Monday, December 29, 2008

Everything Is Just Ducky!

My dear sweet hubby has worked tirelessly through his first days of his vacation to complete the next phase of the playground for our grandkids. This time, he added a high platform and fireman pole to slide on, and he finally got the ducky installed. Now, the ducky is quite significant. We got this many years ago from Grampa Dick. Our kids played and played on it until the spring under him just broke. It sat for years. Then, Doran decided to clean him up and he meticulously painted him, with good car paint. Then we tried to install him, but had the wrong spring. We looked and looked, and then finally got the perfect one. And now, our playground is ready for the arrival later this week of Adam and Grace!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

What A Relief!

One of the things that sets The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints apart from other churches is the fact that we do not have paid clergy. We are led by a bishop, who serves us without pay. He and his counselors lead our regular Sacrament meetings, counsel with anyone who needs counsel, and spend countless hours attending youth and child activities. During those Sacrament meetings, each ward member gets the opportunity to speak. We are asked, usually one to two weeks in advance, and given a topic to speak on, usually a talk that has been given in General Conference by one of the Apostles. Today, it was Dee and my turn to speak. I didn't tell other is hard enough to give a talk to your friends in the ward, without having family there! My talk was based on a talk given by Elder Neil A. Maxwell, entitiled "Consecrate Thy Performance". I spoke about the importance of our giving not just our money, but our devotion, our time and our talents to doing the best we can in the Church Callings we are given. As I said, we don't have a paid clergy, so we all have what we call "callings". Some are called to teach. Some are called to lead. I am called as a cub scout bear den leader, a calling that I dearly love!! Dee is our ward clerk. He keeps track of the records of the members in our ward. He updates births, baptisms, blessings, priesthood ordinations, and makes sure the records kept in Salt Lake City are accurate. One of the goals I have set for myself for the coming year is to devote more time to daily prayer, scripture study, and being the best I can be in my church calling.
Dee also spoke. His talk was based on a talk by Claudio R.M. Costa entitled "Gather To The Temple".Soon we will have a temple within two miles of our home. He spoke about the importance of the things that occur in the temple and how important it is for us to establish a habit of temple attendance now, so we will continue that habit when the temple is near. (Right now, the temple is about an hour from our home.) I am also going to set a goal to increase my temple attendance in the coming year.
Though the week was busy, with airport trips, a funeral, Christmas, seven hours of gingerbread baking, day after Christmas shopping, and freezing weather, it was good to share what the Lord's servants have spoken about, along with our own insights from our studies. Though it was tough, I am sure glad my turn is over, at least for a year!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Line Up

One Christmas Morning tradition we have is "the line up". The kids line up...usually youngest to oldest...and then they get to come in the living room to see what Santa and Dad and Mom have brought. This was last year's line up...And this was this year's line up... Kind of quiet. In years past, there was heated debate over who should be first...oldest, youngest, alphabetical order, girls vs. boys...kind of missed that, but it was great fun.

Wonderful Gifts From My Family

I just love Christmas, as you probably have guessed. I start Dec. 26th amassing stocking stuffers for everyone (I already have at least 10 things). I love the gifts my kids have given me over the years. We still use the little tray that Allison bought for me at Santa's Secret Store when she was in first grade to put our cookies for Santa on. I have recipe holders and key chains and they are my dearest treasures. But, there is something amazing when they have jobs and can go to the store and decide their budget and then purchase gifts for you. This year, Ethan and Cameo got me the Polar Bear Palace for my Dept 56 Village (Ethan told me about it last year when he saw it in Vegas, and I hoped and hoped all year that they would get it for me!) Doran and Danyel knew I needed wooden spoons, but instead of just wood, they got me nice bamboo spoons. They also got me a sticker for my car window. You see, I wanted a Prep Falcon from Nate's school, but they didn't have them any more. So, Doran traced the Falcon from a small logo, and then Danyel had her employer make me a vinyl sticker. So, now I have "Falcon Fire" and the coolest Falcon on my window.Kayty was amazing. First, she got me a "ring" for my cell phone. Now, when Dee calls, I get to hear my favorite song, Eartha Kitt's Santa Baby! Then, she stuffed my stocking with a warm, green hat, scarf, and gloves, lots of Hot Cocoa lotion from Ulta, new mascara (You don't realize you need new until you get new and see how awful your old stuff really was!), Jelly Belly's, my favorite watermelon gum, an Old Navy Christmas shirt, hoop earrings, a necklace and earrings...well, she was just amazing! And then, Nathan found out that I really wanted this Fisher Price Nativity...I had a small one, but my angel didn't sing. I thought sure they would sell out, but he got one. And Allison and Mike are coming next week for a visit, so I get to see my grandbabies open the stocking and gifts we got. They are simply the most wonderful kids in the world, and I am so very grateful they thought of me and cared so much!

Christmas Morning Candids-Nathan

Nathan has been working on restoring a 1960 Ford Pick up, so his gifts, both from Santa and from Dad and Mom, were truck parts. He got mechanical pencils, truck magazines, football ties, sugar free jam, and lots of fun things for him to make a mess with!

Christmas Morning Candids-Kayty

Kayty asked Santa for piano music, and got LOTS of DVD's from Dad and Mom. Her stocking had DVD's, black eye shadow, mechanical pencils, lip gloss, lotion, make up remover, etc.

The Newest Photographer In The Family - Ethan!

Ethan spent time on Christmas Eve going around, taking pics of the things he "experienced". Here are his efforts.

Cameo is such a good sport!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Eve at Nano's House

Every Christmas Eve, we eat and have the best time at my mom's house...we call her Nano (named for my great grandmother - Nano). Dee smokes pulled pork (this year was his best ever!!), mom makes "Ed's Beans" (a recipe from her boyfriend that he made while he was alive and my kids DEMAND for this every year, though he only shared his secret recipe with Nathan!), her wonderful turkey dressing, macaroni salad, Nano Carrot Sticks, and she makes pizelles for dessert. The food was fabulous, and everyone loved the fact that they got to take home some. (their favorite Christmas morning breakfast is leftovers from Christmas Eve)

Presents come next. First, there are the "basket gifts": things like toothpaste, gum, nuts, candy, whatever treasures she finds throughout the year. We all just love them! And finally, the regular gifts. The kids always find it a special treat to get a "Nano Blanket" a fleece blanket that she sews and ties. Ethan and Cameo got a "double wide" this year! We had such fun, and even ran out after presents to Walgreens and got a Bingo game, M&M's and Skittles for markers, and a puzzle to do. Such a fun time!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve...Let the Fun Begin

We are all ready and waiting for Dee to get ready. Then, off to my Mom's (Nano's) for Christmas Eve. Then, it will be a Christmas full of firsts. First time my big kids have their own Christmas before coming to our house. I bet Cameo and Danyel are so glad they can start their own traditions. It will be the first time my Adam is at home and gets Christmas ON Christmas. He and Grace will be always on my mind and in my heart as I imagine their eyes when they first see their stockings filled and, hopefully, Grace gets her pink or blue bike, and Adam gets the things he wanted (well, maybe not the dog!) It will be our first time to have no anxious little ones ready to see what Santa brought. There aren't many secrets when Santa has to get things for an almost 16 year old and an almost 18 year old. It will be the first time I can actually sleep in...and that sounds great! It will be the first time I had to buy cookies for Santa (the funeral and all my driving to and from mortuaries, airports, etc. took all my baking time. Lofthouse sugar cookies are sure a good treat for Santa!)First time one of the kids - Nathan - suggested we read the version of the Birth of our Savior out of both the Bible and the Book of Mormon (what a chance to compare the experiences of those who were actually there vs. those who were on the American continent at that time.)It will be a night of love, of gratitude, of family...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Tribute To Tutu

Funerals have a way of healing, of bringing those apart together. Today, we buried my grandmother. We paid tribute to the life she lived. We enjoyed our time together as a family, both during the funeral, and afterward. And we shared our memories, both the pleasant and the not so pleasant. It was healing. And we can pay tribute to our Tutu and the life she lived. My cousin Erin and her husband put together a wonderful presentation with pictures from her life.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends!

Here I sat last evening, Kayty sleeping, Dee and Nathan out making Home Teaching visits, feeling sorry for myself with no one to talk to. I pour out my heart on the blog. I feel better, go on with the evening, look at lights with the family, read a Christmas story. Before bed, as I prepare to turn off the computer for the night, I once again glance at my email, and there, response after response...comfort after comfort. My heart was brought peace by a wonderful army of friends and family, sharing their love and encouragement. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You will never ever know just how much all your sweet wonderful comments helped me!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Last Post Explanation

My last post sounded rather odd, didn't it. I just have been carrying the burden of my thoughts for the last few days, and I had to unload to my dear blogging family. I feel awful, feeling as I do. I can't control my grandmother's feelings for me. I do not know why she felt the way she did. Maybe is was just our religion, or maybe it was something else. But I have been eating...corn chips, chocolate chips ( I see a pattern developing here), and I just had to share my burden. I have, and have had a good cry, and now I am lightened and ready to get through the funeral, and on to spend Christmas and after with the most wonderful husband and children, and family and friends that the Lord could ever have blessed anyone with.
A few days ago, my grandmother, Louise Hart, or, as she wanted to be called - "Tutu" passed away. She had been living in a care center for over three years and did not know who we were, so her passing was not sudden, nor surprising. It is sad, though, for it has brought many thoughts to my mind about her. She was not your "typical" grandmother in any sense, at least to my brother and sister and I. There are no memories of going places, doing things, attending performances, reading books, special celebrations. That was not her, at least to us. (I did realize, the other day at the funeral home, that my two much younger cousins had a different "Tutu" than we did. They had her at their programs, she gave them gifts for their birthdays and Christmas, she even had chocolate candy sitting out to eat!) I know she loved her work at Central High, and when we joined the Church and became Mormon, she did not like that at all and made it very clear over and over. I do remember that she made the best cole slaw I have ever tasted. Everything I know about grammar and proper speech I learned from her. I remember that she used to cook an amazing tongue (that's would just smell great, and then you would look in that pot on the stove and see a big ol' tongue!Never tasted it, though.) She had a big real Christmas tree with the big multi colored lights on it. I remember her beautiful dishes...Franciscan Ware Desert Rose, and now I collect them myself just to have a memory of being at her house. I remember that she would give us a bon bon sometimes...the kind that were vanilla ice cream with chocolate on the outside. Just one, but it was such a treat. Her second husband was just a wonderful Grandpa to us and we loved him dearly. I just think it is sad...I remember more of her mother, Nano to me, and putting my doll clothes on her cats, drinking Coke in glass bottles on the stairs, playing her old player piano, taking her shopping and to the eye doctor on Central. I guess grandmotherhood is not for everyone. We must have made her feel old, something she did not like to feel, while my cousins - who are about the same age as my older kids- made her feel very young! All I know is that I am so very thankful that my kids have had two wonderful grandmothers - Nano, my mom and Grandma, Dee's mom. And now, I get to be "Grammy" and that is the very, very best place to be. I am so thankful I can love those grandbabies of mine, to see their letters to Santa and see Grace draw her hand on everything, to get a call from Adam saying, "Guess what, Grammy? It is snowing here in Las Vegas!", to think of them seeing Santa, to imagine their faces when they open the gifts I find and wrap. That is true joy to me, and I am so very glad I get that opportunity. I hope I never ever miss a chance to be a grandma. We only have one chance to love and to experience, and nothing is more important than that. Memories are all that are left when we leave this earth, and I want those about me to be the best.

Feliz Navidad

Last night, Dee's sisters and their families (those that are in town) gathered at our house to celebrate Christmas. Since we hosted this year, we decided to have Mexican food and traditions. Sherry made her famous homemade tamales. Danyel shared her version of sour cream chicken enchiladas (Cameo is also a wonderful sour cream Chicken enchilada chef...both have different recipes...both are simply the best!!!)Shelley made the best homemade refried beans I have ever tasted, and she helped with the tamales too! Marina brought some wonderful salsa and the avocados for Dee to make his wonderful guacamole. Eric and Andi brought chips and the layered bean dip that have become a required item at all family gatherings. I made my green chili for burros, and the Spanish rice that my kids adore (I was truly surprised that Morgan didn't show cooking that ALWAYs brings him home.)

Grandma Dorrie brought the best fruit salad...just cut up fruit. The pears were just to die for!! And then, the desserts: I made Mexican wedding cookies, Mike and Nathan made the best dessert...cookie crust, graham crackers...etc. Well, suffice it to say, Nathan ran a mile last night just to wear THAT off. There were Snickerdoodles, Brownie Bites, Sugar cookies, and Grandma's divinity.

The kids played on our playground until dinner, played in the playroom,

and then we had a pinata. It was so fun to be together. I can hardly wait for Easter!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What Does Your Son In Law Do?

I am asked this question many times...where does he work and why does it take them away from all the family (both sides...all aunts, uncles, cousins, and cousins to be. I tell them he works for the Church at Deseret Industries as a Manager-Trainer. Now, that doesn't sound life altering, but it truly is! He builds people, helps them overcome their weaknesses, whether they came by birth, accident, or by life events and choices. He gives them hope. And, while he builds them, my daughter and grandchildren get the chance to love and serve those who have many challenges in their lives and are striving to overcome. They have parties, celebrate holidays, and truly get to know the meaning of loving and serving. Allison keeps them well "treated" and gets to share all the love she has to give as well. See here. While they have to live away from us, I am so glad they get this opportunity...and opportunity I hope my grandbabies will never forget!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How Do They Do It?

I have six kids. At one point, I had a 4 yr. old, a 3 yr. old, a 2 yr. old, and a newborn. They were normal sick just like anyone else that age. Sometimes they gave each other illnesses over and over. Colds...runny nose, headache...just never seemed to bother them. That ol' nose would run and run, and they would keep on playing and running and jumping. I have had a head cold for a few days, and this runny nose thing is about to kill me! I keep a paper towel with me (not so soft, but surely is absorbent!)I was bending over to mop the bathroom and I thought my head would explode. My kids never stopped... snot pouring down their faces, heads- I am sure- pounding in pain! How did they do it?

Final Exam...For A What!

Kayty invited me to her voice class for the "final exam recital". First, I was shocked, but very glad she invited me (I guess I don't drool and drag my foot too much in public that she doesn't want her friends to know who I am!). Second, I was blessed to witness some very talented young adults, and to witness her tremendous progress, just in a semester. I am always so amazed that she is so passionate about her music. She loves to sing, to play the piano. She, basically, knows what she wants to do with her life. I sure wish I did!!! Here she is, singing a song from "Wicked" (I forgot the name, and she is asleep, and if I wake her, she really WILL turn into a witch!)Even though I am her mom, and I might be just a little biased, she did Fantastic!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Perpetual Projects

It is break time from my Monday morning cleaning. I like to me quiet time to think. Now, that sometimes can be dangerous. Those thoughts brought forth painting two kids rooms for the fourth time, while mine has yet to finish the second coat (and I fear the paint color is discontinued!)Our home is now about 25 years old (little Doran was born when the block walls were going up). We have had many incarnations of our yard: we had the "heavenly bamboo and mock orange" phase (plants couldn't survive the heat on the South side of the house). We had a large and lovely lawn, but our three older boys couldn't wait to move out, marry, etc. (I wonder if it was that lawn???) Now, it is pure and simple granite and low shedding trees and bushes out front, and just a small patch of lawn out back (little Doran mows in exchange for storing his lawn business equipment here.)But, we have over an acre of land, and we have been busy for years (and it seems to be ages) fixing up and working on it. We had a pool put in. We ourselves have poured concrete, put in a pretty great playground (need more grandkids to play on it, though - hint hint to Ethan and little Doran), added a rock covered fireplace and lower courtyard with wall (Dee did this ALL - with Nate to help - laid block, gathered rock, rocked the outside, etc.) Nathan is now stucco-ing the walls - built a shed (man tool cave), half an outdoor kitchen (granite is placed, it is plumbed, just needs sink hole cut and installed and electric, stucco and paint).
It is looking good...lots better than when the big kids were small...but it has been going for so long. I find myself putting off anything fun, because, I figure, if we just get THIS done, and don't put the money into "fun", we will be done. But, we never seem to be done. Dee calls it "scope creep". But how far, and for how long, do we keep letting it creep? We wanted it done when Dee was 50...he will be 52 in April. We bought plants to begin landscaping the courtyard. Dee said that later we will add the waterfall and pergola. It sounds lovely, but will it ever end....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Learning Something New This Year

Once, in a Relief Society lesson, I remember a teacher speaking about transitions...that our life is full of them. We transition from being single to being married, and as each child comes along that brings a new transition. Then, school, high school, college: kids leaving, kids rebelling, kids going on missions, kids returning from missions, marriage. I just figured, at the big deal. Change happens. Then, when Allison began to attend the Singles' six little ducks all sitting with Mommy every Sunday. That was hard! I adjusted, and as the other ducks left the row, it wasn't so bad. I adjusted to being a mother in law...hopefully I have been a nice one! Then, grandbabies come along...a great adjustment. Kids moving away...not so great an adjustment, but email, blogs, cell phones, and even text messaging (my sons LOVE that texting...I am slow, but I am learning!) Then, more kids leave, and now at the ward Christmas dinner, there we sat at the front table...five empty seats...only one son left with us (complaining that he had other things to do!) Everyone else had their families, their neighbors. That was fine, but my life now is no neighbors (living on an acre with a Romanian Church next door to you does that) and no big family. I went home feeling empty, though the whole ward dinner thing was great...well planned, food my hubby and son could mostly eat, and a fantastic Polynesian performance for us...the best ward Christmas party ever, in my estimation...except I am faced with another transition. The "busy holidays, busy family" to the quiet. We get no work parties...Honeywell is closing the plant over the next two years and all will need to find other nothing to party about! I now know how many times I was so caught up in my life that I forgot to look and see if someone else needed something. I have learned so much. Too bad it had to come from my experience rather than those who tried to teach make me aware. This transition too will pass. I am happy. I love my life. I love the wonderful people I get to go to Church with. I love Rachelle Werner for listening to my needs when I didn't even express them. I am blessed, and I will make sure no one else ever comes in contact with me without feeling the same blessings I do now.

Catching Up: Kayty's College Choirs Winter Concert

I have spent literally years attending choir/chorus concerts. Allison, Ethan and Doran were in elementary school chorus at Mountain Shadows and Desert Sage Schools, and Morgan and Kayty were in the chorus at Las Brisas (Nathan, such a rebel, just refused to participate) and I loved hearing them sing, especially at Christmas time. The music was beautiful, and, though they attended different elementary schools, they all were taught by one teacher: Mrs. Jan Hanen (the only teacher ever to survive all six Rice kids!) These performances made my holiday that much more special. Then, in middle and high school, Kayty decided to attend a performing arts school, and those concerts were spectacular, as well. However, none compared to the one we attended on Thursday...Kayty's G.C.C. Women's and A Capella Choirs concert. Something about people who CHOOSE to perform simply because they love it and want to pursue it as a career. I sat in awe as I listened and experienced these gifted people getting to something they are passionate about.

She loves to sing!

Kayty played the hand bells for the A Capella Choir.

Kayty plays the finger cymbals on the opening number for the Women's Choir.

Monday, December 8, 2008

First Presidency Christmas Broadcast

What a wonderful evening we had last night. We sat around in the family room, tuned the internet to the First Presidency Christmas Devotional, and thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful music by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the talks by President Monson and his counselors. I felt so blessed to have this officially begin our Christmas celebration. Then, after the broadcast was over, they played exerpts from our last General Conference in October. As I sat there and listened to the words of our beloved Apostles, I felt so blessed that the Lord has seen fit to send these men to help us, and that they let us know what He would have us do. We, ourselves, are in a quandry as to what path to take when Doran's job ends. We have received no guidance as yet, but it will come. However, there is no wondering what we should do in our spiritual lives. We have a living Prophet and Apostles who guide us. Reading their words, hearing their words...they say nothing but things that will make us better people: be kind to your neighbor, live within your means, be faithful, seek peace, create more love in your homes and families. Nothing everyone would not want. How blessed are we!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Drive and Drive

My morning went as usual...exercise, run, wrap a few presents, wake everyone up, make Dee's breakfast, (didn't make a lunch-hot dogs are not good on the second day in a lunch!), make Nate's breakfast, get Dee out the door, get the in the car and going to seminary and school. Nothing special at all. Then, as I was turning into Nate's school parking lot, he said, "Thanks for driving me to school, Mom." Now, to many, this would seem like not a big deal to drive your kid to school, but Nathan attends a wonderful charter school that is 10 miles from our house...that's 40 miles of driving a day, just to get him to school. I so appreciated his thanks, and told him how much it meant. I'm glad he gets to go to a school with smaller classes, greater opportunities, and good friends. It was worth it before today to make the drive, but now, it makes the drive that much better! Thank YOU, Nate, for being so grateful!

A Great Start

Since I was very young, my very most favorite Christmas show was "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer". I loved Rudolph and thought that the Abominable Snow Monster was the most scary thing there could ever be, next to the flying Monkeys in "The Wizard of Oz". I know it will be a good year if I get to watch the show, and last night, while Dee's Boy Scouts were working on first aid, I sat, wrapping stocking gifts and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. Now, I know Christmas will be the best!!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

They Did It!!

As of 12 minutes ago, my quest finally was completed: I ordered my Christmas Cards. Sweet Doran took the last picture of Cam and Ethan last night...they were so cooperative and Cameo picked the perfect fact, so did Danyel and Allison. As for Dad and I, he was relaxing after dinner in his favorite shirt and so I dressed to match him! Next year, I have already put it on my calendar to begin this in June!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Making A Change

Here it is, the last day of November. I read many blogs the last few days, hearing about the wonderful Thanksgiving each had, with the focus of all being on their gratitude. I had a wonderful meal, with wonderful people. My family...except for my daughter, son in law, and grandbabies...were all their. I also got to share the wonderful meal with the dear family of my daughter in law, Cameo. Both her parents, and her sister and husband are such good, kind, wonderful people. I was blessed to be there and be with them all. However, I did not take any time to spend just feeling the good things the day brings. I was so busy getting food ready...roasting the turkey, peeling the potatoes, making the salads, getting all the stuff ready to load and transport, that I didn't stop to be thankful. Now, this was all my fault, but it really left me feeling empty after the day was finished.
So, I decided that Christmas would be a little different, at least for me. I am an "ahead" kind of ornaments are ready to mail, I am almost ready to get the Christmas card ordered (next year, my photo request will go out in June!), almost all the gifts are finished (those of my children who do not let me know this week what they want are getting money!), stockings are almost all wrapped (Nathan is always the toughest one to shop for! He and Ethan!!) I try to get all done ahead so there is little last minute and more time to enjoy. But, to make sure I do get todo this, starting tonight, at 9:45 P.M. we are having a Christmas devotional. Each night, at that time, one person is assigned to share a Christmas story or a scripture about the birth of the Savior. We will see if this keeps going. Hopefully, it will help me feel the good things of Christmas and enjoy what we are celebrating.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

All I Wanted For Christmas Was...

You know, every year I have included a picture of our family with our Christmas card. We would take a pic when we were traveling, or many times, when we were up cutting down our Christmas tree. When that had to end, I tried to get all to stop what they were doing on July 4th, stand next to one another, wherever they were,wear the Old Navy shirts I got as my birthday gift and sent to them, and take a picture. That worked for a few years, but the results became less that easy as people were far apart and traveling. Then I just tried to take a pic when we were all at the family campout. Again, worked for a couple, then kids got bigger and more separated and ... well, I tried one this year...Instructions: wear jeans, any shirt your family has and take a pic together. Seemed like not a problem. I even took Allison's family, and it looked really good, even with Grace having fun while we were doing it.

Came out pretty good, I think. So, things were going okay. Then, when Allison and family were in town we tried dinner, and then it poured rain! Trying to schedule time for Doran to take it, Kayty to not be at work or at school, and ...well. And then there was "What color shirt to wear?" With Kayty, the ONLY color she would even consider was black. So, we agreed. We thought to try on Thanksgiving again. Again, rain! I was crazy, so I pulled my immediate family, not the married ones, and put them in Ethan and Cameo's front yard and hoped for the best. Here is what I got:

The only way Doran got us all to look decent was to switch Nathan's head (sounds really crazy, I know, but Nate just isn't the most cooperative photo subject!) Well, I wanted green grass and a beautiful pose, but this will suffice.
Now, I need one from Doran and Danyel and Ethan and Cameo. I was about to give up, but Danyel assured me that they would do their part and Cameo was trying to take one while they are visiting some of her relatives today. Hopefully...
Now, I just wanted a Christmas card picture. I said "jeans"...a relatively painless article of clothing. I said ties or stiff poses. So what am I doing wrong?

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Trees Are Up (and have been for over two weeks!!)

My aunt in Arkansas mentioned to my mom in an email that she had not seen any pictures of our Christmas decorations. So, here you go...Aunt Paula!

This is our "big" Christmas tree in our living room. We used to always go up near Flagstaff and chop down a huge tree the day after Thanksgiving, but that was before the bark beetle and drought conditions changed all that. It does not hold all my ornaments, but it does hold all our special ones.

This is my red, white and blue tree. I got it at a huge discount awhile back. It has all my patriotic ornaments on it. (me being born on the 4th of July gives me lots of gifts to hang on it.)

This is my hubby's hunting/fishing tree. He had been given so many ornaments as gifts that were various incarnations of hunters, fishermen, ducks, hunting dogs, etc. That I got him a small tree, again on sale, to fill with his special treasures. (Now, mind you, he does not participate in any decorating, though he did put one ornament on the hunting tree this year.)

These are all the stockings hung on the fireplace. I bought a few kits to make the denim embroidered stockings for Allison, Ethan and Doran. Then I made copies of the kits for Morgan, Katelyn, Nathan, Mike, Cameo, Danyel, Adam, and Grace. The small pure white one is for sweet little Charles.

Mom and I choose a theme every year, and we create our ornaments according to that theme. This year, it is nutcrackers/soldiers/drummer boys (I painted a drummer boy ornament) and I celebrate the theme here in the entryway.

I also have been blessed with a treasured collection of nativities, but they don't look as good in pics as the do in reality. Plus, I have many wonderful things I have accumulated over the years at 75% off sales as well as yard sales. I love to decorate and enjoy the wonderful memories they bring.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Trek

I tried to run this morning, but everytime I went out the door, it began to rain...and not just sprinkle, it just poured! So, when the sun was up, I wanted a hike, and so I drug my sweet hubby up that mountain. We used to all hike on Thanksgiving morning, but then kids and Dad got busy and it turned into me hiking alone. I was even going to get commemorative tshirts, calling it the "Thunderbird Hills Turkey Trek". (So much for ideas...the minute I come up with something cute, it just scares everyone away.) Anyway, Dee was such a good sport and we had fun hiking in the moist air. We even stayed long enough on top of the mountain to be "in a cloud" which was just great. Thanks, Dee, for coming with me. I had so much fun!

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday...and on Thanksgiving, no less. I am so thankful to live in a country that has so many dedicated to keeping us safe and protected. We have been watching events unfold in India, and, though it is far away from Bangalore - where Dee has traveled - it is very frightening. I am so thankful that we have many who spend days and nights keeping us safe.

I have just finished washing five crock pots, dishes, counters, stove, and put away the left overs from our bounteous Thanksgiving feast at Cameo and Ethan's house, and I am so thankful that, though all have struggled financially through the past year, we had a plentiful meal, with good food and wonderful friends and family to share it with.

I am so thankful for refrigerators, stoves, crock pots, ovens, bread machines, food processors, and all the other wonderful conveniences that we have, that the pilgrims did not have. I don't know how they did it!!!

And, most of all, I am thankful for a Heavenly Father who loves all of us, and who wants only the best for us. I am thankful He has blessed me with so very much: with the most wonderful husband in the world, with an amazing famiy, with dear friends, with good health, with happiness, with peace, with things to work for, with a wonderful church to be a member of, and with His never ending love that helps me get through anything and everything. I am truly, truly blessed!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankful Tuesday, or What A Blessing He Is!

I am married to the most amazing man! He is off work...has to "use up" vacation days before the year ends...days that they would not let him take earlier in the year. (Didn't matter anyway-we are missing both real estate and disc jockey incomes, so we could not go anywhere). So, he wakes up, turns on his computer and does a morning meeting (happens every day at 7 am.) Then he goes outside to work on the many projects we have going. We began a yard remodel and upkeep a few years ago, and, had we hired others to complete the work, we would have run out of money many moons and many projects ago. However, due to his willingness and resourcefullness (plus the able assistance of young Doran and Danyel collecting rocks, Ethan loaning valuable tools and hooking us up with his wonderful father in law, and Nathan just being the go to guy to lift, pull, push, mix, tote, install, remove, shovel...well, you get the picture)we have many, many things we would not have ever had, for very little money, but many many hours of time. He has built us an outdoor fireplace and is now working on river rocking the top of the wall around that courtyard area. We will stucco between now and Christmas. He has built me an outdoor kitchen, complete with sink, running water, and lovely grill and an oven...just needs some electrical work and he is going to finish the granite countertops that he made out of some junk granite from Master Marble Co. He paid someone else to put in the pool, but he has poured and cool decked cement borders, pads, and sidewalks, mixing over 500 bags of cement by hand in a wheelbarrow. He has made my grandbabies the most tremendous playground, for little money. He copied the design of a Rainbow Playground Set, adding his own special touches, and poured a sandbox with a racetrack border. He has made the kids a sand volleyball court, finding the nets and poles on Craigslist for little money. He even today wired an old light fixture and made it so the outside old fridge can be plugged in right by it, not via extension cord.(That thing was always coming unplugged and we wouldn't notice until the freezer ice was melting...not a good situation for Kayty's insulin!) Now, some would call this guy "handy" and that may be part, but I feel so blessed to be married to a man who never lets things stop him. When others wanted to charge us 1500 dollars for a small block wall out in the front yard, he said he could do it...he bought the block, poured the footings, and we did it. He is willing to try and do anything...he can put down stone floors and polish granite. He can pour concrete and stucco walls. And, during all this, he has worked on a 1960 panel truck restoration...again, saving money by doing it himself: grit blasting, sanding, bondo-ing, polishing, painting (We started this about five years ago, and he has dreamed of this for so long. So, our small savings account is being used to make his dream vehicle come true.) He is just the most amazing blessing, and I am truly, truly thankful for him!

A Beautiful Sight!

I was out running early, in the dark, and what do you think that I saw? A beautiful Christmas Tree lit in the front window of someone's house! Now, I am not odd...just a trend setter!

Monday, November 24, 2008

For My Friends, From My Friend

I was greeted this morning by something in my email from my dear friend, Wanda. Now, she always sends just the best emails, but this stood out. I could not just forward it to one or two, because, as I read, I thought of so many...too many to name. So, for Allison, for Danyel, for Starleen, for Jannicke, for Annie, for Catherine, for Kathy, for Paige, for Megan, for Karla, and for too many to name, this is for you...

The Invisible Mother......

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask me a question. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously, not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands,nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated sum a cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going; she's going; she is gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a
friend from England .. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe .

I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:'To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:
No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've
baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'you're gonna love it there.' As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Nathan Learns A Lesson...

When your kids are small, you watch them like a watch electrical outlets, you turn pan handles away from the edge of the stove, you lock up cleaning products. You try to teach them about dangerous things, and then you hope they remember. Well, my son, almost 16 years of age, forgot something he was taught: don't put your fingers into the fan! And, this is the result...(you don't want to see what is under the bandage. It's not pretty!)