Friday, May 18, 2012

All in favor of today please raise your hand!

I'm having sort of a running competition with myself to choose the most beautiful day of the year for my garden.  Every day I think to myself, "It might be today."  But the next day I think, "No, it might be today.

It is so interesting to me how much I've learned to love gardening.  I truly have to say that the first thing I think about when I wake up is the yard.  I jump out of bed and look out the window.  This is an incredibly beautiful time of day -- everything looks fresh and green, the sprinklers have usually gone on and the leaves are still wearing glistening drops of water.  The ground is wet and looks dark and rich.  It's still cool and there's lots of early morning shade.  After a quick look out the window I venture out into the yard for a close-up inspection -- yes, barefoot and in my pajamas.  It's kind of my way of saying "Good Morning" to each little plant, as well as an opportunity to assess what work needs to be done that day.  I can sustain this enthusiasm until about the end of August, and then I start thinking about frost.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Amateur Electrician at Work

My twelve-year-old granddaughter, Natalie, is an interesting study in multiple talents combined with uber humility.  She cooks, she sews, she crafts, she's an amazing soccer player, she draws, she babysits.  A few years ago while I was babysitting for Randy and Judianne we attended a pot luck soccer team party.  Natalie made these scrumptious "from scratch" sweet rolls.  Everyone was drooling over them, smacking their lips and asking who made these heavenly rolls.  Then they would look around at all the adults (who were not raising their hands) and never even notice the cute little blonde in the soccer outfit with just one finger raised in acknowledgement.

While Randy and his family were here a few weeks ago he pointed out that all my switch plates had been changed to bright white, but the "guts" had not been replaced and didn't look very good.  He offered to change them out for me.  Late the last night (before a very early morning departure) he set about to do his work while the rest of us watched a video.  I was somehow not surprised when I came upstairs and found Randy and Natalie busily working away, but I was surprised that Natalie was so interested in how to do it that Randy had taught her how to do it and she was working independently.  Chalk up one more talent, Nat!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

An Illinois Farm

When I was 14 I went on a cross-country bus tour that my dad organized from Cedar City, Utah to New York City and back.  To a fourteen-year-old those were long travel days across Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois.  I had three or four friends on the trip and we could hardly wait to get to our hotel so we could go swimming.  Then we'd stay up late and "faint" -- something my friends taught me that seemed really new and exciting.  The drive the next day seemed like nothing but corn field after corn field, and mostly I just wanted to sleep.  My mother would repeatedly say, "Judy, wake up and enjoy this beautiful scenery!"  It seemed boring to me.

After living 35 years in Illinois I have come to believe that this state may very well have the most beautiful farms in the world.  I've made oh, so many trips to Nauvoo, to Champaign, to Utah, and to Columbus, and no matter which direction we drive, I can never get enough of the scenery.  Picture this:  acre after acre of corn or soy bean fields.  I love them in the early spring when the ground is newly plowed -- the rows and rows of turned earth, perfectly straight as far as the eye can see.  I love them when the ground very first begins to turn green.  I love them in the summer when the corn is high and the tassles blow in the wind.  I love them in the fall when the heavy machinery is working the fields.  I love it in the winter when the fields are covered with stubble, the machinery is all put away, and the farm is prepared for winter.

Every farm has a stand of trees, and nestled underneath is a beautiful farm house, either white or red.  The house is surrounded by perfectly manicured lawns.  The barns, grainaries, silos, and other outbuildings are always in good repair and well cared for.  And almost every fence post is host to a red-winged blackbird.

As we drove to Champaign for Quinn's graduation we realized that it was probably the last time we would ever make that drive.  It was so sad.  If we ever leave Illinois we will really miss this incredible scenery.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dr. Quinn

Quinn finished his PhD last July and moved to Boston to continue his post doc at Harvard.  He and Tiffany decided to come back to Illinois to receive his diploma at the U of I graduation today.  We had a great day together including a delightful dinner this evening at the home of his department adviser.  I think Quinn and Tiffany are thoroughly enjoying a few days without their children, thanks to Randy and Judianne and their upstairs neighbors who are looking after the children.  We're so grateful that things are going so well for Quinn and Tiff.  They continue to work hard to achieve their long-term goals.  That's my boy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A fun easy quilt

My quilts came back from the quilter.  I finished this one and have another one to do, but not for a few days.  My needle somehow found it easier for the eye end to go through my finger than for the tip to go through the quilt -- not just once, but several times.  I have one sore finger tip right now.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Musical Torture

Okay, I'm going to post a blog before I go to bed, and I don't even have a picture to go with it.  I've had a giant overdose of opera this week.  Some friends of ours sing with the Naperville Community Choir.  They had a big concert on Saturday night and to support them, we purchased tickets.  It turned out to be an evening of  choruses from the Operas.  I have to confess that there are really only three kinds of music that I don't care for -- hard rock, organ music, and opera, which is strange because growing up I played in an orchestra that played for at least six or seven operas.  Being in the orchestra pit does little to help you appreciate the plot or what is going on, but the choruses are rousing and most of the ones they did that night were enjoyable.

Today Randy received an email from a colleague who had two tickets to the Chicago Civic Orchestra which she couldn't use and hoped someone might be available to use them.  We love the Civic Orchestra and haven't been for a while so we told her we would use them.  She told us it was LaBoheme and the Marriage of Figgaro, but it wasn't until we arrived that we discovered it was a collaborative performance by the orchestra and the Ryan Opera Center.  We sat through 90 minutes of Acts 2 and 3 in Italian.  If I had known, I would have declined the tickets.  I do feel more cultured tonight, but please, no more opera for a few months!  (I promise something more interesting next time--something like cleaning out the garage).

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012


 It has been so much fun having Rob home.  He doesn't get here often.   Randy and Judianne came for a week and invited Rob to come at the same time.  It was perfect.  R and J left on Friday and Rob stayed for a couple more days.  We spent yesterday in Springfield visiting the Lincoln Museum and Presidential Library.  Rob leaves today and then it's going to be oh, so quiet around here.  Missing you already, Rob!

Friday, April 20, 2012


I just finished reading Stephanie Nielsen's new book Heaven is Here. Although I've not been a faithful follower of her blog, I have periodically updated myself about what is going on in her life. Kristin gave me the book for my birthday, and I loved every page of it. It is amazing to me that someone who has suffered so much pain and sorrow, and who has had to deal with criticism, rejection, and judgment from others has maintained such an attitude of optimism and gratitude. To hear her expressions of gratitude for the ability to open her eyes, sit up, poop, kiss her husband, have her children willing to look at her, to be able to fold laundry, sleep in the same bed with her husband, or button a child's coat all combined to help me see just how blessed my life has been. I'm thankful for fingers that bend,
for eyebrows (even if they are not dark, well defined and shaped), for the privilege of fixing lunch, doing yard work, taking out the trash, using a computer (hopefully I will never forget the first time Quinn placed a laptop in front of me after my stroke. I placed my hands over the keyboard and when I looked at the monitor there was just line after line of jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjs. I cried about it more than a little bit and wondered if I would ever type again), eating in a restaurant without people staring at me (Well, sometimes they do stare, but not because I've been burned -- more likely my wacko hair is sticking out on one side or my SAS grandma shoes don't look particularly "fetching" with my outfit). Most of all, I'm grateful for a loving husband and a wonderful family of accomplished, righteous children and grandchildren.

Rob, Randy and his family have been with us this week. Last week we were with Heidi and her family, and squished in between Kristin and Emily were here for a few days. I love my little pillow that says, "The best things in life aren't things." Family and other relationships will always be the greatest things in our lives.
As we traveled with Randy and his family through Europe last summer we ate at least one Magnum ice cream bar every day. Now we have found them in the grocery store here, and for old times sake, we downed a few boxes together. One more thing to be grateful for!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Monday, April 9, 2012


I was looking at my blog from a year ago, and for a full week I blogged every day about Easter, and most of them were serious, thoughtful blogs. This year, Easter just seemed to arrive on wings of lightning. We've just had fun days packed so full of activities and things to do that there's been little time for serious reflection, but here are a few of the activities we've enjoyed.

Last year I talked about dyeing E!aster eggs the way the pioneers did with greens and onion skins. This year we tried a new method I heard about where you wrap the eggs in silk neck ties and the pattern is transferred as you boil them. We sent Heidi and Brent out for the evening and Grandpa and Max organized a back yard wiener roast. Afterward we dyed eggs and played cards with the kids. It was fun, fun, fun!

Heidi and I undertook a little project to make these candy-filled chicks for her 15 Mia Maids. They turned out cute.

Here's out Easter dinner. If you look closely you'll find a clue as to who did the cooking.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Helping the Easter Bunny

I always imagined that the Easter Bunny was like Santa Claus -- he could visit every home around the world in one night, filling baskets, hiding eggs, not to mention all the shopping, packing, coloring the eggs, etc. Well, now I've figured out that sometimes the Easter Bunny asks people to help him. He stopped here this afternoon, said he had heard that we were headed for California, and wanted to know if we could deliver a special basket to the Esplin children who had been so well-behaved this year that they deserved an extra pre-Easter basket. We're just happy to help out!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

No Comparison

I was pretty pleased about my great tulip display on yesterday's post. Then something happened today that really put things into perspective.

One of my favorite stories is told by Jaroldeen Edwards, in which her daughter begs her for several years to drive two hours up the California coast to see a daffodil display. She finally consents and ends up driving on a horribly rainy and foggy day and is in no mood to be looking at daffodils when she arrives. She is already dreading the drive back home and anxious to get on her way, but her daughter insists she get in the car and then drives her another twenty minutes into the mountains. They parked in a small parking lot and followed a little path covered in pine needles to a sign that read "Daffodil Garden." The path wound around through giant trees, then turned sharply. She gasped! There before her lay the most glorious sight she had ever seen. It looked as if Mother Nature had taken a great gold vat of sunshine and poured it over the mountainside. As they walked along they found a sign that read, "Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking."

"50,000 bulbs"
"One at a time. One woman. Two hands, two feet, and very little brain."
"Began in 1958"

I have become acquainted with a friend who has turned her own 10 acres of property into just such a heavenly spot. Randy and I are leaving early tomorrow for California, and it didn't seem like a good time to drive an hour each way to look at some beautiful flowers, but I wanted to show it to a friend who loves to garden, and its beauty might be over in another week. Seeing what the Tiffins have done with their yard really brought home the thought that my few daffodils around the tree are not much to whoop about.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Tulip Surprise

If you know me at all, you know that I'm always looking for give-aways. Naperville always has beautiful tulip beds up and down every street of the downtown area. Last year I happened by on the day that they were digging them out and throwing them into a garbage truck. By chance, I had a couple of garbage bags in the back of the car and they said I was welcome to take whatever I wanted. The blooms were gone by then, so I had no idea what I was getting, but I filled my bags and planted them around the two trees in the front yard. Surprise! Not bad for "free."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Costco had these flower pots on sale last week. I know it's too early to be putting flower pots out. Hello, it's still March! But I walked around the store a few times and just couldn't resist. So now I've been baby-sitting this thing for a week -- outside when it's warm, don't forget to bring it in in the evening, be careful where you set it because it could leak water. I'm crazy, I know, but I have kind of a "baby-sitting" mentality when it comes to gardening. I have literally hundreds of plants, but at least once a week I try to look carefully at each individual plant and ask, "What do you need, little plant? Do you need water? Do you need a shot of fertilizer? Oh, you need to be staked up. I see that little dead branch there. Let me get the scissors and I'll snip that right off. Why, you need more sunshine -- let's just transplant you right over to that sunny spot. You'd bloom again if I just dead-headed you." It's like trying to help hundreds of children to be happy and to reach their individual potential. Maybe a little bit like being a teacher. It's a lot of work but actually very satisfying!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

You Are Relief Society

Last week we celebrated our Relief Society birthday meeting. They served a great dinner and had asked four women to share their testimony of relief society. Apparently, two of the four cancelled at the last minute, so I was approached during the meal to see if I would share mine. I didn't have time to really think of what I might share, but the other two women were young mothers, and it did occur to me that I might have a little different perspective since I've been attending relief society for more than 50 years.

Much has changed. I remember when we went "block teaching" with a list of 8-10 women living side by side down the street. We didn't make appointments. We just walked down the street, knocking at each door. Not surprisingly, in those days most of the sisters were at home. We went in and delivered a 10 minute message and were on our way. If someone was not home, we tore off a little printed message and stuck it in the door.

Homemaking meetings were held on weekdays at 10:00 in the morning. We had lessons on literature, parenting, world cultures, and spirituality. Once a month we stayed for lunch and every week there was a quilt set up for those who wanted to stay and quilt.

After the meeting schedule consolidation, homemaking meetings were in the evening. We had dinner each month and then classes on how to make gluten steaks, how to germinate alfalfa sprouts in a Mason jar, how to make lye soap, how to plant a garden, how to dip candles, how to build rolling storage shelves, how to can, how to put in an invisible zipper, etc. I've forgotten how to do most of those things, but I saved the instructions, and if I ever need to do it, I'll be able to.

I could go on listing differences, but I'm also struck by the things that have never changed -- loving our sisters, being there for each other, sharing our gifts and talents with others, trying to learn how to be better mothers and wives, giving people opportunities to do things they've never done before and being patient while they grow.

When Randy and I got married, my parents were serving a mission in Ireland. That was in the days when there was no option to come home for such an event as a wedding. So, for the first three years of married life, when I needed help I turned to the wonderful sisters in my ward relief society. They taught me to make bread, bottle fruit, and cook meat that wasn't hamburger. They taught me to love "Out of the Best Books," what to say when you went to the mortuary, how to take a baby's temperature, and countless other homemaking skills. I'll forever be grateful for the organization of the relief society and for all the sisters who have helped to shape my life!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Brush with Fame

Chad Lewis spoke to our alumni board last week. His talk was amazing, touching, and inspirational. Before we moved to Chicago we lived across the street from the Lewises. I actually went to school with Chad's dad, and we still talk fairly regularly. Chad and Randy (the younger) were best little friends -- Chad with his bright red hair, and Randy with his white white hair. The first words out of Chad's mouth were "Where is Judy Peterson". He talked about our family and he made me feel like a million bucks. And HE was the one who requested the photo. So that was my little brush with fame. Until I "get a life of my own", I'll just be happy to rub shoulders with any celebrity I can get close to!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Botany Pond

One of the tours they took us on last week was a new scenic walk along south campus beginning just above the Botany Pond and winding its way along 9th North (?), turning north at the Brick Oven and ending up at the old Joseph Smith Field House. It's absolutely beautiful with five different waterfalls that cascade down the hillside and amazing flowers, shrubs, and trees planted and cared for by the botany department. If you attended BYU you will remember the Botany Pond as a little romantic spot where many a young man proposed to the girl of his dreams.

Not so Randy. Romantic guy that he is, he took me to dinner at a fancy hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. We rode the external glass elevator to the top of The Mint, and then danced the night away to the music of Don the Beachcomber at the Sahara Hotel. How romantic is that?! Then, for some strange reason, he drove me to a used car lot, and there under the glare of about 50 high-powered lights, he produced a diamond ring and asked me to marry him. Go figure!

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Wearing of the Blue

I was in Utah all last week for my Alumni Board Meetings. Each time I meet with the board I ask myself how I ever got chosen to serve with such an amazing group of people! Our meetings are always inspirational, we are "gifted" over and over (I actually had to leave a pile of stuff in Utah to be picked up on my next trip because I couldn't bring home all the gifts I'd been given), and they always take us to see all the new and interesting places on campus. More about that tomorrow.
The 1st day's gifts

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How did we do it?

There's a cute little family in our ward that we've come to love. They lived in the same ward with Quinn and Tiffany when they lived in Champaign, and now they are in our ward. They are a very busy family -- precocious children involved in lots of activities, and somehow being with them gives us the feeling that we could be with our own grandkids.

We hadn't gotten together for a while, so Friday night we invited them over for dinner and games. It's amazing! Randy and I had six children, and we regularly would get together with another family with six children for dinner and games, singing, and sometimes "whole family sleep-overs". It seemed pretty normal and I don't remember ever thinking that it felt overwhelming (unless it was four families of six kids each and we were rehearsing for our Nauvoo Christmas programs). But as we waved goodbye and turned out the porch light, Randy and I looked at each other and said, "How did we ever do it?"

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Our ward had an Eagle Court of Honor Sunday night for five outstanding young men. Our ward has a long tradition of calling only the finest men to work with the scouting program and the results of their efforts are obvious. When they invited the Eagles in attendance to come to the Eagle's Nest it was pretty amazing. In that group are two members of the stake presidency, the stake YM president and one of his counselors, the entire bishopric, four previous bishops, fathers, YM leaders, etc. etc. Many of these men are the very same men who helped our four sons become Eagle Scouts. On the other side of the room was a similar arrangement of chairs filled with young men who are on the Eagle Trail. Looking at that Eagle's Nest, what young man would not want to become an Eagle Scout?!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fly Like The Wind!

Neither Randy or I grew up skiing, and the best we could do for our children was a day of skiing every couple of years. Some of them have learned to enjoy skiing, but probably none of them would label themselves as a "pro." But skiing is Adam's "thing." He LOVES to ski, and he is very good. This weekend he will be racing the Slalom, the Giant Slalom, and the Super G in the Intermountain Cup Championships in MaCall, Idaho. He's one of only thirty 13 and 14 year olds to qualify from the entire Intermountain Area. Take a look at Adam on the slopes!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

How to Host a Feast

Through three different mission presidents, Randy served as a counselor in the mission presidency. How we loved those mission presidents and their wives. The Christmas card we sent to one of them was returned with no forwarding address. Had we lost touch permanently?! Through the amazing internet we found a phone number and re-established contact. When Geri emailed me she asked if Randy remembered taking the two of them home for lunch one Saturday. Oh how I wish we could forget! Here's the story:

I had been out of town for a week -- arrived home late Friday night. The next morning, Old Mother Judy went to the cupboard to fetch poor Randy a bone. But when she got there, the cupboard was bare, and so poor old Randy got none. He had a full day of meetings, and high on my list of "to dos" was to get to the grocery store. There was a little lunch break during the meetings, and conveniently, McDonald's is just next door to the stake center, so most people headed over for a burger. But Randy, the ever gracious host, said to President and Sister Holbrook, "Let's not go over there and compete with all those crowds. Let's just go over to our house (almost as close as McDonald's) and get us bite to eat there. WHAT WAS HE THINKING?

I returned home from the grocery store and as I entered the kitchen, there sat Randy and President and Sister Holbrook. I have no memory of what Randy was eating, but President Holbrook was eating an old dry crust of bread with peanut butter, and Sister Holbrook was eating soda crackers and water! For me it was one of those near death experiences, and I still break out into a sweat whenever I think about it. But here's why I will love the Holbrooks forever. Sister Holbrook said, "We don't need to have a banquet to make a feast. We just have to be together." So come on over and we'll have a feast. I have several boxes of soda crackers and eight super giant bottles of peanut butter!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Think Green

We've had an unusually mild winter this year with occasional days that get up close to 60 degrees. So today I decided to take a little spin around the yard to see what Mother Nature was doing. I found tulips pushing up out of the ground, daffodils getting ready to bloom, and green things poking up everywhere under leaves and mulch from the fall. Oh, it makes my fingers itch for the feel of dirt. I'm excited that Randy will be around this Spring and thinking how nice to have some muscle to help me. For weeks Randy seemed to have all day every day with nothing to do but recuperate. No one bothered him. Now, as he's feeling stronger and ready to help, the phone rings all day and he sits at his computer for hours at a time. I hope I'm not setting myself up for disappointment.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Clever Valentine

Our cute little Natalie made this valentine for Grandpa and me. It's a bean bag. It had a note pinned to it saying, "Whoo Whoo" loves you? Nat and Nicole. Clarissa and Clayton sent us "singing valentines." We were absolute losers. Our grandkids got absolutely ZIP from us this year. Sorry. We'll try to do better next year.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Answers to Prayers

We all remember the times when our children have prayed for small simple things like being able to find a lost quarter or do well on a test. Heavenly Father loves little children and strengthens their faith by answering these small requests. But I'm amazed at how often I petition the Lord with a similar small request and receive an almost immediate answer.

When our little Blake was blessed in December I took some notes of her blessing (as I have done for each baby blessing I have attended). With all the confusion of Christmas and then Randy's surgery, I didn't think about it again until this week. I looked through my purse but the notes weren't there. I had no idea where to look, and was afraid I had cleaned out my purse and thrown them away without realizing what they were. I felt terrible. As I prayed last night I asked the Lord to show me where they were (if they still existed). Just as I was drifting off to sleep I saw a place where I hadn't looked. This morning when I checked, they were there. It was a precious little tender mercy for me. They have been typed up and sent to Blakelyn. How grateful I am for eyes that see where I can not!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Does Leap Year Solve the Problem?

Today we've been given an extra day. Good? or Bad? It's good this year because it's a beautiful sunny day with temperatures near 60 degrees, but one leap year really messed me up. Three of our children were born on the 18th of some month. It made it really easy to remember their birthdays. Quinn was born on the 17th of March in 1980, which happened to be a leap year. Had it not been a leap year, he would have also been born on the 18th. Rats!

So why leap year? Well, in case you didn't know, it actually takes the earth 365 days + 5 hours, + 48 minutes, + 46 seconds to circle the sun. No big deal, but over time it begins to add up. So they created the Julian calender which added 1 day (4x5 hours + 48 minutes + 46 seconds) or approximately 24 hours every fourth year. Great, the problem is solved! Wait a minute! Every year the Julian calendar is about 11 minutes too long. No big deal, but over time . . . So, in 1582, Pope Gregory XII created the Gregorian calendar (used today) which says that every century year could only be a leap year if it was divisible by 400. So, the year 1900 was not a leap year, but the year 2000 was. The year 3000 will not be a leap year, but the year 4000 will be. Ok, so are we good to go? Not exactly. The Gregorian calendar puts the calendar year very close to the solar year, but it is still a tiny bit off. But it will take around 3000 years for this tiny difference to add up to an extra day, so astronomers have a few years to figure how how to deal with that problem.

It's a little mind-boggling, so just go out and enjoy this extra day, and let the mathematicians worry about the calendar!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Red Letter Event

Our friends, Tim and Rindy, love to play games. They play with their kids, with each other, after lunch, after dinner, on weekends, and times inbetween. Needless to say, they are really good, and REALLY hard to beat. Randy and I prefer to veg on the couch and watch a movie, because, understandably, it's not really fun to play games when you already know you are going to lose!

So Tim and Rindy came over Saturday night and we played Double Nines. And just take a look at that score card! It's posted prominently on the refrigerator. Oh, and BTW, low score is the winner!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Another finished project

For some unknown reason I am in the mood to clean things out, organize what's left, and finish up a lot of unfinished projects. This is a Brazilian embroidery piece that I started in 2007 and finally got the finished piece framed and given away. It is the most complicated piece of handwork that I have ever made. It involved using a pin cushion underneath the fabric, four needles with three different threads, my knees, both hands, and my mouth to make the large flowers. I remember working on it in an airport once and I had a lot of interested onlookers who couldn't believe what they were seeing. You might like to check out this previous blog to see pictures of the process. Nice to have another project out of my sewing basket.