Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Tradition

It's been kinda fun the last couple of years on Christmas Eve. Not only have LOML and I kept up the tradition we started when the kids were younger but Nathan has texted "Is anyone else having breakfast?" to all of us. It's a good feeling to realize there are things that can connect people together even if they're far away from each other.

Can't say for sure when this tradition started either. I was probably stressed one Christmas Eve. It probably came upon suppertime and I hadn't thought about what to fix.The kids were probably ramped up and being all selfish and fighting like happens around Christmas. I probably was ready to take drastic measures to try and pull them back to why we were actually celebrating Christmas. Whatever it was, that particular Christmas Eve we ended up having a full course breakfast spread for supper. By candlelight - every other light in the house was off except for our two candles on the table.

We talked about what Mary and Joseph had {and didn't have} on that night when Jesus was born.

The kids probably still went to bed hoping Santa would bring them all the things they wanted but the next year they remembered what we'd done and they wanted to do it again. And now, this many years later, it still connects us to whatever extent our individual circumstances allow.

This year I even found the original candles. It seems like every Christmas Eve I can never find these particular candles or even a set of red ones or even the ones we used the year before, which is rather odd, I think. I found these a month or so earlier and kept my eye on them, making mental notes every time I saw them so I'd remember come Christmas Eve. And, look at me!!! I did remember!!

So, you see, even for two old people, our quiet Christmas Eve was just right for us!

And now, these two old people have started a new tradition - wrapping the presents {pointless when you realize they're all going to get ripped open in less than 12 hours}! And watching cool Christmas movies! LOML would beg to differ as to the actual 'coolness' of the Christmas movies I put in. This year I acquired a new movie - The Little Drummer Boy. My favorite Christmas Carol and favorite little cartoon Christmas show. So, we watched that and wrapped presents. Krisy had loaned me Men in Black 3 and I rewarded LOML with that one for making it through The Little Drummer Boy. I have to admit, I got a lot more wrapping out of him during The Little Drummer Boy! And I was so busy I didn't capture the moment for LOML to prove he really does join me in this tradition.

Since I try to always give them all at least one book, I've been trying to be more conscientious and make sure to write in  them. Maybe they'll remember me.

Monday, December 3, 2012


Well, it's official. Bear River Mental Health is open in its new location. Last week we spent a stressful five days packing and moving and unpacking and putting away all our stuff. Today we could actually use phones and computers and let clients come in the doors.

The layout of my days is all different. And it will never go back to the way it was so I can't just hang in there waiting for 'normal' to return. Dangit.

One of my first calls of the day {and one more after that} was from a client who sounded horrible. She said she was really sick and I wasn't doubting it. Usually once a client says that, they start sharing details and I end up with more information than I ever wanted. This call was no different. Pretty soon she was describing just how sick she was. She was so sick that she had "vomited her teeth right down the toilet". Not sure I've ever been that sick. After the second call when she basically repeated the first call word for word, well, let's just say I had a visual that was more humorous than sympathetic.

Next was the reminder call to the guy who, only a few months ago, was running for president of the United States. Now he's working at getting his percentage of body fat down to 6% and being totally in shape. Okay, well that's not too weird. Yet. Then I got invited to watch him as a hip hop rap till you stop performer. Evidently 'they' loved him at his audition {I'm learning schizophrenics who aren't on their medications and are manic can really be quite entertaining} and so they want him to continue. And you know, he is a modern "man woman", too. What? Yup he loves to go to "Victoria's Secrets with his w-oo-man! You know what I mean?" Okay, well, thank you. We'll see you next week. Goodbye.

I guess you can change locations but not everything changes. And that's a good thing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Life's Lessons Locations - 5th in a multi-part series

Having the Primary Program today reminded me of another of Life's Lessons that I've learned. Specifically from the piano. I've mentioned my feelings about the piano before and so I'm just expanding on some of that. I'm not a professional musician by any means and know I don't use the right words or know all the ins and outs. This is just what I've learned in my life thanks to the Piano.

My reconditioned piano after it was put back together in Tremonton.

Never did really play right after that taking-apart and putting-back-together episode.

I guess I should say my earliest memories of pianos were at my Grandma's house. Most vividly, I remember my short, round Grandma swinging a broom around while chasing a mouse through the house and losing the battle when it ran behind the piano. When Grandma died and Mom got the piano, I remember finding out mice had chewed holes in the bellows and built a couple of nests under the keys. But then I also remember how cool it was when I got big enough to be able to pump the peddles hard enough so the tunes of "Does Your Bubblegum Lose Its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight" and "I Wanna Go Home" were recognizable. But then I started piano lessons and many years later I finally realize how many times I can fit a situation into a piano analogy.

So here are my observations about the similarities between life and pianos -

Let me preface it all by saying the first and foremost lesson I should pass on is: Don't quit organ/piano lessons because you think you'd be the coolest gypsy-hippie guitar playing dude. I guarantee you will regret it and you never will sing "Blowing in the Wind" as good as Peter, Paul and Mary!!!

Of course first off, you need to learn the names of the keys and where Middle C is. It's always good to have a reference point to return to when you get confused or lost in the far reaches of the keyboard. Whether it's All Cars Eat Gas or Every Good Boy Does Fine - you figure out a way to figure out where you are, where you need to be and how to get where you need to be.

And, speaking of how to get there, positioning the right fingers on the right keys makes getting there a lot simpler and smoother. If all your fingers know where they're supposed to be, it's so much easier to stay in control! When fingers are where they're supposed to be, when they're supposed to be there, it's a lot easier to get them where they need to be. Got that?

Once you start playing some meaty songs, it's apparent every piece of music consists of scales in some form or another. So don't complain about that book that is nothing but scales. Practice them anyway. Scales go up and they go down and they repeat themselves over and over sometimes. Some even go up the keyboard for a bit and then go back down the keyboard until you think you're going to run out of keys on that end of the keyboard. But you don't. They always start going back up before you hit the wood.

Practice makes perfect. Resetting the timer ahead may get you outside roller skating or catching bugs sooner but it doesn't help you learn the songs. Times and seasons for everything, right????

Sharps and Flats and Rests are all there for a reason - and not just to mess you up and cause you grief. It's amazing how much cleaner a song sounds when you remember to take all the rests that the composer put there. And the sharps and flats? Well they add variety and keep you on your toes, knowing variety is an important part to life {I mean music}.

Piano teachers tend to make you learn all the songs in a book from the front to the back. Get used to it. That way you learn all the principles you'll need when you're picking your own songs. Even then, sometimes you will still pick a song or two that's too difficult but even then, you're just adding more principles and techniques to your skills as you master the difficult songs.

And yes, just like the pioneers sometimes had to leave their pianos out on the trail to lighten their load, it is possible to leave your talents somewhere along the trail and have them either gone or severely diminished when you go back looking for them.

And a few random lessons I've also learned:

  1. Don't pay professional movers to move your piano. 

  2. Don't take your piano apart to move it erroneously thinking you'll remember where all the little bars and screws and miscellaneous stuff will fit back together {assuming you don't lose or bend the little bars and screws and miscellaneous stuff}. 

  3. Always leave the lid open. There's nothing more calming than two or three little ones pounding out the feelings of their heart!

Okay, I'm done. Or maybe I'm not. If there can be Unfinished Symphonies, surely there can be Unfinished Posts.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Doomsday Prediction

At 10:30am on Sunday, November 18, 2012, I {me and myself included} predicted that the end of the world would take place within the next five hours. Step aside Mayans and FLDS soothsayers! By all appearances, I was right on the money, too!!

I looked back while walking out of my bedroom and concluded if it didn't look like Ground Zero would look like, it certainly was a crime investigator's nightmare. Hell, it was even my nightmare! When {if} I survived and returned to reclaim this little spot I call home, my first response would be that someone had looted the place in my absence. But then I would remember...

It's the Primary Program today. That means, not only are the last twelve months of songs and practicing {or lack of practicing} crammed into the next few hours but I need to figure out what I'm going to wear.

I'll be sitting at the piano bench at the front of the chapel the whole time. I need to find something in my closet {or combine stuff from drawers and closet} that will:

  • hide the sagging parts

  • hold in the bulging parts

  • keep firm the waving parts

Hair also needs to look somewhat decent {I got halfway through straightening it before realizing my curling iron had turned off. Evidently it is only programmed to shut off after a certain amount of time. It doesn't register if it's being used or not}. Makeup needs to be applied {where are my granddaughters when I need them?} Socks need to match - as well as shoes.

I would take a picture of my room but it would be too embarrassing. Drawers were flung open. Clothes strewn from the bed to the floor to the bathroom. I thought about sending pictures to my girls of my wardrobe choices to get their opinions but don't know how they take self portrait pictures. I snoozed my "Get Dressed" alarm until I could snooze it no longer and was forced to put in my ears {and my earrings}, put on my eyes and find my rings and leave wearing the last thing I tried on

Fast forward three hours and I am forced to recant my prediction. The world did not end. Come out of your bunkers. Stop eating your MRE's. And put away your bucket toilet. Sigh.

The program went amazingly well, leaving the spirit with everyone in attendance.

My room, however, still looks like Ground Zero.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

"Can We Take a Bag Home With Us?"

It ended  up being a spontaneous weekend of family fun. Joe called a little earlier in the week, thinking he could get away and I jumped on the opportunity to have family time. The weather was awesome, too, so that made it even more enjoyable. Since Joe and Mandy have a yard that is still in the beginning stages, the leaves were a playground that captivated the majority of the kids for the better part of the afternoon/evening.

 Grampa had started cleaning up the leaves in the front yard. Fortunately he left the ones in the backyard. It didn't take long for the kids to start attacking them. They worked hard to make a big pile just to be able to scatter it a few minutes later.

Carter was at his dad's but other than him all the grandkids were in the leaves at one point or another. Of course, being the cool Grandma that I am, I had to teach Aspen and Reagan how to throw the leaves at each other. Once taught, however, they took to it with great enthusiasm.

Come Sunday morning, Brian asked if we could please let the leaves stay out there so they could play in them the next time they came. I explained that it probably wouldn't work that way - Grampa would want them cleaned up before it snowed. I jokingly offered to let him take a garbage bag full of them home. That was a mistake. Everyone's ears perked up as their eyes got wide and they grinned big and all of them were eager to accept my offer. Parents, however, kaboshed the idea.

Tyler obviously got a leaf or two in an uncomfortable spot as I couldn't get him to smile for nothing.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

I Never Realized the Return on This Investment!

Fisher Price deserves kudos. At least for the toys they created over 25 years ago. If you look on Ebay or Amazon, they're listed as "Vintage" or "Collectibles". I call them lifesavers. I always felt kids should have books, puzzles, paper and crayons and blocks, bricks or whatever to build and create with. The toys I truly regret buying are the ones that stifled the kids' creativity. Truth be known, they didn't really like them or play with those toys that much either.

Grandma Christensen had her little cardboard box of odd and end toys and blocks that the kids always played with. This grandma has a plastic tub full of Joe's old Construx sets. I am constantly amazed at the hours of entertainment they provide as well as the imagination that my grandkids have when they start creating stuff. I'm sure I broke the bank at Christmas or birthdays when I bought these sets for Joe. I'm sure there was more than once that I considered getting rid of them {perhaps when packing up to move}. I'm sure glad I've kept them around!! For all of our sanity's sake!


I need to look through all the millions of pictures on my computer and find other pictures of their creations to add to this post.

A Day of Preserving - Many Things

Preserved carrots and apples and family memories. Good memories, I hope :-}

The work actually started when Grampa planted his carrot seeds last spring. Then the watering and weeding. He picked some buckets of apples a couple of weeks ago. He dug some of the carrots today {Yeah, well, that's a story for another day}. I got off work at 1pm and that's when our work day actually began. Amber and Scott {with Aspen and Hunter} were here when I got home. Nellie and Krisy and all their boys {and Paisley} got here after the kids got off the bus. Let the fun begin!!!

The beginning of the mess

You'd think Amber starves her kids. They knew how to run the apple peeler/slicer machine {from helping her} and so they volunteered to help. Hunter would get the apple started peeling, stop and put the end of the peeling in his mouth, and eat the peeling as he peeled the apple. The most interesting part of it all was the noises he was making as he was eating. I don't even know how to spell them. Suffice it to say, he sounded like a starving orphan who was eating a meal fit for a king! There were grunts and groans and 'umms' and 'awwws' interpersed with "I love apples. I love the skins. Here Aspen. Here's some skins for you!"  Holy apple peelings!

Hunter and Aspen taking care of the apples - everything but the core, that is!

Our own version of Lady and the Tramp!

Layne likes apple skins, too! If I had only know treats could be so cheap!

And Paisley about pulled herself out of the walker backwards trying to get to the apples!

Poor little lost Aspen. She only wanted to help someone, somewhere. She carried her stool around just hoping to find a spot big enough for her to set it down and help someone make more of this awesome mess!

Nellie, Carter and Colton getting their hands in the process.

Hard work means big appetites! So then it was time for a picnic supper for all. And Spooky Buddies movie.

Garrett, Hunter, Layne, Carter, Tyler, Colton and Aspen in the front

Krisy the carrot peeler, slicer, stuffer - you name it. If you look closely, you can see her orange stained hands. But look at that smile!! 

This doesn't give credit to Amber and all her work. Sorry there was no picture of her peelingand slicing apples, making the pie filling sauce, stirring the apples in the juicer and smushing the cooked apples into sauce. someone a little distracted from the work at hand???? Actually it was Nellie that  instigated this little break but we all sucked into it for a minute or two {or longer for some}.

Ground Zero. Or at least one of the Ground Zero holes. I've always said, when the world ends, I want to be at Ground Zero. I may have changed my mind. Especially if I'm left alive to clean up the aftermath!

The beginning of the end. Sort of.

Nellie, the suds monster. Me the hard worker in the background

The boys are getting tired. Garrett's giving hugs for free.

The look of innocence???? You decide. 

Scott was a trooper. He did Amber's grocery shopping, shopped for tubing for the juicer, washed carrots, peeled Grampa's 'deformed, retarded' carrots and helped in anyway we asked.

Krisy had her orange hands full with a Paisley who didn't see the need for a nap. She only wanted to be in the middle of it all! Uncle This-is-so-Awesome finished up his day with us.

What? No picture of LOML? Hmmm. Well, we've been planning this day for a couple of weeks because I knew LOML had the day off. He even committed to having the carrots picked, washed and ready to go by the time we started our marathon. Then, last night, he informs me he's going fishing all morning. Needless to say, I was a little hurt. Once he got home from fishing, ate a leisurely lunch and after he finally got the carrots picked and washed, he pretty well sequestered himself upstairs most of the afternoon/evening watching the apple pie filling most of the night. I don't know exactly why.....????

Well, it was 2:30am when the last batch came out of the pans. The final count for the night? 58 pints of carrots, 35 pints of applesauce and 21 quarts of apple pie filling. 

It was a killer of a day but it is still fulfilling at the end of the day {or the middle of the morning} to see all the sealed bottles and know we did this! And I'll do it again next year. Oh, wait, there's still carrots and apples left for this year!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Devil's Playground

I can't say too much about this. Rocks are to me as water was to my mother. It initiates an "Oh, shit! I can't take this so I'm going back to the truck!" moment {an excerpt from an experience we had with my mom on a trip to Arizona years and years ago}.  However, it's easier to explain to the boys because of an activity a year or so ago.

One weekend when I had Tyler, Layne, Carter, Colton, and Garrett, they caught me on a weak moment and convinced me to take them and their bikes to the skate park. The skate park is a collection of cement dips and hills and plateaus for skate boarders. Those boys were fearless. When we came home, I told them I lost ten years off my life. When they asked for an explanation as to what that meant, I said, "When we went to the park, I was 55. While we were there, I was scared so bad that someone would crack their head open or break an arm or leg {or two or three or four}, by the time we got home, I was 65!" They just giggled.

So when everyone started climbing all over the rocks at Devil's Playground, they kept yelling at me to "come see". I just told them I was losing another ten years off my life. They just giggled. Again. Here's just some random pictures of everyone having a rock solid good time at Devil's Playground.

Just for the record, I have to admit it was cool seeing how the wind and weather had chiseled out crevices and holes in the rocks over millions of years.

Layne, Garrett and Grampa



Grampa playing King of the Hill

Tyler and Carter were at the top in no time.


Tyler and Carter

A closer look at Tyler and Carter


I think this is Grampa with all the boys

Tyler and Carter in the Dinosaur Egg

Yup. Tyler and Carter

Paisley getting in on the rock climbing {and eating}

Paisley loving it all, with Grampa

Layne and Garrett

Colton up high

Good thing we had our own personal Search and Rescue Commander! Sometimes it's easier to find a way up than finding a way down.



Once I talked myself into going into the rock conglomeration, this was the first thing I saw. Tell me, does this not look like an honest to goodness Nativity Scene?