Friday, April 30, 2010

Spring Has Sprung......Hopefully!

What a funny spring we are having. Not just here I understand but everywhere. Even Italy is still getting drenched even though Laura saw this just a few weeks ago....

This photo was taken in ancient Rome near the Forum where all the ruins are. It is a pretty brownish/stony looking (dead) place but look what came along to add some beauty! God is good!

Friends in Utah are waking up to snow still and friends in Texas are having cloudy overcast days. The thing here is one day it is nice and then we get three days of rain. Like a little chick trying peck its way out of an egg...we are working on it. Spring will come and stay eventually!

Last weekend we went to Oakland for our semi-annual stake conference and it was gorgeous over there. These photos are especially for Dorothy, a sweet lady that is missing her home in CA after relocating when her husband passed away, eleven years ago. I know she had probably visited Temple Hill many times and would like to have a vicarious visit today.

Our church has many temples throughout the world and we are so blessed to live quite close to one. Here is what the temple looked like last weekend. The temple grounds have a big auditorium for large meetings and performances and we often meet there when our stake (10 wards or congregations) are involved in a joint meeting. The grounds are so beautiful and peaceful and sit high atop a hill so the view is magnificent on a clear day.

We had a little haze last Sunday but it was still lovely.
Looking west toward San Francisco from Temple Hill.

Water rationing is over! We rejoiced
that the fountains are up and running again.

Four generations of beautiful friends
~The Leal Family

The Hopkins and their son, Matt.

A quiet place near where we parked.

A forgotten rose from a wedding on Saturday.

Side of the hill looking east.

The flower beds looked amazing!

I adore these maple trees! They are gorgeous right now.
This one is in the inner courtyard of the temple.

Here I was standing right under one.

A Beautiful Camellia

We decided to take the mountain road home.
When I think of retiring with my hubby
I think of days filled with this...

Beauty to the eye and heart at every turn...

Clean fresh air that lifts you so high above the ground...

I know I am a hopeless romantic but I cannot stop
thinking about places like this, being alone, with no
phones ringing and no big rush to get us anywhere
special at any particular time.

I know, I know, you are smiling and shaking your head...
I'll give you the real scoop when it actually comes to pass!
A girl can dream can't she??

Thursday, April 29, 2010


I have been so long winded the last few days I am giving you a break and just posting one two little pictures that makes me grin and hopefully it will brighten up your day too.

This is Hazie enjoying her "Chocwit Wow!" from her big sister. Mommy was probably in the shower when this happened is my guess! At least she didn't try to make her dry Top Raman in a pie tin and catch the microwave fire as she has done in the past. She is a fast learner, that Chloe girl!

This is Chloe if you haven't met her yet!
She keeps life interesting, this little Grandie of ours!

{Jen it could have been worse~remember the baby
that had its face drawn on with
a black permanent marker by an older sibling?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

About A Boy

I write an awful lot about our girls and I would never want you to think I favor them over our wonderful son. We love them all the same ~ which is completely! Chris is our middle child and is sandwiched between our two girls. All the kids are three years apart in age. Chris was born in 1975 and I think the Lord sent us the best little boy possible as we had some rough roads ahead right after he was born.

Within three months of his birth, we lost Jim's brother and only sibling (age 26) in a terrible motorcycle accident and moved into the first home we ever purchased within just a few weeks. To say it was a stressful time would be grossly understated. Talk about putting us in a tailspin, that was the year if ever there was one.

The Lord sent us this beautiful little boy and somehow we got through the days and weeks of that first year, largely because he was such an angel. Chris has always been the best of sons. Honestly, he doesn't have an ounce of guile in him. He is kind, funny, has a winning smile and is so good-natured and was always obedient. He is a person who just seems to be so comfortable being himself. I would get so frustrated with his messy room and say very sternly, "Christopher Andrew, get in that room right this minute and get it picked up!" He would take the last bit of wind out of my sails with a good-natured..."OK, Momma!"

It was interesting raising one boy and two girls. The girls had their hormonal ups and downs but Chris just seemed to glide through things...always landing sunny side up. He is one of those people, as an adult, that works so incredibly hard but makes life look easy. His life has a flow to it that I truly envy and admire. He is calm and centered. Chris has never had self-esteem problems...he views himself as no better and or worse than anyone else. He lives a simple life and doesn't make himself crazy second guessing himself. If only that quality could be bottled and sold to the females on the planet.

Chris is our child that dug the deepest roots. He never wanted to leave home and our house and the community of friends he had established from his youngest years. He would come unglued if we even looked at houses in other places which we loved to do, especially in San Francisco. He wanted to stay put, after all this was HOME!

When he was a teenager he would often invite me into his room just to talk. He liked to run things by me and many a night we talked long and late about friends he was concerned about because they were on a wrong path. Sometimes it would be about his life in general and his future plans. He sought our advise often. He was always very compassionate about kids that really struggled with their parents and other issues. His best friend was Josh, and he had Cystic Fibrosis and died in his mid-twenties. Chris spent countless hours with Josh as the hospital playing Star Wars when they were little and just hanging out as they grew up.

He is a really musical guy and loved singing for me and playing his guitar. To this this day I miss those times so much. I remember him singing all kinds of versions of Rocky Raccoon to me and changing the lyrics as he went along just to make me laugh. He was an inventor in embryo, even then. He was a singer and performer from junior high on and learned to play the piano on his own right before his mission to South America. He was able to do this by transferring what he knew on the guitar and one day just sat down and started playing. It was mind-blowing and he used it through out his mission in most church meetings.

I loved to watch him learn from his Dad a lot of the important" guy things" and I still enjoy watching them work on projects together. He learned to play baseball and do his scouting projects to get his Eagle Scout Award with his Dad's interest and help. He learned to be a wonderful husband and father by following his Dad's good example. And just like his Dad he can fix anything. Right now he is remodeling their basement (with Missy's help) in his spare time. They has just finished digging out the window wells for the new windows in Connor's new bedroom.
He is a spiritual guy and prayed his way into BYU with a B+average when straight A's were preferred. Everyday he'd call me at lunch time to see if his acceptance letter had come in the mail yet. If not, he just kept tirelessly petitioning the Lord. He prayed his heart out and got in! He signed up for summer semester so he literally left home the night he graduated from High School. We picked him up at 3:30 am from Grad Night to get him to Utah the next day in time for his college orientation.

Since that time he has received his BS, MA, and a PhD in mechanical engineering. He served a two year mission for Jesus Christ in Brazil and since high school has only lived at home for four months after his mission until the next semester began.

Had I known on Grad Night it was not ever going to be the same after he left home, I would have cried a lot more and harder for the missing of such a fine boy! Somewhere during all of that time he grew into a brilliant man. I could keep up with my smart boy, but the brilliant man has been a lot harder. I tried to read his Master's thesis and after the first two paragraphs had no remote conception of what he was talking about. Engineering and inventions of these tiny mechanical devices somehow eludes me. Fortunately, his Dad gets that sort of technical stuff and could follow along and at least ask intelligent questions. As for me...not really. I like to talk to him about the other aspects of his life.

While Chris was in school he worked for an engineering firm in Utah and even went to live and work China for 18 months for them, after getting his doctorate in NY. The CEO wanted him to become a full partner with him but Chris decided to go to the academic side of engineering so he could do research and teach.
He is such a people person so that was a great choice for him. Being an educator has served him well for the last four year at the University. He has been married to Melissa for almost 13 years and they have three sons and one daughter. They have a wonderful happy little family. He serves as scout master in the church and travels a lot for the University and presents papers, gives lectures and gets grants for research, etc. along with teaching classes.

So the reason I am telling you all this, is not for his benefit...he does not read the he has no time. But it is to let you know that I don't write about him as much because I don't get that much time with him. The truth is I miss him terribly but, I just try to make the best of it as I know he is doing exactly what he should be doing. He is independent, spiritual, happy in his marriage and a wonderful father. He is doing what we raised him to do and everything we wanted him to do. But the truth is that his successes have come because of who he is. He just came that way. We were blessed. And we are so very proud of all his goodness and his accomplishments in setting and reaching his goals.

He has lived 17 of his 35 years away from us and that is so hard for me. He is so good to call us and he treats me like a queen when we are together and always has. He is a best friend to both Jim and to me. I realize as I have been writing this how very much I miss him and those special times we use to have just talking and hanging out when he never wanted to even think about leaving home.

And look at him now. I am still surprised when I see him and he is a MAN. In my mind's eye he is still that 18 year old boy going off into his future, none of us knowing it was the end of an era. And suddenly I am feeling emotional and there are tears running down my cheeks.

When he was a little boy he was sometimes sad that he didn't have a brother to play with. I always told him it was because we could never love another little boy as much as we loved him. I was mostly trying to appease and comfort my little, lonely boy, but in reality I was telling him the absolute truth. The extent of which I barely knew myself at that time.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall...

"Mirror, mirror on the wall... I am my mother after all!"

I saw a pillow that had that embroidered on it and had to chuckle. Don't you remember when your mom use to drive you a little nuts? Come on...admit it! I do. I use to think she was kinda out of it and didn't get the way the modern world worked very much at all. I was pretty sure I knew a better way. Of course I was a teenager then. It is amazing how much smarter our parents get as we get older. So many times lately I think..."Oh, that is what mom meant...I get it now." So many times I wish she was still alive so I could compliment her on her great wisdom in so many areas of everyday life.

The funny part is so many times you get those same feelings on the other side of the fence. I know my kids sometimes roll their eyes and think.."Oh, Mother!" They would probably say... I'm clueless! It is just part of the cycle of life and the way things work.

We learn many things after the fact. I can remember thinking as a kid, I will never do that when I grow up and become a mom...but, ironically you do. That is when you smile to yourself and wish you had that pillow! But you don't really need the pillow because you just know!

That thing that drove you crazy then is now mysteriously a part of who you have become! From my vantage point on this side of 50...I think it is poetic justice. I feel myself smiling when I think of how comical it really is. I think of the things people say to their kids when they are upset..."I hope you get a kid just like you!" Another funny one might be, "I hope you turn out just like me!" Of course you'd want to add "but better" but you don't tell them that then!

The truth is we just don't get certain things until we have experienced them ourselves. That is the pearl of great price in getting older! No amount of telling can replace being there yourself. As a mother, once in awhile you have to just bite your tongue and not say I told you so! But eventually we come to a certain meeting of the minds as mothers and daughters that just creates a friendship like no other, in the best of all worlds.

What got me thinking about this this morning was a series of posts on a sweet young woman's blog who just had a fun mommy/daughter time with her mom, my friend, Caroline. Nicki is a nanny and Caroline got to spend a week with her in NY recently. It was just so wonderful to read of her thoughts on her mom and how they have changed as she had become a young adult. Nicki's account of the visit can be found on her blog and here is just an excerpt that I thought was so precious.

Caroline & Nicki

Nicki said. "On our very last day together Mom taught me how to make homemade bread. A few months ago I tried to teach myself and it was nothing short of disaster, so this time around I was happy to have her expertise! It came out beautifully! We shared hot bread together before it was time to drive to the airport. A great way to end a wonderful visit.

I drove her to the airport that afternoon and to say that we were both a tad melancholy is acutely accurate. When it was time to say goodbye we hugged extra long and cried a little bit. Ariana had fallen asleep in the car and as I drove home I cried a little more.

It's funny to think of the progression of our relationship. Over the past few years it's morphed into a stronger friendship, I am so grateful for that. As a kid she was the Mommy who snuggled me and wrote notes on the napkins she put in my brown bag lunches. As a teenager she was the Mom who had to know "when, what, where & who?" and told me, "You could argue with a fence post!" {sorry about that one, Mom}. And now, as whatever I am, she's become my best friend, my shoulder to cry on, my outlet, my confidant, my go-to, my foundation and my example. I love it. There's nothing like a week of having your Mama all to yourself... can't wait until next time!"

This just touched me so much and made me think of my own mom and my daughters all at the same time. I am glad to be sandwiched in between such amazing women; mom and Jen and Laura who equal 100% happiness for me. I also I felt a lot of joy for my friend, Caroline, and for her job that has obviously been very well done!"

And it also made me feel sad for those wonderful women who have been such great moms. They have given their all but never have this experience with their daughters because their daughters have been given their agency to choose how they will treat their mothers. Sadly, in some cases it is quite different than this example of a mom and daughter who are best friends.

I just love it when I read something that really makes me feel something deep inside, that speaks truth to my soul in the way this blog post did. Thank you, Nicki and Caroline!

I am happy to say I am more like my mom than I could have ever dreamed possible. How can that not be when no one influences you more than your mom in your formative years and even after they are gone? I can still hear my mom's words in my head and heart.

Here is a slide show of the moms and daughters (and a few dads and sons) in our family that I made long ago.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Simple Woman's Daybook~April 26, 2010

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, April 26, 2010

Outside my window...It is 6:30 am and I am enjoying the early dawn of a new day, and new week. Morning are so beautiful and so full of hope for a new day. I feel that today!

I am thinking...I just tried on a new pair of jeans and they are so long! Hello, I am 5'8" and I have never had to shorten a pair of pants in my life...but this may be the first. Why are they making pants so long these days?

I am thankful in my life. It is just so elevating and enjoyable.

From the learning room...As long as you haven't given up on something or someone you haven't failed. You just keep on keeping on and eventually what you hope for will be yours. The keys seems to be endurance and a lot of faith.

I am reading...Book 2 by Bodie Theone, "Prague Counterpoint." Wow, this series is fantastic!

From the kitchen...definitely time to restock the pantry and frig but I may not be able to until tomorrow. I love starting it with a great trip to the Farmer's Market and that happens tomorrow in our town.

I am wonderful it will be when there are no more lunches to pack at 4:30 am.

I am wearing...I hope you are sitting down...I am actually dressed! Jeans and a bedazzled brown and pink tee. Socks and crocs...comfy stuff.

I am hearing...The Carpenters~Breaking All The Rules.

I am going...
to recommit to having only the most healthy foods in the house. Removing the temptations really is a good trick!

Today if I could change one thing..not having to actually think about the one above. I want it to just be second nature.

I am quoting..."The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect, he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise." ~Alden Nowlan. I found this on my friend, Marie's blog and loved it! So I am quoting Marie quoting Alden Nowlan.

My spiritual thoughts include...the realization that goodness produces comes from Christ who is the Light. Darkness comes from evil but it cannot over power The Light. No matter what if we stay within His Light we will be safe. Our choices control the light/dimmer switch in our lives.

Around the house...I am enjoying the post construction era so much. Loving the cottage more each day. It is fun to feel that feeling renewed after living in the same place for over 30 years. I am also enjoying that my spring cleaning is almost done! We're decluttered and clean and ready for the longer warmer days of spring and summer.

I am missing...One on one visits with our kids.

I am hoping....To get some travel plans squared away today.

I have been procrastinating...Going to DMV to find out why some car tags we have paid for have not arrived. They don't believe in answering phones there! That is one place that is so uninviting, don't you agree? I don't know anyone who says, "Yippee, I get to go to DMV today!"

One of my guilty pleasures...Reading blogs. Honestly I could do it all day long. required discipline. I don't even read magazines anymore, blogs are so much more wholesome and informative and bring to light the joy that people are feeling instead of working on all the same old things you see on every magazine cover. Blogs are about being happy with what you have instead of always trying to be something you're not. I love the positive spin that the blogs I read put on life. And I find them entertaining as well. Read this if you want a good laugh. This was written by our friend and home teacher, Travis.

One of my favorite that do not hurt my feet. I wish I could find more variety!

A few plans for the rest of the week...2 meeting today (one fun one!), Farmer Market tomorrow and food prep, getting ready to plant some flowers so I need to get my pots all emptied and cleaned up. Love that, (the planting not the cleaning up!) Thursday night going to a provident living class on emergency preparedness at church, Friday night date night. We will be watching the 4th disc from a BBC Masterpiece Theatre series of Little Dorrit, by Dickens. Very intriguing and interesting. We love BBC! And we will be having popcorn for dinner as we always do on Friday night! Gees, maybe I'll throw in a few protein grams and some veggies to keep things in line with my new resolve. Sometime I'll show you Jim's popcorn bowl and you'll know why he like to call it dinner.

Here is a picture and a thought I am sharing with you~

This is our sweet Piperpoozala
I have no idea why I call her this but that is who she is!

This is the third time I have seen a photo of one of our grandkids and realized they have truly changed. Here is our oldest, Piper, and she has definitely passed into that no more little girl phase and is now a young woman. I ask you though, is this really fair at eleven? How is it they grow up so fast? She is on a Mommy/Daughter date with Jen and they are at a Fashion Expo and also went out for a nice dinner. Oh, we do love this pretty girl! She is a very precious, huggable one and good to the core!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Happy Campers

Take One Beautiful Spring Morning
Add New Vinyl Windows Everywhere
Have a Lot of Sunshine and Shady Spots
Around Your White, Freshly Painted House~
Then Listen to the Sounds of
Neighborhood Kids Happily Playing

A Few Doors Away
And Chirping Little Birdies
And Squirrels Scampering High in the Tree Tops
And Bubbling Water Rippling
Down the Waterfall Into the Pond.
Add One Husband Not Rushing Off to Anything
Well... Not Until 12:30 PM Anyway...
Take One Wife Who Loves to Hear the Sound of the Drill
As He Hangs the Remainder of the Black Shutters,
And a Bottle of Glass Plus and Some Clean Rags
So She Can Make the Windows Sparkle!
And Voila!

And You'll Find Yourself
Some Very Happy Campers!

I am adding this post to WooHoo Wednesday! Check it out and join in here!

I am IN LOVE with This!

I'm Sorry...This is Flat Out Gorgeous! Woohoo!

I participated in this new meme (prounounced meam) Wednesday and discovered this wonderfully talented lady that made this and explained how she did it here. I love the metallic look, the gems, the rustic embellishments, the short everything about it! I love that it is not is simply beautiful! This is bedazzling at it's finest! It is like a Victorian Gazing Ball and I have no idea where I would put it. It is one of those things that would travel throughout the house until it found it's perfect resting place. Do you ever do that? I do all the time and I know Ann (the creator of the Magic Ball) did the same.

So I am on it, thus begins my new sparkly button collection! Stop over and meet Ann. And check out the meme called WooHoo Wednesday! I can see it is going to be a FUN way to celebrate your gratitude!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Laughter~An Important Part of Our Day

Having a sense of humor is an important aspect of being healthy. This morning when I woke up I was thinking about how I love to be with friends that make me laugh. Immediately two groups of friends came to mind. The first one is my group of friends that meet at my house once a week to discuss life. Our original intent was to meet together to support each other in a healthy life style, proper nutrition, regular exercise, etc. But that little group has become so much more.

Because we have been friends for years and years, we have supported each other through many, many things. We have probably saved each other thousands of $ in shrink fees over the years just by being there for each other!

One day not long ago, Jim was off work on Monday morning when we were meeting. He was busy outside but he heard us all laughing. Something was shared that was so hilarious we were laughing for about ten minutes, maybe longer. One of the things that makes this group so successful is that we live by this code..."What is said in this room stays in this room," and everybody honors it!

Jim pestered me all day to share what was so funny but I couldn't. Aside from "The Code" what made it so hilarious was all that we have shared as a group up to that moment. You can imagine how close that can make friends over years. It was one of those..."Ya had to be there" kind of moments. It would just lose so much in the retelling.

One of the things that makes this group so precious to me is that we laugh and have fun all the time. Have you ever noticed that some people just make you a funnier person? I think when you can relax and be yourself then your true sense of humor emerges. That one particular morning we just kept feeding off each other's shared humor and it was so contagious. It truly was one of those magical moments between friends. When Jim and I were serving in the Singles Ward for five and a half years...these friends kept me feeling so connected to our ward and church family that it made coming back just wonderful and such an easy transition.

Another group that makes me laugh is a group of women that have met together every Christmas for over 25 years for a fun luncheon. I call it the Golden Girls luncheon. Some of the friends are in both groups. Some of these ladies I never see except at this luncheon once year, but I kid you not, we don't stop laughing the whole time. My cheeks ache before I get home from that particular annual event.

As I have thought about why these friends are so important to me, of course it is many things. But one thing that seems to stick out is that it is a regularly planned time set aside each week and once a year to share time together. Planning it seems to be the key. For us, if we just roll along day to day..nothing happens socially. Or at least that is our experience that when we get a few unencumbered moments we just want to draw the shades and hang out at home. Of course those times are precious too. But we have to plan things with friends~it doesn't just happen. We have to plan times when the soul purpose is to relax and enjoy others. There is so much more to an enjoyable life than working and sleeping and finding that balance is an art.

I am not a big party person. I am not a small talker, are you? My husband is an expert at it at parties, he can talk to people about, I struggle with it. But I love the one on one and small groups interactions where you can really get to know people. I think this is one reason why I love blogging so much. Each of your posts helps me to know the real you better.

How do you find balance in your social life and do you have friends that just make you laugh so hard you cry? It is the best...I recommend it be a part of most days!! (Like the experts recommend 30 minute of exercise most days.) It is the best medicine in the world for me.

How about you? It helps me to not take things so seriously and to lighten up! Otherwise the grisly part of everyday life can get the better of me! Thank you, dear friends, for the elevation! Thank you for those tears-streaming-down-your-face, flat out hilarious moments we share. I U!

And not to leave the family is a funny one if you haven't had your daily dose of the giggles today. Jen and Lowell's contribution to the ward film festival a few years ago. Of course they are our grandgirls so we think this is clever and hilarious. I hope you do too.