Saturday, March 31, 2012

We Didn’t Win the Lottery

The owner of a convenient store in Preston, Idaho was interviewed about his selling the Mega Million tickets for last night’s lottery.  Still a chance to purchase.
They don’t have the lottery in Utah, and so one has to go across the border to make purchases.  Over half a billion dollars.  It is mind boggling really.  I think 20,000 would be mind boggling.  Our account has never seen more than 4,000 at a time (and it went quickly.  Always does)

So Roland comes home yesterday and recaps the news story and asks what I would do with that much money.

“Well, first I would pay off all our bills.  I would buy new cars (or drivable cars rather) for ourselves and for Bill and Kayla (as they are also experiencing the sluggish dying car thing) and move.  Definitely move.  We could purchase a duplex near Jenna’s school.  Bill and Kayla could live on one side and we could live on the other.”

“You’ve got half a billion dollars.  Half a billion.”

Roland always has been a dreamer.  I can’t fathom that much.  Wouldn’t want to. 

“Why don’t we just give a huge chunk of it to the church – let them figure it out.”

“They won’t take it”

“Oh, yeah.  Hmmm . . .”

The reason he had asked me was because there was a guy from his office who had decided to drive up to Preston yesterday.  He had asked his co-workers who would like a ticket.  Roland contributed a whole dollar.  He showed me the ticket.  Impressive.

There are actually a lot of sick babies in my sister’s ward (a geographical boundary for the LDS church) that are in hospitals, and you know that comes with an expensive price tag – even with insurance – though I don’t imagine anyone living in that area really has that great of insurance.
Bill has a nephew who’s been in and out of hospitals since birth – not to mention all the medical expenses of Bill’s late wife.

Now the possibilities become endless for us.  We’ll hire an attorney and pay bills anonymously.  We can move out of state and Roland could become a shark and make decisions about investing in unique products. We can make even more money which we could give to the Church and we can still assist and support charities.

We could . . .

But alas, we did not win.  We didn’t have enough to collect a consolation.  Well, cool.  I didn’t want all that responsibility anyway.

Friday, March 30, 2012

happiness and JOY

What is it that makes each of us happy? For many of us it consists of simple everyday things – intangible at that.  We enjoy freedoms.  We enjoy seeing pleasure or satisfaction displayed on the face of another.  Smiles, clean water, sunshine, rain, playing games or enjoying other activities with close friends or family members.  The associations we have built up for ourselves.  Serving others.

          I am not a morning person, but I enjoy hearing Jenna singing in the morning.  It makes me happy to know that she is happy.  And I know that she is happy when she’s singing.

          Experiencing joy is different from one’s definition of happiness. Happiness can come from material things – perhaps not permanently, but rather on a temporary scale.  We seek pleasures or feel contentment.  Riding a bike makes Jenna happy.

          But joy seems to bring a higher satisfaction.  Perhaps Jenna has not mastered the bike completely.  It still gives her pleasure and great satisfaction to ride it – but the pure joy shown on her face the day she realized that she could do it by herself.  She didn’t need daddy constantly at her side or training wheels or any kind of assistance.  She had accomplished something!  That smile said it all.

          So may be the joy in a teen who gets the drivers license, first car, marriage certificate, diploma, awards, whatever.  Or with a grandparent who embraces his grandchild. I think the joy remains with the grandparent, but tends to lose value with the other things mentioned.

          Oh, there is still happiness there.  The freedoms of driving, framed awards and certificates that still mean something – but tend to blend in with the wall over time, and often taken for granted.  Often people are taken for granted, and that’s too bad.

          If we work on the things that truly make us happy and find joy in our everyday lives, how much more desirable we will be as human beings.  Let us spread the joy that we feel so that others may pass it on also.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Jenna's Fort

          Roland and I purchased a playground set for Jenna the year that she turned three.  The set included two swings, a glider, sandbox frame, picnic table, slide and fort.  I must have taken at least a hundred pictures of Roland and our boys putting it together.

          Jenna loved her fort.  When we moved, we dissembled it and put it back together about five months after we moved.  We like the yard here so much better than in our first house.  But she doesn’t seem to spend near as much time there as she used to.  I suspect she’s just outgrowing it.

Over the years I’ve repainted at least twice.  And the wind has torn away the green nylon roof.  On the lawn itself one can find pieces of board that were initially attached to the play set. 

When (if) we ever leave this house and move again, the fort will stay for the new owners to deal with.  Hopefully they will have little ones who will love the fort as much as Jenna has.  They will have to buy some new sand.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Humor from Children’s Programming

          There are several programs that we know our child has seen at least ten times just this month.  It’s true that many episodes get repeated.  But just as often, many programs just start sounding the same after a while.

          I love the laughable things that are said.  Jenna and I can laugh at the same program, but usually at different parts.  And usually whatever is funny to me makes her wonder exactly why I am laughing.

          There was one time (before Jenna had started going to preschool for four days a week) when she was in my bedroom watching Sesame Street.  I had just finished folding clothes and was going in and out of different rooms and putting the folded laundry away.  So I wasn’t watching Sesame Street, but was in the room long enough to hear this dialogue between Maria and Telly.

          First she praised Baby Bear for having guessed the last sound (I think a horse) correctly.  The next sound was a “vroom, vroom . . .” like that of a motorcycle. 
          Maria asks Telly if he can guess the sound.  He thinks about it before answering that “. . . it sounds like a bunch of lactose intolerant antelope ate a bunch of cottage cheese . . .”

          Jenna didn’t see any humor in it whatsoever and couldn’t figure out why I was laughing. That wasn’t the correct answer.

          Oswald is a unique cartoon that features three friends, Oswald, a purple octopus; Henry, an uptight persnickety penguin; and Daisy – well, a daisy.  They live in a city with some odd shaped buildings like a guitar and teepee.  Other characters include Steve, a tree; Egbert and Leo (egg brothers) Madam Butterfly and her baby caterpillar, Catrina and Johnny the snowman.     

          Oswald is the peacemaker of the show. Usually resolving issues among the different characters.  Usually between Henry and Daisy.  Henry says things that make me laugh – just because he’s so self-centered and persnickety.

          Peep is a cartoon narrated by Joan Cusack.  It involves three foul: Quack – a blue duck; Chirp, a red robin; and Peep, a fairly new yellow chick.  Chirp is the know-it-all who tries to put Quack in his place, and Quack never gets it.  His character reminds me a little bit of Oswald’s Henry – only younger.

          Martha’s voice (from Martha Speaks) alone is enough to make me laugh.  I don’t know what it is about the voice – but it’s not one that I personally could never hear and be able to take it seriously.

          But I think the program I laugh the most at is “Arthur”.  Though I am guilty of having watched Oswald and Peep,  I only hear pieces of Arthur.

          Arthur:        What makes feel so stressed is –

          Buster cuts him off:  a bear?

          A:                I was going to say a test

          B:       Why worry about a test?  I think I’d be much more worried
about a bear

          Even DW (I can’t stand that whiny character) made me laugh in one episode when Pal (the dog) is trying to eat her sandwich and DW says, “Hey, I don’t go around trying to eat your dog food, do I?”

          I suppose it depends on my frame of mind.  It’s nice to be able to laugh.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What’s up with the weather?!

        Last year we were pretty much gypped out of a spring.  Jenna’s birthday is in spring.  The park seems the most ideal place to hold it as the majority of her friends live close by – but as the weather changes from day to day (often drastically) and it’s hard to make plans.

          I would love the weather to be the temperature it was on March 24-25 weekend.  Even the 22nd was very beautiful and breathable.  23rd was a bit windier than I’d like.  Wind seems to cause fatigue and I am so tired of being tired all the time.

          This morning the sun was so bright I was almost afraid to drive toward its glare.  The afternoon brought darkness.  Did I just make up this morning.  It’s so gloomy out right now, one might think the sun has already set. 

          Last year’s summer brought rain.  Lots of rain.  The rivers rose high – some so high that the moisture sopped over into the roads – and some actually had to be shut down.  It was a wet wet summer.  Didn’t get our usual amount of heat.  I can deal with that. 

          And the last two winters haven’t brought much in the way of snow – something else I can deal with.  I like it in the mountains and think it is quite awesome looking when it sparkles through the naked trees – but I really don’t enjoy driving in it.  I actually don’t know anybody who does.

          I haven’t believed the forecast for the last 15 years or so.  I’ve got a window.  It’s more reliable.  Well sometimes. 

          I’ve changed clothes into more appropriate attire only to find the weather has changed in less than five minutes.  Sometimes I’ll wear a sweat shirt with shorts.  I figure I’m dressed for the change and half of me seems prepared anyway.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Compromising Values & Sacrificing Balance

         None of us have been given more time in any given day or week or month or year.  None of us have more than 24 hours to spare in each day or more than seven days in any given week.  Some people have the gift of budgeting their time wisely.  Some people are better at prioritizing.  Some people know how to compromise their time.  Some people haven’t a clue.

          Each of us has priorities and circumstances and situations that are unique to our own individual lives.  Often we will include others in the time that we have given.  Often we do things by choice – sometimes by situation or circumstance.  It’s amazing how there are some who can utilize their time to the fullest while others get swallowed up and lost with the short amount of time that they have.

          I would personally like to experience a sense of balance equally – perhaps leaning more to a larger chunk devoted to my family and less to the business – which would be null if there weren’t bills to pay.

          There’s some who have become doctors, actors/actresses, military personal and what have you.  Often careers will take precedence over the family (depending on the individual) whether intentional or not. 

          And then there are unplanned circumstances such as law suits, failing health, sudden deaths or jury duty that certainly don’t fit into our already full agendas.  So we are still making sacrifices – perhaps more often with those unexpected situations.

          There have been recent posts on my facebook home page that have been made from the hospital.  One has a child whose lungs are not working correctly.  One has a son who’s been in and out of hospitals since the day that he was born. He’s had MRI’s and other treatments.  Each time they celebrate a birthday with him, they wonder if it will be his last.

          We also have health news about a young father who has been in the hospital for a week now.  Descriptions of his flushed skin make it sound as though he is close to death’s door. 

          And then I see pictures posted by those on prestigious vacations.  It seems so unfair.  They are spending huge amounts of money while so many others struggle.  But again, I don’t know what sacrifices they have made to get there – or will make.

          Some of us drop what we’re doing to aid our family members, while others put in long hours just to meet expenses or to honor written contracts or just to be away from family. 

          So what makes us happy?  Our families?  Our careers?  Certainly not watching a love one suffer due to illness or accident.  But is there comfort in our presence?  Each person deals with pain in a different way.  And what may be painful to others might not be so painful to somebody else.

          Take death for instance.  My family members have dealt with death many times.  Most have been expected or non-surprising rather, while some have come on sudden.  They have been friends, neighbors, co-workers or family members.  Some we have known well.  Others we’ve only been acquainted with.  But our attitude towards the death itself is pretty much the same.  It happens. We must move on.  And we do.

          Some people are surprised at just how quickly we move on.  It’s a choice.  It’s knowledge.  There is no reason to dwell on what “might have been” or stop living for ourselves because we can’t get past our mourning state.  It happens.
          Money, like time, needs to be prioritized.  We need structure and balance in our life.  We need to decide what is most important to us and at what cost.  If we are wise and prayful, maybe one day we really can have it all.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

For Heaven’s Sake, Clean Up After Yourselves

Last week we were cleaning the Church and I was asked to sweep the stage.  I sent Jenna to the room that’s just above the stage.  I’ve heard others refer to it as the ping pong room.  I also learned that three or four plastic Christmas trees live there as well.

The room doesn’t get used a whole lot and not all the wards (a geographical boundary of those who attend an assigned LDS Church building) will even think about cleaning up there (there are three wards that meet in our building; one in particular has a not so great reputation as far as cleaning and discipline go – I’m guessing it was someone from that ward who created the mess that Jenna discovered)

Popcorn everywhere, broken ping pong paddles, tape . . . what was an adult thinking?  We found a cub scout CD, burp cloth and roll of tape.  Are you kidding me?  I don’t believe it was a scout leader from our ward.  I believe it was a mother absorbed in the infant she must have had with her and didn’t care that her other children were running wild.

Now, I can understand the desire of having fun – and perhaps throwing popcorn at one another was giving them a thrill.  But for heaven’s sake, you do not leave a place trashed like that in hopes that somebody else will clean it up.  Had I been the leader, I would have made the children get on all fours and pick up each kernel of popcorn with his teeth. 

I remember a sign posted in the cafeteria at various places (usually a work environment) reminding those patrons of the cafeteria or lunch room to clean up after themselves because “your mother doesn’t work here”

Give me a break.  Clean your mess at home.  You’re an adult.  This mother will pick up after the infant or toddler that doesn’t know any better.  Once you can reach the sink, table, garbage can, etc.  you need to do it!  You should do it.  Show some respect!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hidden Talents

We all have gifts and talents that are perhaps unique to other people, perhaps the same, perhaps what sets us apart. Some talents just seem to come naturally while others are mastered or simply given up on.  Unfortunately some talents go unrecognized or are lost due to lack of sharing.

          Jenna is really great with math.  I pushed her into believing that it is awesome so that she might understand it on her own.  She starts third grade next year and I’m thinking it may become too complex for my brain.

          Math is something I didn’t figure I would ever ask her brothers to assistance for. Math is just NOT their forte.  Actually I am more confident in my own math skills than I would ever be in Biff’s.  His talent lies within animal charmer and puzzle awareness.

          Lately Jenna’s math homework has consisted with fractions.  The example showed the shape being broken into other shapes (ex. A hexagon divided into 6 triangles) The first two problems showed two shapes – the first was two to six times bigger than the second shape – the fraction.  Jenna drew lines over the first shape to make shapes equal to the second (ex – 2 triangles in a square).  The first two problems had shapes that could be drawn into the first shape in equal amounts.  It was the two shapes on the third problem which threw both of us off.

          As I was trying to find the second shape (diamond/rhombus) inside of the first shape (a trapezoid) I just wasn’t getting it.  Biff came into the room and I handed him the paper and asked him to figure it – knowing full well that he would have it within seconds – which he did.  Oh, so obvious.  A diamond and triangle made up the trapezoid – or three triangles.  The second shape was 1/3 of the first shape.  Certainly we would have gotten it eventually – but not near as quickly as he did.  How awesome is that?

          We had discovered Biff’s “hidden” talent the day that Jenna brought home a puzzle ball – which she broke apart before I could even look at it.  Roland and I struggled with the six pieces trying to turn it back into a ball while Biff had put it together three times in less than one minute (while Jenna enthusiacally broke it apart each time and eagerly watching Biff put it back together again)

          Jenna has been able to draw and cut out perfect looking hearts since she was three. I still have a hard time with hearts – unless I am tracing a heart shaped box or template.  Drawing and cutting are not talents that I possess.  I have always admired those that draw well and those who continue to make it a talent.  I think all of my family members draw well.  My brother’s wife and children also have artistic talent.

          And then there’s the talent of making friends – having others drawn to you out of respect or pleasure.  This is a talent that seems to come naturally for my husband, my sister-in-law and youngest son.  Others struggle with trying to make new friends or socialize at all.  But it is a talent that can be developed.

             There’s the talent of being able to recognize and utilize the talents of others.  One of the best examples of someone who possessed the talent of being able to recognize and utilize the talents of others was Roger Bushell, who was a flight lieutenant with the 601 Squadron in the British military.

          Roger had many talents – academically, athletic, his passion for flying and a talent for defending the accused. When he was sent to an “escape proof” prison camp in November 1942.  His master mind is what inspired the movie, “The Great Escape” which included many details that were actually used among the prisoners under his direction.

          He was able to scout out and utilize the talents of every single prisoner – even those who claimed they wanted nothing to do with his plan.  Some (such as the character “Hilts”, a prisoner portrayed by Steve McQueen) were certain they could escape without the assistance or aide or the other 300 – 600 who planned to escape out the tunnel.  Bushell also used that to his advantage explaining that if the soldiers kept their focus on the “Hilts” of the camp, they may not notice the teamwork taking place into digging and building the tunnels among other things.

          It’s important for each of us to share our talents with others.  To give and take and learn from and appreciate one another. I hope one day to recognize and utilize others’ talents as did Bushell.  What a marvelous gift!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Joys of a Novelty Eraser

          I recently assisted at the book fair at Jenna’s school.  Jenna really wanted me to buy her a purple eraser shaped like a lap top.  I knew it would be a waste of money, but she demonstrated great behavior for the two hours we were there and so I wanted to reward her.

Scholastic offered a “buy one get one free” on all merchandise.  And so I made a purchase for a much needed pencil sharpener and got the eraser for free. 
It broke as she was removing it from the package. 

“No problem.” She said as she proceeded to fix it. 

After a couple of times of disconnecting and repairing, a piece fell off making it “unrepairable”  You would think her best friend had just been run over by a semi the way she carried on. (At least I would hope she would display the same devastation for an actual human being that she did for that stupid eraser – which actually does NOT erase)

So this morning I put a pin through the eraser – which may end up destroying it more than it already is. But she was satisfied with my repair job.  And proceeded to seek more enjoyment from her palm sized lap top than I have ever seen one experience before. (

She punched her false keys and made an account onto facebook adding the names of her friends and chatting her conversations aloud.  Perhaps I was wrong about it being a waste of money.  I didn’t realize it was going to become such a “real” item for her. 

I wish we could all experience that same amount of joy and find pleasure in that which seems so insignificant.  What a fine example my daughter has been to me. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Harriet Oleson: Overcoming Pride

Katherine MacGregor played Harriet Oleson on Michael Landon’s “Little House on the Prarie” No character in all of Walnut Grove was as prideful and full of herself as much as Harriet Oleson – though daughter Nellie came close and was replaced by an even nastier Nancy, who may have succeeded in presenting herself as more superior than even Harriet (who had actually softened up somewhat in later episodes)

Unfortunately all of us know “Harriet Olesons” We go to Church with them.  We listen to their snideful comments about those they refer to as “sinners” and watch them attempt to put themselves on a pedestal by putting others down.  It seems the harder they try to discriminate and sway others to believe the same way as they do – the less desireable they are at passing off themselves. 

Why is it that Harriet Oleson believes she is so superior to every single person?  Does she also feel that she is more superior to God, himself? Because there is no way that prideful of a person would ever recognize the Savior if He were standing in front of her. In a literal sense, I mean.  For it is quite obvious that the Mrs. Olsen’s of this world have missed the boat figuratively.

How can someone who is so feared and obviously NOT respected by others believe that she’s so great?  Greatness is measured by the admiration and the respect from others – not by blowing one’s own horn. And certainly not by putting others down and stepping over them in a vain attempt to reach an unachievable goal.

I used to be a Harriet Oleson.  (At least I hope it’s in the past). I know I’m not perfect – but I don’t think I’m so high and mighty that I can’t benefit from my interaction with others.  I know that I have been a snob in the past.  Gosh, I hope I’ve improved.  Still far from being humble, but at least I’ve learned acceptance.  At least I know now how to defend.

The theme in our last stake (geographical boundary) conference was on love and service.  To love and serve ALL people regardless of their mental state, appearance, background and so forth.  We are all people.  We are all children of our Heavenly Father. It’s high time we shed our “Harriet Oleson” personalities.  But then they are a part of ALL people and may need love even more than the ones that they try to discriminate.  And that is a tough challenge – loving the prideful.  The ones we don’t believe will ever change.

I think the thing that is most mind boggling to me is how in the world did she end up with somebody like Nels in the first place?  And what made him stay with her for all those years?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mismatched Socks

          I can remember when my mom gave each of us a bunch of safety pins for us to use on our socks in order to keep them together when going through the wash.  I can’t even imagine what would happen if I asked Jenna to pin her socks together.  She can barely get them off her feet.  Sometimes they make it to the hamper.  More often they don’t.

          Sometimes she will put on socks that DON’T match.  A blue sock with a red sock, a dress sock with a causual sock.  A long sock with a short sock.  She doesn’t care.  Whatever’s convenient.

          The other day she left the house with an orange sock and a white sock – but they both had owls on them.  (I think she might be starting a trend, actually) and I spent the day searching for mates.  What a chore.

          Later on Roland and I chatted on facebook:

Me:    got your message. I was in the other room sorting socks. My phone was not in my pocket as I had predicted. It was on the bed.
R:       miss you
M:      sorting socks is BORING
R:       What happened to "whistle while you work?"  Or Mary Poppins's make a game of it?
M:      the wind knocked it out of me. Mary Poppins is welcome to sort my socks. I'd like to nap
R:       We just never see Mary Poppins or Snow White sort socks.
M:      my profile picture makes me look more alert than I actually am; I don't think the dwarves wore socks
R:       you look beautiful
M:      thank you. I love you. You look very handsome yourself
R:       that’s because I am wearing MATCHING sox.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bless the Earl of Sandwich

          Though he is credited for quite immoral behavior and being too lazy to stop with his gambling habits to eat a proper meal, the legend also gives credit to John Montagu (then, the 4th Earl of Sandwich) for having created the world’s first sandwich. 
Not wishing to miss out on continuing with his gambling he ordered his meal to be brought to him between two slices of bread so that he would not have to stop to eat but could continue while holding the cards in one hand and the “sandwich” in the other.  How ingenious! Or so I believe it is.  And I’m not alone.  The sandwich is eaten daily by millions of people.  It’s a wonderful invention!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day

          Last year Jenna excitedly left the house.  She was dressed in green from head to toe (at least four shades as I recall)  I wish I would have gotten a picture of my very non-Irish looking girl enthusiastically greeting the day.

          Yesterday she wore the green shirt that she had received from girl scouts the night before.

          There is a parade this morning.  She wasn’t happy about the last parade that she was in.  The elements are different.  The last parade she was in was on July 17. It was hot and unbearable.  The last couple of days have been very windy (actually this entire month, I think) and probably will be today.

For this post I will share a bit of my daughter’s fun personality:

Jan 23, 2012:

          My dad was a math genius.  He could spit out answers faster than the calculator could.  This first clever joke came after I had checked Jenna’s math homework

          Me:    Jenna, that is great.  You got all of the answers correctly.

          J:       I know.  I must have Grandpa’s genes
                   Oh, wait.  Grandpa’s jeans are probably too big for me.

Jan 28, 2012

          Tony:  Why did the chicken NOT cross the road to the other side?

          J:       Why?

          T:       Because he was chicken

Feb 12, 2012

          I had made comment about an art model that Roland had purchased and Jenna had played with and had obviously NOT put away.

          M:      why is there a modle in the bowl with the fruits?

          J:       What’s a model?

          (I throw her a questionable stare)

          J:       I don’t know.  What’s the model with you?  Get it?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Giving Girl Scouts Another Try

          Shortly after we moved, and I could sense that Jenna wouldn’t be going anywhere with her new school (where she finished kindergarten) I decided to enroll her in girl scouts.

          We’d been invited to attend a meeting for an introduction.  The theme was on culture with an added service project for the food bank.  Eleven booths were set up to represent various countries.  We sampled food from United States, China, France, Mexico, India, Scotland, Austrlia, France, England, South Africa and Switzerland

          Jenna enjoyed learning and making crafts such as origami mask and cutting out shapes for the Chinese puzzle.  She also enjoyed decorating boxes for the food bank. By the end of the night she was fired up.  She had earned her first patch and that was awesome!  That alone made her want to join.  A desire for more patches.

          At the end of the night, Roland and I signed her up to be in a troop – I thought it might give her more exposure to finding friends.  Only the leader of the troop we had signed up for had health issues and after only a couple of meetings and six cancellations (not having learned this until I had literally driven out of my way) we dropped our attempts to be included in the troop – which turned out to be okay – as Jenna still wasn’t comfortable with the girls in her assigned troop.  She felt like an outcast.

          I signed her up for activities as a Juliette but still used the troop number. After Tony returned home from his mission, he and Roland helped Jenna plant a tree.  Her second badge.  And it was fun.  She loved meeting new girls and climbing hills with them.

But when it came time to renew her membership, Jenna just didn’t seem interested anymore.  And because I had transferred schools, I was hoping to find a troop near where she goes to school.  But it didn’t work out for us.  So we went an entire year without girl scouts.  And last month she decided she’d like to start back up again.

And so last night we went to our first girl scouts activity for over a year.  Jenna made crafts for St. Patrick’s day: a badge, a hat (visor) a wand and a finger puppet.  She had a great time.  We learned a song and steps to an Irish dance.  In the end Jenna received another patch to add to her collection and a t-shirt advertising 100 years in girl scouts.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Who Made the Bed?

          On the day that Roland and I got married, the neighbor from across the street from my mom’s house made us a beautiful quilt done in green with some pinks.
          On one side are thirty patches made up of three green prints, one green with rosebuds, and a salmon pink.  On the reverse side there is a rosebud bed outlined by a leafy green frame.  You can always tell which one of us makes the bed by whatever side faces up.

          Jenna and I prefer the patchwork side.  When Roland makes the bed the patchwork is facing down.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fading Photographs

Today I was looking through some old albums and boxes of photographs.  I remember getting on my mom’s case for having so many pictures in a box and not in an album.  I have come to learn that the box is actually better – or was rather.
Remember the magnetic albums that came out in the 70’s?  All that was required was lifting the plastic and setting the photo on page and presto – it was there for life.  Who knew that just twenty years later we would be scolded for ever having considered ruining our photographs by placing them on pages chalk full of acid.  We might as well have put our photos through a shredder.
I would say that at least 70% of the pictures could be thrown away.  If not ruined by acid, they just really had no business making it to the album in the first place.  But mom could never bring herself to throw such items away, no matter how blurred or butchered the picture itself turned out. 
And by butchered, I mean like the photographer was really meaning to take a picture of the background but somebody’s head got in the way, or others where the entire head didn’t quite make it into the photograph.  And if she couldn’t completely identify them then, why the heck is she hanging onto them over 40 years later?

If nothing else, it is important to write down the name(s) and date of the picture.
I wasn’t really looking for anything in particular, but I would love the opportunity to organize and to scan some of the better photographs to help preserve their lives for a little bit longer. 
Across from my mom's house live our good friends Peggy and George Bird.  Our families have been friends for generations.  We were surprised to learn it had gone back even further than Peggy and mom
One day (this example is from quite a while ago; before the magnetic albums perhaps) while my mom had gone across the street to visit Peggy, she noticed several photographs strewn all over the kitchen table.  Peggy had wanted to make a special gift for George which would include pictures of his lineage (George and Peggy's mother are heavy into genealogy.  Peggy shares the same exact passion as I do - which makes it hard among family history enthusiasts)

My mom said she had picked up one of the photographs and made a comment (referring to the background) that we had one similar to it - except with different people. Peggy said the man in the photograph was George's father, but they had no idea who the little boy was.  Turns out that he was my dad's uncle.
George's father had a best friend named James.  The photograph we had was of my great uncle James and my grandmother, Helen.  My mom had been told that the little girl in the photo was my grandma Helen - but didn't know who the man was that held her. 
George seems to know more about that side of my family than I do.  So my non-biological neighbor (who I do view as a second father) became a source of information for me, and has actually given me photographs.  Isn't that interesting?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Thank Heavens for Second Hand Stores!

          Jenna is so hard on clothes – not to mention that she grows like a weed. And Jenna’s lack of caring about her appearance only adds fuel to the fire.
I don’t enjoy spending money on clothes that just don’t seem to last.  I don’t think it would bother me so much if Jenna would actually take care of her clothes.  But hanging them up or putting them away is definitely NOT a priority.

          Occasionally Jenna has received hand-me-downs from various family friends or neighbors – usually something that hasn’t fit right away, but perhaps two or three years later.  And there are still some things in the shed that she still has yet to grow into.  But right now she’s at a stage where everything is either too big or too small or should just be thrown out so that social services doesn’t get on my case for dressing her like a waif.

Savers is one such thrift store that has color coded tags.  Never having worked there, I don’t know if the items that are put out are marked with a different color on a daily basis, weekly basis, bi-weekly or whatever. Savers offers their 99 cent specials on Mondays.  They allow the customers to pick clean the old items by advertizing that certain color at either 99 cents or half price. 

Yesterday they had blue tag items marked for 99 cents.  I suspect next week will be grey (or silver?) and the week after that will be purple.  I did not see any red, orange or green during my blue tag search.  Most of the garments I fingered through were marked with yellow tags – I suspect they were the most recent items that were put out.  So maybe by the first or second week of April they will have yellow tagged items on Monday’s special.

I’m grateful for the opportunities that I have to donate my own clothing when I no longer have a need for them.  I am grateful to all of those that have donated and continue to donate to our cause.  And I am most grateful for 99 cent Mondays.

Monday, March 12, 2012

I Don’t Want to Be an Example!

          I met Dave when he worked at a sandwich shop in Maynardsville, VA.  My two missionary companions adored him.  He was a really nice guy.  Very personable, very friendly, outgoing, full of life.  He liked to drink, smoke, and lead an immoral lifestyle.  He appeared to be happy and content.

          Dave had been raised in the LDS Church – and whether he ever felt a part of it or not, I do not know.  I’m guessing he did.  I know he had lots of friends in the Church.  And out of respect to them, or perhaps for his mom, or maybe it was the Church itself, he decided to have his name removed from the membership records.

          He hadn’t necessarily stopped believing the things he had been taught for most of his life.  He had just chosen a path that wasn’t very wholesome for a staunch and devout member to be on.  And he knew that.  He knew he had disappointed many by spreading his wings – by taking the road that seemed more popular.  And it worked for him.  But he knew that his choices were not the right choices for people to see.  He didn’t want people to say, “He’s a Mormon” and mar the image of what some people would believe that Mormons were (or are) and so he asked for his membership to be taken away.

          He did not go into great detail about his disciplinary council.  He said it was one of the hardest things he had ever done.  He said if he had been thrown into a room with a bunch of strangers that it would have been so much easier.  But the men in the room were his friends – or had been at one time or another.  He felt like he had failed them and his mother.  But it was just something he felt he needed to do.

          He could have remained an inactive member.  The Church doesn’t excommunicate those who are inactive – even if they have a questionable lifestyle.  Active members and missionaries are asked to work with them and “bring them back into the fold” and eventually there is a repenting process – but not drastic like the active members who have done something within question that results in excommunication. 

          When I heard Dave’s story I was in awe.  What a great guy to give up his membership (hard as it was) so that he could honestly tell people that he wasn’t a Mormon nor had membership there.  Of course, the ideal thing (according to thousands of members) would have been just to give up his “wicked” lifestyle, repent and return.  But would the lessons that Dave received out of life been any different?  Surely his experiences would not have been the same, and he wouldn’t have grown into the man that I met two years later.

          Since I had arrived in Maynardsville, the small branch had made a goal to get 75 members to attend their Sunday meetings.  And each week we had between 62 and 67.  We worked with non members as well as inactive.

          I served that area for three months.  That makes at least twelve Sundays.  On the last Sunday I was served in that area, there were a number of visitors that came to the ward.  Among them were Dave’s mom and new step Dad.  They came in at number 73 and 74.  Dave walked in right behind them.  He had helped them reach their goal!  He was number 75!

          I was released from my mission five months later. And two years after that I had just returned for a visit.  My former landlady and I had gone to the strip mall to visit Dave at the sandwich shop.  Only he was no longer working at the Sandwich shop, but at an electronic franchise next door.  He had given up the green shirt and apron (which matched his tattoo) for a three piece suit (which hid his tattoo) 

He was living with a girl who he’d come to love and wanted to marry.  He wanted an eternal marriage – not a worldly one.  He had developed a love for Joy and wanted to embrace life with her.  He wanted her to learn about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

He told us about Joy and he asked us to dinner so that we could meet her.  And then he asked if we could arrange for her to meet with the missionaries.  He wanted for them to both become members and to be sealed in the temple in another year.  I didn’t get to see it.  I had heard from a few members though.

          Dave came back.  He was a strong member.  He brought with him an understanding for giving into temptations and overcoming challenges.  He had a calling to work with the youth.  He could relate to them.  He had a firsthand account of what it was like to be in the Church and what it was like to be on a worldly path.
          Dave and Joy were married in the temple a year after the branch president had married them civilly. The little branch grew into a ward and Dave served as a counselor to a bishop who had also been an inactive member. 

          Sometimes leaving the Church goes wrong for many people.  But there are just as many who become even stronger in the gospel and can build up testimonies because of their outside experiences.

          I’m not advising to go outside just for experience.  It’s not my call.  Often it’s not your call either.  But if we put our faith in God and rely on him and communicate with him, we can have our own empowering experiences.