3.30.2014

The Challenge...

for me is

VISITING TEACHING.

Man, that's a bugger.

I guess I haven't really caught the vision of it in my life.

AND, until last month, I've had very challenging companions...they forgot, couldn't make it, didn't respond, texted at the last minute they would't be coming, etc.  Wonderful women for sure; just overwhelmed with family obligations, and/or not having a strong commitment to visiting teaching...ha, sort of like MOI!

Now, however, I have an AWESOME companion.  A remarkable woman; a goer, doer, helper, equal,
BUT,

it's just so HARD to meet with the women!  They forget, don't answer the phone, don't return calls, don't respond.

It's just a

big

challenge.

Thoughts While Thinking

Being comforted....

I don't really think about that a great deal as a function of the Holy Ghost.

But, last night at the general women's meeting, I realized that blessing and was very grateful for it.

Sometimes LIFE gets discouraging or filled with heartaches.

And, thinking to a time like that just a few months ago, I realize that I have been comforted many times;

as I've been on my knees, sitting at my computer, doing family history, being with friends/family.

And, I was overcome with gratitude for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


3.27.2014

They Could Have Named Me....





If they had wanted to name me after someone in the family, 
they could have chosen one of these lovely names....

thank goodness they didn't!
(mine was bad enough!  tee hee!)

3.26.2014

Happiness Ratio

They have a bazillion Legos.

But they always want more and different sets; ships, outerspace models, planes, etc.



Sometimes I say to them, "But, will it REALLY increase your happiness level?"

Their answer is always OH YEAH.

Frankly, I don't really believe it.  All those LEGOS just get lost in the shuffle; they play with a new set for a minute, then they are off somewhere else.

What I'm trying to point out is that I don't think happiness can be quantified - especially with STUFF (now, chocolate that is a different story...happiness can definitely be quantified with that stuff)!

HOWEVER, and here I'm totally contradicting myself,  because I have something that does increase my happiness:

my Christmas present - a new MACintosh computer.  Big screen...oh yeah, big screen.



Man, I'm in love and filled with HAPPINESS.

The screen is HUGE, which means I can have multiple windows open, which I do A LOT!

Scanning, family search, media folders, word processor, find-a-grave or other sites, etc.

So, I've realized that maybe - just maybe - there is some STUFF that does bring about happiness.

In that vein then, boys, now what LEGO set did you want?




3.22.2014

When EGO Gets in the Way

Recently M... told me something interesting; she doesn't like certain members of her family.

Ha Ha; now, that's an honest declaration.

But, then she told me something even more interesting.

She avoids introducing them to her friends when they visit from out of town.

She is ashamed of them...they are "different" from the locals and it is a source of embarrassment to her.

M... concluded the short discussion by admitting that her ego is most of the problem.  "They are vastly different from the Mormons around here, and it grates on me.  They are not always polite and friendly like most of my neighbors; they use bad language and are quite rude/mean to each other.  I'm embarrassed to have my friends meet them."

Oh, those dang egos; they get in the way.

Ego and Pride; I know all about those two.

They are too close with me also.

3.20.2014

Prejudiced!

Okay, I admit it.

I am prejudiced, and lots of people will likely not agree with this prejudice.

But, I have to say that, in my experience, it's true.

There are, of course, exceptions.

But, IN GENERAL, this is true:

Mormons are NICE people.

NICE:

  1. pleasant: pleasant or enjoyable
  2. kind: kind, or showing courtesy, friendliness, or consideration
  3. respectable: respectable, or of an acceptable social or moral standard

They are mostly pleasant when you deal with them in situations.

Now, of course, other religions have nice people....I know THAT!

But as a general rule, when dealing with Mormon women: at the bank, in a store, in an office, in a school, they are pleasant and friendly.

They just have a tone in their voice that says kindness, friendliness, pleasantry.  It's - to me at least - very evident....

And, it's NICE to deal with NICE people.

So, that is my prejudice.

3.19.2014

Time To Brag

I don't brag often enough about my children, but I wanted to remember this interesting point in their lives.

So, Here goes; Brag Time...and this is about healthy eating....

When Jenni moved to New Mexico, she began a new chapter of healthy eating and faithful exercise.  Since she no longer has kids at home, she could charge up her eating habits.  She's cut way back on sweets, eats lots of healthy food and is a good example for her patients.

Justin has cut out sweets....he just bought a Blend-Tec blender and is making veggie/fruit smoothies.  He's being a good example to his wife, boys, and me.

Jeremy and Carisa have cut way way back on meat; they are eating lots of vegetables and also do veggie smoothies.  They are reading about and practicing good nutrition habits.  And, have given up soda.

Kristi, well, since she is a registered dietitian, she has basically always eaten healthy in her adult life. She eats moderate meat (rarely red meat!), gets the bountiful basket and is always cooking up unusual veggie dishes.  Plus, she doesn't eat a lot of sweets or salty snacks.

The only one I don't know about is Jordan, BUT, in the summer, he grows lots of veggies on his little 17-acre plot.  And, Janna is a great cook, so I think they probably eat healthy most of the time also.

Man, they are inspiring.

Unfortunately, I'm not ready to give up chips and dark chocolate.

However, I have given up popcorn for lent.  Tee Hee.

They didn't learn all these healthy habits from me as they grew up, so I'm proud of them for taking steps to eat and live healthy.

Oh, yeah, they deserve to brag on.




3.18.2014

Sylvia Jean Seegmilller...a Tribute

One of my dearest friends; I loved her.  She was so good, so pure, so REAL and honest.
While my heart is broken, I am so very happy for her!
Oh, dear Sylvia, can you ever know what an inspiration you were to so many, but mostly to MOI!

The Facebook message said Sylvia was in the hospital; I was surprised...I had been with her six days earlier and she had seemed fine, except she still had her uterine infection which she had had for several months.  She had been in the dining room, and I remember feeling sorry for her having to eat the macaroni on her plate; it gagged me to look at it, and I felt a sense of sorrow for her having to eat such incredibly disgusting looking food.  But, as always, she was positive and pleasant.  We returned to her room, where we had had a long, good visit.

So, to hear she was in the hospital just one week later was unnerving.  RAH and I drove to the hospital to say hello....

this was on a Friday late afternoon.

She was smiling, as always.  But, her jaw was hurting, so she didn't talk much.  Her three children and two spouses were there.  She had complained of having chest pains....The family was concerned it was pneumonia, but an X-ray showed it wasn't pneumonia.  In fact, she would be leaving for home possibly the next day.

We talked; small talk, she was smiling, pleasant, happy.

24 hours later, a phone call came.  Only now, Sylvia was GONE!

I went a little crazy.  We were driving home from the airport with guests who were coming to stay for a week.  They must have thought I was nuts; I was going berserk.  I could not believe it...I had just seen her....How COULD SHE BE DEAD?

On Wednesday, when the funeral started, I cried; my body was shaking; I would miss her so very much.  And, then it hit me: "Loni, you are being so selfish!  This is not about YOU!  Sylvia is free; she can use her hands, she can run, she is with her mother, sister, and her beloved Frank....quit being so selfish and give thanks for the privilege of knowing her."  And, then, I quit sobbing, sat back and listened intently to all the marvelous tributes to this remarkable and inspiring woman.  No more tears; just JOY for Sylvia.  (There are still tears, but that's okay; I understand she is better off!)

On one of our Tuesday visits, on the way home from our mission.

So, how did this friendship all begin?

Eight years ago, Sylvia's family moved a couple of blocks away.  She had been in her wheelchair many years by then. We clicked immediately.  She was so gracious, beautiful, kind, funny, and non-complaining.  In those days, we had a group of women in the neighborhood who got together once a month to eat, laugh, gab.  Sylvia came to all of the luncheons.  Sometimes I would walk over to her home to get her, and we would go together; she in her wheelchair, me walking beside.  At most of the luncheons, I would feed her; she was so patient and uncomplaining when I would forget to get her water, or concentrate on my own eating for awhile...she never complained....just sat patiently.

She was so pleasant.  ALWAYS.  We chatted about this and that and I loved to be in her presence....I always walked away feeling so uplifted and inspired by her non-whineyness.

So, I began to make frequent visits to her home.

Sylvia in her lovely home with her grandson, Ryan.  I loved to visit when he was home; what a delightful child....he was so good to his grandmother and always so funny.  


I tried to go weekly, sometimes that didn't happen, but the visits were often.  If the weather was good, we would go on walks together.  Sometimes, RAH and I took her in her van to get a COKE, or to see the Christmas lights.  Mostly, we just stayed in her room and talked.....it was always pleasant.  And, she was always so appreciative of any little thing.

In China, I called her often and it was so great to stay connected, even though I was thousands of miles from home.

We had so much in common; yet were so different.

Sylvia told me about her life growing up as the daughter of a pharmacist.  She told me about her college years and she was very honest about it.  She met Frank and she told me about him, his job, his family.  She told me about her job as a congressman's office manager.  She told me about her sister and her sister's MS.  She opened up about learning she had MS and how it progressed to where she had to be in a wheelchair, but her husband had taken such good care of her.  I learned about the car accident that killed her husband, leaving her in a hospital where she was unable to attend Frank's funeral.  She was honest about what happened after Frank died and the hard feelings over property and will disputes.  It was a sorrow for her.  She tried to make it right, but there were hard feelings - not on her part, but on a sister-in-law's part.  Sylvia had done the noble thing, giving some property that she was not required to give; but because of her kindness/good heart, she gave up a valuable piece of property.  The receiver was still angry and bitter.  It made Sylvia sad, but she had held out the olive branch....she felt at peace.

Sylvia had a ZEST for living and life; she was always ready to go when her family went somewhere; she loved to watch her grandchildren at sports or church events.  She went on a cruise and had a marvelous time.  She enjoyed eating out with her family and would tell me about some of the restaurants they had tried.  She went shopping in Las Vegas with friends; she loved GOING and DOING!

Then, when the family could no longer give her the care and attention she needed, she went to a nursing home...it was the only time I ever saw her bitter or discouraged.  She cried; she was upset and a little angry with her children.  I took their side as I explained all the reasons this had to be.  She could no longer be left alone while everyone was gone to work/school.




The weekly visits continued; only now she was in the nursing home.  During our mission at the Employment Center, RAH and I went faithfully every Tuesday on our way home from our mission.  She was always so happy and appreciative to see us.  She was always grateful and expressed that.  She looked forward to Tuesdays and our visits.

Happy Birthday, Sylvia!  November 2013

Over the years, Sylvia was in a great deal of pain with trigeminal neuralgia.  Her family tried every remedy known to man.  No one could have tried harder than her wonderful son, Colby and his wife, Brenda.  They were champions and worked hard to help her find a cure for the constant pain.  Alas, it was with her to the end.  But, again, she didn't complain, just said, "It hurts today.  You talk, I'll listen."

Sometimes Sylvia didn't get up, but even when she wasn't feeling well, she was always so appreciative of our visits.  She always wanted news of the neighborhood and the ward.

She was so very proud of her three children, their spouses, and her five grandchildren.  About two years before she went into the nursing home, the family got a dog, Molly.  Sylvia loved that dog and the dog loved her...she would jump onto Sylvia's lap and just lay there for long periods of time.

For quite awhile, Sylvia was able to do indexing; she was so proud of her contributions to that, as well she should be.  It was not easy as she had to do hunt and peck; a slow, tedious process.  But, she did it anyway.

She loved to read church books, but even that was taken from her, as she could no longer hold a book.

There were days in my life when I would be angry, bitter, unhappy about something in my life.  On those days, I would go see Sylvia; she had such a calming effect on me.  And, I ALWAYS came away feeling better/grateful/uplifted.

So now, after two weeks, my heart is both heavy and full.

But, this I can say unequivocally; knowing Sylvia is one of the greatest blessings of my life.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for that blessing.
This picture was taken EXACTLY one week before Sylvia died.  It was on a Saturday evening and RAH and I visited her; she was happy, cheerful, pleasant.  How could I know in one week she would be gone, and there would be a HUGE empty space in my heart?






3.11.2014

Just One of the Many Reasons .....

I love Dickens...

"Why ain't you ugly?"

asks one character to another in "Our Mutual Friend."




Hilarious.

And, that's just one particular example of why I LOVE Charles Dickens...



3.10.2014

Forgiveness

One day in Relief Society, R just happened to make an interesting statement to no one in particular; she said, "I can NEVER forgive my brother-in-law."

I do not know the back story, but I think it was in reference to the fact that her husband was no longer active in the church.

Another lady in our ward made a similar statement about her mother...again, I do not know the particulars.

But, I DO know that forgiveness is a challenge.

I found it hard to forgive a person for many years.  BUT, I wanted to, I prayed for it, and it did happen...it was like a tiny miracle.

I currently struggle with forgiving a person in my life right now, but because forgiveness has happened before, I know that I will be able to forgive this person....over time.

This post, however, is about someone who won't forgive MOI...and it is so hard for me.

A few months ago, I made a comment, totally innocently, to a person.  It was not mean, it was unintentional and it was just a stupid mistake on my part..in fact, I didn't even realize the person was offended until a little later in the day.

Since that day, the person will not speak to me; won't interact with me; has withdrawn friendship.

I feel devastated.  It was a STUPID error on my part.  It was something that people do in conversations and it was something trivial - in my opinion.  I asked T for forgiveness, there was no reply, just stoicism and a blank stare.  And, a loss of friendship.

Brigham Young once said:

“He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool."

I meant no offense; I have apologized - in fact, RAH also apologized.

Maybe, over time, T will realize that I meant no harm, it was just something in conversation, and maybe T will eventually forgive me.

That is my HOPE.




3.07.2014

Parenting


The father was a total jerk; in every way possible: selfish, disloyal, indifferent to family, spendthrift, egotistical, on and on.

The mother was perfect in every way possible. (oh, yes, they divorced!)

So, out of four children, would you expect two to be dweebs, and two to be perfect?

In this case, all four were PERFECT - in every way.

Kind, hard-working, obedient, happy, friendly, unselfish, extremely thoughtful and caring to their mother.

So, what is it?

Well, I recently saw this chart; it was rather eye-opening:


The children, according to this chart, had a 12.5% chance of being like their father - a nincompoop.  But, they all obviously took the 12.5% of their mother, combined with her raising them - the 25%, and then they just inherently came with a good spirit.  So, they turned out awesome.

But, here's where it gets sticky?  Don't kind people pass that genetically to their children?  How about grumpy; is that passed on?  Gentleness, isn't that an inherited trait?

Take any character traits; aren't those passed on to their children?

So, inherently they came with their own spirit, but they actually INHERITED those good genes from their parents...right?

It's all too confusing and  to me -it always comes back to genetics.

SO, it's best to marry someone with good genes.  

Or, in other words, if you want to have happy children, marry a happy person....if you want to have smart kids, marry someone smart.

Nothing rocket science about any of that.

Except in this case....not one child was a jerk; only the father....

In General.....

I think oldest children share some interesting character traits:

obedient,
smart-as-whips,
like to please adults,
responsible,
do well in school,
high achievers.

Not every oldest child fits that profile, of course.

But, in general, I find that to be true.

Enough so that sometimes when I meet people, after I know them for awhile, I ask,

"Are you a first child?"

Lots of times, I get it right.

Today, I'm thinking about a grandson who is an oldest child.

He totally fits those qualifications.

All my grandkids are interesting and unique,

BUT, it's so fun to observe the oldest in each family and see how they fit those qualities.

(I do have one oldest grandchild who does NOT fit most of those qualities, so it doesn't work EVERY time, but we are talking about humans here!)


3.05.2014

Miss Ziebarth and LENT

LENT - 

period before Easter in Christian calendar: the period of 40 weekdays before Easter observed in some Christian churches as a period of prayer, penance, fasting, and self-denial.

Her name was Miss Zeibarth.

And, she was my English teacher for 7th and 8th grades.

She was OLD.  I do mean OLD....probably in her 50's!  Ha!

I'm sure she had had the same lesson plans for nigh unto one hundred years, but that's okay because that's not really what this story is about.

It's about her religion, her commitment to LENT, and her love of popcorn.  And, basically, I've said the entire post all in that one sentence.

Every year, Miss Zeibarth, a very staunch Catholic, would give up popcorn for the 40 days of Lent.  Miss Zeibarth loved popcorn.  So to give it up for 40 days, was, I'm sure, a sacrifice for her, which is really what Lent is all about.

On the Monday following Easter Sunday, which is the end of Lent, Miss Zeibarth would assign us seat work, then she would walk to the back of the room, where her closet was; she would open the door, sort of wedge herself inside - hidden as much as possible from the class - and since I was towards the back of the classroom, I saw the HUGE bag of popcorn.  And, she would nibble a bit.

AH, deprived for 40 days, she now could enjoy and feast on her beloved popcorn.

Since that time many years ago; on occasion, I will give something up for Lent.  Not because our religion requires it, but because I see it as being a good thing....to make a sacrifice of something truly pleasurable.  I think of Miss Zeibarth and the joy she must have felt in being strong and then enjoying the treat.  I admire and like that.  (We fast each month for 24 hours, and that is a challenge, but we don't give something up for 40 days!)

So, should I give something up this year?

What would it be?

Chocolate comes to mind.  I love chocolate.

I also love popcorn, potato chips and flavored water; it could be one of those........

But, to me, it's about the commitment; the strength of will; the giving up of something for a higher purpose.

And, when I think of making that sacrifice, I always think of Miss Zeibarth and the popcorn.


3.04.2014

Bragging Rights or My Personal Claim to Fame

My mother was the best of women; she was just good in every way.  I was a blessed girl.

But, she told me one thing that I don’t agree with.  

Her mother had taught her this and she had passed it on to me; It’s impolite to brag about your children.  

(So, I didn’t brag when they were growing up, but gladly do so now!  Congrats, Dr H on becoming a Commander! Congrats granddaughter K for the A+ and incredible note from your science teacher, congrats granddaughter A on being asked to sing in front of the entire school, congrats J & A on having the cutest little baby boy EVER – except for all the other grandsons/granddaughters, of which there are many!, etc., etc., etc.)

But, this post is not  to brag about my children or GRANDchildren, this is MY PERSONAL CLAIM TO FAME from my ancestors (and it will explain exactly why I will ALWAYS have a struggle with my weight!)

My great grandparents, Orrin Jackson Merrill and Elizabeth White Merrill celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1925….hooray for them.  But, it’s the newspaper article about that event that is so unique and at the same time, frightening.  (IF this were included in a newspaper today, we could sue for slander, except that it was TRUE, so it’s not slanderous at all!)

Here is the exact wording of the article about MY great grandparents; oh my…what a claim to fame!

“The six sons and two daughters from the point of view of WEIGHT and LENGTH are thought to make up the LARGEST family in Idaho.  Each weighs OVER 200 POUNDS, and even the girls will measure almost six feet while the boys average nearly six feet four in inches.”

I shudder each time I see this; imagine having your WEIGHT included in your anniversary notice; and they seemed to be PROUD of it.  

Mamma Mia….what a claim to fame…the LARGEST FAMILY IN IDAHO by weight…now, that’s bragging rights, right there!

This picture was taken in 1888 several years before the 50th wedding anniversary article that sealed my weight fate!




3.02.2014

Home is Where the Heart Isn't.....Anymore!

In June of 1976, we were living out of town in a modest, but adequate home on a one-acre lot.  On a gorgeous Saturday morning, we drove to Pocatello, Idaho to help my parents move from their home in Pocatello, to Virginia.

As we sat on the front lawn eating our lunch, we heard the news: the TETON DAM had burst.  RAH didn't believe it!  How could a strong dam burst?

But, it was absolutely true.  Many people lost their entire homes on that June Saturday.  We lost our car and our yard and our basement.  By that, I mean the car was washed away and our yard - including 100 small trees RAH had planted as a border around our yard - and basement were destroyed by the mud and muck of the flood waters.

(This is all leading somewhere.)

The outcome of that event was that the state of Idaho bought our home as they were going to put a freeway right where our property was.

So, we needed to move.

We bought some property in a cul-de-sac in town.

And, RAH decided to build the home.  He hired a builder to frame it, and then he began the arduous task of wiring, sheet rocking, plumbing, painting, etc.  Every night after school, every weekend, every holiday, every minute he wasn't at his job, he was there - at that home WORKING, SWEATING, FIGURING OUT.

The home was quite large actually - 3 stories.  He had decided to put a rental in the basement.  That was genius!  For 25 years we rented to married college students.  For 25 years, he kept the rent low, affordable, and fair.  And for 25 years, we lived in the home that had his blood, sweat, and tears.

The home was a GREAT place to raise our five children.  They loved it, we loved it.

And, then we moved.  About a mile away.  To a brand new home.  (RAH had to finish that basement, however, so his building days weren't over quite yet!)

Yesterday, a neighbor emailed a picture of our beloved home on Steiner Ave.

It's changed - a LOT!  But, then, not so much.

Here is 241 Steiner Avenue in February of 2014....home of my heart and soul for many, many years.

At the time we sold this home, the entire neighborhood had changed; every home but two were now college rental  properties. When we sold this home, RAH made two apartments out of the upstairs.  The new owners then made one half of the garage their master bedroom since the master bedroom had previously been upstairs.  So, now four families can live in what was once a home for two families.  The HUGE back yard that was once large, lush green lawn is partly a parking lot.  CHANGE - it's always a com in' to a neighborhood near you.



3.01.2014

The Lady in the Back Row

"I won't be in class for a couple of weeks," Jody said to no one in particular before the instructor arrived.

I asked where she was going....

"I'm taking my mother on a cruise."

"So fun," I shrieked.

"NOT so at all," Jody responded.  "My mother is an angry bitter old woman.  She has NO friends, is very whiney and complains all the time."

She went on to explain some more about her mother...

When Jody's older brother had died a number of years previously, her mother was so distraught that she began to go to Indian casinos close to her home in So Cal and she gambled; A LOT!

The mother had had to take out a 3rd mortgage on her home, and by the time her daughter discovered what was happening, she was also in credit card debt of $78,000!  The daughter, Jody, insisted her mother go to Gambler's Anonymous, which the mother did for awhile.

Jody then told some more about her life, her story....truly some of it was unbelievable...particularly the part about her brother, her, and drugs.

I was left shaking my head, as I thought,

"Man, I'm so blessed in the family I was brought up in."

Sometimes, on a day out of the blue, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the great family I was raised in....and Wednesday was one of those days!