Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Handy Mandy

Mandy is married to my brother-in-law Devin.  They have four children, 2 girls, one boy, and a very new baby girl.  They live about 15 minutes away from me in a beautiful two story brick house where Dan and I, and occasionally my whole family, have enjoyed some happy times.

When Mandy was dating Devin we were all looking forward to meeting her.  We got the chance to meet her for the first time at the annual Halloween party, where we were all dressed up in costumes.  There were about ten adults and a LOT of children all dressed up in unique ways to greet her.  I figured she must like Devin a lot when she was actually willing to come and meet us all again!

Mandy is smart.  She has her bachelors degree in Biology from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County where she played basketball.  She is six feet tall and has basketball skills (obviously).  She loves to play sports and played flag football quite a bit too.  She has an M.A. and a PhD from BYU in exercise science and so she can be called Dr. Mandy.  She also served in the Geneva, Switzerland mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  She speaks French.  If she weren't so nice, I'd find her accomplishments a bit intimidating.

One of the most fun things about knowing Mandy is getting to see which creative project she will do next.  Here are pictures of some of the things she has made.
This is an outdoor pizza oven that Mandy made.  They have made pizza for the neighbors and themselves in this oven.

Mandy designed this play set for her kids and her Dad helped build it.

These are some of the canned goods that Mandy put up this summer during a year when she was pregnant and not feeling her best.

Devin and Mandy worked together to make an apple cider press.

This is another part of the press and they got several gallons of apple cider this fall.

The girls wanted a doll house for Christmas.
 I called during nap time once to find Mandy working downstairs on this project.

Some of us would just go buy an easel at the store.  Mandy decided to just make one herself.
Besides all of these things she also decided to try her hand at sewing a year or so ago and made her girls some beautiful princess dresses for Halloween.  I expect Mandy can do whatever she puts her mind to.

If you were to visit Mandy's house you would know immediately that she is patriotic.  If you went at night you would be greeted with electric candles in the windows.  This is a tradition that she brought from the east where she is from (the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area).  It is a very welcoming look, and I think it fits a house that Mandy lives in because she always makes me feel welcome when I come to visit.  I love Mandy.  She is good to me and I always enjoy the time I get to spend with her.  Happy Birthday Mandy!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I'm Thankful for Tina

(left to right) Brian, Tina, Ray, Mom, Dad, Jenny, Sherie
Today is not Tina's birthday, but tomorrow is.  Her birthday is sometimes on Thanksgiving and I am always thankful for her.  She is a good person who loves the gospel of Jesus Christ.  She is a good example for me.   Besides that, here are some of the things that I am thankful for:

Tina has been my friend since I was very small.  There were times when I'm sure Tina thought I was a bit pesky, but for the most part she was patient, and kind, and fun.  When she was a teenager I used to tease her for doing her hair at night.  I asked her if she was hoping to look nice in her dreams.  She didn't clobber me, so you can see that she was patient.  When she came home from youth activities that I was too young to attend she would take the time to tell her curious little sister (me) all about it.  She and my other siblings were my main playmates during the growing up years and we had a lot of fun.  Tina taught us in "school", did gymnastics, played dolls and barbies, baked, and did many, many other fun and imaginative activities with us.

Tina is compassionate.  On those sad days as a teenager when all of the emotion I had been holding in bubbled out in tears, it was Tina or Jenny, my two good sisters, who would let me lay on their lap and cry until I was able to pull myself together and become my "naturally cheerful self" (I'm quoting my brother Brian there).  It is Tina who, as a rather poor newlywed, would call to check on me, a rather poor college student.  Somehow she and Chris always found enough food to share with me, and it was much better food than the noodles and salt that I got down to once.  I never felt she was judging me, just kindly taking care of me.  When I was grown up a bit and had children of my own, I can remember Tina (and Jenny) coming to the hospital to see my little Tia who had to have surgery when she was two weeks old.  They both cried to see my little girl hooked up to monitors and tubes and I remember how glad I was that they had come.  Tina has been there to be understanding and loving during the challenges of my life, and this is very helpful to me.

Tina is very talented.  She is a good musician.  She plays the piano, and sings alto like me.  At one time she knew how to play the guitar.  Tina sews.  She used to sew clothes for her barbies and dolls, and could sew things without patterns.  Now she does the most wonderful quilts.  She made a gorgeous quilt for my parents 50th anniversary that took her hours and hours.  She is also the one who made the fun hamburger puppet for my birthday.  She likes tools and fixing things and is very handy.  She also is a gardner and has gardens that my Dad (the chief gardner) can be proud of.  She does a lot of canning and is good at feeding guests, even at the last minute (at least she used to be, we can't really just pop over anymore).  She is a good teacher too and has taught her children well.

Finally, because I can't bring myself to leave it out, Tina was always super fun to have around at Christmas time.  All of my siblings (except Ray who preferred sleep) spent a lot of time on Christmas Eve sneaking around the house, and even playing with our toys from Santa.  We had so much fun every year.  It was always our goal to not get caught by my Dad.  My parents were very patient and Mom would come out first to warn us to get quiet.  When Dad came out we knew we'd have to go back to bed, at least for a few minutes.  Tina loves Christmas still and I think she probably still gets very little sleep on Christmas -- but more because her own children are up wandering about!

There are so many good things I could say about Tina!  Tina is a great sister.  I love her and am very thankful for her.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Kindergarten Drama

I didn't know that having Dan in Kindergarten would bring more drama into our lives.  We have a cute neighbor girl who is not in Dan's kindergarten class, but who rides the bus with him.  He loves her, or at least he has for the past two weeks.  He kept praying "I'm thankful that I love my Mom and I love Tiffany".  "Her is my best friend", he would say. 

He played at her house after school once and had a great time.  And then there came a time when we invited her to come over here and play while her Mom worked.  She didn't want to because "Dan scratches my head and I don't like it", reported her Mom.  After some discussion we discovered that Dan was "tickling" Tiffany.  He told me that "her likes to be tickled".  I informed him that "her must not because her doesn't want to come over" (I can use my pronouns incorrectly if I try).  He played with somebody else and I tried to convince him to stop tickling her, and anyone else.

He went back to loving her until yesterday when he came howling down the street from the bus.  I thought he must have fallen.  No.  "Tiffany called me a bad word", he said.  After hugs, and telling me again, and telling Tia, he clarified that she had called him "stupid".  This can be a bad word for sure.  It didn't make him feel good anyway.  Today he came home happier and matter of factly informed me that Tiffany had told him that she didn't want to play with him ever again.  I asked, "Why not?".  Dan reported, "She said my singing is annoying.  I told her I'd stop!"

Dan still loves lots of people in his prayers.  He's taken to ranking us all.  "Thankful that I love Jake, he is my favorite.  Thanks that I love Jesus more than anybody else in the whole world because I have to".  Okay so he only said he had to once, since then he just adds it in as if it makes him super righteous just to say it.  Religion is always interesting when heard from Dan!  I think he might be hoping that we will all spoil him extra so that we'll move up in the prayer rankings.  Poor Tiffany might have dropped out of the rankings all together after today.  But, it is likely she'll be back next week!  Things change fast in the life of a Kindergartener.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Trisa Kay's Big Day

Trisa is officially an adult.  21.  She has been 21 for two weeks and 3 days.  She is a junior in college majoring in Elementary Education.  She is beautiful, and kind, and smart.  Thankfully, she's coming home today so we can see her.

Trisa is our oldest child which means that one day she will be telling Dan tales of how hard her life was compared to his.  But, lest you feel too sorry for her, she also has lots of aunts and uncles and many of them were unmarried when Trisa was born.  They were her fan club and they loved to play with her, teach her things, and spoil her in any way they could.  I still remember Trisa at about two carrying a basketball that was about as big as her out into the middle of a basketball game because she wanted to play basketball with her Dad and Uncles.  They usually let her play games with them!  She was a little angry when I chased her down and carried her off the court.  On Derek's side of the family she is the first grandchild and the first great grandchild and she was treated like a royal princess.

Thankfully, even with all of that spoiling, and our unskilled attempts at parenting, Trisa is a good daughter and a good big sister.  She dragged Tia around by the feet before Tia could walk (Tia was sitting up) so she could play with her and they are good friends still.  Tia can hardly wait to join Trisa in grown up land (away from home).  Kayli misses having Trisa around and especially looks forward to racing her up the stairs on Christmas mornings.  Connor and Trisa love to talk about, and share books.  Trisa talks to Jake and makes him smile, and Dan loves her and wishes that college weren't so far away and didn't take so long. 

Look at the candle glow on that chocolate cookie.

Trisa looks like she was needing to blow really hard to get this candle out.
And I look like I might need to help her.

This makes us wonder who really blew out the candle.
Trisa got a package from us before her birthday.  She opened it on her birthday and called me and let me listen when she opened her presents.  Her friends made her a cake and lit all of the candles I sent. That probably took a LOT more air to blow out than the one candle we lit. 

Derek and I love Trisa.  We miss her as only parents can.  We miss her baby self, her one year old self, and all on up to the wonderful person she has grown to be.  Three more hours and we won't have to miss her 21 year old self any more.  Until Sunday. Happy Belated Birthday to Trisa.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Random Update

I have a half hour before I need to drive Kayli and I to guitar lessons.  I hope I'm more skilled for my teacher today than I was at home yesterday -- but that doesn't seem likely!  Still, I have improved from when I started a couple of months ago.

Trisa the beautiful, whose birthday blog I have not done yet because I seem to have turned flakey at the end of the year, came the Sunday after her birthday.  I'll save her lovely pictures for when I do her birthday blog.  She had spent the weekend with a former roommate and her family.  They attended a concert and an SUU away game and seemed to have a fabulous time.  They came here for Sunday dinner and we enjoyed visiting with them and the former roommate's friend.

One of the October Mondays we had some people over and carved, or painted pumpkins.  Some people did both.  We had some fabulous pumpkins.  Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of them before I threw their shriveled pumpkin faces in the garbage today.  Oops.

Then, there was the annual C. family Halloween Party.  Derek had a work party before the Halloween party and a lot got done.  Here are the pictures from those events.
This is only impressive if you know what it looked like before.

Professionally stacked wood.

This pile is much bigger than it looks.
It would be a fabulous, but dangerous, bon fire.

Devin did this before the work party day.  He also picked the apples.
This looks a lot better too.

Ninja Jake has been doing quite well at the piano.  He was probably playing his Halloween song.

This is the only picture I have of the group.  It does not adequately capture the crowd.
Finally, after the Halloween Party we got to have Quinn, Porter, and Haven come for the night and then to church to hear me speak, and before we knew it Halloween had arrived.  Dan was Ironman.  Jake was a ninja and went trick or treating with Brennan.  Brennan's mom drove them somewhere and so they had piles of candy.  Connor went to a party with friends.  Kayli opened the door and handed out a lot of candy.  Tia handed out candy and then went out with friends.  I took Dan trick or treating with his friend Tifanny and my friend Diane, and Derek helped with the door occasionally and watched television (I think, but I was off trick or treating so I can't be certain).  I have one picture of Dan before Halloween.  He wore his costume so much I had to sew it back together Sunday night.
IronDan with his ghost hat and necklace from Kindergarten and his camo-jacket.
"Aren't I cool Mom!"