12.29.2011

Gotta Love These Two Little GIrls


Two days after Christmas...

the doorbell rings in the late afternoon...

there stand Riley and Brynn...

S.I.N.G.I.N.G....

"We Wish You a Merry Christmas!"

Riley explained,
"We just wanted to bring some Christmas spirit to the neighborhood."

Ahhhhhhhh, they did just that!

12.26.2011

Merry Christmas 2011


A traditional Christmas dinner of turkey/ham, mashed potatoes, beans, dressing, rolls. 

Joining us this year for the celebration were Dr. Allen Sun and his 15 year old daughter, Cindy, from Guangzhou, China.

It's been fun to share Christmas traditions with people who know very little about the origins and traditions of this most significant holiday.

12.24.2011

A Visitor Better Than Santa!

.

Oh, I love my family and I love it when family gets together...nothing like it in the world....

so it was a fun surprise when my youngest brother from Texas/Michigan said he was dropping in for a short visit.

 He was in Las Vegas meeting up with some of his children, and he and his awesome wife drove up to say hello.  Oh, I love that guy; he's Mr. Personality - Mr. Nice Guy....and he genuinely is.

Three of his children, one daughter-in-law, a nephew and family from Boulder City, and Jenni, joined in the fun.  Oh, I LOVE my family!

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the gift of family; I'm grateful.

we sang, laughed, ate, told stories, sang some more, and then POOF, it was time for everyone to depart...

12.23.2011

NOT Made in America

In just a few hours, our Chinese visitors will arrive:

Dr. Allen Sun and his 14 year-old daughter, Cindy.

Unfortunately,  dear wonderful Lily (wife/mother) is staying in China while Allen and Cindy study here in America for one year.

Since they will be here for Christmas, we wanted to get them some Christmas gifts.

Our Goal:

Buy Products MADE IN AMERICA!

End result; very dismal indeed.

It seems EVERyThiNG is made in CHINA...and how ridiculous is that to give gifts to our Chinese visitors that were made in THEIR country!

Anyway, it makes me sad. 

I want to support America.  I want to buy American-made products. 

Maybe, sometime in the future, we will be back to labels which read:
MADE IN AMERICA!

I hope so.

You've Got Mail!

I love to hear from our Chinese students; here's a letter I just received from Elaine...it made me totally smile.  She referred to last year when I taught them about Christmas caroling.  We went outside to sing to the students as they were heading home from classes.  Fun times indeed!

Also, she refers to Allen as handsome, which he is, but my students always commented on how handsome he was.  That makes me smile even more. 

Oh, Elaine, and all you other 400 students that we taught over the course of the year, you have left a lasting impact on my life!



Dear Mrs. Hackworth:
Merry Christmas!
Sorry for writing to you so late. But the truth is that each of us misses you very much. I think you must feel the same.
Christmas is coming; I still remember the last year you spend your day in china. How time flies, right? We think of the day you let us sing jingle bells on the pathway of our school. We still remember you taught us how to use the elf. (Laughing…) All of these memories are so sweet. Thank you for bringing us such an unforgettable year. We would treasure what you have taught us forever.
Now we all are preparing for the final exam now. We really miss your classes, your funny talks as well as your final test. We have so much that we want to talk to you. But maybe next time we can talk more.
Wish you and handsome Allen merry Christmas again! And please give my best regards for your family.
Best wishes!
Elaine


note: this picture below is not the caroling from Elaine's class...this picture - from a student - was from another class (a very big class) when we went Christmas caroling down the hall to the technicians.  It's just an example of how I taught them about Christmas caroling.....



12.22.2011

From My Inbox...

Hello, dear Lingling! It has been one year that you had return to US. We all miss you and Christmas is coming noon, I think you have planned a funny holiday! Merry Christmas!
I feel very sad resently becauce I failed my IELTS test again and again, I feel disappointed and lose heart. In this New Year, I have to prepare the test the third time, I don't know whether I can pass, but I really want to make my parents happy. Last mounth, I spent all the mounth to prepare the test, I was confident but I still failed. I want to get 6 marks, but I always get 5 marks, I don't know how I should do. I want to listen to you.
yours,
Iris
 
This letter made my heart ache.
 
Oh, how our dear students want to pass this challenging test which means they can apply to come to America.
 
But, do you see WHY she wants it so badly......
I really want to make my parents happy.
 
So many of our students wanted things in life...not for THEM, but for their parents. 
 
What a contrast between those students and many American students whose main concern is THEMSELVES!
 
I want to scoop Iris up, hug her, and tell her what an incredible person she is.  Her worth does NOT depend on her passing a test! 
 
She is such an amazing person.  She gave an oral presentation once about her mother having a second child.  I was amazed, stunned, inspired, and awed by her mother's bravery in the face of government disapproval for having a second child.  I was amazed and inspired by Iris' concern for her little sister, as Iris realized that she must be in charge and help her little sister learn and grow.
 
Oh, dear Iris, if I could, I would so want to help you pass your test. 
 
But, please know this, even if you don't pass; even if you never have that opportunity to come to America - you are an incredible person.  You have worth and value far beyond a score on a test.  And no score can take that away from you.
 

12.18.2011

I Refuse....

"to let anyone or anything get me upset this Christmas season," SHE explained on a sunny afternoon.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Well, here's an example.  I was driving behind an elderly gentleman in a 40 MPH zone, and he was going - maybe 10 at top speed.  Normally, this would have irritated the heck out of me, but I had decided NOTHING WOULD UPSET me.  So, I smiled and thought to myself about him.  'Good for him...he's not in a big hurry like the rest of us.  How great is that?'

"Then I was in a store and these tweens were acting all silly and obnoxious.  Again, this usually would have made me so annoyed at their behaviour.  But, I smiled at them.  I thought of me at that age...it's such an exciting time.  And, I thought, 'Youth is so fleeting...you just go ahead and act youthful....'

"Eating lunch at a restaurant one day, I had a waitress who was the most rude I have ever had.  She was obnoxious, curt, and ornery.  Ordinarily, I would have treated her the same way.  But I held my tongue and smiled at her realizing she has a very challenging job...you simply cannot please everyone!"

"Wow, totally revolutionary," I said in sort of mock humour. 

SHE told me about another incident where an old lady was trying to fill out paper work....the line became longer behind the elderly lady, but SHE smiled to herself and thought it was so great the lady could be out and about doing things at her point in life.

"People are always talking about PEACE and JOY at Christmas, then they behave as though they don't really have those feelings in their hearts.  I decided that I WOULD have those feelings, no matter what happened; red lights, slow-moving shopping lines, rude waitresses, obnoxious shoppers.  I WILL NOT let others dampen my feelings of PEACE and JOY this year!"

As I drove away, I thought,

"Perhaps there really COULD/WOULD be peace on earth, if we all behaved as SHE has decided to."

12.15.2011

The High Cost of Healthy Eating

Jr Bacon Burger at Karl's Jr. - $1.29
Small Bag of Clementine Oranges - $6.99

Litre of Soda - $1.29
Gallon of Milk - $3.95

Taco at Taco Time - $1.29
Salmon per pound at Costco - $11.99

Bag of potato chips - $2.59
Five Pound bag of potatoes - $4.99

It's no wonder we are all morbidly obese...the price of healthy food is out of sight.

And, sadly, it's not the growers/workers who get that money. 

It's a challenge to eat healthy.

It's even more of a challenge to pay for healthy eating.



12.12.2011

The Honesty nonDILEMMA

Everyone loved the music SHE had so carefully put together.

So, when BJ asked for a copy of the CD, I willingly gave it to her and told BJ to make herself a copy.

Later, when telling HER about it, SHE asked me if I felt okay about sharing the music that SHE had paid for, and that artists earn their income from. 

I was embarrassed, ashamed, awkward, and realized I had done a dumb thing.

Of course, I should not share the music.  So, I called BJ to tell her my feelings and to tell her that I did not feel comfortable in giving her the CD.  No answer at her end.

Ten minutes later, BJ showed up at my door.  She had not heard my phone message.  And, she was holding the orignal CD and 6 copies she had made for me to share with others.

AWKWARD,  because she was so thoughtful to make the CD's.

AWKWARD, because I had to tell her I had been careless about sharing it in the first place.

AWKWARD, because I know better. 

I just spent one year in a land where they STEAL music, CDs, movies, ideas, even store fronts.  And, I thought it was awful for the people in that country to so blantantly steal.  Now, I had just done the same thing.

I explained to BJ my feelings; told her I thought she was thoughtful, I would pay for the cost of making the CDs, but I didn't feel comfortable accepting or using them.

Oh, BJ was so gracious and she undertsood.

Truthfully, it's not always to be honest. but it should be.

The Sing Along

Her name was Aleene.  Oh, she was a fun one!

She told me how she had insisted that all seven of her children (6 boys, 1 girl) learn to play the organ and piano.

Every Christmas in her home in the midwest, she hosted all the neighbors for a singalong.  They would sing for one hour, then she sent them out the door with a popcorn ball.

I loved the idea.  So, I told Jenni about it.  She has been doing it for five years or so.

We have only done it twice.

It's great fun - even for the heistant neighbors; they had a great time.  Why, Bobbie Jo and Terry even got up and danced in the interlude of one fun song!

I don't make popcorn balls, I ask everyone to bring a goodie to share, and then they can take a plate of goodies home with them.

Jenni compiled the songs on a CD and she typed all the words so every person could have a copy. I borrowed those from her. 

So, we sang; some better than others. This year's songs were great; a nice variety of funky, fun, religious, old, new...thanks, Jenni for the great CD.  Everyone LOVED the music!

So, here's how it played out this year:






Thanks, Aleene Dickerson, for that great idea you gave me those many many years ago.  I think of you every Christmas. 

And, it's always a great memory!

12.10.2011

Remembering A Christmas Past

There were three little children in our family at the time.

We had hired a babysitter, something we could rarely afford to do.

We drove 30 miles to the big city - Idaho Falls - to go Christmas shopping, something we could rarely afford to do.

And, we ate out - just the two of us, something we rarely did.

I don't remember what the boys wanted, but Jenni wanted a Mrs. Beasley talking doll from a television show called Family Affair. 

We found the doll, and along with our other purchases, left them in the trunk of the car, so little prying eyes wouldn't see the surprises awaiting them before Christmas morning.

Christmas Eve - I was as excited as those three adorable little children.

After they had finally been tucked in bed, we went out to the car - no garage in those early days of living in frozen wonderland - and hauled the packages in.

We placed the Mrs. Beasley doll front and center under the tree.  Just for fun, I pulled the little string to hear Mrs. Beasley talk. 

To my horror, Mrs. Beasley sounded like a 99-year-old-bass singer in an old folks choir.  The voice eminating from the adorable doll was anything BUT adorable.  It was s-l-o-w and extremely l-o-w!  Because you see, it was frozen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was sick, I was in a panic, I was sad for my dear little daughter. 

Mrs. Beasley with a man's voice - how could that be?

RAH thought her voice would warm up in time for the early morning festivities, but I wasn't so sure.

Christmas morning arrived and those three little tykes were up early, eager to run to the living room and see what "Santa brought."  "Well," I thought to myself, "he brought a MRS. Beasley doll that sounds like a MR. GRINCH!"

As it turns out, RAH was absolutely right.  Mrs. Beasley was now sounding just like she should....Jenni was ecstatic.  It was a picture-perfect Christmas morning.

Santa had indeed, pulled through once again!

12.09.2011

Pardon Me If I Brag....

but I just beat SANTA:

He has a very good excuse, however. 

After all, it is Christmas, he is busy making toys for girls and boys.

But, I do feel a sort of victory that I was able to achieve victory over a person of his reknown!

12.08.2011

Forgive Me When I Whine....

"Oh, it's dark, cold....

the bed is cozy, warm.

I don't WANT to get up and exercise (even if it is in the comfort of my own home!)

I HATE to exercise."

Then, a little voice whispered:

"but, at least you CAN get up!

Sylvia would love that privilege/blessing.  Sylvia would love to freely move her arms, legs, hands, feet."

Suddenly, getting up to exercise didn't seem nearly so bad after all.

Once again, I was humbled.

Forgive me when I whine...I have two feet...the world is mine!

Breakfast Anyone....ewwwww Gross!

Many mornings, we have a delicious healthy smoothie for breakfast...

Today's included:
banana
apple
Kiwi
pear
Blueberries
Spinach
Flax seed
Whey Protein
Low-fat yogurt
Almond Milk

UMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM, YUM...

except that the blender broke! 

Thus, the normally delicious drink looked like this after I tried mixing it with the hand mixer:
meaning it was just not as tasty as usual. 

Okay, it was actually pretty awful trying to chew up the spinach and kiwi seeds and
globs of banana or apple while drinking. 

New blender parts are on their way! 

12.07.2011

Addiction

I almost missed my plane because of it!

Alec Baldwin got kicked off a plane because of it!
Article here:


Oh, it's an addicting addiction:

12.06.2011

Something to Think About

It was an editorial in the newspaper, and it grabbed my attention that day. 

And, it has changed the way I react to red lights.

The author was telling about the frenzied, harried lives we lead.  But she was recalling a lesson from her high school art teacher.  He told them to look at red lights as a time to stop, look around and see what was going on right around them at that moment. 

Since reading that op ed piece, I have tried that.  I have tried to not be impatient at red lights.  I have tried to see the beauty in the streets; the trees, the people, the mountains in the distance.  I have tried - really tried to have red lights not be a sign of impatience, anger, let's get moving here, but rather a moment to just say, "Wow, I'm alive; it's a lovely day.  I'm glad I can drive."

I have loved that little piece of insight she gave me that day. 

And, I realized - again - what wisdom so many people have....I feel grateful I get to be the recipient of bits of wisdom sprinkled here and there, and to see things in a way I hadn't thought of before.

12.03.2011

You've Got Mail!

From Jayring:
How is it going? It has been a long long time since our farewell in 4th July. Eileen and I, and all of my classmates are missing you so much. We also went for a trip to Fenghuang, a beautiful old town in Hunan Province. We came across a foreign couple in the trip. I remembered your word clearly in mind, which is always be brave to talk to foreigners. So we volunteered to be the translator for the guide. It was a wonderful memory. :)

From Valdis:

dear Lingling
how are u in usa? best sincere to u ~~~
when do you come back to china? i hope u will have a happy life with your sons ,daughters and grandsons , granddaughters.hahaha... any way , keep happy everyday.
 
I do love hearing from my former students...oh, they are so wonderful. 
 
I love and miss them!
 

12.02.2011

Refrigerator Art....

featuring artwork by Sayre, Lucy, Anna, Miles, and Eli....
There's still lots of room on the fridge, kids!

12.01.2011

My Own Personal Jeweler

Not many people can boast about having their own jeweler, but I do.

Here are a couple of pieces RAH has made.

The rings are new.

The necklace is a few years old, but still as unique and lovely as ever!
I have many pieces, I don't wear them often enough, but they are treasures indeed.

11.30.2011

Christmas - Made in America


"Let's try to get things made in America," RAH said as we began contemplating Christmas this year.

"Terrific idea!"

Not so fast; it is a good idea to be sure.

But, if that remains our criteria, it appears as though we won't be giving much to anyone this year....

TOYS - made in China

ELECTRONICS - made in China

CLOTHES - made in China
It's time to restore AMERICAN-MADE GOODS to our shelves!

11.19.2011

The Funeral

I was saddened to hear he had died.  And, of course, we would attend his funeral.
How could I have known that funeral would impress me more than any other funeral I have ever attended?

How could I describe his funeral?

Each of his four living children spoke; each one better than the last.  Each capturing the essence of this amazing  and good father/husband/employee/grandfather/Stake President.

We learned some fun fun stories of him and his love for cars.  And, how he would sell or give them away to someone needing it more than he.

We learned of his great love for his children.

We learned of his tremendous example.

We learned of his love for his wife

We learned of his love for the Saviour and the Gospel.

And, in all of that, we all learned to love him even more than we did before.

What a man....what a family...what a legacy!

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the gift of knowing Kenneth Howell.

11.18.2011

The Challenge

There we all were; together again, so glad to see each other again.....

Only WAIT...no one was really SEEING each other.  All of us in the room had our heads down:
checking email
texting
playing a game
watching a video clip on YouTube
watching television


Oh, we were physically together in the same room, just not really together at all. 

That's when the idea hit:

A NO TECHNO day during the Thanksgiving Day family get together!

CRAZEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE idea, but we are going to give it a try.

So, in one week - on Saturday, we say NO to:

television
computers
IPhones
IPads
ITouch
DS personal games
Wii

What will we do?  Can we make it through an ENTIRE day without our gadgets?  Will we be speaking to one another by the end of the day?  Will we realize that we HAVE to have techno so that we like each other for that long?  Will our bodies go into some sort of panicky withdrawal?  Will anyone need emergency medical attention?  Will there be any medical attention available on a holiday weekend (tee hee!) 

WHAT WILL IT BE LIKE?

Oh, there have been rumblings from the crowd of 26 people ages 5-70.

Oh, there have been murmurings and secret plots about hiding the gizmos and gadgets somewhere. 
 (BTW, this will be as hard on me as on anyone!) 

There are already signs of dissension among the troops, but we will proceed as planned.

Who Knows?
Maybe it will actually be FUN!
Stay tuned.



11.16.2011

Let's Hear It For the KINDLE!

It's a phenomenal book; it's just that it is over 500 pages long.

That makes it bulky, awkward, and not very transportable. 

And sad to say, it also NOT available on my favorite reading device....the KINDLE
(and all its sister apps available on the ITouch, IPad, and Android Phones).

I love the KINDLE.

Some people tell me they don't like using it because they like the feel of turning pages...
well, there is certainly something to that.

But, it is so convenient to slip the KINDLE into a purse or bag.  It's so easy to keep track of where you are...no bookmarks falling out all over the place. 

What is great, is there is something for everyone in this world.....
But, as for MOI, I'll take the KINDLE.

Now, how do I get them to put WHITE SWANS on their list?

(NOTE:  this is not a paid political ad....the author is receiving no money for this endorsement, but if Amazon wants to give me some money, I'll humbly accept.)



Why Exercise Seems F.U.T.I.L.E.


41 minutes on the Wii...

118 calories burned.....

Surely you are kidding me!

D.E.P.R.E.S.S.S.I.N.G.!

11.14.2011

Familia Fun




These pictures prove that a real camera is better than an ITouch or a phone!

Can you guess which one was taken with a real camera?!?!?!?!?

11.08.2011

Music to My Ears

Where words fail, music speaksAuthor: Hans Christian Anderson

Sometimes it is impossible for me to express how joyfully music affects my soul; my being.


I love MUSIC:

Allen playing the piano or the guitar.

My kids in a guitar/singing fest.

My ITunes library.

The hymns at church.

Children singing.

I cannot imagine being deaf and not being able to hear the M.U.S.I.C.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the incredible gift of music.

Right now, my spirit is soaring.

11.07.2011

Monday - Clean the Master Bedroom Day

Goal: go through the drawers to see if there is anything to give to DI...in other words, just try to downsize a little.

Result:  I came across a few of the gifts our Chinese students had given us the last day....some were so tiny and seemed so insignificant, but were so thoughtful and generous....like the girl who handed me the little tiny homemade paper-crafted flowers. 

Just seeing them this morning made me so grateful for those dear students.  Shawn ( a tall, outstanding student) gave me the little bag and it's so representative of the Chinese...I love it. Someone so lovingly handed me the little panda...it's not much, but it was so from the heart.  There were other gifts in the cupboard; these are just a few, but they so represent the kindness of those dear, dear students.

Rolled up in the cupboard - because we haven't got it framed yet - was a cross-stitch done by Susan, the girl at the front desk of the foreign teacher's building where we lived.  Often I would see her working on this project.  Then one day, she presented it to me.  I was overwhelmed because I knew how long she had been at work on it.  I will always treasure this beautiful gift from wonderful Susan.
I didn't down-size after all, but I found a treasure trove of memories.

11.06.2011

And in This Hand.....

"I've told my children many times," she told me....

"I'm okay with going into a rest home....just make sure that at my table, there is a salt shaker on one side and a box of See's Chocolates on the other side."

Ahhh, I like her style.

11.05.2011

Learning From the Children...

even if those children are in their 30's.

So, it is always inspiring to me to be influenced by our children.

In this case, I am referring to the way they eat;

if I were around Jordan's home and Kristi's home on a regular basis, I would likely be able to lose weight.

 For you see, their cupboards are not filled with:

cookies,
candy,
chips,
crackers,
chocolate,
snacks.

So, I'm moving in with them to lose weight.

Oh, wait, I could just stop buying those things.

But, will I?!?!?

It's the LITTLE Things....

that make a difference.

And, these are little.

We hardly ever pay any attention to them, but we use them on a daily basis and rely heavily on them.

We don't often think of them...UNTIL we injure one.

And they would be.....(drum roll here!)

T.O.E.S.

And, mine are reminding me just how important these little things are!

I stubbed my two little end toes on the right foot three weeks ago, and they are still killing me EVERY step!  OUCH!  I just keep thinking they will have to get better soon.

So, here's the deal, along with my plantar fasciitis, arthritis, and stubbed toes, my right foot is in A LOT of pain.

Okay, I won't just take them so much for granted any more. 

11.04.2011

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig!

First things first...

RAH checked on the yard..

LGH - (that would be MOI) checked out the pantry to see if there was anything to eat.

And, that is precisely why his yard looks like it does - lovely and awesome.

And, that is precisely why I look like I look - just a tad, (okay, more than a tad) heavier than I should.

But, it's so good to be back home in our lovely corner of the world.

10.31.2011

Mother/Daughter Fun

Oh, she works hard, but every once-in-awhile, she has a minute for play....

10.28.2011

From the Files - Family Matters

Getting acquainted with her was a delight on that afternoon.

She was bright, articulate, and beautiful.  She had gone to graduate school, worked hard, and was now a very successful business woman. 

She also, coincidentally, worked in the same business where one of her brothers worked.  They didn't see each other often, but would occasionally run into each other in the halls of the large corporation where they were both employed.  She told me how excited and happy they would be when they had  unexpected meetings in the busy workplace.

She had been raised in the Mid West.  Her parents were hardworking, modest-income wage earners.  There were also 3 brothers in the family.  Growing up, they had worked hard and played hard - together.  The four children were all well-educated and successful in their chosen fields.She loved her family a great deal.

"I recently went to see a counselor," she said sort of out of the blue.  That startled me, but then, a lot of us have issues we need help to get resolved.

"All my life, I have had self-esteem issues.  It is a constant struggle, as it is with one of my brothers; the other two are the opposite - they have enough self-esteem for an entire family.  Sometimes it gets in the way of my work and social life, but especially my work.  I'm under a lot of pressure all the time...I just always feel so INADEQUATE.

"So, I went to see a conselor who had been recommended by a friend.  The first session was pretty much the learned counselor exploring who I was, all about me, etc...

"Then I had to miss the 2nd week's appointment because my brother, a friend, and I went on a week-long trip to Europe.  We had been planning this for quite some time, so off the three of us went.

"When I went for my second time with the counselor, he asked where I had been and with whom?   I told him I had been with a friend and my brother. Then when he learned that we have gone on other trips together with my boyfriend and my brother and his wife, that we occasionally see each other unexpectedly at our joint place of work, and that we love hanging out together (either singly or with our other family members when they are around), this psycho said to me...

'Your family is NOT a normal American family, and you are too close.'

"I was irate!!!!

"And, I also realized that I was not paying $150.00 to anyone to listen to that kind of psycho-babble - I'll talk to my friends and my family, when I need some encouragement.  That statement made me so mad!"

Oh, world, what is happening out there?

When people become anormal because they enjoy being with family; it is a sicko society. 

And, that is just the way Satan wants it.




10.22.2011

Enquiring Minds Want to Know

"Didn't you say you were school teachers?" she asked.

"Yes, both of us were."

"Well, I don't mean to be rude, but how can you afford the vacations you go on...Cape Cod, Hilton Head, Manhatten, Florida?  I mean, you go to some pricey places."

I didn't blame her for wondering...we do get to some high-priced locations.

But, the answer is quite simple.  We don't spend any money on hotels. 

Because we swap homes

We stay in other people's homes while they stay in our home.  And, until this very last exchange, we drive their car while they drive our car.

We spend money on gas and food, which we would do anyway at home in Utah.  We eat most of our meals in the kitchen in the people's homes, but we do enjoy trying out some of the local eateries.

Now, it is true that we have to spend money on airfare to get to the places, but we look for bargains and fly at odd hours.

Home exchanges have allowed us to visit and see some marvelous places in America/Canada/England, that we would not otherwise be able to afford. 

And, people have had the opportunity to see some marvelous places close to our home.
This lovely, unique setting is right off Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.  The people who own this home have been enjoying the national parks, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and the red rock country of St. George. 

It's been a great deal for all of us...

Loni in front of Elaine's lovely home on Cape Cod...while we were in this delightful home,
Elaine and her son were in our home  in St. George....quite a great arrangement.
Here's to Home Exchanges and Economical Vacations!

10.19.2011

The Lady and Sons in Savannah


It's Southern, down-home cooking at its best.
And, it's RAH's absolutely favorite: a B.U.F.F.E.T!
And all that equals a perfect meal of fried or baked chicken, black-eyed peas, butter beans, collard greens, mashed potatoes and gravy, cheese biscuits, sweet potatoes, green beans with ham, and dessert. 
Oh, my, good-bye diets!

The Six Hours

We picked her up at 11:00 a.m.

We took her back home at 5:00 p.m.

During that time, she asked Allen one question:  How many children do ya'll have?

Then she talked the E.N.T.I.R.E time.

Six hours of stories, experiences, reminisces, people, places...all in her delightful Southern accent.

Six hours.

Amen, brother!

10.17.2011

The Picture in the Inbox

There might be a picture,
a newspaper article,
a television report,
a book title,

about CHINA...

and then my heart soars, as I remember...

the students,
the sights,
the smells,
the beauty,
the heat,
the mosquitoes,
the food,
the people...

and I miss it.

10.16.2011

Tender Mercies


Sunday was a memorable and unforgettable day. Here's how it played out:

About every three days, I buy a local newspaper from the Hilton Head, South Carolina area where we are staying. So, when I picked up the paper, and went to discard the sports page, which I always do, I saw the large football picture talking about Ridgeland High School. That name hit me like a bolt. THAT WAS THE NAME OF THE TOWN WHERE MY PARENTS SERVED A MISSION and my brother and I had not been able to recall the name of the city! Since it was in the local newspaper, that meant the town was nearby. Did it possibly have a ward in the city?

(I love LDS.org, which has helped us on so many trips find a ward house.)

I looked at LDS.org, and yes, there was a ward in Ridgland, which was just about a half hour from where we were staying!

Upon arriving in the chapel, Allen spoke to one man telling him why we were visiting, and he said, “You need to talk to my mother.” So, we walked over to a beautiful lady in bright green and told her who my parents were. She threw her arms around me, and told me how much she loved my parents.
(We have arranged to meet on Tuesday, and she will show us where my parents lived, while they served their mission in Ridgeland, South Carolina).
This was such an amazing thrill for me, as she told me of her love for my dear wonderful parents.

She knew of dad's horrible headaches, but said he served so faithfully. He taught gospel classes in his home, and she would never miss his weekly lessons, they were so wonderful and inspiring.

After Relief Society, a woman came up to me and told me how much she loved my parents.
She shared with me a couple of stories about my parents. She told me that she was a collector of Precious Moments, and had been looking for a certain statue, but had been unable to find it even after considerable searching. It was also an expensive one costing about $34.00 in the 1980s. My mother found one and gave it to Sister Roach. She said that was such a thoughtful thing for mom to do, as that represented a lot of money at that time.

She then went on to tell about my father. She told me about a terrible murder that happened involving some members in the ward. The murdered man was well-known in the community, and his funeral was very large. The audience included many non LDS members. Dad was one of the main speakers. She told me that she could not remember what he said, (remember, this was about 30 years ago), but she did remember the feeling of that talk. She rubbed her arms and said, “The talk was so inspirational, it gave all of us goosebumps. I still remember the feelings. Even the nonmembers were so inspired by what he had to say that day.”


I will be forever grateful for the circumstances that brought us to that ward in Ridgeland, South Carolina and for the blessing of meeting people who knew and loved my dear dear parents.

Their exemplary lives continue to bless and inspire me. Thank you, dear Heavenly Father, for the great blessing to be in their family.


10.14.2011

Lovely, Unique, and FREE!





It's a new way to use that Spanish Moss that is ever present in the South Carolina region....

come on, you know you want a lovely new scarf....

there is, however, one downside; it's very scratchy...

but, hey, it's FREE!

Something for Nothing

It's absolutely true...you can't get something for nothing.

So, RAH and I worked very hard for this money:

We listened to a very cocky, arrogant guy try to sell us a vacation exchange.

Ownership cost: $54,000.

Now, why would we want to do that, when we can stay in people's homes for free?

It's a no-brainer.

But, thanks for the $125.00, which we will put to good use.

It was painful, but in the end, it was a good value for our time.