Friday, May 30, 2008

Let me tell you about my Dad

My father is 78 years old today.
Born May 30, 1930.
He was the youngest of 6 children and his mother died when he was only 6 years old.

He is the baby in this picture, with his Dad Romeo, and his 5 siblings.

He married my mom in 1951
Here they are in their dating days.
and together they had 8 children.

Here we all are as adults, at Mom and Dad's 50th wedding anniversary.

He worked 32 years as an Allstate Insurance agent.

When I was growing up I didn't understand why he was gone so much. In my grade school years he'd often come home only to eat dinner and leave again, often returning after we were all asleep. When I became an adult I was able to appreciate that fact that he did all of this for keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. We were able to have a full time mom at home with us because of the sacrifices he made.

On my Dad's 37th birthday, in 1967, my mother gave birth to their 8th and last child, Christopher.

Happy Birthday Chris!

When Dad was 32 he took up running. He ran in more than 30 marathons, 17 in Boston. At age 59 he won the world's record in his age division for an ultraendurance run. This is much longer than a marathon. It's a 24 hour race. He competed in several but set the record in 1989 by running 139 miles and 429 yards in 24 hours. His picture and story were in Sports Illustrated in 1990:

Here are some random memories I have of my dad:

*I mentioned once to him when I was a teenager that I loved Shamrock shakes at McDonalds. He brought me one every day for weeks. I got so tired of drinking those but I never wanted to tell him because I loved that he kept doing it for me.

*When the twins were born in 1965 and I was in the 5th grade, he came to school to tell me in person!

*For a few years around Christmas time he'd make a trip to the post office to pick up Santa's letters because he knew I enjoyed reading them.

*He was always encouraging me to earn money. One year when I was still in grade school he thought of a particularly creative way. He suggested I go door to door in the neighborhood and ask if I could have their read copy of the Sunday's paper. After I got 10 I would bring them home. Then he had me cut up each and every engagement and wedding announcement complete with picture (there were a lot of those in the paper back then). We would look up each home address and send them 10 copies of their announcement. He helped me type up a "form letter" to include with the pictures, asking that they send me what they think it was worth to them. People responded very well back then, and in the mail the following week I would often receive a dollar or two back in each envelope. Not all would respond, but several would. And that was a lot of money to me back in the 60s.

*When someone would cut my dad off while driving on the freeway, I remember him just smiling at them and waving. I still think of this nearly every time someone does this to me.

*One day our neighbor came over asking my parents to sign her petition. It had something to do with opening adoptions as my neighbor had been adopted as a child and I think she wanted to find her biological mother. My dad readily signed it and after the neighbor left I said something to him like, "I didn't know you felt so strongly about adoptive children's rights." He said, "I don't, but our neighbor does and I'm trying to support her." I always think of this example when someone wants me to donate to their cause even if I am not passionate about it.

*My dad always wanted us to sing "Love at Home" at every single Family Night. We had no music and we were all off key and to this day I still do not like that song. It has great words, but it so reminds me of our voices. Yet, there is something about it because my dad loved it.

*He taught us all how to live well below our means. He taught us that a bank account offers so much more security than tangible "items".

*Whenever we were on vacation my dad made sure to find us a church on Sunday so we could always attend. As an adult I have always looked forward to attending church in whatever town we happened to be in. To me his message spoke volumes to me. By this simple act he taught us all just how much our church means to him.

*My dad always loved to talk to strangers. He still does. Makes friends wherever he is. Perhaps this is why I love people so much, too.

*Whenever my dad would drive me to school I always hoped my friends would see me with him. He always looked so handsome and he still does.

*The most endearing memory of my Dad was the last 4 years of my Mom's life. She had Alzheimer's and it progressed very quickly. The last few years of her life she could not carry on a conversation, make any decisions, cook, do laundry, or really help out in their life together. Yet my dad very patiently took care of her every need. He was very selfless. I never heard him complain. There are no words to even express the thankfulness I have to him for taking such good, loving care of her.

My mom passed away over a year ago and last year he remarried. Susan is a wonderful and fun woman we are all enjoying so much. She is kind, respectful of all of us, and just such a joy to be around. She has worked hard at remembering all our names and our interests, and encourages us in our projects. She has brought back that spark in Dad's eyes.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

They have arrived!!

My Provo boys got here about 9pm.
Was I ever excited to see them and meet Rachel.

On the way here I asked McKay over the phone what Rachel likes to drink. He said he has only seen her drink water. Then I heard him say to her, "Rach you just drink water right?" And I heard her say, "It's like I'm their pet."

She's even prettier in person.

We like her already! She's great to talk to.

Tyler already on the computer.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Won't sleep much tonight!

May I just say that we are very anxiously awaiting tomorrow evening?!
My 2 youngest sons are coming home from BYU!!

Obviously they still don't look like this or I would have never let them go.

I have not seen them since Christmas!
They will just be here a week.
Besides themselves, they are also bringing home Rachel, who is McKay's girlfriend. They have been dating since January and we finally get to meet her and spend some time with her. Brock and Logan and their families are looking forward to their arrival also. Lots of good family time coming up.

I have their beds ready and waiting for them.

I better remember to turn off the batteries inside the dolls.
They tend to randomly coo in the middle of the night.
Just ask my niece Natalie.

Expect some pictures of them. I will start taking them as soon as they arrive.
I can't help it.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Beautiful

Land of the Free

"We stand as a Nation that is strong and deserving of praise. Yet we are humbled, because we remember that the wealth of this Nation's heritage, the strength of its ideals, and the extent of its freedom came with a tremendous price.

These treasures were purchased with the lives of American service men and women, a cost borne prominently by several generations. We are humbled because so many bright futures, hopes, and dreams were sacrificed for the abundance of opportunities we now fully pursue.

We honor the final sacrifice of our service men and women by dedicating our own lives to peace and the defense of freedom. For these ideals they fought, and for these ideals we continue to strive.

May we stand with diligence and with humility on the broad shoulders of those whose brave deeds and sacrifice we memorialize today. Let all of us commit this day, whether in public ceremony or quiet reflection over a single grave, to remember them in fitting tribute."

From Prayer for Peace, by the President of the United States, George W. Bush

A young man from our ward at church was killed in Iraq last year.
His name was and is Rowan Walter.

We visited his grave yesterday.
We honor him.
I attended his funeral and I wrote that day in my journal, "I never remember feeling so patriotic as I did when they brought his casket in the chapel today." I will never forget the thankfulness in my heart I have for him and others who have paid this great price for us, and for our freedom.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Reflecting Weekend

Dennis and I went to the Redbank Cemetery here in Clovis tonight to see the flags they place on the graves of Veterans every Memorial Day weekend.

You need to click this picture to see the tiny flags on the graves.

We also visited family graves which are all very close together, beginning with my first husband's grave, and the father of my 4 sons:

My Mother's grave marker is still not in yet although we are told it is ready, thanks to my sister Robin's efforts.
For now, we have this:
Robin Groff, my niece passed away from leukemia just this past April 11th. Her sister Natalie filled in her marker with glitter last week. I thought it was such a sweet touch until we get her permanent marker in.
If you click this picture you can see the glitter.
And then of course our little Romey, my nephew passed away when he was just 18 months old:

Dennis and I listened to music on the way home from the cemetery tonight. We talked about all our wonderful blessings of this life. How this life is truly temporary and how we need to make the most of each and every day till this part of life is over, and we are back with these loved ones again.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Year of Crockpotting

There is this woman. Here name is Stephanie. I have no idea where she lives or really much else about her except that she loves her crock pot. She claims to have an unnatural obsession with it. Stephanie made a goal to use her crock pot every single day for this year and she posts daily about her latest slow cooking adventure. She also shows a picture of the ingredients, and one of the final project. Then at the end of each post she gives the verdict. She is very honest about how it tastes, whether her family liked it or not, or even if they would eat it. For example after one crock pot adventure she wrote:

"But don't eat it.

That bowl up there might look pretty, but...

it tastes like dirt.

Maybe it was too much quinoa? Not enough sugar? I'm not sure exactly, but it was not good.

we had waffles instead."

Many of her verdicts sound so good I can't wait to try the recipe. Such as what she wrote about today's recipe, Cream Cheese Chicken:
(Too bad we don't eat dairy or I would try this one.)

"This is really, really, really, really good. I like the original cream cheese chicken an awful lot, but this truly did taste better. The homemade mushroom soup just tastes better and gives it that "restaurant" flavor.
My six-year-old retorted that this was the very best pasta she's ever had. I let her skip bathtime."

She has tried everything from Rice Krispy treats to pancakes to boiled eggs in her crockpot. Food you would never think of putting in a crock pot. I haven't tried those, but she has lots of simple soups, stews and chicken recipes too. It's fun to read through them and then give them a try.

I am subscribed by email so her daily recipe just comes right to me. It's fun to see what she makes next. I have made a few of her recipes and she was right on with her verdicts. Many of her recipes are so simple with just 3 or 4 ingredients. Even if I choose not to use her recipes, reading about them is good entertainment, but then I read cookbooks like novels.

Take a look. It's fun.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The sisters

This is another practice run on my video taking skills, or lack thereof some may say. This time the lighting is better but I think my battery must have been running low. I love though how this shows Elora's love and protection for her little sister.
Just 75 seconds long

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It didn't work

Today as I was driving suddenly this song came on that brought me back 9 years. One of the first things I would do each morning back then after I got up, was to play this song.

It became my morning ritual for months while getting dressed.

I was dating Dennis. I was trying to convince myself that I wasn't suppose to marry him.
After all, I was still raising my sons.

Was I wrong!
Either that, or this "crush" I have on him just keeps growing through the years.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dr. Laura's email of the day

Had to share this.
Dr Laura read this on her program last week, which I just heard yesterday:

"I have always felt sorry for my sister. She has 4 kids, a 3 BD house, no career, and a sweaty hubby. I on the other hand was lucky. I had 1 kid, a career, a 4 BD house and a suit and tie hubby.

That all changed for me one summer afternoon I went to visit my sister. I watched her kids play outside with friends and eat homemade popsicles on the porch. I walked with her and the kids to the store for flour so she could make her husband's favorite dumplings for dinner. The whole way there all I could think was how bad she must have it. On the way back I saw a neighborhood full of kids riding bikes and playing ball. I could smell dinner cooking from the open windows of the houses we passed by. Later I left for home so I could feed my family dinner.

On the way home I stopped by our favorite take-out. As I drove past my neighbors' homes it looked like a ghost town; where were the kids playing ball; and no smell of dinner cooking. I came in and set the table when my husband walked in, looked at the bags on the table and said, "Oh...again?" I wondered if my brother-in-law was at home looking at his plate of dumplings asking, "Oh…again?" Suddenly all of the sights I saw earlier came flooding back, only this time I didn't see them the same way as before. I grabbed my husband and pulled him into the other room and before I could stop myself I shouted, "I'm quitting my job, selling this house and I want another baby." He looked at me with such relief. It's been 10 years; we have 3 children now, got rid of that big cold house and traded it in for a small house that we have made a home. I now catch fireflies, hold hands with my hubby and bake apple pies. My husband has become our hero. It gives him such pride knowing that we depend on his hard work.

I hope just one working mom hears my story and chooses to make a change. Being a housewife is not a degrading, thankless job that the bra burners wanted us to believe. I have more joy out of caring for my family now than I ever did sitting in rush hour traffic, being screamed at by my boss or neglecting my relationship with my husband. WORKING STINKS....stay home and catch fireflies."

For those interested, a Christian station near our area recently boosted their audio signal and is now broadcasting as far north as Fresno (California). It carries the Dr Laura program from noon to 3 pm each weekday. It is does not come in well inside my house but my car radio picks it up just fine. It is on AM radio 1180.

Monday, May 19, 2008

They Need Us

Although I was not able to attend the LDS Woman's conference in Utah earlier this month, I was able to watch some of it on the BYU channel this week. I was particularly impressed with the talk by Sheri Dew. I don't even remember the title of it, but I would like to share some thought provoking excerpts from it.

"...No one has more influence on their husbands than their wives, or on their children more than their mothers, or on young men, than young women.

Show me a woman of any family any community, and I will show you the characters and the soul of that family and community.

...From the beginning Lucifer has worked with a vengeance to distort the very definition of womanhood and to confuse everyone about us, including us. Here are just a few of Lucifer's lies:

*That men are smarter, have all the power and are more important SO if we want to have influence we should be more like them.
*That marriage and family are confining.
*That motherhood is menial and a waste of any talented woman's time.
*That women are perpetually frazzled and failing.
*And that a woman's value is based on her size, her shape, and what she accomplishes OUTSIDE the home.

Too many women have bought those lies. Our culture is disintegrating at the speed of light and unfortunately our gender is doing a lot of the damage. Sleazy, immoral, cunning women who flaunt their indiscretions jam the airwaves and jam magazine covers. Yet sometimes we watch their shows, we donate to their causes, and even see them as models.

Consider this cover of a recent Forbes magazine

...Every woman listed is either a politician, an entertainer, or a CEO. I mean no disrespect to any woman listed . What I dispute is the bold distortion that in order to have influence a woman must have money, fame, or a title. THAT IS A BIG FAT LIE.

Sisters, we're smarter than this. We know too much to fall for Lucifer's lies...

Here is the truth about womanhood:
Our Father gave His daughters a divine endowment of gifts that give us unique influence.
First and foremost we have the high privilege of bearing children. If the mortality is the time of all eternity, and it is, nothing is more important than bearing children and leading them along the path home.

President David O McKay said:

Our Father also gifted us with the nature to nurture, a key sensitivity to the spirit, selflessness, discernment, and heroic faith. No wonder our Father placed us at the heart of the family and this at the very center of the plan of salvation. We are the Lord's secret weapon. Premortally when our Father described our role we must have shouted for joy because of the ennobling stature He gave women in His kingdom. The world won't tell you this stunning truth but the spirit will..."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Black and whites

My daughter in law Amy has a new camera.
Check out these pictures she took of her 5 beautiful children:







Saturday, May 17, 2008

Don't Wear Too Much Makeup

I finally saw Enchanted!

Yesterday it was 102' outside and the air quality was in the red zone.
Elora, my 5 year old granddaughter and I decided to stay inside and watch Enchanted.
After it was over I asked her if she would like to tell about it on video.
 I've asked to take video of her before but she usually says no.

Well yesterday, she quickly agreed.

As you can tell by watching, she had something to say.
She starts rambling a little in the middle but bear with her because she is trying to make a point.

(If you have not seen Enchanted, this video will probably not make sense. And sorry this is a little dark, I'm still learning.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Not up to celebrating...yet

Our granddaughter Kylie is 11 years old today!
She also has mono. Poor baby. She was diagnosed on Monday and she was miserable but she's getting better. We want to take her out to dinner, just the three of us, to celebrate, but that will have to wait.

Watch her grow.

Kylie Paige
born May 16, 1996 around 10:30 am
She weighed 7 lbs, 3 oz

First day of school:

Kylie's baptism day:

Here is a message from Amy to her daughter:

"Kylie has always been so loving and sweet. She is very much a girly girl. Loves to have her toes and fingers painted, makeup, jewelry, cute clothes. She has a natural artist ability in that she can look at something and then go and paint it. Kylie has very creative imagination and skill. She loves to dance, play soccer, cheer leading, swimming, almost anything active. Kylie is going to be a great mother when she grows up because she is so loving and nurturing. Always wanting to take care of babies. We are so glad she was sent to our family. She brings so much joy into our lives. Kylie is always willing to help and to do what is asked of her. We love you very much!! Happy Birthday Kylie"

Kylie today, the cheer leader:

Happy Birthday Kylie!! We Love You! Grandma and Grandpa Shelley

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Guess who's back?

Two nights ago I was doing some paper work when I heard a bunch of noise coming from the front porch. It sounded like Dennis was bringing some boxes towards the front door. Then the noise got louder and it sounded like he was throwing boxes at the front door. I kept thinking I should go look at what he was doing but I knew he would come in soon enough and tell me. Then I heard the shower turn on in our bedroom...wait a minute, how can Dennis be in two places at once??

I looked out the window to find an injured bird sitting right there on the ground by our front door, and feathers everywhere. Oh no, not this again. Den tried to get the bird to fly away and ended up scaring it into the bushes. (This was after his shower and he got dressed first.)

We also noticed an egg back in that empty nest. Perhaps that injured bird had just laid it there before another bird had attacked her. Whatever.

So the next morning Dennis calls from work to ask if I knew how the injured bird in the bushes was doing. I then looked out the window and said, "The bird's back in the nest!" Dennis got quite happy thinking that bird got better and flew up there to be with its egg. He said, "Well is it the mother or the father bird?"

Uh, how am I suppose to know that?
I'll spare you his answer.

Last night I called my granddaughter Elora, age 5, to tell her about the new bird since she was so concerned when the first one left. I said the bird was sitting on one egg.
She asked, "So the bird just carried the egg in her mouth and then spit it in the nest?"

Uh, no

"Oh so, she had the egg in her claws and then just dropped it in the nest?"

No, she had the egg inside her body and then just sat on the nest and it came out. (How'd I do?)

"Oh, I see!! "

So here we are:

According to my google research we have a 14 day wait.
Hope we don't have to play Circle of Life again for Dennis.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Malls in Utah

Back in the mid 1980s, I would often listen to the radio while nursing my babies to sleep. There was this one station I could get out of LA if I waited til it was dark and if I tuned the radio in just the right direction. It was the Dr. Laura show.

No I do not agree with everything Dr. Laura said back then, or all she says now.
Yes I do realize she is very controversial. She also can be quite thought provoking.
I like that.

Listeners call in with their various problems and Dr Laura preaches morals, character, and taking responsibility for one's own life. She preaches taking the higher road, doesn't matter to her if it's the harder road.

I also listened to her when Fresno use to carry her program back in the 90s. I would have her on in the car each afternoon when I would pick up my boys from school. Then one day she disappeared from this town.

Dennis heard several months ago, that I could possibly get Dr. Laura back using "streaming". He looked into that, purchased me an IPOD, and taught me how to download her program each weekday.

So I listen to her when I do housework. I listen to her when I can't sleep at night using a headset. Den and I listen to her on long road trips. I find her inspiring and enlightening most of the time. Other times I find her rude, harsh and egotistical. But she is never boring.

This week one of her calls was especially interesting. It was from a program taped from May 1st. A mom called in about her daughter's school teacher. Apparently two kids in this sixth grade class were bouncing on their chairs and the teacher lost it. She cried and accused the class of treating her like a clown. Dr. Laura thought the teacher just had a bad case of PMS perhaps, and was also tired of discipling misbehaving children. The mom that called in thought that this teacher crying to the kids should be brought to the attention of someone. Dr. Laura thought this mom should concentrate more on the behavior of the kids. The mom hung up obviously angry at Dr. Laura's advice.

After they hung up, Dr. Laura went on to say (and I quote):

"Just walk anywhere in public and you will see most kids out of control. I'm always amazed when I see well behaving children. You know where you can be guaranteed to see well behaving children? Any big mall in Utah. Best behaved kids. They really are because they are brought up with respect for authority and with self discipline. Makes a difference."

I've only been to Utah twice in my life and only once to a mall there. So I wouldn't know. But I found her opinion interesting. Especially coming from a non LDS, non Utah living person. Back in the 80s I remember she did not speak too kindly of larger families. I think her opinion has changed.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Look who is THREE!!

Kaylee Shelley is 3 years old today.

She is the daughter of Dennis' oldest son Kevin and his wife Karina.
They all live together in Arizona.

Kaylee and her Mommy Karina
Here she is with her Daddy Kevin

From her Mom:

"Kaylee is very girly. She loves The Princess
Mermaid and Cinderella. She loves to dress up with fancy dresses,
shoes and purse. She also likes to paint and draw. She takes music
classes so she loves to sing. She takes her own microphone to the
class. She plays the harmonica, too."
Kaylee and Grandpa Shelley. He so enjoyed seeing her at a family funeral last January. We both had funerals on the same day. I had one in Clovis and he had one in Logan, Utah.

This next picture is so endearing to us. We have it framed and in our family room:

Happy Birthday Kaylee!! Love, Grandma and Grandpa Shelley

Monday, May 12, 2008

What a man

Okay, so we were all ready to leave on our little trip. Car packed, pulling out of the driveway and then Dennis looks at me. I know what he is thinking....what did she forget this time? He had just told me a few minutes before, "I have the cat in the garage." (Meaning: He doesn't want to go back in there again or she will escape and then he will have to coax her back in, etc etc)

I said, Nope,I'm not forgetting anything. Oh wait, I forgot my perfume. I can't go away for a weekend with no perfume.

So my ever to be patient husband says, "Okay, wait right here. I will go through the front door and get it for you. Which one do you want?"

Any one is fine.....uh, think small. Just get a small one.

He goes back into the house and brings back a bottle of Shalimar.

No, honey...not that one. Uh, I need one that sprays. (Actually a man friend before Dennis gave me that as a gift. I can't wear that one.)

He goes back into the house and brings me a bottle of Navy. I love that stuff but it's empty. Honey, didn't you notice it's empty?

"Well then why do you keep it?"

I love the way it smells but I can't use it...see nothing comes out when I spray it.
Just get one that sprays and is not empty.
Please honey?

He goes back into the house and brings me Eternity Moment.

What a gentleman, and what a sweetheart HE ALWAYS IS.

So we get to our hotel. The same one we go to every 6 months in Morgan Hill. We know the desk clerk by name. We always ask for either Room 101, 102, 130 or 128. Those are our favorite ones. We were surprised to discover they redecorated it since last time and now we like it even better.

We had a GREAT time. Morgan Hill is a nothing town. Our kids would especially think our trip was boring, but we LOVED it.

Dennis holding my purse while we shopped.

One of the many reasons I love this man. He will do anything for me.