Friday, June 29, 2012

The Most Important Leg on a Three-Legged Stool



          Jenna always asks if we can sign up to feed the full time missionaries – which is something we did often when Roland and I had the Church calling of being the ward missionaries – but now that he is in the bishopric – and often with hours at work – we’re not as available to feed the missionaries as we were at one time.  And so it’s actually rare when we do sign up.  Jenna would prefer that we could do it once a month at least.

          Our goal was to send our three boys on full time *proselyting* (defined at the end of this post) missions.  As Biff is our oldest, he went through the interviewing process and paperwork first.  We had taken him in for his physical. We did all we could do – and waited.

          I wish our then bishop had been honest in his dealings to begin with – and perhaps he had really said something to Biff who either didn’t relate the events with us or maybe it just didn’t fully register. 

Our bishop had said Biff’s Spirit was definitely there – but he just didn’t feel he was socially ready.  HE DIDN’T FEEL . . . I often felt that it was more laziness on my bishop’s part than it was revelation.  But that’s me.  Perhaps it is I who was wrong.
          Because Biff was unable to serve a proselyting mission, it was suggested that he fulfill a service mission – which means he would continue living at home as he served and continue working his job.

 He brought home a list of positions available – and there were a lot to choose from.  Roland tried steering him in the direction of working at a plant such as the pasta plant or dairy where he would learn a trade.  Even planting flowers on the temple ground would have helped him to prepare for a job or career – but Biff wanted the opportunity to serve with the public more and chose to usher or assist at events that would take place at Temple Square or the Conference Center.

          His confidence was built in ways that I did not understand at the time.  Others found it refreshing to have such a “young” member on their team.  He was diligent about his calling and received recognition for fulfilling his assignments and callings.  He grew in ways that I didn’t recognize at the time – but am beginning to see now.

          Interestingly enough, both of his brothers were called to Portuguese speaking missions.  Tony was called to report to the MTC (missionary training center) in Brazil at the beginning of April 2008 and Randy left for the MTC in Provo at the end of April in 2009.  He’d been called to Portugal.

          It hurt both me and Biff to see his brothers serving proselyting missions when Biff himself had been denied that opportunity. And Roland would encourage us that Biff’s mission was equally as important – often comparing missionary work to a three legged stool and asking – which is the most important leg?

          We all represented that three legged stool.  Biff on his service mission, Tony and Randy proselyting in Portuguese, and Roland and I as the ward missionaries who worked with the full time proselyting missionaries   In addition to our two missionary farewells, our family had been called upon at least three times to give missionary themed talks in Sacrament meeting (a meeting for the entire congregation)

          Before Jenna started reading, I looked for graphics so that she could memorize the talks that she gave and Roland and I would each write our own.  Sometimes the boys spoke in addition – but not always.

          Roland and I served in our church calling for about three and a half to four years before we were released and then the ward boundaries were changed and the ward got a new bishop.  He was the bishop who sent out Randy. 
          Each of us has had experiences that have made us grow.  Each of us has learned to appreciate the others’ position even more. For in order for a three legged stool to function properly, all three legs are required.

* PROSELYTING: Evangelizing; doing mission work. Unlike in Christianity, it doesn’t have a negative connotation. In Mormonism it is used in a positive sense.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It’s NOT like I need your Approval


  
          Sit coms often come from real life situations.  We laugh at deception.  The sitcom characters put on a show for one played by a guest star.  They try to pass themselves off as rich, married, successful, high-ranking or whatever.   Their dishonesty snowballs into more lies and further deception until they realize they just can’t continue with the charade any longer. And yet we laugh.  If they just told the truth in the first place, there would be no show or else it would be a rather boring episode.

There are many real life people who continue to put up fronts and play charades with certain people from their past.  I don’t get it.  If you’re not close enough to this person that he or she really knows who you are, why would you care what he or she thinks?

          If anyone from my past is interested, I am NOT wealthy.  I am not in a high rank position.  I do not rub elbows with Hollywood’s finest.  My children did not go to Harvard.  Two of them simply don’t have the grades for it. I’m just not that prestige.  Nor do I pretend to be.  I am who I am.  Either you like me or you don’t.  And if you don’t, well that’s okay.  I am not a people pleaser – that is to ALL people.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to please ALL people. 
It doesn’t matter who you are or what you become – there are some who will like you and there are some that just won’t. And that’s okay.  It’s not the world’s approval that makes us happy (though I guess there’s some who believe differently).
 
Happiness is what’s within us.  It’s knowing who we are and what makes us tick.  It’s feeling.  It’s caring.  Why should having the approval of someone else be our deciding factor?  Doesn’t our own opinion matter?  Aren’t we valuable enough to decide for ourselves?   

          I have read a couple of posts from different Blogs in which reference was made for keeping up with the Joneses.  One seemed all for it while the other was not in favor.  I’m not in favor.  Couldn’t keep up if I wanted to.  And I really don’t want to.  Trying my best to show them up or show I’m equal.  Why?
          I see girls dating guys that they like – though I often wonder why.  What do they have in common really?  “Oh, he can/will change” says the girl.  Change into what?  Why change him?  Why not just go out with someone who fits the mold in the first place?

I’m grateful for the values that have been instilled in me and have helped me develop my character.  I wish that were the same for all.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Flat, Small and Neatly Folded



Roland is a great father.  Perhaps he was not always there for his boys – I know that his “work” excuses got old after a while.  And there were disappointments.  But I know he spent quality time with them – I even have pictures to prove it.  And I know that there have been many other countless activities that I don’t have pictures for.  Like Klondike camping.  And Roland hates the cold.  But all the boys were with him.

Recently he told Jenna that they would go “camping” though Jenna’s never really been camping before.  Both times it was putting up a tent in the back yard and roasting marshmallows before going inside.

Initially they were going to set the tent up on Saturday.  Roland would start off his father’s day waking up in the tent - but when he came home from work (which is unusual for where he works) with information about a community fair that featured bouncy houses and free pony rides. 

We could do only one or the other, but not both.  It would be Jenna’s choice.  If she chose the fair, we could always do the camping thing at a later time.  But if she chose the camping . . . well, who knows how soon we would have another opportunity for free bouncy houses?  He wasn’t trying to persuade her – he really was letting her choose.

She chose the fair.  Roland said that maybe they could go camping on a Tuesday night (as he doesn’t have to be to work until later time on Wednesdays) and so this past Tuesday she had been looking forward to their camp all day – constantly asking, “is dad home yet?”

I had the car and had taken Jenna to my mom’s house.  I left a message to ask Bill if he would mind bringing Roland to meet me at my mom’s house. They just happen to work at the same place – but don’t frequently car pool because of the distance our houses are from one another.

As mom and I pathetically tossed the Frisbee around with Jenna, Bill and Roland pulled up in the driveway and Jenna tossed the Frisbee around with them while mom and I rested.

We didn’t return home until just before 6:00.  Roland said he had a class and asked Jenna if they could postpone the camping until Friday.  I told her that we could still make some smores.  And we roasted marshmallows over the stove.

While Roland listened to the lecture online, Jenna played outside with a friend.  After his parents took him away, Jenna came inside and cried herself to sleep.  She didn’t believe that Roland would take her camping on Friday either.  I told him about it the next morning.

He wasn’t aware that she had been looking forward to it all day and that she had cried herself to sleep.  I did not intend for him to feel bad, but he took Jenna aside and told her that they could set up the tent the minute we got home from his work last night.  And we did.  And all before the sun set.

We finished roasting marshmallows and making smores before the sun appeared to leave the sky.  And the sleeping bags were laid out with LOTs of extra blankets.  I slept in the house but relieved Roland at 3:00 this morning knowing he had work at 7:00 or 8:00.  Needless to say that I am sore and tired.  And I hope that three hours in a real bed was enough time for Roland.

At six I coaxed Jenna back into the house.  She went to the TV to watch Phineas and Ferb – and I want back to bed.  I think I slept for another hour and decided to see if I could take down the tent and roll up the bedding.  What a chore.

Taking the tent down was not a problem.  Got the stakes in their bag, and the poles in their bag – now the challenging part – folding the tent into a tiny pillow to put in its bag.  I am really horrible about returning anything to its original container – everything seems to expand once I remove it from the box – or else the box shrinks.

I sat on the tent and tarp and each sleeping bag and tried ever so carefully to squish out the air and fold it ever so carefully.  I would think that I weigh enough that I could squish it to incredible flatness with just one sit – but alas – no matter how flat and careful I think I’m being, the flatness is never small enough.

I remember attempting to fold a child’s sleeping bag that had been given to me by a neighbor.  One of my uncles happened to be visiting and watched with amusement.  I looked up at him and asked if he and his wife were experienced campers, and could he assist me in folding up the sleeping bag.  I don’t recall his exact words, but it was something along the line that he thought it would be easier just to do it himself.  And he did.  But Jenna had it undone within a matter of minutes.  My uncle had already gone when I came across the opportunity of rolling it back up.

          It can be done.  I’ve seen people do it.  Not my talent however.  And the heat of the blazing sun did not help matters.  It was only 8:30 in the morning and I felt like it was high noon.  I stopped.  I think the folding part is a two man job.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Reading is Wonderful



          I have been blessed with two children who thoroughly enjoy reading – the other two tolerate it at best.  If the subject is one that they are interested in, of course that gives them more incentive.

          I’ve been reading to Jenna since before she was born.  I’ve taken pictures of her with various others as they have read to Jenna at various ages.  And now she is reading on her own.  And she usually does go after very educational reading – and often times older than her geared age group.

          When my daughter-in-law was still pregnant with my granddaughter, Roland and I had gone to the library.  As it happened, they were having a sale on used books.  Ten cents a book.  What a wonderful deal!

          Roland picked out one to send to Rochelle and Tony – who still hadn’t picked out a name for our baby.  Funny how most every item I’ve sent to my boys throughout the years has cost way more in postage than the item(s) that the package contains.

          There were a few books that I purchased for Jenna.  One was almost text book style about animals.  I figured the two of us would study them together when she got a little older and wouldn’t be so bored by all the wording.  Currently she is reading it to herself.  She has also read many of the stories in the “Friend” magazines.  And the more she reads, the more she wants to read some more.  I think that is so cool.  So wish that Tony had had the same enthusiasm.




          Jenna likes to learn.  She enjoys making new discoveries.  This morning she told me about almost every animal that she read about – and is currently reading. It’s really great to smuggle in learning through books!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Understanding Death



          Many people are upset by death or have a lack of understanding.  It’s really hard when it is children whose lives have been claimed before they have much of an opportunity to live.  Or a young parent with children still in diapers.

          Many believe that death is the end.  It is when the Spirit no longer needs the body.  Death is the end of mortality – but not the end of existing on earth in a human sense.  The Spirit lives on and has the opportunity to reunite with loved ones who have already passed on.

          Roland started off last month attending his sister’s funeral.  Her death was very unexpected – but I’ve learned to handle sudden death rather graciously, I think.  I have seen too many spend their last years dying – and that, for me personally, is a lot more difficult to handle.

          Roland said the priest had a thick Jamaican accent and was hard to understand.  He did turn the time over to the family members who wished to say something.  Roland, of course, jumped at the opportunity and explained the spirit world to his family and defined his sister’s whereabouts – how she is now reunited with their father, her husband, her youngest daughter and countless others who have passed before her.  
          I would have taken the opportunity also – had I been there.  Jenna had already missed two days of school when we had gone down for the party.  I couldn’t risk three more, could I?

          As it turned out, Jenna was throwing up the night before.  With her sensitive stomach she does NOT do well in the car.  I doubt we would have even made it out of the city. 
          Roland can make it to his family’s house in about 12 hours when he is by himself – but when Jenna and I are with him, there are more stops required which have added two to four hours to his time. 

          I would rather deal with death than deterioration whether of the mind or the body – or both.  My dad’s mind was very sharp and alert – up until his dying day.  But not everybody saw that.

          After the strokes robbed him of being able to use his muscles, his brain would tell his mouth what to say but it was slurred – hard to understand for most.  And so many thought he had lost his mind as well.  But he knew fully well what was taking place.  It must have been so frustrating Not to communicate that.

          And I know dad is not alone.  There are many who are robbed of health physically.  And even though their minds may be active, their thoughts are not always conveyed – and that hurts.

          And then there’s my mom – whose mind seems to be going before her body does.  And because she forgets, she also neglects her physical health.  Either way seems to be a raw deal.  But I don’t always think of death as a raw deal – but sometimes the way one dies is unbearable and often too hard to think about.

          Roland’s sister went quickly.  There was little suffering on her part.  Her daughter had a really hard time with it.  I don’t think she would if she understood that this earth life is just a test.  It is where we do things with physical bodies that a spirit by itself cannot do.  But we only have these bodies on borrowed time.  The spirit lives on.  So people don’t really die – they’re just separated from bodies they don’t need any more. 

Those who have touched so many lives live in our memories and are shared with others through words, through books, through the Internet.  Those who have made such impact and impression never really die.  We know their names.  We have their histories.  They are a part of us.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I Bet the Enterprise Crew didn’t Have to put up with the same Malarkey




Actually you can use your own adjective in place of malarkey.  I can actually think of better words, but so as not to offend certain parties, I choose malarkey for the sake of keeping the post clean.

          Long before Jaime Lee Curtis started advertising Activia – she used to act out skits for VoiceStream commercials.  I made my first cell phone purchase through VoiceStream.  My mom and I got two lines – one for each of us – but the plan was (and still is) in my name.

          My phone line was for emergencies.  I bought it for that reason – not to be a camera, not to text (though neither was offered when I initially opened my account) and certainly not to be my primary source of phone use.  I don’t even like the phone

          After a while I started getting what I believed was junk mail from T-Mobile.  Never heard of them.  Wasn’t interested.  I didn’t realize that T-Mobile had bought VoiceStream out.  
          I never had a problem with T-Mobil until quite recently.  A word of advice:  DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH A STORE THAT ISN’T CORPORATE – though it doesn’t seem to matter – bet the run around at corporate is exactly the same.  DON’T ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY – SCREW THE CUSTOMER AS MUCH AS YOU CAN . . .

          I have two accounts.  One plan was for me and my mom.  The other had my husband’s phone which we couldn’t add to my plan – so I had two.  Later on I decided I wanted my mom’s phone going to her house and Roland’s coming to mine.  I was told I couldn’t switch my phone line with one store, but was told I could by another.  I could save money.  HA!  This T-Mobile has been the biggest nightmare ever!!!
          First off they are charging me for a line that I was told would discontinue.  My pre-existing number now shows up on both bills.  I sent a letter to corporate and one in with the bill (which as I predicted would get ignored) and now I’m even more upset about it than I was two months ago. 

          *I did remove this post for a couple of days, but have opted to put it back.*
July 17 update:  FINALLY they removed the extra line.  They took my phone off one bill and placed it on the other.  But instead of saving money (as I was led to believe) I am now paying over 45 dollars more.  I am upset at myself for allowing myself to believe that they were looking out for my best interest.  What a crock!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

You're A Grand Old Flag




In honor of flag day, I thought I would share just a couple of amusing stories:


Patriotic Show Up


My mom and sister had gone out of town over the Independence Day Holiday the first year that Roland and I were married.  My mom had meant to put the flag out before they had gone out of town.  She called me (from wherever) and asked if I would do it and she would take it down when she returned.

Roland and I had gone to her house and I went downstairs where the flag was kept – the only flag I knew about.  My grandfather had had a military funeral approximately 30 years before.  Mom took home the flag that had been draped over his casket.  It was actually a lot bigger than I had remembered.  Mom must have been talking about another flag.

I took the huge flag upstairs and told Roland that I had no clue how to hang it.  Roland is a solution finder.  He came up with a brilliant idea for hanging it in the front window.  As I recall we attached the flag over the curtain rod so that it would hang behind the drapes and would visible to the outside world. 
As we pulled out of the driveway we couldn’t help see the front window filled entirely with the enormous flag.  Nor could my mom and sister upon their return.  Nor anyone who passed the house.  It couldn’t help but be noticed.



Mom called me shortly after they pulled into the driveway.  “Why did you use such a big flag?”

“Is there another?”

“Well, yes.  I didn’t mean for you to fill the entire window.  My neighbors probably think I’m trying to show them up.”

I didn’t know she had a normal sized flag in her basement.  It was even included on its own pole.



Amelia Bedelia strikes again

          I had a piece of mail to put out in the mailbox so that it would be picked up by our mail carrier.    Jenna anxiously jumped at the opportunity of putting the letter (or bill or whatever) out to the mailbox herself. 

Now our post office does not seem all that close and so our mail carrier will stop at the mailboxes that have mail to go out provided that the flag is up to tell the carrier that there is something which needs to go out.  And so I told Jenna to be sure and put the flag up.

Sometimes the flag will stick as though it’s welded to the side of the mailbox.  It hadn’t occurred to me that Jenna might not know what it was for – or that the red handled part was called a flag.  I headed out the door so that I could assist in her struggles – only she was having struggles with something else.



She was indeed trying to put the flag up – but not from the mailbox.  She was dragging the flag pole across the driveway and looked up at me and said, “It’s just too heavy mom.”

I tried to hide the laughter from beneath my smile.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I meant to detail the games we played




          My mom has a huge variety of games in the back room.  There are at least three word games, at least six versions of trivial pursuit, and a bunch of party games. 

The first game that we played on Thursday was Scrabble.  My mom wanted to play and Jenna joined us.  I was impressed when she found the word “raisin” among my tiles – of course it wasn’t worth much.  But Jenna against grandma?  Those were fair odds.  And so I decided to put Jenna in charge.

But after only about four words she got tired of spelling and decided that she would just keep score.  And she was really doing fine until she misaligned the 30 and gave us 404 points instead of 134.  Silly girl. 

The game was long, and Jenna slipped away to play with the tangram puzzle my mom had purchased years ago.  We ended up playing several games including Upwords, Taboo and Apples to Apples.

          Celebrity Taboo did not work out too well, but Jenna and my mom both seemed to enjoy the regular taboo – except for when Jenna insisted on using the buzzer (which my nephew had once used as a toy electric razor and gave it the name “shaver”) but I told her to stop because it was “annoying grandma and making her flustered” which really was the truth, but Jenna didn’t seem to believe me.

          The game that had us laughing most was Apples to Apples.  The cards in our hands didn’t always go with the word.  That’s when mom would laugh – at the two obviously stupid choices.  Like the word “charming” describing “a terrorist attack” or “Adolf Hitler” for example.

          My biggest laugh came with Jenna’s mispronunciation.  The green card gave the description word of “Horrid” I had thrown in “Bad Dogs” onto the table as it was the most horrid of my hand.  Jenna was about to pick it until I made her read them both out loud. 

          She held the other card and read, “The Attack of Pearl Hairball” – after my mom explained to her what it really was and why it was picked, Jenna decided that it was a lot more horrid than “Bad Dogs”

          It really doesn’t matter who wins or loses the game (especially now) just so long as we’re having fun.  And it is actually the most fun I’ve had playing games with my mom in the last couple of years.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Wonderful Wednesday, Mundane Thursday



          Jenna and I were blessed with good weather on Wednesday as we took public transportation ALL DAY. 



          My initial plan was to catch the train near where we live – but Roland took us to the location near the library – which right now is the end of the line – and we were waiting for the train on the wrong side.  No big deal.  There was no time destination on our part.  We were free to ride all day.

          We got off the train to transfer to the bus.  My initial plan was  to get off after the bus passed I-215 – but the driver said that the construction forbid the busses to stop between the two main streets.  So Jenna and I ended up walking a lot further than I had anticipated . . . we might as well have just stayed on the train.

          But it was nice outside.  Jacket weather.  Jacket weather in June – when just three days before it seemed unbearably hot.  My family and I were sweating in the shade while posing for photographs here which was nothing compared to Corey’s marching here in the blazing sun.

We also walked back across State Street when mom decided that she
 wanted to go out for lunch.  She let Jenna pick the restaurant – I would have gone with the one that was on the same side of the street as my mom’s house.  But alas, we walked some more.

          My brother Corey (who lives with mom when he has work in this state) told me that her blood sugar is the lowest it’s been since his return.  So that is good – though Jenna did ask for some candy which caused mom to get four candy bars (one for each of us) so I’m wondering if my and Jenna’s visit may have kicked it up again.  
Corey had warned my mom that he wouldn’t be home at his usual time and might be as late as 7:00.  My niece and her husband (who also live with mom) would be leaving after 5:00 and so there would be two hours unaccounted for – two hours of being alone – which two months ago mom had said it is something she preferred.  And now she is just hungry for company. 

Unfortunately Jenna and I had to leave as Jenna has a class on Wednesday nights.  And so I was a bit reluctant leaving her for two hours hoping that she would just stay home and wait for Corey and not attempt venturing out on her own



          Jenna enjoyed taking the train – especially when it turned – she stood on the center circle in order to get the full feel.  It’s her favorite part.  She says it’s boring when we go straight.  I guess we could have gone downtown and returned – but I wanted to rest up at the house for an hour before taking her to class.

          Yesterday we drove to work with Roland.  I took the car and planned to meet him at lunch.  I called mom beforehand.  And she was expecting me, so that was good.  So before we left the house, I had given Jenna a peanut butter sandwich to eat and figured I would just eat left overs with my mom.

After I picked up Roland, he drove us to my mom’s where we stayed for over five hours.  The first thing she wanted to do was to go out for lunch.  I was actually surprised that all of the leftovers were gone.  No big deal.  We decided to go to a drive through on the same side of the street as mom’s house.  She was good.  She was alert.  My sparring partner was back!
           
We played lots of games (most through Jenna’s initiation) and mom seemed alert through most of it.  We had fun.  But it really did make for a long day.  Fortunately mom was comfortable with us being there and didn’t seem anxious to see us go. 

Corey returned before Roland arrived.  Corey added graphics to my blog as I don’t know how to do it myself.  He was going to show me – but as his spouse had called just as we were signing on, Corey ended up toying with inserting my graphic  before posting it.  And so I still don’t know how to do it.  No matter.  I’m satisfied.  (For the time being anyway)
 
          Jenna has been great about the chart.  Got up early today and we were finished by 8:30.  Except with the fun part – which she somehow believes needs to be incorporated into all the hours left.  She has also made snacks a very important part.  My child’s growing.  I fear that in eight months that the clothes she is wearing currently will all be outgrown.

          I did scold her for asking mom for candy bars and cookies as grandma will not give them to her without at least getting one for her.  We all know where the cookies are kept.  I have no idea where (or how large) her stash of candy bars is – and why they’re all king size?

          Might be able to post on Sundays, but Saturdays feel like they’ll be a thing of the past – for a while anyway.  Unless it’s really early in the morning.  Roland’s class takes precedence.  Oh, well.  I really need to focus more on the house anyway. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

and so the summer begins . . .




         My blogging may become more sporadic this summer as I will be spending more time with Jenna – continue education and form habits.  I made a chart for Jenna and I to work on – one month at a time.  Above is the list that I came up with.  Here is Jenna’s:



Go to the beach
Make the family tree
Doing Lots of math
Have a math quiz
Snacks
Cursive
More math
Computer break
Snack and drink
                                                Dancing
                                                Singing
                                                Playing freeze dance
                                                Have fun!!!!!!



Oh, she also included in great big letters to walk the dog.  But that will have to be done in the morning.  I cannot stand the weather outside when it is hot (that, in my opinion, would be anything over 72 degrees)

Initially I thought I would start off with a math question (mostly with times tables or division) and if she answered correctly, we could forgo math on the days she got the answers right.  Only I think she would like to actually devote more of her day to math than anything else.

We actually started her family tree on Saturday and finished yesterday before meeting my family at the church (last post) We did only 31 branches.  There are six names missing on Roland’s side.

The tree was her idea.  She took her English teacher’s suggestion and said I should email a picture to her.  I don’t know if she even checks her mail during the summer.




          I wasn’t actually planning on starting the work until this morning – but she wanted to go over some math last night.  She had made flashcards for herself.  So this morning I pulled out every unfinished math paper that she has brought home in the last two years.  After we do times tables, I will use those to tie her over.  And then we’ll start practicing our letters. 

I don’t know what fun activity she’ll want to do.  I will let her pick.  The beach may not be within reach this summer.  We are definitely NOT going back to Antelope Island – which never offered a real beach anyway.  But now the lake situation is even more pathetic.

She did make her bed and is now eating breakfast.  I gave her the option of starting our work at 8:00.  I may even give her a “Martha” break She’ll still be learning, right?  And I’m sure I can find something to snack on.  So far we’re off to a good start. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Finding Time for Family Portraits



          My mom had always made arrangements for family portraits each year – not that big of a deal when we were living at home.  But after my first brother got married and started having children of his own, and mom’s grown children all had jobs – the portrait scheduling thing became more of a challenge while trying to work it around everybody’s personal schedule.

          It’s funny – because I don’t recall any family photos with mom or dad’s siblings and their posterity – though we attempted at least a few times on my dad’s side.  I think there are at least two photographs – but I have no idea whose possession they ended up being in.  I haven’t actually seen them since the years they were taken. 

          I don’t know when it was that I took over the scheduling of trying to get everybody at the same location at the same time.  Not that I did a terribly great job.  The last time that we did a family picture with my sibs and our posterity was a week before Jenna turned one. 

          I used to keep the photo by the door of our old house.  Everytime Bill (my brother-in-law/photographer that I mention here) would say that we were long overdue for an updated portrait.  Well yeah.

          That’s just my side of the family.  Six weeks after the family photo with my sibs and posterity, we went back east to see Roland’s brother get married.  Roland and all three sisters were there, and we did get a shot of mom and her five children – but that was the extent of it.  We hadn’t tried posing the entire family clan – not that the entire clan was present.

          We did get pictures of a bunch of us when we went to Tucson for his mother’s birthday mentioned in this post but still not the entire gang was there.  I haven’t actually met all of his family.
          Most of the family photos we have are of my family.  They are the ones in all the wedding photos and any additional family portraits we may have taken.

          The last intermediate family picture we had taken was when Jenna was four.  It was taken less than a week before Tony left for Brazil.  The following year Randy left for Portugal.  And now I have a nephew serving in Canada (all LDS missions by the way)

          So this week I have all three of the boys  in Utah and still found myself working around schedules in order to get some pictures done and asked Bill if he’d be able to take family pictures this morning before my first granddaughter (first grandchild) was blessed.  We were still missing three from my extended family.  My nephew (though his family had a large cut out of Mitt Romney with my nephew’s face glued over Mitt’s), my brother Corey and his spouse.  (Wish I would have thought of getting cut outs for them).

          I realized that not only is it harder to schedule, but to actually position everybody and keep them laughing though the position is causing them pain or the baby is getting heavy or running out of shot or what have you.  I am so grateful for my brother-in-law’s willingness to take the time to take our photos – unfortunately he was not in many of them because of trying to get the perfect expressions from our rather large group. There were eighteen of us plus the cut out plus the two that may be photo shopped in with us.  That would be awesome. 

          That’s still not as large as mom’sneighbors (our second family)  who have roughly 35 individuals to work with.  That’s a lot of people.  A lot more schedules to work around.  I don’t know how long it’s been since their last family portrait.  I don’t think they actually are able to get their entire clan together each year – but I could be wrong. 

          I’m grateful to be able to preserve memories through photographs and for the love and support my family has shown one another and working with me to make it possible.  Thank you all.  And thank you Bill!

The Big Red Hen and the Tired Blue Cat




          Roland and his boss purchased some property years ago – the idea was to flip the house, make money – but the location of it all became a great nightmare for all of us.  I referred to the project as “The Nightmare on Oak Street”

          At the time I referred to Roland as the Big Red Hen because of his attempts to involve our three boys in his house fixing project.  Meanwhile, I was attempting to get them to help me around the house that we actually lived in.  I was not as aggressive as Roland and had a toddler who wore me out.

          Though the sharing this story with the boys did not produce the results we were hoping for, Jenna is totally amused with hearing it today – and thought I should share it on my blog.  So here goes:


The story of the
Big Red Hen and
the Tired Blue Cat


“Who will help me clean a house?” asked the Big Red Hen.
‘I’ll go,” said the Tired Blue Cat, “but I’ll need to find a sitter for my sunshine.”
They worked along side a Friendly Orange Rooster.  There were items that were heavy, lots of hazardous waste, lots of dirt. The Tired Blue Cat didn’t feel like she was pulling her weight because the Big Red Hen and the Friendly Orange Rooster were both so much stronger.

“Who will help me clean a house?” the Big Red Hen asked again.
“Not I,” said the Pumped Up Tiger.  “I’ve made plans to go to the gym. Today’s the day that I build the muscles in my chest.”
“Not I,” said the Free Loading Chipmunk. “I’m going to be hanging out with my friend, Mikey.”
“Oh, I would if I could,” said the Lazy Con Monkey, “but I have to clean my already immaculate room. Why can’t the tiger or the chipmunk do it?”

The Big Red Hen did not accept their lame excuses and dragged them to the house kicking and screaming.. The tiger and the chipmunk complained the entire time.
The monkey believed he had found rare treasures and constantly asked, “Can I have this? Can I have that?” For the most part neither the Rooster nor the Hen cared what the Monkey took.

“Who will do the dishes and mop the floor?” asked the Tired Blue Cat. 
“Not I,” said the Pumped Up Tiger.  “I’ve made plans to go to the gym. Today’s the day that I build the muscles in my legs.”
“Not I,” said the Free Loading Chipmunk. “I’ve done them the last two nights. I need some new shoes”
“I already vacuumed and did the bathroom and took out the garbage and washed a load of towels,” said the Lazy Con Monkey. “Why can’t the tiger or the chipmunk do it?”

“Who will help me tear down some walls in the house?” asked the Big Red Hen.
 “Not I,” said the Pumped Up Tiger. “I’ve made plans to go to the gym. Today’s the day that I build the muscles in my arms.”
 “Not I,” said the Free Loading Chipmunk. “I feel like drawing something. I need some new markers”
“Oh, I would if I could,” said the Lazy Con Monkey, “But I have to fix my bike”

The Big Red Hen did not accept their lame excuses and dragged them to the house kicking and screaming.. The monkey and the chipmunk complained the entire time. The tiger learned that wrecking walls was pretty fun and he was still getting a workout in his arms.

“Who will pick up all the towels off  the laundry room floor?” asked the Tired Blue Cat
“Not I,” said the Pumped Up Tiger. “I did three towels last week with my personal laundry which is still on top of the dryer”
“Not I,” said the Free Loading Chipmunk. “I have too much homework. I need a new binder.”
“Not I,” said the Lazy Con Monkey. “I left my bike over at Stephano’s house and I was just leaving to go and get it. Why can’t the tiger or the chipmunk do it?”
“All three of you should be able to do it,.” said the Tired Blue Cat. “All three of you pass the laundry room everyday – I would say at least four times a day.”
“Okay, I’ll do it,” whined the Free Loading Chipmunk. And he did.  And he was still able to do his homework.

“Who will help me build the house?” asked the Big Red Hen. 
“Not I,” said the Pumped Up Tiger. “I’ve made plans to go to the gym. Today’s the day that I build the muscles in my back.”
 “Not I,” said the Free Loading Chipmunk. “I’ve got to run an additional 20 miles just for fun.”
 “Oh, I would if I could,” said the Monkey, “but I was just going to K-Mart to buy a patch kit so that I can fix my bike . Why can’t the tiger or the chipmunk do it?”
“I’ll go,” said the Tired Blue Cat, “but I’ll need to find a sitter for my sunshine.”

And so the Big Hen took the Blue Cat.  Once again the Blue Cat felt like she wasn’t pulling her weight and soon had to leave when she heard her sunshine was acting up. And so the Big Red Hen and the Friendly Orange Rooster started to build.

“Who will clean the tub?” asked the Tired Blue Cat.
“Not I,” said the Pumped Up Tiger. “I’ve made plans to go to the gym. Today’s the day that I build the muscles in my abs”
“Not I,” said the Free Loading Chipmunk. “My legs hurt. Do we have any ebsom salt?”
 “Not I.” said the Lazy Con Monkey, “I was just leaving the house to go to the library to meet my friend Stephano. Why can’t the Chipmunk or the Tiger do it?”

 “Who will help me mow the lawn?” asked the Big Red Hen. 
“Not I,” said the Pumped Up Tiger. “I have to go mow somebody else’s lawn”
“What do you intend to use as a lawn mower?”  asked the Big Red Hen. 
“Well couldn’t you let me use the lawn mower to mow my yard before you do the yard at your house?” asked the Pumped Up Tiger.
“Why didn’t you use the lawn mower last night or yesterday afternoon?” asked the Big Red Hen who was quite annoyed.  He had worked his tail off the day and night before and could not make the time to use the lawn mower.  But the Pumped Up Tiger was not very good at prioritizing his time could have made the time. But it’s not like he had a great example to follow, either.

“Who will mop the floor?” asked the Tired Blue Cat..
“Not I,” said the Pumped Up Tiger. “I cleaned the counters and the table and finally got around to cleaning the stove and the microwave which you asked me to do the other day; the Lazy Monkey hasn’t done anything except for be lazy.”

She couldn’t ask the Chipmunk as he was out of town – otherwise they probably would have gotten it done. The Free Loading Chipmunk had actually done more chores than the Pumped Up Tiger and Lazy Con Monkey put together.

 “Oh, I would if I could,” said the Monkey, “but I just dumped the garbage and I split my finger open where the stitches were.”
 “Why aren’t the dishes done?” the Tired Blue Cat asked the Lazy Con Monkey.
“I’ve been cleaning the back room!” he exclaimed.  And he had.  And he had done a wonderful job. The Tiger had obviously not seen the back room.

“Who will help me paint the house?” asked the Big Red Hen. 
The Pumped Up Tiger did not answer because he was at the gym.
“Not I,” said the Free Loading Chipmunk. “I have too much homework.  And my legs hurt.”
 “Oh, I would if I could,” said the Monkey, “but I was just leaving to visit my friend Stephano; we are making a seat for the dirt bike that I found.”
“I’ll go,” said the Tired Blue Cat, “but I’ll need to find a sitter for my sunshine.”

But the Blue Cat could not always find a sitter and so sometimes the Big Red Hen had to do it by himself.  Or sometimes the Rooster would do it by himself. They couldn’t seem to get together at the same time anymore.



The tiger and chipmunk and monkey (not to mention the Tired Blue Cat) all got to hate the house.  And they especially hated it when the Big Red Hen would order them to stay home so that they could work on the house.  And sometimes they would spend hours waiting for the Big Red Hen to pick them up – one might think that they would be able to assist the Tired Blue Cat while they were waiting.  And many times the Free Loading Chipmunk would.  He preferred staying with the Tired Blue Cat and doing chores around her house than working at the Big Red Hen’s house investment.  The Lazy Con Monkey also made that claim saying that he would rather do chores for the Tired Blue Cat than go to the house with the Big Red Hen – but it was just talk as usual.

The monkey would always horn in on whatever was being said to the tiger or the chipmunk – but seemed to have a problem listening to whatever actually concerned him however. He was notorious for asking “What about the Tiger?  What about the Chipmunk” What about the tiger and chipmunk?  What about them?

The monkey had many talents.  He was a very quick learner. He enjoyed building things. He was very creative about making things.  And he was very charismatic and a very good actor. He was also very cunning, enjoyed telling stupid jokes and was lazy about labor and with his study habits. He actually had the potential for becoming a politician.

None of the animals knew how to prioritize.  The free loading chipmunk was willing to work for his money – unless Mikey called.  The Blue Cat had given the chipmunk permission to hang out with him So he didn’t think he was available to do one more chore that the Big Red Hen had invented – mainly for the Monkey and Tiger’s benefit.  The Blue Cat was upset about his lack of rationalization.

If the exotic bird from Thailand had been living with the other animals in America, he would have gone willingly and things would have gotten finished a lot quicker. But alas, he was no longer in the states.

The Big Red Hen’s house eventually got sold – and there was a small profit that was so not worth the labor.  The Tiger and Chipmunk and Monkey have all grown up.  The Chipmunk and Monkey are both married and living in apartments. The Chipmunk now has a baby chipmunk of his own. The Tiger still spends much of his time at the gym.  He should really put care and concern into keeping his room and house as clean and tidy as he tries to keep his body.

The exotic bird has gone back to Thiland and is now pursuing a career and relationship with a gorgeous parakeet.  Sunshine continues to grow.  There are many chores that she enjoys doing – but several that she does not.  When the Big Red Hen or Tired Blue Cat (who by the way is not nearly as tired anymore) remind her of something she doesn’t want to do, she whines and often throws a tantrum.  She seems to complain more than did the Tiger, Chipmunk and Monkey combind. Hopefully it’s just a stage.

                                                                                                                      kfralc

Friday, June 1, 2012

Back to the Bus


         Today is the last day of second grade for Jenna. It is also the last day that I’ll be driving the car for a while.  But I’m at the point where I actually don’t trust it anymore.  Plus there is a ton of construction happening just outside of my husband’s work.  Not having a car also means no dealing with construction.

          There is still the matter of visiting my mom.  On Wednesdays Jaime and I will walk to the TRAX station and purchase an all day pass.  We can go see mom and take the bus to the high school for her theatre class. 

          She has three parts.  Only Dorothy is in the first scene.  But she will be a munchkin for the next two.  She’ll be a tree in scene four and will enter as the lion on scene five and remain on stage as the cowardly lion.

          I think it’s exciting that she gets to play more than one role.  I hope she understands that as well.  My brother, Corey, may appear in many scenes – but he is usually cast as ensemble – sometimes a given name – and even as an understudy.  And though it may not seem significant to the performer, it does make a difference to the production itself. 

          I did not pursue a career in acting for several reasons.  One was because I simply don’t have the patience for it.  Rehearse, block, off stage, let’s do that scene again, take it from the top, off stage, let’s try it this way, rehearse, off stage . . .  too much time – for me personally. 

          Corey is really good at it.  Knows how to utilize his time and prioritize, etc.  Can’t say the same for all the people that he has ever worked with during his life time.  I’m certain that there have been situations (hopefully all in the past) that it has felt like junior high as some co-workers have been quite immature or amateur whether in their performance or following direction or being able to get along or present a civil personality while off stage.  One might as well be teaching junior high school.

          But then I’ve never dealt with the professionalism that he does currently.  But I know he puts in long hours that I’d just assume not have to deal with.

          I need to meet my husband in about an hour.  We are planning on driving to my daughter’s school to pick her up.  Roland will drop us off at home.  And he will have the car for the rest of the summer – except for certain occasions when I’ll need to go shopping or will have to move things.  For example, I would like to record the final production of “The Wizard of Oz” and I would also like to pick up mom so that she can go with us.  Don’t care to do the camera or mom on the bus however.

          Hopefully we’ll be able to get another car before the summer ends.  Meanwhile, I am grateful that I do at least have other options.