Saturday, October 31, 2009

Back In The Day

In the olden days Halloween was different than it is today. Although I am not a big fan of the scary parts of Halloween, both the imagined and the real, there are things I do like about it. For one, it seems that most kids are pretty crazy about the costumes and the trick or treating. Because kids love it, they tend to remember it when they grow up. I think that any holiday that book marks childhood memories can be a good thing.

When I think back to my growing up years a lot of it is just a fog. The repetition of daily life seems to all blend into a happy feeling inside of me but not a lot of real specific things are there unless I search the archives of my memory with real intent. Things like Halloween seem to stand out pretty well.

It seems that the costumes were mostly homemade and I can remember a lot of ghosts and hobos. There were also a lot of gypsies and little girls in lots of mom's make-up and fancy fake jewelry and boys with blackened faces done by lighting a match to a cork and then rubbing it on your face. Lots of kids just wore their own clothes and a mask of some kind. I don't remember adults in costumes unless they were going to a grown-up party or wanted to really scare kids at their doors.

The tricks that I remember were soaping windows. It was something the bigger kids did that really made people mad as it was hard to get off the cars and houses. Heaven knows we never did it, mom and dad would never allow anything like that thankfully. In my Dad's day it was turning over outhouses and he was known to have participated in a few of those events! One time he and a bunch of kids put a guy's buckboard up on his barn roof. They got in some major trouble from their parents for that. We on the other hand, were perfect little angels. Sure we were!

We had some fun school activities with costumes and bobbing for apples and old-fashioned things like that. I remember "going fishing" for prizes, eating popcorn balls and frosted cookies. These events were the precursor to the school carnivals of today I think.

Halloween was always a bench mark for the beginning of the colder and rainier weather and staying warm outside under your costume was essential. It seems that it would be dark so early and was usually the first week of daylight savings time. And no one was interested in eating dinner, that's for sure! We just wanted to go, go go! The thing about candy in those days was it was a rare treat which made the pay dirt all the sweeter. (Is there a lesson for another day here?)

Jen's pumpkin art

We would always pray for no rain in Sacramento where I grew up. Rain always put such a damper on the blocks and blocks of door to door trick or treating. We lived in a housing tract and going out was so much fun.

You didn't have to be afraid of weirdos that liked to poison kids and things like that. Kids were out in mass and parents just didn't have to worry about the safety of their kids like we did in our kids' day and especially now that we have grandkids. Fortunately, most people now just take their kids to homes of people they know and still every year you read of unfortunate events involving little kids. Not so in our care free days of growing up.

We all used large paper bags to collect our loot. One of our parents would always go with us until we were about 10. Then we could go alone if we took our little brother with us. One time I remember that I was 10, Steve was 8 and our baby brother, Gary, was 5. Out we went with Gary in tow and we hit every house for about five blocks. We had a ton of candy and were pretty excited. The few rich people even gave out 5 cent candy bars!! When we arrived home exhausted and happy we ran to our rooms to empty our bags on to the floor and count and sort the stuff. Steve and I ran into the bedroom and then we heard our little brother crying in the kitchen.

The next thing I knew my Dad was standing over Steve and me saying that we needed to share our candy with Gary! " What? Are you kidding us?" I guess we weren't doing the best job of watching him as he ran to keep up with us that night. It seems little Gar, was not quite tall enough and he was dragging his paper bag in the wet grass. He arrived home with nothing but a big bag with a big hole in the bottom. Poor little guy! He was heart broken and we begrudgingly shared our candy. To this day I call him and remind him not to drag his bag in the wet grass every Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween Tomorrow!

One of My Pet Peeves

One thing that makes me crazy is that if you live long enough you have to eventually learn way too much about a lot of things that don't really merit a lot of attention in the first place. Case in point....

Yesterday I spent hours on the Internet looking into the various aspects of tubs, toilets and sinks. I have never had any desire to be a quasi-expert in all of these lovely items but now I am. Go ahead just ask me a question~I'll know the answer. Useless facts and figures abound.

Toilets...Toto all the way...the Drake elongated 2 piece energy efficient one.

Sinks...Many choices but we like the Toto Promenade pedestal sinks...we will have two matching ones instead of a vanity. Also need two medicine cabinets...another foray of things to investigate. Oh, and the week for that.

Now the tubs...a free standing soaking tub. There are a billion tubs ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime in prices. The best place I have found so far,

If I get the OK from my boss/hubby it will be on its way from Florida next week. Cheaper for nicer even with the shipping. I cannot decide if we want the claw foot or the pedestal base yet.

This may well be the most boring post I have ever done but as you are yawning away you will know what my day was like yesterday. Ugh!

What peeves me about it is that you have to learn so much about everything before you can make an intelligent decision in your purchases. We have to do this because there are far too many choices which gives unscrupulous people so many more chances to take advantage of our ignorance. I just want to get to the fun part...the icing on the cake, the decorating. I know I must be patient as the foundation isn't even poured yet thanks to City planners who took two weeks to issue a building permit and charging 5 times what it would have been just last year. Welcome to California..."I'm a hundred years old." (That last quote was for my Jennifer...our favorite line from The Proposal with Sandra Bullock!)

Well happy days, dear readers, I am off to the vacuum cleaner store. Now there's another thrill filled day for ya. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun is the song I am singing!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

BOO! Gramma's Literary Society

The Third Halloween

Written and Illustrated by Zachary (age 5)

Once upon a time there was a ghost that was scared of a witch. The witch died of bonking into a house. Then a scary, scary skeleton came to a very scary pumpkin and the skeleton was scared of the pumpkin. The skeleton ran away from the pumpkin. A scary, scary bat came to the season of Halloween then the bat flew to its home. Then tons of people that were in costumes were going trick-or-treating. Another ghost came and scared the people that were in costumes.

The End

Boo! (from Zach)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


To Do:

Write a Spiritual Post ............Check

Talk to Laura about Christmas.............Check

Update the Grandkids' Blog................Check

Help Mary Jane Select Paint.................Check

Check Facebook Updates..........................Check

Shop for the Cousins' Party................Check

Research Bathroom Fixtures and glass bricks.......Check


Make Lasagna...................Check

Dinner in the oven...............Check


Clean up the Cooking Mess......................Not even kinda sorta
Thinking About It!

Here with you instead!

2 hours later...

Clean up done...

What.........I just heard the buzzer on the dryer???
Hmmmm...Uncheck Laundry.....
And so it goes!

I Stand All Amazed

Sometimes when I look around me and face the trials of the daily experiences of life, I am overwhelmed with the burdens of earth life. I look around and I see suffering on so many levels in so many people lives and I cannot comprehend the state of this fallen world.

I don't know if it is me, but it seems that everyone has something huge they are dealing with most of the time. There are the illnesses...some so devastating and life-taking, the heart breaks of every variety, the challenges and crushing power of poverty, the crimes and wars, and injustices, the wickedness. It is getting worse all the time and it is frightening and overwhelming in ways that can just suck you into despair on so many levels.

What has me amazed is that the Savior of the world could even breathe under this weight, so huge and incomprehensible to us as we try to imagine it from our tiny personal perspectives. When I hear of the pains and sufferings of people I love and care for my heart breaks sometimes for their pain. What amazes me is my heart full of compassion is but a minuscule speck compared to the love and compassion our Savior knows intimately and feels so deeply for each and every one of us. There just aren't words to describe how I feel about that.

What amazes me further is that in spite of our smallness, I see human beings every day that struggle and rise above so much pain. I marvel that we can still find all the good in life, the reasons to smile and be grateful, the desire to survive and rise above, to press forward having faith in God, ourselves and others. We are so resilient and I know that is the spark of the divine within each of us. As we cling to the light of Christ, we gain some of the power that faith offers and we move forward, onward and upward. When I look at some of my family and friends I am so humbled by their examples, I am lifted up and taught constantly.

The amazing thing about it all is that good will overcome evil and the Lord's plan for our happiness will prevail. Knowing that we can each get out of bed each day, face the unknown, with confidence that we are not alone, he is with us, we have each other, and there is hope. We can know that we have a Heavenly Father that truly loves us, an Elder brother who would and has done everything for us, and that we can feel complete comfort in that, is what I build my life and expectations and future hopes on every single day.

Without it what would be the point of any of this? And that is the message I have for some beautiful people that I know are suffering today because they have shared it with me and reached out for some answers. The answers to every problem, every trial, every concern is the same.

Liz Lemon Swindle

It is Jesus Christ, his mission, his love, his example, his promise. He has done it all for us...why try to reinvent the wheel? There is no need if we will just avail ourselves of what already is. I have lived long enough to know that if we just reach out, reach up, reach around another, his hand is always there. Believing truly is seeing~and then seeing is believing! It goes both ways and truly is amazing! Hold on to the Light!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween: By Julia (Gramma's Literary Society)

originally posted on her mom's blog

The Halloween Poem

'Little kids looking for ghosts.
Witches flying over posts.
There is a skeleton walking
while other kids are screaming and talking.
There is a jack-o-lantern floating
while detectives are thinking and noting.'

Seriously, how do our children turn out so much more brilliant than we were at their age? She wrote this on her own, this morning, just for fun--not at school or with any prompting. I've never written a spontaneous poem in my life! She is 9." Jen

P.S. Check out this cute video made for Julia's poem
by our friend Paul who is scaring people daily
in Scotland where he lives!

A Simple Woman's Daybook~October 26, 2009

To join in focusing on the simple things and pleasures of your daily life or to read other people's entries, you can click here.

So, For Today...Monday, October 26, 2009

Outside my is dark and chilly and I am glad I am inside with the fireplace going.

I am thinking...I have a lot to do this week in preparation for the family reunion here next weekend.

From the learning room...sometimes we can intellectually know things but there is often that aha moment when something that you have heard repeatedly sinks in and becomes a part of who you really are. I love it when you gain a testimony deep within your heart of things you have known forever.

I am reading...Reading? My grocery list. Things have been insanely busy lately and I have had very little time to read. I think I did read a few chapters of Leadership and Self-Deception last night before falling asleep and I have been glancing longingly at The Lost Symbol sitting on the window seat and untouched for a few weeks.

From the shopping today, ordering a cake for Jim's mom's birthday for the crowd coming here on Sunday afternoon. The reunion happens to fall on her birthday although she dislikes a big deal made of her special day~we will have a cake and sing for her 83rd ~at least.

I am wondering...and daydreaming about how nice it will be to have a new bathroom with more space and some modern fixtures and features.

I am wearing...white, long sleeved t-shirt and Snoopy jammy bottoms. I have had them for years. Not something I would normally buy, but I received them as a gift from Santa and they just won't wear out!

I am creating...Christmas lists and menu for Sunday, travel plans, bathroom plans, thinking about the Christmas program I am in charge of the Sunday before we leave for Italy, and wondering about how we will fit the new heating system into the project budget...? How does this happen? I think it is just that I plan 2 times as many things as I can actually accomplish in 24 hours. What I use to be able to do in a day, I'm lucky if I get it done in a week!

I am hearing...Cry Me A River from the new album by Michael Buble. I love that you can buy only the tracks you really want on iTunes.

I am straighten out my china cabinet today.

I am quoting...while discussing the usefulness of the trials in our lives as a refining fire someone said in the lesson yesterday that they had heard the quote, "I know that the Lord will not give me anything I cannot handle, I just wish he didn't have so much trust and confidence in me." Gotta love it~we even want our trials on our own terms!

My spiritual thoughts include...Gratitude for the aha moments and for my testimony which is growing of God's plan for us ~ every single day.

Around the house....organized chaos.

Today I miss...the way my knees use to let me just bound out of a chair with no particular effort or pain.

I am hoping...Jim's back will continue to improve daily and he will use wisdom and prudence in his decisions about what he should and should not be lifting.

I have been procrastinating..catching up on the budget entries in my little book.

One of my favorite things...leisure time with nothing pressing down on me. Oh, how rare and wonderful!

A few plans for the rest of the week...visiting teaching tomorrow and shopping, flu shot, cooking all day on Wednesday, finding some fixtures for the bathroom, hoping the bathroom foundation gets poured, some deep breathing and remembering one thing at a time will usually get it all done. And I am thankful I do not have to worry about making any Halloween costumes anymore!!

Here is a picture I am sharing with you..

Here are some sweet treats for Halloween!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Speaking of Winners

Spencer James
I am not sure why I love writing so much, but it just feels so essential to my well-being. I know not all people share this love with me. But I think our grandson, Spencer, is an exceptional writer and on the brink of self-discovering one of his God-given talents. I want to share some of the things he has been doing lately. This poem is really outstanding for a 10 year old. In fact, I don't think a lot of adults can do this. Check it out!



"I’ve come up with a strategy impossible to beat,
A person with this strategy you’ll never want to meet.
I’ve come up with a strategy and this time I will win,
I‘ve come up with a strategy now let the game begin.

I’ve come with a strategy the chances I have won,
Are rapidly increasing ever since the game begun.
I’ve come up with a strategy and your almost dead,
I’ve come up with a strategy prepare to lose your head.

I’ve come up with a strategy you do not have a chance,
I’ve come up with a strategy prepare as I advance.
I’ve come up with a strategy and you will never win,
And if we play another game, I'm sure I’ll win again!

I’ve come up with a strategy you’re almost in check - mate,
I’ve come up with a strategy prepare to meet your fate.
I've come up with a strategy I've almost won the bet.
A hundred million dollars is what I plan to get.

The game is almost over, pay up- I'm the boss,
I hope you learned your lesson ... Say what? OH NO - I LOST!"

I think this is not only written very well but has a great message. There is a great difference between being self-assured and cocky. When we become so positive that we are invincible, surely a humbling experience will follow.
We am so proud of this poem that I think I shall have to start a new society. I am calling it Gramma's Literary Society! I already have one of Julia's pieces to share this week and I am calling for new submissions from the rest of the grandkids (or anyone else who wants to join in!) I know Zach wrote an original Halloween story just a few weeks ago. Let's hear it from Connor, Aynslee, Piper, and Ross too! You can publish your first story right here on my blog!

I think it is just wonderful that people can write and publish right on their own blogs~what a blessing that everyone's voice can be heard. In the old days when publishing was so random and difficult, I think many writers just threw in the towel. I am thankful to be alive in this time. Are you as excited about being able to publish as I am?

What a blessing!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Law of the Harvest

I always think of the law of the harvest at this time of year.
When I see things like this...

I think of this:

The Parable of the Sower

The Gospel of Mark, chapter 4?

“And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.

“And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine,

“Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:

“And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.

“And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:

“But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.

“And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.

“And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.

“And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:1–9.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Grandparent to Grandparent

One of the beautiful stained glass
windows at Grace Cathedral SF
(photos from this post are from a trip to SF yesterday with our dear friends)

I think I have discovered something pretty cool about grandparenting. If you can possibly become good friends with your son or daughter-in-law's parents this is a wonderful gift for your kids and grandkids. I am not talking about things like just living in the same town and gathering with the kids from time to time as a large group. What I am talking about is having a desire to spend time together as real friends, when the kids are no where to be seen.

The side panels of the cathedral

I know, I know...some of you are shuddering and thinking...
..are you kidding me?
The very thought of your parents and his parents hanging out is giving you hives. But just think how much more cohesion that could give your extended family and what it would truly mean to your spouse. Or if you are one of the set of nice it would be for your posterity.

The Palace of Fine Arts, SF
Built in 1902 for the World's Fair
It was beautiful and the City was not crowded!

Enjoyed by all ~ for more than a century!

This is what I have discovered. All of our kids have married into our same faith~we all have a common foundation or operating system, if you prefer. Each of their families are strong in the gospel of Jesus Christ, share the same values, serve others and we all have common goals. Automatically we knew so much about each other from the get go. With very little effort it was easy to quickly just love the families of our new kids.

Over the past 12 years we have seen each other pretty often considering we live all over the country. We made it a choice to get to know each other better than was required of us. Consequently we have entertained each of the other grandparents in our home more than once, kept in touch by phone and e-mail and now blogs and we have become friends. Although our kids were the catalysts, our relationships with each have grown to become more than that.

To me this has benefited our kids and grandkids as well as us. This morning we just said good-bye to Lowell's parents who came to stay with us for a few days while traveling home to Nevada from Washington. Yesterday we went to San Francisco and showed them the sites from a local's point of view.

The four of us with SF skyline in the background

We explored several places had a fantastic dinner at the ocean's shore and then we went home and Mary Jane and I went to a musical performance while the men when out to Jim's work to do some guy stuff in the shop.

Mary Jane and Read
(Yep, that is how you spell. It is
pronounced like go read a book!)

One of the fun things we did was call our shared little granddaughter, Chloe, while driving through the hills of San Francisco. She was delighted to know both of her grandmothers were sitting in the same car chatting with her. When I told the bigger girls that was part of why I was leaving they thought it was really neat! Their other grandparents are going to Utah to take care of them while Jennifer goes to Italy to visit with Laura and family for 10 days in a few weeks. Chloe asked me to please teach her other grandma a Halloween song while we were together so they could sing it when Mary Jane arrives. Even though I totally forgot to teach her the song...I thought that was so cute. ( I better send MJ an e-mail with the lyrics to Stirring and Stirring and Stirring my Brew...!)

Sending it back through the Gate to get the spelling right!

Well, what I am saying is that I think it adds to the love and security a child feels when they know they really do have one big happy family, not just dad's side and mom's side. When there is no competition between grandparents and everyone just loves each other and the kids without a big is really great.

I am happy that we can give our grandkids this special gift and get to know some great friends in the process. Thanks for coming, Read and Mary Jane...we love you guys a lot and treasure the memory of the times we have spent together, with the kids but also at your house, ours, the Paris Penthouse (ha, remember coming up for the "drink", The Orleans (shrimp shell piles), baptisms, holidays and all the other times. It has been a blast!

Fort Baker's Surfing Cove, SF

Jim's prized photo! Love it!

Utah Randomness

There always seem to be some cute random photos left over after a trip that don't fit perfectly into a specific post. Here are some that I liked.

The morning I left saying our good-byes!
Off to work and school for these three!

Hazel has become quite good at not
only speaking but ASL signing!
My favorite things she signs are gorilla,
and "pay attention"
(she has absolutely no idea what this means)
and of course, Gramma.

I this wooden bowl that Jen has
with all the cute mini-pumpkins and gourds.

The girls helping with family dinner clean-up!

More TiaPan with Julia!

Snow-capped Mountain shining through the clouds.

Rock A-Bye Baby on the front porch!

Our beautiful Jen-Jen!

Quaking Aspen at Sundance

Bedtime family gathering at Chris and
. Zach sharing his own version of
a Halloween story with me.

One of my favorite houses in their area~
I am lovin' that porch!!
Click Click

Julia loves sleeping with her Gramma so she
camped on the floor at the foot of the
bed when it
was Piper's turn! Sweet, huh?

They make me feel so loved!

My Piper Girl! So sweet and cuddly!

Jewels in her glam, fluffy, pink robe!

This tree in the front yard turned
from green to golden while I was there.

Lovin' me some Chloe girl!
What a great ten days!
I went to help but they
gave me a great vacation!