Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Christmas Post

Here is my (now) Annual Christmas Post.  I wrote it in 2011 for  Heidi Poppins, but the Christmas Music is back on the radio, and I am back on my Pandora and YouTube mixes.  Just an FYI--each word in blue (on the words "Truly great music of the ages")  links  onto a beautiful performance of a beautiful Christmas Carol.

I have stopped listening to "The Christmas Station" on the radio. I used to love to turn it on in the background to help me get into a Christmas-sy mood--but now it just enrages me, so I leave it off.

There is a simple explanation (and no, it is not my hormones making me madder than David Banner on a bad day!). It is that some of the greatest music ever written is about the birth of the Christ Child--and very, very little of that great music is played on the radio. Instead, we are subjected to the worst twaddle of the twentieth century (and yes, I am referring to Wham's nausea inducing "classic" "Last Christmas" or the electronic saccharine of "Do They Know It's Christmas").

Apparently 1984 was the bottom of the barrel, song-wise--or it would have been, except that was the year that Mark Lowry wrote the words to "Mary Did You Know" (although it took another six years for someone to set it to music).

In this song, the author, Mark Lowry cites a laundry list of disabilities and sorrows that the Savior miraculously healed. Most of us know or have interacted with people who were blind, deaf, crippled or lamed in one way or another. When I was young I wondered if being "dumb" or mute still existed, because I had never met or even heard of someone who was mute. Very few people have.

Now I am the mother of one.

Partially the reason we don't hear about it is that the name has changed. Now it is called being "non-verbal"--which is actually more accurate. My daughter can not speak, but she is FAR from being the silent creature that the word "mute" implies, and, while she has neurological and developmental issues, no one who has ever met her would consider her "dumb". Also, it is statistically quite rare.

However, that doesn't change the fact that she doesn't speak. I have never heard her say "mama" or tell someone her name or how old she is. She can’t tell me where it hurts, or what she is thinking about. I would give anything to understand what is going on in her head, what she wants and how she feels.

Which is why listening to "Mary Did You Know" invariably reduces me to tears, especially when it is sung (perfectly) by Kathy Mattea.

This song is not only beautiful, reverent and thought provoking, but when she sings (at 2:07) that "the dumb will speak the praises of the Lamb" I am reminded that the true meaning of Christmas is the birth of Him who heals all sorrows, including my non-verbal child. I know that someday, my funny, loving, adorable daughter will look into her Savior’s face and "sing his praises".

So, instead of listening to the radio, I made myself a playlist on YouTube, so I can listen to the truly great music of the ages.

May you have a wonderful, joy filled Christmas--and may you be aware of the miracles that you take for granted every day.

Monday, December 16, 2013

"The Little Drummer Boy" made me cry

We had a neat opportunity last week. The mother of my dear friend is in a nearby assisted living facility, and each Christmas, the residents put on a show for family and friends. I find that in spite of a certain amount of randomness, mumbling, and "not-quite-with-the-tune/pitch/key-ness", it gives me much more real holiday spirit than any polished professional show on TV.

This year I noticed they had two gentlemen in the front row, shaking bells. I watched them a lot over the evening, and leaned over and mentioned to my brother that one of them had been a drummer. He NEVER lost the rhythm--never wandered, never sagged, faltered or strayed (THAT could not to be said of the other gentleman!). As a former chorister, I know that is MUCH harder than it looks to do! I am fairly certain he had had a stroke--and that he was now non-verbal. I am very attuned to the non-verbal!

As one of the very last songs, they brought out a snare drum, and introduced this gentleman as Clarence, and announced that he would be featured as they sang "The Little Drummer Boy"--a song that has never filled me with Christmas Cheer, but does occasionally make me gag. She also said "I bet you didn't know that Clarence used to play in a band professionally, and has made several records!", which didn't surprise me at all!

So, for the first time in my life, the reality of the gift that was being offered on the words "I played my drum for Him...I played my best for Him" made me cry. Because many gifts of the heart are offered silently (or with drums!) and are easy to overlook!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Not particularly exciting happenings

Last week I got the laptop repaired, which means this week I am creating this epistle from the LOVELY warmth of my electric-mattress-pad enhanced bed! YAY!! On Wednesday, the sweet Faith-In-God Girls had their Mother Daughter Tea Party, which SmallDaughter graced for long enough to--very carefully-- pour each of us a cup of apple juice from our teapot, cruise the buffet table, scrounging grapes and take a bow, then she was off to the gym to play wild games with Uncle R! In the wildness, I am pretty sure she broke a toe, which is now showing some really impressive bruising, but there just isn’t much to do for broken toes!

BigGirl is working on painting our downstairs bathroom, which is pretty darn exciting to me! It always stuns me how fresh and clean a coat of paint makes a room look!

SmallDaughter had Parent Teacher conference, which was mostly just letting me know how much they love her and the funny things she does. My Favorite Gentleman got to come home, and had time to work on cleaning out and winterizing the chicken coop, which is a huge blessing to me! On Saturday, we went on a date! We went to see Thor 2--we were going to see Ender’s Game, but it was all sold out. Then we went to a surprise 40th birthday party for a dear friend, which was very fun!

Sunday was Stake Conference, and my favorite part was that they had 3 very young converts tell their conversion stories, which were awesome! The rest of it was excellent, as well.

On Monday, the Library had an “Interactive” showing of “The Wizard of Oz”, which is one of SmallDaughter’s favorites. It was really a cute idea--they gave everybody a little bag with a set of instructions and a bunch of goodies, and the movie was set to be a sing along. When Glinda came out, we all blew bubbles, and there was a lollipop for the Lollipop Guild, etc. Super Fun--especially since SmallDaughter thinks ALL movies are interactive!

On Tuesday, I had my Library Board Meeting, which wasn’t particularly newsworthy or notable, except for the deeply embarrassing part of tripping on the way in and ripping my long john/tights and thoroughly scraping up my knee and bruising my dignity! Tuesday evening was RS Pie night, and we made about 120 pies. BigGirl was really cranking along--she made more than I did because I helped entertain small children--we had a lot of fun together.

On Wednesday morning, BigGirl & I went to the church where about 15 sisters made big, fancy (labor intensive!) snowflakes to decorate for the Ward Christmas Social. SmallDaughter didn’t have school, so she and LargeBoy had a fun time together! In the evening, we had Youth--LargeBoy looked spiffy in his Scout Uniform, helping with the pack meeting--where they had a “bridging ceremony” to welcome 2 new Webelos into Boy Scouts from Cubs.

Thursday was SmallDaughter’s final Riding Therapy of the year. It is going to be a long, horseless winter, since EVERY TIME we get in the car, she asks if we are going for horsies! March can’t come soon enough for her! My Favorite Gentleman came home Thursday night, and continued the Chicken Coop work--he is also modifying their pen and fences. On Friday evening, My Favorite Gentleman & LargeBoy went to their Father & Son’s banquet, which they had instead of a campout, because of timing and weather issues. They enjoyed good food and company! While they were gone, we had a lovely “Girls Night In” with Miss C. We watched “Charlie’s Aunt”--a very old stage play that was made into a movie with Jack Benny in 1941--but it was still pretty cute & funny, and we ate junk food until I got tired and had to go to bed and the party continued without me!

Yesterday we had our Primary Sacrament Meeting Program. It was really good, and I am always amazed at the outpouring of the Spirit that comes with it! There were also a bunch of callings and releasings---reshuffling both the Young Men and Young Women presidencies. After church, we had the Young Women in Excellence, which they had the YW plan and present. They did a LOVELY job--it was very focused on the values and the progress they had each made, with very little of the “dog & pony show” that sometimes happens with YW things. It was really neat to see the wide range of talents our YW have.

In seminary we are in Mosiah 21-22, where we have the 2nd telling of the escape of Limhi’s people, which is a great allegory of the escape from sin and the process of repentance.

We are excited to go to My Favorite Gentleman’s folks house for Thanksgiving--already planning to play games and eat too much! We will probably end up at my folks for Friday and Saturday--to play games and eat too much! (I LOVE this time of year!)

Monday, October 21, 2013

I am not a huge fan of the creepy and nasty parts of Halloween, but I love any excuse to dress up, so I deal with it. I love creating costumes, and some years I have done in the neighborhood of 20 full costumes in the weeks before Halloween. The single WORST trend in costuming, though is this:

Also presented in this VERY crude (but sadly accurate!) video:

So, I was SUPER excited to find this site: Take Back Halloween "A costume guide for women with imagination". The costumes are all no-sew and (supposedly) easily replicated through found pieces or handily linked supplies. (The site itself doesn't sell anything; they just source the goodies for you.)

But here's the best part: these costumes are AWESOME. They have costumes that are refreshingly imaginative and detailed, drawing from historical figures, folklore, ancient religions, and a little of everything, really. In fact, you will get quite a history and world culture class just by reading through their site! YAY!

Friday, October 11, 2013

One of the things I love about General Conference, is knowing that the people I love, however scattered they may be, are sitting somewhere listening to the same words! Most of all, I love listening to the inspired messages of true Men & Women of God, who have given their lives in service to what they believe*.

My news last week was boring, because it was just being up to my eyebrows in canning. I see people who can quickly and gracefully, but I don’t seem to be one of them. Anyway, it was boring--even being here, and much worse to describe! I canned chicken (from my own flock), potato/carrot/celery soup base, hot pepper jelly and salsa. I got my garden cleaned out and ready for winter. I still need to do my flower beds. I have to finish winterizing both beehives this weekend. Yes, you read that right--BOTH hives! My friend Dave gave me his beehive, since they are moving across the country! YAY! (about the beehive--not the move, we will really miss them!) He has a very different kind of hive than I do, which I have been wanting to try, so it will be interesting to compare. I won’t move it up here until spring though, when it is lighter (because they eat all their honey stores) and they aren't defensive (because they don’t have any honey stores!).

Last week My Favorite Gentleman came home on Thursday night, so that on Friday, he was able to load up the truck (and BigGirl, LargeBoy & my youngest brother R) for their annual camping trip. I was planning on a quiet day watching Conference--with just Sister V & SmallDaughter, then the campers getting home around 6 for the guys to leave for their cookout before the Priesthood session. They had a great time, in spite of the rain (beautiful weather before and after!).

In the morning I ended up with most of my seminary class here (4 teen boys + mom + adorable baby sister, 8 months, very smiley!), and we were smashed into the office to watch on the desktop because my laptop died the death. And then, the campers came home at 3, soaking wet. We borrowed a laptop for the afternoon session (thankfully--there is NO WAY we could have fit another person--let alone 3--into the office!).

My Favorite Gentleman, Brother R & LargeBoy left for the Priesthood Session and Cookout, then, the seminary boys ended up being HERE for the Priesthood session, with parents & adorable younger sibs. Although it was not at all what I had planned, it was a good day. And I did manage to get the chicken in the pressure cooker--eventually. I worked on a project while I listened to conference--I crocheted a scarf for a dear friend, and I was pleased that it turned out really nice, especially since I don’t remember crocheting anything since college! I also untangled and rolled 2 pillowcases full of yarn that I had to was because it got wet and nasty in the basement.

On Sunday, I had to drive My Favorite Gentleman to his workplace, and we took SmallDaughter with us. As we drove along a road we don’t use very often, she saw the Farm Market, and said “there!”--pointing and gesturing! She remembered that TWO YEARS ago, we took her there for their hay maze and giant slide! I wasn't stopping on Sunday morning, but on Wed, we went into town early (BigGirl was setting up for Young Women) and I took SmallDaughter over--she had a great time!

The Wed activity was a “Virtual Road Show” for the Stake, and they filmed a pretty dang hilarious video! I must see if I can get a finished copy. Yesterday, BigGirl & I tended sweet Baby Girl, which was pretty exciting--BigGirl did a quick cleanup of the living room to get it safe for a crawler! SmallDaughter had riding, and the weather was SUPER perfect!

This weekend holds Seminary Inservice (for me), a Stake Youth Activity (for the yoots), and on Sunday--BigGirl is giving a talk, I am doing Sharing Time and we have Sunday Seminary afterwards. I need to get everything prepared today.

We are also pretty excited for our Netflix movie that comes today---the new version of “Much Ado about Nothing” filmed by Joss Whedon in 12 days, casting all of his friends! WOOT!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Some smells are hard to describe

I have to keep reminding myself of how much life has improved!!

SmallDaughter has had some great cognitive growth--I would say in most areas of development, she is definitely in the three year old range. She has also grown over an inch since April--big news for the girl who didn't grow at all for 3 years! That makes her about the size of the average 7 year old. It is easy to forget that chronologically she is almost 13. It is still bitter-sweet to see girls younger than she is that are doing "typical" things, but she is so cute and funny--and herself, that mostly I am just glad to have her.

I was planning to give her a bath tonight. Bath time for someone with Compulsive Skin Picking is NOT easy--she is fully clothed for the majority of the bath, then we cut the tape and take off the gloves, shirt and pants just in time for the final rinsing (or she picks the sores on her legs and elbows until her bath water is the color of Hawaiian Punch).


In the early afternoon, when I went to see what she was doing (silence is golden for some people maybe, but for me it is deeply suspicious!) the reason came clear--she was skating around the bathroom floor on the contents of a bottle of strawberry shampoo and a bottle of Old Spice Body Wash. LOTS of soap. So the bath came early! Still, I think that was the first (or at least the biggest) dumping incident of the week. There have been points in time where I would have traded a year off my life for just one, fairly easy to clean up incident!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Moving into Fall

Last week was a flurry of getting ready for the Ward 1950’s social. I got the skirts made, and at the dress rehearsal on Wed, I fixed all the skirts that needed finishing touches (which was easy for me, and gave poor Becca, who was in charge of a million things one less thing to think about--which is always a noble goal!) SmallDaughter crashed the rehearsal, and wanted to be with her friends (the 8-12 year old “Faith In God Girls), who were—as always-- super sweet and patient with her.

On Thursday, after I brought SmallDaughter home from riding and put her to bed, I harvested all the peppers in my garden, and got them ready, and on Friday afternoon (in the morning I went to our Fiber Arts Group meeting and ran a bazillion errands), I started watching a movie and slicing a billion pounds of peppers. I have canned gallons of jalapenos over the years, and they have never given me a problem (except that time I cut the tip of my finger off with the slicer--(*&$%@#!!!!--but that is a different story!) However, for whatever reason, THIS time, my hands really started burning. It may be because I had several varieties of peppers, or my skin is getting more sensitive with age, I don’t know. Anyway, I stopped and scrubbed them thoroughly, and tried to keep going, but the pain got too bad to continue. It continued to intensify throughout the night--I couldn’t sleep, and with my eyes closed it felt like my hands were blistered with burns, but they weren’t even red! However, they were only bearable if I kept them in cool water--I was melting a bowl of ice in under 10 minutes!

I tried every crazy thing I could find on the internet, including:
washing with:
laundry soap,
dish soap,
toothpaste (can’t recommend that one!),
ammonia (not together!),
rubbing alcohol
soaking in:
lemon juice
lemon juice followed by baking soda,
hemorrhoid cream,
urine (I was desperate by that point--it was about 3 am!),
I don’t remember what else!
Finally, after peaking in intensity around 2am, by 4:30 they had calmed enough that I was finally able to sleep. They felt better in the morning, but my hands stayed tender for several days, although I am not sure if that was from the peppers, or from all the crap I put on them!

On Saturday, I worked (slowly and exhaustedly!) on getting the rest of the peppers sliced and seeded. I finished in time to go to the Social, which turned out amazingly! SmallDaughter had a pretty great evening, because the food was hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries & potato chips! There was a photo booth with adorable props, and she walked around holding them up--cat eye glasses, bow ties, and her favorite--big lips! BigGirl had slept on, and then baby-sat in velcro curlers, so she could do authentic 50’s short curly hair (almost all of the other YW have long hair, so there were LOTS of pony tails). She also tried out the new makeup she got for her birthday from Bec (who also taught her how to apply it!). I did big Marilyn eyeliner for her, and she was truly a knock-out! Lots of people didn’t recognize her, and several gave her that “favorite” left handed compliment “You look so pretty--you don’t even look like yourself!” Her favorite was our good Bishop saying “does your Father know you look like this!?!”

It was a super fun activity, and had really good turn out. I am glad that the entertainment was videotaped, -it is pretty hard to describe the awesomeness! Some of the memorable moments included: The YW presidency doing “Splish Splash” with super cute bathtubs they cut out from cardboard and painted white, then used blue balloons as “The Wonderdog”, The Nursery and Sunbeam boys doing “Jailhouse Rock”, the little girls doing “Lollipop, the Faith in God Girls doing “Hand Jive”--and in one of the sweetest moments of the evening--SmallDaughter went out with them, and was very careful to mimic their dance moves and hand moves!!! I was not the only one crying, either! The young women did a really cute dance to “Blue Suede Shoes” and the young men were a showstopper with a lip synch medley of favorites whose highlights included LargeBoy doing a hilarious Jerry Lee Lewis at the piano for “Great Balls of Fire” (We accidentally even got the hair right!)!

My Favorite Gentleman worked all day Saturday, and then came home about 3 am on Sunday morning, and left from church at 10:30. He only came home because Bill (his usual roommate, and the guy he carpools with) was going on vacation this week, and My Favorite Gentleman was the only way he had to come back!

On Monday, I finally got the dang peppers made into pepper butter and canned, and after all that work, I scorched it, and I am not sure it is edible! I canned it anyway (hope springs eternal, and My Favorite Gentleman’s taste buds are not that picky!) Then I started peeling on the 20 lbs of carrots and 30 lbs of spuds for canning mixed veggies. On Tuesday, BigGirl went with me over to buy the supplies I needed for getting the bees ready for winter, and to pick up my spinning wheel from the repairman. He is fun and delightful (as all spinners are!) and we ended up talking to him for over 2 hours! Then we picked up a bed frame that was on Freecycle, and came home, where I continued to work on canning!

Yesterday, BigGirl helped me get mixed veggies canned and the bees taken care of. They are doing great, but I am not extracting any honey this year--I suspect we will have a long, cold winter (we had a cool, wet summer) and I want to make sure they have plenty of honey. However--their honey is very pretty! We will have one more “bee care day” next week, and that will pretty much be “it” for the year--except for building an insulation box to put around the hive next month.

We started to work on canning some of our chickens, but the meat is so tough that I just ended up putting it in the crockpot all night, so it could soften up! I suspect I will end up canning all of it, for that reason. Today, I need to continue my canning (I am waiting on the dishwasher to finish my jars), and I am harvesting all of my tomatoes. BigGirl has been harvesting my herbs--which had a hard year, since Dad had to put the scaffold up on top of them to work on the siding!

Tonight, besides the RS broadcast, our ward is having a “Super Saturday” with crafts classes and dinner. SmallDaughter is being indescribably cute lately! She has really had some good development, and is just hilarious! She is loving riding the big yellow bus. She can be in a bad mood in the morning, but as soon as she sees the bus she cheers up! School seems to be going well for her so far (she hasn’t complained, anyway!!) Thursdays are her favorite, because she gets to go riding and get “hamburger, fries and apples” from McDonalds. I am not sure which thing excites her more! BigGirl and LargeBoy are doing awesome. They are both pursuing a lot of self directed studies, which is a pretty exciting stage for a mom! The Wonderdog is as awesome as always.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Still Busy!

Things here are, of course, crazy busy, but I am really liking getting settled into a school routine. The big kids have become MUCH more self motivated and they are going great guns on subjects that have caught their interest. I have instituted a new plan for decluttering the house in tiny small bites, so I hope that I can maintain my focus and not get terribly sidetracked.

I took seven of the 8 hens I have been fattening up to get butchered (the other one made her escape and blended back into the flock , and I didn't have the energy to chase her around!). They still weren't very fat!

I was pretty bummed to find out on Friday that My Favorite Gentleman wouldn't be coming home on Saturday, because we went to the Renaissance Faire! It is about a 3 hour drive, and we took my Uncle R (the photographer) and LargeCousin with us. A good time was had by all--the big kids were all costumed, which increases the fun quotient. I had the least fun, since I was buddies with SmallDaughter in the wheelchair, and all the paths were gravel--and hilly. They have lots of fun rides, which are all human-powered, and she LOVED them--which meant every time she was not on a ride (grinning like a loon--it was heart meltingly cute!)--she was BEGGING to be on a ride! So much fun we were all exhausted!

On Sunday, I reminded a Bishopric member to announce the Summer of Service Ending Social for the next Sunday, after Church, and he asked if I would mind if it was postponed, simply because of how busy September is. I didn't mind at all (truthfully, a bit of a relief!), but I only give it 50% odds of happening at all, since October--and indeed the rest of the year--are just as busy!

Remember what we did for My Favorite Gentleman’s Birthday? (Nothing.) We did it AGAIN for our anniversary! Actually, we did do one cool thing. Each day we had an assignment of 5 things that we texted to each other ( one day it was character traits we love, the next day was things we do together, etc.). It was very fun and surprising, and really nice bonding and communicating.

For BigGirl’s 17th birthday, she made cupcakes to share with the Seminary Class, and with the Young Women at church (since her birthday was on a Wed, when they have an activity). SmallDaughter had a Dr. apt. which went well. BigGirl is going to have a Halloween party in Oct. instead of a Birthday party, so our celebrations were pretty low key. She asked for (and received) a full set of Harry Potter, and she also got a super cute Totoro poster. There are a couple of other gifts, but some of them haven’t arrived yet! On Thursday, it was the VIP open house for the newly remodeled Library, which I had to miss (even though I do count as a VIP, since I am a Trustee!) because it was at the same time as SmallDaughter’S FIRST SESSION OF HORSE RIDING THERAPY! And there was MUCH rejoicing! She has been asking to ride her horsies since the day the last session ended!

Friday was absolutely crazy. We had seminary (5:15 to 6:05) then got SmallDaughter dressed and on the bus, and the boys out the door to school (6:30 is--but the bus was a bit early !!!@#%!)--but we got it done! LargeBoy hopped in the shower, and we were on the road by 8 for his 8:30 apt at the Orthopedic Doctor, where Doctor pronounced that his arm is healing well--barring any stupidity! We zoomed back home, where I took a 20 minute power nap so I wouldn't fall asleep while driving, did a bit of housework, and at 11:30, drove BACK up North, picked up SmallDaughter from school and took her over to the Children’s Hospital to see her Neurologist (1 hour, 24 min, according to Google maps, but actually slower because of the muchisimas road construction). We were a bit early, so she got to see all the things she loves at the Hospital, and then we went to meet her new neurologist (as her old neurologist just got married and moved to TX). SmallDaughter loves the weighing, measuring, taking vital stats part--she is VERY good at that routine. Then they showed us to our exam room, and she played with the toys BUT, it took him over 45 minutes to get to us, and she was pretty out of patience! Then we had to go to the lab for bloodwork--and she was SUPER good. She still doesn't like it, and she stiffens up like a plank, but she didn't cry!

We finally left at about 5:43, and I realized I would not be able to make it home, put SmallDaughter to bed, then turn around and go 45 minutes back up the same road for my VERY important beekeeping class. So, I just gave her her meds on time and took her to the meeting with me. That made us a tiny bit early, so I was able to stop at a Farmers Market, and get some yummy fruit. The meeting was excellent--it was the class on how to prepare the hive for winter, LOTS of good info. We came home and I got SmallDaughter into bed (she did NOT sleep through the meeting, as I had hoped she would!), and I took a quick shower and My Favorite Gentleman got home at midnight. BigGirl’s friend (and my seminary student) came over for a birthday sleepover, but I barely saw her! I had terrible insomnia, and couldn't sleep until around 2:30, which was particularly bad since I had to get up at 5:30 and go to the big City for Seminary Inservice. Fortunately, another Sister from the Ward was just called as one of the 2 teachers for the other Seminary Class, and so we rode together and she drove! It was really excellent, and I felt (as I always do!) uplifted and inspired.

I made it safely home and took a nap, and then BigGirl’s new friend who has just moved in, and who is a TOTAL kindred spirit! came over. Her 5 year old sister was totally enchanted by the chicks (which are getting big, but aren't ugly yet), and all the kitties! My Favorite Gentleman took the whole group of us out to the Mexican Restaurant, which was really fun. Afterwards, we rented a movie, and had a family movie night while I worked on sewing the girls circle skirts for the ‘50’s social that the YW are putting on this weekend. It is shaping up to be quite the blowout!

Church was very good--My Favorite Gentleman said the Opening Prayer in Sac. Mtg, but had to leave during the 1st talk (just like usual). The speakers were excellent and I really got a lot out of it. SmallDaughter fell asleep, and slept all through Sunday School on the bench! Her helper sat with her, so he got to go to Adult Sunday School! We found out at about 9 am that the Primary Sacrament Meeting that we have been practicing for--that we were planning to have on Sep. 29th, can’t be then, because it is Fast Sunday--and more importantly FAST AND TESTIMONY MEETING (because of General Conference), so we were kind of scrambling, because our plans changed so suddenly! None of the teachers had lessons prepared because we had planned to be practicing in the Chapel the whole time! We have rescheduled the program to November, and we just ran through it anyway!

We have had several beautiful babies welcomed into the family, and I am feeling particularly blessed!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Time Marches On!

We celebrated My Favorite Gentleman’s 45th birthday by doing--not much! It’s pretty hard to celebrate long distance, especially with no good mailing address!
Last week’s highlight was definitely a visit with our dear friends Bill & Janice, who came into town from far away! Bill has started turning beautiful pens on the lathe, and let us each choose one, and he gave SmallDaughter a wobble duck push toy that she LOVES! I think it was especially good for LargeBoy to have a chance to talk to Bill, who is a fount of awesome stories.

On Thursday, SmallDaughter had her school open house. She has the same teacher, classroom and aid as last year, but she was still shy for a few minutes. Then she found the toys, and told Miss Sherry (her aid) to sit down with her, and got busy playing with her favorite things. The transition seems to have been smooth--I am glad they have the time for the kids to come into the class.

On Friday, BigGirl had a babysitting gig, and LargeBoy had not one, but 2 doctor apts! He got his cast off, and he got his ingrown toe treated with acid to stop it from growing back (the dr. just put a tiny drop on the side where the sharp edge grows--he got to keep the nail.) My Favorite Gentleman got home in the wee small hours of the morning, and we got up at 5, and got everybody loaded in the van to head for PA for the Family Reunion. I drove, while everybody else slept! My car (my beautiful blue, new car) has been making a really horrible, high pitched vibrating sound for a couple of months--but it doesn’t do it very often, and I can never make it do it when I want to, so we had adopted a “wait and see” attitude. When we were almost halfway there, I changed lanes and there was a HORRIBLE loud noise (I seriously thought I had cut off a Harley!) but I could not see anybody around me--quite the mystery! It woke My Favorite Gentleman up, but we had no idea what caused it. A few miles later, it happened again, so I pulled over and My Favorite Gentleman got out to check. The tires looked fine, but when he got down under, on the inside--there were patches worn totally down to the fabric on the sidewalls! We were so blessed that we haven’t had a blowout! So, we turned around and drove (CAREFULLY!) back home. Where we loaded everything into the pickup, and drove over to the reunion--a little late, but feeling very, very blessed!

We really had a great time at the Reunion. We spent most of the day at a nice little beach that the kids really had a blast on! Around 3, BigGirl & LargeBoy went with my young(ish) cousin Alan to his work at the Theater, where they watched Despicable ME 2, got a WHOLE BUNCH of movie posters, and enjoyed touring the projection room, etc. I was going to get SmallDaughter dressed then, but she was having so much fun that I didn’t have the heart to make her--and she got another 2 hours of swimming!

We went back to the Cabin for supper (which was served “caveman style”--no plates, no utensils!--they just put foil down on the tables, and put the salad and the spaghetti right on it! ) The kids had a great time running around playing with cousins, and I had a fun time talking to everybody. My cousin also had his dog and 2 of the cutest, round fat fluffy puppies you have ever seen! The puppies hardly had their feet on the ground the whole weekend--they were just carried lovingly around by all the kids! After the kids were mostly down for bed, a bunch of us played a really fun game that they got at Gen-Con, and laughed and talked until after midnight! We finally went to bed and crashed! We got up pretty early, picked up the big kid’s from Aunt Stephanie’s house and drove home just in time to get My Favorite Gentleman back on the road for VA.

Monday was pretty exciting--it was the first day of Seminary, and the first day of school. I have 6 students here at the house, and 2 more on the phone! It’s pretty awesome! SmallDaughter LOVES riding on the big yellow bus (so much more glamorous than a mere mini-van!). I was not overly happy about the transportation situation--the original plan called for her to get picked up at 6:30 (she still is) and ride on the bus for over 2 hours--since her school doesn’t start until 9! NOT HAPPY. They worked it out so her teacher and her aid come in early, and she gets to school at 7:30, and just has an extra long day. I decided I was willing to see how she did with it--I would only put up a fuss if it was really hard on her.

However, she has actually been happier, and less tired than any first week of school before! Every other year she is sound asleep for the drive home, but she hasn’t even wanted a nap, and she is more cheerful about getting on the bus, so it seems to be working out ok. The worst part is just that we had to move seminary back, so it is from 5:10 to 6, which gives us the half hour it takes to dress SmallDaughter. BigGirl & LargeBoy started on their school with much less fanfare, but they are both really motivated and excited by the subjects they are studying this year. (when I asked if they needed any new curriculum stuff, LargeBoy asked if I would order him some chemistry books--um, yeah! He is also working on “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” and really going to town with it!)

We also got a new order of chicks on Monday! They are so cute! We have quite a few varieties, since I got the “Brown Egg Layer Assortment” and I also got 11 of the “Easter Eggers”--the Ameracaunas that lay green eggs. They are my favorites--SO cute--even when they grow up! Diesel the kitten has been going crazy--walking all over on top of their wire crate, and sticking a paw in to try and get one! The crate is plenty roomy for the chicks to move out of her way, but I put her outside anyway!

On Tuesday, I was the “extra mom” for Miss Kelly, who had a Dr. Apt., so I drove Becca in to her job interview at Barnes & Noble. BigGirl was excited to go spend the gift card she earned from the Summer Reading Program. Then (of course!) we wandered over to the neighboring Chocolate Shop and got a couple of goodies. A pretty nice day out!

On Wednesday, Bec watched SmallDaughter so she go to sleep on time, and I took the large ones to YM/YW. The shop has given us a nice loaner car, which really makes things easier. I am trying to get all my curriculum sorted and my new calendar systems set up and running. It always takes longer than I think it should, but I am babystepping forward. I have been working on doing boring things like phone calls, getting stuff arranged (like SmallDaughter’s fall riding session--only 2 more weeks until “horsey-day”!). Not exciting, but somebody has to do it!

Yesterday LargeBoy made Spanakopita, which is one of my favorites, so I am glad to have him willing to try new things. It turned out great, too! Today in seminary we role played Nephi going to get the Brass Plates. We had just enough people, and it was pretty hilarious! SmallDaughter doesn’t have school today (teacher inservice) or Monday. Tonight we are going over to our friend’s house for a BBQ! Yay! for fun times with friends! My Favorite Gentleman will get home in the middle of the night, and he gets to stay until mid-Monday, which is exciting.

Monday, August 19, 2013

More bragging!

Well, here is the final tally:

My hat got First in Class for all of the sewing, knitting, crochet and needlework! Big rosette, and the silver tray! We did very well in everything else, too! I am pretty proud of us!

We also had a great time on the other fair things--like the rides! In fact, everybody was having such a good time, I forgot to take more pictures! I ended up pretty sunburned, but luckily, none of the kids did!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Excitement Builds!

We are excited today, because some of our favorite kids in the world are coming to stay for the week! Even those of us who don't readily admit to liking small children (yes, LargeBoy, I am looking at YOU!) love these kids--partially because they are his own personal fan club! It's hard not to like somebody, who, when asked "If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?" Answers "To LargeBoy's house!" They have been adorably earning money this summer--they had a lemonade stand, and they are ready to spend it at the fair!

And, in the midst of all the excitement--I am off to get an oil change!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Dominating at the Fair!

This was the first year that I have entered any non-4-H items in the Fair. I have meant to for the last 3 years, but kept missing the entry deadline! So, I had given quite a bit of thought to what I wanted to take, and this year--I did it!

Well almost!

There were several things that I had planned to enter that I was not able to for a variety of reasons:
1. My garden did not cooperate.
2. I didn't read the requirements thoroughly.
3. There was one category where everything had to be entered between 2 and 6 pm on Sunday (yesterday). HOWEVER--since the county fair is in the town 20 miles North, and Church is in the town 20 miles South--and since we had unexpected family come into town, and so we we had a spontaneous family dinner and then I had a Primary Presidency Meeting--that just didn't happen.

Which means that out of the 24 items that BigGirl and I planned to enter between us (I told you I had been saving up!)--which includes her 4-H quilt project and the other baby quilt she made with the Aunties, which she entered in Open Class, we actually entered 14. All of them were valuable learning experiences--including the ones that did not place because I didn't read, understand or follow the rules correctly, or that I just didn't have enough experience to know that "display of 5 each of 3 types of peppers" does NOT mean put them on a paper plate--it means make an artistic display!

Not everything has been judged yet, but one of BigGirl's 2 scarecrows came in third--despite the fact that I switched the entry tags, so it was competing in the wrong competition!
Poor, mislabeled Ninja Scarecrow!

We did well on lots of other things--1st place on my Lavender in Herbs (although the judges note on my red basil said "not REAL Basil!"), 1st place for my Kohlrabi--although that only had 1 other competitor! No surprise to anybody who has tried "Darcy's Can't Leave 'Em Alone Bars" that they came first in the "Make it with Mixes" category.

The two things I am proudest of however--the dress I sewed for my niece's baptism, which I made from a beautiful vintage linen tablecloth came in second (up against some VERY stiff competition!), and my awesome hat not only got a blue ribbon--it got Best in Class!!!

Because BigGirl had Girls Camp the week that they did sewing judging, her quilt was not eligible to place, but she got an honorable mention, and she got 2nd place overall for her demonstration (and a gift card instead of a trophy, which made her very happy!)

All in all--Pretty Darn Good for not really knowing what the heck we were doing! And now we have plans for next year--and a total "Aunt Jeanne style" Fair domination!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Cute thought--surprisingly deep insight

Today at church, we were interviewing each of the Primary kids in preparation for our annual Primary Program. We asked pretty standard questions, and mostly got standard responses--except for one darling little 4 year old girl. When we asked her "How do you know Heavenly Father loves you?" She said (very matter-of-factly) "Because I'm his princess!".

Awww! So cute!

And I was thinking about how that is the way a 4 year old sees herself, and how full of infinite possibilities she is--and then it hit me!

Big girls (like me) tend to think its because we're nice, or give service, or remembered to exercise or not swear at the neighbor this week. Nope. He loves us, because we are--literally--Daughters of God. Divine Princesses. And nothing we do--or don't do--will remove that divine potential from us.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Summer fun continues!

In top news: mostly the weather!
Last week we got an AMAZING storm!  Everything!  Wind, thunder & lightning, tornado siren, TONS of rain (this on top of the amazing rain two days previously!), lots of corn was flattened, the cemetery has 20 trees down.  We just had a lot of sticks and branches down (although some of them were driven about 5 or 6 inches into the ground!), no major damage.  BigGirl loved getting out and playing in the puddles as it flooded the road and various yards and parking lots.  The highway was closed for 3 days. One of our nearby towns had their downtown totally underwater.   Now, the rain has moved out and the hot has moved in! 

However—my garden is going crazy!  I have yummy crookneck yellow squash waiting to be lunch tomorrow! The “lawn” in the back yard, which is mostly made of non-grass plants was/is seriously taller than my knees.  Mowing is an ongoing challenge.  I finally got to check on my bees, and (yay!) I had to add another super because they are being so productive!  And, I got to watch a worker emerge from her cell (basically “hatching”) which was pretty cool. 

Wednesday—the day of the big rain—there was no youth activity because of Youth Conference, but I still had to take BigGirl and LargeBoy in to town—they spent the night because they had to be at the church at 5:30, and I didn’t want to get up!  I also picked up my sister V.  

On Thursday, I went to the Library Summer Walking club with Stephanie the Librarian and her cute college daughter, and then hurried home to pick up V and take her to riding (SmallDaughter was running a little fever, and was very sleepy, so she just napped at Aunt A’s house.)  It has really been too hot to be very productive!  On Friday, we had Fiber Friends—it is so fun to meet with dear friends (and cheaper than therapy!).

On Saturday, I planned to be massively productive, but ended up driving 30 minutes East, to the Scout Shop with SmallDaughter to get stuff to get LargeBoy ready to leave for Jambo, and then—the second I walked in the house—V told me I had a message from BigGirl, which turned out to be: “We are back from Youth Conference, and need you to pick us up!”—so we got BACK in the car and drove 30 minutes South!  They had a great time at YC—the boys stayed at the home of some very wealthy members (I heard about the HUGE house, the gated entry, etc, etc.) but I also heard a lot about the awesomeness of the RM son (he is the one I heard about last year, from the girls, because apparently he looks just like Taylor Lautner!).  The boys were excited when the dad said “here are the game systems, here is a fully stocked fridge, you can stay up all night if you want—just clean up after yourselves”— and then bummed when Bro. K (the YM president) made them go straight to bed!  LargeBoy was also jealous that due to a breakdown in communication the Clearfork YM didn’t have a ride in the morning to the service project, so Handsome Guy drove them over in the Porsche!

Anyway—they got home, showered, washed clothes and repacked, and slept!  On Sunday, we drove over to see how the flooding was affecting MFG’s folks--their power was out from Wed around 6 in the afternoon until the wee small hours of Sat am), then we dropped BigGirl off at  her friend’s, because she is a 5th year Youth Leader at Girls Camp this week and they had to be at camp early, so all they YL’s rode together and I didn’t have to get up!  WIN!. 
W we took LargeBoy up to the Oberlin Walmart to catch the bus for the Jamboree.  He left with lots of eye rolling, and not the world’s greatest attitude, so I hope he has so much fun he can’t believe it!  On Monday, we went to see Bug’s Life at the library—mainly for the air conditioning!  SmallDaughter has been riding her bike every day, in the morning or evening when it isn’t so hot!  I checked my bees Monday afternoon—and boy is it hot in a beesuit!  Also, I forgot that I wasn’t wearing my hiking boots and long socks, and a bee crawled up my leg (inside my pants) which is a very distracting feeling!

On Tuesday, I had a Library Board Meeting—the boring one, where we have to decide on the Library Employees Insurance (which is also depressing, because it costs so much more every year!). Dad was here working on my porch when I got back!  We talked about his trip, and the reunion.   In the afternoon I did walking club with Stephanie, then picked up SmallDaughter & V and we went to the Relief Society picnic in town.  SmallDaughter had a great time—eating watermelon and jello and fried chicken, and wandering around (but lots of sisters kept an eye on her, and it was great!).  Around 8:15, she decided she was done, and got in the car and did up her seatbelt!  So we left!  V went home with P, so now it is just SmallDaughter, The WonderDog, Diesel (the kitten who is still here!), and I—and assorted other cats and chickens, of course!

I put her too bed, then worked on mowing around the beehive—I couldn’t blame the boys for not wanting to go there, but it was no problem at all~except for the sweat dripping down me!    It was 94 degrees today with 95% humidity, and we have NO A/C.  I have a great deal of sympathy for the Wicked Witch of the West, because I spent the whole day feeling like “I’m melting, I’m melting”. 

Today at the Summer Reading Program, SD got to dig for treasures in a sandbox!  There were lots of other activities, and she did try a few, but she played in the sand for almost an hour!  I loved it—she was happy and entertained and we were both cool!  Then she rode her bike to the Post Office, and got to put the letters in the postbox, which she loves!  The rest of the day was not NEARLY as cool!

We are going to the library a LOT this week, I can tell!

Diesel just managed to tip the trash can over on herself, and then attack and bite her own tail!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Busy Summer!

What a lovely week! Or couple of weeks, as the case may be!  On Saturday, I had Seminary inservice, where they introduced the new "Book of Mormon" Curriculum which is awesome! I am super excited for Seminary to start!

I spoke in Sacrament Meeting on service (as a prelude to kicking off the “Summer of Service”). Have I told you about the SOS?  We are doing it instead of the Book of Mormon Summer Reading Program this year.  Usually we would kick off at the beginning of June, but the Bishop asked me to move it back a month, which worked out fine.  I have really come to LOVE speaking, so that part was awesome—I was a little worried about going over my time, tho, especially after last time!  However, I prayed about it, and they ended up putting me last, after a sister who was SUPER nervous, who gave an excellent but very short talk, and I finished exactly on time!  YAY!  Then, during Primary time, we had the Visiting Teaching Conference, so we had yummy food, a nice lesson and the Brethren took over our classes!

BigGirl, SmallDaughter, The WonderDog & I left for Maryland right after church.  We had a nice drive, with a lovely sight when we came over the top of a mountain pass in the evening and looked down on a cloud and a rainbow!  We got in to our dear friends Mr. T & Miss D’s house about 10:30.  Miss D drove a big (non-air conditioned) 15 passenger van full of teens (including BigGirl) down to EFY (Especially For Youth) on Monday morning. SmallDaughter and I just killed time until Miss D got home.  On Tuesday, Miss D wanted to do something fun for SmallDaughter, so we took her to a neat park and then to McDonalds.  In the playland, there was a life sized “Ronald” sitting on a bench, and Miss D was not sure if it would freak SmallDaughter out—but she walked up and kissed “him” on the nose, and draped herself over his lap!  We had a good time talking, and she had a blast!

On Wed morning, Mr. T & Miss D left for Boston, and I got a text from My Favorite Gentleman that they weren’t working at all, so I drove over to Richmond VA to get him.  We were in a huge traffic jam, because somebody jackknifed their boat trailer and the boat was tipped over on its side across all three lanes!  Keeping it interesting!  On our way home we drove through some historical byways—apparently much of the Revolutionary AND Civil Wars happened right there!  It was amazingly moving to be in the birthplace of the nation on Independence Day.  That is NOT easy country—especially with horses, wagons, etc.!  As we drove along a very beautiful, scenic road, I thought “uh, oh—two naughty little dogs on the side of the road!”—but it turned out that it was two twin fauns, very tiny (smaller than The WonderDog!), still with spots, grazing less than 2 feet from the road!

SmallDaughter got sick—I think it was food poisoning--on Wed night, and spent the night alternating vomiting and diarrhea, which was not fun for either of us.  We spent a very quiet Thursday!  (glad we had the house to ourselves—and the washer & drier!).   We drove around and checked out the beaches near Miss D’s, then went to some thrift stores.  We got some 100% cotton work clothes for My Favorite Gentleman (he can’t wear synthetics because of fire danger—natural fibers burn and blow away as ash, synthetics melt into your skin~!), a cool T-shirt for LargeBoy and a great pair of tennis shoes for SmallDaughter, who’s feet are finally growing!

Fortunately, her tummy felt better quickly, so on Friday morning, we got to go to the beach!  She LOVED it!  And, since it is on the Chesapeake Bay, it was perfect—only to SmallDaughter’s knees for hundreds of yards out, barely any waves (like 1 inch high!)!  

My Favorite Gentleman was super cute with her—even though he HATES being in the ocean (he doesn’t like the textures—hot sand, sharp shells, squishy mud, gross seaweed…but the thing that really gets him is the thought of what is in the water   “we are wading in whale excrement!”---he doesn’t even like baths because you sit in your own dirty water!).  They also had a great time making sand castles—MFG would make a PERFECT castle, all smooth and nice, and SmallDaughter would stomp it and laugh!  

After we came home and had baths/showers, SD & I took a nap (still recovering!), and then we were going to go see theWashington D.C. Temple (where we were married!) and go to IKEA, but first SmallDaughter dumped an entire economy size bottle of Comet Cleanser on her head, so we did a major cleanup!  And she got ANOTHER bath—much less sweet!

The Temple was (of course!) amazingly beautiful!  We had some fun walking around on the nature trails and looking at the flowers (even though it was crazy hot and humid!), then we went to the visitors center.  SmallDaughter’s favorite part was the elevator!

My Favorite Gentleman had never been to IKEA, so it was quite an experience for him!  He still isn’t sure how he feels!  SmallDaughter loved the meatballs (which are one of her VERY FAVORITE foods!)  She ate all of hers, and half of mine!  Then we went home, and she crashed, and My Favorite Gentleman & I watched TV together and listened to fireworks, and enjoyed each other’s company!

On Saturday, I got everything cleaned up and packed, and as soon as BigGirl got back, we left.  She had an amazingly good time at EFY.  
Her testimony is stronger, she is feeling buoyed up and more self assured, and she made some new friends and learned a lot.  I am SO glad!  I would have enjoyed staying longer, but they didn’t get back until after 1:00, and we had a long drive!  We got home safely, and enjoyed being back in our own beds!  We picked up LargeBoy from BestFriend’s house.  He mostly spent the week helping Dad on our house, and doing various service projects.  He is pretty excited that his hair has gotten big again.  (Faster, this time—it’s been less than a year, and it is HUGE!).

SmallDaughter didn’t have riding on Monday, which was fine by me, since we had oodles of boys here, so there was a LOT of loud.  In the morning we all had our Dentist appts, and SmallDaughter was SO GOOD!  She sat in the chair all by herself!  I didn’t have to hold her or anything!  And she brushed the teeth on the little stuffed dragon (he has “people teeth”, and they use him to show proper brushing technique!), and then used him for a pillow!  We all had an “all clear” report, so that was excellent!  In the afternoon, BigGirl had her 4-H “picnic and filling out fair cards” meeting at the park in Plymouth.  The sad news is that our 4-H leader Hazel—who is in the middle of her 50th year as our club leader--had another stroke and is blind, and not doing well.  The meeting started out on a somber note, and then the clouds rolled in so it was quite dark and menacing (with lightning!), and then the heavens opened—and we got about 4 inches of rain in an hour!  It was epic!  And I wasn’t willing to go out in it, so we just waited in the park shelter!  The town 25 miles away from us got 14” of rain in June (which is 2” more than Idaho’s average YEARLY precipitation!) We only got 7”—but that is still almost twice our normal for June, and it hasn’t stopped!  It is hot, humid and wet—which is doing great for my garden, but the boys can’t mow, so the back yard needs a baler, and I can’t check the bees when it is windy, rainy or threatening rain, so it’s been WEEKS!  From the outside of the hive, it looks like they are doing well!

I am enjoying my walking club at the library—mostly it is just me and Stephanie, who I have wanted to get to know, so this is great!  And, yesterday she wanted to know about bees and Mormons!  She kept apologizing for asking so many questions, but I told her my three favorite things to talk about are:
1. SmallDaughter, Special Needs & Service Dogs,
3. Bees, and Honey
so we hit 2 out of 3!
(and we usually talk about SmallDaughter & The WonderDog, so we are good there!)

In the evening, I went to Cub Scout Committee Meeting and sewed patches on LargeBoy’s scout shirts.  He leaves for the National Scout Jamboree on Sunday, and he needs 2 full uniforms, each with approximately 6 million badges sewn on.  I am slowly making progress.  Today I have to sew BigGirl a “Spiderman Apron” for her skit at Girls Camp.  I am also making a batch of deodorant and homemade laundry and dishwasher detergents as an experiment (the deodorant works great—we will see on the others!


(Yes, she is still at our house, why do you ask?)


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summer is here--with a vengeance!

For the past several weeks (basically since school let out) we had between 4 and 8 teenage boys here all the time.  They are great boys and I love having the house full, but it has been a little hard on BigGirl to have so many boys around all the time, when all of her best friends live far away, but--in super exciting news--a new family moved into the ward with a kindred spirit girl, and she has found another dear friend fairly close, so her life is getting better all the time! 

There was a LOT of excitement about a pretty big anime/geek convention that happens at a resort about 45 minutes from home.  It was a pretty huge deal in our lives!  BigGirl, LargeBoy, and (over the course of 3 days, a series of 5 additional friends) ended up going.  They went Thurs through Sat.  Whew! They are now thoroughly hooked on cons, and are making plans for next year’s—where there will be costumes involved!!

In the BIGGEST NEWS OF ALL!  SmallDaughter got a BIKE!  The wish of her heart for years and years!  She has wanted a big girl bike, but the lack of all balance has been a big problem! On Friday, we went to Grandpa & Grandma’s, and their neighbor was having a  garage sale.  Their daughter has Cerebral Palsy, and they were selling the perfect bike for SmallDaughter--just her size, BRIGHT pink, with super training wheels (custom made) on the front--for $8 I have a feeling the rest of my summer will be spent following my "bike girl"! 

We did finally manage to get the new, improved, over-twice-as-big garden in! WOOT!  I was so late, I ended up driving to every little Mennonite greenhouse in the county (I am SO lucky I live where I do!) to get the last plants available--but I did manage to get almost everything I wanted--and at crazy clearance prices!  We got it all planted on Wed, and then had forecasts of tornados and golf ball sized hail that evening!  Fortunately, all we got was a nice soaking rain!

I just found out that  my dear friends Jana & Andrew finally named their baby girl (the name they had picked out before she was born just didn’t fit her!)  AND THE WINNER IS: Esther Brenda.  This is what Jana said on Facebook: “So we're ready to introduce our little one to the world. She is Esther Brenda.  We're delighted to have her in our family! Esther because she had the single-handed courage to face the king and save her people, and Brenda, after the lovely Brenda A, who, along with her family, has been such an inspiration to Andrew over the years and has shown him great love. I met her once over 20 years ago, and I still remember that day and look forward to greeting her again someday, but we are certain she is looking down over our little family and cheering us on.”  Yup, I cried.

This week LargeBoy is at Cub Scout Day Camp helping out Grandma, and my sister V is here with us for the week. Last week at Boy Scout Camp it POURED rain on them  on Mon--with added wind to destroy their dining fly, and rip the roof off his tent (one of the big, solid Canvas-on-a-frame, permanent installation kind!).  We picked him up early on Sat, and surprised him with a trip to Cedar Point with a group of his friends--where it ended up pouring rain (enough to make the parking lot shin deep, and coming down fast enough that as they stood at the front of the parking lot, they couldn't see ANY rides!).  When we looked at the weather channel, the entire state of Ohio was empty, except for tiny, severe storms over the islands!   We are thinking he might be a previously unknown rain deity!

We spent the rest of Saturday getting things ready for My Favorite Gentleman to leave.  He is finally in Virginia.  He went down on Sunday. He is really relieved that he is in a better motel than the last one (which his roomie called “the roach hotel”!).   

Also, in a huge chunk of irony (since my last post ended with "the cat got spayed.  She is the last of our female cats to go in, so no baby kitties for a while.  We will have to be content with the mere 8(ish)  cats that are bumming around hereBigGirl found a little (tiny little--probably only 7 or 8 weeks old) kitten under the car last week.  Very snuggly, very hungry!  She is wearing a flea collar, so we are looking for her family.   She is a gray, orange and white calico, wearing a flea collar, and very bouncy and kitteny now! The WonderDog likes her, but she keeps trying to nurse on him--and he DOES NOT like that!  We are still searching for her family, as I am sure they miss her, but I am becoming resigned to yet another addition.  She is really hilarious and entertaining, and she has such a great purr we named her Diesel!  

Also--besides trying to ride her bike in her pjs, LargeBoy’s shoes and her bike helmet, and (after she was dressed) 3 long bike rides, yesterday’s funny SmallDaughter moment was when I went to find her, and she was in BigGirl’s room, proudly putting on every pair of panties in the drawer, one over the top of the other—over her pants!  She ended up with 9 pairs layered on! and she was so proud of herself!  It was pretty hilarious!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Finishing up the school year

Things at my house are in even more chaos than usual (difficult to believe, I KNOW!).  This is because we simultaneously ripped the tiles off of both bathrooms and that means—every bathroom article is stored in a box.  Somewhere.  At some (fabulous future) point in my life, I will have my house totally clean and organized BEFORE I start construction projects, and end up with the contents of all cupboards, as well as all the tools AND all of the construction supplies piled willy-nilly on top of the existing detritus.  Not yet, though!

The excellent news is that the downstairs bathroom is 95% done.  Only a tiny bit of trim work and detail needs finished up.  In the upstairs bathroom, the tile is gone, the old tub is gone, the old plaster and lath are gone, the window is gone, the new vent/light is installed, the new waterproof drywall is up, the plumbing is in, and the tub is installed (but not hooked up).  Next week: The bathtub surround, hooked up plumbing, new faucet & shower head, install the wainscoting on the walls, install the new floor, install the toilet, install the new sink & vanity and the new linen closet.  Yep—awesome!

Dad has gone to PA to do some handymanning for my dear Aunt, and he will bring BigGirl back with him.  All reports are that she has had a great time learning to quilt with my aunties.

I spent Mother’s day mostly just with SmallDaughter, since BigGirl was in PA, and LargeBoy was at Great Wolf Lodge with the friends, but my sweet hubby drove home after work (he got in around 9pm) to spend time with me (he left at 4 am), which was super sweet.

Last week was a big one for WonderDog—he had his annual checkup from the Vet (doing great!), got his vaccinations, and then he had a total makeover at the groomers.  He looks so sleek with his new haircut—it was getting VERY long and shaggy!  Also, the cat got spayed.  She is the last of our female cats to go in, so no baby kitties for a while.  We will have to be content with the mere 8(ish)  cats that are bumming around here.

On Wed, I had a bad mama moment (or several!) on the day SmallDaughter’s class went on a fieldtrip to see a Toledo Mud Hens game. It was our last regular class day of Seminary (I am afraid the book of Revelation got rather short shrift!), and I forgot she was going, so I didn’t have a lunch packed, and had to just send money.  I was running late getting her dressed, so no sunblock or hat (she did not fry, luckily!), and when I went to pick her up, I went to her usual school and waited for 20 minutes, before a teacher realized they were at THE OTHER SCHOOL—so I was a half hour late getting her.  Big sigh.  I drove straight back, picked up the boys for Scouts fed them fast food, and drove to the other town (one is 25 miles north of our house, the other is 25 miles south.  We live--not close to anything.  Not kidding!).  Not a shining star day.  There was no Faith in God Girls (they only meet the 1st, 2nd and 4th Wednesdays), so while SmallDaughter played in the nursery, I began the much needed purge of the toy boxes.   I dropped 2 trash bags off at goodwill, 1 to the garbage, and have one that is to give away to kids we know.  There will be several more purges in the coming moths, too!

All the boys “slept” at our house on Thursday night, and Friday morning, we got up at 5, got SmallDaughter & everybody else dressed, and went into town for the Bishopric Breakfast for the end of Seminary.  We got home in time to take everybody to school, in spite of the crazy fog that had rolled in while we were there.

After school, everybody (plus Sam K) came back over to our house for LargeBoy’s (long delayed) birthday party!  We played Michigan Bankroll, Scattergories and Ticket to Ride, and he loved his gifts, which included: an order of 3 lbs of random legos (not a specific set) from ebay, a plush death star, a new scout uniform, 2 pairs of flannel pajama pants, “Captain Jules Amazing Telescope Ring”, a great pocket watch from Sam K, and a ukulele—which he is decorating beautifully, and sounds really good on.

On Saturday, SmallDaughter & I took Sam K home, and we stopped to ride the carousel, and I told her we only had 2 tickets, so we would to “1 then 2 rides, then go home”—(we have been working on first—then concepts”)  She was excited until we got to the “then go home” part of the plan.  She had a MAJOR tantrum all the way home.   LargeBoy went to the Zoo with Miss I. and her crew, so I put grouchy girl to bed and spent the evening by myself, cooking food for Seminary Graduation. 

On Sunday, LargeBoy had a mandatory hike for the Jamboree, so it was just SmallDaughter & I at church.  It was very nice—Luke (who is SmallDaughter’s new helper) spoke, and she kept waving to him, which made him smile, but he didn’t lose his train of thought!  Sister C did a really cute Primary Sharing Time on tithing, and she wanted to show the kids how much easier it is to pay it first, not last.  She had me sit in front, and gave me 10 fruit snacks, and told me I had to give her one when she came back.  So there I was, jamming fruit snacks in my mouth, talking about how yummy they were, as the kids counted them—when I got to 9 they all started to say “Don’t eat the last one!”—and I said “it would be so yummy, I am so hungry, etc.”  I licked it a couple of times, too!  The kids were very involved, which was super cute!—“NO—Don’t eat that!”.  Then she gave me another 10, and had me give her one right away, and they could see how much easier it was!  It was a very good lesson—the only problem was the fruit snacks were pretty old, and I had a hard time getting them all chewed!

After church, I took SmallDaughter over to dear Aunt A’s house, then I went down to Columbus for Stake Seminary Graduation. The powers that be had asked the other teacher from our 2 ward split seminary & I to be in charge of the refreshments (for over 200 people!)—and to have them NT themed.  It ended up turning out well—mostly because of MAJOR prayers, and the help of a super sweet Brother & Sister from another ward, who also brought LOTS of bread.  We asked our seminary families to contribute bread—any kind—so we had yummy pumpkin, apple, zuchinni, etc, as well as homemade white, French and herb savory breads.  Poor Kathy had business meetings in Missouri all week, so she volunteered to get everything we needed from Sam’s Club.  We also had little cards with each item that read:

I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. John 6:51

Candy Corn Symbolizes: SEED
Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness. 2 Corinthians 9:10

Pretzels Symbolize: REVERENCE
The history of the pretzel dates back to 600 AD when a monk in the area between France and Italy was playing with dough left over from the daily baking. While he was playing he came up with a unique twist that looked like arms crossed in prayer. This baked "pretiola" was given to children as a reward for their reverence.

Gold Fish & Swedish Fish
And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. Mark 6:41

Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

(We had little cups with blue pudding and a little sour patch kid on it*)
And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. Matthew 14:29

Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. Isaiah 7:-15

My pudding ended up being a little curdled and not very pretty, but they ate it anyway!  Truly it was a miracle of loaves and fishes—I was pretty worried about having enough, and we ended up perfect—we ran out of most things, and only had 1 ziplock of sliced bread left!

Monday was SmallDaughter’s last day of riding for this session—and it was meltingly hot.  She will start again  in mid-June.  It was also the local High School’s Choir Concert.  Friend A.  asked LargeBoy to make a poster of a “Santa Mammoth”—apparently one of the girls had a dream in which the choir director wanted them to sing louder than fortissimo—and that level of sound is called “Santa Mammoth”!  It turned out SUPER CUTE, and they held it up during the final number.  Quite a few of the choir kids knew the story of the dream, so it went over really well!

Tuesday was a fun Library Board of Trustees meeting, where we had fun—we officially began the makeover of our library building!  New paint, carpet, furniture, and everything rearranged.  It will be awesome!  It won’t be done until Aug, though!