Monday, January 31, 2011

River Song

For several years I have wanted to post video clips to my blog, but I've never been able to successfully upload them. I had this great One to One at the Apple Store today and learned how to reduce the size of a video so that it could be uploaded. Now you'll probably have to watch video after video while I practice my skills. Poor things!

When our kids were little we spent a lot of time doing music. We did Suzuki piano, violin, and cello. Most of the kids sang with the Young Naperville Singers and we did a lot of singing with the Grubbs family -- firesides for temple missionaries, Christmas programs in Nauvoo, talent shows, singing in church, singing around the campfire, etc. Lots of fun and some pretty good music!

There is one experience that our children have never forgotten and which they all claim has "scarred" them for life. As part of an Oktoberfest celebration, an acquaintance who did PR work for a local mall offered to pay us well to dress up in our German outfits and stroll around the mall singing German Volkslieder. Now what is so embarrassing about that?!

Today they are all good singers and can put together a decent musical number almost impromptu. This was a quickie they put together for Bennet's Eagle Court of Honor. (BTW, Bennet made the sixth eagle in the family and has set a good example for the other nine grandsons). I think their voices sound good together, and why shouldn't they? They're genetically engineered!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

What's the Rush?

Oh Man! Don't you just hate it when someone points out that you are wearing more than just your clothes? I'm tending Clarissa, Clayton, and Sarah today while Quinn and Tiffany try to buy a car. I had a few errands that had to be done this morning, so I left Grandpa in charge and promised to be back as quickly as possible. My last stop was the grocery store so that I'd be able to fix something for dinner tonight. I walked in behind a sweet older couple (older, that is, than I am). The woman pulled out a cart, then happened to look up at me. "Here," she said, "take this one. We're not in a hurry." "Oh," I said, "was it apparent from my face that I am?" She smiled and said gently, "Yeah, a little bit."

My mother always told us not to wear our feelings on our face. I know what angry looks like. I know what happy looks like. I know what sad looks like. But what does "hurry" look like?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mom's New Digs

After our first few children left home we converted one of our bedrooms into an office for Randy. Not long after that, Randy decided that Queen Judith deserved a computer and an office of her own. We still have visitors and there is no way we could dedicate two bedrooms to offices, so I set up my office in the basement. It had some nice benefits -- always cool in the summer, always warm in the winter. However, it was up and down three flights of stairs each time I wanted to use my computer AND it was sometimes a bit of a dirty, cluttered and spidery place (Now whose fault do you think that could have been? Um humm).

So a few weeks ago when Randy bought me a new computer he convinced me to carve out a corner in one of the upstairs bedrooms to use as a little workspace for "the Queen." My kids have been asking for a picture, so here it is. Still room in there for house guests. In fact, Quinn and Tiffany will be sleeping in there tonight.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


When we moved to Chicago from Utah we found it really delightful to see wildlife in our backyard. We loved watching squirrels navigate around the neighborhood traveling across the power wires and bunny rabbits hopping across the grass. Chipmunks put their little noses right against our glass door, and the occasional deer sauntered across the backyard. Less fun, but very prevalent were raccoons (yes, a whole family once made their home in our fireplace chimney), possums, and ground hogs. In the last decade we have often seen little foxes. But during the last few years we're seeing more and more coyotes. Right now there is a pair that seems to have taken up residence in our next door neighbor's back yard.

I've tried to catch them with the camera before, but they either see or smell me coming and hit the road. This morning when I pulled out of the garage, Mrs. Coyote was standing in our driveway. I guess she couldn't smell me because I was in the car. She stood there and let me take her picture.

Growing up, my dad raised sheep, and coyotes are not friends to sheep. A cold chill would race up my spine when I heard that a lamb had been killed. It made me nervous to have coyotes running around in our yard, so I googled coyotes and found out that there are hundreds of them running around in urban areas -- even up and down the streets of Chicago. Supposedly they are not dangerous and eat mice and rats, which is good. Over 400 of them have been captured and fitted with radio collars so they can be tracked, making it possible to learn a lot about their behavior. So move over and make room for a "not so cute and lovable" pet.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Getting Ready

Today's the day I've set aside to prepare for the upcoming quilt retreat. Look at all these fabrics just waiting to be cut into tiny pieces and then sewn together again. I find my mind imagining the finished quilts when I should be falling asleep.

Yesterday when I was at the fabric store I handed the clerk the sheet of cutting instructions to help me figure out how much fabric I needed. She looked at the sheet for a few minutes then looked up and said, "I hate you." That's not exactly something you expect a complete stranger to say to you. The look of shock on my face must have conveyed the need for an explanation. She added, "You're going to Bryce Canyon." Ahh, yes I am!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Every day I think I should blog, but don't have a picture. We had an adorable family over for FHE on Monday. Thought about taking a picture just as they pulled out of the driveway. Tuesday I went to the gym for the first time since before Christmas. Who wants to see a picture of a bunch of sweaty women. Tonight was book club. A picture of all my reading buddies would be fun. I keep my camera in my purse, but forgot to take my purse. No picture. I think my brain is frozen. It's supposed to be -30 in the morning.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Keep Breathing

I've become interested in a new book -- 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. I thought it would be fun to count up how many places I have been and see how much I still have to do. On the frontispiece it reads: "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the places and moments that take our breath away." -- anonymous. It has helped me be more aware of the breathtaking experiences I have but sometimes don't pay attention to. For instance:

This week I held a new baby not more than a few hours old. She was so tiny and perfect in every way -- beautiful long fingers with perfect little fingernails, little pink lips, a head covered with light brown fuzz. What a precious gift. It took my breath away!

Twice this week I've driven down to Champaign and back. I love that drive -- one beautiful farm after another. Each one is some combination of a well-kept farm house, barns, silos, granaries, and out-buildings. They are painted, in good repair, and immaculate. In the summer the fields are green and lush with corn and soy beans. In the winter, they have been "put to bed" by a loving farmer, often covered with snow, but powerful in the promise of coming spring. I can hardly keep my eyes on the road. It takes my breath away.

Today I had an experience you might not think of as "breathtaking". My computer crashed right after Christmas and my ever loving and generous husband (who thinks the very best might be good enough for Queen Judith) replaced it with an iMac. I don't learn new things quickly and have been concerned about my ability to convert to a Mac, but part of the purchase was the One to One option. I went today for my first tutorial -- an opportunity to have an expert sit with me for a whole hour and teach me anything I want to know. And I can go back any time I want to! The Apple store was a happenin' place filled with people of all ages who just can't keep their hands off of Apple products. Unbelievable! When I walked into that store it literally took my breath away!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Five Dollars or Less

I took Clarissa and Clayton to the mall today to ride the carousel. You'd have thought I'd given them the world. How could something so simple be so stinkin' much fun?!

I have a list of things I think would be fun. I think it would be fun to get new carpet in the TV room. I think it would be fun to replace two of our toilets with new ones that didn't clog up. I think it would be really fun to tear out our front porch and put in a nice stone porch and walkway. I think it would be fun to cut a new window in our dining room so we could look out and see our beautiful flower gardens. But not one of those things costs five dollars. And it's hard to imagine that any one of them could actually bring the pleasure and excitement that I watched as two little children held the reins and bobbed up and down, up and down, up and down.

Jaroldeen Edwards (an LDS author whom I have loved and who, I think, is very wise) said that every person should create a list of "simple joys" -- things that cost little or no money, that can be accomplished within an hour or two, and that you love to do. She said, "A list of one's own simple joys is worth creating. It gives us a resource for unexpected empty moments; it gives us satisfaction and joy in times of poverty or sickness; it gives us a finer sense of who we are and what happiness is right at our fingertips; it helps rid us of the habits of purchased pleasures and frenetic fun."

After our carousel rides I came home and looked at my own list of 'simple joys.' Here are a few of them. Not one of them costs even five dollars:
Mowing the lawn in the cool of the evening.
Reading old letters.
An ice cream bar from Costco (covered with chocolate and chopped nuts).
Sitting by our lighted Christmas tree.
Stopping to listen to our wind chimes.
Spending an hour playing the piano.
Watching figure skating.
Reading a book too good to put down.

I think I may have to add 'Riding a Carousel."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Limited only by your Imagination

Hooray for the Children's Museum -- a wonderful place to spend a cold snowy morning!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Let's hear it for Sarah Ann Peterson!
Let's hear it for Grandma!
Let's hear it for the Fam!
Isn't she perfect?!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sour and Salty Anyone?

I've always loved sour and salty things. Once in college after we ate all the pickles from a quart jar of my mother's homemade dills I drank the entire jar of pickle juice. Then, not feeling so good, my roommate said that baking soda was good for settling stomachs so I mixed baking soda and water and drank that. That was an interesting experience!

Someone shared this recipe with me and it sounded really good -- chicken, tomato chunks, fresh basil, grated asiago cheese, white grape juice and lemon juice -- sour and salty, just like I love! But in reality, it was kind of disappointing, SO here's a sour and salty recipe that we've loved for years. Stuffed in a pita pocket it makes a great lunch or even dinner with a cup of your favorite soup.


1/3 to 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dried mint leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup bulgar wheat
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley, packed to measure
1/2 cup minced green onions
2 tomatoes, chopped
Pita pockets

Bring water to a boil and pour over bulgar wheat. Allow to cool. Combine with all other ingredients. Chill. Stuff into pita pockets to serve.

And now I'm off to Champaign to see my two-hour-old granddaughter!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Good Job Rudolph

I had no idea that reindeer have a training season -- you know, kind of like the Cubs do their spring training at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Arizona. Rudolph and his friends do their fall training at Rantoul, IL. We caught them on Christmas Eve just before they took off for the North Pole. After a brief (but warm and cordial) visit with the reindeer we sipped a delicious cup of hot chocolate at the Christmas Barn. Good job, Rudolph! Take a well-deserved break!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Thank you, Danke Schoen, Merci

We received so many thoughtful Christmas gifts this year. Today was the day I had set aside to write our thank you cards. A friend was describing a Christmas card they received and said it was such a cheap card it ripped in half when they opened it. Not wanting to be accused of being "cheap" I went to Hallmark and bought three packages of cards. Isn't that where you go "If you care enough to send the very best?" Believe it or not, when I opened the first card I realized that there is a good chance that if someone opens one of these cards without being very careful it could tear in half. What can you depend on these days?! If you receive one of these cards from us, please know that we cared enough to send what we thought was the very best.

I've had a few etiquette questions about thank you notes and so I did some research this year. Here's some random things I learned:
1. You are never wrong to send a written thank you card.
2. Should you send a thank you for a gift that was given to you as a thank you? Yes!
3. Should you acknowledge a written note sent in lieu of a gift? Yes!
4. Can you email a thank you? Only for a simple kindness by a very close friend.
5. Is it necessary to send a thank you if you thanked the person personally? Yes!

Everyone likes to know that something you did for or gave to someone was appreciated, but sometimes when I know someone well I like to tell them that part of the gift is that they don't need to send me a thank you. I tell them, "Just say thank you now. There, you're done."

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Years Tradition

Happy New Year! Randy and I are proud to say that we watched the ball drop this year. We went to friends' home to play games and stayed until after midnight. It's been an unusual day. The temperature got up to about 58 degrees today (although it was raining most of the day). It will only get up to 26 tomorrow, so Randy decided when we got home that tonight (now, right this very minute) was the perfect time (or at least the warmest time)to take down the outside Christmas lights. Unfortunately, he's having a hard time raising much enthusiasm on my part to help out for two reasons -- I put them all up by myself and it took me a whole day. Now I don't want to spend a whole night taking them down. The other problem is that the most magical part of Christmas to me is the lights. I am going to miss them big time!

Anyway, I decided to blog instead. Randy's brother married Jennifer in 1981. I think their very first Christmas they had our family's name for the gift exchange. Lucky US! Jennifer must have still been worried about being accepted into the family because she actually took the time to make these adorable counted cross stitch stockings for each of our children. The children put out their big stockings for Santa to fill, but these gifts of love were always hung from cup hooks mounted underneath the fireplace mantle. Santa would put a small treat in them -- sometimes it was the gold chocolate coins that have been a Christmas tradition in Randy's family for five generations.

These little stockings became a part of a simple tradition. On New Year's Day we would have each of the children write down their goals (or New Year's Resolutions, if you will) for the coming year. Then they would fold the paper up and put it inside their little Christmas stocking, which would then be packed away until the next year. When we got the stockings out again, it was a perfect opportunity for each of them to take the paper out and evaluate how they had done in achieving their goals for the year.

Here are a few things to think about as we begin a new year:

Winners have lots of solutions.
Losers have lots of problems.
Winners plan to succeed.
Losers fail to plan.
Winners think in terms of rewards.
Losers think in terms of risks.
Winners believe the future is now and will get better.
Losers believe the good old days are gone forever.
Winners look forward to every new day.
Losers would rather stay in bed.
Winners put in 110% effort.
Losers are satisfied just to get by.
Winners say it may be difficult but it's possible.
Losers say it may be possible but it's too difficult.
Winners associate with winners who are disciplined, energetic and productive.
Losers spend time with losers, time wasters, talkers, and complainers.
Winners are willing to work for nothing in the short run knowing that reasonable compensation will come over the long term.
Losers expect their employers or government to support them.
Winners believe every day you waste is one that can never be made up.
Losers waste days and hope they do not have to be made up.
Winners inspire and lift you.
Losers leave you feeling low and drained.
Winners always find time for the important things.
Losers are always too busy.
Winners do things right the first time.
Losers never do things right.
Winners accept criticism and are always looking for ways to improve.
Losers avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and are nothing.

This year I want to be more of a WINNER!