Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mary Poppins

When Mary Poppins says "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down" I believe her. I teach gospel doctrine and for the past five weeks we've been studying Isaiah. Although I have learned to love Isaiah during the past few years, some people consider Isaiah to be a stiff dose of medicine. So I have invited Mary Poppins to join us for our class. It's a good thing tomorrow is the last Isaiah lesson. Mary Poppins is getting tired!

Monday, October 25, 2010


On Friday I got an unexpected call from one of my missionary companions who was baby-sitting her grandchildren in a hotel in the city. Randy and I did some quick rearranging of our schedule so that we were able to drive in and visit for a couple of hours. What fun we had remembering the six months that Root and Yoodit spent together. To begin with, when Root arrived in Germany and the assistant to the president found out that we actually knew each other, he didn't hesitate to dash our hopes by telling us that the president would NEVER put the two of us together. Six months later we were both shocked when notified that we were going to be transferred together to serve as co-seniors. When the assistant to the president (a different one) dropped me at the train station to transfer to Kaiserslautern he told me to enjoy it because it was only for two weeks. We hardly even went to sleep at night we had so much to do and to talk about in such a short time. However, we were having success and two weeks turned into four months and we were transferred (together) to a new city. Our new apartment was close to the police station. Each time a missionary arrives in or departs from a city he has to register with the police, filling out paperwork and attaching a photo. For some reason the police department took a shine to the two very blonde Amerikanishe Maedchen who were seen each day on the streets, riding the street car, knocking on doors, shopping at the corner market. They always looked out for us, were friendly, and we enjoyed teasing back and forth. We were a little surprised on one of our trips to the police department to find that our pictures had been posted on their bulletin board.
Here you see Yoodit and Root standing by the car they wished they drove. Navigating by bicycle can be challenging in a dress. Check out my hair. It's been long but precious few times in my life. To quote my mother, "Don't you want to get your hair cut? Look how nice and neat your companion's hair is. You look a little bit like a lion." Thanks, mom!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gasing the Car

Gasing the car is something I truly dislike doing and I often long for the olden days when every gas station was a full-service station. They would fill the tank, wash your windows, and check your oil--all while you sat in the comfort of your warm (or cool) car. If Randy and I occasionally switch cars and he fills mine for me I consider it a gift. Here's a little entry from my journal five years ago this week:

1. I'm grateful for tomatoes. There's nothing quite like a fresh tomato sandwich with mayo, salt and pepper. (I still agree heartily)

2. I'm grateful for pasta. We ate at Noodles tonight. It was so yummy and satisfying!

3. I'm grateful to have a small car. It only cost me $35 to fill up today. Since Katrina and Rita gas prices have soared to over $3.00 a gallon. When Randy and I got married gas was 25 cents a gallon. We could fill our little VW Beetle for $2.50.

Somehow, reading this makes me feel really old!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Watch out Anne Geddes

That's my grandson!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Circle of Work

One of the most challenging things about raising kids was getting them to do the endless jobs that needed to be done -- way too much for one mother and one father to do by themselves. We used every method, scheme, and game that has ever been invented. We bribed, we threatened, we worked side by side, we rewarded, we tried it all. For some reason we could never figure out, our kids would gladly work for hours at their friends' homes. According to them, it was way more fun to do someone else's work.

I guess we've come full circle. On Saturday we made a quick decision to drive to Champaign and spend the day with Quinn. Tiffany and the kids were in Utah and Quinn was getting pretty lonely. We had a great day. Randy helped Quinn put his yard to bed for the winter and then they cleaned out his garden. I did the laundry and ironed and ironed and ironed. And we figured something out. Never mind that we still have hours of work to do in our own yard, and never mind that my own laundry basket is full of things to be ironed. Our kids were right. It's WAY more fun to do someone else's work.

Our bonus was seeing this beautiful tree next to Quinn's apartment. It has been kind of a disappointing fall so far. Maybe there's some beautiful color ahead of us, but this is the prettiest, most vibrant tree I've seen this year.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I really don't want today to pass without posting. Last evening I watched the rescue of the last 8-10 miners from the San Jose Mine. The evening before, I watched the rescue of the first two miners. Without exception, each time they were re-united with their family I found it to be touching and emotional for me. Imagine having 69 days to put your life and family into perspective!

It reminded me so much of another rescue which was very traumatic for me and which, coincidentally, occurred twenty-three years ago today. It was the rescue of "Baby Jessica", an 18-month-old toddler who fell into an abandoned well shaft. The shaft was only eight inches in diameter, and tiny Jessica fell into it with one leg going down, but one leg going straight up alongside her face. It took 58 hours to drill a parallel shaft and then go horizontally across and underneath her. They inserted and inflated a very strong balloon to prevent her from falling further into the shaft, which had been happening as she lost weight. They then went in and carefully chiseled the pipe above from around her and were able to bring her up.

Much like yesterday, the entire nation was watching and praying for little Jessica McClure. Today Jessica is a married woman with children of her own. She has sought a life out of the eye of the public, but in a twenty-year anniversary interview they said that she had had 15 surgeries and had chosen not to have the scars of her accident removed. When they asked her why she said that she kept them as a reminder of what had happened to her and the miracle that she had survived.

I was one of those who was glued to the TV for three days, bursting into tears when she was brought out of the well. As human beings, I believe that most people have an inherent desire for good things to happen and recognize the value of all human life. Life is fragile, and none of us goes through life without a certain amount of bumping and bruising, successes and failures, good choices and bad choices, and ultimately the need to be rescued. I'm grateful for the many individuals who have served as "rescuers" in my life, and for our Savior, Jesus Christ, who has performed the ultimate rescue for each one of us.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Baby Pics

Hey, it's time somebody posted some baby pics. Here are some I thought were cute. Tired mommy, proud daddy, healthy baby, happy family!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pajama Day

Remember how I was still in my p.j.'s at 1:30 this afternoon? It was such a great day I think I'm going to repeat it tomorrow. I told Randy that I had accomplished every single thing on my "to do" list today -- nothing! I did actually put some clothes on at 6:00. You see, we had quite a bit of ham left over from our Sunday dinner and I thought to myself, "How can I think of a way to have someone over to help us eat our ham without having to do any work, or go to the store, or clean up a mess. So I invited some friends over for waffles (and ham). It was perfect -- two hours of visiting, 15 minutes of prep, they even brought their waffle maker and Tim cooked all the waffles.

Stake Conference

Is there anything quite as forlorn as an empty table?! Where was my camera yesterday when this table was beautifully set, laden with delicious food, and surrounded by wonderful people enjoying the company of Elder Gerrit W. Gong?

What an amazing person Elder Gong is. He is so kind and gracious to everyone, a perfect example of diplomacy. He stood by Randy's side (shirt sleeves rolled up, tie tucked in) scooping ice cream at the ice cream social on Saturday evening. He was the one to jump up from the table to help move chairs, first one to begin clearing dishes, interacting with each person at the table -- "Tell me what is special about you." "Tell me how you two met." "Tell us about your family." We had invited a non-member couple Randy knows from the law school. We were a little nervous that Elder Gong might feel like they were interlopers, but he was the first to welcome them, invited them to sit by him and made them feel completely at home.

So, you might ask yourself, what is it like to prepare to have a visiting general authority stay in your home? I suppose we all want others to see us at our very best at all times, but there's something about having a guest like that in our homes that is different. I worked for weeks trying to get our lives and our home "all together." I weeded all my flower beds, we had the bathtub re-sprayed, put all the finishing touches on the kitchen, cleaned the fridge, moved a reading chair into the bedroom he would be using, and bought a nine dollar washcloth for him to use. Nine Dollars! Although it is ridiculous (and I knew it was), I felt like not only would Elder Gong be able to see straight through me, he would also be able to see what was stashed behind the garden shed, what (and how much) was really on our food storage shelves, and he would intuitively know how long it had been since I used Miracle-Gro. Yeah, like he was really going to take the time to walk around examining my plants.

Now that it is over I feel like high-five-ing the world, dancing around shouting "Whohoooo". I'm most grateful that the toilet didn't plug up, the water softener didn't go off in the night with its piercing squeal, he didn't wake up in the morning to find 16 dead Japanese beetles on his carpet, the air-conditioner did it's job to keep the house at a pleasant 72 degrees, and to my knowledge nobody got sick from the food.

I am celebrating today by doing absolutely nothing. At one o'clock p.m. I'm still in my pajamas. I plan to spend the day reading, talking on the phone, and watching TV. I haven't seen Glenn Beck for over two weeks. Are things still okay in the world?

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Longest Day

Yesterday had to be the longest Sunday I've ever experienced (punctuated by two two-hour blocks of spiritual escape). Now I've spent a LOT of long and lonely Sundays during the past five years, but nothing can compare with trying to entertain and distract four anxious children as they wait all day long for news from the hospital. They, naturally, wanted to call the hospital every few minutes and would then inform the neighbors, "she's at three," or "she's at seven", as if they completely understood the principle of dilation. Finally, at 8:00 p.m. we got THE call, just minutes after the birth of 8 lb. 15 oz. Soren and we were off to the hospital to watch his very first bath.

What a baby -- beautiful beyond belief. The little stinker failed to drop into the birth canal until the last minute, making it a long haul for mommy, but resulting in an unmarked and perfectly shaped baby -- right down to the dimple in his little chin.

How grateful I am for miracles and for children who are still willing to be participants in the greatest miracle of life. And now if you'll excuse me, I think I hear a tiny newborn cry. He wants his grandma!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Pressure's On

Spiritual midget that I am, I really enjoyed conference today. There were some powerful messages and many spiritual take-aways, but can I just confess that the one thing that caught my attention most was far from spiritual. Elder Gerrit Gong is going to be the visitor for our stake conference next week and will be dining at our table for two days. He spoke this afternoon. You will probably remember his talk. He said that when his son was in the MTC Sister Gong sent homemade bread to him and his companions. He read the letters his companions had sent to Sister Gong. One of them said, "Sister Gong, this was the best bread I have ever eaten in my life. Please keep me in mind in case things don't work out well between you and Mr. Gong." I won't be feeding Elder Gong any homemade bread, but I did bake dinner rolls the day before I left for California and put them in the freezer. I wonder how Sister Gong is with rolls?!

Hanging out in Sunny California

So here I am in sunny California, hanging out with this group waiting for the arrival of their new baby brother. Today was my training day -- how to drive to the elementary school, how to drive to the middle school, how to pick up the kids in the car pool, how to get to the soccer field, how to get to Costco. I forgot to bring my GPS. How silly!

Heidi: Remember to only drive 15 mph in our neighborhood.
Me: Okay.
Heidi: Remember that in California you can't talk on your cell phone while you drive.
Me: Okay.
Heidi: Remember to put the card with the names of the kids in the car pool on the dash board.
Me: Okay.
Heidi: Remember that you have to lock the doors by hand.
Me: Okay.
Heidi: Remember the gate code for the violin teacher's gated community.
Me: Okay.
Heidi: Remember to read to Mia twenty minutes per day.
Me: Okay.
Heidi: Be sure to check the back of the van to make sure it is far enough into the garage before you close the door.
Me: Okay.

Can I do it? I'm not sure, but are there any points for being willing?