Sunday, December 29, 2013

There Are More Than 40 Hymns

         I can’t say for certain, but I think it’s highly probable that there are several wards (or congregations) that tend to sing the same 40 – 80 hymnals with each meeting.  That doesn’t even cover 50% of what we’ve been given.  And there are some choristers who have tried to introduce new hymns – which may have been enforced in recent years.  If I was called as chorister, I’m afraid our hymns would be the same familiar ones that we have sung at least 20 times during any given year.  I don’t think I have to be concerned about being called to chorister position.  I enjoy listening to music – and I will even lead – but not with expertise I’m afraid. 

         My brother, Corey, has often made the complaint that with over 300 hymns (and those are just the ones currently published in today’s hymn book – there’s got to be even more that we don’t have access to each week) – why is it that someone feels the need to sing the same hymns over and over again? 

         I’ve been in a few wards in which the chorister has introduced the hymn and we’ve actually had a “practice” but I don’t remember any of those becoming part of the curriculum for future meetings.  I think we have the opportunity to sing it one time and depending on how badly our voices butcher that hymn depends on whether we will ever sing it again or not (apparently our voices haven’t worked together well enough to pursue keeping it on our agenda.  That’s also a guess on my part.  I really don’t know.)

         Corey would LOVE the ward I am at now just for the opportunity of singing new hymn each week – even ones that the congregation obviously does not know.  I believed our chorister had given us every hymnal to sing three times over, until today when we were introduced to hymn #13 which only a few of members from the High Priest group were familiar with.  They sounded awesome.  I don’t know why this ward doesn’t have a choir.  Thus far it is the only ward I’ve attended that doesn’t have one.

         There are some hymns I obviously enjoy more than others.  Many people (who are familiar with it) like the hymn 284 – and I notice that all of those who admit to liking the song are very gifted with voices and knowledge of music.  I personally find it haunting and draggy.  I like the hymns to be uplifting and move.  There are some that drag on like you’re walking in a death march or something.  I don’t mean that disrespectfully.  It’s not even the words, but the tunes themselves.  Maybe sometimes it’s the words.  Perhaps it is just from my own lack of understanding.

     I do enjoy reading what is printed in the back pages of the hymnal – how to lead, finding hymns with scripture reference, and being able to sing the words of one hymn to another.  Take  A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” for instance.   I remember Corey singing that and changing to the tune of “I know My Redeemer Lives” and it was beautiful.  Corey and Joh can sing a cappella.  I can listen to them without a piano accompaniment.  They are that gifted.

         Between Relief Society and Sacrament meeting there are usually at least two hymns that I am not familiar with.  Sometimes there are only two that I am familiar with.  And our chorister should be praised for her persistence.  I think she’s too stubborn to give us familiar. I suppose that’s a good thing.

         How awesome it is that we all given talents that we might share and learn from one another.  How great it is that there are those who take initiative to go beyond the familiar. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Glitter Should be Illegal

         Each ward has a different cleaning schedule for the building in which church meetings are attended. The church was across the street from the first house in which we lived.  Two wards met in the building.  The two wards would trade off with the cleaning the building and the upkeep of the grounds (namely shoveling snow)  A list was passed around to the members of our ward to sign up for various weeks.  It felt like our family was involved with cleaning the church 4 – 8 times during the year.

There are three wards which meet in the building which we currently attend. When we first moved into the ward we were told that each ward was assigned to clean four months out of the year.  The months were consecutive and not spread out.  Our ward would be cleaning the building each Saturday for the last four months.  I personally thought they should be spreading them out, but whatever.

In our first ward the kitchen was ALWAYS under lock and key.  Actually, a lot of rooms were.  We were never asked to clean/vacuum the library or kitchen.  But this ward keeps the kitchen open and many Saturdays there is someone cleaning in there as well as the rest of the building.  Whoever uses the kitchen is supposed to clean up after themselves.

Roland and I have been over at the church almost every Saturday that we are assigned.  We no longer clean September through December but every third month (as I highly suspect that one of the wards is not pulling its weight – of course it would be the one that we follow)  Each organization is assigned a specific week – but members are still encouraged to show up every week that they are able.

We haven’t been diligent about going every week this month and today was only our second time this month.  I took the vacuum around one side of the building and hit all the class rooms, Relief Society room, primary room and nursery (though not in that order) and found bits of glitter I think in every room – though nothing like last year.  The glitter I picked up today had been missed with the last twelve times that the vacuum was used – for the most part the floors were clean except for those bits of sparkle that would glisten at different angles.

Sister Claus was cleaning the chalk boards told me that the wrapping paper she used had blue glitter stripes.  She had wrapped them and tucked them into the suitcase of her visiting sister so that they would find their way to family members left in her home state.  She said her sister called a bit irritated that blue sparkles had doused the inside of her suitcase and every bit of clothing.  Sister Claus assured her that she was not the only recipient of the blue glitter as it continued to spread its way around every room at her house and every room in her home state.  And by the time the last piece of glitter is finally vacuumed or cleared away from whatever spot it may be, it will be time to wrap gifts again.  Let’s hope Sister Claus goes with a non-glittered wrap the next time around.

I used to be in the nursery.  The rule was that if a child wished to play with a toy that was still in the closet, she had to trade it for the one she’d just been playing with.  I wish all nursery leaders would incorporate this idea into the children.  Jenna still hasn’t learned it.  But I really don’t see the sense in having every single toy from the closet out on the floor.

The nursery leaders at present don’t seem to be bothered with having eight times more toys on the floor than children.  For I have passed it in the morning and have seen the toys spread out – even when it appears that no one is there to play with them or pick them up.

I don’t know how large the nursery is.  I wouldn’t imagine it would be any larger than when I was in (five kids tops) nor do I believe that all three rooms need to be used.  We kept two open as the other nursery leader seemed claustrophobic.  But it appears the last ward that meet has enough children that they are able to separate them into groups.  It was the first time I had seen the folding doors pulled out so that there were three separate rooms.

The last room that I did was the one over the stage – a neglected room that few people even know about.  I think it’s only my third time being in it. Our ward doesn’t use it.  But somebody obviously does.  I think it gets used as a baby sitting room by members of the ward known for not cleaning. We do have a mother’s room that is actually on the same level as all the others.  Why climb up the stairs?  And why treat the room with such disrespect?  It’s still a part of Heavenly Father’s house.  It’s like his attic (I guess).

I like the sparkly effects of glitter when it stays attached to what it’s intended for.  But it’s really annoying when it spreads and attaches itself where it doesn’t belong.  It’s almost as bad as the pink stuff used by the Cat-in-the-Hat.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Digging for the Truth

I was watching the news this morning and saw this human interest story about a horse who had been rescued from frozen waters.  It was told in a Twas the Night Before Christmas  type manner.

The way it was told seemed somewhat cute in the beginning but seemed to drag into cheesy as the reporter kept on rhyming words.  It made me think of Jane Fonda’s character in “The China Syndrome” which was released in 1979.

Kimberly Wells (said character) is sent on assignment to cover the story at the zoo featuring a birthday in honor of a residential tiger (or something like that) and would rather do hard core stories.  I don’t personally know any reporters, their dreams or ambitions, or how many indeed would rather do the hard core and investigation than those human interest stories. (If I were a reporter, I would personally like to deliver the human interest over hard core)

Kimberly Wells finds her story at a nuclear power plant.  She wants to investigate.  As the story moves forward, there seems to be a lot more cover up by the plant CEOs and employees than any investigation that is made.  Cover ups only seem to create more questions.  Not only does the reporter go to extensive lengths to find the truth, but the opposing side seems to make even greater lengths to keep it covered.

At what cost does the media go to to keeping us informed.  And why?  There are times when it seems necessary that the reporters continue sticking their noses in where it doesn’t appear to belong. One example is  Elliot Gould’s character in “Capricorn I” ..  Even after David Doyle’s character fired him, Robert Caulfield worked with even more persistance to uncover a government scandal. 

We need those persistent reporters for the most part. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (“All the President’s Men") are two reporters based on those who really did uncover the Watergate Scandal. It was the sandal that led to the resignation of Pres. Richard Nixon.

Some persistence seems rather silly and unnecessary – like Jack McGee chasing the hulk.  And the saddest part is that I think there really are reporters like that. 45 min episode here

And I suppose there are some reporters or investigators who may get in the way of police investigation.  There are some who are grateful for the updates and there are some who believe that the media is either misinformed or leaving us in the dark about certain  things.  For the most part I’m grateful for the persistence.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Truth About Santa


Almost every year since we moved to West Valley, Roland will ask, “When should we tell Jenna about Santa Clause” 

I always answer, “Tell her what?”

“There’s no such thing as Santa”

“What do you mean?”

He gives me a look.

“Roland.  I believe in Santa.  I have been Santa.  And we have been recipients of Santa a huge amount of times.  What do you mean there’s no such thing as Santa?”

“We need to tell Jenna that you and I are the ones who put the presents out.”

“Oh . . . why?”

“You don’t want her to be the only one in third, forth, fifth grade to still believe.”

“Tony is 23, 24, 25 and he still believes in Santa Clause. I’m 48, 49 . . . and I still believe.”
Another rolling of the eyes.

Media warns us about targeted homes during this time of the year.  Robbed of Christmas by thieves.  We left the house around 2:30 and did not return until after 8:30.  We had always done Christmas Eve at mom’s house.  Perhaps a few times at Patrick and Sunny’s.  But I did not spend Christmas with my sibs last year.  Each had made obligations with other people.  Roland, Jenna, Biff and I spent Christmas Eve with mom.

This year Randy took it upon himself to host the family gathering on Christmas Eve.  All three Romero boys with their wives, our granddaughter Ester, Roland, Jenna and I gathered at the home of Randy and Carrie.  We spent some time together before exchanging gifts – something we had always done with mom.

Before we left for Randy and Carrie's house I turned on the light in the backroom and plugged in the Christmas tree.  I prayed that we would not become a target of thievery.  Upon our return home we discovered the opposite.  Instead of taking (or stealing) gifts, someone had left two bags full of presents.  FULL.  I think it is the third or forth time we’ve returned home to find presents left on our door step (though the first time in this house) Santa also left this note:

I would have thought Jenna herself had done it just to prove a point.  But of course she couldn’t have.

“See daddy.  Santa is real,” she said to Roland.  
 Just moments later she asked me, “Why doesn’t daddy believe in Santa Clause?”

“I don’t know.  I have explained it to him just as I have with you.”

When Jenna was six I told her that Santa does not always wear red.  He doesn’t necessarily have a white beard or a very large belly.  Sometimes Santa is not even male nor does he always appear in the winter time.  Sometimes “Santa” may leave a sack of groceries on your doorstep in the summer or leave a coat or warm blanket for you in the fall.  Santa goes by many different names.  And he likes to remain anonymous.

Many have commercialized Christmas. Santa becomes a symbol of selling product – the commercialized Santa.  Not the Spirit of Santa – or the Spirit of Christ.  When one gives secretly. Santa is a symbol of Christ.  I sincerely believe that.

Roland and I purchased the game “Operation” and Jenna had picked out a pair of shoes that were on close out.  She said we could wrap them and put them under the tree. Those were the only two things that we had purchased for Jenna.  Now (I kid you not) there are about 30 presents under the tree just for her – at least I think they are for her.  Santa put tags on all of the wrapped items but neglected to put names on any of the tags – and so we will just have Jenna open all gifts with no names and let her divvy them out as she sees fit.

Roland’s mom has sent gifts in the past, but I recall our second year in WV there was nothing in the mail from her.  I wasn’t upset about it, but I was surprised.  As Christmas got closer, I hadn’t given it much thought.  

Biff and Tony were both living at home (Randy was on his mission) and things were tight that year.  I think we purchased three small gifts for each person.  I had placed them beneath the tree before 10:00 (first visit from Santa) 

When I awoke the next morning, there was 3-4 times the amount of presents than there had been when I went to bed.  Tony had a generous heart that year and decided that he would play Santa (2nd visit) and Biff (who had spent two weeks in August with Roland’s family) had placed gifts beneath the tree from Roland’s family and Santa (3rd visit) That year was definitely full of surprises.

We have been blessed immensely.  I hope to play Santa to others the way others have played Santa to our family.  Although when we have been the recipients our gifts seem to outweigh anything that Roland and I have done on our own.  Jenna’s going to be overwhelmed.  I know I am.  It's kind of like mom and dad stopped by to surprise us - but of course I think tangible gifts had to have come from a tangible being.  Perhaps someone related to mom and dad? 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Good Luck Getting Out . . .

I don’t know which is worse – the Saturday before Christmas or the Friday after Thanksgiving.  I don’t enjoy shopping or trying things on or waiting in line or crowds or winter or parking or all the fragrances and plants which flare up my allergies.  Before I met Roland, I always had my Christmas shopping done by September –ALWAYS
And then I met a man with a sporadic income, a greedy ex-wife, and a judicial system that sucks big time – you think we would have done better at spreading things out.  But we were struggling for our needs and so wants were ALWAYS on the back burner.

I don’t know if Roland has always been procrastinastic about Christmas shopping.  As I mentioned before, he’s got a great heart.  He is always thinking of others.  But he doesn’t spend wisely for the most part.
I opted to go shopping with him and Jenna yesterday – not that I really wanted to, but I wanted to get him a winter scarf because he asked for one – not necessarily did I particularly want him to see my purchase,.  I figured I could make my purchase while he was occupied over something else.  Fat chance of that.  As though he wouldn’t have noticed me standing in line for the duration.  In order to make a purchase, one had to stand in line.  And they were all slow-moving lines.  But I never found a scarf (and I have been looking) and so a purchase wasn't even made. 

The forecasters promised snowy weather like we had on Thursday and I thought that might keep many off the roads – which is usually the case.  I think when the weather is challenging for drivers is when Roland enjoys shopping the most.  But the weather was not near as bad as it had been Thursday or even December 3rd.  Most roads were clear – can’t say the same for the parking lots however.

My main reason for going with Roland was to keep an eye on the budget.  He wanted to make purchases within the mall.  I told him NO.  I told him to drive to K-Mart where we ended up purchasing several items – but not all.
There is one purchase he had in mind that would require a specific store.  And so we ended up at the same mall as last week.  The parking lot resembled a line for hell. I told him that although the particular item we had come for really was a necessity and not just a luxury, it could wait until after Christmas.  But he was insistent as we had already driven the distance.

First off there was a line just to get in to the parking lot.  And then there was the endless searching for a parking spot – even the ones that were farthest from the mall itself.  There were several cars that were found trapped between two others (the snow must have covered the lines when they were parked) and I’ll bet the drivers of said cars were not pleased to have to wait in order to get out (I honestly don’t think a tow truck could have gotten in to tow)


Roland dropped Jenna and me off by one of the anchor stores and said he would go find parking.  I told him he should drive either behind the mall or over by the empty Sears.  (see this post) But it seems rare for Roland to ever take me up on my parking suggestions.  

So Jenna and I walked through the door in search of a mall directory – which I know exists as Roland had just checked it out last week.  A great mesh of mall traffic was seen.  Oh, joy to the world (that’s meant to be read in the most sarcastic way) Several stores had sent salesmen out into the mall to pass out “free” samples in order to lure potential costumers in for product.  

For the first time in my life I wasn’t targeted for my hair – but rather for my skin.  Very cute guy – heartthrob for either sex.  He gave me my sample told me how amazing it is for dry skin.  Oh, wait.  He also has something for the dark circles under my eyes.  It’s not as if he had to search for them. No one has to look hard to find my dark circles.  I look like a raccoon.  And so he waves me in to demonstrate his assortment of skin products.

Okay, I must admit I was a bit turned on that this young stud was touching my face – though I would have been fine with it if it had been Roland doing the touching.  He called me to find out where I was and I gave him directions.  When he appeared, I believed the stud was more interested in Roland than me and was hoping to demonstrate products on him as well (or maybe there was just some radar detection that lets every salesman within a million mile radius now that Roland is a pushover about buying whereas I keep the money purse under lock and key)

So after he applies the dark circle cream – which I realize won’t work over night with just one application – he had me hold out my wrist to demonstrate the marvelous face conditioner that would become “baby bottom” soft if I would but invest in the product.  But “act today I can get the eye cream as a free gift.”

The skin softener definitely made a difference.  I asked if it would work on feet.  No, that needed a different product for that.  He whipped out a tube that he could also include as a “free” gift with a purchase of whatever he had just rubbed on my wrist.

I told him that I would not be able to invest until January – if at all (I’m thinking this is my third time to the mall this year – chances are very promising that I won’t be visiting as often next year) He asked if I would I really wait until January if I was told I would only have to pay 10.00 for the whole lot?  I told him I could do ten dollars.  He said it was more than that.  BIG SURPRISE!

He asked how much I thought it cost.  He had absolutely no idea how much I hate sales tactics and guessing games.  I guessed 100.00.  He said he could give it to me for an amazing cost if I promised not to tell anyone.  Oh, give me a break.  Like I am the only potential client that anyone at the store has ever received such promise.  I wasn’t going to buy product no matter how sweet his offer.  There are still several needs above the wants.

He said he could give me everything (I think there were four or five products on the line by that time) for only 49.00.  Not happening, Joe, but thanks.  I think another salesman had called him over.  I left.  Less than two minutes later my wrist felt liked it had been dipped in acid.  Did I fail to mention I have super sensitive skin?

I do think Roland would have overspent if I hadn’t been wit him.  He would have paid mall overhead prices for one thing. But it turned out, it was I that became the guilty party.  It wasn’t on cosmetics but a new bed base as we’ve been sleeping on a broken one for some time. No more tossing and turning.  Roland and I will both sleep so much better at night.  It was actually an expensive purchase (for us) but one that will be well worth it in the long run.  I’m looking forward to when it’s delivered and set up.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Killer Snow

            Shortly after we moved to West Valley, Jenna started hanging at Alley’s house.  Every once in a while Alley and her brother came over to our house, but usually Jenna went to theirs.  I don’t know why they stopped playing together.  But they haven’t been hanging around together for at least a couple of years.
Jenna and I were waiting for the bus on Tuesday morning when Alley’s mom offered to drive us to school. Her oldest attends the same junior high that Jenna will be attending.  She had already dropped him off but seemed willing to make another trip.  She said she was also willing to pick her up from school – and the junior high gets out at least an hour before the elementary school does.

So yesterday she picked Jenna up and took her to school and we picked her up last night.  Today brought the killer snow, and she was still willing to drive us. But as her children get out of school only five minutes after Jenna and the weather was awful I told her we would find another way for coming home.

Jenna had a pair of jelly shoes that she wanted to wear to the school performance today – one that I had planned to attend.  I told her to put her jelly shoes in her backpack and she could wear them to the concert but that she needed her boots on to wear to school and that she could change.   

I didn’t know whether I should just hang out at the school all day or return home for an hour and a half and attempt to catch a bus back to the school. But when Jenna got out of the car I realized she still had her jellys on and that I would have to return home for her boots (as the falling snow STILL hasn’t stopped)

The distance between Jenna’s school and our house is 10 min by car, 20 min by bus – except for snow days, which are more than an hour.  I waited for an early bus for nearly half an hour.  When I checked the time 20 minutes before her program started, I realized I would not get there on time, as it was some distance between the bus stop and the front of the school.  So I turned around and went home and figured I would return to catch a bus that would get me to the school hopefully between 12:30 and 1:00.
As I waited, I watched the news.  Top stories and breaking news were all weather related.  Airport closed.  Power poles snapped and caught on fire.  Many many many without power currently.

I boarded a bus that arrived on time.  Traffic was slow getting to the intersection.  After that the bus seemed to speed up and actually had to wait at two stops as he had arrived ahead of schedule.  I was the only passenger on the bus between my house and the school.

I was able to climb the street to her school in less than 15 minutes.  I was surprised when I walked through the school doors and noticed the clock.  School wouldn’t be out for another hour.  But she didn’t wish for me to check her out early.


As we were waiting for the bus, Jenna had to play in the snow banks, of course.  She lost a boot in the process.  I told her the bus was about to turn and she worked at tugging her foot free.  After she got to the bus stop she realized that her boots didn’t match (one was just lining) and her boot was still in the snow.  She managed to rescue it before the bus arrived – just in the nick of time.


We usually take the main road to/from school but on the return today we tried something different.  After school we took a route that required 3 transfers.  Outrageous, right?  And yet that route took less than 30 minutes.  Unbelievable!  It took the same amount of time to walk (or should I say trudge rather) as it did to ride.  We were home only an hour after school let out – instead of the 2 ½ it took with the last snowfall that lasted all day.

I actually saw more plows out on the roads last time.  I don’t think the weather issues were as severe on the 3rd of December as they are today.  Perhaps the closed roads had delayed the bus I’d been waiting for this morning.  

I shoveled the sidewalks and driveway upon my return.  A neighbor assisted with the endless task.  I hope it’s still low enough as to where Roland can get in the driveway.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda . . . Time Machine

“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.  I give unto men weaknesses that they may be humble; . . .” Ether 12:27

How many of us wish we had a time machine that we might have opportunity for do over.  If only I had made a different choice.  If only I had spent more time (and probably money) perhaps we could have found our runaway dog.  I wish I had been a more positive influence when Roland’s girls came to visit.  I wish I hadn’t left Jenna in all day kindergarten after we moved.

Regrets are demons if we allow ourselves to dwell on what could have been instead of just moving on.  Perhaps we may learn from or see growth from what it is we think we’d like to change.  Allow me to use Jenna’s kindergarten experience as an example.

The school by our first house offered two all-day kindergarten classes.  There were few parents who desired just half day.  The instructors were able to devote more time to their students and the children learned more than they would have in half day.  That is what I was used to.  That is what I wanted to continue with.

But we didn’t necessarily have that option at the second school.  The all day kindergarten program was definitely NOT the same.  I didn’t know that.  Either it hadn’t been explained to me or I just wasn’t listening or I hadn’t understood.  Nor had I prayed about my decision to put her in all day kindergarten.  But even if I had, would the results have been any different?

Jenna LOVED her first school and she tried loving her second.  But she was as a disadvantage as she was so much smarter than the other children who didn’t know how to accept Jenna.  I don’t think they were mean to her necessarily, but they certainly weren’t friendly.  Jenna felt so alone – which she would have in half day as well, but it would have been fewer hours at school and more time with me teaching her at home.

I’ve known all along that it was/is stupid to have this regret.  It has already happened.  I can’t change it.  And yet I realize that without the tragedy of how Jenna and I each felt about her education (or rather lack of) that we would most likely not be where we are today.  For without that experience I may not have searched so hard to find another school.  Nor would I have even considered another school if we were still living in our first house. She’s had many awesome opportunities with her current school that she would have missed out on with the other two. I think it was worth the four month struggle we both faced after we moved.  But it’s taken me a long time to figure it out.

Whenever I think of the apostle Peter, I wonder if he had regrets.  He made some huge errors that are recorded for the entire world to read about.  And yet, how much stronger and diligent was he at fulfilling his mission?  Did he not turn his human weaknesses into strengths?  Was he not a stronger leader after the resurrection than before Christ was crucified?

There are no time machines.  We can’t change the past.  Regret will only get in the way of our growth and happiness.  We need to move on.  We need to find our strengths.

Monday, December 16, 2013


Last year Ellen took my mom to the store to purchase three gifts.  I don't know whether Ellen suggested it or if mom had thought on her own to get her three youngest grandchildren one gift each.

When I saw them on the table I asked my mom about them.

"What are these?" I asked.

"I don't know.  I think they're Ellen's"

I didn't think they were.

I didn't see much of Ellen when I was at mom's house.  But somewhere we made a connection and I had asked if they really were hers.  She said that mom had purchased them for Jenna, Anna and Gary but she hadn't gotten around to wrapping them.

I wrapped them and tagged them and placed them under the tree.  My mom kept asking who the gifts were for and where they came from.  She didn't seem to even know that Christmas was coming up pretty soon.

She was like a kid on Christmas day.  Who knew it would be the last Christmas that we would spend in her house?  or that it would be her last Christmas on earth?

Many of us are missing her this Christmas.  Many of us our thinking about our last holiday season together.  I'm grateful for the happy memories that help us to make this season a little more pleasant.

I really do miss you Mom!