Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Our most memorable New Year's Eve

Our most memorable New Years Eve didn't happen tonight, 
since we are into phase two of our house facelift...

But rather, it was 15 years ago tonight. 
15 whole years have passed since then. Wow.

Dennis and I were on our second date, 
and he drove in from LA to take me to this. 
It was a New Years Eve dance for singles at this church building.

Only our second date, so we still didn't know each other very well. 
(but we had been talking for 3 months prior, so we weren't exactly strangers either)

While Dennis and I were dancing, suddenly the power went out and the fire alarm blares. 
Everything went pitch black. 
We all promptly evacuated the building.

As all our fellow dance goers congregated around the doors outside 
waiting for lights to come back on, 
Den said to me, "Let's go sit in my car where it's warm."

Tonight we went back to that parking lot, 
and we both remembered where his car was that night. 
The second stall to your left.

15 years ago, there we sat and talked and kept warm. 
As strange as this may sound now, do you know what I was thinking then? 
I thought….well I must be safe, 
I'm sitting here with a cop. 

About a half hour passed and the lights came back on in the building and we went back inside.
I consider that night the beginning of our future together. 
The last evening of 1998.
We were married 9 months later.

After our trip down memory lane tonight, 
we got to join the party going on @ The Home, 
as we dearly refer to it.
It's THE Home because that's where my Dad and Susan live.
Aren't they so cute!

 See that couple dancing in front? They are the talk of The Home. I'm not saying anymore than that. :)

Happy New Year!!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A few of my diverse grandchildren

I sat down 4 of my little grandchildren to interview them, and of course it did not go as expected.

First we have Violet who had all the right answers, but apparently I had the wrong questions.
Then we have Cami, who preferred to get up and sit across the room.
Then Jonas, who had a sudden career change mid sentence.
And then Téa who will be whatever anyone wants her to be!

You'll see what I mean…

(oh, and the 2 clips at the end…I couldn't resist)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

What do you think would cause this?

What would you think if you went to visit your son and his wife 
and 6 of their children on Christmas day 
and no one answered the door? 

It was very quiet, yet we knew all 9 of them were home. 
Actually, we even knew what was happening there, 
and we were invited. So we opened the door and walked in. 

No one was running through the house as usual. 
No music playing. No TV on. 

We went down the hallway a little and made a turn….
and there they all were……huddled together….

 Even when we came in no one noticed us, 
which is how it should be when they are talking to their missionary!

A marching band could have come in 
and those eyes wouldn't have left that screen.

 Even when I went in front of them to snap their picture, 
no one took their eyes off Austin for even a second. I love it! 
(although I think Téa's looking at Grandpa.)
 (Logan, Chandler and Jonas and Grandma Karen were there, too….
but the camera didn't capture them)

 After the Skyping session, 
Amy got to have her alone phone time with Austin. 
I remember my 8 Christmas-missionary-son-phone-calls. 
I wonder if she cried after he hung up like I always did.
The joy of it all always got to me, plus the saying good-bye. 

Austin is doing well, and seems to be loving every minute of it.
He was as animated as ever, maybe even more so….if you can believe that!
….waving his hands around, laughing, clapping, punching his fists in the air. 
When Kylie showed him her driver's license he spun around in his chair and squealed!

That's our Austin!

Chandler asked him what was his best experience so far.
Austin said it was hard to choose just one….but he told us about this day when a Mom called him as she was having problems with her son. She couldn't get him out of bed to go to school. So Austin and his companion went over to their house and this kid ran up into his tree house to hide. Finally Austin was impressed with a quote that came to his mind by President Monson: 
"Don't ever let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved." 

That impression made all the difference. 
So Austin started really listening to this kid and he opened up, 
and his emotions were softened, and he then agreed to go to school!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas!

A few weeks ago my good friend, Wendy K, mentioned on Facebook about
a beautiful song by Sara Bareilles. I just had to do something with it.

So even if you've already seen enough pictures of our children and grandchildren,
I think you will enjoy the music.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

One unforgettable Christmas 25 years ago

Bill and I use to have this tradition on Christmas morning. 
It's going to make us sound like lame parents, but it's what we use to do. After the kids had gone to bed on Christmas Eve, we would quickly fill  the boys stockings and hang them on the fireplace. We'd always remind the boys before they went to bed that night that they could get their stocking first thing in the morning but Don't wake us up! 

Their stockings usually contained their breakfast so we had that covered too.

The older two would take care of the younger two. Sweet deal.

Consequently we have no pictures of our boys walking in to the tree on any Christmas morning of their entire childhood. No, that is because they were always up before us, and we were sleeping. Especially me. That was my Christmas present to myself each and every year.

Except for the Christmas of 1988. For some reason unexplainable to Bill and I, we awoke very early that morning…..about 5:30am. Both of us. So we went into the family room and just sat on the couch and talked. We always turned the heat off at night, so normally even on cold winter mornings when we woke up that early we would stay in bed where it was warm. Since it was still dark outside, our boys, ages 3, 4, 9, and 11 were still sleeping. I trained them very early: "We don't get out of bed before Mr. Sun comes up." Christmas morning and total quiet. 

So as we were sitting there chatting, suddenly we heard this popping noise. We both looked at each other and at least one of us said, "What was THAT?" We heard it again, and again. Finally Bill noticed the sound was coming from our garage, which was right next to the couch we were sitting on. He opened that door to find sparks flying from an electric cord that was plugged in above our clothes dryer. On the dryer was a stray cardboard box that was on fire! Flames were shooting up from it but Bill was able to quickly smother it with a blanket near by. Then he wet it all down to make sure all the sparks were completely out.

We quickly figured out the cause of the fire. This particular Christmas Bill's parents were peacefully sleeping in their motor home that was parked  in our driveway. They had used our plug above our dryer to get electricity from. As the morning became colder, the heater within their motor home kicked in more and it became too hot for that little outlet….causing those sparks to fly, and the fire to begin.

After Bill put the fire out, I remember we just looked at each other in awe. I couldn't help but say, "What if we had been asleep like we probably were every other Christmas of our entire marriage at 5:30am?!"

An hour or so later the boys were up, and Bill's parents came inside from their motor home. I remember Bill's Dad saying how COLD they were and they couldn't figure out why they lost all power! Little did they know. We quickly showed them the burned box in the garage, and the fire Bill had put out.

Then we went right into the joy of that morning... opening gifts and eating breakfast.

25 years have passed since then. Still, I remember it and think about every single Christmas. It could have turned out so differently. At the least, we could have lost our home. Or our children, since their rooms were closer to the garage than ours was. But we didn't.

Instead, we just went on to have a very sweet Christmas.

I know I've shown this video before,
but it was the same Christmas morning Tyler sang this:

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

This is the way Dennis shops

One of the perks of having a tall husband is I can keep track of him when we go shopping. 
I just look around and I can usually sees his head above the aisles.

So I was a little surprised when the other night I couldn't spot him anywhere. 
My eyes scaled the aisles. No Dennis.

So I walked around and finally there he was!

When I suggested that he go find a place to sit,  I didn't mean in the display!

 I'm proud of him for thinking outside the box.
But truthfully, no surprise there. It's his speciality.
He thought the saleslady was going to ask him to move. 
But no, she was giving her approval.
Shopping was a great escapes from this.
Our remodel is coming along fine now, despite how it may look.
Can you understand why we aren't putting up a tree this year?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Another baby's coming

I don't know his name yet, but my niece, Whitney, and her husband Bret
are having a baby boy next month! Last Saturday at her baby shower,
she gave one of the most tender thank yous I've ever heard.

She said she has never been more happy than she is now. 
The room was packed with family and friends 
and she said it made her SO HAPPY that everyone would come.

She thanked us all numerous times. 
If we didn't feel special before the her baby shower, we surely did while there.

What personality! I love watching her. 

See the passion that girl has?

When Whitney talks to you, she's THERE.

I guess we have an idea now what little Baby Baker will look like….
Whitney on the left and Bret on the right.
He's gonna be CUTE!!

And now for the food….I remembered to take pictures before it was eaten this time...

When we were told we needed to "just take a look and memorize the items"…
oh yes, we're good at this game, especially those of us over 50.
I don't know who the winner was, but I'm certain it was one of those girls with the younger brain.

Let me just say, there were LOTS more people present than I have pictures for.
And I failed to get any pictures of many of her numerous friends there!
But here are just a few….

Whitney's Aunt Bonnie and sister, Raven.

My niece Kaidy, nephew Jake's wife Katie, and my niece Carly with Mara.

Some good conversation going on there between Susan and Jan Thomas.

Whitney with Jenny Parker

Whitney's cousins, Amy, Jan, and Heidi.

Her Aunt Noreen and Aunt Barbie

We all LOVE our Susan. 
I think we each wanted our time sitting with her. 
She stays interested in everything we are doing, and keeps track of the details. Amazing!
Here she is with my SIL Suzanne.

My sister Heidi with Whitney
Baby Baker is due January 23rd!
If you look really close you can see him.

I tried to get a picture of Wendy but she was always intently talking to someone. 
This will be Wendy and my brother Richard's 2nd grandchild and first boy in the family! 
Hailey is their first grandchild and she turned 10 last week. 
So they have all waited a long time for this little baby boy.

Can't wait to hear the news next month!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Evil did not win

A few weeks ago I mentioned a great short video that I wanted to share but couldn't.
I got to see it through Time Out For Women,
but it wasn't released to the general public until this week.

This shows what one little girl's family has done since their daughter's death at Sandy Hook,
a year ago today.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thinking of going Gluten Free?

I thought it was a craze or a fad and didn't pay much attention to going Gluten Free. 
I knew I wasn't Celiac.

However, the past few years I've been diagnosed with 3 "very rare" skin diseases. 
I couldn't even tell you their names now. 
But it made no sense…..why am I getting all these skin problems?

My doctor just kept throwing drugs at me. Finally one day just as I was leaving his office he said, 
"Some patients get better going gluten free. So you might want to try that."

That's all I had to hear. From that moment on, gluten was history. 
Not an easy thing to do to suddenly get rid of all wheat and most other grains. 
It was surprising how gluten is in so many of our foods. I was hungry most of the time for the next 
several weeks, until I found foods to replace all those I took away. And I did continually lose weight. 
A few months ago I finally stopped doing that, and have held steady at 12 lbs gone. 
I'd like to have 10 of those lbs back, just because I like to have a cushion, 
but I'm not going to gluten again.

So here I am 14 months later, and I am much better now. 
My skin has not totally cleared up but I'd say I'm 80% better. 
And surprisingly my allergies are LOTS better, my shoulder doesn't hurt as much, 
and I can eat beef again for the first time in my adult life with out it hurting my stomach. Who knew.

I don't like talking about my health on here. But if this will help someone, it's worth it. 
I wish someone had told me that gluten could be the cause of my skin problems. 
Many people I know have horrible headaches. And most people I know are tired. 
I believe now that gluten can cause a host of problems.

Last week Dr Oz had a small segment about the havoc gluten can cause.
Take a look.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I'm fascinated by this study

I love studies to do with people, and this one is particularly interesting to me.

So there was this huge study of 340,000 people, ages 18-85 in 2008
about aging that was reported in the New York Times.

This is what they concluded:

"… researchers found that stress declines from age 22 onward, 
reaching its lowest point at 85. Worry stays fairly steady until 50, 
then sharply drops off. Anger decreases steadily from 18 on, 
and sadness rises to a peak at 50, declines to 73, then rises slightly again to 85. 
Enjoyment and happiness have similar curves: 
they both decrease gradually until we hit 50, rise steadily for the next 25 years, 
and then decline very slightly at the end, 
but they never again reach the low point of our early 50s."

So why is this?
The author of this study said it could be anything from environmental changes or psychological changes
OR it could even be biologicalfor example brain chemistry or endocrine changes. 
I never even entertained the idea it could biological.

The way I see it, something magical happens about age 50.. 
We are now at the top of the hill like my sister has said. 
We can see both sides….where we have been and where we are going. 
We know what we value, what matters. It's not just beliefs anymore. It's knowledge. 
That's my take on things anyway.

I love how the author of this study sums things up:
 “It’s a very encouraging fact that we can expect to be happier in our early 80s 
than we were in our 20s,” he said. “And it’s not being driven predominantly 
by things that happen in life. It’s something very deep and quite human that seems to be driving this.”

And the ending of this article is the best:
"For people under 50 who may sometimes feel gloomy, there may be consolation here. 
The view seems a bit bleak right now, but look at the bright side: you are getting old."

To read about this study, go here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Spending the weekend with some of the best.

What is the point of people growing older and suffering? I've been trying to figure this out all my life. 
I was there @ The Home this weekend taking care of my Dad while Susan was in Utah. 
It's a very pretty place, and I so enjoy talking to the residents. 
And of course I enjoy spending time with my Dad.

But it also has me thinking about aging.

I've always had such great respect for those who came to earth before me.
And especially for this older generation now, 
because these are the people who raised my generation. 

One morning while my Dad was watching the BYU channel I heard a speaker talking about humility 
and how as we get older we become more humble. How can we not? 
Things are taken away from us one by one. Many are in walkers, many have canes or attached to 
oxygen tanks, some are slumped over, and some, like my Dad are in wheel chairs.

But they all smile when I talk to them. I have not met one who is not gracious and kind to me. 
Saturday morning while having "breakfast for one"….(my Dad eats in his apt 2 hours earlier)
My first and second courses.

I suddenly decided I didn't want to pass up an opportunity to visit with these admired people. 
So I found a table with an extra chair and asked if I might join them. 
They welcomed me like I was the best thing ever. I loved that.

They all told me about their "stories"….where they have been, where their children are now. 
I heard stories about a "kleptomaniac" there who stole 7 shirts worth $40. each
from one of the other residents. But not to worry, the police took him away.

After lunch time on Saturday, as my Dad and I were looking out the window,
we noticed a white pick up truck parked in the red zone right in front of his apartment.
We thought maybe it was a worker of some kind. Then we saw a man get out of this truck, bend down
and pick up a man out the gutter! Turns out one of the residents here fell while out walking.
I felt terrible we didn't see it happen to I could have gone to his rescue.
But from our angle we couldn't even see him lying there in that gutter.

Thanks to that stranger! I went out and we were able to get that man in a chair,
and eventually he felt strong enough to walk back inside with some help.
I asked the man how long he had been lying in the gutter and he said several minutes.
And that just so happened to be our coldest day of the year so far!

It can be really crummy getting older.

So then why do the residents there so easily smile?
Why do they seem so happy when their bodies don't work well and many are in daily pain?

(well come back soon, because I think I may have found some answers to those questions.
This post is already too long.
…more on this later)

This shows how my Dad copes when my sisters,
Robin and Heidi come by to visit and all 3 of us get to talking.

These were my breakfast buddies for the past 3 mornings.
I only took part of Brenda (to the left) because she believes pictures "steal the soul" 
and I wouldn't want to do that.

Loved watching the kids choir from Dry Creek Elementary during lunch yesterday.
Right before the kids came in a lady fell down a few of the stairs and hurt her knee, 
so the children had to wait outside until they could help her off the stairway.
See those 2 girls standing in the front to the far left?
I heard one of them say to the other, "When I get old I want to live here!"
And the other girl said, "I wish I were old now."

(Notice that man up there on the balcony?
I met him….that's Robin Rush…he graduated from Roosevelt with my Mom in 1947!
I also went to school with his niece, Charlene Rush)

While we were eating lunch yesterday the best part of the day happened….

Susan returned!
She lights up his world. Welcome Home Susan!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Who my mother really was

Thinking of my Mom today, her 84th birthday!

I can't remember how old I was...probably middle teen years…
but I nearly lived for my favorite TV show.
I can't remember why I would not be home to see it one day, or even what program it was!
But I remember asking my Mom if she would watch it for me and tell me about it when I got home. 
Remember, this was way before VCRs.

When I got home she handed me a few pages of NOTES. All about my show. 
He said, she said, they said. All the details. Keep in mind I was not an only child. 
I was child #2 of EIGHT.

Mom with Peggy, baby #5.

My favorite movie was Pollyanna. No dvds back then.
At best, we had to wait for the movie to come back to the theaters which was every 7 years,
at least that is how I remember. So there was this long playing record of dialogue from Pollyanna.
I think 30 minutes on each side. I loved it so much that I wanted my mom to come in my bedroom
and listen to it with me. She did. Sitting on the floor right by me.
No problem, or that is how she acted.

Mom between two of Dad's sisters, June and Leonie

Their wedding day. I think that church is still standing in downtown Fresno.

With four of her eight children.

Every 2 years Mom had a new baby until I was 13 
(except for that 4 year span from 1961 to 1965, and then she had twins).

 I would often come home from school to find Mom lying on the couch,
eating chocolate, and reading a magazine while babies and toys surrounded her.
I was born with a huge need (and I don't say this lightly) to TALK.
I came home and knew I could always give her a play by play of my day. And I did. Every day.
 How boring that must have been for her. To me, there was nothing more important or more exciting
than my little life. Never once, do I remember her saying to me, "I can't listen to you now.
Save it and tell me later."
HOW did she do this day after day year after year?? 

If there were a subtitle to her life after "Most devoted Mother" it would be,
"She didn't sweat the small stuff." This is actually where she lacked patience.
I remember when she was Primary President at our church and she once asked all the teachers
to make and bring some popcorn from home.  She had planned to have all the kids make popcorn balls.
One of the teachers insisted on going to Sears and buying their popcorn fresh
out of the big commercial maker that sat in the middle of the store.
This teacher wanted the "finest." My mom shook her head, and
rolled her eyes as she was mumbling about this on our way home that day.

Mom with granddaughter Lauren.

She liked:
The Waltons
Rocking babies
garage sales
Paper plates (although we rarely used them)
visiting the lonely and the depressed and the sick
Biographies and Autobiograghies
Father Knows Best
chocolate candy
Andy Griffith show
Walks after dinner
Old movies
Hand written letters and Christmas cards
checkered curtains
Hallmark commercials
chocolate milkshakes
Dad washing dishes every Sunday
kind hearted, well meaning people
widows and the homeless and the disabled
Mexican food
What have I forgotten?

I know I've put this excerpt from her journal on my blog before, but it's her message so here it is again….

Back: Chris, Heidi, Robin, John, Richard, Scott
Front: Me, Dad, Mom, Peggy

Mom and Dad surrounded by their 8 children in 2002.

Happy Birthday Mom!
Whatever you are doing in heaven today, we know it's good.