Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Elora and her sisters

As Elora was trying to talk to me....

It cracked me up the way Violet wanted to be in on it all
Elora was telling me how sometimes her teacher asks her to teach some of the assignments.

I can totally see this happening. Elora is a natural.

Then when we got back to our house she wanted to write all about it in a journal she keeps here.

And look who the girls got to see last weekend!
Erin said Cami was totally captivated by Belle at Disneyland.
A little girl's dream come true.

Monday, January 30, 2012

What's going on in the family

 1. Kylie got a new hair cut! Makes her look older and I would say prettier too, but I don't think she could be any prettier than she is.

2. Chandler did a drawing of Dennis' very favorite Clovis landmark.
He has a talent for capturing detail, as you can see.

3. Mike (Kris' husband) turned 4-0. Yes he did! And all the gang in Logan were present, including the newcomers to the town, Tyler, Karen and Richie.

4. Amy has been busy making wooden letters. No, I have no idea where she finds the time.

5. Dennis' girls had another article printed in Where Woman Cook, so of course we needed to stock up.

And as usual he could not wait til we got home to begin reading....

6. McKay is in San Francisco where he has another interview with the same company he met with in November. McKenna and Grant are in Denver visiting her new little nephew. I wish they were all here with us instead, but we can't have everything.

7. Don't forget to go see Austin as the Anvil Salesman in The Music Man, opening this Thursday. He has the part of the Anvil Salesman! That's where I'll be this weekend.

More later. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What people say when they are dying.

When my mother was dying nearly 5 years ago, 
I became acquainted with several of the hospice nurses who would come to our home 
to offer guidance and help with her care.  
I was curious about all these hospice workers, 
how they work everyday with life and death.  
I asked one of the nurses what the religious backgrounds were with most of their employees.  
She told me that their backgrounds varied, greatly.   

I asked if all their workers believed in God and in an afterlife.  
She told me, that yes, they did have some workers who did not believe in God 
when they first began working for hospice….
but, she said, after working for hospice, every one of them believes in God and an afterlife.  
She said over time working with people who are getting ready to die, 
they have seen too much and felt too much to NOT believe in God

You may have seen this article (or below) on CNN news today. Or maybe you didn't.
I think you will find it very interesting. The post I shared right before this one may have seemed harsh, and I believe it was, but I wish that that "mother" could have read this article before she made the decision she did.

Editor's Note: Kerry Egan is a hospice chaplain in Massachusetts and the author of "Fumbling: A Pilgrimage Tale of Love, Grief, and Spiritual Renewal on the Camino de Santiago."
By Kerry Egan, Special to CNN

"As a divinity school student, I had just started working as a student chaplain at a cancer hospital when my professor asked me about my work.  I was 26 years old and still learning what a chaplain did.

"I talk to the patients," I told him.

"You talk to patients?  And tell me, what do people who are sick and dying talk to the student chaplain about?" he asked.

I had never considered the question before.  “Well,” I responded slowly, “Mostly we talk about their families.”

“Do you talk about God?

“Umm, not usually.”

“Or their religion?”

“Not so much.”

“The meaning of their lives?”


“And prayer?  Do you lead them in prayer?  Or ritual?”

“Well,” I hesitated.  “Sometimes.  But not usually, not really.”

I felt derision creeping into the professor's voice.  “So you just visit people and talk about their families?”

“Well, they talk.  I mostly listen.”

“Huh.”  He leaned back in his chair.

A week later, in the middle of a lecture in this professor's packed class, he started to tell a story about a student he once met who was a chaplain intern at a hospital.

“And I asked her, 'What exactly do you do as a chaplain?'  And she replied, 'Well, I talk to people about their families.'” He paused for effect. “And that was this student's understanding of  faith!  That was as deep as this person's spiritual life went!  Talking about other people's families!”

The students laughed at the shallowness of the silly student.  The professor was on a roll.

“And I thought to myself,” he continued, “that if I was ever sick in the hospital, if I was ever dying, that the last person I would ever want to see is some Harvard Divinity School student chaplain wanting to talk to me about my family.”

My body went numb with shame.  At the time I thought that maybe, if I was a better chaplain, I would know how to talk to people about big spiritual questions.  Maybe if dying people met with a good, experienced chaplain they would talk about God, I thought.

Today, 13 years later, I am a hospice chaplain.  I visit people who are dying in their homes, in hospitals, in nursing homes.   And if you were to ask me the same question - What do people who are sick and dying talk about with the chaplain?  – I, without hesitation or uncertainty, would give you the same answer. Mostly, they talk about their families: about their mothers and fathers, their sons and daughters.

They talk about the love they felt, and the love they gave.  Often they talk about love they did not receive, or the love they did not know how to offer, the love they withheld, or maybe never felt for the ones they should have loved unconditionally.

They talk about how they learned what love is, and what it is not.    And sometimes, when they are actively dying, fluid gurgling in their throats, they reach their hands out to things I cannot see and they call out to their parents:  Mama, Daddy, Mother.

What I did not understand when I was a student then, and what I would explain to that professor now, is that people talk to the chaplain about their families because that is how we talk about God.  That is how we talk about the meaning of our lives.  That is how we talk about the big spiritual questions of human existence.

We don't live our lives in our heads, in theology and theories.  We live our lives in our families:  the families we are born into, the families we create, the families we make through the people we choose as friends.
This is where we create our lives, this is where we find meaning, this is where our purpose becomes clear.

Family is where we first experience love and where we first give it.  It's probably the first place we've been hurt by someone we love, and hopefully the place we learn that love can overcome even the most painful rejection.

This crucible of love is where we start to ask those big spiritual questions, and ultimately where they end.
I have seen such expressions of love:  A husband gently washing his wife's face with a cool washcloth, cupping the back of her bald head in his hand to get to the nape of her neck, because she is too weak to lift it from the pillow. A daughter spooning pudding into the mouth of her mother, a woman who has not recognized her for years.

A wife arranging the pillow under the head of her husband's no-longer-breathing body as she helps the undertaker lift him onto the waiting stretcher.

We don't learn the meaning of our lives by discussing it.  It's not to be found in books or lecture halls or even churches or synagogues or mosques.  It's discovered through these actions of love.

If God is love, and we believe that to be true, then we learn about God when we learn about love. The first, and usually the last, classroom of love is the family.

Sometimes that love is not only imperfect, it seems to be missing entirely.  Monstrous things can happen in families.  Too often, more often than I want to believe possible, patients tell me what it feels like when the person you love beats you or rapes you.  They tell me what it feels like to know that you are utterly unwanted by your parents.  They tell me what it feels like to be the target of someone's rage.   They tell me what it feels like to know that you abandoned your children, or that your drinking destroyed your family, or that you failed to care for those who needed you.

Even in these cases, I am amazed at the strength of the human soul.  People who did not know love in their families know that they should have been loved.  They somehow know what was missing, and what they deserved as children and adults.

When the love is imperfect, or a family is destructive, something else can be learned:  forgiveness.  The spiritual work of being human is learning how to love and how to forgive.

We don’t have to use words of theology to talk about God; people who are close to death almost never do. 

We should learn from those who are dying that the best way to teach our children about God is by loving each other wholly and forgiving each other fully - just as each of us longs to be loved and forgiven by our mothers and fathers, sons and daughters."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A doctor aborted the wrong twin

This is just the saddest story, on so many levels. But it's also thought provoking. Makes me realize how shallow some people are. Not to mention heartless. Do some people not get life at all?

A lady in Australia was told one of her twins would be born with a serious heart condition, so she wanted her Dr to abort that twin at 32 weeks. That's just 8 weeks before the due date. And the Dr accidentally killed the "wrong one."

The story.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Richie sends his birthday wishes too!

This made me so happy I just had to share. I haven't even shown it to Grandpa yet. He's too busy talking to Richie's Dad on the phone right now. He's going to love this!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Look what baby Grant sent to Grandpa!

This just shows a little of the picture poster Grant sent...I couldn't get it all in our printer. 
But you get the idea. I wish I had taken a video of Grandpa opening it up. 
He was SO excited. There is just expression after expression of our little guy. 

And if you are not familiar with the dynamics of our family, 

As Dennis admired his wonderful gift he said, "This has McKenna written all over it!"
It does indeed!

And no, it's not Dennis' birthday yet. Not quite.
So this was a total surprise.

Grant I'm sure is getting stronger by the day....take a look.
And trust me, I've held those braces in my hands and they are not light.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mexican Casserole

Do you want to know something you can quickly fix when you are hungry and looking for something filling?
This is it:

I made this last night....the picture is from a magazine. But I made so many changes that I won't even give you the original recipe. And mine did pretty much look like this picture, minus the tomatoes, since they aren't in season right now.

Here's what I did:

1. 6 tortillas....I used a corn/wheat blend but any kind will do.

2. Brown 1/2 lb gr turkey (or beef) with 1 chopped onion and 1/2 green pepper.
add 1  1/2 T taco seasoning and 3/4 c water and let simmer a few minutes

3. one generous cup of frozen corn.

4. 16 oz can of refried beans mixed with 1/2 cup salsa

So you start with the 2 tortillas flat on the bottom of the casserole dish sprayed with Pam. Then add 1/3 of each mixture till you have everything layered. Then you top with 3/4 c cheese and bake at 350" till bubbly hot.

We loved this but it was a bit too hot for me even though I used mild salsa. Dennis thought it was just right, but next time I will cut the salsa down to 1/4 cup or maybe even leave it out entirely and just put it on the table to use as a topping.

This is a recipe you can play with to get it how you like. We will definitely make it again.

Then today I was gone a lot, so I just made a quick dinner of breakfast, 
and asked Den to set the table. 
It wasn't till I sat down to eat that I noticed something a bit strange.

Den really had no idea how I ended up with 3 forks. 
It was fun laughing while we ate tonight.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I don't know what to title this

Dennis and I attended a funeral Friday morning which included a complete Catholic Mass. This is far from the first Mass I've attended, but I always find them interesting.

Friday morning was different though. The Catholic Priest (I hope I am identifying his title correctly) actually quoted a Mormon during his talk. He mentioned Steven L Covey's book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People." I have never even read this book, but I've heard quotes from it for years. But hearing about it in a Catholic Mass? I admit I was surprised.

Quoting Covey, this Priest talked about how we should "begin with the end in mind." That we should envision our own funeral and think about the words that we wish to be said about ourselves. This can help us visualize what we value the most. To begin with the end simply means to start with our destination in mind. That gives us a sense of where we are in our life.

I love it when religions come together in shared beliefs. I personally think the Catholics and the Mormons, and many other religions, have more common beliefs than we have differences. After all, we both pray to the same God. We are all brothers and sisters. 

Why have I not read this book before? 
I don't know, but I'm very interested in doing so now. 
I know my Mom read it. 
I can still picture it sitting there by the couch in her living room.  

The funeral was for Bill Pieper. He was/is the brother of Rose Emler, who we lived across the street on Fairmont most of our growing up years. We just knew him as "Uncle Bill"
The picture below shows "Uncle Bill" on his wedding day back in 1961. About in the center of this picture is Rose Emler (Uncle Bill's sister) along with her 4 children surrounding her: Robbie, Terri, and Karen and holding baby Tammy. Anyway this was 51 years ago...the same year we moved across the street from them. And somewhere through those years, they have become like family.

to see how religions break down state by state.  
Interesting to watch.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Let's just Hide the Mother under a Blanket!

Back in the day. And I do mean way back in the day...did you know it was popular to photograph small children while sitting on their mother's lap...while the mom was completely covered by a blanket?

Then later the lumpy Mom would be hidden further by a mat before the picture was placed in a frame.

So what did they tell the children? 
"Don't worry, Mommy's still here with you but we don't want her in the picture so we're covering her up." 

And just why did they not want Mom in the picture?

 This one is so well done, you can hardly tell!

 Perhaps they had a few hidden Dads back then too?

Oh yes, let's just stick Mom behind the drapes. 
Oh my, photography has changed through the years.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My nervous husband

Dennis was tense the entire drive over to Sweet Tomatoes tonight. He said it was a bad idea to take the twins there, and it would never work.

I think he was reflecting back earlier today when we took the twins to the care center to see a few of our friends there.

They only have it in them to be "good" for so long.

Don't get me wrong, he adores the twins as much as I do. But like he reminds me, they are TWO and there are 2 of them. He thinks it's best to just love on 2 year olds at home, and not bring them out in public until they are civilized.

My argument was
1) At least I would not have to clean up after dinner and
2) It would put us that much closer to bedtime after it was over. (no offense intended, we just get tired)

On the drive there I put my hand on his arm and said, "Just remember, we can't always change the circumstance, but we can change our attitude." Good thing he has a sense of humor.

As we were going towards the door of the restaurant I told the twins, "Just pretend you are FOUR."

That seemed to work because look how well they behaved!

We had very little of this....

And I just freaked out once when I took them both to the bathroom. 
It wasn't the cleanest thing I ever saw and I kept saying, "Don't touch anything!"

But we made it and they were so wonderful, we even went to see how my Dad was doing since his surgery yesterday. He amazes me! We're talking recovering from 2 incisions in his chest where they replaced his batteries....and this was just yesterday. He claims to have no pain!

We give the babies back to their parents tomorrow.
Good thing we will still be related because I know we will miss them.
And as soon as we have a good nap, and a good night sleep, we will miss them even more.

Just about every time I cough or sneeze, Téa says to me, "Are you okay?"
And I answer, "Yes, I'm fine. It's just a cough."
Téa:  "Ohhhh, is it an owie?"
Me:  "No, it doesn't hurt. Just a cough."
This is when Jonas joins in: "A cough? Do you need medicine?"

It plays out like a symphony. Nearly word for word every time. And Jonas always come in at the end.
Dennis laughs and says, "I've never heard anything like this."
I will miss all their sweet sympathy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

This is why I love 2 year olds..

They are eccentric!
They wake up each morning totally trying to relive the day before.
Téa had barely opened her eyes this morning (but Jonas not quite)
and she wanted her Belle costume back on.

They play like no one could possibly get hurt.

 And then they are the first to check out the owies, when they do.

They dance with their entire heart and soul

If they like something, then they REALLY like it.

They are totally gripped by The Lion King. 
Have you ever met a 2 year old who wasn't??
(How do you like the way Den duct taped some old bedspreads over the dusty concrete?)

They are so excited about their next adventure
that I could hear them softly giggling on their way up to the door to Joy School this morning.

And I think Jonas would say the best part of his day is 
when nap time is over and he gets to be reunited with his Téa again.

So yes, Day 2 with the twins.
We are hoping their parents are enjoying every minute together in Vegas!

Monday, January 16, 2012

I have a sneaky daughter in law

Amy asked Logan if he would take this week off to take care of the kids so she could have a little getaway with her girlfriend Crystal. So he did.

But instead, she had it all planned out that she would surprise him instead. I played into this whole thing by asking Logan if I could have the twins for a few hours today. This gave Amy an excuse to bring them over, complete with clothes for the next few days.

I haven't heard yet how it went, but at 2:20 she was planning to tell Logan he had 25 minutes to pack. And at 4:40 this afternoon they both flew to Las Vegas together!

So Den and I have the twins until Thursday.
Amy gave me permission to do this all Grandma Honey style.

I'll explain.

First off I had their "hospital lunches" all ready and waiting for them.

They scarfed nearly every bit of these down.

When I served them spaghetti for dinner Jonas took just a few bites and said, "I give plate back." Téa wasn't interested in it either. Before Amy left she said, "If they don't like what we are eating then we don't make them anything else." but then she added this very key phrase, "But you are Grandma, so you can do what you want."

So away the spaghetti went, and I gave them English muffins coated with honey and mandarin oranges instead. No complaints here.

Off to the store we went to have some fun. 

Grandpa cautioned them to keep their feet and bodies inside the car.

If I were the Mom, I would have said at this point, "Okay you need to get out. You aren't following the rules." 

But no, I didn't say that.

And I definitely would not have bought them these Disneyland looking cups. 
I rarely ever bought my kids anything extra, and certainly not in the grocery store.

Nor would I have let them hang out looking like little beggars.

Then home for a bedtime snack of  Banana Shakes.

Look at the text we just got from the traveling parents:

and just a little FYI....what Amy meant by "He acted way better than I thought."....is Logan rarely shows much emotion, even when he is really happy, or even when he's sad. 
He's a stoic kind of guy.
So I guess this adventure pushed him over the top.