" his house together.  Nobody even said what maybe everyone was feeling.  "Wow, I'm glad that's over!"  I was really impressed.

I should quickly add that Thanksgiving with family was fun.  A trip to Trisa's turned out well and on the actual Thanksgiving we got together with some family from around here.  I was kind of tired and had a bit of a rough morning, but when everyone came I just was so Thankful that everyone is so fun, and nice, and easy to be with.  Erin planned fun activities and I really enjoyed the day.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

With Thanksgiving: Jesus the Atoning One

Atoning One

With joy and happiness we sing
Our praise to Christ the King.
He gives us life. He gives us love.
We sing our thanks to heav’n above
For the Atoning One.

He came to earth, a tiny son
Of The Most Holy One.
He learned like we do, grace by grace
And soon He knew His special place
As the Atoning One.

The time was near when He must die
“Remove this cup” He cried.
But knowing that we needed Him
He took our punishment for sin.
He’s our Atoning One.

So from His sorrow we are saved
The pathway home He paved.
And if we will repent we’ll find
An inner joy, and peace of mind
From the Atoning One.

And with this new peace we will sing
Our praise to Christ the King.
He gives us all He has to give.
If we will follow Him we’ll live
With the Atoning One.
by Sher

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

With Thanksgiving: The Heart Doctor

Yesterday I opened one of our daily newspapers (yes, I was a sucker and bought another one from the salesman outside of Walmart -- but it was a good deal!) and there was a picture of Jake's heart doctor.  I was surprised by how pleased I was to see him there. I am very thankful for heart doctors.  Seeing this particular picture reminded me of when this doctor called us personally on the phone to tell us that Jake didn't need to be on oxygen anymore.  We weren't home when he called, but we were all so excited about the message that we jumped around the kitchen cheering.  We were rather tired of "tank" -- which is what we called Jake's oxygen tank for the almost 4 months it was with us. 

This same Dr. gave us the good news that, if Jake didn't have his scar, not even a heart doctor would be able to know that anything had ever been wrong with Jake's heart.  His repair worked.  This doctor was there when Jake was three days old, being impressed with how well Jake did during and after surgery and has been Jake's heart doctor (cardiologist) for the almost 9 years since then.  Jake had two very excellent heart surgeons also.

I do realize that we are very blessed.  Not all parents of heart patients get good news or have their children do so well.  Some hearts cannot be fixed.  However, all are blessed by these people, who decided to study for years and years so that they can fix many of the hearts that come broken in some way.  Because these doctors, and others before them, chose to do that, I got to keep my little boy.  I am very thankful for that.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

With Thanksgiving: My Family

I love my family. They are so good to me.

I think of them when things seem bad and a smile comes to me.

My Grandma’s all have blessed my life in many different ways –

Now gone from me, but remembering them brings smiles to my days.

The Grandpa’s I’ve been blessed to know were good men to the core.

And when I went to visit they would greet me at the door.

They seemed so glad to see me, and so sorry when I left.

I like to just remember and it leaves me feeling blessed.

My parents are my heroes. I know their love is true.

They have shown me this in everything they say and that they do.

My brothers and my sisters give me their love, and more.

They’ve helped me up when I felt down a thousand times before.

Their love is always constant and I count on them a lot.

I know from past experience what a treasure I have got.

The nieces and the nephews, that I am blessed to know

Bring moments of enjoyment and I love to watch them grow.

I’ve been blessed with a husband, who’s unfailingly kind,

He’s thoughtful and compassionate and he’s my most brilliant find.

My children each are precious. I’ve loved them from the start.

And thinking of the good they do can always warm my heart.

My Aunts and Uncles, kindly, have loved me very well,

And my cousins have some stories that I’m sure they’d love to tell,

Of childhood adventures, and moments here and there,

When we’ve been blessed to have a little time that we could share.

I was married to a good man with a good family

Who have treated me so kindly, that I could clearly see

That to them I am important, and loved in every way,

And for this I am thankful, every single day.

Each member of my family is a blessing sure and true,

And for Thanksgiving you should know that I love you.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Zombie Mom versus Thanksgiving

I confess to feeling like the Zombie Mom today.  In fact, I think I've been feeling like a Zombie Mom for a while.  What's a Zombie Mom?  It's someone who is giving a few too many blank stares and sitting in the chair almost every time they walk by it.  It's me walking like a Zombie around the house (slowly -- but with hands hanging down instead of out in front of me -- unless it's dark).  I whine.  And frown.  And I moan about the messes.  I just want to go somewhere dark and curl up in a ball -- maybe for a whole day.  So, am I stuck being a Zombie Mom forever?  How will I cure the sad case of Zombi-itus?

Well, this morning early when Derek was supposed to be playing ball he threw the door open and in a less than cheery voice said "The house is flooded".  The zombie climbed out of bed and went to work. But, in an attempt to send the Zombie running, I did notice that when we woke up the children they pitched right in and helped and when we called the neighbor (and maybe woke them up too) they came right over with their handy water sucking vacuums and even offered to stay even though it was time to get kids ready for school.

Other events have brought out the zombie side of me this week.  Sick kids, (but now they're well -- mostly), van brakes needing repair (but they are fixed), the van window getting stuck down (but it miraculously recovered before a trip to the shop!), Dan being naughty (but he had to go in the tub because of it which allows me to type), the house getting messy (but  -- well it's still messy), dinner needing to be cooked --every day (but I've done pretty well for me).

Today the Zombie is fighting hard to stick around.  I've got to go use that vacuum again, and rescue Dan from his de-smellifying bath.  There are a thousand and one things to pick up, clean up, and put away.  But, I am determined to remember that it's November and that there are lots of people and things to be thankful for too.  So, with Thanksgiving in mind I'm off to fight the Zombie.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Puppets, Pictures, Pies, and Precious People

Jake and Trisa at Trisa's early birthday celebration.

 We celebrated Trisa's 20th birthday on Thursday -- a few days early.  We bought her a cake to share with roommates, and took her some presents.  I think we forgot to sing to her.

She liked (or pretended to like) all of her presents.  She liked us coming to visit.  She loved the complements Dan kept giving her such as "Trisa, your ground here is really nice".  Or "Wow, what a nice table -- it's square and soft."
Kayli, Sherie (that's me!), Derek, Jake, Trisa, Connor, Tia, and Dan

Here we all are in her new apartment.  Trisa is a beautiful girl (as you can see!) who we love very much.  She knows how to have fun and to include everyone.  She cares about people and tries hard to help them.  She knows what is right and does her best to do it.  She has musical talent and sports skills.  She likes doing the movie quote game with her Dad and laughing as much as possible. We are really happy that she is enjoying college even though Dan has a point when he complains that college takes a "long, long, long, long time".

Happy Birthday Trisa!

Before Trisa turned 20, I turned 20 plus some.  Because of all of the thoughtful, incredibly fun, skilled, nice people in my life I had a fabulous birthday.  I asked my husband to get me puppets for my birthday.  I like to be silly sometimes and it seems easier to do this with a puppet on my arm.  So, he got me a princess and an Oscar the Grouch (to match my Oscar the Grouch shirt that I already own).  What fun!  Dan renamed Oscar "Silver" because I was rather paralyzed by the fact that I don't do a good Oscar the Grouch voice and so he needed a new name.  Dan usually is Silver and I'm the Princess.  You know we have fun because Dan requests that I make the puppet come to life quite regularly.  A few days after my birthday I got another nice surprise.  A friend of mine remembered me telling her how much fun I had being "Mange" and "Sunny Sunshine" for a family reunion with some borrowed puppets.  She sent me a Lion puppet.  This one has a mane a lot less mangey looking than the last puppet I used so I'm still debating on a name.  There is a picture below and some suggestions.  Feel free to vote!

Everyone was super nice on my birthday sending me greetings by phone,  facebook, nice notes, or even in person.  I was taken to lunch on my birthday and a few days later.  One friend gave me a drawing of my husband and me.  What skill!  Another friend made me a yummy pie.  My kids made me nice notes and pictures.  Mandy tended at the last minute.  So many thoughtful people made for a super happy birthday.  I didn't stop to feel old on my birthday.  I was too busy enjoying the fun.  Thank you!
Pincess Catherine Castlehoff, Lion (Spike, Elvis, or the new Mange?), and "Silver" the Grouch

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bonjour Paris

It seems that when I talk to people about the fabulous trips we go on, many feel that the trips are wasted on me.  I have to disagree.  I might not do the same things that you would do, or enjoy the same things that you would enjoy.  It is extremely likely that I would not try as many foods as you would try.  However, I enjoy seeing historic places, walking with Derek for miles and miles (I enjoy this until my feet hurt), and spending time with friends from Derek's work.  And then, after appreciating it to the best of my ability, I gratefully come home to the country and the family that I love the best.

Paris is a very large city.  2 million people live there.  2 million more come to work there every day.  More millions live in the suburbs and lots and lots of people visit.  Paris is crowded and loud.  There are cars, scooters, and motorcycles.  There are buses and the rumble of the metro.  There are sirens and the constant sound of horns blaring.  The streets are full of people driving in the most dangerous looking fashion I've ever witnessed.  It was fascinating to watch.  The sidewalks are full of people walking every which way -- and often smoking as they go.  There are the constant smells of tobacco and exhaust -- mixed in with the occasional smell of food.  It is all a bit overwhelming for someone who has lived in small towns her whole life.

Paris is also fascinating.  There is something historic to be seen almost everywhere you go.  There are fabulous churches and monuments.  When you walk around you get constant reminders of the people who once lived there, and who shaped Paris, and the country of France, into what it is today.  You also discover that their blocks are triangles and it's kind of easy to get a little lost.  You also get constant reminders that their sculptors didn't like to put many clothes on the statues.

What did I enjoy?  I enjoyed watching the wild traffic.  I enjoyed walking the gardens of the Louvre with Derek and then sitting and watching the Plaza de la Concorde as people came and went.  I enjoyed walking under the Eiffel Tower at night and then walking along the river Seine on the way back to the hotel.  I enjoyed the dinner cruise on the river Seine -- except the smoked salmon that looked raw and the smell of deisel fuel.  I was impressed with the expansive gardens at Versailles.  Our trip to the Loire valley was beautiful and the castles were impressive.  I enjoyed visiting with people from work who appreciate Derek and his humor.  And, I even enjoyed the fact that the grocery store we went to was named "Ed".  We visited Ed twice.

If you are one who still thinks the trip was wasted on me it is probably because you wish you could have come-- and if you had -- then I would have enjoyed it more because it would have been more like home.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pictures and big events.

Arranging pictures in a blog is apparently not my talent -- yet.  The first picture is Jake on his baptism day.  He was baptized March 7th and it was a very nice day.  Our boy who has thought church was "too long" for as long as I can remember was excited to be baptized and it turned out to be a really happy day.  Lots of family came to help celebrate the occasion and Jake was happy will everything.

The second picture is Jake receiving his bobcat award in Cub Scouts.  The new bobcats get to hide and the Webelos find them and carry them in on a stick.  Jake has loved Cub Scouts so far.

This next picture is Connor at that same pack meeting with his friend Kevin.  They were the clowns and told lots of jokes.  They did an excellent job and seemed surprisingly comfortable in front of the crowd.
These next pictures, including one of the ones above are of the anniversary trip that Derek planned for us.  We went south to Zion National Park.  It was our 22nd anniversary and this was a fun adventure.   We visited the St. George Temple, had dinner with Quinn and Tonya, laughed at Brian Regan (he wanted us to -- we weren't being mean), and hiked a lot.  It was all fun. The first picture is on the way to Hidden Canyon and the last two are actually in Hidden Canyon.   There have been other big events that I haven't recorded.  Tia had a birthday in April and we had a good trip that week too.  Derek had a birthday too.  Connor started playing ball and school is almost over.  Besides that -- Dan has eaten lots of snacks and he needs another one right now.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Good Christian Men --- Rejoice!!

As the mother of girls who are grown up -- or almost grown up -- I have had the chance lately to be extremely grateful for the good Christian men in my life and in the lives of my children.  It's a new kind of terrifying to have a daughter old enough that she could choose to get married if she wanted to.  It's less terrifying because she's smart and even less terrifying because she has good Grandpas, a good Dad, and lots and lots of good Uncles to look to as a guide for what a good Christian man is like.  So today I want to say a quick thank you, thank you, thank you to all of the men who know how to live the gospel in such a way that my girls look up to you and enjoy your company.  I have hopes that my girls will find someone like you.

To all of the wives of those men -- give them a thanks from me.  Because of them I can be more hopeful than terrified.  My girls will, when the time is right, find good Christian men -- and then we can rejoice!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Please Pass the Possibilities

Have you ever had a problem that is so hard that you have given up on finding a solution?  You've hit a dead end, or you've found a giant chasm in the path and you don't know what to do.  Wouldn't you like to sit down at a table and say, "Please pass the possibilities," and then have them handed to you?  Well, in some ways I think life is like that if we do not allow ourselves to give up.

We take our troubles to the family table.  Heavenly Father is there and lots of brothers and sisters -- some who are expert in fields you may never have even heard of.  You sit down and tell Heavenly Father all about the problem and what you have done so far.  Then you say "Would you please pass the possibilities?" -- and he does!  You are so happy!  And then you look more closely at them and realize you don't like either of the possibilities you've been given.  You ask if you can exchange them and he says "No, those are good for you, you have to keep them"  (It's a little like being handed your two least favorite vegetables to eat).  Now you have a choice -- you can leave the table and storm and fuss and get very mad -- forgetting that you now have possibilities when you didn't before.  You can stay at the table and keep them and feel a bit sorry for yourself.  Or you could stay at the table, keep them, and ask for more possibilities.

Much to your surprise, you are given more!  Perhaps Heavenly Father hands them to you directly, or perhaps, he passes them around the table and you get them through your brothers and sisters.  When you look at these you are not sure about them but you take them.  One possibility, when you try it, ends up making that first possibility you were given easier to handle (like being given cheese sauce to go with that broccoli).  One you're not sure about, but it turns out that once you've accepted it, it makes you see clearly what you have gained from that first thing you had to keep.  Maybe you even get a possibility that seems a lot like dessert!

I am thankful to have been reminded in a few different ways lately that even if I can't see a possibility for a solution, it doesn't mean that their isn't one.  Miracles happen.  When I see a dead end, or a giant chasm -- I might be able to look from a different view point and discover that the road continues or that there is a bridge I hadn't seen.  When I face a challenge and feel weak, and angry, and worried, I can turn to Heavenly Father and find power, and love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). 

In the future I hope to always remember that if a problem seems impossible to solve, I can ask --"Please pass the possibilities!"

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Food Allergies: Part Last

I'm about ready to move on to a new topic -- but here are a few last things I've learned.

1.  Make your own cookbook -- when you find something that works type it up and stick it in your book.  It makes looking for recipes at dinnertime less complicated.

2.  When you start to get frustrated again remember that there are resources that you might not know about yet and start looking.  Sometimes help is a google search away.

3.  I read somewhere that it is better to treat an allergy matter of factly.  Don't treat your child like they are picked on and they are less likely to think that they are.

4.  Finally, be willing to ask questions --  so here is one for you:

Dan one day will go to school, he will have birthday parties to attend and ball games with treats.  At some point, no matter how matter of factly I treat his allergy, he is bound to feel a bit picked on because he will be different.  Any suggestions on how to help him through that?  Most of you won't have had to deal with that before -- but neither have I -- any ideas?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dealing With Food Allergies (Part 2)

Derek and I both come from good families.  We like to spend time with them as much as we can.  Dan has lots of cousins and Aunts and Uncles.  We try to get together for family reunions with both sides of the family once a year and we get together with those who are close by a lot more often.  Food of some kind is almost always involved.  All of a sudden I found that these occasions could be some of the most frustrating times for me.  Food is a lot easier to control in your own home!

So what did I do to turn these times back to the relaxing, enjoyable things they used to be?  The one thing I do is to call in advance to find out the menu so I'll know what I need to bring.  I've forgotten to call before and that is stressful!  The other thing that has helped make these events enjoyable again is what others have done and continue to do to help.  I have cried tears of gratitude over some of these things when nobody was looking.

When Dan was almost two it was time for the family reunion on my side of the family.  It was to be held at my sister Jenny's home where I had seen cousins track food all over the house before.  Almost two year olds are not always very discriminating on where they pick up their snacks.  We would be having meals there for a couple of days and going to the store or home were not really good options.

This is where my angel Mother and one of my thoughtful sisters came to the rescue.  Mom and Jenny planned the entire reunion's meals around what Dan could have.  They even thought carefully about snacks and made sure that there were snacks that Dan could have too.  I found upon arrival that all of the cousins had been warned to be careful what and where they ate and to make sure Dan didn't have anything without his parents knowing.  My nephew Seth who was 6 at the time was particularly vigilant at looking out for Dan and I was very touched by his concern.

On Derek's side of the family we have meals together at least monthly.  I have been so thankful for the times my sisters-in-law have read labels in order to make sure the meal was something Dan could eat!  Other times, when something not Dan safe is planned, they are thoughtful about letting me know so that I can plan in advance how to handle the meal for Dan.  My mother-in-law buys lots of popsicles and Dan has come to think of that as the treat he eats at Grandma's (besides fruit snacks).  Even when I bring cake that he can have or cookies, he often opts for a popsicle.  It makes me smile when I look and find that several cousins have joined him in having popsicles instead of ice cream.

At church the primary leaders have bought treats that Dan can have so he will be safe and his teachers sometimes call me from the store and read me labels just to be sure.  On top of that, a couple of our neighbors who are aware of Dan's allergies went out of their way at Christmas time to bring treats just for Dan (blond oreos and popsicles) because he can't have so many of the goodies we get.

I don't think I was ever so thoughtful for people I knew with food allergies.  It seems so surreal that someone can die from eating something that most other people have every day.  It's hard to believe that such a thing can be real until you see it -- or experience it yourself!  I appreciate what good family members, friends, and neighbors we have had who have gone out of their way to think about it when they don't have to.

So, in dealing with food allergies it is good to plan ahead, and call in advance.  It is also good to know great people like we do who help keep my Dan safe and me sane.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dealing with Food Allergies (Part 1)

Since Dan was one we have changed the way we eat at our house.  That was when we first started discovering his food allergies.  You might be surprised to know that my first reaction to his food allergies (besides fear) was anger.  I was angry at the food that could kill him.  I was angry that cooking, which I don't really love, just got harder.  I was angry that Dan would probably never get to enjoy some of the foods that I had loved the most.  (I say had because I was so angry at peanuts that I quit eating the food that has been my main staple for years -- peanut butter).  I was angry that he couldn't eat what everyone else ate.  I was angry that school, and parties, and even family gatherings were going to be complilcated.  Thankfully, there were three things that helped me to get past the anger.

1.  I have a friend who has dealt with multiple food allergies in her family.  She told me what to look for on lables and she gave me a couple of recipes to help.  I believe she cooks three different dinners for her family every day since they are not all allergic to the same things.  I was impressed with how matter of factly she dealt with the situation.  Somewhere along the line she had already learned that being frustrated and angry didn't help anyone.  Her understanding, patience and example were priceless.

2.  I read in one of my fiction books (I can't remember which one) that being angry with a situation we are given in life is the same as being angry at God.  That made me stop and think.  Heavenly Father knows about Dan's allergies and I know that being angry at God is not a good idea.  I started trying harder to not be angry.  Thinking about this idea helped me to be ready for #3.

3.  I went to a Relief Society meeting where a lady spoke about her son being diagnosed with diabetes.  She spoke about how hard it was for her.  Her situation sounded harder than mine -- but it was similar in some ways too.  After describing her challenges she told us about a question she had been asked.  If she could go back and choose to have her son be free of diabetes would she?  She was surprised to find the answer was not a clear "YES!"  She said that her son is very compassionate, and thoughtful.  She felt that this was a result of his experience with diabetes.  As a result of her son's diabetes she had learned to communicate with Heavenly Father better and to feel His compassion and love more clearly.  Maybe that "YES!" would take away the good things too.  Listening to her helped me to see that I was angry over something that might be an important part of Heavenly Father's plan for me, and Dan, and our family.  Perhaps I couldn't see the good things that could come from this hard thing.

Thanks to these three things, I have been able to stop being angry and to deal with food allergies more matter of factly -- like my friend.  This is a situation that we have been given and it is up to us to handle it the best way we can.  Eventually we may even be able to sincerely give thanks for the opportunity to experience life with food allergies.  Maybe we will look back and find that we are more patient, or compassionate, or thoughtful because of this situation.  One day we will clearly see the good that has come to us because of a hard thing.  In the meantime, we won't waste time being angry.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Celebrating Easter

Today I feel like sharing an Easter idea that I got from a book by Jill Rigby (Raising Unselfish Children in a Self-Absorbed World). The idea is hers but I have modified it slightly. This activity helps us and our children to know what Jesus did on that original Easter week. It is particularly good for those with children at home. You start this activity on Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter) and it goes for the whole week -- but it isn't hard!

Every day read the scripture given and then do the activity. The activities you do every day create an Easter display so find a good location for one and get ready! You can display the scriptures you read too if you want to. Modify the idea to make it work for you -- I did!

Palm Sunday (Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem)
Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. (Luke 19:38)

Activity: Color pictures of palm fronds and place them on the table with the donkey (taken from your Christmas nativity set). You could also read Luke 19: 30-38 and Matthew 21: 8-11 and Luke 19: 39-40 if your kids have a longer attention span -- or tell the story in your own words.

...he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel...(Luke 20:1)

Activity: display a picture of the temple in Jerusalem (Jesus had cleansed the temple the day before and taught there during the week)

And in the day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the Mount of Olives. (Luke 21:37)

Activity: display a picture of the Mount of Olives

Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude. (Luke 22: 3, 6)

Activity: display 30 pieces of silver (30 nickles or other silver money)

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and he sweat as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:44)

Activity: display a picture of the Garden of Gethsemane and consider a special family prayer thanking Heavenly Father for the atonement that Jesus made for each of them.

And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. (Luke 23:46)

Activity: Make three crosses (use twigs from the yard or whatever you think will work) and add them to your display. Also make a tomb and seal it with a rock. (This can even be a toilet paper roll decorated in some way with a rock in front.)

And they (Jesus' friends) returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment. (Luke 23:56)

Activity: rest

He is not here, but is risen...(Luke 24:6)

Activity: Open the tomb -- take the time to listen to "He is Risen" or another Easter song and consider saying another prayer thanking Heavenly Father for the resurrection.

Have a happy Easter learning what Jesus did on that important week so many years ago!

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Mystery Solved!

Almost exactly a year ago I went to the car show with Derek. We sat in many cars and I even put pictures of some of them on my blog. It was at that show that my cell phone went missing. I called the convention center where the show was held several times but the phone never turned up. I got a new phone. I even got rid of the charging cables for the old phone because they were of no use to me. And then, almost exactly a year later, the mystery has been solved.

This is the car that my phone has spent a year being lost in. Isn't it nice? The black interior must have done an incredible job of hiding my dark phone. A man from Arizona bought this car. It wasn't until he was looking for his son's phone that he found mine. He found some way to charge my phone enough to find the phone numbers. He left a message on my cell phone, called Derek's phone, and even talked to Trisa before getting in touch with me at home. He's mailing my old phone back to me. When I offered to pay the postage he pointed out that if he could afford to buy a 30 thousand dollar car he could probably afford a couple dollars of postage. He seems to be a very nice person. Now -- what to do with a phone with no cables to charge it with?