Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Morning After

I was so tired by the time I finished wrapping presents on Christmas Eve {probably truly early Christmas Morning}, I wasn't sure what exactly would get unwrapped the next morning. I was pretty sure there might even be an empty box or two that I had inadvertantly wrapped thinking I'd put something in it.

Wrapping presents was the highlight of the Christmas season when I was growing up. It was more time consuming and imaginative than buying the presents themselves! I remember thinking very hard about ways to disguise the gifts I had purchased. I seem to recall bottles of fingernail polish stuffed down empty wrapping paper tubes and then newspaper and toilet paper stuffed into both ends until it could hold no more and then wrapping it and taping it up ever so thorough. I remember using colored tapes to make pictures on the outside of the packages. I remember using caulking and cutting out all the separate parts of the pictures on the wrapping paper and making dimensional tags and cards. I remember wrapping 100 {yes 100} separate little metal cars for my nephew Lee when he was little. That might have been a birthday and not Christmas but the same principle applies. Why don't I have that kind of time now?

Oops. Off on another tangent. Back to wrapping presents on Christmas Eve . . . I was forced to scrape the recesses of the storage room looking for empty boxes for the last of the presents. Finally I was done.

And then it was Christmas morning.

Then Christmas night.

And then Christmas was over.

Then it was the morning after. Alan is a very ritualistic person in a lot of ways and his breakfast is no exception - if he has the time.

Alan's festive breakfast place setting. All ready to pour

his cereal and get going.

His cereal didn't come out like he was expecting. Is this

another version of how you can be spiritually fed or

is this truly the Breakfast of Spiritual Champions?

Now this is how breakfast is supposed to look!

Yeah, well, note to self: Don't use Alan's favorite cereal box to wrap his garments in. I guess I need to start saving Froot Loop and Fruity Pebbles boxes so he has a clue to look inside the taped up box.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Manna From Heaven

I was going to post a picture but I ate it. The subject of the picture - not the picture. REWIND

My wonderful visiting teacher brought some soup and homemade bread in for supper on Monday night. I knew she was bringing soup and I was praying it wasn't chicken noodle soup. REWIND

When I was on the outskirts of Sickland last week, looking down on the Jungles of Misery, a big, old pot of chicken noodle soup sounded wonderful. And so I made a pot or a batch or a vat full of it. And it did hit the spot. And it seemed to hit the spot for Amber on Thursday. Then Friday night hit and my nausea worsened every time I opened the fridge. Not just with the smell of the chicken noodle soup but the leftover tatortot casserole and the one or two or three-day-old steak Alan hadn't cooked for himself yet and the bran muffins. Everything that occupied the shelves of my fridge had taken on an odor all it's own and then when outside air whooshed in and forced it all out into the open in one giant ODOR, it was more than I could handle. Hence, I prayed mightily that my visiting teacher would NOT bring chicken noodle soup.  FAST FORWARD

So my wonderful visiting teacher brings some soup and homemade bread in for supper Monday night. Brave soul. The house was pitch black. She came in the basement door, gave a few hasty words of instruction and well wishes, put the food on the stove and left. The aroma of that soup was nose-ticklingly seductive. I hurriedly checked to make sure she hadn't just used some different spice or herb with her chicken noodle soup. But, no, the broth was reddish-brownish and there were a million different things floating around - celery, onions, black beans, peas {okay, maybe not all of the floaties were wonderful}, corn, potatoes, macaroni, beef, carrots. Collectively the sum total of the contents of that pan have become known as my Manna. Supper that night was very satisfying.

So, Alan ate the last of my Manna for his lunch the next day {wasn't there like a law against doing that in the wilderness? Thou shalt not eat the last bit of someone else's Manna?} Ok. I confess. He asked my permission first. And I gave it. After all, I think there was another law that said you weren't supposed to hoard Manna. Anyway, by evening I was in dire need of more of my Manna so I perused the Internet looking for a recipe that looked like it would be somewhat close to the Manna of my memory. Luckily, the first recipe I opened promised results as close as I was going to get given my limited time, ingredients and energy.

Another thing was in my favor. We were planning a feeding frenzy for work on Tuesday (12/21) and I was in charge of making a stew. I'd gotten ambitious Friday morning before I began my journey through the Jungle of Misery, Chasm of Death and the Plates of Woe {yeah I had an Ice Age Marathon one day} and put some meat in the crock pot for like ten (10) hours and then stuck it in the very back of the fridge. At the time the placement was strategic to keep Alan from thinking it was up for grabs before I got a chance to explain its purpose to him. However, I think I was psychic at the time {I often think this about myself - that I'm psychic - no, not psychotic}. Being clear in the back of the fridge with plastic wrap and a lid saved it from falling victim when the Waves of Nausea took a nosedive. Point is . . . my beef was already cooked and tender and all that stuff.

I just thought I would share my recipe for Manna. After all, if you're not interested, you can quit reading anytime. It's a free world.


by Janis


3 cups beef chunks {not that kind - the kind that's cooked and cooled and then cut into cute little square shapes}

4 quarts water or appropriate liquid {it helped that one of my quarts was some of the juice from cooking the beef}

1 quart tomatoes {diced, halved, quartered - however I happened to put them up last season - or whatever year it was I'm using from}

1/3 cup coarsely chopped red onions {more or less depending on if your husband can handle onions or not}

2 tablespoons dried parsley {age doesn't matter here, I hope, as I really had to dig to find some}

1 tablespoon beef bouillon granules

1 tablespoon Italian dressing seasoning mix {the dry, powdery substance in the little packets}

1 tablespoon Ranch dressing mix {the dry, powdery substance not the gooey stuff for dipping}

1 teaspoon celery salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 cups baby carrots, halved, thirded, quartered - you can choose

4 spears celery, sliced

1 can black beans {more or less depending on whether or not your husband can handle beans and if he really did eat the last of your Manna or not} I actually used about 1/3 of the can

4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni {I had a canister left over from Grandma Christensen's and they were huge! Kinda reminded me of my elbows with the bat wings hanging down after they [the noodles - not by elbows] were cooked. I think next time I'll maybe try some whole wheat ones - maybe they'll maintain their girlish shape a bit better}

*Everything is approximate. Nothing is exact nor will it be the same again. That's just the way it is.


1. In a large stock pot combine the beef, liquid, tomatoes, onions, dried parsley, beef bouillon, Italian dressing seasoning, Ranch dressing seasoning, celery salt, garlic powder, black pepper, baby carrots, celery, black beans, potatoes and macaroni. Yup, pretty much everything.

2. Stir it all together and bring to a boil.

3. Reduce to simmer and let cook until the vegetables are done the way you like them.

4. VERY IMPORTANT STEP:  Add an additional tablespoon of beef bouillon. Alan will tell you that's the magic ingredient in perfect Manna every time!

5. Even though the original Manna was not supposed to be saved over to the next day, this Manna is an exception. I say it's an exception because it's wet and not dry and if it fell from the sky, well, anyone would be hard pressed to collect it for even one meal once it hit the ground. This is actually - if it's possible - better the next day.

6. A handful of Oyster crackers make it even more amazing!

Now if you're ever in a quiz show and they ask you for the ingredients in Manna - well - all I can say is I would expect a small percentage of your winnings. After all . . .

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wrong Turn Taken Somewhere!

I had high hopes at the start of this Christmas Season. And, believe it or not {'not' would be the smart choice}, Alan was 100% behind me! Ladders were out, measurements measured and re-measured, and the appropriate lengths of extension cords and wiring hooks were purchased. Believe it or not, Wal-Mart was concerned with how many stores they would need to draw from to meet our needs for strings of multi-colored lights {no, we were not going to have only white lights} once I showed them our measurements and Alan's carefully drawn layouts! This was my goal:

I'm sure you can see the logic in my dreams! Totally doable, right? With Alan's help, of course. And anyone who knows him, knows how excited he gets when just the word "Christmas" is mentioned, let alone hanging lights. Kinda right up there with 'moving' and 'painting'!

But as always seems to happens to the best laid plans, mine fell off the wagon, bailed out of the plane without a parachute, jumped ship or just simply missed the boat altogether! I guess the bright side {or not as bright side} is our electricity bill is still within our budget. So instead of sitting back on our laurels and enjoying the absolutely brightest, most festive house in the neighborhood, we are the one with only the bathroom light on! Instead of spreading great joy to all who would pass by {oooh, perhaps we could have even charged a fee to pull into our driveway and enjoy the view for a moment!}, I am more concerned with the spreading of germs. My counters should be covered with confectionery creations but instead they are decorated thus:

Can I just say there should be a law against getting sick during the month of Christmas! If I were only queen!

Two weeks ago I had a touch of a migraine for a couple of days. By the end of the week, I had a frog in my throat that was totally annoying and making it sore off and on. When it got worse, Hunter thought it was hilarious when I told him I had a tickle in my throat, too, because he thought something was tickling the frog who was already in my throat and that was what was making Gramma talk funny. Monday and Tuesday I called in sick but by Wednesday nothing had gotten worse {or better} so I went to work. I had already scheduled the next two days off to get my projects done but I would have been sent home from work if I'd have tried to go in anyway. Still no voice - getting less all the time. Amber wasn't feeling well so I brought Hunter down to spend some time with me so she could get on top. Hey, I was feeling fine - I just had something in my throat tickling the frog and making me talk funny.

Then, Friday evening happened. Don't ask me how or why but that was when! I started coughing. My throat got horribly worse. I was sick in my stomach. All that continued into Saturday - getting worse as time wore on. Everyone I talked to said it was just a highly contagious virus that was going around and everyone was being sent home with Theraflu and honey-lemon tea and Fishermen's Friends throat lozenges. Alan brought it all home from the store and I started doping up. And throwing it up. Alan gave me a blessing Saturday night and I felt comfortable in my choices. By Sunday, I didn't feel comfortable in my choices, my clothes, my skin, my anything! Cutting it almost too close, I finally relented and asked Alan to take me to InstaCare over in Logan. We barely got there in time before they locked the doors. X-rays, swabs, vitals, waiting. The last time the doctor came in his comment was, "You look like you're melting". Then he pronounced, "You have pneumonia and strep throat probably started from a viral infection. You realize you barely made it through the door tonight?" In more ways than one!

He added more 'confectioneries' to my counter decorations and I did get a Bugs Bunny body decoration! I didn't realize it until the next day when I cared a little more, though. I didn't get a sucker, though. Now that I care, I'm a little disappointed.

Instead of making all the things I had cut out in my sewing rooms, I've made lots of lists - Bucket Lists. I've planned my funeral - twice. Oh, wait, I don't want a funeral. Throw that away and cross that task off my Bucket List. I've thought about catching up on my journal. Thought about reading all the books that are on my shelves that I haven't read yet and watching all my favorite movies once more. Thought about doing a marathon scripture-reading event. Thought about finishing all my unfinished projects. I've thought a lot. Didn't do a lot but I've thought a lot. Thought a lot about how I used to lay my head in Mom's lap and she would run her fingers through my hair and soothe me. Okay, so maybe I've thought a little too much.

But, tonight, I do feel more like living than I have the last few days. I still have the tickle but I think the frog is gone. And there's four more days until Christmas. And miracles really do happen! Alan even promised me he'd help me with my magnificent light project next year! {Yeah, well, so maybe I drank a little more of my codeine-laced cough syrup right before I remember him saying that}

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Week Before Christmas

As if there's not enough to worry about and think about and schedule around, Alan and I had to add another day in the mix and get married just a week before Christmas. Thirty-four years later and we still wonder at our choice of dates. Oh, well. We were young. We were in love. We didn't care. And, bottom line, school was out for a couple of weeks. It's been all uphill and downhill since then and I wouldn't have had it any other way. Well, maybe, there are a few things . . . no . . . the butterfly effect . . . I'll keep it just as it is.

Love ya, Alan. Thanks for all you do for me and how well you take care of me.

And PS - it's your own fault you're sick.

Friday, December 10, 2010


{Red lights flashing} {Siren wailing} {Air raid alarm blaring}



Consider yourselves warned!

Disclaimer:  To all you children out there - I can hear you laughing and snorting {even without my hearing aid}.

Just remember:  the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Rood Off and Other Signs of Christmas

There were lots of signs of Christmas popping up all over Saturday. The tree was lit up. There were jars of candy and ornaments lined up on the piano for the guessing games. And there were even a lot of reindeer on the loose at our house Saturday evening - all in anticipation of the family Christmas party. There were games and songs and poems and I dare say, more than our share of chocolate and sugar and treats.

Jodi was resourceful and got on the

ball and made name cards for

everyone so we all knew where to sit.

Of course, first off we fed everyone Navajo Tacos. We all function better with full bellies!

We learned about all the places Snowmen can

wear their carrot noses and . . .

. . . Reindeer can sport their red noses.



Santa Claus' elves had quit working and so he needed some help from his Reindeer to fill treat bags. All nine of our Reindeer were eager to help, too, and worked quickly as they raced to make everything fit in their bags. How Santa and his elves do it year after year is beyond us! There's definitely some magic involved.

Adam & Nellie's family (plus Layne) shared a poem that

taught us all about the true meaning of Christmas -

and we also got a bag of M&Ms!

Mariah, Jodi, Layne and Carter sang Rudolph. I think Tyler

is standing behind them being Santa but the camera didn't

get him in the picture.

Tyler recited a poem about a cold lady who swallowed some

snow and then a bunch of other stuff and finally turned

into a snowman.

And then, of course, our party wouldn't be complete without

the Four Scrooges. Should be Five Scrooges but Scott had to

work so he got out of the picture. Amber did, however, take

his hat home to him. 


And, my favorite part, we acted out the Nativity Story.

Carter was concerned about being the Innkeeper. We've never had one in the cast before but with so many kids now, we need all the roles we can get. I was explaining to him that Mary and Joseph were going to come to him while he stood behind his door and he was going to shake his head 'No', because he didn't have any room for them. He thought about that for a minute and then, in a very concerned voice, he asked, "So, am I a bad guy?" I think this was one time he didn't want to be a bad guy; besides there just aren't any bad guys in the Nativity Story! So I explained some more that he was telling them all his rooms were full but he was a good guy because he was sharing his stable with them. He seemed to be okay with that.

By the time the Wisemen were waiting for their cue, they were the only ones in the bedroom and it had quieted down somewhat. That was the point when Layne was finally able to hear that Grampa was reading the story out of the scriptures. His eyes got big as he looked up at me and frantically asked, "I have a speaking part?" "No," I answered. "Just Grampa does." His eyes rolled up as he let out a very relieved, "Whooooo!"

And the evening ended by decorating sugar cookies to eat with ice cream! Start and end a party with food - that's the Christensen Party Formula! And now, with this foundation already in place, I'm certainly ready for the Christmas season!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Planning Ahead!

Moving right along on my own personal, self-improvement course!! Right on target, I'd say!

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Agenda Lied

I get a daily agenda sent to my phone every morning. Gives me a heads up as to what lies in wait for me throughout the day. I'm such an all-important, busy person that I really rely on that agenda. Whoosh! Why, I'd  be as lost throughout my day as I am trying to find Garretts Popcorn in Chicago! A typical daily agenda reads:


9am to 6pm"

Yup. Scary, huh? Well let me tell you. My agenda lied to me today. Here's what it looked like by the end of the day:

9:15am:  Phone call from distraught mother/grandmother.

{Details: Grandma is raising her grandson because his mother was killed in an automobile accident by a drunk driver. His dad (her son) is addicted to drugs, alcohol and violence. Grandma and grandson have been staying at a hospital down south because the son/dad was in an accident and is brain dead. Grandma/mom is having to make the decision to take him off life support. How does she tell grandson whose biggest fear is that he will lose his dad just like he lost his mother?}

12:35pm:  Hugs from a happy, crying daughter/mother/grandmother.

{Details: Daughter/mother/grandmother hasn't spoken to her mother for years. She was finally able to do it today. With tears streaming down her cheeks, she couldn't wait to come out and tell me because she knew I cared and that I'd be happy for her and proud of her.}

2:00pm - 3:00pm:  Walk through offices and building trying to decide how we'd get out of the building in case of an emergency.

{Details: See below.}

3:05pm: Discover that we would all hold hands, sing "Kumbaya", and pray for the bucket truck.

{Details: See above.}

4:30pm: Listen to mother and son fight.

{Details: Wish I could tell them about my first two experiences of the day in a way that they would hear and care and appreciate the fact they have each other.}

4:55pm: Talk to mother who is in crisis.

{Details: Mother is my age and lives with her two grown boys. They've had a knock-out, drag-out fight and she didn't feel safe in her home and comes here because people care and can help her figure out solutions to her situation.}

6:06pm: Go home.

{Details: Like my next breath, I take for granted the simple phrase, "I'm going home now."}

6:15pm: Drop on my knees and thank my Heavenly Father for life, for hugs, for safety, for my family, for a floor to drop to my knees on and a roof to keep me safe.

{Details: Self explanatory.}

6:30pm: Put on my pjs and open up a bottle of Max

{Details: Need I say more????}

So grateful you're all in my life and I hope I appreciate all you give to me in love, in friendship, in example, in encouragement and in patience.

A Post of Sizeable Depth

I've decided I missed my calling in life. I should have been a sizemologist. Maybe because I live on some famous, oversized fault line. It's certainly not because I'm fascinated with quakes and their sizes and such. No, it just seems lately all around me is consumed with how much, how little or how not enough. I critisize to bring things down to size so I'm not overwhelmed or intimidated. I emphasize to blow things up in size so they are more important and are, therefore, moved higher on my priority list. Yeah, right, my priority list. The infamous 'bucket list' that is constantly being up-sized, downsized or totally re-sized and then crumpled into a tiny-sized wrinkled ball and thrown in the garbage can anyway {which, by the way, is either a 2-gallon size or a 13-gallon size accessosized with a bag of similar sized capacity}.

To be honest, this whole fantasizing actually started when I was exersizing one night. There was an adversizement. You know those things that if you add up all the time they take during your normal hour-long television show, they account for a sizeable chunk of that hour. Anywho, I was reminded of how no matter which fast food place I choose to eat at, I am asked what size I want my order. I can kid-size, man-size, king-size, up size, downsize, oversize. I mean, really, do I have to make that many choices just to eat? It doesn't even have to be about a happy-sized meal. This whole sizeableness has sizeably flowed over into my evil-sized indulgences. I can buy a box of bite-sized morsels or even a bag of mini-bite-sized morsels. I can buy a king-sized bar of chocolate. Or I can buy just the regular sized chocolate bar. But once I've seen a king-sized, the regular size just doesn't measure up anymore. And then I have to read the wrapper to find out what size a serving is and then deduce what size jeans I will have to buy to fit my up-sized thighs if I choose to eat the whole package instead of controlling my portion's size. None of the candy is near a nickel, like I remember it being when I was a pint-sized little kid, either. I once again hypothesize that, overall, they've down-sized the packaging and up-sized the cost.

Since I just self-anesthesized with peppermint candy kisses - a $2.89 size bag of bite size temptations, I can move right into clothes shopping. My self image always needs a good exorsizing afterwards which is why I choose to have the majority of my wardrobe be jeans and t-shirts. And then there's bra shopping. Talk about the total capsizing {or should I say cupsizing} of a perfectly good shopping trip. Full-sized, half-sized, life-sized, pint-sized {in my dreams}, queen-sized, ones to emphasize and others to de-emphasize, a size-up {which in my mind is a bra with heavy rubber straps to pull everything 'up' high enough so I can fasten my skirt or my pants} or how about the advertised "one size fits all"?

Trying to get a head start on the gargantuan-sized project of making 11 pairs of pajamas for Christmas - not to mention other gallon-sized ideas I have in my pint-sized brain to do in a proportionately spoon-sized amount of time. Anyway, measuring all the grandkids to see what size they fall in. Oh, my, goodness! Is it just me or do I have the oddest sized grandchildren in the world? There's not one that matches one size specifically!

"Woe is me," I size {pronounced sighs}!

And then I see people on a daily basis with giant-sized setbacks putting forth bigger than life-sized effort as they take baby-sized steps on their way to a better place - where they can cut their phobias and anxieties down into bite size, chewable portions. And I can't emphasize enough how they have helped me up-size my gratitude for the situations I face that are sized to be a perfect fit just for me!

Well, that's about the size of the explanation into my current fantasizing and hypothesizing about being a sizemologist.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Under Wing

That's what the picture is called anyway. It has become my favorite picture for Stephanie since I have no other. {I always wonder if having no memories is better or worse than having some memories.} Whichever, this is how I like to picture her. She's being cared for and comforted and protected while she waits for me. And what better hands would I want her to be in? So thankful for my knowledge of a loving Heavenly Father!

I've set some self-improvement goals this year {that's all I can give her}. Rather than wrap presents I can try and wrap myself up in important {eternal} pursuits instead of getting so wrapped up in worldly hangups. {Why is it the tape sticks so much better when I'm wrapped in cheap bland paper?}

So, anyway, Happy Birthday, Stephanie! You are in my heart always.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Gravity of the Situation

Gravity is a law; not a suggestion.

A friend tried to teach me this truth awhile ago but I've never been one to learn from others verbal explanations. I have to touch the hot stove, sit on the bench with the "Wet Paint" sign and push the button just to see what happens so I'll know what to do if I accidentally push the button in some random future moment.

This would be the moment right before I was to come to a true

understanding of the gravity of my situation, when, in my infinitely

finite wisdom, I chose to let go and 'enjoy the ride', so to speak.

This is also the moment right before the love of my life {so to speak},

in his infinitely finite wisdom, chose to interject some additional

momentum to make the ride more enjoyable.

This would be the moment right after the moment, when in my

infinitely finite wisdom, I not only chose to let go but I also chose

to shout, "Wheeeeee" as an enhancement to the ride's enjoyment.

This would also be the moment right after Jodi chose, in her

infinitely finite {and innocent} wisdom to wrap her arms around

me; erroneously assuming I was a rock, stable and secure and

sure to keep her from falling off.

This would also be the moment when my infinitely finite wisdom

was enhanced with an 'Ah-ha' moment as I understood how

my kids have felt when I chose to grab the camera to capture a

moment for posterity rather than rush to their aid. That doesn't mean

I'll stop doing it, it just means I'll have more empathy when I'm taking

their picture before I extend a helping hand.

Got the wind knocked out of me - which was a new experience. Hard to know whether to try and breathe, smile for the camera or kick the person behind the camera. I think I made a rib mad - mad enough to make me appreciate how easy Hoss, Little Joe or Ben made it look when they jumped right back on their horse after a saloon-busting fight.

Grampa's meeting with gravity was not quite as painful - well maybe just not physically painful but it might have been a little bit painful to his pride.

This would be the moment when Grampa realized,

in his infinitely finite wisdom, that just because

the "Rocket" swings around freely when the little

kids are in it, doesn't mean it will swing around

freely when the big kid on the playground gets in it.

Maybe it has something to do with where his center

of gravity is located {or NOT located}

Jodi on the Rocket.

Mariah on the Rocket

Brian looking down on the rest of us.

Brian on one of his many perches "On Top

of the World"

Reagan is now walking all over the place and has the prettiest

strawberry blonde hair I've seen!

And, in all fairness to understanding and dealing with the gravity of any given situation, I say:

Give me the eyes, the invincibility, the fearlessness, the heart and the innocence of a child and I can conquer anything!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Rest My Case

If the toilet paper in the Temple wasn't conclusive in supporting my 'disturbing' installation, Barbie certainly should be!

And, no, I'm not going to start crocheting these. Seems a little out of proportion, doesn't it? But then Barbie has issues - and causes issues - of proportionate {or disproportionate} size.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

{hmmmmm...} Can't Think of a Title

Who invented 'title' and 'subject' lines anyway? It seems a bit redundant. Not to mention the fact that most of what I write is downright difficult to figure out what it's about! Read what I write if you want to know the subject, I say!

So, anyway, I copied a bunch more of my music CDs and downloaded or uploaded - actually my mp3 player was to the side so I'm assuming I sideloaded them all onto it. That pie chart they show representing the size of your storage is amazing. Being a graphic type person, I need visual things like that. Well, the piece that represents the 'full' part of my available storage is lots larger than the 'unfull' part now. This was on Wednesday.

Wednesday was a mental health day for me. I called in sick. One of the benefits of working for someone else. Like Glenn says, "When you work for yourself, the boss always knows you're lying when you call in sick." I try not to think about how convincing my crackly, early-morning voice is. After all, I work in a mental health office. If anyone should understand about needing those type of days, they should, right???

This whole day - well, I'm about down to half of it since I used part of it to sleep in - so this half of day is stretching out before me. My sewing room is beckoning me and now that I have this huge chunk of my favorite music in my mp3 player, I'm diving in. Anticipating Joshua, Tennessee Ernie, Andy, Kenny, Placido, John, Roger, Statler, just to name a few, I plug my player into another player so I don't have to listen to it through earplugs and it sounds more like it's just coming from the radio. The music starts. I set it down and turn to get started on some of my projects. The music stops. I go to the player to diagnose the problem and my mp3 player won't work. It's shut off or down or gone to sleep or whatever and I can't get it to wake up. Now I'm frustrated. I go through the checklist of troubleshooting suggestions found on the all-knowing, omnipotent internet, and, not finding an answer there, click {multiple times with great force} the button where I can request to chat with a technician. In this case, 'chat' means 'type' but at least it's quicker than waiting for an email response and I'm really frustrated by now.

So, short story long, I get a technician. Once we get the niceties and formalities out of the way, wahlah, he has walked me through the step(s) that get it working. "What", I type, "happened? What was wrong with it?" I was thinking his answer to my question was going to be a finger pointing right at me telling me not to hook it up to that player or don't load Tennessee Ernie on with Don McClean - or at least separate them with a little Neal Diamond or John Denver or something. But no. His response? "It was just in a State that was temporary."

Well, duh! It's with me and I'm in a temporary State! I hope, anyway!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pondering the End of the Day

Morning prayers are my favorite. I always picture everyone I'm praying about and I love picturing them active and doing fun, productive things during the upcoming day. Especially my family. Morning prayers have more energy in them than night prayers. Maybe because I don't fall asleep so easily during morning prayers. But, how much energy is there in picturing people in their beds?

I was watching Tom Selleck's new show - Blue Bloods - and it gave me something more to think about in my morning prayers. If I can condense it, for an hour {actually about 40 minutes once you take out all the stupid commercials} I'm watching a day in the lives of this police family. The dad (Tom) and two sons are police officers. One of the sons is trying to make sure his wife and son aren't going to the park they think is going to be the target of a terrorist attack - he can never get a hold of them. The dad watches on short circuit tv as that same son puts himself in harms way to save another little boy and keep a lady from making a big, messy boom. You see other members of the family in potentially dangerous situations throughout the day. At the end of the day, they all get together because they're having a birthday party for one of the family members. Before they all dig into the pizza, Dad (Tom) has to say something.

He commented on how they all left that morning, planning on being back together that night to celebrate. And then he just say, "Here we are. And I'm very grateful for that." Obviously you know everyone is thinking about how easily the day could have gone differently. (I'm trying to embed the clip here but not sure it's going to work).

I think I take a lot for granted during the day, too. So, like I said, morning prayers are my favorite.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Confessions of a Homebody

"I explained to the families that the only way one can receive someone is to first be home to open the door."

That was a quote from the psychologist who has been attending to the needs of the miners who have been trapped for over two months beneath the surface of the earth in Chile. Now that rescue is imminent, tensions are rising among the family members who have stood vigil for all this time. His statement was meant to give them all a reason to take a break from the stress of waiting and watching for their loved ones. But the statement sort of rekindled a flame in me.

Jesus stands at the door and knocks. I have to be home to open the door for him.

'Home' is more than just the structure - it's the spiritual part of the structure; the guts that aren't held together with nails and wood. 'Home' is why people return to the structure, hoping someone is there to open the door.

So, I'm content to be a homebody. I'll not only leave the light on but I'll try and be there to open the door, too.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Subjective Reality

This was in the Daily Motivator and I wanted to make sure I kept it and was reminded of it. It's open to individual interpretation based on the experiences of the reader so I'm not going to comment further and risk taking away the message that is specific to whoever you are.

If you're having a difficult day, is it the day itself that's difficult? No, it is the way you perceive and interpret the events of the day that make it feel so difficult. 

Remember that you can always change your perception. You can always choose the way you interpret and respond to whatever happens in your world.

Those who make a habit of achieving great things operate within exactly the same objective reality as everyone else. What sets achievers apart is a more positive, empowering subjective reality that they create with their own perceptions.

Much of what happens in the world is out of your control. Yet all of what you do about whatever happens is yours to choose, to direct and to perform as you please.

Decide to see yourself as empowered by events, and you will naturally take empowering, effective actions. Focus your subjective reality around the values and goals that are truly meaningful to you, and through that reality you can employ those values to achieve those goals.

Look at life with a positive, purposeful perspective. And make reality work for you. -- Ralph Marston

Friday, October 8, 2010

Validation . . . I Think!

Yeah, I felt pretty well normal, hunky-dory, peachy-keen, awesomer than awesome and just plain "okay" after reading the above comic. I'm not disjointed or off-the-wall: I'm just overly adaptable to my life in general and, specifically, every little thing that happens in my life.

Please keep this newly gained knowledge in mind as it justifies not only this blog post but the majority of my posts.

I was trying to watch a particular television channel tonight. It has reruns of Criminal Minds, Without a Trace and NCIS on it so I frequent the channel's assigned frequency frequently. However, it's evidently a broadcasting company that doesn't have a whole lot of money in high places because the slightest anomaly in the weather or the atmosphere has negative effects on the quality of the picture. The screen suddenly turns into a menagerie of tiny digital squares dancing around the screen hoping to find their proper place so the viewer can actually tell what the picture is supposed to be. Kind of like the American Flag scene in Pollyanna where each girl is wrapped in a different portion of the flag and they're scrambling to get in the right order so they actually look like the flag.

Anywho, it's been stormy all week so chances of watching anything on this station has been slim pickins. Tonight was no exception. I'm a die-hard, though, and I hate to let something as inanimate, abstract and intangible as air waves win so I watch the mixed-up screen for awhile {longer than the normal person would}, hoping it will improve.

Tonight I wondered if I was watching me, though. Would I be shocked if suddenly all the little boxes found their places and the picture I was staring at was actually ME? Wow. Maybe this is what I look like when I'm out of sync with what I know I should be doing and not totally in tune with what my Heavenly Father is trying to prep me for. Do I ever come close to having all the pieces slide into their respective places at the same time?

Yeah. There have been snapshot moments where I felt like I was the Cat's Meow and that my life couldn't get any better. I need to figure out what I, personally, was doing at those times that allowed me to make sense of all the little boxy fragments floating around and actually see my life the way Heavenly Father was seeing it. Looking at the picture on the lid of the jigsaw puzzle box sort of gives me an electrical jump start when I'm stalled putting a puzzle together; reinforcing in my mind what all these scattered pieces are supposed to look like when they are joined.


When there are more little boxy picture fragments than large screen images, the sound doesn't stick around, either. So, of course, as I was watching the screen tonight, I wondered if the fragmentation I feel in my life is in direct proportion to the ability I have to hear the promptings and comfortings and soothings and warnings of the Comforter. Even having the closed caption function on doesn't help. If any words flash across the screen at all, they're a conglomeration of random letters that make no sense. I would need one of those cool decoder rings you used to be able to get in the box of Corn Flakes.

And, if the channel goes really bad, the screen will go totally black and an error message will display across the middle that says, "Digital channel signal strength is low". My signal strength is low a lot of the time. I need to figure out what or who I'm allowing to weaken the signal and mess with the quality of my reception. I always picture myself back in New Testament times and I'm like the woman who knows she just needs to touch the hem of the Savior's robe to be cured and healed and perfected. She made her way through the throng and accomplished her desire. Too often I allow myself to be pushed back {why????} allowing petty, worldly things to come between me and the tangible display of my faith.

I don't think I'm as bad as this TV channel gets when storms are brewing in the atmosphere outside. But there are storms and spotty bad weather and I lose sight of how all the pieces are supposed to fit together. I even go so far as to question if I have the right puzzle pieces in my box {or all of them for that matter} or if I have the right antenna on the roof to properly receive signals.

I'm not sure there was even a point to be made here. Just my disjointed thoughts, I guess. Again.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lessons Learned

One of my mother's many philosophies was: "Learn something new everyday". Well, I decided to share a little of what I've been learning lately {or lately learning}:

  1. I have a grandson who can pick {I mean itch} his nose AND ride his bike at the same time. {Nate & Krisy, you should be so proud!}

  2. Dieting was invented by a Narcissistic Masochist - twin brother to the Quaker who invented eating in the first place. If I choose low-cal, it's too high carb. If I choose low-carb, it's too high cholesterol.

  3. General Conference is a form of personal inspiration. Everyone hears the same speaker give the same talk but we each receive inspiration in our own way, for our own needs. There's always at least one speaker who is talking directly to me. This year it was the speaker who said: "Go to bed early!" Definitely got to work on that one now.

  4. With each new ache and pain invented by my physical body, my gratitude grows proportionate to the discomfort. There was a quote somewhere: "You can be ashamed of the bald spot or you can be grateful you have a head". I choose to be grateful I have a body and am still getting out of bed to a beautiful new morning.

  5. I am an anomaly, which, loosely translated, means black sheep, rebel spirit, road less traveled traveller - and proud of it.

  6. It is possible to crochet something multiple times, using the same pattern, and come out with multiple shapes and sizes - remotely resembling the picture on the pattern.

  7. You can now buy Life Insurance from the family mortician. Does that sound odd? Only the combination, however! So proud of you, Joe, for passing the test and getting one more credential under your belt!

  8. And, last but not least, I think I may have made salsa wine. Is it a bad thing for salsa to bubble when you stir it up and to have a bit of an alka-seltzer buzz to it?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bragging Rights

A Grandma automatically has bragging rights, right? Well I'm going to brag on Tyler today.

Today was our Ward Conference. They changed things up a bit and had a two-hour Sacrament Meeting block. This meant we only had one hour in Primary so there were no classes - everyone met together for Sharing Time and Singing Time. We have a rather small Primary room so for all of the children to meet together requires a lot of creativity for seating arrangements. The room was fairly packed by the time we started and because I play the piano, I'm at the front of the room and am able to watch what goes on.

As always, kids straggle in during the first few minutes and today was no exception. Maybe even more so because of the confusion of everyone coming to the Primary room instead of to their classes. I'm not sure if the little girl who came in is actually in Tyler's class or not but Tyler saw a situation and remedied it in a very gentlemanly way. The little girl entered the room and, before anyone else could make a decision, Tyler stood up and let the girl have his chair, then he walked to the back of the room and got another chair for himself. It was a smaller, less comfortable chair, too.

I was so proud of him! What a great young man he will be! Love you, Tyler!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Weather Forecaster

I never have been one to trust the weather men with all their fancy graphs and maps and animations on the news. They try to predict tomorrow based on man-made science and gadgets and weather stations and satellites. What about my pioneer ancestors, though? Mom used to tell me how Grandma Ward watched out her little kitchen window as storms came over the mountain, knowing the men were out in the fields on machinery. They didn't have any weather man telling them every hour, on the hour, what to expect, how to dress, and whether or not to cut and bale the hay in the north forty. There was life before weather men, I guess.

At this point, my office has lost the glow of sunshine that normally comes through the slats on the blinds. It's been replaced with a muted light. Kind of like when you play around with a photo on the computer, changing the hue or the saturation. Once I get up and open the blinds, I clearly see there's a storm brewing outside. I love to watch a good storm roll in. One with gray skies and wind and thunder and lightening and then a good cleansing rain.

I always thought the world looked so clean and refreshed afterwards. Then Alan informed me that the lightening emits nitrogen and that's what makes everything look greener. I thought it just got washed but evidently there's a scientific reason for the phenomenon. Doesn't matter to me, necessarily, because the feeling doesn't change.

Being on the 4th floor of the highest building in this thriving little metropolis has it's advantages {wish there was such a vantage point for life - guess I haven't climbed that high yet} because I not only see the storm building up but I see the blue sky pushing it through. Always blue sky somewhere. One of my favorite songs talks about bringing on the rain, "because I was thirsty anyway". Makes me remember I need the rough weather and the storms and the rain and the nitrogen so I might as well sit back and enjoy it {I was kind of thirsty}. And besides, I know someone who can calm the roughest storm.

Thank goodness.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

No Room For a Sneeze

Another of my favorite children's books. I remember reading this fable when I was a little girl. I don't know for sure why it stuck with me. Maybe it was the overall concept. Maybe at some level I was understanding mind over matter. Who knows. After unloading a trailerful of Joe and Mandy's belongings into my house, I feel like the main character in this book, too!

Basically, the old man and old woman are unhappy with the small size of their house and go to the Wise Man for advice on how to get a bigger house. Several trips to the Wise Man later, they have everything they own moved inside the walls of their 'too little' house. Exasperated, they return once more to the Wise Man, hoping for some more useful advice this time. It still takes several trips before they are able to 'realize' their bigger house. I guess you'll have to read it to discover for yourself how the Wise Man was able to get the old man and woman into a bigger house.

As I walk through my house, with several {and assorted in nature} reminders of Joe and his family in most every corner, nook and cranny, I'm amazed at how the house absorbed so much. It will be interesting to see just how much bigger my house becomes at that future date when they come and get it all. Maybe I'll go through the whole gamut of emotions this move has created all over again because then it will definitely be permanent. That should be fun!

Coolest thing, though, is I can blame it on Joe and Mandy for not being able to clean as well as I should!!! Of course, I can also blame them for the fact my house is in such a messy disarray to begin with. Wow! I could really get used to not taking any personal responsibility!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Might As Well Get It In Print

Okay, this comic doesn't fit totally but when I read it, it fit enough.

I don't know as typing it will make it any less difficult for me but . . . here goes.

Joe and Mandy are moving to Manti.

I've bawled until the early hours of the morning on several occassions. And YES I'm well aware there is no - ABSOLUTELY NONE - sympathy for me because four hours is nothing compared to distant states and totally out of the country. But that doesn't mean my heart doesn't still ache for what it feels it is losing. And that doesn't mean I can't still cater my own Pity Party!

Joe shared his thoughts that I hadn't appreciated having my grandkids all so close. I don't think he meant it the way it came across but I've been in the depths of self-loathing thinking I am now being punished because I didn't do enough to show I really did appreciate the great blessing I had. Will I ever figure out where I was lacking? Are there second chances or will I always be their long distance grandma? Wrong and warped I know but my feelings, just the same. And, given time and patience, I will process these feelings and move on. I may, at the very least, have to change some of the quotes on my blog as it seems it was some of them that spurred Joseph on to take his family and leave his {and their} comfort zone! And, it seems me babysitting for them while they went to the Temple was another clincher. What was I thinking???

HOWEVER, this is an AWESOME growth opportunity for Joseph, and for the whole family. And what mother doesn't want her children to be the best they can be at whatever good venture they choose? I pray for it every night for all my kids. I'll just have to start being more specific in the parameters from now on!

As of September 7, 2010, Joseph will be working with Neal S. Magleby & Sons Mortuary which services Richfield, Salina and Manti. They've been looking for someone to man the operations in the more northern part of their service area and Joe was the one they wanted. Since the buy-out at his current place of employment, he has been actively looking for other opportunities and this one pretty well fell in his lap.

I'm thinking it's not always instinctive for mothers and grandmothers to

know how to stay with the nest after the babies have flown away!

The kids will most definitely flourish in the small town environment and they can have more animals and enjoy more of the farm life that they have tried to have in Smithfield. And they're getting down there in time to start school with everyone else and not have it be blatently obvious that they're the 'new kids' in town.  Hunting will be easier and more convenient, too. The way everything has fallen into place proves how right the decision is for them. They were even able to sell their house within a week of putting the sign up.

And, if I were to be honest with myself, I've seen it coming. The Lord has been mindful of me in preparing me for it without telling me specifically what was around the corner. I have been able to create a beautiful bond with Mandy over the last nine months and I know it's been for a reason. I've seen firsthand Joe's dissatisfaction with his means of supporting his family and how he's turned it inward. So, now, I have the option of continuing to feel abandoned and overlooked and 'weighed, measured and found wanting' {from a Knight's Tale}, basically ignoring the foundation Heavenly Father has laid for me, or I can choose to embrace the challenges of learning a new phase of mother-in-lawhood and Grandmotherhood. I choose the latter. Hesitantly, but I still choose it.

And know that I will personally be paying the salary of several UPS or USPS {maybe both} workers from now on. I may have to buy stock in Exxon. Maybe I'll have to invest in decent web cameras so I can keep in touch that way, too. Might as well make use of this technology stuff. That way I can keep track of Mandy as she measures the kids for their Christmas pjs! My hearing is so weird that phone calls are difficult. I'm open to any suggestions for long distance Grandmothering.