Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Today is our grand daughter Natalie's ninth birthday. Here are nine things I love about Natalie.

1. She has a million-dollar smile.
2. She's the best big sister -- always includes her younger sister in everything she does. BFF
3. She's very crafty and often sends me things she has made.
4. Love to hear her play the piano.
5. She's a great helper around the house and is going to be a wonderful homemaker like her mom.
6. Always "up" for a tea party.
7. Takes time to write letters to her Grandma Judy.
8. She's a "girly" girl -- always dresses cute.
9. She is really nice to everyone!

Happy Birthday, Natalie!

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Worldwide Sisterhood--Ruminations of a Mormon Woman

Saturday night was the Relief Society Worldwide Satellite Broadcast. It was a wonderful meeting where we were instructed and inspired by talks given by the R.S. General Presidency and President Uchtdorf of the First Presidency. Our stake planned a Mexican dinner before the meeting. I'm still salivating as I think about it today. I love Relief Society and being part of a worldwide sisterhood. While my biological sisters all live far away (annual sister's reunion coming up in about a week), it is comforting to be in a room full of 300 women who call each other sister and are there to support and sustain each other. Over the years, Relief Society has blessed my life in a multitude of ways.

Twenty-seven years ago tomorrow I made the following journal entry. "Emily Rich and Chipper came to spend the day with us while Mary went to a workshop at the Art Institute. I washed windows and then took all the kids with me (my six and two extra) for an orientation to deliver phone directories. I brought home 800 directories which I was supposed to deliver within two days. I got a few done that day and finished the rest up the next day. That evening we had a primary board meeting. Sharon Dayley (one of my Relief Society sisters) took me aside afterward and said she was really concerned that I looked so worn out. I thought, 'If you only knew,' but I laughed and made light of it. Saturday morning she arrived at our door with six loaves of homemade bread and a note that said, 'Take the time you would have spent baking bread this week and have a nap.'"

That's Relief Society
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Friday, September 26, 2008

Biking Buddies

For the past few years my doctor has admonished me to get serious about exercise. While I am no Lance Armstrong, I did take up biking a few years ago. Believe it or not, three years ago I biked a triathlon on Cape Cod in which I took a pretty bad spill. I fractured my pelvis in two places, but didn't realize how bad it was at the time, so jumped back on my bike and finished the race in pretty good time. After a painful recovery I went a full year without even getting on my bike. Last year I was pretty faithful, but couldn't find anyone to bike with me, which has two serious consequences: The first is the difficulty of motivating yourself to go every day. While I enjoy an occasional ride with just me and my iPod, having a companion is more interesting. The second is that it limits where you can ride. I'm probably too cautious , but I felt uncomfortable on some of the more isolated biking trails when I was alone.

This summer I've been sporadic at best. Recently I discovered this group of ladies who walk four miles twice a week and ride 10 miles once a week. They have graciously invited me to join them and it makes all the difference in the world. This morning we did a ten mile loop through Blackwell Forest Preserve. I'm praying for a long and beautiful Fall.
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Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I had a really interesting experience while I was at BYU. In one of our breakout sessions at Aspen Grove our facilitator blindfolded us, connected us by putting out hands on the shoulders of the person in front of us, and then led us to a new location and announced that we had 20 minutes to figure out what we were supposed to do in that room.

Feeling vulnerable, most people dropped to their knees and began to grope around the room. We began to find objects that had been scattered on the floor. There was a lot of talking and communicating. Finally someone said, "It's a tent. We're supposed to put it together." Using our fingers, we began to try and figure out what to do -- where are the corners? How do you put these poles together? Where are the loops and seams for the poles? Can anyone feel where the gromets are? By the time the 20 minutes were up we had successfully put the tent together, but could never figure out what to do with the rain fly.

We spent another hour processing the experience and learned some interesting things about the dynamics of our group. Some people were very aggressive. Others felt excluded. At one time two people were vying for the same pole, both having found the same set of loops, but each trying to insert the pole from the opposite direction.

I think this could make a very interesting Family Home Evening activity. Young children probably couldn't figure a tent out even with their eyes open, but you could think of a different task they would have to accomplish and perhaps learn a lot about the dynamics of your own family. It was a great learning tool and lots of fun too!
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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Aspen Grove in Autumn

One of the most beautiful of Heavenly Father's creations. So grateful to spend a day here!
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Monday, September 22, 2008

Blast from the Past

Last week I spent three days at BYU. As I walked onto the campus I realized that it was on just such a beautiful fall day forty-one years ago that I stepped onto the campus for the very first time in my life.

My mother drove my sister and me (and everything the two of us needed for a year) to Provo in our little Volkswagen Beetle – no car of our own, no computer, no bicycle, no cell phone, no iPod, no bedspread and matching throw-rug, no sweater storage tubs, no filing system, no storage crates or shoe racks. Just a suitcase full of clothes, a wind-up alarm clock, and my portable manual SmithCorona typewriter. But it was enough – enough to get a great education, enough to form a circle of life-long friends, enough to find an eternal companion, enough to have some great church leadership experiences, and enough to develop a deep and abiding love affair with BYU. How different things are today!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Have you ever seen a . . .

This is a Circle-a-dingadoodle. I'll bet you've never seen one before, because the very first one ever created was made by my grandson, Theron. He was so proud of it that he brought it all the way from Ohio when he came in May. When it was time to return home, the Circle-a-dingadoodle could not be found. We searched high and low. I assured him that it would turn up and that I would bring it to him when I visited in July. July came and went. No Circle-a-dingadoodle. While Theron was here for the reunion I happened to look in a most unlikely spot, and there was the Circle-a-dingadoodle. Perfect timing for a "find." What a happy reunion!
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fashion Intervention

Our daughter, Kristin, was here for the weekend. To me, she talks like, acts like, and even looks like Sarah Palin. We had a way fun time. On Sunday I took her to the airport. Just as I got home she called to say that the flooding had delayed her flight so long she had changed her flight until the next day. We went back to the airport and brought her home for another night.

I received a call from Amvets reminding me of the pick-up scheduled for the next morning. Kristin seized on the opportunity and declared a "Fashion Intervention." She went through my closets and discarded enough clothes to fill four large garbage bags. She was brutal, throwing out all my Talbot's clothes and even my newest purchase of not more than a few weeks ago (what does that say for my taste?). When I protested she said she would buy me something new to replace it, and I'M HOLDING HER TO IT!

Some of those things were old and should have been given away years ago. I'm not a "saver" and must admit that it felt good to put those bags on the porch, but I'm warning you, you're going to see a lot of TSOT (The Same Old Thing) this year!
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Monday, September 15, 2008

Meeting of the Board

While our family was together we convened a meeting of the board (all 27 of us) of our little Family Trust. Our goal was to decide how our family humanitarian funds would be spent for this year. Every member of the family had the opportunity to propose a project, and all the ideas were discussed. A motion was made, seconded, and unanimously approved to support two proposals: Half of our funds will go to the National Tourette Syndrome Association to be used for research. The other half will be used to build a green house in our little Peruvian village of Chifya, where in previous years we have built a little one-room school, a public bathroom, and a small medical facility. Growing vegetables oudoors in the high Andes is extremely difficult. The altitude and cold during winter months create a situation where the villagers exist on a limited diet of potatoes and maize. A simple green house opens the door to greatly improved nutrition.

While it is a good feeling to think that you might be able to improve the quality of someone's life, there is no greater experience than to sit with your grandchildren and listen to them discuss their feelings about whether wheelchairs would be better than a library, or whether medical research would be more helpful than sewing machines. It's gratifying to see them become more aware of the world around us, the desperate needs of others, and the great bounty of our lives. The opportunities for helping are endless. But for this year, our hope is that a green house might give this little child (who is dying of malnutrition) a better chance of survival.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Playing Mom

Yesterday I got to play mom. Last year, just days before Christmas, our neighbor, Becky, a 29-year-old mother of three passed away. Kurt has done an amazing job of single parenting this family. I knew that he was concerned about this school year because Maddy would be in afternoon kindergarten, which wouldn't work very well with his work schedule. I called a few weeks before school started to inquire if I could help out in any way. Kurt said that he had actually cut his work to half days so that he could be home with Maddy in the mornings and get her on the bus. I asked him to think of me as a resource should something come up. This week he came by to ask if I might be able to keep Maddy a few mornings so he could go in to work early and finish early enough to watch a couple of his son's cross country meets. And so it came to be that Maddy got to spend the morning with us yesterday.

At 11:30, Randy and I walked Maddy to the bus stop. It was a beautiful fall day (exactly the kind that make Fall my favorite season of the year in Chicago). Randy and I realized that it has been 23 years since we last put a kindergartner on the bus. A flood of memories washed over me, including a lump in my throat as the bus door closed and we stood there waving good-bye. Where have the years gone?
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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Why God Made Moms

If you're a mom, you have to read this. Kristin sent it to me last year. I lost it. When I read it again today I laughed just as hard as I did the first time.

Answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions:

Why did God make mothers?

1. She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2. Mostly to clean the house.
3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers?

1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
3. God made my Mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

What ingredients are mothers made of ?

1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
2. They had to get their start from men's bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?

1. We're related.
2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's moms like me.

What kind of little girl was your mom?

1. My Mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
2. I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
3. They say she used to be nice.

What did mom need to know about dad before she married him?

1. His last name.
2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

Why did your mom marry your dad?

1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my Mom eats a lot.
2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
3. My grandma says that Mom didn't have her thinking cap on.

Who's the boss at your house?

1. Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because dad's such a goof ball.
2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
3. I guess Mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

What's the difference between moms and dads?

1. Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work.
2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
3. Dads are taller & stronger, but moms have all the real power 'cause that's who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friend's.
4. Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.

What does your mom do in her spare time?

1. Mothers don't do spare time.
2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What would it take to make your mom perfect?

1. On the inside she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2. Diet. You know, her hair. I'd dye it, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?

1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid of that.
2. I'd make my mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me.
3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

Now laugh for a few minutes and then go on and have a great day!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ruminations of a Mormon Woman

You're sick of the reunion. I don't blame you. So here's something different, but don't think you have dodged the bullet forever. I don't even have all the reunion pictures yet, so I know you're going to see more of them. But for today, here's an interesting little bit of trivia.

We moved to Naperville in 1977 -- just about the time that the Naperville First Ward (church congregation) was created. In those 30+ years we have had ten bishops. A few weeks ago our dear friend Mark was sustained as our new bishop. On that day, by a bit of serendipity, eight of those ten bishops were in the Naperville Stake Center. In order of their service, Bishop Fisher, Bishop Watson, Bishop Peterson, Bishop Hunter, Bishop Duffield, Bishop Manning, Bishop Black, and Bishop Quinn. Even more unusual, seven of those men still live in the Naperville First Ward. That may not be so unusual in the heart of Utah, but it's pretty amazing in a transient suburban ward in an area like Chicago. I love every one of these men and could tell you specific ways in which they have blessed my life and the lives of our children. These men serve as lay ministers, sacrificing their discretionary time to lead their congregation. Their families give up so many things to support and sustain them in their service. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for men of great honor and integrity and for over 30 years of association with some of the greatest people in the world!
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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Fish Out of Water

Have you ever read A Fish Out of Water about the little boy who buys a fish at the pet store. Mr. Carp tells him to be very very careful about what he feeds the fish "because you never know what might happen." The fish quickly outgrows the bowl, a vase, a pot and the bathtub. Finally, the fish has to be removed from the house with a crane, the cable wrapped around his tail. We obliterated our "fish out of water." It worked perfect this year. Charlie started (youngest first). The little ones get as many turns as they want. Mostly they can hardly hold the bat up. The middle ages have to use a blindfold. When we get to the older boys they have to be blindfolded and then "wound up" really good. They stagger around, swing at the air, and occasionally connect with a good blow. We got all the way to Bennet (the oldest). His first hit sent candy flying everywhere. Good thing! Some of the little ones are a little sad when the pinata breaks. In her little thank you letter Nicole (age 5) said, "I liked the pinata because it was a fish and I like fish." A fun tradition!

This year our pinata was WAY versatile.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Gone Fishin'

Is there anything quite as exciting for a boy as catching his first fish? We took our family to spend a few days at Grizzley Jack's Grand Bear Resort. There was a fishing pond behind our lodge which was well stocked with blue gill. Our little boys had so much fun fishing. Even 19-month-old Charlie caught a fish! We strongly encouraged the "catch and release" program, but those boys were pretty darn sure they wanted fish for dinner that night. Uncle Randy patiently helped them clean the fish and wrap them in foil for baking. As they came out of the oven the boys crowded around. We unwrapped the foil. There were those milky eyeballs staring up at them. Suddenly no one was hungry. After dinner we wrapped them back in the foil and disposed of them. Have you ever considered kissing a live fish?!

As for the rest of us, we dined on a fabulous dutch oven dinner prepared in a downpour by our three dutch oven chefs. Yum!

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Grandma Judy's Tea Party

When a couple of our granddaughters got American Girl dolls for Christmas I thought how fun it would be to take them to lunch at the American Girl Doll Store. Then I checked the price, multiplied by 14, and decided to have my very own tea party. This was one of my favorite parts of our reunion.

I sent out invitations to all the little girls to bring a guest and join me for a party on Saturday afternoon (while Papa Randy took all the little boys on a rock climbing expedition).

While I prepared our refreshments and set tables (one for girls and a miniature table for dolls with the two new tea sets I purchased at Ikea), the girls selected their party outfits from Grandma Judy's "vast" wardrobe. Above: Natalie (with Elizabeth) in a ravishing red dress from Goodwill. The dress features a scoop neck, a red and yellow sash tied on the right side, and a sparkly red fringe around the bottom. The matching hat and earrings complement the outfit and the foo foo shoes and gloves complete the outfit.

Elise has chosen a simple flowing flowered chiffon print from Talbots. She is wearing matching crystal earrings and bracelet. Her very sheik straw colored cloche is trimmed with small flowers in matching pink and orange. Her outfit is completed with silver sandals and gloves ruffled at the wrists. Her guest, Hoppity, is color coordinated.

Clarissa (although not happy about the dressing process) looks lovely in this beautiful gown featuring yards and yards of chiffon. The bodice is navy blue velvet with puffed sleeves and Italian lace around the empire waist. Notice the pearl buttons at the neck and on the lace points. The gloves are color-coordinated with her earrings and undershirt, and her guest, BaaBaa, is also color-coordinated. To complete her outfit, Clarissa has chosen a green felt chapeau.

Next we see Nicole with her guest, Kit. Nicole is wearing a stunning shift dress made of fabric that is black with metallic gold threads intertwined. She has belted the shift with a multi-colored sash that ties in her beautiful salmon-colored sandals. The hat is also trimmed with roses in lighter shades of salmon. She has chosen black accessories. This outfit will turn heads wherever she goes as the bottom fringe swishes to and fro as she walks. Beautiful, Nicole!

Unfortunately, one of our party guests had to leave our photo shoot to throw up, but here we have Mia in a very practical outfit which could be worn not only to a tea party, but also to church or the office. The basic white dress is complemented with a lovely shawl and matching gloves. Her red straw hat is banded with a striped scarf. Notice the dainty flowered earrings and the sensible shoes.

Invitations: $6.00
Tea sets: $16.00
Refreshments: $28.00
Memories: Priceless

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hello, Bloggers

Hello, Everyone! Today I looked at my blog for the first time in about four weeks. It was a painful experience. I've had such mixed feelings about my blog: Why am I blogging? Who cares if I do or don't? What do I want my blog to accomplish? In many ways I'm blogging just for myself, and in that case, does it really matter if anyone else reads it? Does a blog have to have a purpose? Can it just be a potpourri of thoughts and ideas? Many times I'm just blogging about memories of the past. Is reverse blogging okay? If I'm really honest in my blogging is it ever hurtful to anyone else?

I didn't really intend to quit blogging or even give it this much thought. After we returned from Utah I just got super busy preparing for our family reunion (our entire family of 27 here in Chicago). Then it was the reunion. Then it was the aftermath of the reunion. Then it got really easy just not to think about blogging. Then I started to avoid it and have a lot of doubts.

Today I finally sucked it up and opened my blog. There it was, just like I left it. I checked on my sitemeter and was amazed to find that people were still checking in. I have friends! Yeah! Right now I'm feeling a little twinge of regret about all the amazing things that have happened during the past four weeks that I haven't recorded. I'm back!