Friday, September 30, 2011

Introducing my Mother-in-Law to Disneyland


To sum it up, we're both having a great time!

Over the summer, John's mom mentioned that she had never been to Disneyland.  I quickly issued an open-ended invitation to come down anytime and we'd have a girls' vacation week.  Well, Wednesday I picked her up from the airport.  We dined at the Cheesecake Factory (yum), managed to find the car again after a Twilight Zone-esque experience, and stayed at the Ayres Hotel that night. 

Yesterday, we were off to the big D.  After procuring her "First Time Visitor" button, we were ready to hit the park.  It was much more crowded than I expected on a September weekday, but we still managed to see and do quite a bit.  We started in Fantasyland with the classics:  Peter Pan, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Dumbo, Pinocchio, Snow White's Scary Adventures, and a walk through Sleeping Beauty's Castle.  We ate loaded baked potato soup at the Carnation Cafe, and shook chef Oscar's hand on the way out.  (He's been working there since a year after the park opened, from what I understand.)

Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln was followed by Winnie the Pooh and then the Haunted Mansion.  I learned that John's mom is a fan of The Nightmare Before Christmas (who knew?), so she loved the mansion.  (She was quite impressed with Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, though!) After that, we took a break in the Golden Horseshoe Saloon and waited for Billy Hill and the Hillbillies to perform.  They did not disappoint.  One of these days I need to learn the Orange Blossom Special!

After the show, we went on the Jungle Cruise and to the Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room.  With songs ringing in our ears, we walked to Cafe Orleans for pommes frites and a Monte Cristo sandwich.  (Is there a food that raspberries do not improve?) We then boarded the Disneyland railroad and rode until the next stop, where we disembarked and then replaced the Tiki Room song in our heads with "It's a Small World."  Fortunately, we had impeccable timing.  As we exited Small World, Mickey's Soundsational Parade was just about to start.  We watched the parade, and listened to lots of songs other than "It's a Small World".  Following the parade, we had just enough time to ride Star Tours before the park closed.

I had fun, but more importantly, John's mom seemed to really enjoy herself.  We did a lot of laughing, as evidenced by the photo we took of ourselves on Dumbo.  We'll tackle California Adventure next week, and hopefully have just as much fun! 

Thankful thought of the day:  Thanks to Melinda, who first introduced me to the idea of girls' only vacations, and thanks to Melinda, Mary, Mom, and Pat, with whom I've enjoyed (and am enjoying) vacations!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Guide Dogs

This evening I met with the local Guide Dogs club.  I've met with them once before, but tonight's meeting was a training meeting, which means I got to work hands-on with the puppies.  Fun, fun, fun.  Oh, and did I mention cute, cute, cute?  I'm definitely sold.  I'm still learning exactly what the process is to becoming a puppy raiser, but hopefully it isn't terribly long. 

Thankful thought of the day:  What else could it be?  I'm thankful for dogs! 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Patience

One of the five petals of the forget-me-not is now supposed to remind us to be patient with ourselves.  Well, that reminds me of a quotation I collected about roses.  I wish I could give the author credit, but I do not know who originally penned this (if you know, please let me know): Thanks to my mom's wonderful googling skills, I know that this is from W. Timothy Gallwey in The Inner Game of Tennis:

When we plant a rose seed in the earth we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as "rootless and stemless".  We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed.  When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don't condemn it as immature and underdeveloped, nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear.  We stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development. 

The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies.  Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential.  It seems to be constantly in the process of change, yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.

That is so true, whether it is applied to roses, people, or even home projects.  I just have to keep reminding myself of that fact.  The top of my desk is beautifully clear at the moment, and just because I now have a box of "to shred" papers under my desk, doesn't mean I can't delight in the clean desk.  John and I remind each other, "Little by little." Not only do small changes over time result in great beauty, but realizing that life is a process allows us to enjoy how things are right now, without worrying about how they are not. 

Thankful thought of the day:  Thanks to the patient people I know:  Tula, Krista, Ann, and my family come to mind, but I know there are many others!




Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Creative Language of Children (and Adults)

Roughly once a month, our church service is a "testimony meeting", which I suppose could be described in part as an open-mike opportunity for anyone to get up and share knowledge, feelings, and insights about the gospel.  One three- or four-year-old girl bravely stood at the podium today and announced, "I know my mom is true." 

She drew some chuckles with that statement, and I found myself thinking about other cute comments I have heard children say in church.  Once, when I was the chorister in Primary, I was teaching the song, "My Flag".  You can hear the song here.  One of the lines says, "...the banner of the free."  One little girl hopped out of her seat and declared, "I'm three!  I'm three!"  I tried to explain that the song wasn't talking about an age, but rather about freedom, like our ability to choose.  At this point, the same little girl jumped back out of her chair and shouted, "I have shoes!"  By now, all the adults in the room thought she and I were the greatest comedy routine ever, with me playing the unwitting straight man.  Sad to say, but at that point I just gave up.  I'm afraid that little girl probably missed the concepts that the song was trying to tell.

Today's little girl, though, had an accurate understanding of what she was feeling, but just lacked the ability to eloquently express herself.  I find language fascinating.  I find it fascinating that one language might have one word to express what takes a whole sentence in another language to accurately convey.  I find it fascinating that so many times debates ensue due to one party not fully understanding the meaning the other party is giving to a particular word or phrase.  And I have to admit, some of the things I chuckle at the most are statements which, for whatever reason, present an unintended train of thought. 

Case in point:  Friday night, I saw a flier advertising a local gardening workshop.  One of the activities was listed as "Honeybee demonstration and tasting."  Though I'm assuming that meant honey tasting, I just couldn't shake the image of a bunch of people sampling honeybees. 

Now, I hope that I don't hurt anyone's feelings.  I'm certainly not immune to errors in grammar, spelling, or clarity of thought.  Intelligence is not accurately measured by one's ability to communicate. 

I did chuckle today, but I also agree with the little girl:  I know my mom is true. 

Thankful thought for the day:  Thanks to my many friends who learned a non-English language first.  Thanks to children and adults who are brave enough to share their thoughts and feelings, even when words fail to adequately express those ideas. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

General Relief Society Meeting...Or, Lessons from the Forget-Me-Not

I just got back from watching the broadcast of the General Relief Society Meeting.  (Click here to watch the General Relief Society Meeting.

The entire meeting was uplifting, of course, but I particularly enjoyed the final speaker. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk centered around the small blue Forget-Me-Not flower being a symbol of what makes life joyful and sweet.  He mentioned that each of the five petals could represent things we should not forget:

1. Do not forget to be patient with yourself. 
We are generally very patient and kind to others, but not always to ourselves.  Sometimes we compare ourselves to others--our weaknesses to their strengths--and thus never seem to measure up.

2. Do not forget the difference between a good sacrifice and a foolish sacrifice. 
One example of a good sacrifice is losing sleep to help comfort a child who is having a nightmare. One example of what could be a foolish sacrifice is staying up all night to finish sewing an accessory for an outfit.

3. Do not forget to be happy now.
Pres. Uchtdorf referenced Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in cautioning us not to wait for our golden ticket, but to find joy in the ordinary moments that make up life.

4. Do not forget the "why" of the gospel.
The gospel is not an obligation, but a pathway.  The "what" and the "how" of obedience marks the way, and keeps us on the path, but the "why" will inspire and uplift us.

5. Do not forget that the Lord loves you. 
You are not forgotten. 

I loved the optimism, love, and encouragement of that message. 

Thankful thought of the day:  Thanks to those who organize and make possible meetings like the one tonight.  On a local scale, we had our stake Relief Society presidency arrange for a dinner prior to the broadcast.  Tables and seats were set up, decorations were in place, and food was prepared. On the global scale, well...the amount of effort that goes into the global organization of the meeting--the speakers, the music, the taping of the broadcast, the translation into many languages, etc--is rather mind-boggling.  Thanks to all!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Common (?) Courtesy

Every weekday, I am at the church at 6 a.m. to drop youngest daughter off to seminary class.  This morning, three cars arrived at the same time, dropping off 2 girls and 1 boy.  I noticed the boy jump out of the car, hop up the stairs, and hold the door for both girls.  I smiled as I realized that this is a common occurrence.  The boys follow the men's examples and hold open the doors; the girls follow the women's examples and thank those who hold open the doors. 

When I got home from the church, I started reading the newspaper.  One of the editorials was lamenting the state of societal manners.  The author was upset by unsupervised children in stores, by the general sloppiness of dress, and by the coarseness of language.  She concluded her editorial by asking if she was the only one who had noticed this decline of decorum. 

In answer to that question, I will say that it seems that society is more divided now than in the past; more extreme.  I have witnessed the situations that the author cited, but I have also seen many examples of courteous children; neatly-attired individuals; and kind, calm conversations. 

Generally speaking, I'm an optimist.  Negativity screams, it is loud, noisy, and overbearing.  But the positive is there.  It just happens to be quiet, meek, and unassuming.  It sometimes requires looking beyond the distractions, but there is still much good in the world.  And as any observer of Disney movies knows, the good guys always win in the end.  :-)

Thankful thought of the day:  Thanks to the young man who held the door this morning, thanks to all those who hold doors, and thanks to those who graciously accept the courtesy.  Thanks also to my great husband, who makes me feel special every day by opening car doors, as well as building doors, for me.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

48 Years!



Today is my parents' 48th wedding anniversary.  Individually, each of my parents is a good person.  Together, they are a great team.  They aren't exactly complete opposites, but they each definitely have their own personalities.  They complement each other well, and it is obvious that they love each other. Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad! 

Thankful thought:  Thanks to my parents, who provided a very stable, loving, calm, and fun environment for my siblings and me, and who are now not just great parents, but also wonderful grandparents!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Visiting Teachers Are Coming!

My visiting teachers are coming this morning.  I love the visiting teaching program.  Basically, it provides every woman in the church the opportunity to have two other women come into her home each month to chat, offer assistance, and share a short gospel message.  Here's a short video about visiting teaching:  Visiting Teaching.

Today, my thankful shoutout goes to all the wonderful women I have gotten to know due to visiting teaching, both those who have visit taught me, those I have visit taught, and the visiting teaching companions I have had.  A few specific examples:

Techincally, these women weren't my visiting teachers, but my mom's, but this story is pretty well set in my memory.  I remember being in the living room when these women were at my home.  The next thing I know, they were running out the front door.  Apparently they were expecting a cute, furry head to poke out of the box inside the completely-enclosed cage that was on top of the piano.  When they caught a glimpse of my dad's boa constrictor, they were out of there. I remember my mom following them, explaining that there was no possibility of harm.  To their credit, I'm almost positive they came back and continued to visit with my mom.  Visiting teachers are brave.

Thanks to Lisa, who asked me to accompany her to the temple when she attended for the first time.  What a privilege that was!

Thanks to Jenny, who was my visiting teacher when my family was small. She was one of the first homeschool moms I knew.  Her raspberry cheesecake brownie bars are my absolute favorite.  Annie Bananie, which Jenny gave me when I moved away, still makes me smile and cry.

Thanks to Cora, who defies her age with her spunk.  I want to be like her when I grow up.



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September Garden Walk

It's nearly fall, I think.  The calendar says so.  The pumpkins think so, too.


As the weather is still in the 90's, though, the crook-necked squash is still blooming.


I didn't fully think through the implications of planting watermelon.  Only two of us left at home can eat it.  I harvested three from one plant yesterday.  Another vine still has two huge watermelons left to harvest.  So, as we enter fall, we are still eating a traditional summertime treat. 


I had to harvest three yesterday, though, so I could have room to plant my fall garden.  I taught fall gardening a couple of weeks ago.  I knew it was definitely time to plant when some of the attendees started reporting to me that they had planted their seeds.  Time for me to get out there and follow their great example!  (I cheated a bit and used some bedding plants along with seeds.)  When I pick the other watermelons and declare tomato and zucchini season over, I will plant the other beds, too.


One of my favorite things about a monthly photo documentation of my yard is noticing just how much the plants have grown.  They are starting to look established!



Thankful thought of the day:  Thanks to Mrs. Rhue, my third grade teacher, who helped deepen my love for plants by giving me (and everyone else in the class), a start from Colonel Coleus, our classroom plant.  


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Thanks for the Little Things

Today in church, a woman related an experience that reminded me of the importance of our small acts of kindness. She knew a woman who, as a girl, attended church due to an invitation to sing with the choir.  The chorister had no idea that the invitation she offered would have such far-reaching effects.  The girl continued to attend church because of the choir, and she grew up to have a family who actively participated in church.  Some of her children served missions, and they introduced others to the church.  This all came about because one chorister invited a girl to join the choir. 

It is easy for us to discount the impact we have on others, yet it is also easy to see the impact small acts of kindness have had on us.  Don't be discouraged if you think your contributions are small.  You never know the impact you might have.

I want to mention a few kindnesses I have experienced through the years.  This list is very incomplete.  I might end up making this topic a regular thread, because it will definitely take more than one post for my mind to remember even a fraction of the kindnesses I've received.  Also, if I tried to write everything in one post, it would take forever to read (and write!) 

Here is what comes to mind right now:

Thanks to Sister Thomas (Thompson?).  As a child, I always enjoyed listening to her because of her never-ending enthusiasm and constant smile.

Thanks to Yvonne, who backed me up in first grade when there was some discussion about what the sign on the classroom door said.  ("Grade 1")

Thanks to Cami.  When I was a leader in the young women's program, she called me once when she had car trouble and she couldn't reach her parents.  I felt like a real YW leader that day. 

Thanks to Lynae, Mimi, Laurie, Debbie, Laura, Gwen, Martha, Katie, Melanie, Sara, and any other walking/jogging buddy I've had over the years.  The cumulative hours spent talking have added up to some wonderful friendships.

Thanks to the stranger at the post office, who was patient with my young children as they slowly opened the door, and who even made a point to compliment my patience.

Thanks to the church teacher of my oldest son, who visited our house when my son was 3 and spent time talking about his favorite subject at the time, dinosaurs.

Thanks to Butch, who ran over just in time to catch the same son as he was falling out his window.

Thanks to Mimi, who scrubbed my bathroom floor when I was on bedrest, and somehow convinced me I was doing her a favor.

Thanks to Jenna and Julie, who spent countless hours on the phone with me during that bedridden pregnancy.


I'm going to bring this to a close right now, but I do want to continue this thread later.  I have many, many more examples to give. 

What small services have you received?





Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Friends and Family Welcome

I finally pounded some nails and decided to post photos of the guest/hobby room.  I wanted the room to be comfortable for visitors, yet provide a space for me to organize my family history research and finallly catch up on my kids' scrapbooks.  The result is a room which combines those elements.  The decor of the room is full of family history.


My mom made the quilt on the bed with fabrics left over from projects she sewed while we were growing up.  She also put together the framed piece on the nightstand.  It is a photo, along with a poem my mom wrote in tribute to her grandma. 


John deserves praise for his work on the nightstand.  We found it at a garage sale last week, and the top was scratched up pretty badly.  He sanded the top down, and was able to find a finish that matched the rest of the nightstand exactly! 


My grandma made the cross-stitched picture, and I remember seeing it hanging in her house. 


The armoire is compliments of a family in our neighborhood, who put it out on the curb with a "free" sign taped to the front.  It is designed for a TV, but John installed a rod in the top, so now our guests have a place to hang their clothes.  



Decorating the top of the armoire are a few items from the past.  The doll belonged to my mom, and the hen to my great-grandma. 

When my siblings and I were growing up, the round pictures hung in our bedrooms.  (I remember a vivid nightmare in which the picture of the little girl basically followed me around everywhere.  Somehow she doesn't seem quite so frightening, now that I'm older. But I digress...)  I couldn't get a close-up of the pictures without getting a lot of glare.


The typewriter was another garage sale find.  I distinctly remember it, because I found it at an epic, annual neighborhood garage sale.  The kind of garage sale that becomes a tradition for garage sale shoppers.  The kind where there is designated parking at the church across the street. The kind where non-participating houses are few and far between.  The kind where those in-the-know bring wagons, because otherwise their arms will drop off trying to carry their bargains.  Unfortunately, this was my first year attending this particular sale, and I wasn't in-the-know and didn't have a wagon with me.  The typewriter was free; I couldn't pass it up.  That was the day I learned just how heavy old typewriters can be.  Fortunately, I found it near the end of the day. 

On either side of the typewriter are photos of ancestors.  In the bookcase are photos in various stages of organization. 

I still haven't made my little corner working space cute yet, but I'm really a function over form kind of person.  Hopefully our guests will be able to overlook this cluttered area. 


With our guest room doubling as a family history room, I hope our guests can truly feel at home when they stay with us! 

"The Manner of Happiness"

I've kept a journal since the time I was young, but sometime after getting married and having kids, my journal writing became sporatic at best.  A few years ago, I stumbled across an article that inspired me to be more consistent in my journal writing.  I've noticed that when I'm journaling more regularly, even if what I write is neither particularly interesting nor insightful, I am happier.  While trying to find that article again, this speech transcript came up:

http://lds.org/ensign/2002/12/living-after-the-manner-of-happiness?lang=eng&query=journal

I'm pretty sure the "...and we lived after the manner of happiness" scripture is my mom's favorite.  I used to think it was a pretty short and simple favorite scripture, but the older I get, the more I realize the depth that can come from simple ideas.   

I think that Elder Jensen does an excellent job analyzing what we can do to "live after the manner of happiness."  I love the fact that "planting gardens and raising animals" is listed right along with the weightier matter of "keeping the commandments".  I also love the tone of the article.  Elder Jensen is not providing a "to-do" list, something that needs to be checked off as completed; rather, he provides ideas that if followed bring happiness.

What do you think of his suggestions? 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Goal: To Be Organized. Deadline: About 25 Years

In June, my mom gave me a box filled with letters that I had written home over the years.  A couple of months later, John's mom gave me a box filled with letters that John had written home over the years.  I figure I better start sorting through the letters my kids have written, because in 25 years or so, it will be the traditional time to pass those letters along to the kids.

I have such a hard time sorting through the mementos without taking time to read and reminisce.  Unfortunately, this letter isn't signed, so I'm not 100% sure who wrote it.  I have a pretty good guess, though.  I hope you enjoy it! 


In case you are wondering whether or not Santa ever pot the prast in the triu, I can assure you that he did indeed put presents in (or under) the tree.  :-) 


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Scattered Thoughts from My Scattered Mind

Some days just don't seem conducive to blog posts.  It seems that lately I've been working on several projects, but none of them are ready for photo shoots.  Here's what I've been doing/thinking lately:

I painted more in the guest/craft room today.  John and I have a system that works great for us.  I like painting the broad, easy surfaces, and he enjoys the detail work.  Tonight, we finished the painting.  Over the next few days, hopefully I'll get the furniture organized and the room decorated a bit.

I found a bed at a garage sale that looks great in youngest daughter's bedroom.  The bed she had been using was part of a bunk bed.  Now I can put both halves of the bunk bed together side-by-side to form another king-size bed.  I found a mattress pad at Ross tonight, along with a sheet set and blanket. 

How many king-from-twin beds am I going to assemble, you might be asking.  Every Thanksgiving, we have a houseful of relatives and friends come.  The younger set is fine in sleeping bags on the floor, but it is nice to have something a little more padded and off the floor for the over-40 crowd.  That being said, I'm probably done with my twin-bed conversions for a while. 

Tomorrow night I am teaching a class at Relief Society (the women's organization at church) about fall gardening.  The pressure is on, as it is being billed as "How to Grow a Successful Fall Garden".  I was feeling pretty confident until "successful".  On the bright side, the assignment pretty much requires me to get outside and actually plant a fall garden. 

The desktop computer has officially died, and I ordered a replacement online today.  So hopefully I will have the new computer up and running in the next day or two, and youngest daughter can really start hitting the books, so to speak. 

Next Tuesday, I am attending a meeting of the local group of puppy raisers for Guide Dogs for the Blind.  For about as long as I can remember, I've wanted to raise a puppy for Guide Dogs for the Blind.  I'm thinking that this might be a really good time to do that.  I'll learn more on Tuesday about what being a puppy raiser entails. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Play Day


I suppose if today were Wednesday, and if I participated in "Wordless Wednesday" posts, I wouldn't have to say much about this picture.  Since it is Monday, though, you'll get my commentary.  We normally don't purchase photos, but since we were the only ones in the log, and since we both have appropriate facial expressions (I think this is the first time I've actually kept my eyes open on the drop!), we couldn't pass up the photo.  Youngest daughter chose not to join us on Splash Mountain, instead preferring to ride Pirates of the Carribean. 

While walking throughout the parks today, I kept thinking about my next trip to Disneyland.  I think my dream job (after wife and mom, of course) would be to be a personal tour guide at Disneyland.  I just love being able to help others have fun on their vacations.  Today, for instance, we ended up in line 1 at Indiana Jones, which meant someone in our party would end up "driving" the car.  There was a family with small children in line 2.  We asked if they wanted to trade lines with us, so that one of their children could be at the steering wheel.  A little thing for us, a big thing for them. 

I absolutely love it when family or friends ask me to help them tailor their park visits to their interests.  My mother-in-law is coming later this month for her first ever Disneyland trip!  I am so excited, and spent time today planning which rides and attractions to show her.  We are going to have so much fun!  (Don't worry, Mom,  I'm not planning on taking you on Splash Mountain.)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

One Child Left at Home, but a Houseful of Teens

Youngest daughter is throwing a party.  Badminton, roasting marshmallows and hot dogs, foosball, wii, movies, and just talking...everyone seems to be enjoying themselves.  I'm thankful for my daughter's friends.  They are a well-behaved bunch.  I have a feeling we'll be hosting more parties this year, and that's fine with me.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Gradual Transformation

I will post photos again on this blog someday, I promise.  Meanwhile, I am little by little working on another room transformation.  Ever since my middle daughter moved out, her bedroom has been semi-functioning as a guest room/craft room.  I'm starting to dream of making it beautiful. 

Lowe's has a sale on paint this weekend (I knew waiting for a holiday weekend would pay off!), so this morning we went to our local store to get three gallons of eggshell finish paint in "desert sand".  The top half of the room is already that color.  We had a tiny bit of paint left over, with the color recipe tag on the lid, so we took it in with us, thinking that would make it easy for the employee to mix the paint. When the paint was mixed and we were putting it in our cart, we realized the front of each can said, "Matte Finish".  After a quick question to John, "Is matte the same as eggshell?",  I told the man at the paint counter that we had wanted 3 cans of eggshell finish paint, just like we had brought in.  He called the woman who had mixed our paint to come back to the paint counter.  He asked her what was different between the can we brought in and the cans she mixed us.  She had no idea, even when I turned the "Matte Finish" label toward her.  (I felt a little bad for her, as the man was not amused at the error.)  When the error was pointed out, though, she mixed up three gallons of eggshell finish paint.

We've started the painting, and it's going to look so nice!  To accompany the new paint in the room, we have a new-to-us armoire, thanks to neighbors who moved recently and left it on the curb with an affixed "free" sign.  I'm really excited about the guest bed.  Not too long ago, I learned that two twin beds pushed together is roughly equivalent to the size of a king bed.  Well, we have extra twin mattresses sitting around.  We had a metal bed frame in the attic, and were able to get another frame from the local thrift store for $15.  Pushing the two frames together, then covering the mattresses with a king-size mattress pad and sheets, results in a wonderfully adequate king guest bed! 

I haven't quite exactly figured out how I'm going to arrange the crafting part of the room, but I imagine it will come together eventually.  :-)