Sunday, January 26, 2014

We’ve got talent

A couple of months ago they announced that our ward would have a talent show at the end of January.  The girls both had piano pieces they were working on that I forced encouraged them to play and a fun song as well.  Jared didn’t want to participate until I found the sheet music for “Concerning Hobbits,” his favorite music from Lord of the Rings.  (And I had to force encourage him too.)  I was in Utah all week helping Cindy Lynn (more on that later) but I flew back Friday morning so that I’d be here in time for the talent show.  It was great fun!

the girl’s duet
Concerning Hobbits

Rachel’s piano solo proves that desire will go a long way to make up for lack of know-how.  She has learned most of this by herself!  Rachel had a really bad stomach ache before her turn to play, but I think it actually helped distract her from her nervousness.

Across the Burren

Jenna was almost last, and was a bundle of nerves by the time she played.  She said she zoned out for most of her song.  Which is not a bad way to go.

100 years

I was SO proud of my kids.  They worked hard and did a great job.  It was definitely one of those moments when all of the hours of practice pay off!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Better (really) (very) (super) late than never. (right??)

When I told someone (a non-church going person) that I wasn’t going to finish the girls’ Christmas dresses before Christmas, she looked surprised.  “What was the point of having them after Christmas?” she asked.  I explained that they would still be able to wear them to church, and that I just wasn’t going to kill myself to get them done in time.  Even though it made me sad.

Then Cindy Lynn, Mahon, & Kate were here for 10 fabulous days and as much as I love sewing, I wanted to play with Kate more.  When they left I started working hard on the dresses, and finally got them done yesterday. 

There’s nothing like a time intensive project to show me how busy my life usually is.  And these dresses were time intensive.  Rachel’s especially, since the pattern was for a strapless dress and I had to find another pattern and merge it with the existing pattern to produce a modest bodice.  I think it turned out pretty well, and she is delighted.  Here are pictures of them from yesterday. 

DSC_2602DSC_2609 color croppedDSC_2603 croppedDSC_2607DSC_2600 cropped

I am off to Utah for the week to help with Kate while Cindy Lynn is in the hospital.  I helped out this summer with 3 month old Kate and it was lots of fun.  I have a feeling Kate will be even more fun, but not nearly as easy…wish us luck! 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Surprising thoughts on social media

I have mentioned before that I am a technological dunce and am not quick to embrace new technology.  I was on the cutting edge of email, but that was because my best friend was moving from Idaho across the country and we were trying to figure out the best ways to stay in contact without breaking the bank.  (Since long distance calls were pretty expensive back then.)  Other than that, I have rejected and put off most technology and then laughed at myself when I later loved it.

I’ve been thinking about this in relationship to social media lately.  When Facebook first became popular I thought it too was at best unnecessary and at worst possibly dangerous.  I thought it was clearly a waste of time and I was Not Interested.

Then a few months before Russ left for Oregon he got a tablet and started playing Words with Friends on it.  Now I’ve never been able to stand playing Scrabble because there’s far too much waiting around time for me, but I’ve played and loved speed scrabble for many years.  (Now marketed as Bananagrams, but essentially the same game.)  So being able to play an online version of Scrabble where I didn’t have to wait around for someone else to figure out their move and where the computer figured out the scores—this was very appealing to me.  It turned out that since I didn’t have a tablet or a smart phone the only way I could play was through facebook.  I grudgingly logged into the facebook account that I had only set up so that I could monitor my kids’ facebook use, and started playing Words with Friends. 

For a long time I logged onto facebook and went straight to WWF without looking at anything.  And I played lots and lots of games of WWF.  But after a while something changed, and I slowly started participating in facebook.  I just went back and looked at my facebook timeline and it looks like the change happened after I arrived in Oregon, when I was so thankful to have any interaction with all of my people back in North Carolina.  And that’s where the surprise has come—facebook has provided me with continuing interaction with people that I know and love but wouldn’t have contact with if it needed to be through a phone call.  (There are only so many people you can talk to on the phone, I’ve decided.)  I’m surprised at how much I have appreciated these little interactions over the last 2 years.  It’s also been unexpected that facebook has allowed me to reconnect with a few people from my past in a lovely way. 

The other thing I’ve really appreciated about facebook is the randomness of it.  If I call you on the phone I ask how you are, I tell you how I am, you tell me what’s up with you, I tell you what’s up with me.  Our conversation is likely to fall within certain parameters.  On facebook there’s no telling what conversation your friend (or their friend) will start.  Yesterday & today’s conversations sparked by an essay calling for more play time for children are a perfect example of this—discussions about where neglect begins, how different things were when we were growing up (Lindsay said something about being able to ride her bike to Dairy Queen as long as she had a helmet—when I was a kid, there were no bike helmets!), and comments from two of my children about how they feel about the amount of play they had in their own childhoods.

So there you are.  Me, the enemy of new technology and all that it brings with it.  Admitting that I actually love Facebook.  Scary, isn’t it? 
 Winking smile

PS—my teenager says that I post things on Facebook way too much.  (???)
PPS—my teenager says teens don’t really love Facebook any more. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Foundation Cracks

I taught a primary class a few months ago about the foundation of the Salt Lake Temple.   In Relief Society the same day the lesson was on the same thing so I had a lot of time to think about it.  The story of the Salt Lake Temple foundation is really fascinating.  After the Saints had been in the Salt Lake Valley for about 5 years Brigham Young said that it was time to start building a temple.  Over the next 5 or so years they built a foundation of red sandstone and mortar that was 8 feet deep.   At this point they learned that General Johnston's army was coming.

Brigham Young was concerned that the invading army would damage the temple foundation and so he had the workers take down the work buildings and bury the foundation so the army wouldn't even know it was there. The army was in Utah for 4 years.  After they left and the workers took the dirt up from the foundation they discovered cracks in the sandstone blocks.  The architect told Brigham Young that there was no way that the foundation would be able to support the granite temple they had planned.   Eventually Brigham Young decided that they would have to take all of the sandstone foundation blocks out and rebuild the foundation with granite blocks.   Replacing the foundation blocks with granite took 9 more years.

When I was young I always looked at the  invasion of Johnston's army as a huge inconvenience to the Saints. Not only did they have to deal with the unpleasantness of the invasion,  but they had to cover over the temple foundation with difficult results.  I haven't thought about the story in years,  but after teaching it in one class and then hearing it again in the next, I started to think about it differently.  Instead of thinking "How awful and inconvenient that the Saints had to go though this," I had the thought "what a blessing that Johnston's army came along at exactly the right time."   "What a blessing that the foundation was buried under enough dirt for a long enough time to allow the sandstone to do what it was going to do anyway."   Which was crack.

As these thoughts rolled around in my brain during Relief Society that day they ended up looking an awfully lot like these thoughts.  That sometimes really hard things happen to expose cracks in our foundation while they are easier to deal with.  That sometimes we have long trials that delay our moving forward because important information hasn't come to light yet.  That we really only see a tiny part of the full picture in any given moment.

I know all too well some of the cracks that have been exposed in me because of the trials of the last two years.  But I wonder--did our family foundation need to be rebuilt somewhere else?  When we can see the whole story one day (and I have no doubt the we will be able to) what will we see and say, "Oh, of course.  THIS is why it was so important."

And most importantly, can I start looking at difficult experiences in this new way?

We have a new beautiful picture of the Salt Lake Temple in our dining room here in Oregon.  Every time I look at it I need to remind myself how grateful I am for Johnston's army.  For the cracks that were exposed.  For the unbelievable effort the pioneers went to to replace that foundation, so that the temple would still be standing today.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I, I, I…

We just had Cindy Lynn on speaker phone so that she could help us understand the paragraph structure of an essay better.  When I read one of the kids’ paragraphs she pointed out that a personal essay should never say “in my opinion,” and that it should never use the words “I” or “my.”  She went on to explain that since it was a personal essay, the “I” or “my” were implied and shouldn’t be used.

Later I was working on a paragraph with Jared.  I realized that despite Cindy Lynn’s explanation, we are not at a place that we can banish the use of the word “I.”  I told him he could go ahead and keep it in his paragraph.  Nevertheless, this is the paragraph he handed me a few minutes later.

Imagined the people in the battle room were able to move a lot easier.  They moved so slowly that the battles weren’t that interesting.  Also didn’t think there were that many windows in the battle room.  Liked ideas about the battle room better than the movie.

I told him, “You need to put some “I’s” in your paragraph.  He responded, “but Cindy Lynn told us not to!!”

I said, partly in fun but with a little frustration too, “I, I, I, put in some ‘I’s’ or I’ll poke you in yours!!”

Whereupon he looked at the girls and squealed,

“You heard it!  Mom’s trying to hurt me!!”

IMG_2519ed warmer

Monday, January 13, 2014

How cold was it?

I know after the recent excursion of the polar vortex into much of the lower 48 that no one who experienced that will be much impressed with a photo history of our cold snap from early December.  We, however, were traumatized enough by December’s cold that we were thoroughly grateful not to be affected last week. 

If there was one thing I noticed last year during the winter it was that the temperature spread here is typically very narrow.  There were any number of days throughout the winter that the overnight low would be 45 and the daytime high just 50 or maybe 55.  This December, though, there was a stretch of ultra-cold temperatures, ending with several nights in the low teens. 


We were fascinated to watch as the water in the pond freeze, and froze some more, and froze even harder.


First the water farthest away from the waterfall.




The waterfall kept running the whole time, and the water around it froze in really amazing shapes.  Not just icicles, but also small ice balls.


After a couple of nights in the teens even the part of the pond closest to the waterfall had frozen solid enough for Rachel to stand on it.


It was fascinating to see how the little balls of ice built up around the running water as the cold spell stretched on.



After the first couple of days of below-freezing temperatures it occurred to me to check the hummingbird feeders.  (Oregon has hummingbirds year round and I am loving that.)  Sure enough, all three of them were frozen solid.  I brought them in and thawed them out several days in a row.


After a couple of mornings of collecting and thawing out the feeders it occurred to me that it would probably be easier to collect them every night, let them sit in the warm house overnight, and return them to their places in the morning.  That was much easier.


Here’s a little hummingbird who just tanked up at the feeder.  As you can see by the end of the cold spell it was both cold and very gray.  Which really seems unfair—it should be one or the other, but not both.


Here’s a picture that Rachel snapped with her ipod (which isn’t focusing very well) of a big chunk of ice when it all started to break up.  At that point it was still about 4” thick!


After a week of temperatures like these, we were very glad when the Arctic
Blast was over and we go our regular winter weather back!

weather highs

Friday, January 10, 2014

Scriptures-1, Blog-0

A combination of events throughout the fall led me to utter words over Thanksgiving break that I have resisted saying for 26 1/2 years of marriage.

I think our family needs to get up early to read scriptures together.

And so at the beginning of December, as a sad sort of late birthday commemoration, we did it.  We started waking the family at 6:30, stumbling to the family room, collapsing onto the couch, and reading a chapter from first the end of the Book of Mormon, then from the book of Moses, and most recently from the New Testament.

November had already been overwhelming to me; filled with night-time meetings and daytime appointments I was completely exhausted by Thanksgiving.  I had anticipated that December would bring some relief, but no.  As the month wore on and we got closer to Christmas (and the tree still didn’t get decorated) I couldn’t figure out what my problem was.  I didn’t have all of November’s meetings and I had few appointments, but I was still exhausted and overwhelmed.  The biggest evidence for me was the inability to blog—a function which requires both time and mental energy.  Finally a day or two before Christmas vacation it hit me.  I had started getting up two hours earlier for family scriptures, but hadn’t gone to bed any earlier.

Ouch.  No wonder I was exhausted.

Once Christmas break started we took a hiatus from early morning scripture reading and I got to catch up on some much needed sleep.  But with all of the Christmas preparations and activities there was still never time (or brain function) available for blogging.  (And seriously—when it’s between Kate and the blog, Kate wins every time!)

I’m hoping that now that we’re into the new year that I can finally hold fast to my desperate resolve to GO TO BED EARLIER!!! so that I don’t feel like a walking zombie all of the time.  I’m thrilled that we’re reading the scriptures as a family consistently.  I’m happy that early morning family scripture time naturally gives me time to make the family breakfast, which is certainly healthier than the alternative.  I’m amazed that the kids have NEVER ONCE complained about getting up early for scriptures.  I think we all knew in our hearts that we weren’t doing something that we really should be doing and it’s kind of a relief to be on the right track now. 

I’d just love to be able to have family scripture study and be able to blog, too…