Wednesday, January 25, 2012

a non-birthday gift

My sister Dede and I share the same birthday month.  Our mom and dad are great about remembering and arranging some sort of celebration.  We had that Saturday.  We gathered at our house for dinner.  Dede and her family brought a Wii so the kids could play Just Dance 2.  The adults talked...and talked...and watched YouTube videos on the AppleTv. We had agreed a few months ago to make birthdays more low key and not to exchange gifts.  I was shopping at JCrew the night before and found a sweater that would be perfect for Dede.  As she was leaving I gave her the "non-birthday gift."  I was walking with Dede toward the door for her first load to the car when she casually pointed to a box sitting by the door and said, "There is your 'non-birthday gift.'"  I picked it up.  It was so heavy I thought it must be food storage.  I opened the box and saw a family treasure.

Before a move, my mom was going through all of their possessions.  She decided to give us some of her treasures--- I received her grandmother's silver, Annie received the china, and Dede received the Little Colonel books.  These books originally belonged to my great aunt.  My mom had read them to us---and we loved it.  We loved the stories and they were more dear knowing where they had come from and the memories attached to our mom reading them to us.  Dede said, "I know you will read them to your girls."  (Dede has four wonderful sons.)  I was so touched by her gift.  She has always been one of the most generous people I know.  She has inherited that quality from our dad- who I believe inherited from his mom (Granny).  I have a lot to learn from them. xoxo

Thursday, January 19, 2012

90th birthday

@her home with Kate in the guest bedroom August 2008

Grandma would have turned 90 years old today.
She asked her bishop last December to pray for her that she would make it to her 90th birthday.
He shared the story at her funeral.
He had prayed for her.
As he said at her service, "The Lord had a better plan and brought her home for Christmas."
We miss her so much already.

Happy birthday Gram.
We love you~

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

a winter trip to St. George

On the previous Sunday, Danny and I were planning our week.  I mentioned the upcoming four day weekend the girls had from school.  As we discussed ideas of what to do on our days off...Danny (eventually) suggested St. George and I jumped on it!  Found and booked a hotel within 5 minutes!


We woke up, packed, picked up the house and headed out the door by 11:00.
We picked up Nana in Orem, had some lunch and headed down the freeway.
The girls watched My Fair Lady in the back with Nana as Danny drove.
The movie was over just after Cedar City so we played name that tune/artist with an ipod! (Ellie won)
We found our hotel...settled in and went for a walk.
It got too cold after 10 minutes and Danny went back for the car.
We drove to the St. George temple.
We walked around and then spent an hour in the visitors center...
which we had never done before but loved.
Then we met the rest of the crew (Amanda/Randy/kids and Sharon/Jason) at the Pizza Factory.
Went thrifting @ DI...Amanda is famous for finding amazing treasures at DI.

Sharon, Jason, Danny and I went to an early session at the temple while Cil and the girls slept in.
We ate breakfast at the Bear Paw...which was a hit (thanks for the suggestion friends!)
...and stopped by the antique jewelry store on the corner.
We headed back to the hotel and changed for the hike.
We hiked just outside of Leeds.
Before the hike started Amanda shared a story that Grandma had written about in her journal.
Their family had been camping at this very spot (Danny was hanging out with friends in St. George).  Grandma and Grandpa were in Overton so they met them for the day.  Grandma wanted to stay and camp but she was sure that Grandpa would want her to come home with him.  To her surprise, he insisted she stay and play and he would drive back to get her.  They had fun all night long...even though they nearly froze under the "emergency blanket."  They woke up to hearing owls in the early morning.  Grandma didn't get much sleep that night but loved every minute of it.

I loved hearing Amanda tell the story from Grandma's perspective and the hike was BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!!!
After hiking we went back to change.
Visited our friends the Parmenters!
(The girls and Nana played cards, Sophie played with PrettyGirlShe'sALady (their adorable dog that I wanted to kidnap), and Danny and I caught up with Paul and Alison.
Then we met our crew again for dinner at Texas Roadhouse.
We finished the night hanging out at Amanda & Randy's condo.

We got up early and met Grandma for church in Las Vegas!
It was early but worth it.
Then we all headed to Grandma's house for a little bit of work and a lot of food!
Danny pruned her tree...she watched out the window nervously as he cut off branches.
Everybody else gathered, stacked, swept and raked...and played.
The girls stayed outside in the dirt almost the entire day.
At 5:00 p.m. Judy and her family were there, Mike and Mary and dear Lynn.
We devoured Grandma's famous spaghetti and meatballs.
It was so fun being with her.

We slept in.
The girls, Nana and Danny soaked in the hot tub...
and I read a book.
Back on the road again.
It was one of our favorite trips!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

imaginations alive

"Mom, do you think dolls are real?" Sophie asked.
"What do you think?" I responded.
"Well..." she began in a bit of a ramble, "in the Little Princess Captain Crew gave his daughter Sara a doll and he told her that the doll would wake up at night and then they become still again before you wake up and that is what I think."

Sophie and I had this conversation on a cleaning day at our house.  My girls love their dolls...and Sophie more than any of them.  She has had this doll since before her first birthday.  It was always named "my baby when I was a baby."  A little while later she modified it, "Baby Sage, my baby when I was a baby" named after her sweet cousin Sage.

Now...about the cleaning day---a couple of months ago we moved all of the girl's toys in one room---a playroom.  We had an extra armoire and an extra tv with a dvd player.  It wasn't connected to cable...but the girls brought their movies in there.  Sophie had them running 24/7.  It was time to reorganize and de-clutter that room.  This week the girls and I consolidated, organized and cleaned out the closet, toy box and armoire.  They each have a small collection of American girl doll accessories and dolls.  I suggested that they remove the tv and fill that piece of furniture with their treasures.  They were reluctant at first but they sent the tv to storage in the basement and haven't missed it for one minute.  There has been a lot more imaginative play...and a lot more fun with their toys.  And the dolls have their own organized spot, which is important when they "wake up" each night.  :)  Maybe I should follow their example and take the tv out of my room.  CNN every night before bed might kill me off this election year!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

truth = trust

Two of our girls were sick today so I decided they should stay home from church.  Ellie was well but I wasn't sure how to get her there when I was taking care of her sisters and Danny was already at meetings.  I didn't want to take her and leave her there without us.  So I turned to Ellie as we sat on the couch and asked, "Do you want to teach your sisters a primary (children's Sunday school) class?"  She jumped up and grabbed the Friend magazine.  After a few minutes she asked if they could do one of the activities she saw there---homemade pretzels.  "Of course."

She went straight to her room, gathering supplies for her lesson.  She asked the girls to be ready in a half an hour.  They got dressed---out of their pjs.  30 minutes later they were gathered in the dining room.  I stayed out of their way but remained in earshot.  Ellie taught them a lesson she found about honesty.  She read them a story about a boy who was being questioned about having started a fire.  His mom knew that he always told the truth.  She defended him to the authorities and they later found that the fire was started by other individuals.  She taught the girls, if you are truthful people trust you.  Kate and Sophie listened so intently and quietly.  Then she asked them different questions.  As they answered she would pull a prize (bookmarks, etc...) out of a bag that she had brought from her room.  I smiled.  Then she gathered them in the kitchen to make CTR pretzels.  They made them all by themselves (with the exception of taking them out of the oven).

It is amazing what abilities children have, that I often don't give them opportunities to express.  I am also grateful for so many fine example of leadership my girls have learned from school, church, friends, music teachers and extra-curricular activities.  I feel so grateful that we are surrounded by so many wonderful people.

As Ellie taught words of truth to her sisters today my trust in her---and their trust in her became that much stronger.  Thank you for what you taught me today Ellie, I love you.

Monday, January 2, 2012


It's never good, when you have reached the end of the year and can't recall any of your resolutions from the first of the year.  Well, I did add music to our home...improvement in the other areas was very slight.  I hope for a better resolve this year!  I love the newness of a brand new year.  Danny and I had an impromptu talk on the couch on January 1st.  We are excited about our resolutions!

We are going to take greater care of our bodies!  One of favorite friends is Effie Nielsen.  When we were neighbors, Effie had competed and won a weightlifting championship.  See here and here.  She was encouraged to compete by her great-grandson and his coach.  At the time Effie was 90.  (She will be 100 this May.)  I was talking with her in her front yard quite a few years ago.  We were talking about her garden.  She mentioned all of the rhubarb she needed to harvest.  I asked what she did with it besides the obvious pie choice.  "I make rhubarb juice" she said.  "Rhubarb juice???  Does that taste good?"  I responded.  "I don't live to eat, " she replied sweetly,  "I eat to live."  We hope to follow Effie's way of life.  We are going to think more about "eating to live" instead of what we "live to eat."  There wont be any family strict codes...just an effort to do better with a stronger focus on our health.

We will also be outside more (breathing fresh air and working our bodies)!  I have a propensity to hibernate in the winter.  It is not good for my body or my mind.  We started Monday.  We woke up, enjoyed a quick breakfast and headed out the door.  We even found a few friends who wanted to join us on our way.  There will be more walking, hiking, yoga, pilates and even running this year.

We are going to "show up" this year.  Last week we were all gathered at Grandma's viewing.  It had been a slow evening.  It was cold outside.  It was feeling too quiet...even with family surrounding us.  I looked toward the door and in walked one of our most favorite families.  Danny's friend Kenny walked in with his wife Heather and their four children.  They were dressed up in their Sunday best and brightened our entire evening.  I don't think Kenny had seen Grandma since our wedding, yet he showed up.  They are dear friends and taught us a great lesson.  Show up for people.  When we are there for people---weddings, funerals, babies, surgeries, graduations, birthdays...they feel loved.  We can definitely do a better job in this category.

So yesterday when Danny's mom called and needed help in her yard---we showed up.  We were outside in the fresh air, working with happy hearts.  Thank you Parcell family for your good examples.

"Certain qualities, talents, and works which distinguish a man are more readily appreciated when one knows from what nationality he has sprung..."  The Life and Times of Asher B. Durand p. 3

I remember standing by a bus in Argentina when a man asked me, "De donde es?"  He wanted to know more than where I was currently living, and more than my country of origin...he wanted to know my nationality.  That really isn't an easy question...I have lines from many different countries---France, England, Germany, and more...  Needless to say, he wasn't satisfied with my vague answer.

Although there is too much variety to identify with any one country besides the country in which I currently live, I believe there is a great benefit knowing where we come from.  Instead of focusing on places we will focus this year on people that have come before us.  Danny and I brainstormed a plan to create "book of remembrances" like those my parents had when I grew up.  They were covered in hardback leather with strong metal posts.  We are going to craft new books from antique photo albums.  (Thank you Papa!)  We will add pages:  fill it with lined sheets, pictures and family trees.  There will be a section of all four lines of my girls genealogy.  It will be a special place for them to note and write what is important to them of what they have learned.  We can't wait.

I am also going to read a few books to help me learn more:   The Life and Times of Asher B. Durand (a great, great, great uncle) and a few books on the Mayflower (to learn more of the Brewster and Standish family lines from which we are a part).

We are sticking with three areas and keeping them more general rather than strict.  We hope that our small efforts bring wonderful experiences!   Here's to a new year...and a wonderful start we enjoyed today!!!!!!!!
Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!