9.30.2013

B.U.S.Y.!

How did we get so that we ALL lead such busy lives?

From the newly-wed to the young mother, to the mother of teens, to the empty nesters.  Even I, as a retired person am sitting her looking at my calendar and thinking how BUSY this week is!

Let's face it:

We are all busy...

doing so much??!?!??!?!?

What is it we are all so busy doing?????

sports,
church,
music,
more sports,
hobbies,
meetings,
family gatherings,
shopping,
eating out,
watching television,
more sports....

Is there a minute to:

read
reflect
enjoy
look about
laugh
ponder

Well, apparently not.

Today, I tried to contact three people...I was able to get in touch with one.

The other two...

BUSY....

And, of course, often what they are doing is very significant.

So, it's not all bad.

But, it is all BUSY!


9.28.2013

Some Things Just Make Me Smile

I heard this today on a book on tape....it made me laugh out loud..

The author was spending time in France writing his book...he found the French people cold and distant....he said,

"France is the only country in the world where friendliness is one of the 7 deadly sins!"

HA!  That made me smile.

9.26.2013

Sabotaged!

I'm trying to eat less sweets.

LOTS less.

So, last week, dear Bobby gave RAH and moi some delicious yummy cookie type edibles that he had made.

SABOTAGED!

Today, Bill gave us a big pecan-type turtle.



SABOTAGED!

And, then Barbara gave RAH and moi a certificate for a 1 lb box of See's Divine Chocolates.



SABOTAGED!

What's a person to do?

That's easy.

Go with the flow and just ENJOY!


Fashion at Any Age!

About 2 1/2 years ago, one of my Chinese students was leaning over the desk, asking me a question, when I noticed something very strange...

her frames had no glasses!



  When I mentioned that  unusual bit of information to her, she told me she just loved the frames and it was so "fashionable, don't you sink so?"

Ha! Ha!  totally funny.

Then, last week, as I stood in the elementary school lunch line with my 3rd grade granddaughter, I stared at a girl who looked like her glass frames were also empty.  I casually mentioned it to dear, adorable Anna....

"Yes," Anna said, "those are just frames."

In 3rd grade?!?!??!?!?!??!?!?!??!  

She already feels compelled to make such a unique fashion statement by wearing frames with no glasses?!?!??!?!??!

(Just as a side note, I will say here that in years past, wearing glasses was the absolute kiss of death for girls....girls would bump into walls rather than be caught wearing glasses!  My so much has changed!)

Well, looking at the positive side,  I'm sure that frames only are much less expensive than having to put prescription lenses in them.

So, where do I get some of those funky, oversized empty lenses?


Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig!


We arrived Wednesday night after

Nearly 6,000 miles; 3 and a half weeks.

We visited family in New Mexico, Louisiana, Texas and Virginia.  (Thanks, Brian /Lois; Jordan/Janna; Jenni/Brent; Bill/Donna; South family in Texas)

We made connections with people we knew whenever we went to church….

Long days in the car were made more interesting thanks to:

SPOTIFY (Texas music in Texas, country music in Alabama, Civil War Songs in S Carolina - anyway, you get the picture)
PODCASTS (thanks, Jordan, for some of the recommended listening ones)
KINDLE (thankfully, Allen didn't read - as he was driving - but I got a few books read)
CROSSWORD PUZZLE books
INTERNET to do lots of searching on things to see and do while we were in each city. …(who knew about the BIG TEXAN CAFE where the price is the size of the steak - 72 ounces for 72 dollars! )

When we walked in the door of our home at 10:30 last night, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the marvelous country we live in; the good people we met and already knew; safe travels; and a beautiful home to come home to.

Now, to unpack, regroup, put away, get organized, and give thanks to Heavenly Father for such a grand adventure!

9.25.2013

I Have a Question?

Recently I was with a group of children reading to them.   They asked a lot of questions.

I love their curiosity and natural inquisitiveness.   The questions were thoughtful and meaningful.... BUT, I was limited for time, so I asked them to hold all questions until the end... They complied.

Later in the afternoon as I reflected on their eagerness, I couldn't help but contrast that with a classroom of adults...adults will NOT ever ask questions....they sit stone-faced and inert.

Is it because we have, over time, squelched this inherent desire to learn that causes adults to stare rather than question? 

One afternoon several months ago, I was with a family of older and younger children.  Every time the young child asked a question, her siblings chided her saying, "Quit asking questions!  Stop being a jerk by asking so much stuff!"

It was sorrowful for me, as I could see her demeanor change and the life sort of being sucked right out of that beautiful little blonde girl. 

Questions can be annoying; but truthfully, it is because someone has asked questions that we have every great invention, every comfort, every scientific breakthrough, every medical improvement.

When questions stop being asked, it is a sad sad thing.

So, adults - particularly parents - let those little children inquire, seek, ask, explore, yearn to know.

And that reminds me, now why do we have daylight savings time???????

9.24.2013

I Have...

Just one question...

Why is sitting in a car all day so exhausting?

9.22.2013

Back to School

 
Time to visit Lucy, Imogen, and Anna at school.
First, I read two picture books to Anna's third grade class; oh my goodness, so very fun!
 


These are the self-introductory papers by Anna - above.  (At the beginning of the year, she says she wants to be a vet, but she has already changed her mind about that.)

Imogen's poem below....

Friday lunch is - what else - PIZZA!  One fruit of choice and one vegetable of choice.  My choice was not to eat ANY of it.


Anna eating in her classroom for a special Friday lunch to represent eating in a restaurant.



Imogen is mighty good on those monkey bars!

Lucy gives it a shot also.


Ah, good friends...nothing like having someone to hang out with at school..
 
Thanks to Janna for suggesting it and making all the arrangements.....
 
I enjoyed going to visit Johnson Elementary School....I'll put it on the agenda for next year too.


9.20.2013

From Juniper Hill

Entry in Jordan's plant diary from when the dog, Ginger, killed a chicken named Charm. 
This is Anna's response to that event.
To ensure that the dog would not kill another chicken, Jordan tied the dead chicken around the dog's neck for one week.  The dog would back up to get away from the chicken; he would shake his head; all to no avail.
 BUT, he has not killed another chicken!

HIBISCUS = Just one of many stunning plants in J & J's amazing yard.


Jordan keeps a plant/bird journal.  He records plantings, sightings, etc.  He also has drawn some pictures, but they were so light, they didn't show up when I took a picture of them.  He has drawn a picture of his dog, a couple of birds, etc.  Here is a drawing he did of clover, and then later, Lucy found a four-leaf clover. 



After school when the homework is done, Anna, Imogen, and Lucy work on the girls' LEGO set
 Anna got from her Armstrong grandparents for her birthday. 

9.19.2013

A Walk in the Woods

Take a perfect sunny morning in the woods near Charlottesville, Virginia.

Add two well-behaved dogs, one older lady, and it's the perfect combination to walk down a country lane in a glorious setting.




Now, the thing is, I'm NOT a dog person....but these dogs were just so good; and it was so pleasant to have their companionship.

As the dogs wandered off into the woods a little, I recalled over and over the fantastic book by Wilson Rawls, "Where the Red Fern Grows."

I vividly remember reading the chapter where the beloved dogs die...my children and I were sitting on the couch (and it seems like some neighbor kids were there also), but I was so choked up over the tragedy unfolding on the pages, that I couldn't read any more.  I recall handing the book over to Jenni for her to read the heroic end of Old Dan and Little Ann. 

It was a powerful book and the memories of reading it with my children came flooding back as Jordan's two dogs and I walked down the country lane.  I envisioned the setting in Kentucky very similar to these woods in Virginia...I could just picture Billy and his coon hounds running gleefully through the woods...what a way to spend a childhood!

And, so it was on this gorgeous September morning in Virginia; my spirit soared at the azure sky, the tall green trees, the serenity, the beauty of God's magnificent earth, and the work done by Jordan and Janna to tame it all!


Bobby and Jordan cleared a path along this little stream that runs through the property.  A lot of work, for sure. 
In fact, the entire place takes A LOT of work, so it keeps Jordan and Janna very busy!

9.18.2013

The Day We Met the SISTERS....

....not as in, sister missionaries....but as in...

the actual sisters from Louisiana.


We drove to one of the sisters' home one night and spent an evening talking, laughing, learning, but most of all just ENJOYING these incredibly delightful sisters; cousin to my brother-in-law.  Brian is serving a mission in Louisiana and he is within just a short distance from these four sisters.

What a fun evening to meet;
Wendy,
Sister (her life-long nickname) but really Carolyn,
Marilyn,
and Gayle.

Thanks, Brian and Lois, for an absolutely DEEEElightful evening.  I loved every minute of it - with or without the delicious cake!

Some have been flooded, hurricaned, widowed, wiped out; but they remain resilient, happy, funny, joyful, and committed to each other.

9.17.2013

the hymn

I'm not even sure what hymn the line comes from, but it plays in my head a lot.....

Sorrow that the eye can't see

Oh, how true!

moody!

All of a sudden, the man in yellow got in a funk!

It was something I said very accidentally.... you know, one of those times when you call someone the wrong name... Totally by accident, but then he became

 moody, somber, and withdrawn...

It was his problem...

But I'M the one feeling rotten!

9.16.2013

Making Connections

When we travel, we try to attend church wherever we are; it is not always possible, but we make an effort to go to a local ward.

Over the years, we have met:

Allen's former students,
my former students,
relatives,
a former babysitter (in Russia, of all places!)

It is always so fun to make these connections, and yesterday in church was no exception.

First we met ELDER Kenzie Fogle, whose parents lived in our basement apartment when they were just married; he is as awesome as they were!

Then, after church someone mentioned that there were a couple of other ladies from Rexburg:  both were former students of mine at Madison Middle School...what a happy fun thing to see Marilee Griffeth:


and then Sarah Pack...


I just LOVE meeting all the Saints, but meeting some we have known before is an especial blessing.

Long Live TRAVEL and the Saints everywhere!

9.11.2013

The Ward

Brother K's daughter was murdered by her husband.  He and his wife are raising the five children.  It's not easy, but they are doing it.

S was run over by vindictive people after she went to the police about being raped; her left arm is useless....

The D's daughter died young of Lou Gehrig's Disease, leaving two young children behind.

Brother M is wheel-chair bound for many years with Lou Gehrig's disease.

M - an outstanding student in high school, an accomplished gymnast, was beaten and has mental issues related to the beating.

J - lives in a small trailer and is highly medicated....she is sort of zombie like.  Her live-in boyfriend just had surgery for colon cancer.

Sister T - the Relief Society president - fills about 17 - give or take a few - food orders each week.

K's brother was shot in the back and is lucky to be alive.  K is just getting divorced because her husband has been unfaithful for many many years.

These are the people Elder and Sister Wright go to church with each week; and they are making a difference in the lives of these people.

I saw it; I FELT it.

And, it was inspiring.

Elder and Sister Wright;
they put in many, many hours in the Bishop's Storehouse, but they took time off one day to take us to New Orleans...
here they are on Bourbon Street.



Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood

"The D's want us to come to dinner on Monday night," Brian and Lois said after church that Sunday evening in Louisiana.

Maureen; a BYU graduate who was assaulted while working as a prison guard, boyfriend of Sherry, Carter; Sherry - age 14; Gail, the wonderful cook of the evening's food and patient wife listening to stories she must have heard many times; Bella - age 4; Mike - story teller extraordinaire (Oh, how I wish I had taped some of his stories...they are just incredible...like when he was interviewed by Maria Shriver for CNN...he has pictures to prove it!); Karen - age 17; Austen -age 6

How could I have ever guessed that it would be one of the most memorable evenings I would ever spend?

The food was delicious; the family wonderful; the jokes silly; the music entertaining.

But, oh, the stories Mike told.


 I have never laughed so hard in my life about

"I'm a Mormon!" and the Ku Klux Klan.

Their story is gut-wrenching; their lives a challenge.

Their oldest daughter - after graduating from BYU and marrying, but later divorcing a husband who suffered from PTSD - was a guard in a California prison; she was attacked and her head beat against the wall; thus, she is like a child and is unable to care for her two daughters, so she lives in a small home on the property, but her parents care for her teen-age daughters.  Their youngest daughter died at age 34 of Lou Gehrig's disease and so the parents are the primary care-givers for the two young children (Although their father comes home from his truck driving job on Friday to spend two days with them.)  Their youngest son is in jail, but will get out in November.  They have two other sons who are doing well; one is a bishop in California.

Yet, through it all

LOVE and ACCEPTANCE and JOY shine through.

Thank you, D's, for reminding us that - even in the midst of affliction - there can be laughter and that sharing with others increases our happiness!

Do You Know the Way to....

"How far is it?"  I asked Bruce that day in New Orleans.  We wanted to have an early lunch because we had another dinner engagement that night.

"It's five blocks that way," he pointed.  He knew a great place to eat.

We walked for about 10 blocks, then he said, "Turn right at the next corner."

"How far?" I foolishly asked again.

"Not far."

We walked for 37 blocks, then turned left.

54 blocks.

By now I was starving.  And, believe me, it was no longer an early lunch.  It was mid-afternoon.

My legs, my feet, my face, my arms; they were all dripping sweat.  My glasses slid down my nose over and over again.

We turned to the left. "It's in the next couple blocks," Bruce declared.  I didn't believe him.

We walked for 63 blocks.

And, up ahead, was it a mirage?  No, it was

THE PLACE.

It had taken us 45 minutes to walk there. 

I'm glad he said five blocks...what if he had told us originally that it was actually in the next county?

In Remembance

9/11

12 years ago.

A terrible day.

For awhile, we pulled together as a nation, but now...

we are more divisive than ever.

Oh so sorrowful.

9.06.2013

Discipline....

is a challenge for me in some areas. 

For example, I exercise when it is convenient.  And, I don't really truly PUSH myself.

And, I eat what I want, when I want. 

What that means is, I eat A LOT of sweets.

So, when Justin sent our family this podcast about the poisonous effects of sugar, I was rather startled by it all.

I mean, I knew sugar wasn't good for a person.....EVERY ONE knows that,

but POISONOUS?!?!??!??!?!?

So, then our daughter told me about her new lifestyle; she has practically given up sweets - almost entirely....and she has lost six pounds.  And, it made me think about my habits......

What's a mother to do?

Set a bad example?  Keep eating sweets?

I love sweets; I have them in the pantry.  I have a stash of chocolate in the armoire in our bedroom.  I have some in the food storage in our bedroom (in a clothes closet, you ask?).  And, I have an entire shelf of candy in my office - mints for the pillows when guests come: mints for after dinner, but mostly I'm the only one eating dinner, so they end up being for MOI; a huge jar of animal cookies from Costco for when I teach Primary (but I'm only a substitute, so why do I need a jar the size of Texas - where I am while typing this?); and a few other assorted chocolate items that are there in case - in case of WHAT?!?!??!

I'm a chocolate mess.

So, do I have the discipline to CUT WAY BACK ON SWEETS?!?!??!?!?!??!

Do I really need dessert after every meal and as a snack?

The bottom line is this -

Am I disciplined enough to give up on sweets - not entirely - but drastically?

Stay tuned.

It might get ugly.

And, sometimes I will ask myself - why are you doing this?  I don't have diabetes (nor a family history of it; I don't have high blood pressure or high cholesterol; I am not obese (slightly overweight yes, but not obese.) 

Even as I am typing this, Allen brought in some home-made cookies from the lady at the motel desk...what to do; oh dear, what to do??????

This is just a challenge.

9.03.2013

When Sisters Move....

...the dad and mom try to help out.

One year ago, Dr. Rose moved to Seattle; the day she moved in her basement apartment, it poured R.A.I.N.  Everything was soaking wet, as we moved the boxes from the van to the apartment....



One year later, we got the word:  Dr. Jenni and Brent were moving to Las Cruces; the day they moved in, it was 91 degrees.  Everyone got soaking wet (with sweat) climbing up and down the stairs bringing in the boxes.


 
Moving: it ain't pretty nor fun.
 
But, here's something very interesting about both moves;
 
at the end of the moving day, Kristi sat down and sang and played the guitar;
 the music was in her. 
 
All day long on moving day at the Fisher's new home, Jenni was humming a tune or singing a song.  The music was definitely in her.
 
So, here's the deal; moving is NOT a fun thing; it's a lot of hard work. 
But, I was glad to be there to see both of them and to realize something I already knew....
 
 what wonderful women those docs are!
 
Moving brings out the worst in me, but at the end of their day,
 they were both still smiling, singing, and pleasant.
 
Oh, you inspire me, dear Dr. Fisher and Dr. Rose!

9.02.2013

Another Reason I Love Our Church

There are so many reasons I love our church;

the doctrine,
the Book of Mormon,
a Modern-day Prophet,
the principles,
etc., etc., etc.

But, here's another reason:

Someone to help you move:


Picture this:

9 a.m. on Labor Day Monday.

a van filled with boxes and furniture on a very hot day in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

4 tired adults...so what do you do?

Look on lds.org; find the local ward, call the bishop, ask for some priests to come help unload (for pay, of course), and bingo!

Here come 2 of the bishop's sons.  They had other plans, but were so willing and cheerful about coming to help.  They were totally:

Hard-working,
Handsome,
Helpful,
Cheerful,
Energetic,
and most of all - Hard, hard workers.

They did in an hour what it would have taken us a very long time to do.

Thanks, Ben and John,

You made our Labor Day not quite so labor intensive!