Thursday, April 29, 2010

Stepping Up

I have a Daily Motivator that shows up on my home page whenever I log onto the internet.  The website is and they're written by Ralph Marston. Most of them are pretty common sense but sometimes they're like horoscopes and they just really hit the moment or the day or whatever right on the head. This is today's Motivator and I wanted to share it:

"No matter how long you've been walking north, in just a single step you can be walking south. What does it take to turn your life around? Just one step.

You are one step away from eating a healthier diet, one step away from being a better parent, one step away from improving your finances, one step away from becoming more skilled in your work, one step away from a more fulfilling relationship.

One minute from now, your worst problems can be behind you, instead of in front of you. In a single step, your best day can be yet to come, rather than long ago in the past. In an instant, your negative energy can be redirected toward making a positive difference.

Just one step can change your momentum, and start you in whatever direction you truly want to go."

Sometimes I choose to take that step and sometimes I'm pushed a little. Okay, maybe a lot. Okay maybe I'm shoved but if it gets me keeping one foot in front of the other, I guess I'll welcome the shove and look forward to a time when I recognize the opportunity to make the steps on my own.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hope Springs Eternal

It's been about a week now that work has been a bit more shocking, odd, crazy, wild, noisy, etc. than normal. While other businesses struggle, ours is thriving, so days are busier than they've been. That a mental health facility is booming is a sad sign of the times. Especially the young ones that come through our doors way too often. It's also been about a year now since a mother dropped off her 53-yr-old daughter in disgust, washing her hands of her. That was the last time she saw her in this lifetime. Been a thoughtful time for me, which means I understand more of what I'm trying to say and so, no matter how many times I proof it, I won't readily realize it if something comes across twisted or backwards so you need to blow it off more than usual.

I just have to say how thankful I am to Heavenly Father for blessing me with afflictions and difficulties and dysfunctions and bounties and mercies that He knew I could learn from and grow from and just basically handle from day to day. I'm constantly amazed at the intertwining of it all. An experience I may whine about at one point ends up teaching me a trait that helps me through a difficult time years later and I find myself blessing the very thing I whined about. So much of what I see day to day scares me and shocks me and also tenderly touches me but I'm so grateful I don't go home to some of these situations.

The blessing of having my family in close proximity is one thing I know I take for granted way too much. I know the chances are huge it won't always be that way. I know I can only speak from my own experiences and feelings (but I feel like I've seen it in the way some of the other family members act from time to time) when I say that each day and each get-together finds me re-evaluating what my role is and where exactly my place is. Weird how a person's place can actually be so fluid. I guess that's one of the reasons why you don't stake a young tree down so tight that it can't maintain some of it's flexibility. It seems like everyone takes their turn being moody, getting bullied, being the bully, backbiting, praising, supporting, criticizing, talking, not talking, cleaning up, making messes, crying, throwing tantrums, playing good together, throwing sand, fighting, mingling, helping someone smaller, laughing, teasing, helping someone bigger, getting down on the floor and playing marbles, standing aloof in the corner, etc., etc. I've decided we're not dysfunctional, we're diverse and diverse is good.

In the past, there have been a handful of gatherings where I have come away feeling like Abish in the Book of Mormon (v. 28 specifically) but, looking back I see growth and change and acceptance and, overall, I'm pretty sure we're still in the safe range on the 'normal' side of the scale. Sometimes after everyone leaves and the house is stone quiet, I feel so lost and abandoned. Other times I can't get them all out of here fast enough and I understand why my mother was eager to have us head for home, even if it meant leaving her with a huge dinner-full of dishes to do alone. I get it. When all is said and done, I hope my children, their spouses and my grandchildren all know they are loved and welcome and enjoyed and looked on with the kind of pride only a parent is allowed to have.

And I pray somewhere along the line, in the middle of all the spontaneity, the fun, the winds of change and the drama of our trek through unchartered territory, a good memory is made for someone. One of those memories that will come to mind during a dark night and be a magnetic draw back home. One of those memories that makes you start laughing to yourself and you can't really explain it to anyone because it's one of those you-would-have-had-to-have-been-there times. One of those memories that will make your stomach growl because you're so hungry for a place where you belong and are loved.

I can hope anyway.

Posted with love,

Just Me.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

First Annual Anniversary

There were a couple of reasons I started this Blahg a year ago. First, I wanted to do something that was new. Second, I saw where you could actually have your blog printed up and a book made out of it. That piqued something inside of me - the novelty of a random "Year in the Life Of" logbook. Just a different type of journal. So, technically, I should be quitting now as my first entry was April 16, 2009. However, I have to carry on just a bit longer as I didn't get the idea to put in people's birthdays until a few months into the blog so I missed Jodi's birthday last year, which means I have to continue blahging at least until May 7th. But this is Jodi's 8th Birthday, so she will be getting baptized - got to document that. Nellie will be getting married in June so I should probably get that in print, too. That event will also bring another three birthdays (December, March and April). And then Amber's baby is due in June, as well, so I can't stop short of that event. Then there will be the blessing a couple of months after that and then another exciting trip back east and then . . . oh, for heaven's sakes! I'm doomed to never finish anything!

Happy Anniversary to my Blahg!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bits & Pieces

Not sure where this is going . . . or where it came from for that matter. Pretty much, it all started when I finished the top for Amber’s baby quilt tonight. Her baby isn’t due for another two months and the quilt just needs to be tied and pekoes put on. Reagan was lucky to get her quilt when she was three months old, so you see I can improve! However, while working on these two quilts, I have learned something about myself. Actually, two things about myself:

  1. I am not a book-learner. I’m a jump-in-head-first, Papa Berenstein Bear kind of learner. I usually end up with more “that’s-how-it-shouldn’t-be-done” moments than “ah-ha” moments. 

  2. I am a multi-tasker. Oh, wait, I’ve always known that. The new thing I learned is that I am not a multi-finisher. I buy all the stuff to start multiple tasks. I start multiple tasks. I finish very few of the tasks I start. I start multiple NEW tasks. Good grief! No wonder I hate water. My entire life is spent trying to keep my head above it! Every day I get out of bed is an exercise in futility as far as keeping my head above the pool full of projects crowding around me in various stages of doneness (or un-doneness).

I actually came to this realization about myself because I needed some more room on my sewing room table. In order to get more room, I was going to have to move some things. If I was going to move some things, I decided I'd better try and organize my sewing room. If I was going to organize it, I would need to group all the projects and their supplies together. In order to do that, I would need to write a list of all the projects. Well, there’s no way that list is getting posted here! The very first thing on the list (as Nathan will attest) is a pair of camouflage pants I promised to make him and never delivered on. I don’t remember what year that promise was made in. I’m sure I bought the pattern. And the fabric. It a sure fact I won’t be able to have Nathan speak at my funeral because he won’t be able to get past the fact that I still owe him a pair of camouflage pants. Are there sewing machines in Heaven? I mean, are there sewing machines in Hell?

As my nightly rituals started, randomness (and a tad bit of the quirkies) set in. Everywhere I turned I was noticing things I needed to take pictures of so that I could make comments on them. First off, Alan went camping with the scouts so I have the entire evening to do with as I please. After awhile of doing as I please, I decide I’d best go and lock things up. It’s a good thing I decided to do that because once I got upstairs, I noticed the front door was wide open. I immediately shut the door and locked the knob, the deadbolt and the deadbolt (yes, there are two deadbolts) and then lock the chair in. A chair under each doorknob is the first clue that I am spending a night alone. I think I learned it from my mother but it doesn’t matter because it’s my obsession now. Anyhow the whole time I’m shutting and locking the door, I’m thinking to myself (obviously to myself because I’m alone), “Self, are you sure you’re locking the Boogey Man out? Or, since the door was left open for several hours, has he already come in and you’re locking him in?” Well, now, that’s a thought with an ominous answer, if it has an answer at all.

My next thought was, “If I was watching this unfold in a television show, what would I be telling me to do? Would I be on the edge of my seat hoping I could lock the doors faster or would I be screaming warnings to the stupid woman who did not seem to realize that an unattended, open door could mean only one thing - someone else was in the house?”

So, to appease the nagging voices in my head, I begin a search of the upstairs, trying to remember if I had heard any noise that was strange or out of the ordinary. Well, that’s pretty hard to remember because I’ve always joked about the ghosts I hear in this house. And they’re usually upstairs when I hear them so I would have just subconsciously dismissed any creaking floorboard or flushing toilet or dragging of the maimed left foot or rattling of chains as “My Ghost”. I search anyway, turning on all the lights as I look behind doors and in closets. I won’t look under the beds though. The Boogey Man can hide under there all he wants. When I was little I always dreamed of snakes and reaching hands that lived under beds and sofas and chairs and tables and waited for me to walk by close enough so they could reach out and grab my ankle. Snakes were the worst, though, because they could slither under closed doors. Okay, I gotta stop. I’m alone tonight and I going to creep myself out.

Okay, so, I’m searching the rooms and I turn on the light in Grampa’s Fishing Room. Not sure why we call it that except it’s Grampa’s and it’s loaded with fishing knick-knacks and pictures of fish hang all over the walls and thought-provoking fishing quotes are placed randomly about. And this is what I see: 
All of a sudden I feel like I have long golden locks of curls and can smell porridge cooking and am looking over my shoulder, listening for a “Fee-fi-fo-fum”…. Oh, wait, that’s a different story. At least I had a good laugh there in the doorway all by myself. I think I was by myself. Like I said, I didn’t look under the beds.

I guess I can never say Alan doesn't look out for me and take care of me, either. They have a new product line they're selling at the store this year and part of it is an ointment. Supposedly it will relieve joint pain and other pain caused by arthritis. Alan's gullible. I'm a skeptic. The main ingredient of this ointment comes from Tahitian Noni, which I think he said is a fruit. I've gotta eat my words here, though, because for some reason, the ointment does work. So, I now smell like a Noni bush. For those of you who know Alan, you will also realize that he has now become the Tahitian Noni salesman's best friend. One day a large box comes to the house addressed to Alan. Later that night he comes into me bearing gifts:

Yes, the salesman has sent him four (4) large bottles of Noni Juice, which in the multi-level marketing world is a little bit pricey. However, Alan tells me these four bottles are just for me. The salesman has promised Alan all the little woman's ailments will go away by drinking just one (1) ounce of this elixer before every meal until the four bottles are gone. Of course, at that point, I'll be addicted and will have to get a second or third job to support the Noni habit (since my first job supports my black juice habit). However, does Stepford Wives comes to anyone's mind but mine?

I finally broke down tonight, though, and drank my first ounce. It didn't taste near as nasty as it smelled and I've only thought about going and putting Alan's slippers by his La-Z-Boy (which would be the Papa Chair in the previous photo) one time. And I caught myself before I made it all the way upstairs. Good thing, too, because Alan doesn't have any slippers!

Now, I have some questions. Mostly inane but questions, just the same. If you have the answers, I can’t offer a reward, but I can certainly give my gratitude and you could sleep better at nights knowing I wasn’t tossing and turning under the weight of all these unknowns.

1.  If they refer to ‘packing the kitchen sink’ when they mean you packed everything, why aren’t kitchen sinks big enough to hold all the dirty dishes? If the sink would hold the dirty dishes, I wouldn’t see them and therefore wouldn’t feel the nagging need to do them.

2.  Who do I have to talk to, how many signatures does my petition need, do get popcorn made the national anytime food? The way I make it, it isn’t buttered, just salted a bit with butter salt and I cook it in olive oil, which is healthier than when I was growing up. Back then it was cooked in vegetable oil and slathered in melted butter (and not the water-based oleo we use today). Popcorn in the big silver bowl with embossed clumps of grapes all around the rim together with tall glasses of ice water was the TV-watching treat of all time. We could make it through Bonanza, The Big Valley, The Rifleman, Gunsmoke, The Dean Martin Show, The Smother Brothers Hour, Carol Burnett and, of course, The Lawrence Welk Show. And the old maids left in the bottom of the bowl, coated in the remaining melted butter were to die for - and fight for. I don't own nor will I use a hot air popper because there are hardly any old maids left. And, what's more fun than walking back into the kitchen during a commercial expecting to find the popcorn finished only to realize the lid was left off the popper and white kernels are scattered on the cupboard and floor and spraying out of the still working popper! So, please, let me know what the procedure is to nationalize this popped best of all foods.

3.  Why was the world so anxious to get rid of pop bottles? That was one of my many memories of going to my grandma’s in Cherry Creek. We’d stop at Lamb’s Service Station, which was about 15-20 miles away and get a bottle of Nehi pop out of a machine or one of those chest fridges. I’d have it drunk by the time we got there (I don’t think it was even a 12 ounce bottle back then). For the rest of our stay at Grandma’s the empty pop bottle would roll around the floor of the car until we returned it to Lamb's on our way home. That way we didn’t have to pay the deposit on it. Golly - I’ve forgotten what my question was….oh, yeah, why did we get rid of bottles if someone is now making a million by only manufacturing the top part of the bottle and making me buy it so I can turn my can of pop back into a bottle? If it’s not broken, why did we try fixing it?

4.  How many knives does a person have to have to be able to have at least one of them be sharp enough to cut a wet noodle? And why do I keep this whole drawer full of knives when, in reality, there’s only about six or eight that actually work?

5.  Now, for your preschool readiness test: Is this a picture of a pair? (Yes) A pair is ‘two’ and this is definitely a picture of ‘two’ earrings. Now, the tricky part: Is this a matching pair? (No) To 'match', two things must be the same and these definitely are not the same. And, why would someone buy a pair of earrings that doesn’t match, you might ask. Well, somebody didn’t. Somebody bought two separate pairs of earrings on two separate occasions. And somebody has worn the matching pairs of earrings on separate occasions. Now, you might ask yourself, how does somebody put in two matching earrings in the morning and yet only take one earring out when the day is over. Don’t ask me for the answer to that one! I’m the one with the questions, remember? We're not talking tiny little pearl earrings, either. I should have put a ruler up to them when I took the picture. Trust me, though, they’re of significant size (give me the 70’s back anytime and I’d be just groovy). The next part of the question I don't like to ask myself is, “Exactly what part of the day did I lose one of these significantly large earrings and how long have I only had one earring in?” Now that the Fashion Nazi doesn't live at my house, I have no way of knowing these things.

6.  And, in closing, all my chairs are placed under the doorknobs. But if Joe can kick this door in, knocking half of the deadbolt out (does that mean I'm left with a 'dead' or a 'bolt'?) and taking down part of the door jamb when he was still a teenager, and Nellie could take out half of the repaired deadbolt with part of the door molding still attached several years later, and if it remains only half of a deadbolt to this day, just how safe am I really? I guess I'm either 'dead' or I should 'bolt' while the bolting is good. Maybe I really should go look under the beds. Hmmmm. No.

So, here we are, forever later (because, once again, I have no internet access). Oh, wait, I just looked and it's working now. Yeehaw!!! Now I just have to cut and paste (which is actually two things and I already pointed out how well I can multi-task!) And I keep burping Noni Juice so, on that note, I’m going to go see if I can finish something else before the clock strikes. . . whatever the next thing is it's going to reach out and strike. Might as well do something, since now I’ve missed my ritual watching of Perry Mason, I Love Lucy and My Three Sons. Oh, well.

May you have more color than Perry; not be ruled ‘incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial’; not be as crazy as Lucy or as perfect as the Douglas Family!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Forsythia Bushes and Robins

I had time to kill at work and was thinking about the possibility that it might actually be spring soon (ha, ha) and how much I love it when things start to grow and come alive. This, as I've stated before, should be the New Year's time. I remember sitting on our porch in Deseret when spring hit and the life could be felt in the air - tractors going up and down the road, gardens being planted and lawns starting to green up. I basked in it. I love forsythia bushes for that reason. Like the robin's red breast, they're one of the first color splashes signifying an awakening of life. Yes, Alan, I would love a forsythia bush. And so I was looking on-line at various bushes and trees and came across the instructions for planting/transplanting trees.

Did you know, young trees should be able to support their own weight? At first I hypothetically asked no one in particular, "Define 'young', please."

My mind's eye envisioned newborn horses and cows and other animals as they stumble around, trying to support their weight so quickly after being born and then I translated that image into a small, weak sapling being blown every which way in the wind.

An exception to a 'young' tree being able to support its own weight would be a 'young' tree that has been transplanted in preparation to grow in another area. Oftentimes these trees will need additional time to reestablish themselves and return to the stage they were at in the growth cycle before being moved.

Once a tree is planted, it will concentrate its energy on standing upright. (Don't we all???) If it is unable to do so on it's own, you may find you have to stake a tree, supporting it as it gains strength for itself. (I'm thinking here I'd just tie a good tight, sturdy knot of rope from the tree to the closest stable, secure, cemented-in-place object.) However, there were some more specific (and gentle) guidelines for supporting a growing tree. I've paraphrased some of what I learned:

1. Only stake the tree long enough for it to be able stand on its own. Sometimes re-staking may be necessary, especially if strong winds or extreme storms have effected the growing tree. (And, I suppose, if a mis-stake happens, fix it as quickly as possible) [I totally just made that one up in case you couldn't tell]

2. Stakes should not be too tight - there should be room for the tree to sway in the wind. The tree needs to maintain its flexibility so as not to snap in the wind.

3. Stakes should not be too loose - the tree should not rub against the stakes. Wearing off the bark in this manner allows dis-ease to occur and more concentrated care will need to be given in order to keep the tree thriving.

4. Stakes should be buried deep enough underground themselves so as to provide ample support.

Now all you have to do is remember that it takes time for newly planted trees to adjust to their new surroundings. They must be supported, watered, fertilized and tended to as needed. Each individual tree will vary as to the care and attention necessary to grow into a thriving, stable tree.

Well, after reading that information, I couldn't help but think how grateful I am that my Heavenly Father knew all this before I was a struggling sapling - heck, before I was even a seed. I'm so glad He put us in families for support - not too tight, not too loose - to help us gain strength for ourselves each time we find ourselves re-transplanted. I've sure found myself transplanted in areas I wasn't planning on when I was a little twig but Heavenly Father has never left me without what I needed to grow. He's put resources close by for watering, fertilization and, of couse, the Son's Light is always there to warm me up. My family is my life and I don't know what I would have done without their support. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly and easily we seem to trade places - sometimes I'm the tree and other times I'm a supporting stake. I certainly hope I'm planted deep enough to provide ample strength and stability to anyone who needs it at the time.

Maybe I'll get a forsythia bush and maybe I won't but I am content knowing I'm surrounded by the most beautifully diversified orchard I could ever hope for.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I Didn't See This Coming!

I should have. The light should have blinded me right after Mariah invited me over to watch her soccer game last year. But, no, I was too dense to understand the signs or read the writing on the wall. No matter. I have officially gone from being an empty nester to a ground-sitting; cheering; picture-snapping sports-spectating Grandma. A lot of life skills can be learned by being a member of a team so I'm not opposed to my grandkids playing sports. It was just the suddeness of it all.

 It was freezing cold for Tyler's game at 9:30 this morning. The wind was blowing and it had to be at least 10° below zero. At least. Fortunately Tyler was able to keep warm by running around and wearing a coat. After he thought to zip his coat up, that is.
By Carter's game at 1:00pm, it was better weather. Thank goodness! Carter's coach plays right on the field with them and teaches them as they're playing. I imagine he's got a much better perspective out there in the middle with his team rather than standing on the sidelines and yelling in. However, they've got to come up with a nickname or something for Carter. There's two Carters on his team and today there was at least one on the other team. So they all get that many sets of instructions and have to figure out which instructions were actually meant for them. Nellie yelled to Carter at one point and there were at least three little boys' heads (as well as a parent or two) that turned her direction.

Both Tyler and Carter saw some action and also saw some down time. If I remember right, Carter has run right out of his shoe in both the games I've watched. He's tying it with about three double knots now! Tyler spent a lot of time running backwards but I didn't get any pictures of that and I kept my camera focused on both him and Carter waiting for one of them to start picking his nose or scratching his butt (especially when playing goalie) but I wasn't able to get any 1st-Date-Nightmare pictures today. Maybe another game!

There was a time when I ran alongside my kids, trying to keep up and teach them the rules of the game and steer them, keeping them in bounds as much as possible. Not exactly sure when I was officially banished to the sidelines but it's not easy to admit that all I can do now is cheer and support and snap pictures (and provide a blanket or two for comfort if needed). But, no matter, I'll be the best Sidelined Sally I know how to be! And to prove it, I'll show you the chewed off fingernails, hoarse voice and pile of pictures anytime. Not to mention you can listen as my worn out knees crackle and creak from jumping up and down to cheer to dropping them, bended, to the ground.

I hope these kids all have good coaches close by whenever there's a time out or an out-of-bounds play. I hope they are willing to strain hard to hear the instructions that are given specifically to them. I hope they study the rule books and try their hardest to play by those rules. I pray they'll always be good sports, humble losers, and grateful winners. And when they go running to kick the ball their hardest and miss it, landing on their cute little bottoms, I hope they find something humorous in that and chuckle as they pick themselves up and brush off the dirt and grass and possibly mud.

And I also pray they will always know, no matter where I am, no matter which game they're playing or on what field, this old Grandma cheers for them with all her heart and soul and creaky knees!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Springing Back Into Winter!

Perhaps the snow made the Easter eggs easier to find but it seemed like a contradiction of terms overall.

Fun Easter Weekend with all the kids coming at some point or another, too. And what a great General Conference! Seemed like there was a lot of hype about people anticipating stupendous, earth shattering counsel from our leaders and yet most of the talks (as I recall) were in regards to Jesus and the Atonement and families. Not earth shattering or new but I don't think there could have been any two more applicable topics that could have been addressed and reinforced.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Oh, Great. She's Had Another Ah-Ha Moment.

There is nothing for you to go back and live over, or fix, or feel regret about now. Every part of your life has unfolded just right. And so --now -- knowing all that you know from where you now stand, now what do you want? The answers are now coming forth to you. Go forth in joy, and get on with it.  --Abraham

When I was in college, I took a pattern design class the last real semester I was in the Home Economics Department and the first semester after we were married. It's history by now that Nathan was a honeymoon baby so by the time school started up again after Christmas break and all the basic learning materials were covered, my body was starting to change. Of course, in this pattern design class, I was supposed to be learning how to design a pattern of my own creation. As it turned out, it was also supposed to be a pattern that could be constructed to fit -- you guessed it -- none other than me. Well every day I would attend class, which I believe was three times a week, my measurements had changed and I would have to start over designing the pattern. When I realized I was falling behind because I couldn't get past the actual making of the pattern, I went to the teacher with my dilemma and it was decided I would just have to design a top with a yoke and the body of the blouse would basically hang straight down from there, rather than trying to fit the rest of my constantly transitioning body. So, I probably didn't learn as much in that class as I could have had I not been pregnant. One thing I do remember learning is the concept that it is pretty well impossible to alter or adjust only one part of the pattern. Making one adjustment always affects another area, either positively/negatively or directly/indirectly. I was at work the other day when I realized the full blown concept of that.

No drumroll is necessary for this because I'm sure everyone else has already grasped it and moved on. However, this is me we're talking about. I know that the choices I have made have put me where I am today and made me who I am. But I hadn't wrapped my head around that entire process until the other day when I realized that the choices of people close to me or that I have - even ever so briefly - come in contact with have also put me where I am today and made me who I am. I was talking to somebody here and they referred to my line of thinking as the "Butterfly Effect" and I'd never thought of that really. But no one has entered my life without leaving me a little changed. How that change is manifested is where my choices come into play, I guess.

The people here where I work have all had an impact on how I feel, how I see things, the speed at which I now judge. But I wouldn't have been as open to them had it not been for events and people who entered my life years ago. And I'm sure in a few years I'll be facing a situation where what I'm going through today will influence how I choose to behave then.

Dart here, tuck there means added length somewhere else.