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!