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Showing posts from 2011

Reviewing the Past Year; Looking Ahead to the New

In thinking about goals for the new year, I have to think about how practical each goal is.  Will I really find the time to do whatever it is I dream of doing?  The answer, of course, is that I have just as much time as anyone else, and I just have to establish patterns or routines which allow me to meet my goals. Trying to do too much all at once is a recipe for disaster, but assuming that I can be patient with myself and set realistic expectations, I should be able to achieve my top priorities. So, the real question is, what are my top priorities? I love this quote by Elder Ian S. Ardern: "I know our greatest happiness comes as we tune in to the Lord and to those things which bring a lasting reward, rather than mindlessly tuning in to countless hours of status updates, Internet farming, and catapulting angry birds at concrete walls. I urge each of us to take those things which rob us of precious time and determine to be their master, rather than allowing them through their

January 2012 Visiting Teaching Handout

Every month, I have the opportunity to go visit several other women from church, as part of the visiting teaching program.  It's a great chance to sit and chat and develop friendships.   There is also a message for each month.  January's message is about the visiting teaching program itself.  I decided to try to be creative and design a handout that visually captures the idea of visiting teaching.   And unlike last time I created a handout, I think I have figured out how to share it with you! If you would like a copy, click here . Please let me know if that isn't working.  I'm still learning! Update:  I think it is easiest to just right click on the image, "save picture as", and then open to print in whatever format you wish.  Thankful thought:  Thanks for those who share their knowledge to help me (and others!) learn new skills.

I'm Thinking This Must Be a Misprint

We dropped the car off at the shop yesterday for new brakes.  One of the parts wasn't in stock, so we had to wait until this morning to pick up the car.  When I looked at the receipt, I realized: 1.  The car is probably due for another oil change now. 2.  A 1999 Ford Escort can go a LOT faster than I realized! Thankful thought:  Thanks for honest auto repairmen, even if they sometimes mess up the paperwork!

Blog Construction Zone

As you've probably noticed, I'm in the process of a blog remodel.  Bear with me as things change around a bit, and please feel free to leave any suggestions or comments.  I'm particularly trying to decide which tab categories to feature.  Thanks!

Wordless Wednesday: Siblings

Loving the Change of Pace

I've decided that one reason we set new year's resolutions is because we have about a week between Christmas and New Year's Day when we have a change of pace, a chance to slow down and reflect.  I love to plan, but I don't like to be rushed, so having a week to have ideas percolate in my brain is refreshing. The thoughts are still rattling around up there, so I'm not ready to take a leap and publicly declare change--don't rush me, remember?--but I am enjoying quiet time. In some ways, though, my house is noisier.  My brother and his wife and kids are staying with us for a few days.  His oldest child is years younger than my youngest, so we are enjoying having young children in the house.  One of their favorite games is guessing which cousin will wake up first.  We just laughed when we were told that my brother's oldest woke my oldest up by saying, "It's 8:30!! Why aren't you up? Are you sick????"  After a week of college finals, I think i

A Perfect Family: Another Myth Dispelled

This afternoon, one of our neighbors stopped by to deliver goodies to us.  She gushed about how much she loves having us carol to her each December.  She said that she wished her (grown) kids could be there when we sing on her doorstep, so they "could know how perfect families are." Um, thanks for the compliment, but we aren't perfect. We do have family traditions that I am pleased with.  We have family home evening (FHE) every week, for instance.  I would be lying if I said that every FHE is a model of domestic living, though.  We are human, and sometimes the lesson or activity doesn't quite go over the way we would hope.  One joke in the Mormon community is that family home evening is the only argument that begins and ends with prayer.  Another less-than-stellar moment occurred on vacation.  We had taken a red-eye flight to Boston.  We arrived in the morning, and in an attempt to adjust to eastern time, we stayed awake and started walking along the Boston Trail.

Missionaries and Christmas

The missionaries came over for dinner at our house a couple of nights ago.  My oldest served a mission to Japan, so one of the missionaries was asking him about what it was like in Japan, what foods he ate, etc.  The other missionary was fairly quiet, which was completely understandable, as he is from Cambodia and still getting acquainted with English.  (He speaks very well, however, considering how new he is.)  He did laugh, though, when we pointed out that he will be having similar conversations when he returns to Cambodia:  "What strange things did you eat in the United States?"  I don't know Cambodian cuisine, but I made a guess that rice and curry wouldn't be completely foreign to him, and served that.  Dessert, however, was probably a bit strange.  I found an idea for Snowmen Sundaes here , and thought it was a cute, quick dessert.  We used pretzel sticks instead of licorice for the arms, though.. The missionaries try to keep themselves busy and focused on t

Wordless Wednesday: Caroling Captured on Camera (Thanks, Cindy!)

Caroling Without a Camera

Christmastime means caroling (or carolling , if you prefer the British spelling.  I might.  I can't make up my mind.)  Anyway, each year we crazy parents insist that our children accompany us down our street to sing songs and deliver goodies to our neighbors.  And each year, there is the inevitable jockeying for position on each front porch, and discussion about whose turn it is to hand over the treats.  I think we have caroled every December, with the exception of the year of pregnancy bed rest (OK, it was only 20 weeks, but it felt like a year--and it was definitely over the holidays!) Even then, though, John might have taken the other kids caroling.  I honestly don't remember.  But I digress again.  My point is that though caroling is such a big tradition for us, I have not once thought to document the tradition with a photograph.  I did notice, however, that one of our friends snapped a picture of us last night.  I'm going to ask if I can get a copy of it. I'm w

Not Perfection, But Satisfaction

As of about 8:30 last night, I am finished with accompanying choirs for the year.  Though I enjoy playing for them, it will be nice to have a bit of a break.  It will probably take a couple of weeks for various measures of songs to exit my brain anyway, after having stewed in there for the past few months.  Of course, I made mistakes, but they were minor and hopefully unnoticed.  The choirs performed marvelously, under the direction of talented choristers.  There was a quiet stillness after the final strains of "Silent Night" concluded.  Choir and congregation alike felt the true spirit of Christmas.  Thankful thought:  Thanks for patient choristers and choir members, who not only ignore my (sometimes glaring) errors, but even thank me for playing for them.  It's wonderful to be around so many talented, gracious people.  Thanks also to my college kids who are home for the break, one of whom willingly acted as my page-turner yesterday.  I know I should be able to turn

December Garden Walk

I realize that I missed the November garden walk.  It crossed my mind sometime between the turkey and the pie, I think.  Anyway, here is a peek into my garden now. One of the garden tasks that makes me chuckle is gathering the tumbleweeds.  I suppose if I had grown up here, I would not find the task so humorous.  Because the novelty has not worn off, I am still amused by this job. It's starting to look like another season in the garden. The leaves are turning color and falling.    There are signs of life in the vegetable garden, though.  We've harvested some peas, and the cabbage is heading up nicely.  Thankful thought:  Thanks for the seasons, which add variety to the year. 

Wordless Wednesday: Reno Three Weeks Ago and Reno Today

Planning Around the Sour Cream Once Again

Since we moved into our house a couple of years ago, we've been trying to figure out what to do with the formal living room. It has served as a girl scout meeting spot, as the place where all the boy cousins sleep at Thanksgiving, as a greenhouse for tomato starts, and as a boxing ring.  It has been our very own "room of requirements."  As wonderful as all of that is, I occasionally find myself thinking of just what I want that room to be.  I envision a calm room (oops, there goes the boxing ring!), and perhaps something a little more formal than we've had in the past.  (None of us are terribly formal people, so I'm definitely not talking stuffy here!)  I've been keeping my eyes open, hoping that I would eventually find a piece of furniture, or something, that would help give direction to my idea.  Well, last week in our local Goodwill thrift store, I found an oil painting that fills the bill: Living in the desert, I sometimes miss the rain, so it is ni

Wordless Wednesday: Tomatoes, Part 2 (aka Spaghetti Sauce!)

Tomatoes, Part 1 (Yes, I Know it is December!)

Thanks to a generous somewhat-local farmer with a greenhouse, the church recently received a donation of tomatoes. While many of the boxes went to charities and those in need, there were boxes left over. Those boxes were available for church members who wanted them. I picked up one box last Friday, but there were still boxes available on Sunday, so I picked up two more, for a total of 60 pounds of tomatoes--enough for 2 batches of spaghetti sauce to can. I wish I could say that I have finished canning jars upon jars of spaghetti sauce, but that is not the case. However, I can say that in addition to the more traditional December activities of cookie-baking and fudge-making, I have peeled 60 pounds of tomatoes. For the curious, that is around 24 quarts of tomatoes. Tomorrow I plan to saute onions, peppers, and mushrooms to add to the tomatoes, and then let the concoction simmer on the stove for hours. I think I should end up with 18 quarts of spaghetti sauce when all is said

Candlelight Processional at Disneyland

Yesterday, we went to Disneyland.  I love to go to Disneyland, particularly when I can play tour guide, particularly on non-busy days.  Yesterday was a crowded Saturday, and I didn't bring any tourists along. But the first Saturday in December is my favorite day to visit Disneyland, because that is the day of the Candlelight Processional.  Once a year, choirs from all over gather together at Disneyland.  Choir members walk down Main Street, carrying (battery-operated) candles and singing Christmas carols.  They start at Small World and end at the Main Street train station, where they join a full orchestra.  A celebrity reads the account of the birth of Jesus from the book of Luke in the Bible.  Gary Sinise read this year. After every few verses, the choir sings another musical number.  The audience joins for "Silent Night." Literally thousands of individuals, most in standing-room-only roped-off partitions, make up the audience.  I generally don't like

Deck the Halls and Ignore the Mess

I love to get started with decorating for Christmas right after Thanksgiving.  I mean, if I'm going to go to the trouble to decorate, I might as well enjoy it for a while, right?  But if I were to leave the tree up until spring, I think it would whisper "procrastinator!" every time I would walk by.  Where's the joy in that?  So, I try for an early start. I had every intention of sharing photos of my lovely, decorated house in a blog post yesterday.  The trouble is, I'm not Martha Stewart.  The trees are up, but my house is a mess.  I'm not  done .  The boxes of lights for the outside are plopped unceremoniously in the entry.  Many of the empty boxes which held the ornaments are still waiting to be returned to the attic.  And the rest-of-the-year decorations which were removed to make way for the Christmas stuff have yet to be hidden from view.  (To be honest, even Martha Stewart has to get the boxes down from the attic or where ever she stores them.  I thin

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!

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 hav

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

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.

Wordless Wednesday: Thanks for Super Glue and Insulating Foam

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.  Cheaptoilettank

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, wi

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 o

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.

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

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.  

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. 

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

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--mahoga

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

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.