Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Last Post of the Year

            Two of our boys took their wives to Arizona.  They left the day after Christmas and are returning today.  I hope they have coats.  Carrie will have one, but the rest may have decided to tough it out, as the weather really was nice when they left.

            Carrie texted me that it was 73 degrees in Arizona.  They’ll be returning to below zero.  Actually it is 2 above as I write this post.  Wind chill factor makes it feel so much colder.

            It’s not as windy right now as it was yesterday.  It’s a wonder I wasn’t in a coma all day. I don’t remember it being this cold.  Not for a very long while anyway. 

            It snowed on Christmas day – pretty much all day.  But it didn’t stick.  It wasn’t bitter cold like it was yesterday.  Like it will be today.  I prefer the elements to be above 40 degrees – but not above 70.  Actually living in a constant 60-70 would be ideal.

            We have never done anything exciting for New Years – not in Jenna’s eyes.  When I was growing up, that was the day we took the tree down.  We didn’t wait this year.  Roland had suggested that we take the tree down on Monday.  We had no clue that it would be freezing out the next day.

            We had boxed everything up on Monday night.  Jenna removed all the ornaments from the tree and I packed them.  Roland took down the lights and packed the tree.

I debated on whether to take the Christmas decorations out to the shed yesterday or allow the boxed decorations to stay in the house a while.  There was a clear path to the shed and I didn’t want to gamble on having snow block the doors and so I bundled up in layers just to go into my back yard. I picked a good time of day when it wasn’t quite as cold.

I couldn’t understand it.  The sun was shining.  It looked so inviting.  It didn’t look like it was bitter cold at all.  It was very deceiving. 

Roland doesn’t feel well, but he is still going to work.  There have been a lot of accidents.  And people have been without power.  What a way to end the year!  How much differently everything seemed only last week!

I hope our boys don’t freeze on the way home.  I hope they are protected on the roads as they travel back home today.  I hope they don’t get sick.

The tree is boxed, but still in the living room.  It's just to heavy for me to move.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Everyone Willing Can Have a Part

     My brother, Corey, has always been a big fan of Steven Sondheim.  I don’t think it was until after he was in high school still or college when I was introduced to his “Into the Woods” soundtrack – which I listened to and read along as the characters sang.  Immediately I decided it was a production that I wanted to see.  

     I have seen four or five different versions – though I don’t actually remember the details of each one.  I think the first opportunity was when the production was on tour.  I vaguely remember seeing it with my mom, I think.  I don’t know who else was with us.  I’m wondering if we were given tickets that Corey, himself, was unable to use.  

     My least favorite production was one that he was in.  He played Repunzel’s prince.  Our friend, Jinx, played the baker.  It was a marvelous cast, and each one gave an outstanding performance as I recall.  I did have a little trouble hearing the witch however. 

   What annoyed me about that particular production was the director’s take on separating fantasy from reality.  Each time the lights would go down after certain musical numbers or scenes, a voice would announce the act, the scene, the stage setting   . . . Corey said he didn’t like it either.  Instead of watching a polished production, it was as though we were watching a rehearsal that hadn’t quite worked out for the director. 

    I did enjoy watching the performers and I enjoyed the second act – when the interruptions had stopped.  I really enjoy watching Jinx perform.  Well, I enjoy watching Corey, but Jinx spent a lot more time on the stage.

    When Randy was in junior high, he played both prince and wolf.  I think everybody in the junior high who wanted to be in the musical WAS in the musical.  It ran for five nights.  Each night Randy played one of three princes and one of three wolfs – so that he had a turn being Cinderella’s prince, Repunzel’s prince and the wolf that eats Little Red Riding Hood.  

      I remember PBS broadcast of the Broadway version with Bernadette Peters and Joanna Gleason.  I don’t think it aired until after Roland and I were married.  It had been stretched four or five hours during a fundraiser.  I remember having recorded it on VHS. Although it wasn’t a very good recording, I did watch it a few times. I did like it.

       I had a wanted to go see the “Into the Woods” movie on Christmas, but hadn’t arrived early enough for all ten of my family members to get good seats.  We saw “Night at the Museum” instead.  I think Ester’s attention might have gotten lost earlier had we seen  “Into the Woods” – maybe not. She enthusiastically moved from seat to seat - mostly visiting either daddy or grandpa.  She also yelled quite loudly for Jenna - though she was seated right next to her at that particular moment.

    Roland took Jenna and I to “Into the Woods” the next day. I think I enjoyed seeing it without Ester being there.  She was cute.  She was just loud - which I found to be distracting.

     I liked the production, but found myself missing “The Mysterious Man” part of the story, as well as some of the songs.  Still, I told Roland I would like my own copy on DVD next year. 

    Jenna said she wanted to see the stage version.  I couldn’t find the PBS copy, but did put a reserve in at the library.  Meanwhile I figured I had two copies and spent a good part of yesterday morning searching and came upon the recording of the junior high production that Randy had been in.

     I had forgotten there were three wolves and three princes – though I think the one prince was put in for comic effect as the other two princes would sing “agony” and the third prince would try singing along, and the singing prince would stretch out his arm for effect and hit the third prince in the process.  Jenna enjoyed watching that.

     Their production had the mysterious man – though I don’t know if his identity was revealed at the end.  Or if the junior high had gone beyond the first act.  I don’t remember.  And I had evidently run out of tape and so the end was not there. 

     The narrator in my recorded version was female.  There were extra cast members who played the trees, decorations, the beanstalk, villagers, and characters moved their own props.  Randy and another, dressed like wolves, moved the prop for the house as Little Red Riding Hood entered the cottage and then again for the baker.  Randy was playing Repunzel’s prince on the night that we saw him.
     Jenna was not even a year at the time and I could hear her almost better than the cast members at times.  I really couldn’t hear Jack’s mother at all, but pretty much knew what she was saying. 

     As Jenna and I were watching, she apologized for having cried as I was recording.  That’s silly.  She was just a baby, after all.  

     I just ran across the program (which was quite a surprise on my part). There had been six cast as wolves and princes. I admire the coach for having included so many students and in various roles.  I counted 80 different names - though at a glance it appeared that there were over 200 names.  Many were duplicates cast in different roles. Randy also received credit for playing Red's grandmother (out the four cast members)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Opening a Facebook Account for Jenna

            I have noticed with each passing year, Jenna has had friends or acquaintances join Facebook – which has an age restriction – and I know for a fact that they are all younger than required age. 

            There have been some who've asked for her email address and we have given out mine, as Jenna does not have one.  She did have one through the school, but has forgotten it.  But I don’t imagine she could start a facebook account with a school email address anyway. 

            I could pay 50 cents to start an email account for her – or lie about her age – which evidently is what most of her friends or acquaintances (or their parents) have done.  How important is it for her to have this that we need to lie about it?  Thus she still isn’t on facebook.

            The novelty will where off – even with the JibJabs – which is her favorite part about going on facebook right now anyway.  Laughing at her silly uncle who has children who enjoy telling him what pictures to use and then laughing at themselves as their heads move to animated bodies.

            There are pros and cons to being on facebook.  Many people have connected through facebook.  Many have been slandered or lost their jobs.  Users need to be wise.  But there is still corruption that the user can’t always control.

            It is far more important to me to teach Jenna honesty than to have her engage in the temporary satisfaction of being on Facebook.  She’ll get there soon enough.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Grandma’s Wrinkles Tell Stories – and I Love Each One

On Christmas Eve, I opened a gift presented by my granddaughter.  The name of the book is “Grandmothers Are Like Snowflakes . . . No Two Are Alike” by Janet Lanese (who I believe refers to herself as “Grandma Jan”) and had started reading it before I went to bed and continued after I got up and after we opened presents.   It’s got a bunch of great thoughts and little proverbs and I started reminiscing with many quotes that I read – starting with myself.

Some quotes come with full names.  Some are quotes taken from children in which first name and age of child are given.  One of my favorite quotes came from an eight year old named Tammy.  It says, I love my grandma’s wrinkles.  Every one tells a story – which is where I got the title of this post.    

I don’t feel much like a grandma.  I haven’t been with Ester much to make a connection in which we are both comfortable in our roles.  She’ll be three in March.  Ester is cute and smart and has an amazing vocabulary – pretty much like Jenna did at her age – though I think Ester is a lot more articulate.  Maybe not.  It’s hard to say as we do not see Ester daily or even weekly.  

Tony and Rochelle have been back from Texas for twelve months now, and I doubt that I have seen Ester more than ten times since they’ve been back.  I know Tony would like to spend more time with us than they do.  They spend more time with her family.

Randy and Carrie also announced that they’re expecting.  Even though I do see Randy more than the other two boys put together, I don’t see Carrie even half as often.  Right now they live about the same distance from us as Tony and Rochelle.  That could change before the baby comes.

I have a friend who had given me a book called “Grandma Time” which contains finger stories and activities. I’ve gone through the book and have used some of the verses – with my niece and nephew and even Jenna, but not with Ester.  As a grandmother, I feel distant about it still.

What children expect from grandparent is not to be understood but to be loved. - Grandma Jan

I remember my mom spending time with my brother’s three oldest.  She spent time with all of her grandchildren – but those three (particularly Ellen and Kimball) are the ones I remember her spending time with the most.  Probably because I, myself, was included – at least in the beginning.  I had lost track with Candy.  She was three when Roland and I got married.  I didn’t actually spend time with Patrick’s children after that.  But I always had updates on how they were doing.  They spent time with mom at least once a week.  She was quite the proud grandmother.  She was always looking out for their interests and spending time with them.  I can’t say for certain that she had a favorite, but as she got older, she would always express her love toward Brian.

                                                     Ellen with both of her grandmothers

I remember her playing with Jenna.  Simple games like finger plays and peek-a-boo to outings to wheeler farm and Disney on Ice.  She would take all of us to see Corey’s plays and spring for pizza and ice cream.  She had a very giving heart – not just as a grandma, but as a mother.  I don’t know that the “skipping children” part would apply.

                  The secret of a happy live is to skip having children and go directly to the grandchildren (this is quoted “Momma” from a cartoon character created by Mel Lazarus)

            My mom had taken Ellen to the hospital the day that Candy was born so that they could both watch the miracle of her sister’s birth.  Mom and Kayla were with me at the hospital when I had Jenna.  And even in her dementia state of mind, mom made it a priority to visit Kayla and Anna in the hospital and then Gary when it was time – though she was really slipping before he was born – telling me she could walk to the hospital to see him if she wanted to.  She no longer had the sanity to drive and we had taken away her keys.  But she knew that Garrett was her grandchild and she wanted that physical connection.

            I remember her playing on the floor with Anna – just like she used to do with Patrick’s children. I was happy that I got to see that before her mind got really bad.  Before we had to check her in to assisted living.

            Different minds.  Different grandmas.  Jenna doesn’t know her paternal grandmother as well as she started to know my mom.  She knows my mom well enough to miss her.  Well enough to miss who she was before her mind went.

Roland’s mom has scared her in the past – not intentionally. As mentioned in this post  Roland and I are from two very diverse backgrounds.  Being with Roland’s family is a cultural shock after being with mine.  Something Jenna was not used to.  My mom and Roland’s mom are definitely two different grandmas – which is not a bad thing.  Just goes to show we are two different snowflakes on two different environments.

            There’s an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond” when Debra has her parents sharing the same table as the Barones.  Marie and Lois of course represent two entirely different backgrounds.  Lois is a lot more cultured and well traveled and seems so caught up in fine art and material things that she seems to overlook needs and wants of human kind – including her own children and grandchildren – not quite fitting the “grandmother” image.

            Though many find her meddlesome and don’t always agree with her ways, Marie definitely seems to fit the grandmotherly image.  She tells Debra that it is not her fault and labels Lois as “not Mother-ish)
Both of Jenna’s grandmothers give and love her.  Neither one of them are like either Lois or Marie.

            Then there’s my own grandmothers.  I have more childhood memories of my dad’s mom than I do of my mom’s mom.  Grandma Helen lived in Salt Lake and later moved to Murray (a sub-area of Salt Lake) and Grandma Mary lived in San Francisco.  Both grandmas enjoyed traveling – though Grandma Helen seemed to do a lot more when Grandpa Earl was alive and Grandma Mary seemed to do more after Grandpa Ralph passed away.

            I was too young to remember all the trips that Grandpa Earl and Grandma Helen took – many before I was even born.  I do remember seeing pictures taken when Grandpa had taken the entire family to Sun Valley.  I remember when Grandpa was sick before he died.  My mom noticed a huge change in Grandma’s personality after Grandpa passed.  Mom had said she’d become withdrawn and insecure and given up on life.  I was too young to remember what she was like before Grandpa died.

            I remember her smile and buying toys and spoiling us, it seemed.  I remember her laugh more than any sternness or insecurity.  I remember her giving.  I remember playing in her big house.  It is my understanding that she designed it.  She had treasures in her house and rooms to explore.  Every time we visited with grandma, there was adventure.  Grandma encouraged us to play and enjoy life.  At least that is the message I received.

            After Aunt Alice moved out, her children encouraged my grandma to move someplace smaller – and someplace closer to her boys – not that we lived that great of a distance from her to begin with.  But after she moved into the condo in Murray, I could ride my bike to her house.  I could come by myself if I wanted. 

            My cousin Michelle and I would often stay the night.  We would pretend that we were in a hotel.  I enjoyed my time with grandma.  I enjoyed being spoiled.  I enjoyed our friendship.  She had taken my cousins and brother and I on a trip to California to explore Disneyland and other adventures. 

            After high school Grandma Helen and I took a vacation to Hawaii.  We went with a tour.  She had been to Hawaii several times before and kept on comparing how wonderful it used to be compared to how it was at the time we went together.  I wish she hadn’t been so negative, but still made the best of it.  

            Since Grandma Mary lived in San Francisco, I didn’t see her near as often – though more often than Jenna sees her out-of-state grandmother.  We would visit once or twice a year.  Sometimes she and grandpa would come visit us or else we would go to San Francisco to visit them.

            I would write letters to Grandma and Grandpa.  Unfortunately I don’t remember grandma as much as grandpa until after grandpa passed away.  After that, I gained a more intimate relationship with Grandma Mary.  And I remember going to San Francisco at least once without my family. We took grandma Helen with us on a vacation once. After visiting attractions in Southern California, we went up north to see Grandma Mary.

            After Grandpa Ralph died, Grandma Mary would save her money and take trips each year.  I remember her sending home material from Scotland.  With the fabric, my mom made matching outfits for Kayla and me.  Grandma had also gone to Russia, China, and Alaska.  I don’t know how many cruises she had been on. 

            Both of my grandmas had gone to Yellowstone with my family just before my mission. And mom and I have taken trips with Grandma Mary to Alaska, Yellowstone and Grand Canyon.  

                                                Grandma Mary & Grandma Helen

                                             Kayla, my mom and her mom

            Grandma Helen passed away shortly after I returned home from my mission.  Grandma Mary passed away while visiting my mom.  Roland and I had been married only a short time and I introduced them while she was in the hospital.  When we returned for a second visit, her mind was elsewhere and she didn’t recognize me anymore. 

                                            me, my Grandma Mary, mom  - Alaskan Cruise

                                                me, Grandma Mary, mom - Juneau, Alaska
                                                            shooting the Mendenhall

                                                     Grandma Mary and I at Yellowstone park

            We have grandmothers who are not biologically related.  Jenna calls our former next door neighbor “grandma”  and I remember when Ellen and Kimball were little they befriended their next door neighbor as they would a “grandma” and thus she was invited to birthday parties and such along with the biologically related family members.

                                                        Jenna with neighbor grandma

            I love my book from Ester.  I enjoy the memories that it has triggered.  Those are just some.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Nativity Pics


                         The wooden nativity that Patrick painted did not include the bear.
                         It was a gift that Jenna received for Christmas one year and decided
                          she would add to the nativity

                    The first Mary (pink) is the first piece that Jenna received to her nativity;
                 the second is the only piece I can find to a nativity that my mom had given me;
                    the third Mary (blue) is the one I received last year from Roland and Biff

                             Though he carries a shepherd's crook, we used the first piece to
                               represent Joseph, next is an angel and the baby in the manger

                       The wooden nativity set except for the donkey and camel pictured below

                          Three wisemen, the camel, donkey and sheep (the wooden animals
                         didn't have the glare that the ceramic animals of Jenna's nativity had)

              Just to demonstrate the size of the rooster with the sheep and Ooki's wooden elephant

                                       Jenna's nativity as of December 23

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve Elephants

                           The first name drawn to pick a gift was our granddaughter, Ester
                       Carrie suggested this white elephant she had wrapped.  Ester loved it.

                                                 The expression on my face says it all

                       Jeanie was next to pick a gift.  She opened the clock that we had brought.
                Carrie took that from her and next Jeanie opened a set of Futeboy soccer players.

        Then Randy decided he wanted the Futeboys (our bowling pins had not yet been open)
                                           and so Jeanie had to pick out something else.

                            She opened the snowman that we brought and gave orders for no one                            to take it from her. I figured when we had made our purchase that she would like it the most

        Roland LOVES Superman.  He opened this gift and surprisingly no one took it from him

                            next was Biff who received a knife. He wants to use it with fishing

                           Tony got the bowling set and Rochelle opened the last gift
                                   which was a stuffed mushroom which Ester Loves

                                       and then Randy and Jenna played with the futeboys

                                            Jenna's been sick.  It was good to see her smile

                         They both enjoyed playing the game.  Randy let Jenna have the game
                          and allowed her to trade some lame gift she had received.  An Idiot's
                           Guide to a Near Death experience along with som sour cream and
                              onion flavored crickets.  It was almost as if having one (eating
                                crickets) would give you the other (a near death experience).

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

12 Days of Nativity

About a year and a half ago, after we cleaned mom’s house, I reclaimed my nativity mentioned here and learned that it was just too large for my small house and my less-than-tidy family.  Last year was the only year I put it up.

My family had sent me a wooden nativity the first Christmas I was on my mission.  The nativity consisted of five pieces: Mary, Joseph, two lambs and the baby Jesus.  My brother Patrick had painted each of the figures. 

Two years after I had returned from my mission, I had purchased a bunch of Christmas items that went on clearance following the holidays.  One of the items I purchased was a three-piece wooden set with painted camel, the three wisemen and a shepherd.  I added those to my existing nativity.  That is what I used for several years after Roland and I were married.

My mom had given me a small nativity sometime before we had moved to West Valley.  It was smaller than my wooden set, and often I displayed both sets.  I hope that they are still in the shed, but it dawned on me that since I haven’t run across either, that they may have been in the same box with my dip n drape nativity – never to be seen again.  Except for a wooden lamb that somehow drifted from the rest of the set, and a small Mary from the other.  

Randy said he wished I had given him the nativity – which is odd, because of all my children, I figure that he really wouldn’t want it.  Thus I thought I would give him one of the missing nativities, should I have come across them. But alas, it is still not discovered.

Last year Roland purchased another nativity set and put Biff in charge of picking out the figures.  I have Mary, Joseph, three wisemen, a donkey, a lamb, a camel, an angel and surely you’ve heard of the Christmas rooster – which by the way is almost the same size as the sheep.  And so this year I added Ooki’s elephant to the set.  The rooster actually looks more out of place than the elephant does.

Well, somebody has decided to give each of our activity girls a nativity set – one piece at a time. Jenna received Mary on the 16th I believe.  I noticed one of her friends had taken a picture of her Mary and posted that someone had left it along with the scripture.  The scripture that came with the first nativity figure was Luke 1:26-31.

The following day Jenna received Joseph who came with a verse from the children’s songbook.  The third day was a donkey.  The forth day was the Stable.  The fifth day was a cow.  And the next three days were wisemen.

         Jenna had diligently taken pictures.  The last she took was of the cow.  She had borrowed my LG cell phone – which I had to replace as it cut the conversation.  I still use it as a directory and had told Jenna that she could borrow it to take to school for a brilliant idea she had wanted to make as a gift for her teachers.  Unfortunately it did not work out.  I had forgotten I would need a chip to transfer pictures, but did not have a chip on hand nor do I want to invest in another after losing two chips already.

Unlike the nativity that I received last year, Jenna’s includes a shepherd – which came next and was followed by a sheep.  We’ll have to see what the next two days bring.  I imagine that Christmas Eve will come with the Christ Child.  Pics will come – eventually.

Friday, December 19, 2014

My Day So Far

         This year the weather has been awesome enough for me to drive in.  As I was returning home from Jenna’s school, I stopped to get gas.  It was under 20 dollars to fill my tank.  I was stunned.  It wasn’t that low the last time I drove for real.

           Last year when Jenna’s school held their Christmas performance, and the weather was rotten, not only did I miss the program, but Tony had as well.  He and Rochelle had just moved back after living in Texas.  Tony surprised Jenna this year when we both showed up just as her class was lining up out in the hall. 

         There have been some years when I know she hasn’t been able to find me in the audience.  I have taken pictures of her program just to prove to her that I was there.  This year I had my new camera but was very far away from the stage.  I decided that I would just enjoy the performance and NOT take pictures.  However, when the principal invited parents to stand and take pictures of their kids BEFORE the performance, I handed the camera to Tony and asked if he would move up closer to get some shots.

         Jenna was wearing a headband with huge red antlers sticking up.  I had not noticed her wearing it in the hall.  I don’t know how I noticed when she was on stage.  The antlers blended into the drapes.  It actually looked kind of weird.  Tony not only took several still pictures of her, but filmed both musical numbers as well.  What a guy.  I was/am very grateful for that.

         Tony was starving.  After Jenna’s class dismissed, we left toward his car (he had driven us in his new car) and got something to eat before he returned me home.  I had only twenty minutes or so to start sorting socks or start my blog or do dishes.  I knew I wasn’t going to complete any one task – let alone all of them.  I still have to add pictures to the last couple of thoughts that I’ve already posted today.  I’ll need to run to the library as well as I have a few items to return.

         I returned to Jenna’s school just before school let out. I am usually early and have to wait a while before the bell rings and for her to cross.  Normally I sit at a bench behind the school and read. I have enjoyed the crisp air that’s lingered this season. Today would have been less enjoyable.  I was grateful I had a car to sit in, as it has gotten colder.  To me, it feels like the coldest day of this month.  And it seems to be getting colder with every passing minute.

         Initially I was going to stop at a fast food place on my way to Roland’s place of work – only he really didn’t want that choice of food.  I suggested we just go out and eat and Jenna and I could just bus it home.  And so that is what we did. 

         He will be home in another hour and we will go to the Church house where Sunny and Patrick attend services and spend a few hours playing games with the family.  We are excited!

         I should include pictures with all three of today’s posts.  I am unable to do them all at this time however.  Perhaps I will be able to do so on Christmas Eve – before our other family party.  (That is if Jenna will allow me the time to do so)

The week before Christmas

Today I have the car.  Well, for six – eight hours. 

This morning Jenna and I rode in with Roland to his work.  We stayed in the car and listened to Henry Winkler for about 45 minutes.

I should have waited a while longer before pulling out of the lot, but I was afraid of more traffic entering the lot, and wanted to avoid the employee traffic and so went out on the road earlier than I should have.  But we did say a prayer before we left and got Jenna to the school with thirty minutes to spare.

It is Jenna’s last day of school this year.  The classes are doing a program this morning.  I didn’t make it to her program last year because we had the hardest snowfall we had seen for a number of years and so of course the busses were running behind and even though I had left the house earlier than I thought was necessary, I waited for over 20 minutes before I realized that even if the bus did come, there was no way it would get me to my destination and allow my walk hike up to her school in time to see her perform. 

She wants me there for her performance today.  I haven’t been there for all of her performances.  When she was in first grade, Roland and I arrived early enough, but were called away to set up chairs for a funeral. I gave a flash drive to someone recording but never got it back.

Her part does not start until after 10:00.  I have things to do and could not afford to hang around her school all day.  But I didn’t want to be taking the bus all day either.  That is why I am driving.

When the school has a program, the parents have the option of checking their child (or children) out early.  Jenna doesn’t want to be checked out early because she wants to stay for the class party.  So after I pick her up this afternoon, we will pick up some lunch for Roland and I will drive back to his office and he will drive us home – although I really don’t mind taking the bus from his work.  Perhaps I’ll have him drop us off at a TRAX station.

Tonight (thanks to my awesome sister-in-law, Sunny – the glue who holds us together) we will have a family party with two of my sibs and their families.  Corey and Joh cannot make it. 

  but Sunny says everyone in Utah will be there.    I’m excited to see everyone and play games.  I think the hours in today are going to fly right by.