Wednesday, November 30, 2011

View from my Lap (Nearly Wordless Wednesday)

Who doesn't love to feel adored? 


Yes, Reno fell asleep while gazing up at me.  Awwwww . . .

Thankful thought:  Thanks for unconditional love!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gratitude Indebtedness

Murphy's Law notwithstanding, have you ever noticed that the more you recognize the good in your life, the more good there is?  I was interested in this article which cites a number of studies which show the benefits of gratitude.  While I don't think most people approach gratitude with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, it is interesting that there are so many benefits to cultivating gratitude.  It is a vicious (in a positive way) cycle. 

Though the Thanksgiving holiday is over, thanksgiving spills out into the Christmas season.  I'm starting to decorate, and I love to reminisce as the various ornaments go on the tree.  I'll post photos later.  While I like to have my home look inviting, the real beauty for me is in the memories and spirit of love. 

Thankful thought:  Thanks for many handmade decorations, which remind me of the stubby-fingered cuties of the past who would proudly hang their glittered, cinnamon-scented creations on the tree.  They have outgrown the stubby-fingered stage, but I still think they are cuties!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday--A Day of Rest

My house is quiet.  John's parents and all the college kids left this morning.  What a fun weekend we had!  It ended all too soon. 

I am so glad today is Sunday, though, and that I have one day to rest before the regular daily schedule begins.  And I am so glad for the following counsel from Spencer W. Kimball regarding Sunday activities:

"The Sabbath is a holy day in which to do worthy and holy things. Abstinence from work and recreation is important, but insufficient. The Sabbath calls for constructive thoughts and acts, and if one merely lounges about doing nothing on the Sabbath, he is breaking it. To observe it, one will be on his knees in prayer, preparing lessons, studying the gospel, meditating, visiting the ill and distressed, writing letters to missionaries, taking a nap, reading wholesome material, and attending all the meetings of that day at which he is expected."

Did you pick up on the taking a nap part?  I tend to be like a young child when it comes to taking naps; even though I might need one, I resist taking one because there are so many other things I could/should be doing.  I absolutely love reading that sometimes taking a nap is precisely what is needed.  After church, I followed that advice, and I feel so much better! 

Thankful thought:  Thanks for commandments, which truly are blessings, and thanks (again!) for John, who fixed lunch and encouraged me to nap. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving in Real Life

It might seem ironic that Thankful Me has been quiet the past few days of the Thanksgiving weekend.  I've been preoccupied with visiting, cooking, eating, playing games, and shopping.  (I don't think I would have ever discovered the wonderful packaging at Sephora without the graphic design major who accompanied me!) 

I hope your Thanksgiving weekend is similarly filled with wonderful "in real life" interactions.  One of the iconic male Thanksgiving traditions seems to be watching football games.  Of course, it is vitally important to get your fantasy football team set before the games begin.  I believe that activity prompted this modern three-generation family photo:


Thankful thought: I am thankful for computers, but I am more thankful for the people behind the screens.  I am also thankful for parents who got rid of the TV when I was young, which allowed me a childhood free from that distraction.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Fixed . . . OOPS, Broke the Toilet

My guests are arriving soon.  As I was cleaning the bathroom, I noticed water rushing down the toilet tank and dripping on the floor.  Not good.  I decided to investigate.  It turns out the tube that delivers the water to fill the tank after flushing had become disconnected from the pipe. 


Oh, I am so smart.  What an easy fix!


I just saved having to trouble John with a "honey-do" when he gets home from work.  What a great wife I am.  Such a helper! 

Uh oh . . .


Just serve me up a big helping of humble pie for Thanksgiving, and please pass the super glue. 

Thankful thought:  Thanks to whoever invented super glue (I hope it works well enough), and thanks to my wonderful, patient, never-disparaging husband who realizes my heart is in the right place, even when my efforts to help fail miserably.  Oh, and he does know how to replace toilets if need be.  I just hope he doesn't have to.

Oh, keep your fingers crossed on the super glue repair.  Cheaptoilettanklids.com tells me I made a $50 blunder!

Over the River and Through the Woods . . . Here Come the Kids!

Oh boy, oh boy!  The first group of family and friends arrives tonight.  I'm looking forward to having a houseful of people again, though we won't have as many as in some previous years.  Only 13 total this year.  This year we are dispensing of the kid's table.  We moved nearly everything out of the family room (the piano being a notable, heavy exception) and put in our big table, along with our recent craigslist find table.  Notice the refinishing-a-la-tablecloth method I used:


Because the tables are pushed together, the idea is that everyone can join in one conversation if desired. 

Some of the furniture from the family room made its way to the dining room:


I rather like the coziness of the room now.  (I think it feels more cozy than it looks.) I'll probably keep it that way, at least through Christmastime, since we will be in need of the large table arrangement through the holidays.  I envision putting the Christmas tree in that room--which, of course, will add to the comfortable feeling. 

Today will be spent making beds, cleaning bathrooms, and stopping at Trader Joe's for the obligatory Tofurkey for the vegetarians of the bunch.  Reno helped me out already today by sleeping in!  He was probably all tuckered out from waking up so many times during the night.  However, I appreciated a couple of hours of uninterrupted work time this morning. 

Thankful thought:  I'm thankful for anticipation and the fun of planning.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Much Attempted, Little to Show; Or, When All Else Fails, Post Puppy Photos

Today is just going to be one of "those" days, at least where this blog is concerned.  My attempted blog post from yesterday never materialized.  Oh, I had plenty of ideas, but nothing ended up sounding right.  This morning I had another idea.  I was going to design my own visiting teaching handout and share that.  Well, the handout turned out great (IMHO), but I'm suffering from being on the learning curve and can't quite figure out how to show it to you on the blog.  There is a way to post to a blog from Word, but I keep getting a warning that says my log-in info could be visible if I continue.  Umm, no thanks.  Anyway, I'll continue trying to learn what I'm doing blog-wise, but I can't spend more time on it right now.  (Thanksgiving is coming, after all!)

In the meantime, I will share more puppy photos, because, really, they never grow old (the photos, that is). 

As you can see, Reno is still really small.  We had to move his food and water bowls out of the stand:


He is fairly adorable, though:


Thankful thought:  Thanks again for my friends and family, who are so patient with me as I attempt to get it right. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

So Long, Nicki; Hello, Reno!

This afternoon Nicki left our house, but we'll still see her at our local guide dog meetings.  I'm glad we had a chance to have her here for a few weeks.



We met the puppy truck for the first time.  It was hard to miss.


Happy day!  The truck driver put Reno into our arms.


After a comfortably-paced meal, a trip to the backyard to relieve, and a bit of playtime, Reno is curled up sleeping by my feet.  So far, so good. 

Thankful thought:  Thanks for my family, particularly John, who supports me in my crazy endeavors like puppy raising.  (And youngest daughter, who is a co-puppy raiser with me!)

Thanksgiving Daily

Here's a concise little video which explains what I'm trying to develop:  having a sense of gratitude daily.  




Check back tonight if you'd like to see some cute puppy photos.   Nicki is ready to live with the man who will be her puppy raiser.  (She's reliably housebroken now.)  We will miss having her around, but we will not be puppy-less.  This afternoon we get to meet the Guide Dogs for the Blind puppy truck to receive a 9-week-old male yellow lab.  We will be his puppy raiser until he is ready to return to San Rafael for his formal guide dog training, typically when he is 14-18 months old.  So stayed tuned . . .

Thankful thought:  Thanks for the colorful fall leaves and for enthusiastic sweet puppy greetings.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

One Week Until Thanksgiving! For What Are You Thankful?

John's a big believer in one holiday at a time.  No Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, for example.  I get to bend this rule a bit, because the choirs start practicing Christmas music long before Thanskgiving, and the accompanist better be able to keep up!  Shhh, don't tell, but the radio in my car is already tuned to the all-Christmas-music station, too.  

I do agree with John in that I do not enjoy the "rush, rush, buy, buy" commercialization of Christmas.  (Though I do like to shop ahead throughout the year when I find a bargain.)  I would rather the Christmas decorations appeared after Thanksgiving, though I'm not above putting the tree up on the day after Thanksgiving. 

However, I am definitely all for having an attitude of gratitude, as well as keeping the spirit of Christmas alive, throughout the year.  As it is only one week until Thanksgiving, I thought I'd share the following video clip to get us all inspired to consider those things for which we are thankful.


Thankful thought:  Thanks for Thanksgiving, which gives us an opportunity to reflect on how fortunate we are.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

From Bunk Bed to King: Another Twin Bed Conversion

I wanted this to be a surprise, but as usual, I can't wait.  So, oldest son, you can just pretend to be surprised when you are home for the holidays. 

The bunk bed has been transformed:


I even straightened things up a bit and hung pictures:


Don't worry, though.  I didn't get rid of anything:


Hope you like it!

Thankful thought:  Thanks for my kids, who have given me wonderful memories, and who make me proud to be Mom. 


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

No More Arkansas Traveler, or in other words, My Roof is Fixed!


Granted, the photo isn't great, but it shows a day's labor done.  We've had a leaky roof since we moved here, which we've had "fixed", only to have it drip again in next year's rain shower.  (Living in the desert does have its advantages; our rains are infrequent.)

Today, though, I have high hopes that the repair was done correctly.  Instead of applying a seal of some sort, this time the tiles were removed and new felt paper put down.  That should eliminate the need for drip-catching buckets. 

It feels good to have another big item on the to-do list done, even if it wasn't a DIY project.

Thankful thought:  Thanks for honest workers who take pride in a job well-done. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

17 Miracles

Tonight for our family home evening, we watched a movie called 17 Miracles.  It told of experiences from the Willie handcart company.  Some of John's ancestors, the Moultons, were part of that company, so watching the movie was especially meaningful. 

A few years ago, John and I (and three of our kids) had the opportunity to participate in a pioneer trek re-enactment, where we pushed and pulled handcarts over the course of a few days.  (Our oldest had participated four years previously, and our youngest will have the opportunity to participate this next summer.)  We loved being Ma and Pa to the teens who were assigned to be our family for the trek.  I also gained a deeper appreciation for those handcart pioneers.  I was only pushing and pulling for a few days, during pleasant weather, with adequate food, and with no worry about the outcome for my family.  The pioneers walked for months, in freezing weather, on very strict rations of meager food, and experienced sickness and even death.  Their faithful examples stand to remind me of how much I have to be thankful for. 

Thankful thought:  Thanks for food, shelter, easy transportation, medical treatments, and those who live with great conviction.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I Love a Bargain!

With Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon, with the accompanying guests and parties, I start taking inventory.  Do we have places for everyone to eat, sit, and sleep?  How can we make things more convenient? 

Last year, we used a folding table to supplement our regular tables at Thanksgiving.  This year, said folding table is being used as a craft table.  I could, of course, take everything off the table, but John suggested that we pick up another folding table.  I suggested that if we were going to buy another table, maybe we could find one with a little more character for about the same price. Thanks to craigslist, I was right!

Here's a peek at a couple of the feet:


Aren't they cool?  The table is a drop-leaf style, with 4 additional leaves.  This is what it looks like with the additional leaves removed, and the sides dropped:


The table could definitely use refinishing, but the additional leaves are in good shape.  The table is definitely solid wood--mahogany, John thinks. Imagine how beautiful it will be when the entire table has a finish like this:


(OK, so maybe I should have dusted/polished that leaf first.) I think that if I'm being realistic, the "refinishing" that my Thanksgiving guests will see will be a tablecloth.  Maybe by Thanksgiving 2012, I'll have it really refinished.

Anyway, the table is over 8 feet long when all the leaves are in.  I love the fact that it can be as large or as small as we need it to be.  And I absolutely love that we paid just a bit more than the cost of a utilitarian plastic mass-produced rectangular table.  (Not that there is anything wrong with those--in fact, we will definitely be using utilitarian plastic mass-produced chairs around this new table!)

Thankful thought:  Thanks to my mom, who taught me the joy of bargain-hunting!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Family History Photos

My latest family history project involves scanning old photos into the computer and gathering bits of information about my ancestors.  I'm trying to go beyond the dates and places and learn more about personalities, interests, and talents.  In observance of the upcoming Veteran's Day, I thought I'd share some photos of ancestors who served.  Here is my great-grandpa in his WWI uniform:

Donald Joseph Telfer
Unfortunately, though he survived the war, he died at a young age in a mining accident.  I don't know a lot about him, but I do know that my grandma was at school making Valentine's day cards at the time of his fall.  I wish I could ask her to tell me more about his personality.  (My unsolicited advice:  ask your parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles to describe their parents and grandparents.)


This next photo is of my grandpa in his WWII navy uniform:


Ettis Raymond Brockett



I have many memories of Grandpa: how he would give us kids the "finger guns" when we walked into his house; his big container of pennies that we could look through and pick from to add to our collection; how he loved to read about the wonders of the world; how he would send me "beer" money at college--his little joke, knowing it would definitely be root beer money; his kind heart and willingness to help everyone--he literally invited strangers into his home.



This final photo doesn't have anything to do with Veteran's Day, but I just love my great-grandma's outfit!

Malissa Edna Morgan

My mom remembers Lis as an outgoing, talkative person.  She also remembers the iced cakes with nuts sprinkled on top that Lis would make.  According to my mom, Lis believed that if you knew how to play the piano, you would be popular.  Lis did not play the piano, but send money to my mom's parents so they could purchase a piano so my mom could take lessons.  She loved lilacs and listening to baseball games on the radio.  She particularly like the Yankees.  She liked to play cards, and taught my mom to play solitaire.  Apparently she was very ill when she was young, and as a result, did not have much hair, so she always wore hats.  She was also tall, about 5'8", which made her a bit self-conscious.  I think she must have been pretty self-assured the day she wore this hat, though.  It would easily push her height well over the six-foot mark.  I imagine it was quite the fashion statement in its day! 

Thankful thought:  Thanks for grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on. I love learning about their personalities, and seeing how they have influenced my life.  For example, if Lis hadn't funded the purchase of a piano for my mom, I probably wouldn't have learned how to play.  (Although I'm afraid my piano playing didn't put me in the ranks of the popular kids at school. My kids are absolutely convinced, and probably rightly so, that I was [am?] a geek.)  I have to wonder, too, if loving lilacs is an inherited trait.  If so, I know where I got it!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

All We Need Now is 100 Degree Heat and Snow (A Nearly Wordless Wednesday)

Fall has arrived:





Oh, wait, no, I meant spring:






My yard can't make up its mind. 


Thankful thought:  I'm thankful for the seasons.  


Monday, November 7, 2011

Miscellaneous Thankful Thoughts

I love this time of year.  Judging from comments from my facebook friends, giving thanks is on the minds of many right now.  I've had multiple thankful thoughts rattling around in my head lately, and wanted to share them.

Thankful thoughts:  Thanks for a puppy who has decided that her toys are interesting after all, and is contentedly gnawing on them right now.  Thanks for a carpet cleaner, which comes in handy with a puppy in the house.  Thanks for a random visit with a friend in the craft store--it was great to catch up with you, Karin!  Thanks for a warm house on cold days.  Thanks for youngest daughter, who has taken to thanking me for giving her rides to early-morning seminary.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thanks for Awesome People

Today in Sunday school, we discussed examples of people who have gone through trials, and yet who have been able to boldly face those challenges.  (We were reading some of Paul's epistles.)  Our discussion reminded me of the following excerpt, which came from a general conference talk which is found here:

Recently a nine-year-old boy was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer. The doctor explained the diagnosis and the treatment, which included months of chemotherapy and major surgery. He said it would be a very difficult time for the boy and his family but then added, “People ask me, ‘Will I be the same after this is over?’ I tell them, ‘No, you won’t be the same. You will be so much stronger. You will be awesome!’”

Thankful thought:  I'm not going to name names for this post, but I admire those people who have allowed their trials to shape them into the awesome people they are, but have not allowed those trials to define them.  I have been surprised more than once to learn that cheerful individuals have actually experienced great tragedy and sorrow in the past. 



Saturday, November 5, 2011

Celebrating "Fall Behind" a Day Early

I didn't roll out of bed until 7 this morning.  Because youngest daughter attends early-morning seminary, which starts at 6 a.m., weekday mornings start early.  Weekends used to allow me a little bit of a lazier start to the day (though I'm still an early riser), but that was before Nicki came along.  She hasn't quite mastered sleeping through the night yet, and though she is very good about going right back to sleep in the middle of the night, once 4:45 rolls around, she is rarin' to go.

Dear, sweet John got up with Nicki this morning, and I blissfully caught up on some shut-eye. 

Thankful thought:  Thanks to John, who selflessly gave me an extra 2 hours of sleep. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A More Universally Applicable Gift Idea

I realize yesterday's post was really specific to my husband.  I mean, there probably aren't a lot of people out there wondering, "How can I make my Big Boy fit in with the seasons better?"

Today, however, I finished putting together a different birthday present, one which I imagine has more widespread appeal.  I thought I had originally found the idea on www.thedatingdivas.com, but I can't seem to find it there today.  Anyway, what I did was come up with twelve date ideas, then made each idea into a cute card, and put each card in an envelope.  Voila!  Date-of-the-month club!  I put the twelve envelopes, along with an explanatory letter, in a larger envelope.  Now each month, John can open an envelope and we can plan which evening we will use the date-of-the-month idea. 

While we are very good about having a weekly date, we have occasionally been caught in the "I don't know, what do you want to do?" conundrum.  I've had fun coming up with some new ideas, along with fresh takes on old ideas.  Sorry, I can't tell you what the ideas are, as John does read this blog (Hi, honey!), and I don't want to ruin the surprise for him.  But you can find lots of ideas at the above-mentioned web site, and you can also explore places where you live that you haven't been before.

I love hearing about good gift ideas, so feel free to comment and share ideas you have!

Thankful thought:  I'm thankful for so many people, who have given me thoughtful, made- or picked-out-with- love gifts.  If you are old enough to remember Romper Room, you will understand why I feel like the host of that show:  "I see Nicole, I see Gwen, I see Ann, I see Malinda, I see Julie, I see Mimi, I see Alisha, I see Sheryl, I see Sue, I see Jenna, I see Debbie, I see Rhea, I see Leslie . . ."  The list doesn't stop; I just have to stop to bake a cake. Thank you, friends!  (And thank you, family--I especially see each of you!)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

If Tomorrow is Your Birthday, Don't Read This Until After Opening Presents

Tomorrow is John's birthday.  I asked him what he wanted for his birthday, and the only idea he had was a new sun shade for the car windshield.  Bless his heart, but I wanted to do something a little more than that.  Something meaningful, yet frugal.  I've been thinking, googling, thinking some more, and finally came up with an idea!

Before I tell you what I did, let me tell you that for years, John has been talking about how great it would be to get a Big Boy statue and put it in our front yard and decorate it for each season/holiday.  (I'm pretty sure he isn't actually serious about this, but you never know . . . ) Anyway, earlier this year the antique store had the statue!  It was probably 7 feet tall, but the sticker price was too high.  Besides that, we would have had to rent a truck to even get it home.  However, I was able to find this little guy:


John was thrilled with his own Big Boy, but now he needs props to make it a seasonal item. I won't show you all of them, but here are a few I threw together:



I struggled a bit to figure out what to do for some of the months, until I discovered sports beads at the craft store.  Now Big Boy has leis for all of the seasons:  football, basketball, and baseball!  Here he is sporting his football lei:


I recognize this probably isn't one of those ideas that many other people will think, "Yes!  That is exactly what my husband will appreciate!", but I am excited, because I'm pretty sure John is going to be tickled pink. 

(In case you were wondering, yes, he will receive his wished-for sun shade, as well as a few other things.)

Thankful thought:  Thanks to John, my fun-loving husband.  Happy birthday!