Saturday, December 31, 2016

Another Project

          Two days after Christmas, I put Jenna to work in her room with the condition that we would take many breaks (I was also doing household chores - washing the kitchen and doing laundry.)  I asked Jenna if she wanted both of us to color in the book I gave her.  But she realized that pictures were printed on each side of the page - which would interfere with cutting out - so we started making photocopies, and I realized that I would have another project of scanning book material in order to preserve it, but would have to wait until Jenna headed back to school.

          First break: we started coloring what few pages we had scanned.  Roland even joined for one picture during his break.  We started coloring before reading any of the stories, and Jenna wondered aloud if it might make a difference.  After I had grown weary of coloring, I read through some of the stories.  Simple, repeating thoughts.  

Jenna colored this page

Roland colored this page



        I realized that Jenna could turn her colored flannel board figures over to her nieces.  We have two turning two in August.  That will give us plenty of time to put the stories and figures together.  After we have completed that, we can start on our annual holiday ornament for next year.  I recently found a recipe that we can use to make ornaments.  I would specifically like to make some candy canes as I think they will be easy and have a symbolic story to go with them.

Playing Games

                As I mentioned, there seemed to be a game theme going on . . . and of course what Christmas does not come with duplicate gifts?  As I have mentioned on a few posts, we left West Valley and came to Oregon ahead of schedule.  We left behind so many games.  We even had two games of Sequence - 

one of Richard's favorites, and I hadn't brought either.  When Jenna and I saw Sequence at  a 2nd hand store, we purchased it for Roland - unaware that Tony and Rochelle would also be sending a Sequence game.  Perhaps it is our lot in life to have two.

                Biff and Jen had sent two games that seemed pretty identical - 5 second rule for Jenna which comes with a 5 second timer and a deck of card with a topic on each side and the player (or team) has five seconds to name three items that fall into that category. 

Name five has a longer timer as player has to come up with five names to match category.  They're pretty fun.

Of course Jenna skunks us at almost every game.  Her favorite is to "play Steve Harvey" as she hosts "The Family Feud" cards from Ester and Liz

                Jenna also received a box of cards and dice and Randy and Carrie sent us a book for card games and tricks. 

                we have also played a version of "War" with the Minion cards that Jenna received.

Awesome Gifts

                After the book sale had started last month, I was drawn to two books in particular.  One was a hard bound and the other softbound.  The softbound was an art book that outlined some popular artists and gave a synopsis of their style and background perhaps . . . I hadn't actually investigated through it thoroughly.  The book was in great condition and a subject I knew Roland would be familiar with.  

          The hard bound had originally been published in 1963, but I purchased the 18th edition published in 1971.  Same pictures and cover as the original edition I would imagine.  I wondered if one of my granddaughters might like it, but as  I viewed the many naked pictures inside, I thought of Jenna who loves to color.  So I purchased it for her. 

          In each book I had written my reason for giving the book.  I'd forgotten that Jenna has not learned to read cursive. 

        I have tried to teach her and she did manage to get through most of it.  Jenna generally expresses pleasure about each gift she receives. I'm very grateful for Jenna's enthusiasm about all of her gifts. 

          I made the DVDs to Jenna from Roland, but signed just my name to the Bop-it.  I think that and the binoculars were her absolutely favorite gifts.  She actually seemed the most excited having opened the binoculars, but she has spent more time with the Bop-it than any other gift. Her high score right now is 72.   

          Roland LOVED his book and had actually spent a few hours going through it on Christmas day. I am so pleased to have given him something which he truly enjoys.  I'm happy that both like the gifts from me.

          I was surprised by the gifts that were from Jenna and Roland.  Each was a surprise except for one.  I had picked out the CD when I was with Roland and purchased it right then.  I put it under the tree unwrapped, but Jenna wrapped it.   

           I had actually picked out the slippers and shirt, but had forgotten about them and was surprised that they had been purchased.  Especially the slippers which I have lived in since Christmas day.  The soul has  "Let's Stay In" printed on the bottom.  The biggest surprise was Jenna's favorite.  My favorite candy bar is Twix.  I had no idea that it was sold by the yard.  Have not opened yet as I have had way too much sugar and need a break from the sweets.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Christmas Services

            Our bishop read passages of scripture and would pause for a hymn to fit with the scripture.  It reminded me of the many times our family joined Birds for their annual Christmas pageant.  For the longest time, I had played Mary as I was the only girl. The narrator would read passages of scripture and Peggy would direct the cast on what to do, and we would sing carols to fit in with the setting.  Over the years some things were added, like Samuel the Lamanite and his prophecies.  But that wasn't until after my niece had taken over the role of Mary. 

            I enjoyed playing Mary and was not at all humble about having been replaced as other families had been invited to participate.  Ellen became bored with playing Mary and was ecstatic when the opportunity was given to another.

            I'd been coughing since Friday, and though the cough seemed more controlled, I wasn't able to sing.  But I beamed as Jenna sang every song - or attempted to at least (there were a few that were not as familiar for her)  I enjoy going to Church on Christmas.

            Normally when Church ends, so many people head towards the door and out to the parking lot, it doesn't leave much opportunity for those who would like to visit.  But on Christmas, it seemed to be the opposite: a lot of lingering and wishing each other well. 

Christmas Weather

        I'm sure there must have been a few Christmases without snow before 2009.   I just can't recall any until that year.  It was our first year living in West Valley.  Tony was engaged and had come home from Fort Knox to spend Christmas with us.  No snow on the ground!  It was awesome, actually.  I took pictures of Jenna wearing brand new outfits from Grandma Lucy.  Without a coat, she stood next to the outside tree.   

        I took many pictures of the outdoor weather because it was just so foreign to me to have that much sunshine and warmth for December and no cold air biting at us or having snow on the ground.  That is actually the only year I remember not having snow . . . until last year.  But even then we had experienced a little bit of snow - not as much as we're used to, but an outrageous amount for Myrtle Creek.

        This Christmas the weather reminded me of our Christmas of 2009.  In Oregon it did . . . I would have hated the weather had I been back in Utah.  Our family had wanted us to return to Utah for Christmas.  It would have been great as we had time off, but we can't afford to fly and driving in harsh weather just didn't make sense to us.  Oh, the weather has been great in Myrtle Creek, but not on the roads between MC and SLC.  I don't know how much snow or when the last record was - but I remember the snowstorms all too well.  I am so grateful I didn't have to be a part of it this year.

        From what I understand, instead of holding regular classes at Coffenberry, the teachers had offered sign-up sheets for students to enjoy certain activities on the last day of school.  Jenna didn't  seem to express her normal enthusiasm.  She just wasn't feeling well.  As the day progressed, so did her lack of enthusiasm.  After she returned home, she balled herself upon the couch for a while.  Gradually she moved from the couch to the bed and then to the bathroom where she heaved into the toilet - even when there was nothing left.  She realized that she was dehydrated.  That actually put a damper on both of our plans.

        She had an absolutely great attitude about it:  "Well, at least I'm sick during vacation and not during school."

        Roland would harp on her to stay in bed and take medicine and drink plenty of liquid.  She gradually overcame the dehydration but displayed symptoms of a really bad cold.  A week later I shared in with her cough.  But I am a much better patient than Jenna and was actually able to stay in bed and fall asleep - at least the 23rd and part of the 24th.  And that got old and boring quickly.  Christmas was about to arrive and I wasn't being a part of it as I had wanted to be.  I have been grateful it has just been a cough and not the sinus infection I would surely have if we were back in Utah.

        We weren't the only ones sick.  Both Tony and Randy were experiencing coughs and sore throats.  BJ sounds as though he was experiencing a sinus infection of some kind, and Bill hadn't felt well either.  We had an enjoyable Christmas here.  Still not used to the weather, but I'm sure I'll adjust

Changing Traditions

            We had a great Christmas the year that Jenna had turned one.  That was the year we had spent opening gifts ALL DAY - something I had wanted to do for such a long time, but not everybody else was always in favor of doing that - at least at the same time.  We hadn't planned on doing it that year either.  It just happened to work out that way.  It was awesome!

            We had Roland's two other girls.  They had stayed over Christmas Eve night.  Christmas morning for all of us - not just certain siblings.  They were all there.  The girls had even brought with them four gifts for all of us.  The ward had done a sub-for-Santa that year and had included the girls.  We were loaded down with gifts - lots of them!  And we had scheduled ourselves to feed a brunch to the missionaries at 11:00.

            I don't remember how early we started to open the gifts.  We explained to the girls that we opened our gifts only one at a time so that we could all watch.  Pamprin wanted Tony to unwrap all of his gifts first . . . he did open one from Santa at her request.  But with eight of us opening gifts in turn, and Jenna still unsure about what to do with the gifts, it definitely took longer than I recall ever having had done on Christmas.  I knew that we had to start preparing the food, and so told whoever was playing Santa Clause that all gifts that were opened had to have Frances and Pamprin's name on them (whether to or from) so that we could enjoy our gifts from one another with them.

            I think there were one or two gifts left (that were either to or from the girls) when the missionaries arrived.  We had made up stockings for the missionaries: Elder Ma'Alona, Elder Anderson and the one we called "Elder Third Wheel" who'd be going home at the upcoming transfer.  Elder Ma'Alona had brought gifts also.  One was a box of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts.  I don't know if any of the girls got any of them or not.  Our plan was to leave right after breakfast.   

          Meanwhile, Jenna had finally gotten the hang of opening gifts and opened a present from the girls to their brothers.  After breakfast, Roland returned the girls to their mom and met the rest of us at my mom's house.  We had gone to meet my sibs and their families and exchange gifts.

            We opened presents one at a time.  We weren't at the point of drawing names yet and so it took a while to open them all.  And then we played games.  We got home just after 8:00 and opened the remaining gifts beneath our tree.  That was really so awesome, milking out the opening of gifts.  I don't know if it was actually my favorite part of Christmas or not - but did come close.

            I wanted to do something like that this year.  Because Christmas was on a Sunday this year, it was going to add a reverence to the day that isn't a part of our routine each year.  Bill and Kayla were wise and had Santa visit the kids a day early so that the presents would be opened on Saturday rather than Sunday. I asked if we could wait until after Church to open gifts  I thought that going to Sacrament meeting would add a deliciousness that I didn't want to end.  I also wanted to read or share thoughts between each present - but as Jenna and I had these stupid coughs this holiday season, I eliminated that.

            Roland suggested that we could each open just one gift before Church started.  But Jenna felt that maybe just the stockings would be enough.  They may have been if we had started later.  Jenna's excitement got her up at 2:00 am.  I sent her back to bed, but it did not work out well for her.  She ended up curled in the big chair.  I think Roland was up at 5:00  and so we watched her open the gifts that were wrapped in her stocking.

            We stopped to eat breakfast and I suggested that perhaps we could open the gifts that our sons and families had sent.  That way if they called just after we returned home, we could thank them for the specifics.  Each of them seemed to understand our love of games as all were game themed including the minions that Jenna had received from Tony's two girls. 

Christmas was great!

            The thing that I have been most grateful for this Christmas season has been Jenna's positive attitude - despite the way we both felt, despite having family so far away, she made the best of it.  She has been amazing!  I wish I had drummed up the same enthusiasm.  I did things with her just so her flame wouldn't die, but I really didn't do it with the same amount of energy; I wasn't even able to fake it.

            For example, she wanted to deliver cookies to the neighbors on Christmas Eve.  I would have liked it better if Roland had gone with her.  But even he seemed quite uptight for Roland - I suppose because his two girls were sick and perhaps he felt helpless.  He watched a lot of TV by himself.

            Anyway, I had gone with her, but lost my breath.  When we returned to the house, I went into the bathroom and spent an hour on the floor crying.  Jenna dismissed herself to go to bed at 8:00. Roland and I put the rest of the gifts out and filled the stockings before 9:00 pm.  I don't recall ever having put out gifts that early before.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas Thoughts are Coming

On Christmas day I jotted some notes down, which I had planned to turn into posts.  I think I have seven thus far - perhaps only five.  But they still don't flow as I would like them to.  And it is more important that I spend time with Jenna than to post anything.  I can't believe it's this late and she is still in bed.  Usually she's at least stirring.

Oh, she's up.  She and Roland are making breakfast.  I should be getting dressed.  Perhaps after Jenna returns to school I will post again.

out the door and on our way to Church

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Please Don't Buy Me a Tablet

          Roland asked me what I thought about getting a tablet for Jenna for Christmas.
          "Do you not even know your child at all?" I wanted to scream at him.  Even if we could afford it, giving a tablet to Jenna would be offensive.  She would interpret the gift to mean: "We don't have time for you.  Here's an electronic device to tie you over" though I'm certain the tables have been turned for some parents.

          Jenna and I would like to get rid of the TV.  We watch it because it's there, but she would be a zillion times happier if it wasn't there.  And actually, it's not even on that much.  When Roland gets off work, he likes to relax in front of the boob tube - even if it means vegetating in front of a program that doesn't offer material worth watching for either me or Jenna.  And I'm okay if Roland wants to watch the tube by himself.  But why do I have to be there?  What a waste of time.

          Jenna and I had already discussed the matter, but when a gift card came our way, Roland brought it up again.  Instead of being subtle with Jenna, I was more direct by flat out saying what the conversation had been.  With tears in her eyes she begged, "I don't want you guys to get me a tablet"

          "Hey!  There is no 'you guys' here.  It's just dad.  I don't want to get you a tablet.  If you ever do get a tablet, keep in mind that it will be from him.  JUST him.  I will never sign a gift tag for a tablet.  Make sure you understand that."

          She wrote the following letter to Santa:

Dear Santa,

          For Christmas I would like for my parents to get rid of the TV.  We would be able to save money and mom and dad can spend more time with me.  I would also like the libraries not to close.  It would benefit lots of people.  And another thing is I want more people to believe in you.  I also want to see my brothers.  Okay.  That's all  Hope you have a good Christmas.

                   - [Jenna]

Friday, December 23, 2016

Mad Libs Christmas card

       Jenna and I were just about to pull out of the driveway when she noticed the mail truck come.  She dashed across the street to pick up the mail and I drove into the street and pulled up near the mailbox.  There was a package from Aunt Julie and two cards from the university: one for me and one for Roland.

       Jenna was excited about the cards as they included a MadLib - which she was more than anxious to fill out.  

 She wrote apple, school, marbles, Taylor Swift, chair, mesmerizing, paper, table, comedy, mom, enchanting, soda, chips, grapes, shoe, lawn mower, running, bottle caps and singing.

       There were ten sentences.  Half came out humorous.  At least I thought they did.  I will include my own comments after the sentences which I thought were funny.

How do YOU celebrate the holidays?

Purchase an apple and place it in your house, displaying it promptly for all to see.

"Oh, we didn't put up a tree this year, but come inside and take a look at my apple"

Decorate your school by hanging marbles from it.

"Hey, there are actually some very pretty marbles made . . . I don't know how well they'd be seen however . . . even the larger marbles would look lost hanging from a school"

Sit on Taylor Swift's chair and take a picture.

With a nice, mesmerizing paper in your fireplace, sit down on the table and watch you favorite comedy movie with mom.

Drink an enchanting cup of soda.

Bake chips and decorate them with grapes because we all know how festive grapes look on chips

Donate an new shoe to somebody less fortunate  "it's the thought that counts, right.  Does this less fortunate soul really need an entire pair?  The one shoe donated is NEW after all."

Take a drive and admire your neighbor's lawnmower.  "Forget the Christmas decorations - Doesn't that Lawn Mower beat all?"

Go door to door and running your favorite bottle caps

Go singing in the snow

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Letter to Jesus

          The first December that I had my blog, I created this post which explains our letters to Jesus.  After a while, I added my thoughts to a journal I take out with the decorations each Christmas season.  The journal had been given to my mom.  I don't even know who it was from - I'm assuming it was left at Christmas time as I recently came across an unsigned Christmas Tag.  Someone had written: "use for personal journal, diaries, notes, recipe, addresses and more."  It was still blank when I retrieved it.  

 I started journaling in 2013.  As I was reading through some of it this year, I came across the letter I had written to Jesus.

                                                Christmas 2013  
Dear Jesus,

       There is so much on my mind, I hope that I am able to express it all.  I wrote a few things on my blog - though not with the full amount of detail.  I would like to express. We have been so blessed this year.  And yet there have been times when I've overlooked those blessings - for that I apologize.

       The blessings have poured out all year, but became more obvious to me in September when so many family and friends rallied around us and mom - who was very much alive and spirited during the summer. Thou had sent her an angel named Harold.  He befriended mom and she finally accepted Alta Ridge as her home.  She was so happy - a far cry from where she was when we had brought her there to live.
       We had a family party in August.  Mom did a tremendous amount of visiting.  She truly was excited to see everyone and had rattled on endlessly about how and what she was doing.  A week later she was sent to the hospital and Thou prepared all of us to send her home to Thee.  It's true that we didn't wish to see her go - nor did we wish to see her mind deteriorate to a state of non-recognition to vegetation.  We are blessed with happy final memories of her as she stubbornly made her transition to return to Thee.

       We have all been blessed to be there and to support one another and laugh together as we prepared for mom's departure and funeral. It was frustrating watching her hang on for so long without food or water.  But it was pleasing to see that the dementia was being lifted and that daddy was there to escort her to the other side.

       Thou blessed me with a car that pretty much ran on prayer (see here) Thank you so much for allowing me to take [Jenna] to school each morning and to go and visit mom.  I know the car had mechanical problems; I just hadn't know to what extent.

       I thank Thee for keeping the car alive as [Biff] has taken over and it is now working for him though I have still been reluctant to drive it myself (should I have the opportunity)

       Thank you for blessing my boys with wives.  It is good to see each of them so happy.  [Rochelle, Carrie] and now [Jeanie] are certainly welcome editions along with [Tony and Rochelle's] little [Ester]

       It's so good to see all of my boys so happy.  It has been a struggle for [Biff] and as [Jeanie] has also endured some hardships it is really nice to see the two of them so happy together.  And I thank thee for allowing them the opportunity to marry in the temple right away [unlike Roland and myself; see here]

       Last night was the first time in six years that  the boys were able to visit together in person - all three of them.  The first time that all three boys and all four daughters spent Christmas together.

       [Randy] surprised me, taking over a tradition that had been a part of my family.  One that had been started by my great great Aunt Lucy from what I understand.  When Aunt [Trudy] was no longer able to have the family over on Christmas Eve, mom  took over having it at her house.  And that faded out with the entire family making our social in July - though mom and my sibs have tried to remain with get-togethers during the holiday season.  And now [Randy] has started this for us and his sibs.  How amazing is that?

       The greatest thing this Christmas is having had the opportunity of feeling my mom's presence - something I ironically feel more this year than I did last year when I was with her at her house.  I thank Thee for allowing me the opportunity and for symbols.  Have a happy birthday and thank Thee for Thy example and for Thy gift of the Atonement and for all the gifts that we receive on a daily basis - even the one's that [we] don't recognize. Please help me to recognize [Thy] blessings and opportunities that I too may pay it forward.

       Love,  [LaTiesha]