Saturday, December 31, 2005

Follow your bliss

It took two days of trying, but yesterday we finally took the boys to see “Santa Versus the Snowman” in 3-D no less, at the IMAX in Salt Lake City.
My 11-year-old is getting way too sophisticated for our little planetarium. Or so he thought. Thursday we planned a leisurely day. We stopped on the way to the show to eat lunch, then walked in the planetarium door to discover a bazillion kids and their parents waiting in line to see the same show we had planned to attend.
So, while DH waited in line to buy tickets for Friday, the boys and I explored the building. We only got as far as the staircase, where a perpetual motion machine was set up with balls looping, and ringing bells, and swinging and spiraling all over the place. The two-store gadget was a kid magnet. I was fascinated by it too.
DH said if he had something like that going on in the front entrance of his elementary school, he would never get the students to go home.
Friday we came back to see the show. It was very fun, with plenty of subtle adult humor and a generous dose of slapstick for the kiddies. The first 3-D movie we went to was about as interesting as watching grass grow, but it was in 3-D, so it was cool. We have since seen a movie about bugs and this animated feature. I really enjoyed the bugs movie, but this was just pure entertainment.
One of the next movies on tap is a dinosaur movie featuring the T-Rex. I have an 11-year-old niece who would probably give her new mechanical raptor for a chance to see the movie. She is a freak for dinosaurs, snakes, jelly fish, bugs and anything else furless, creepy, and unlikely to appeal to a pre-adolescent girl.
As it happens, this crop of cousins is quite a scientific bunch. As I mentioned, my sister’s daughter loves natural science. She likes to camp and isn’t even slightly phased by things like leaches. My brother’s oldest son loves to build things and has a mechanical mind. My 11-year-old is fascinated by math, and all kinds of science from geology to electricity. My 7-year-old son is a chemist. He is always mixing potions. He also likes projectiles and things that explode ~ cap guns, rockets, darts ~ you get the picture.
The trick for us as parents is to take this interest in exploding, electrifying, tinkering and camping, and turning it into something they can use as lucrative careers.
Or, maybe they’ll just be the next generation of people who, like their parents, have ordinary jobs and houses full of books, metal detectors, dismantled blenders and the like.
Either way, life is richer if you follow your bliss.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Time to get back on track

Christmas is over, my flu bug is almost gone (except for a lingering cough) and I finally finished making my Christmas gift for my mother.
Soon I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled life.
But, in keeping with all the resolution making so common during this time of year, I have spent some time reviewing 2005 with an eye on how I can improve 2006.
This year I started a new phase in my life. I started back to work as a journalist after a 12 year break to be a mother.
My baby started school full-time, the budget is in the red and I do have a marketable skill.
I didn’t want to completely lose it at home. I do still have a husband, two children and a house needing attention. So when the opportunity came up for a part-time work at home correspondent came open I jumped on it.
The job required us to get a better computer. We opted for the “Totally Awesome Psycho Death Kill,” and access to the internet. This caused another huge change in my life.
Several of my dear friends moved away during the summer of 2005. I miss you desperately Kendra, Julie and Keauni. A fourth retired to her home with a high-risk pregnancy.
The final change was being released from my church job in the Primary presidency. The Primary is the LDS church’s children’s organization.
Since it is for and about children, many of the teachers and leaders are women with children, so being released from this job left me adrift in the woman’s organization. I was put in the primary shortly after moving to this town, and I didn’t know many women in the woman’s group.
But, I was asked to teach them, which made me happy, until one of my lessons went sadly awry and I became the subject of much gossip.
Such is the setup of my goals for 2006 to better use my resources, namely my time, my talent and my money.
Some time ago Sophia, a friend on an online scrapbooking community, set forth a challenge to list talents of 2005 and talents one wishes to develop in 2006. After she issued the challenge, I put it all on paper. But I am just now getting around to blogging about it.

Talents of 2005
The ability to listen.
Empathetic journaling ~ I love to make people cry when they read what I write.
Photography ~ much aided by the use of the newspaper’s d-rebel!
Humor ~ I have a wry sense of humor that takes a lot of people by surprise.
Generosity ~ I am fairly open handed with my time and talents.
Handwriting ~ I never really thought my handwriting was all that great, what with being a lefty and all. But I realized I have always enjoyed practicing my handwriting, and it can look nice.
Typing / Computer skills ~ I am fast, baby!
Deep thought ~ I don’t know exactly how to classify this is a talent, but my mind is always pondering the deeper meaning of life.
Faith ~ I know God lives, and loves me too.

What I want to develop in 2006
Time management
Household organization
Money management
Cooking skills
Scriptural knowledge
Earning Power
A cheerful attitude
Scrapbook related ~ color skills

If you look at the list closely, you can see much of it is about managing my resources. Toward that end I spent most of yesterday making myself a catch-all journaling, planner book to be my faithful companion through 2006.
I plan to use it for:
Menu planning
Goal setting
Time management
Tracking scrapbook submissions ~ keeping track of product lists
And all other life related activities.
The plan is still in its embryonic stage. But thanks to this book, I’ll look marvelous doing it!

Friday, December 23, 2005

They might be giants

I just received one of my favorite traditional Christmas gifts in the mail yesterday, the Sorenson Family Calendar.
I come from a crafty clan. We like to doodle, paint, color, anything that involves nonproductive, fascinating semi-artistic endeavors. Several years ago my brother started doodling cartoons about family legends and sending them out to all of us.
One of my favorite cartoons included the drawing of his 6’5” frame folded up at the card table with the grandchildren because he is the youngest child and had to sit at the children’s table for so many Thanksgiving dinners.
Another shows little girls wrapped in scarves, coats and hats, a ballerina tutu sticking out from under the coat, holding a pumpkin for the classic Wyoming Halloween.
In keeping with that theme An April drawing illustrates mounds of snow with colored Easter Eggs easy to spot against all the white, the caption reads “Maybe we shouldn’t have colored them.”
Two or three years into the project, he ran out of cartoon ideas, and started sending complicated graphic drawings so we could color them ourselves.
My sister and I have been known to spend an entire vacation together doing nothing but coloring in graphic drawings, talking and drinking Pepsi.
So I was delighted to get another calendar in the mail just in time to color through the Christmas holiday.
He also sent family photos.
His family cracks me up. In his own words, he said he is a “draft person.” You know, like a draft horse. As I mentioned, he is 6’5.” He was almost 12 pounds at birth. He was the second largest child ever delivered by our family doctor. The largest was a boy born to the woman who would later become his mother-in-law.
My sister-in-law is 6’2” and their children, well, they might be giants. His oldest son is 13, I believe, and almost as tall as his mother. Their daughter is 11. Their seven year old son is taller than my 11 year old son, and their four year old son is just a smidge shorter than my seven year old son.
If you didn’t notice how l-o-o-o-n-g their legs were in this photo you probably wouldn’t have any idea they are a super sized family.
They make me feel downright petite, no small feat, considering I am 5’7” and, um, big boned.

I love having my brother in my family, even though he is a boy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Remember the Child

My baby turns seven today. Every year on my children’s birthdays I go through the memories of pregnancy and birth. I remember the hopes, and dreams and fears involved with getting them here.
The birth of my now seven-year-old was particularly dramatic. He came six weeks early and I had a combination of complications ranging from preeclampsia to incompetent cervix. It was a very challenging time for me.
But now my perfectly healthy little boy keeps hugging me and thanking me for his birthday present. Upon his request we gave him the little boy’s answer to the Easy Bake Oven, a Creepy Crawly Bug Maker.
It has all the things to appeal to a little boy. The heating element has a hint of danger, the green glow-in-the-dark goop used to make the bugs is disgusting, and the end results are creepy crawly bugs! Who could ask for anything more?
Our plans for today include a visit from his buddy who moved to another town in July and dinner at a themed restaurant where every 30 minutes “cliff divers” put on a show for the crowd.
Today should be wild, crazy, fun.
Meanwhile, I’m still trying to get a newsletter written, put tags and bows on all the Christmas presents, and interview three Santas for a feature story due tomorrow. Did I mention my fever of 101 degrees F, my coughing until my ribs ache, and the pig-sty that is my house? It’s going to be a fun day!
But if I think my life is too crazy and hectic, and simply unmanageable, I only have to look into the face of my little miracle child. Seven years ago I brought him into the world, thanks to the marvels of modern medicine, an amazing OBGYN, and most of all, God’s grace.
He has brought joy to my life every day since that first moment he took a breath.
I gave birth to him on a Sunday, and I remember holding him in my hospital bed, listening to carolers wander the halls and sing of a newborn babe. Later, my now 11-year-old son, who was four at the time, came to visit me. He brought me a tiny manger he had built in church. I still have that little crèche built of Popsicle sticks, cradling a tiny little wooden baby wrapped in white cloth.
Now is as good a time as any to remember the miracle of birth, any birth, most particularly the miracle of the birth of my Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Another sleepless night

This photo really doesn't have much to do with my blog entry. But I think it's adorable, so I have included it today.

I’d like to thank NATO for another sleepless night. It’s not that I’m laying awake at night worrying about the power bill, although I should. It’s that the thermostat is set at 68 degrees F. My bed is apparently the warmest place in the house.
Let’s set the scene.
It’s 3:18 a.m.
I am in my bed.
So is my Huggy.
So is my six-year-old son.
So is my cat.
Huggy is snoring.
Six-year-old has managed to put his rear in the small of my back and his icy toes in an intimate part of my body.
Cat, on the other side of my body, is purring in disharmony with the snoring and gently {!} reminding me to continue petting her by sinking her claws into my thighs.
I am weighed down by flannel sheets and three blankets.
But at least I’m warm!

Friday, December 16, 2005

A great night for Logan

Last night was DS-11 time to shine. First, he was invited to the school Reflections awards ceremony where he received an honorable mentioned medal for his entry.
The theme for the year was “I Wonder Why.”
He entered in both writing, as was required of all students, and photography. His prize was in the photography category.
He might have won, had he spent any time on the project, but basically he told me the morning the Reflections entries were due that he want to do something. So I handed him my work camera and sent him out to shoot some photographs. I believe I posted some of them on an earlier blog entry.
He came back in with some pretty good shots, I downloaded them and printed them out, and he hand wrote some thoughts under the photos.
The grand prize winner had a beautiful close-up shot of leaves. It was nicly detailed and I think it deserved the win.
But DS-11s, placing in the competition has convinced me that giving him a digital camera for Christmas is a wise move. I’m going to have to spend time with him teaching him how to tell stories with photographs. Maybe next year he’ll bring home a trophy, too!
Following the Reflections contest we went to his Christmas Concert. They sang the same songs we heard last year, and none of them mentioned mangers, Bethlehem or anything else remotely religious. But the kids had a great time. Their favorite is an Elvis song where they bust some moves.
After about two minutes of watching my son, my eyes wandered to the odd assortment of youngsters on the stage. As a result I came to a few conclusions.
(1) My boy really is very handsome.
But I may be prejudice.
The children, ages 10-12, are in that awkward stage when some parts are growing faster than other parts. I don’t want to be rude, but some of those kids were just, um, waiting to grow into their looks.
(2) Girls and boys are different.
I know, not much of a revelation. But it was funny to see how they dressed. DS told me he was supposed to wear a red or green shirt with black pants. He was wearing a simple pullover. But other boys were wearing black t-shirts with red lettering, red t-shirts with black lettering, etc. At least half of them looked like they hadn’t combed their hair in two days.
The girls, on the other hand, had pretty velvet tops, or layered sweaters, or stylin’ sweaters. Their hair was curled, and combed and tied with sparkly ribbon.
(3) There is no such thing as a quick run to Walmart after a Christmas concert in a smaller town.
We figured, hey, it’s 8 p.m. on a weeknight, who’s going to be there? Everyone who attended the concert, that’s who! And everyone who attended a concert at any of the other elementary schools, and band concert at the middle school, and the Chorus Concert at the High School. In other words, half the town.
But some of you will be happy to know I bought new wrapping paper!
Earlier today I was wrapping Christmas gifts and realized I had been putting the same unattractive wrap around my presents for six years. I’ve had the paper ever since my Mother bought the paper for me when I was in bed trying not to give birth to my DS who will be celebrating his seventh birthday in a few days. I didn’t much like the paper when she bought it for me at Costco. You know how much paper Costco puts on a roll, don’t you? 4,000,000 yards. After seven years of using it, the paper hasn’t grown on me.
I occurred to me I have been putting up with this unattractive paper, getting less and less happy with it every time I use it, because Mom bought it, and I don’t want to let good paper go to waste, and after all, it’s just wrapping paper.
I know it’s silly to be this obsessed about wrapping paper. My brother and his family wrap their gifts in newsprint and are perfectly happy with their thriftiness. And I don’t really care what people use to wrap packages they give to me.
But, I like to make my gifts look pretty. To me, putting extra time in the presentation is part of my gift to the recipient ~ even if they don’t notice it, even if they don’t care. I notice and I care how my gifts look.
So it has been a small irritation for many years to have to deal with paper I don’t like.
It dawned on me that I often put up with things that are easy to fix, but I don’t fix them simply because “that’s the way it’s always been,” or “if it works don’t fix it.”
So, one of my goals for 2006 is to look at all the things in my life that can be fixed without too much fuss, and fix them.
Maybe I can move the aluminum foil from above the stove. Right now whenever I reach up to get some foil half the contents of the cupboard fall on me. It’s a small, irritating, fixable situation.
My challenge to you, dear reader, is to access your life and see if there is something that bothers you and is easily fixable. Maybe you need another pair of scissors, because the old ones don’t really work. Or maybe you need new laundry baskets, but you just haven’t bothered getting them. Take some time for yourself sometime before the New Year and make your life a little easier.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Serendipity ~ isn’t this a lovely word? I love both the sound of the word and its meaning, a happy accident.
I did a search on the word {I love language, and I’m prone to do that kind of thing} and discovered this definition “gift for discovery ~ a natural gift for making useful discoveries by accident.”
The thesaurus lists other words like “karma,” “providence,” “kismet” and “luck.”
Isn’t the power of words fascinating?
Just hearing {or in this case reading} words like “karma and providence makes me smile.
With so many words, like quirky and notion, panache, knack, whim, and sumptuous floating around, why do we limit ourselves to the same old tired phraseology? {Or verbiage, or terminology, jargon, even lingo}
I know I am limited by my ability to spell. I am a horrible {appalling, vile, ghastly, hideous, dreadful, appalling and outrageous} speller. I just don’t have the knack {ability, skill, talent, aptitude or gift}.
But, I do have a computer! This has opened my world in more than one way.
Now when I write {pen, compose, create and/or author} a story, I have access to the thesaurus with the click of a mouse key.
This is total serendipity for a wordsmith like myself.
I love technology!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The company you keep

You can tell a lot about the Company you keep by their Christmas parties. I just went to my first Christmas party with the newspaper and I came home with a great impression about the family-friendly business.
I have been working for the newspaper for less than a year, in an extremely part time position. I work out of my home, and put in somewhere between 9 and 15 hours a week. In short, except for a few people in the editorial department, no one really knows me. I am the stealth reporter.
This summer I was pleased when I was told the company has a yearly event at a local amusement park. We have lived here for four years, but haven’t taken the children to the park because of the high ticket prices. But the company offered free tickets for me and everyone in my family, plus, the provided a picnic.
It was kind of a surprise, for someone who has worked for tightwad companies in the past, and is married to a school teacher. Big parties for teachers usually involve pot-luck and setting up and taking down your own chairs.
However, last night’s Christmas party was a fun, family friendly event.
Santa came to visit children ages 11 and under. A photographer made pictures of each child visiting the big guy, and as the youngsters left they were given a bag budging with candy and toys.
I think the kids had more in their Santa gift they did in their Halloween bags this year. Toys included a little car powered by balloon, a beach ball with a snowman inside, and Adam’s favorite, a stuffed animal.
I have been charged with taking care of the dog and making sure it gets a mid-day snack while Adam is in school.
Adult employees were given gifts ranging from cash and dinners to a microwave oven and digital camera – with printer.
I enjoyed the randomness of the gift giving. While Christmas bonuses were based on hours worked and years with the company, anyone, including the newest employee had a chance at the big camera and printer prize. As it happens, it was the newest employ who won it. I was given cash, which made me very happy.
While I know the company spent money on the party, many of the items were donated in exchange for advertising, which was a win-win for both the businesses and my company. Of course, it was a win for the employees, too!
Having worked for both kinds of companies, the generous businesses with a positive attitude, and the skin-flint companies that seem to fear the employees just might end up earning more than they deserve, it’s clear which I prefer.
The generous companies are also onto something the skinflint companies don’t seem to understand, a little kindness on the part of an employer will earn unabashed loyalty on the part of their employees.
In other words, if you want good people on staff, treat them well.
This isn’t a bad lesson to learn, for a business, or for anyone else seeking joy in life.
If you want a loving husband and children, treat them with love.
If you want people to smile at you, smile at them.
If you want love, give it.
It’s true, generosity, kindness and good manners will not always be returned. But isn’t it better to live a life seeking happiness and joy, rather than a life of suspicion and resentment?

Monday, December 12, 2005

Ode to The Man

This is an Ode to the man who made me his wife, twelve years ago and for the rest of our lives.
I married a good man, a good father, a man of dedication and loyalty. I have been greatly blessed.
Good father
David is the middle (fifth) child in a family of ten, he is one of seven boys, and he has three sisters. As such, he learned a lot about babies. When Logan was born, David knew a lot more about diapering and burping babies, than I did. I’m not at all sure Logan would have made it through that first year without his daddy. David was going to school at the time. I started working part time when Logan was about nine months old to help with the bills. David, who was serving on the student counsel, often took Logan to school with him while I worked. Maybe that’s why Logan turned out to be such a scholar.
David was in the hospital with me when I lost our second child, a son, we named Duncan. Born 18 weeks into the pregnancy, Duncan could have been considered a “miscarriage,” but he was born alive and David held him and wept with me as the baby died.
Later, when Adam came into the world with a head full of curly dark hair, I knew his middle name would be David, just like his father. Adam and David are best buddies; it does my heart good to see my children interact with their father. I believe one of the best things I could have given my children was a father who loved them.
Good provider
David has worked hard to provide for his family, even though not all of his jobs have paid well, and many of them were not glamorous, he did them, for us. I adore him for taking a job with a portable potty cleaning service in order to pay the bills.
He now works as sixth grade teacher and puts heart and soul into training the young skulls full of mush in his charge. The girls puzzle him, as adolescent girls are wont to do, heck; I was even puzzled by myself when I was that age. But the boys do well under his firm but kind leadership. This year he has taken to sitting with the students when he eats lunch because one of his students is disabled, and needs extra attention. This concern for his young charges has been praised by his principal.
Good husband
But mostly, David is good to me. It’s true, he doesn’t understand my moods any more than he understands the moods of the pre-teen girls in his classroom, but he is forever patient. He is not afraid to pitch in with housework; he folds clothes and cooks Sunday dinner more often than not.
David, I love you. I love all you do for me and our children. I appreciate your hard work to keep me at home where I can care for our children. You have greatly blessed my life over the past 12 years beyond my greatest expectations.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Older yes, wiser ~ don't count on it

Yesterday was my *gulp* 47th birthday. I’m not at all sure how I managed to get this old without getting wiser.
I celebrated my birthday by taking myself to a stylist and getting a haircut. Recently I’ve been wearing my extra-fine hair in a simple layered bob. But yesterday I went a little crazy and had the stylist cut in layers ~ a la Heidi Swapp, for my scrapbooking friends. It’s pretty shaggy looking, but now it’s shaggy on purpose instead of by accident. Yeah, pillow hair is not chic!
I also went Christmas shopping, which is fairly traditional for me, a December baby. When I came home I found a 12 pack of diet cherry Pepsi in my door, left by a Ya~Ya scraper friend.
David brought home a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a gift card from his boss to Applebee’s, so we went out for garlic steak and shrimp. Then we came home and watched Cindy being voted off “Survivor,” which didn’t surprise me since she chose to keep the car instead of giving cars to everyone else on the island.
A gift from my Wyoming sister, and my mother and an e-card from my brother added to the delight of the day.
Because of my December birthday, I have come to expect low-key celebrations. But I have had a fairly good week. On Wednesday the Ya-Ya Scrappers had breakfast together. We gathered in our pajamas and ate fruit, a breakfast casserole and sipped hot chocolate. We had drawn names for gifting and I was given the Provo Craft Christmas Slab. Yeah! I have a lot of places I can use it. Alas, I could have used it three weeks ago for the Provo Craft Design Team competition, but realistically; I didn’t have much of a chance snagging the plum job against all the talented competition, anyway.
Today I have a luncheon planned with some ladies from my church. Two of them are part of my Ya-Ya Scrappers group, so I get to visit with them again today. Another church party is planned tonight, and my work has a party planned for Monday night, so I’m getting to be quite the social butterfly this week.
The downside of this week has been the weather. It’s been bitter cold. Now I realize cold is relative. We are staying below freezing, in Wyoming, my mother; sister and brother are trying to keep warm in temperatures recorded at -30 degrees. I’ve experienced that kind of cold before, and it is literally mind numbing. The snow squeaks when you walk on it and it is too cold to be slippery. Mechanical equipment, like cars and furnaces, start to break down.
I remember a Christmas when I was about 19 years old and we had a similar cold snap. My sister’s children were just babies. The power went out, they didn’t have a fireplace, and they couldn’t get their car started. She just tucked her babies in bed until her husband and my father could rescue them and bring them to my parents’ home where we had a fireplace to keep everyone warm.
As a result of this experience, when my family moved back to cold country, I looked for a house with a fireplace in it so we would not end up similarly endangered should we experience a cold snap and power outage. Hey, what do you know, I am getting wiser as I get older.

But the weather has offered some interesting photo opportunities. I’ve been drawn to the patterns of reflections and shadows lately. This week’s photo of the week challenge with my on-line scrapper friends has been “reflections.” I kind of failed at this attempt, but I did get some good shadows, so I’m going to use that photo instead.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Welcome to the 21st Century

I usually save the year-end wrap-up comments for the week after Christmas. But I’ve been thinking about this wild and crazy year as I am getting my Christmas newsletters ready. I have learned a lot over the past year, but just for fun, I thought I might list some of my discoveries of 2005.
~ Pajamas.

O, my. I love my pajamas.
This is not so much a discovery as a re-discovery. I had several sets of pajamas that made up my wearing apparel during the months I was bed-bound before the birth of my youngest child, Adam. But darn it all, they wore out, and I had a hard time justifying the purchase of more pajamas since I had nightgowns.
But my beloved Ya-Ya Scrappers left me a set of Tweety Bird Pajamas in September and I am so happy! I have since purchased some Sponge Bob Square Pants pajamas, too.
~ Digital photography.
David bought me a 3.2 point and shoot for my birthday/Christmas present last year and revolutionized my scrapbook pages. I love the option of taking a bazillion photos and deleting the shots that just don’t work for me. After I started my part-time job with the local newspaper and they gave me a D-Rebel, I started to blow the doors off my old photographs. I love digital so much, we are going to give our sons ages 7 and 11 inexpensive digital cameras for Christmas.
~ The internet.
We briefly had the internet in our home when I was pregnant with my youngest child. But when I became bed-bound we decided to disconnect it since I wasn’t using it and it was costing us money. What with one thing and another, we haven’t been able to afford it since. But when I landed my job with the newspaper we needed the internet so I could file my stories from home. I can’t believe how much easier it is to be a reporter with the resources available through the internet. Hay, Alleen, welcome to the 21st Century!
~ Cell phones.
Again, welcome to the 21st Century. Since I am a SAHM I had no need for a cell phone before. Frankly, I was an anti-cell phone snob because I couldn’t imagine why you would want to talk to people when you went grocery shopping. Wasn’t being in the grocery store stressful enough? But on the day we were school shopping and my boss called while I was in Olive Garden for dinner, I decided the cell phone had its advantages. Then on Sunday when I didn’t have my cell phone, and couldn’t find a working phone, and needed to call my husband, I decided the phone was about to become a necessity.
~Psycho Death Kill.
Hot diggity dog, my new computer rocks! Don’t get me wrong, I was totally in love with my Performa. It had seen me through many a scrapbook page, Christmas newsletter and the birth of the family newsletter, “Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch.” But the Psycho Death Kill is smokin’! I can download photos and print them on my next great discovery.
~Scanner, printer combo.
Ye Haw! I can print photos at home. I can print them any size, in black and white or color or a combination of the two. What a blast!
~ Adobe Photoshop 3.0 elements.
See above post. Seriously, this is a great program, I have so much to learn about it, but I’m having fun learning it.
What can I say that I have not already said? Check out my blog and find out!
~Free Sail at the Great Salt Lake
My husband, children and I were treated to a ride on a sailboat on the big, salty lake so close to my new home. I have been fascinated with the Great Salt Lake since moving so close to it four years ago, but this summer as we were sailing with Captain Joe I had a spectacular time. If we had the money, and the time, and the training … But the free sail is something I’m sure we will remember for a long time.
~Mega M&M’s.
M&M,s only bigger. With more chocolate. Merciful heavens! I do believe I gained 10 pounds, due to these wonderful candies.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Christmas light, another view

Lights photograph, part two.
Yesterday I was sitting in church waiting to take photographs for a friend for a baby blessing. It was a bitter cold day, grey and windy. But suddenly the sun came out from behind the clouds and burst into the room. I noticed the pattern of light and shadow on the rug, it was just so peaceful and somehow symbolic to me I couldn’t resist snapping a few shots.
This was the best one. I took it just before a church official came and told me that taking photographs in the church was not allowed. I hope I don’t burn in hell for posting the photograph. But it spoke of the hope and joy of Christmas to me.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

If I could sent time in an envelope

I’ve been making Christmas cards for the last two days. “Why?” I ask myself, have I spent so much time creating something that in the best case will spend December displayed on someone’s shelf, and in the worse case tossed in the trash along with credit card offers and grocery ads.
I could tell myself a big story and say I’m doing it for them. But the truth is, at least some of the people on my card list will be a little annoyed to receive a hand-made gift. These are the people who value love by the amount of cash involved. Never mind that each hand crafted took at least 30 minutes of labor, while a store-bought card with a scrawled name on the bottom is, let’s just say, less of a time investment.
Certainly I’m making cards because I want to. No one puts in that kind of effort without some kind of reward.
I love the look of the cards.
I’ve learned a little something new with each card I have created.
I’m using up part of my stash of scrapbook paper, so each card is somewhat different from the others.
But I am also making them for me, because as I linger over the task I think about the people who will be receiving the cards. My mother and mother-in-law will be tickled by the photographs; my sisters are going to get pink cards, just because it’s a chance to do something girly for a change. My in-laws will get the more traditional cards, because they would think pink Christmas cards are a little over the top.
I’m doing it for me, because when I slip those cards into envelopes, stick a stamp on them and put them in the mail, I will be giving my family a little slice of something vastly important during this time of year, I’ll be sending them my time.
I have no way of knowing how this small gift will be received. But that isn’t going to stop me from offering it.

Friday, December 02, 2005

My Christmas Cards, hot off the press

This little light of mine

I fear I have become sadly attached to my daily blog habit. Yesterday I didn’t blog because I didn’t *have* to. I am officially done with my Photo a Day Challenge and am moving on to the Photo a week in December challenge. This month we have specific themes each week. The theme for this week is “Light.”
Since this is December and Christmas lights are everywhere, you wouldn’t think this would be all that hard to do. But I have never been able to take good photographs of my Christmas tree lights, so I have been having a good time with the challenge.
I’m kind of a purest when it comes to Christmas lights; I like the little white ones. David, on the other hand, prefers multi-colored strands. I like twinkling, he likes flashing, dancing, blinking lights. He’s also partial to the old-fashioned big bulbs that adorned trees in the ‘60s and ‘70s. I really don’t like blue lights, he loves them.
My favorite look for the outside, is trimming the house with multicolored lights with white icicle lights dripping down the sides. I think it makes the house look like it’s made of gingerbread.
But since the color of lights on our house is a minor thing, we have agreed to disagree and kind of decorate catch as catch can. One day I would like to go the whole gingerbread house route, with gingerbread men on the lawn and decorations shaped like candy. But this dream, like many others, stays in my mind for “one day.”
Our family rarely put Christmas lights on the house when I was a child. I suppose part of the reason was the house was usually covered in snow by the end of October, and stringing lights was not all that practical. No doubt money played a part in the decision, too.
But we did love Christmas lights. It was a tradition to spend Christmas Eve driving around our little town looking at lights. Now I understand it was our parents’ way to calm us down enough so we could go to sleep. But it is a good tradition, and one I have continued with my children. Alas, David rarely gets to see the lights, because he’s busy doing the driving.
When I moved to St. George I was astonished by how much decorating was going on. My parents and little brother spent one Christmas in southern Utah with me, and we spent hours driving around looking at the lights. At one point, we saw some really interesting lights on a house down a little lane and we drove down the road to investigate. It wasn’t until we ended up in the driveway that we realized it was a private road
Quickly we turned around and went back to the main thoroughfare, only to discover the homeowners had closed the gate while we were exploring. My brother and I hid in the back seat while my Mom got out and opened the gate so we could get out. My good old practical rancher mom has opened enough gates in her day to not even think about it. Ray and I were mortified.
The tradition of luminarieas began to flourish in St George during my years in the community. At first just a few houses put out the lights in paper bags. Soon a whole neighborhood jumped on the tradition. I am now completely sold on the method of lighting; it is so peaceful and beautiful. But I don’t know that it will work in the snow of northern Utah.
Light is such an integral part of Christmas. The holiday’s pagan roots come from the darkness of winter and the prayer for the return of spring. In the Christian tradition, light represents Jesus, who is the light of the world. In Jewish tradition Hanukah is a festival of light.
It is hard to imagine the holiday without candles, a roaring fire, twinkling lights on a Christmas tree and of course, the light in a child’s eyes.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Hugs to all my Photo Challenge Friends!

Today is the last day of the November Photo a Day Challenge. It’s been fun, frustrating, exhausting, exhilarating and most of all educational.
Thank you all for playing. I have had such a great time getting to know you better through your photographs, blog entries, layouts and kind comments on my blog.

I was reading about snow globes on Mandy’s blog and it made me think. Okay, you know me by now; everything makes me think in the most unusual directions. But I was pondering why people love snow globes.
It occurred to me I personally love them, because I love the idea of a tidy, self contained world. But the downside of living inside a snow globe, of course, would be the random shaking followed by glittery storms.
It seems whoever has their hands on my snow globe knows just when I get to settled and comfortable and shakes things up a bit. I wish I was a steadfast as the tiny people inside all the snow globes I see displayed on shelves. But alas, the shaking leaves me dizzy most of the time.
Last night I practiced photographing the village under our Christmas tree. David’s grandmother had the most spectacular Christmas village, you know the kind that take up half the living room, and involves three weeks of setup. I don’t know if anyone ever took photographs of her complete set. She worked for years to collect it, and after she died the pieces went to various family members. We have one ceramic tavern from her collection under our tree.
We also have a collection hailing back to my mother’s fascination with tiny houses. She tells me she made her first collection of toy houses when she was about five and someone gave her a pack of construction paper. After my older sisters were born, she designed a spectacular playhouse for us, and commissioned a family friend to make small scale furniture.
After we were in school, Mom went back to work as a high school art teacher. By the time I was a teenager; we had a ceramic kiln in our garage, along with a collection of molds, paints and craft tables. The car sat outside. To darn bad about the 20 degrees below zero, the girls gotta craft!
One year we made ceramic cottages. I still have most of them under my tree. A few years ago Mom sent me some more tiny houses for our village. These were made out of plastic mesh, sewn together and decorated with yarn.
Last year I found a few more ceramic pieces at a bargain at the local five and dime, so three more houses were added to the town.
My village is sadly out of scale, the people tower over the doors, they couldn’t fit in with a shoehorn. But I’m afraid I have the tiny house bug. I love setting up the funky little village under the tree. I guess it entertains the little girl in my soul.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Hats off to Christmas

My youngest son is really starting to get the hang of this photo a day business. This morning when I climbed out of bed, I opened the curtains, accessed the light and told him “go get the Santa hat and …”
“Your camera?” he filled in helpfully.
He obliged and was soon striking a pose for some delightful shots.
Alas, he’s the only one who still thinks the whole being photographed thing is fun. Even the cat is starting to give me the evil eye.
I’m quickly running out of live subjects, and may be forced, before the end of the month to take photographs of myself. Trust me; no one wants to see that!
But Adam’s Santa hat photos turned out so well, I’ve been thinking that for Christmas photos this year I would simply take individual portrait shots of every member of the family wearing the hat, for a four corner photo layout.
While I was waiting for everyone to get it together and go to school I played around with self portraits and the Santa hat. Humm, maybe I should wait until I am awake, wearing make-up and in candle light. This early morning light is for the birds or for very young children.

Monday, November 28, 2005

It’s cold here.
It’s bone chilling, teeth gritting, hairs freeze in your nostrils cold. I remember trudging to school on days like this, wearing skirts and tights, because girls were not allowed to wear slacks. Now I’m cheerfully sending my boys out in the mind numbing cold ~ and I’m doing it with a smile, because I have piles, and piles, and yes, more piles of work to do.
I don’t know if I hope my boss calls me to work today because I need the Christmas money, or I hope he doesn’t, because I need the time to muck out my house and get ready for the holidays.

Since my entry yesterday I’ve been thinking about memories. My sister commented on my blog last night that her youngest {bonus} daughter still has fond memories of our Thanksgiving football game, “{she} said the other day that we always played a football game on Thanksgiving when she was little.”
I have memories too, of things we “always” did as children too. I remember making gingerbread houses one year, and decorating sugar cookies many years. I remember the year the power went out on Christmas eve, and I remember the year I desperately wanted “Pebbles and Bam~Bam Dolls.” But being aware, at even that young age that Santa had a limited supply of cash and telling my father right before going to sleep that I would be okay with just getting “Pebbles.”
Of course, Santa brought both of them to me, and my sister put my hair up in a Pebbles ponytail, using the doll’s bone as a decoration.
I remember the elaborated Barbie doll house my mother made for my older sister, and I still marvel at her inventiveness. For example, she used Clorox bottles to make kitchen chairs.
I wonder what memories I am giving my children, if one joyful football game goes down in family legend. Will they treasure the contrived moments of visiting Santa and getting a token candy cane. Or will their minds linger on the happy accidents like days of making puppet shows and playing with trains.
I hope their memories will forgive me for emotional breakdowns while trying to untangle lights, and dwell instead on the glow of the fire and the taste of hot chocolate.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Thanksgiving is starting to grow on me

I woke up at 6 a.m. to the sound of a snow plow, complete with the flashing yellow light seeping through the blinds. They don’t plow the streets around here unless there really is snow, and sure enough, there was four to six inches on the ground. Let’s hear it for lake effect snow!
Mom, who is a big believer that “things happen for a reason,” told me when I called her and said the family wouldn’t be able to visit for Thanksgiving that there was probably a reason.
Now that it’s snowing, she’ll feel the flu bug was just God’s little way of keeping our family from traveling over the ice and drifting snow back from Grandmother’s house.
But in spite of the unfortunate beginning of this holiday, I’ve ended up having a good time. We went to “Harry Potter,” together, played in paper, put up the Christmas tree and right now the boys are setting up an elaborate railroad system under the tree with their Thomas the Tank Engine set.
They are both past the age of Thomas, but every year at Christmas time when we pull out the Christmas village, Tomas and friends come out to play, too. I guess it has become an unofficial tradition.

While this weekend did not go the way I wanted it too, it has been charming nevertheless.I’ve been thinking about Thanksgiving as a holiday.

When I was a child I didn’t quite get the whole Thanksgiving feast business. We didn’t have a lot of extended family to visit on Thanksgiving, my mother was an only child and my father had one brother who lived across the country and never visited. I think I’ve met him three times in my life. We lived next-door to my grandparents, so having them come for dinner wasn’t much of a novelty, and I wasn’t a fan of the traditional holiday fare.

But things began to change when my older sisters went away to college and came home for Thanksgiving.After many meals of meeting new family members-to-be and new babies, the holiday became a bit more interesting. It has only been in the past 12 years or so, sadly since the death of my Father, that I have truly learned to appreciate the family gathering aspect of the day.

I have three sisters, but for reasons I can’t precisely explain, two of them don’t usually attend these family get-togethers.

But my Wyoming sisters’ oldest children have grown, and her daughter has children of her own. My brother, sister, niece and I all have children the same age and it’s a grand gathering.

One of my fondest memories is of the Thanksgiving of 2001. Both nephews had returned home from missions, after not seeing each other for four years because the missions overlapped. The youngest had been scheduled to fly home from his mission in Washington D.C. on Sept. 12. His return was delayed a week because of the events of 9-11.

On this unforgettable Thanksgiving the weather was frosty, but not snowy. After the feasting the young men and women worked off a little energy with an impromptu game of football in the back yard. I get a little glow when I think of the 20-something men scooping up toddlers and running them across the line for a touchdown. I think they knew, even as they were playing, that the memory of the moment would linger for years to come.

I am so thankful I am able to give my children cousins, something I never had. I am so grateful for my family, for their creativity, sardonic humor, kindness to the children, and acceptance of each other.

Do we have warts, yes we do, and plenty of them. But at the heart we also have a grand, good time together.

As you can see, I went a little nuts with the photo of the day. We put up the Christmas tree yestersday and I tried something new {to me} I poked my camera into the tree in the general direction of photographs I wanted and started snapping. Many of them ended up in the trash bin. But I was really pleased with the majority of them.

So many ornaments on the tree have special meaning to me. The top one of the little girl bear was given to my by my DH on our first Christmas. The bear with the stars was given to us by my Mother in memory of our son who was born at 18 weeks and was unable to survive his extreme premature birth.

I have decided to continue making photographs of the ornaments and puting them togehter in a layout, or maybe even a book.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

It's beginning to look a lot like winter

We’ve been having a grand time this weekend, now that we are on the mend from our unfortunate tummy trouble.
I had planned to take a supply of paper and goodies up north so we could all make cards, but since this plan was derailed I sat down with my boys and handed them cards and bags to decorate. The decoration took a left turn when DS-6 decided he wanted to make sack puppets. We used monster-sized google eyes and the games began.
After making a supply of puppets, the boys started putting on puppet shows at 6, 8 at 9 p.m. daily. DS-6 was in charge of the performances while DS-11 made the scenery on a wipe board. The plot involved tornados, earthquakes, volcanoes and wild tigers. They are boys, after all.
My DS-ll decided the puppets needed a puppetratzzi, so he made a D-rebel for his puppet.
Meanwhile, David was upstairs trying to put the Christmas tree together and discovering that after eight years of service, it just wasn’t going to hold up anymore. So we made a midnight run to Walmart to pick up a new tree.
Good thing, too, because this morning we had about two inches of snow on the ground. So today’s activities will include decorating the Christmas tree, watching puppet shows, and playing in the snow.
It’s beginning to look a lot like winter.

Friday, November 25, 2005

No Turkey for You!

Ah yes, Thanksgiving 2005 was a memorable occasion at our house. We dined on crushed ice flavored ever so slightly with anti-acids and anti-diarrhea medicine. We gathered together, huddled under blanket is mutual misery, stomachs cramping as we watched our plans to eat turkey and stuffing in the company of extended family was literally flushed down the drain.
That was our holiday.
How was yours?
So today I am thankful that the bug is passed, we still have turkey in the refrigerator and although we won’t be going north to visit my mother, sister, brother and all their offspring, we will be eating turkey, one day late.
Let’s hope our battered systems can handle it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky

I am fascinated by the remnants of an old military depot in our community. The World War II buildings hearken back to a different time. It was a time when America was at war, but united against their enemy.
The buildings are large, simple and utilitarian. Now the abandoned complex is slowly returning back to the desert from whence it sprung.
As I drive around the area I can see what was once a bustling complex of warehouses. Rusting train tracks dissect the structure with military precision. Now they are unused, the warning signs broken and wobbling like ghostly arms.
Polished boots once marched with purpose and dedication on the pavement, where now weeds poke their heads through the pavement with impunity. A cool autumn wind stirs bits of trash and whistles faintly around the buildings set close together as regimented as the servicemen who once worked here.
As I drive through the compound, now turned over to civilian duty as an industrial park, I think of the scripture about weapons being pounded into plows. Lyrics from the song “Dust in the Wind,” by Kansas echo in my mind: “Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky.”
In some strange way I cannot explain, my soul is refreshed by the barren loneliness of this location. At night, the base is shadowed and creepy. But now, in the light of day, with the expanse of blue sky above me and the desert rolling away around me, I feel myself connected to the earth and sky, feeling the eternal nature of my spirit.

Monday, November 21, 2005

My furry female friend

Katie Cat has been with our family a little more than a year now, and she has certainly made her presence known. She came to us as a kitten of about two months and has grown into a remarkably beautiful cat. Her mother was a Persian of questionable moral standards because we are not really sure who her father is. But we are assuming, based on her markings, that he was a Siamese Tom.
When female house cats were classified as “queens” they must have been thinking of the likes of Katie. Regal in her habits and bearing, she keeps herself clean, uses the litter box if she has to but much prefers going outside, and will only eat one {pricy} brand of dry cat foot. Oh yes, she has also been known to eat bugs in abundance.
She is an excellent hunter, alas, and loves to bring the still breathing, often still flying birds into our basement to finish off the kill.
She has a purr that could wake the dead, and purrs her thanks whenever she is let in and out of the house {constantly} is given new food, new water or when any of her subjects please her in any other way.
But she does not like to be picked up or cuddled, thank you very much.
We get along just fine, Katie and I. She is a good little companion, and not a particularly demanding one.
She has David completely wrapped around her tail. He think’s she is funny. So he will get out of his favorite chair if Katie wishes to sit in it.
Logan wishes desperately to have a cuddly kitty, and Katie ain’t it. Adam, on the other hand, just takes it all in stride.
It’s good to have another female in the house, even if she has four legs and fur.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Great Excavation of 2005

I could have spent my weekend scrapbooking, Christmas shopping, or even going to the new Harry Potter movie. But no, I found myself digging through boxes, papers and fabric in what has come to be known as the “scary closet.”
Actually, it’s only one of several such scary closets in the house, and easily the worst. It wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for my obsession with crafts and boxes. When I opened the closet yesterday I realized that although I am a big fan of saving the “good boxes,” too many good boxes can be a bad thing.
I have also rediscovered the joy of the tote.
I’ve been storing all my Halloween costumes, Easter baskets, and fabric scraps in cardboard boxes. The downside of this is I can’t see inside of the boxes and the boxes themselves look, well, tacky.
Over the last two years I have become friends with Jessica, who could easily pass as “Queen of the Totes.” The woman weights maybe 103 pounds soaking wet, but she can throw around totes the size of Volkswagens, like a truck driver. Her world is Organized! Last year, inspired by Jessica’s tidy storage area, I invested in totes for my Christmas ornaments, lights, etc. This year the totes moved into my closet.
It’s amazing how four totes, one for holidays, another for crafts, a third for sewing and fabric and a fourth for all things scrap related, has cleared up the space under the stairs. I have had a storage container for my wrapping paper for a few years, and I put the gift wrap bows in another, tossed (most) of the boxes, and yehaw! My closet is clean and organized.
Now I have to tackle the coat closet, the pantry and *gulp* the children’s toy closet.

While these photos of the day are not technically interesting, they signify a great accomplishment to me, conquering the scary closet.