Friday, January 17, 2014

A Mother's Gotta Do What A Mother's Gotta Do!

Jim and Christopher
So much alike in so many ways!

I have a lot of favorite guys but these two are on the tippy top of the pile.  They are so much alike and I love them with all of my heart.  This picture was taken this morning at the Oakland Airport.  Our son Chris was here attending a lot of meetings and giving a lecture at Stanford University on Wednesday.  He was able to stay with us last night for a very swift sleepover and dinner.  Jim's mom came over and we had a nice dinner by candlelight.  His request was clam sauce and linguini.  That is the Italian influence of his youth.  Melissa is not a fish lover so I usually try to make it for him when he is home.  It was such a nice evening, we just sat in the dining room and chatted and enjoyed his company so much.

You are probably thinking here...hmmm, this is sounding like a Facebook post.  Who cares what they ate for dinner, right?  Well, this isn't really about that at all.  It is about looking at our son and actually seeing the man he really is!

 This always takes me back a little because he left for college the same night he graduated from high school and he will be 39 in March.  Since he lives a few states away we don't get to see him very often and when we do, I am always surprised by his maturity and that he is all grown up.  It's mom thing I think. You know how it is, when someone moves away, you just still remember them as they were.  He is a man now, approaching middle age in fact, and certainly not that cute teenage guy that use to live with us anymore.

Chris is a very good man who has made extraordinary choices that have brought him great success and happiness.  His number one good choice is following the dictates of his own heart and choosing to love the Lord and serve him through serving others.  He tries very hard to follow His example. That is the foundation for all his other good choices.   Marrying a beautiful woman who also shares in our faith has been a very sturdy foundation for their lives together and in raising their family of three sons and one daughter.  God and family come first.

The last time Chris visited with his whole family!

 He made great choices in his education and coupled with his good character,  has consequently had a lot of success in his career.  Not just doing well, but loving what he chose is something that makes us as his parents very happy.  If you don't enjoy what you amount of success can compensate for hating to get up in the morning, right?  He is a very hard worker and diligent in all he does.  He is also a very humble guy that would not tell you any of this.

So this post is really a mother, called to duty and doing a big Shout Out for their sweet son.  These were some of my thoughts as I watched him last night at dinner.  He is so poised, confident, and handsome and good and doing it right.  And I felt humbled, so blessed and grateful and happy and in awe of who he has become.  We were thrilled to have him home with us if only for a few short hours.

So in a way this was like a "brag on your kid" kind of Facebook post...but,  hey I limit myself to doing that about once every three years...this is your lucky day!

Here is a TED talk he gave two years ago to give you an idea of where his focus is in his career. Jim and I feel we are privileged to be his parents!  Having him here was the beginning of a very good 2014!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Simple Woman's Daybook~January 11, 2014

Our lives pass swiftly by! I want to do something to remember
the everyday moments and my thoughts about them.  
That is what this Daybook is all about.
Focusing on the little things that become my life.
One entry at a time.

Just for today~Saturday, January 11, 2014
Outside my window...It is 4:40 pm and the sun setting.  I am not in love with these very short days but they are on the upswing now, so that is good!  It has been overcast and still all day.  It was supposed to rain but didn't.  The weather forecast was for 30% chance of rain starting at 900 am.  That was a good motivator for us to get up in the dark and prepare for a day of working on organizing "my" own storage place.  Now that Jim is nearly done with the major construction on the shop he has storage all over the place.  So I have a little shed all to myself for my accessories and holiday things.  It is my little room with a past.  A room full of shelves and memories.  Jim still has some of his things in there but'll be for girls only!  I am pretty jazzed about it as we have a cottage and storage has always been in short supply.

I am thankful for....this little storage house of mine.  I could probably lay my hands on just about anything in there within a few minutes.  All Christmas is arranged by the room it lands in most years.  So next year..get the bin that goes in each room.  Take down the regular accessories and put up the Christmas stuff.  That could theoretically be done pretty fast.  Well, we'll see next year.  The take down should be even faster since all the regular stuff will be in the box for that room in the storage house and I can just switch them out.  The best part is I can bring them in and out one at a time if I want so we shouldn't have the big invasion of many boxes and that feeling that we are moving without going anywhere.  This is pure luxury to me because for 33 years it was all stored in the attic.  And not one of those pretty attics you see in the movies!  I love my hubby for making it all possible and so much better.  

From the learning room....there is always work to do, always ways you can improve your life and the way you do things.  There is always a better more efficient way and I love that.  When that happens you have more free time.  Free time to pursue your talents and interests.  That is something I truly cherish every day since I stopped working for someone else.  Once I had my own business it was a great freedom and being retired is even better.  

I think I work just as hard if not harder now but on my own terms.  I value that so much.  When you think about it the last time any of us had that was pre-kindergarten.  Since then we have all been on someone else's agenda most of the time.  Right?  

Well when you want to know what one of the greatest joys of the autumn of your life is, this is it.  But you have to guard it well because for most other people, when they hear that you are retired they think that equates to nothing to do and free as a bird and ready and willing to do everything they have in mind for you.  

I learned a valuable lesson in the oral surgery practice where I worked!  "Run your own schedule or it will run you."  That doesn't mean be selfish and stingy with your service.  What is means is serving as much or more than you ever have but with thoughtfulness for that balance that you want in your days so you have time for yourself and your husband.  

I am reading...I am about to download "The Book Thief" onto my Kindle but haven't just yet.  Been very busy with lots of other things for the past month or so.  Reading lots of genealogy things and preparing for a conference I'm going to in February.

From the kitchen...I wish I knew since it is nearly dinner time.   I don't know why I do this when I know it comes every blankety blank night.  Like my daughter Jennifer said.  "I cannot believe someone has not come up with something to eliminate about two meals a day.  Every time I turn around I am thinking about food, buying food, cooking food or cleaning up after food!"  I couldn't agree more.

Some spiritual thoughts I have been having...Just how the older I get the more I see The Lord's hand in everything around me.  The gospel is becoming sweeter and sweeter to me all the time.  The Savior is such a refuge and strength as we traverse through this life.  Seeking and listening to the spirit is the key for me.  I am finally getting better at it.  A big part of that is allowing myself time to pursue it.

I am hearing...She's Out Of My Life by Michael Jackson.  This may be the only Michael Jackson song I have on my play lists.  I do like it.

One of my guilty pleasures...Downton Abbey! Oh my heck, I am so glad it is back on.  Last week we went to our friend, Barbara's house for a Downton party.  She prepared a very yummy dinner and and even made an English trifle for dessert.  Then we sat around in her cozy family room and drank it in!  Season 4 is off to a great start. 

Pet Peeves...being out of stamps when I have one letter to mail.  I think I'll remember to get some every time I go to the grocery store or bank and then come home without them.  Time to order online and quit trusting my memory for something I rarely use anymore.

I am quoting...Pinterest

If I could change one thing it would be...that Craig and Shonda Hayes' baby boy, Amos, did not die at 3 days old this week.  Beautiful little boy whose heart just stopped beating.  Very sad for them and the two "big" little sisters.  Reminds me so much of our friends, the Chapmans who also lost an infant son last spring and he had two "big" little sisters.

An enjoyable movie/ TV show we have watched lately...Downton, one track mind over here.

I am curious about...why I had even the slightest fantasy that 2014 was going to calm down and be less hectic than 2013.  Joke.  I am already behind and it's January 11th! 

Plans for the rest of the week...Church tomorrow for one hour only.  Then working on Family History all day.  Woohoo! I haven't really gotten past tomorrow.  Not sure but it will be busy as our son is coming for overnight for a meeting in the Bay Area so we'll have to plan something fun for that night.  Hair appointment and hopeful a manicure one day are in the plans. Working Tuesday.  Just the usuals really.

One of my favorite things...finishing a project like we did today!  So nice to have everything back in order.  Now on to the good deeper cleaning in the next week.
One thing that made me so happy this past week...Definitely deciding to go to the largest genealogy conference in the US.  Rootstech and being able to combine it with a trip to help decorate Jen and Lowell's house.  Lucky for me...both are in SLC and both the same week.  And both our girls are coming for an RandR and we are going to have a girl party very soon!

The most surprising thing this past week...I had three pain free days!  It was fabulous.  It is amazing when your legs work the way they are supposed to and don't hurt.  I got so much done.

A photo I am sharing this week...This is Hazie going for a little spin on the snow.  This picture brings me such joy. Seeing how she is moving without help and the sense of freedom is tangible on her face is beyond description.

For those of you that do not not know, Hazel, our youngest grandchild, was born with a severe case of Spina Bifada.   She does not have use of her legs but as you can see for the most part that doesn't stop her.  She started kindergarten this year and this child is an inspiration to all who know her.   She is the happiest, sweetest, smartest little angel and we love her so much.  Just sharing the joy...!


 Be Happy, Keep Your Balance and Enjoy Your Life!
Only One Rather Short One Per Person Allowed.

❤♡♥♡❤♡♥♡❤♡♥s, Bon

Friday, January 3, 2014

Christmas Past

Chris and Dale's Christmas Tree

I think I'm sad that the Christmas celebration is ending this year.  For several reasons it has been particularly sweet this year.   Tomorrow at our house I'll reluctantly start the take down.  This year Christmas was just particularly spiritual for me.  I tried to think of what made it different.  One thing is I tried staying out of the world as much as possible.  I did not go to the mall.  I only shopped a few times.

I spent my time doing things I truly enjoy like writing our Christmas Blog and doing a life history for Jim's side of the family of their great grandmother.   We studied, we prayed, we pondered the miracle of the birth of Christ.  We enjoyed a nice quiet dinner with my brother, Steve, and our cousins from Davis.  Sadly Emily was ill and could not come and my other brother, Gary, was in Hawaii with his family.  We went out to Scott's in Walnut Creek, so no one had to cook.  It was divine.  We found out we have a brand new cousin that is 68 years old and has been looking for his birth family for 35 years.  It was the year of the cousins...a really special time of increased love, connecting and reconnecting, with our cousins.

I watched nearly all of our Christmas movies which meant a lot of home evenings to enjoy the decorations.  Getting everything out and up took more energy than I really had but was worth it in the end.  I open the first box and then I get excited about it all every single year.  We originally had a lot of plans to go places and do things, but instead we stayed home more and we only attended the Christmas gatherings with family and friends.  We slowed it way down and that was key.   We had one small dinner party for a few good friends we hadn't seen in a while, and we paced ourselves.  We had a Christmas brunch and invited friends who had never been here before along with Patrick and Jim's mom and our two cute ward missionaries.  Both of them new missionaries and their first Christmas away from home.  We tried to make it special for them.  We gave them each a yellow and blue tie~different of course.  (My personal feeling is every good looking man needs a yellow print tie of some kind.)  One of them got a yellow and blue diagonally striped tie, the other blue and yellow tiny checks.  The cute thing is they both wore them last Sunday, so they looked just a little like fraternal twins.  The whole season was just really nice.

I think most of us feel the let down after Christmas...even though we are often done with the hustle and bustle and crazy pace of cramming all of our socializing into three or four weeks of the year. Still, there is something a little disheartening about removing the beautiful colors of Christmas from our homes.  I find that once you take away the red...things looks dreary until we adjust to it.

Several people have asked me to do a post on some of the decor in our house this year.  I usually do a post on it for our family's electronic Christmas Card but this year I didn't.  But we all like traditions and apparently this is one I should include even though I cannot imagine how to keep it interesting being in the same house with a lot of the same decor for many years.  But here goes.

A part of our tree this year

First, let's talk Christmas Trees.  I love them.  The one at the top of the post is going to be my inspiration for next year.  When our children were little we would go out and cut down a tree.  That was such a fun thing to do.  The smell of the fresh pine in the house is so lovely.  The optimum word there is "fresh." I started to not enjoy finding pine needles around the baseboards for months as though they sprouted from the carpet like sharp blades of grass.  Then there was the worry of fires and the fact that our cat found it to be a watering hole, that started steering us to try different things.

I loved it when we went through a phase of flocked tress.  Truth be told, I adored those beautiful snowy trees.  They were gorgeous like no others, and they didn't need to be put on a stand, and they didn't need watering and the flocking was a flame retardant and the cat left it alone.  Perfect.  Each year they got progressively more expensive until another alternative had to be sought.

We finally got an artificial tree.  I really fought it but relented.  They are convenient but just not quite the same.  We have had various ones including a couple of the pre-lit ones but ours died and for the last three years we did not have a tree due to traveling, etc.  So this year I bought one.  I bought a skinny one thinking it would give a feeling of more spaciousness which Jim wanted.  It's just OK, but leaves a lot to be desired.

So next year this one is going in another room and I am getting the kind I really want.  It may be fresh, even flocked and it will be a full tree.  I love a full tree, just can't do the tall skinny ones for the main tree in our house.  Our picture window is too big to sport a thin tree.  So the one above will be my guide and ours will be a little smaller but full.  The one place fatness is appreciated.

I had never taken a photo from this perspective before so thought I would try it.  This is from the library and Jim's office looking into the dining room.  I am still trying to get my colors right on the camera we have had for over a year.  I am not there yet but I am improving somewhat.  Jim taught me some tricks with the settings that helped me a lot just yesterday but too late for these photos.  Next year perfect tree, perfect photos is my goal.

This year I thought instead of just going room by room I would show you a few places and some of the new things I got this year.  I really do love Christmas and am starting to recycle a bunch of the things that I'll be passing along to someone in need.

 I always have a problem with the mantel.  This year I wanted to have some statement pieces that were larger and had some height.  I like a mantel with some variety in height, it can be a little more dramatic and not just a bunch of little stuff all in row.

Next year I am going back to a lighted garland on the mantel in addition to the accessories.  I try to not have to because they are so time consuming.  But it seems like it just needs the lights so I want to add that back into the mix again.  This post is becoming my notes for next year's decor!

The greenery here just needs some little 
white lights and it will be great!
The candle sticks are new this year.
I saw them and debated.

A better view of the wreath

The third time I returned to the shop the tall candle sticks were still there. I like to buy presents for others there, but this time I got these for us.  I figured it was meant to be.  The shop only carries one or two of most items.  So I gave another person the opportunity to buy them but they saved them for me!  I am glad they did.  They are perfect for the look I was going for with the varied heights.  The silver trees are mercury glass and glittered trees combined.  I think all of them have been given to us by friends who know I love mercury glass.  With one little glittery bird added right next to Santa I was done.

Well, that is until I went shopping with friends after Christmas.  We love to shop for vintage things that can only be found in our favorite place, A Room With A Past.  I have loved these vintage Victorian Christmas Stocking for years.  You usually see them at places like the Dickens Faire. They are made of a heavy tapestry, cut in a whimsical shape, quite large and simply fabulous.  They are decorative, not practical. I always like a little whimsey in a room, that way you can go fancy but it won't be stuffy.

It would cost a small fortune to fill one of these stockings and we don't do stockings for just the two of us anyway.  But they look great on the fireplace and would also be lovely as Christmas wall art. They are usually very pricey and the last time I saw them they were just a pipe dream.  But Room With a Past is my kind of place.  These were meant to be in our cottage.  Colors perfect, two....perfect, and half of a very reasonable price to begin with.  Still doing the happy dance over these for nine bucks each.  That is unbelievable!

They are just perfect with our colors, even the bricks. 
 Jim is so cute and gave me the big eye roll
 but is happy I love them so much!
His comment..."Aren't they a little big?"
I should have said...
"No bigger than your shop, Darling!"
I love this stage in life where we
 just want each other to be happy!

This big guy is a Santa we have had for at least 20 years! 

 I like him because he is large enough to just pair with a floral piece and the lamp with the red shade and the buffet is done.  Easy!  And he has such a jolly face!

China Cabinet

All set for a quiet dinner

This Santa is on top of our curio cabinet~he's new.
The picture behind him is a pen and ink 
sketch of the San Francisco skyline.

Dresser top with my partridge in a pear tree!

I didn't put a lighted table top tree in our bedroom this year but I should have.  I missed it being there.  No short cuts next year.  Next year should be very easy by comparison as I am really taking my time when putting things away this year and organizing them by rooms.  It is going to be so awesome to have more storage area of my very own soon.  I am going to organize it like I use to do the warehouse for our business.  Once it is perfectly organized it will cut my time in half to set up Christmas.  Woohoo!

I did put this fun sledding couple of kids in our room this year.  It is a glitter board from Moonlight and Roses but the glitter doesn't show up too much in the photo.  It reminds me of Holly and JD.

Just a little paper tree ornament,
It has the colors I like best in our room.

One shot of the Family Room
With the sun shining in brightly. 
I love it because it casts "diamonds"
all over the walls from the 
red cut glass container on the table.
Just a little magic for a lazy afternoon!

The Guest Room

The top of the Armoire with a picture 
of our kids with Santa many moons ago.
Clean linens and empty closet 
and armoire for our next guest~ our son, 
will be here in 12 days.

Kitchen Hearth

I found this sweet Angel last year
At Room With A Past
We kept her out all year and 
dubbed her our Guardian Angel.
The candle holder came from there too.

Speaking of Angels~My friend Maureen
M.A.D.E this for me this year!
I have thoroughly enjoyed this every 
single day and night since we got it.
I am going to keep it out all the time
 and just change it up for each season!
Keeper, thanks Reenie!

Thank You Room With A Past
For this fun big Santa.

And dare I say this...Room With A Past?
Love the shape and the colors and the size of it.  Kind of
small...just cottage size actually...$13.00-50% after Christmas!

Well, this could go on and on so I better just get busy putting it all away.  It is like moving without going anywhere.  Now if I had only taken pictures of the before so I knew where the regular accessories go.  Hmmm.  You know the feeling...we all do it.  Happy New Year to each of you!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Downton Abbey Countdown

To our friends who are counting the days like we are until Season 4 of Downton Abbey begins...only 4 more days!  Last year's cliff hanger ending was so distressing.  I'm glad Julian Fellows was nowhere near our place at the time.  So many months we have waited patiently, avoiding every spoiler like the plague to have a fresh new season to enjoy.  I have appreciated our British friends and American friends that have streamed the season already that have not divulged anything to date. We are hoping for a much sweeter experience this year.

As we are watching it I will think of you.  All of you with whom we have discussed the series with great fervor for its content, beautiful costuming, and breathtaking setting and lovely cast.  I for one, find Lady Mary to be exquisite and gorgeous. She has undergone some refinement in the last couple of seasons and has become quite a lady of propriety and circumspection.  If you are a fan of Lady Mary I truly hope you'll love this picture as much as I do.  If you are smiling right now, you're with me!

Who is your favorite character in the series?  I like Carson, Mrs. Hughes, Daisy, John and Anna and of course the Grande Dame of the Abbey, Grandmama.  But Lady Mary is who I most enjoy watching.  Her exquisite manners, her clothing, her charm and sophistication are all fun.  She is simply beautiful...The End! That ~"The End~deserves a fancy font but I do not have one!

Well, enjoy my, sweet friends, one and all.  You will be on my mind as we all share in this experience together.  And if for some reason you are reading this and haven't watched it...check your local TV listings for PBS Sunday night Jan 5th, for Downtown Abbey, and join in on a wonderful experience with us.

This may be the first commercial I have ever done on this blog of nearly 2000 posts.  I love DA that much!