Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy Anniversary!

as a side note...

It was thirty-some odd years ago that Thor asked me to meet him at the ward New Year's Dance. Later that night he asked me to meet him at the bus the church would take down to see the Rose Parade. We talked all the way to Pasadena and actually fell asleep through the floats.

Thirty years ago tonight, on the anniversary of our first date he asked me to marry him. We got married the following November.

Best thing that ever happened to s'mee.

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Happy New Year!

This is one of Thor’s favorite holidays; he enjoys the idea of starting anew each year and always manages to make a list of ways to improve his character. I usually have the opposite thought for the exact same reasons…mainly because I fail miserably each year at that list of improvements!

For whatever reason this time of year also grabs my attention in matters of “policy”. Over the years I have been a Primary President, Young Women’s President and currently serve in the Relief Society Presidency over the education part of the auxiliary. In each of these callings I have had an extremely difficult time in regard to using only the approved sources for the curriculum taught. Primary specifically, but teachers in all three organization tend to go to the internet, the bookstore, or other sources for ideas and ways to improve upon the material that has been provided and find rewards for being a good student.

There is confusion on some part. I have had to inform some that just because the idea book comes from the "church bookstore" or has a “church title” it does not necessarily belong on the approved list. How does one know what is approved and what is not? Easy! If it is not in the LDS Catalog it is not approved. Another option is to look for the “corporation logo” –usually on the back lower portion of the back cover; the typical font used for “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints", in a block formation. It’s on the hymn book if there are any questions. If the product, book, whatever, does not carry this “logo” it is not approved by the First Presidency and therefore cannot be used in any way during an official lesson time or during the Sunday block.

In Relief Society I run into a different situation. Often times the teacher will use an approved source to add to the lesson material. Let’s say we are in the current (2005) manual –David O.McKay; and the lesson is on Word of Wisdom. According to the handbook, we should not go to material outside of David O. McKay…we’re studying his ideas this year, not Joseph Smith or Brigham Young. Their ideas and revelations are wonderful, but we are studying David O. McKay and what he thought and taught. There is too much information and often too many principles within ONE lesson, we really don’t need to go further and make more work for ourselves.

Many times the argument with this policy has been, “I am just trying to add excitement to an otherwise boring presentation.” Or “There is nothing in this book I am purchasing that goes against Doctrine.” How about: “The girls never get any recognition, I am not creative, why does it matter?” The answers to all of the above are many, but here are a few responses.

#1. We in effect tell the Lord we do not need His inspiration for our individual circumstance.

#2. The (outside source) author’s ideas will suffice and are better than anything we could think up.

#3. If we use the (outside source) author’s ideas we decide we do not need to grow, learn, or stretch.

#4. The church has not provided enough material within the manual for us to plan a lesson with.

#5. We are willing to pay someone for material/ideas the church has provided freely.

#6. The rules do not apply to us.

When we rethink the reasons we go to the store or outside sources for information, rewards or ideas, we often can reason that, in reality we could do this ourselves if we took the time. And that is why we were called to the position in the first place. The Lord has confidence in our ability to carry out our duty. All we need is the faith that He will respond to our pleas for inspiration.

There is no need for edible rewards at church; and often any reward at all. So many times teachers feel they must bribe students (of all ages) to pay attention to the end. If we prepare and teach with the Spirit -that is all that is necessary. Children especially should not be trained to expect a sticker, candy or other form of reward for reverence or good behavior. Reverence is it’s own reward. Teach children how to feel and respond to the Spirit. When they are focused on the treat after the lesson, they often miss the principle being taught. I once had a chorister who convinced the children learning a new song was a huge reward for learning and working on songs for the program. She did not need any more incentive than the idea of learning more. The children loved the enthusiasm and energy that came from someone who taught by the Spirit.

In essence the best teacher is one who relies on the Spirit and materials given them, and then prays what would be the best principle for that individual class that particular Sunday (or other day). We can use our own creativity, and ask the Lord to help us with ideas. Believe it or not they come whether we think our selves creative or not. What a better way to improve our character than by asking the Lord?

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Christmas Essay

T'was the week before Christmas, when all through the family -a plague was stirring, --causing a calamity; The AirBorn was taken by each member with care, knowing that some Asian flu soon would be there. Each person was nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of battering rams banged in their heads.

One dose of NyQuil had laid S'mee out flat, Just two days later I got up from my nap. When out of the fog I arose so much later, I hobbled from the bed with the voice of Darth Vader. Thor had a stomach flu, #3 had bronchitis,#2 and his family- three infected sinus. With Vicks on our chest, and humidified air, Zycam spray at 3 hours, -each was happy to share.

When #5 came home on a plane, she was happy that there was no more rain. But a minute or two after she had arrived, She entered a virtual bacterial beehive. She swallowed a germ, so lively and quick, She knew in a moment she too would be sick. More rapid than eagles those germs had come, that she whistled, and snorted, and breathed with a hum; "Now, Thor! now, S'mee! now, One and Two! His wife, their child! We all had the flu!

To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall! No one could talk, not one could call! As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, The coughing and hacking made us all cry. So up to the doctors the family did flee, With Kleenex, and Tylenol, and Vitamin C.

And then, with the waiting, I heard from the nurse, "Please enter in, oh family that's cursed". As each sat on the paper, all crunchy and white, In walked the doctor, what a beautiful sight! She was dressed in a cloak, from her head to her shoes, After the exam, she had nothing, no news; A bundle of tools she had flung down our throats, poking and prodding, and then hands in her coat.
Her eyes -- how they darted! Her diagnoses how shocking! It seems we'd be sick, and miss seeing each stocking! Her droll little mouth was drawn up rather sad, and the tone of this news made her out quite a cad.

Christmas was canceled, well up to a point. Each achey muscle encircled a joint; We coughed and sputtered and gathered together, We still told stories and laughed at the weather. Christmas had come, even though we were sick, we opened our hearts and a new jar of Vicks; Thor winked his eye and smiled at S'mee, the twinkle lights were gleaming upon every tree; The kids had all come, even in their bad health, And we knew that surely, this is the best wealth:To have such a family, all temperatures rising, show such love, that's not so surprising; It's not about the boxes and bags, not the trees or the goodies, or the silly price tags. But the laughter of loved ones who know who they are, celebrating the One who was born under the star.

So now I can sit and write on a blog, my chest is still heavy, my head in a fog; I still cannot talk but only can write...


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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Temple!

Hawaii -05
Originally uploaded by S'mee.
The best thing about going to Oahu was going to the temple. It sits up on a small hill and overlooks the town and across to the ocean. The grounds were being restructured/landscaped while we were there, which meant much of the deep rich volcanic soil was exposed and many of the plants and vegetation was removed. I love this temple! It's solid and strong and bright white against the dark greens of the mountains and hills that surround it.

Hawaii -05
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

The session we attended only had two other couples in it. Accommodations were made so that the ordinance work was complete. I enjoyed it so much. The people there were so glad to have us serve. After the session each of the workers came to each of us and shook our hand, chatted with us, ask us questions and thanked us for being there. It was awesome.

We also attended the visitor's center. It is amazing! It has also been remodeled so that it is more effective for those who visit from cultures that are primarily Buddhist in belief. The sisters there are mostly Asian and speak many of the different Asian languages so that all can communicate and learn. The interior has a small "Asian Village" to help relate the Gospel message of family. There is a great theatre with waterfalls, sculptures, and foliage that really invites a strong Spirit into the visual presentation. As you walk into the theatre you are seated. There are waterfalls at both right and left of the large wall screen and a heavy "rain" effect that is in front of the screen during the presentation. It doesn't distracts from the message, but adds dramatically to the Spirit. The message is designed to be highly effective at resolving Asian concerns in regards to their culture and beliefs. I LOVED this presentation.

Another presentation got both Thor and I crying after the first two minutes and continued throughout the entire walk about. If you have a family at all this will affect your Spirit tremendously! Amazing. In the main room/lobby there is a very large globe and at it's base Books of Mormon in all the worldwide languages it has been translated into. It is a terrific way to represent the prophecy that the Word of God will go forth unto all nations. It is awesome!

The pictures here are of the Temple as I am standing at the top portion of the reflection pools. One towards the temple and the other as you look down the street towards the sea. The drive from the sea side highway to the temple driveway/entrance has been reconstructed to add continuity and beauty to the surrounding neighborhood. Everything is sparkling clean and well groomed and the visual feel of this temple adds to your temple experience and the Spirit. I am so blessed to have been able to attend here!

For more information and more photos go to the flickr! page via a click on the photos above. Enjoy!

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Makiki Ward

Hawaii -05
Originally uploaded by S'mee.
Here we are in beautiful downtown Wakiki in front of the Tabernacle! Gorgeous! The photo shows the front of the building with the reflection pool. There is a very beautiful and intricate mosaic of Christ on the front facade. A tad Catholic, but beautiful all the same. We went to church in this building and that was great fun. Sacrament Meeting was first, followed by Gospel Doctrine and respective R.S. and P.H. meetings. The Sacrament meeting was packed to the gills and as happened the last time we were in Hawaii, as soon as the Sacrament portion of the meeting was accomplished the tourists fled the building in search of Pearl Harbour or whatever. It really is quite unnerving and I am always amazed at how weird it would feel to just up and leave once you have just taken the Sacrament; but that's just s'mee.

Hawaii -05
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

We went to G.D. class afterwards, which was so great. The teacher was this tiny little gal from Japan who barely spoke English, but she prepared so well that it didn't matter. It was a terrific lesson; lots of group discussion and direction then class discussion.

Our particular group just happened to have the Elder's quorum Pres. and one of the Bishopric. It also had that one older gal that each ward has. You know her, she has her finger on the pulse of the ward and has been around so long she knows what you looked like in Primary - and reminds you of it often.

"What are the responsibilities of the Elders?" (discuss) One thing led to another and the question was raised about home teaching and who is whom's family and why don't they visit, yada yada yada. After about 2 minutes, both the E.Q. Pres and Bishopric guy hand head in hands and stared directly at the floor for the remainder of the discussion. It was proclaimed that NO ONE did their home teaching and the single sisters were left alone too much and the families needed help and in effect, "KILL THE BEAST!" Thor leaned in to me and whispered, "It's nice to know the church is the same everywhere you go."

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Hawaii 0-5!

Hawaii -05
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

Here is the big (and if you know Thor and I -you need to read "big") opportunity to see us on the beach! This is a great photo of the beach on the North-East shore, which was AMAZING! The waves in this photo were like 12 footers and freaking spectacular. The waves were on top of each other and the ocean here was totally churning and white foam...WAY! All I could think of was how cool the whole creation process must have been when They got to this point. No one was on the beach - NO ONE. How can this be? It's so beautiful that I am surprised that the place wasn't packed with tourists. About five miles down the road there were some kite surfers who, frankly, blew my mind!

Something else that freaked me out was a "movement" led by native Hawaiians. It seems they want to take back Hawaii and kick the tourists back to Asia and the Mainland, lock the doors and go back to the lifestyle. They are a tad angry. They have signs. They have, in places, taken over property, both public and private and set up lodging and refuse to leave until their demands are met. Interesting. Some are more friendly than others, some really express themselves when you come too close. Some of these homestead "communities" are tents and cluttered with debris, trash and are quite scary. Others are like tiny little towns, with tents, play areas for the kids, small gardens and roaming chickens, outdoor bar-b-cues, and pretty much everything one needs for comfortable outdoor living...months at a time. Some have no signage, but you get the drift anyway, others have almost professional signs informing the folks who happen upon the camp of the whys and hows.

We also found several places where loan campers seem to have set up private residence, tucked away from tourists, towns people and very secluded. They seem to have chosen the life style as opposed to "homeless". Just an assumption on my part, but when you have built a sturdy shanty and have quite a few "conveniences", plus a good working vehicle...maybe it's a choice. These folks seem happy and friendly, waving as you happen upon them and their home turf. Hey if I could handle it, I would choose those spots for my home as well.

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Friday, December 16, 2005

Oh Tanenbaums!

Christmas trees 05
Originally uploaded by S'mee.
So here we are at the "girls' tree". Up close and personal. When the girls were in high school they wanted to decorate their own tree, and it had to be pretty.

Christmas trees 05
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

They decided they also wanted to make the ornaments. So we got a bunch of styrofoam balls, glue, and hundreds of beads, all kinds of them with just as many sequins and began to pin them in all different designs. We had so much fun; and for about a week that is all we did. When you look into the photo, if you see a beaded sphere -the girls made it. We also made wired beads on thin small gauge wire.

The (6 ft.) tree was hand wired with over 1,500 lights. So many that Thor had to go in afterwards and re wire the tree in three parts so that the fuses would stop blowing out! If you stand close to the tree you can feel heat from the lights. It took me about three days, but EVERY branch on that tree has lights up and down it. Yes, I am crazy.

Christmas trees 05
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

The heart tree. Each year I add at least two more (matching) hearts to this tree. It's only a 3 footer, but it is full of those hearts! A few years back I hand made pomendor hearts filled with spices and potpourri that have "love must be felt" embroidered on them. Each also has a hand made hanger with two jingle bells (just in case there is a wanting angel nearby).

Next comes the (this year) "blue" tree. Also hand wired (and 6 ft.) it started out with silver French wired ribbon swirled though the branches from top to bottom and tucked inside a bit. Next came the boxes. I have (over the years) collected nesting boxes. This year instead of stacking them up full of gifts, these blue snow men and tree boxes were tucked in the boughs and tumbled down the tree eventually landing on the floor surrounded by more snowmen figures, wooden, metal and otherwise. Lots more blue packages also add to the trees over all look. Blue ornaments and a nice silver star are added. The final step is draping the tree with the fine micro coiled silver wire tinsel that is stretched over the branches and towards the floor at four different levels, causing the tree to glitter in the light.

There are other trees, the White Martha tree, the tiny Eskimo tree, the Snowman tree, the talking/singing tree (with a strong black voice that I adore!), the tree made from all beads, the tree of bells, Nativity, Angel, and Star trees, a wooden tree, a Scandinavian candle tree, a Crystal tree with ornaments smaller than your baby finger nail, the "50's" aluminum tree complete with gaudy ornaments and colour wheel, the tree on the porch, and others. There are five sets of nested boxes stacked around the room, some filled with presents - shhh!

I get asked all the time: "why?" Because I really love Christmas. I love that most of what I have on display were originally gifts from people who love me and my family. I like it that people are happier when they see all the weird trees. I like to decorate them and drive my kids nuts. I like remembering when the kids did all the decorating. And the best reason? For Thor, who misses it when I don't. I like making him happy and I love that he digs it.

I won't even go into the whole Nativity collection, except to say the trees don't feel superior in numbers...

(to see more trees and detail, click on any of the pictures, which will take you to the flickr! page where you can browse.)

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Aloha -oy!

christmas trees 05
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

o.k. Here we are in the lovely desert, so why not have a palm tree? I was really excited when Thor said he knew we would be getting this tree...(it's so FUN!). I couldn't really decorate it the way the other trees are, but it was still great fun; especially for the grandbaby. When he came over to see it for the first time it wasn't plugged in or decorated at all. He was still fascinated by it and was even a little scared to touch the bristley trunk. So I helped him touch it and talked to him about it and that's all it took, he liked it very much. Later that night his dad plugged the tree in and the lights came on and baby boy audibly gasped and shook! He ran up to the tree and then turned to his mom and said, "It's so pretty! It has stars in it!" It was pretty cool. He's getting to be an old pro now with the whole lights and trees, but he still likes to touch them and see the sparkles from the lights and ornaments. This tree has real star fish, anenomes, abalone, and tiny-shell leis, along with some hand made sandcastles, crabs, sea horses, sun, swirls, etc.

christmas trees 05
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

This is the big huge freaking tree that should no longer be allowed in the house anymore. It's too tall and too wide for the amount of furnishings we have and the size of the rooms, but still it goes up. There is a real star fish star, blue coral, white coral, a nautilus, conchs, and many other small shells. The tree is also decorated with orchids, plumeria, fish, nets, and over 1,200 tiny-shell leis - which drape and swag the bottom edge of the tree. I am not sure how many green "bubbles" there are, but I do know they fit -unpackaged- in a large 32 gal. storage container. Trust me when I say there are enough that it takes me several hours just to get them on the tree.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

not to be a downer....

But here we go again. Blogging is taking another back seat ride this week; again for death (in the ward). Please accept my apologies for not writing and I promise as soon as I can- I will be back into the daily routine.

In the mean time (which can be exactly that- mean), put on some of your favorite Christmas music and knock yourself out with a good time decorating, eating, snuggling, caroling, and whatever else you can do to enjoy this terrific time of year.

See you soon, S'mee

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Thursday, December 08, 2005


O.k. We all know S'mee loves her chocolate; so much so that I am doing the happy dance because the new GODIVA catalog came in the mail today! Because I am on Thor's laptop I am not sure how to open a new page, yada yada yada, so bear with me. GO. GO directly to and have a little looksee!

What's new? Wellllll.... Remember POP-ROCKS when you were a kid? How about a version for grown ups? Yup, Godiva has brought together the amazing *pOp* of the old time candy and their amazing chocolate. (and I quote):"Two flavours make their debut for the season: CranOrange Dark Chocolate Dazzler-a dual layer of tart cranberry and citrus flavours, accented with an effervescent infusion and covered in a dark chocolate shell." and this: "White chocolate Raspberry Sparkler - a dual layer of raspberry and chocolate ganache center with an effervescent infusion in a white chocolate shell." Even if you don't thrill to the *pOp* action, don't you just want to try one?

Something for my dear sister: "The Nocturne- A connoisseur's collage of smooth, intense 72% cocoa ganache." That's right, baby, 72%!

Tempted to try something "different"? "Meilodie - Sweet and salty, honeyed almond butter praline in white chocolate." Something about that sweet and salty to calls to all of us...

How about "Passion Orange"? (o momma!) Passion fruit, vanilla, and orange in creamy white chocolate!

This one is a MUST. I will be lapping at the counter until I get one. I present to you: "Mexican Hot Chocolate - Cinnamon, vanilla, habenero pepper, milk and dark chocolate." Hasta la vista baby, I'll be back!

They even have a "PB&J", "Key Lime Pie", " Tasmanian Honey", "Vermont Maple Walnut", "Banana Foster", and this: "Tahitian Vanilla - Exotic vanilla, white chocolate in a dark chocolate shell with raw cocoa nibs." Plus a ton of others I just left out because I am beginning to druel on the key board.

They have a variety of price ranges: $3.25 clear up to $15,000 ( hey, if you order $600.00 or higher you qualify for percentage discounts, who knew? lol). You can even give someone special a Chocolate of the Month membership! (let's hope that oil well springs up out of the backyard this week!)

The one thing missing fromt his catalog? Scratch and snif. Can you imagine how much that would boost sales?

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Mele Kalikimaka

Originally uploaded by S'mee.
Gee I hope I spelled that right! Here we are at the mantle. 12 "Hawaiian" stockings, one for each of the kids and their spouses (although two kids are yet to be married. I am nothing if not prepared. I wanted to make sure there was a matching stocking for everyone...someday.) O.k. So 10 stockings all lined up and ready for Christmas. I have my Grampa's Gibson ukulele on the mantle all year round. The shells are there also, but I brought over the pineapple wielding angel and the angel listening to her conch, trying for a theme here. I hope to do more...but it seems the Ward situation is going to test my abilities! See you all later! Aloha!

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Christmas Mice...ugh!

thanks-05 013
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

The wireless mouse we have decided to malfunction, which caused the wireless keyboard to join the debacle. Needless to say, I am using Thor's laptop to try to post today...late, but here goes.

More troubles in the ward. An elderly couple went down, meaning they became extremely ill and were at you-know-who's door, so we paid a visit. All is currently going as well as can be expected; but it put a day's work out the window. Progress in the "decking of halls" is slow coming this year!

This first photo shows the trees atop Thor's desk at the front window. We usually have one or two small trees on his desk so that he can continue to work, but he requested a "forrest" so that he could see it as he drove into the driveway. The tallest of the trees is always referred to as #3's. She was one of the first to really want her own tree to decorate. She was in jr. high when I spent an entire day hand wiring EACH branch of said tree so it would sparkle. You can actually feel heat from this tree. Thor had to go into the tree and add some kind of electrical box so that it wouldn't keep shorting itself out (or take out the house fuses either!) It has become the family joke, but hey, any source of heat in this house is a good thing! (Yesterday I wired another 6 footer, and it also needs that special doohickey...Thor?)

The only tree (so far) to get decorations is the one on the floor, by the window and hidden by the computer (with the vacationing keyboard). This is a really interesting tree. A pass along from the next door neighbor when her hubby died. She actually gave us three trees. (She is blind and after hubby died she thought,"what am I doing this for?" and got rid of all the "stuff".) This particular tree was in pretty shabby shape, lots of wire showing, funky holes, etc. So it was the perfect "Melanie" tree.

I have a friend Melanie who invited me to attend a yearly gathering of her old-time friends. They always meet the 1st Saturday in December. Everyone is required to bring dishes for a pot luck dinner. It's just "the girls", so the offerings range from shrimp to homemade tamales to amazing casseroles...stuff your husbands probably wouldn't want to eat. It's always so GOOD! Lots of everything, appetizer to desserts and back again. Joni is our host and she and her hubby had a house built that is large enough to accommodate a sit down dinner for the 18 ladies who show up. She has ceiling high trees everywhere and her (literal) mansion is decorated so homey and warm you never feel like "egads! this is too much!" She herself is warm and friendly and feels much like your favorite sister in law. (Hubby is in and out of the party driving Joni nuts as he picks at the pork chops or steals Mexican Wedding's a game with him and we all find him very charming as well!) The halls, staircases, and even the bedrooms and bathrooms are all festive and adorned. The table is dressed and set with her fine china and each plate holds a homemade fabric bag filled with cookie mix and tied off with a tiny version of the theme. This is "tradition", you can count on it. Some years there are other "small" gifts holding, sitting next to, or otherwise on the plate as well. Candles, music, and lots of conversation catching up with everyone...including Joni's mom who is flown in from "down South" to enjoy the evening.

After dinner we all play "Bunco" and have a great time. When the Bunco is exhausted we head into the family room and sit around to listen to the eldest of the women read a story she has found (we all get a copy). Then one by one we all bring out the themed ornament we have made, purchased (or otherwise) for each of the other guests. Each year everyone goes home with 17 ornaments with one theme. They range from the lady who always makes hers out of paper, the wired one, the wooden one, the "oh my heck, she BOUGHT 17 of THESE?" one, the one you wonder how she managed to make the theme fit this object (a large round bell hotglued to a rock...."jinglebell rock" for "Jingle Bells" - I made these for each of my 'Cemetary' Students that year!), and others. I LOVE this party! It's so much fun to see what 18 different ladies think about one subject and how it translates.

At the end of the night we all get copies of each others recipes and they are put into a little book for us to take home. On the first page of the book is the invitation to the following year's party and the new theme, such as The Nutcracker, or Snow, Christmas Tree, or whatever. Usually we can guess what will be next year's theme by observing Joni's home and the gifts she chooses for prizes throughout the evening. One year I "lost" Bunco and came home with an 18 inch Bearington Collection Bear. That same evening everyone was given a TY Collectable 12 inch bear at their place setting (did I mention Joni's loaded?). The following year we had "bears" as our theme.

Each year I pull out the "Melanie" tree and the box labeled "Mel's Tree". All of the ornaments are placed on the tree or stuffed into it. I love to look at this tree because it reminds me of the tiny lady who manages to make lovely sentiments out of a brown paper bag and the craftiness of my friend who designs each of her ornaments around "BELIEVE" no matter what the theme. It reminds me of 18 women who don't call or write or see each other during the year, but for one magical night they come together and make a real memory.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I'm back, I hope!

First THANKS to all of you who wrote such nice things and PRAYED for S'mee and the ward. I really really can not tell you how much we (s'mee especially) needed those prayers! Thanks for hanging in there with s'mee. Hug big fat hugs to you all!

Man! What a couple of weeks! As soon as we got home from Hawaii and the great time there things got really hairy here in my little home town. The funerals for two babies from two separate families in the ward was almost overwhelming and then there were some WAVES from the pebbles tossed into the lake by those events. Things are beginning to settle down, but I admit that blogging seemed rather ridiculous at the time.

So being nudged -rather frankly- by someone I am trying to get back in the mode.

Today I am am trying to get it back together and pull Christmas out of the shed and into the house. Each year when the kids were little we would get a tree. Thor grew up in a home where fresh trees were the norm every year. So we would pile the kids into the car and drive into a pass and up into a small canyon to pick out a tree. This particular farm was so great. They believed in natural farming, so although they planted Christmas trees in rows, they let them grow without pruning or shaping. You got what the tree gave; sometime complete with bird's nests and critters, holes and twisted trunks.

The farmer would give you a very long white and red striped pole, painted to indicate foot length. You would hike up and down his small mountain and find the perfect tree, subtract a foot from the base and yell like the dickens for the farm hands to find you. Sometimes it would rain, snow, or hail, so by the time the hand found you on his ATC and trailer, you were soaked, powdered, or pelted. He would cut the tree for you and haul it back up or down to the "shed". Leaving the stump would allow the tree to regrow the following year. (This method made the tiny "forrest" just that, no rows of five footers here and seven footers was all jumbled and mixed.)

At the "shed" you would find Mr. Matthew (still don't know if that is first or last name) and his big smile. He would remember you from the year before and tease the kids about Santa. After trimming the tree, and tying it to the roof of your car he would always grab the "mom" and have her take as many discarded boughs from the ground as would fit in-between the kids "to make a nice wreath, while the kiddies decorate the tree." He was a real sweety.

When the kids were little they would clump all the ornaments at their individual eye level and the tree looked adorable! As they grew the decorations spread out and eventually the tree became more like a department store tree, gorgeous. When times were good, I went shopping through thrift stores for fake trees. Then other folks, seeing my Christmas habit, gave me their old trees. After a time, each of the kids had their own tree to decorate and it made the house so fun and full of Spirit. More and more trees came until now my house is filled to the brim with all kinds of trees. Big ones, little ones, in every room and numerous enough that #3 said "all we need to do now is sell a candle in here and we'll look like a shop in the mountains."

So this morning Thor went out to our shed (the one bought to store S'mee's Christmas boxes) and brought in a few of the trees. I have my assignment: GET SOME CHRISTMAS SPIRIT IN THIS HOUSE QUICK!

Tamale: photos of what I can accomplish today.

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Friday, November 25, 2005

Please stand by...

And forgive me as I take just a few more days to get around to blogging.

Thanks to you all for hanging in there with me, I am grateful for your reader-loyalty and friendship. Hawaii was terrific and I have many posts coming. Thanksgiving with Thor's family was worth a few posts as well. Why the delay?

Last Friday a sister in our ward was crossing the street at dusk with her 11, 6 and 3 year old children. The 11 and 3 year old were hit by a passing car. The children were life-flighted to the local trauma center, by car 1 hour away. The youngest died during the flight and the 11 year old was in a coma and near death on arrival. Our Bishop gave a blessing to both. The 11 yr.old revived and began complaining ten minutes after the blessing; a true miracle. The funeral was this morning/afternoon.

During the funeral we (leadership) were informed that another sister in our ward had just been informed that her one year old grandbaby had drowned in a "large dog" water bowl after crawling out to the patio unnoticed. Another baby funeral in two days.

Above this are complications that may involve incredible timing, teaching and understanding for our ward as a whole. Too much to take in for many.

I will post as soon as possible. Thanks you guys, you're the best.

p.s. thanks for feeding Larry. Anyone playing with Walter?

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Thursday, November 10, 2005


Originally uploaded by hokulea.

S'mee is outta here! Thor and I are off to Oahu (this place to be exact)! It is fortunate for us that his company is sending him for a conference and it just happens to be our 29th wedding anniversary.

We will be gone for about 10 days. We had to save up for quite some time to afford my ticket and expenses, but with Thor's half paid by the company, how could we pass this opportunity up? We are pretty excited and hope to take a ton of photos. We will be going to the North Shore a lot to visit the temple (wahoo!) and also to see the Van's Triple Crown of Surfing, which should be thrilling to watch.

If the computer is working well there I will blog, if not, ALOHA! until I get back.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005


I have been tagged by Lolly! This meme is why each of the 24 hours in a day is important or significant to me. This is really weird, because I really enjoy reading memes and have only been asked to participate in one, which, once I figured out the what and how, was terrific fun for me. While reading Lolly's responses, I was all "ohhh, that is so great!" and "man, this is so cool that she remembers this stuff." Which led to the incredible and audible gasp when I saw my name at the bottom of the list! (surprise and happy = gasp!) S'mee has a crumby memory when it comes to dates and times, but for what it's worth...Thanks Lolly! This should be fun!

Currently I have "no schedule" per say, because all the offspring are off doing their own gig and -frankly- no one needs s'mee to really get anything done at a specific time. (ahh the life!) But when that is the case, you become the gal who has no schedule and can pick up slack, which can make for an interesting day.

12pm Normally, about the time I begin to miss Thor and give him a call, because I know at the office- this is officially lunch for an hour. If Thor is not in a meeting, we chat and catch up (because it has been, what?, like 5 hours since I talked to him?) About once a week I get to lunch with #2, his wife and the baby boy... which is great. As the kids all began to leave the house this seemed to be the hour when I would get to be with that one "senior" or grad and we would eat everyday together and bond. It was cool and I miss those times. When they were little this is when they would come home from kindergarten and I would be way happy!

This is also the hour Thor promised me that #2 would be born before. I might add, before I killed myself with one more minute of back labour and was hauled off to the nut house. As promised, #2 came at 11:56 or there-abouts, because, yes, I am the mom that doesn't remember when her kids came into the world...I was just happy they did, finally.

1pm This is the "recheck the 'to do' list" for the day; which changes every day. Assessing where I need to shift gears in order to get 'whatever' done on time. This is also the time "scheduled" for what seem to be -lately- endless phone calls for R.S. and the ward. The time when we found out #1 was really sick and would be for 6 years ( he was a "lifer" then tricked all the dr.s and went into remission and then really showed 'em and was "recovered"). The time of mantinee performances to see my 7 year old ballerina perform with a "professional" company. Soccer matches on Saturday for all five. Drives out to the desert to rock climb.

2pm!!! The time the kids would get home from school. Mandatory dancing for at least ten minutes. Time to let loose, have a laugh, complain about school, get something to eat, have some fun. Homework could wait until after the fun of being FREE AT LAST!!! (have I ever mentioned how badly I hated having my kids at school? I really should have home schooled, but with s'mee as a teacher they would have become grown idiots with only museum educations and a lot of beach time. S'mee just would have ignored all the rules and books and discipline of learning and we would have been wild and dumb.)

3pm Usually checkin' that schedule again for last minute follow through. Prep a snack if the kids had friends over, or help when the kids needed something for a project or whatever. A drive to the store if they needed something we didn't have. The time of day I found out #1's ear was torn off in a soccer match. Now that's given one up for the team!

4pm Check the flower bed. Water if it needs it, weed also. But not every day, just when I see things happening out there. If dinner is going to be a production this is the hour to get things started. Often the house got quiet and I would find myself in the back room grabbing a book or searching for things online for lessons or whatever. Kind of everyone in the house doing research at the same time.

5pm This is the time Thor's office officially closes for the day and so I get a call from him to let me know what's up and when he'll be home. If he doesn't have any meetings, then he'll be home in an hour and a half or so and this makes S'mee a very happy girl.

6pm Now-a-days, #3 gets home right about now and we chat briefly about her day while she gears up for her evening. She has school all day and then turns into the Relief Society President and Institute Leader by night. She is crazy busy and amazing. Sometimes, like tonight it's just she and S'mee so we grab a bite to eat out someplace and enjoy the time together before she flies.

7pm Thor, on an early night is home and we get to see each other and take care of the house stuff. And by "we" I mean I watch him do all the bills and check his mail and yak at him while he tries to concentrate on stuff. I catch him up on the kids and any weird things that have happened during the day; and I get his version of the day at his job with all the variants that go on there. We schedule stuff and plan for the kids and do "what not". When the kids were little this was their bedtime and the rituals began. Baths, stories and family prayer. It was good to have them in bed early for their sleep and our time alone. Later years would bring the time of performances for ballet and oboe, depending on the daughter.

8pm Final clean up of the house, assessing what I need to do tamale, and many times still working on church stuff, while Thor works at his desk. If Thor has time, we'll watch a movie or some t.v. and just have some fun together. Many nights lately, this is the time the kids come over with the baby boy and we can gather around him and watch him grow and pretty much entertain us.

9pm Now, if we have family over, this is story time and bed- gettin' ready time for the baby boy. I love it that he climbs on my lap and we read books over and over and over until his mommy says it is enough and he and his daddy go crawl into our bed for nigh-night. I tend to begin the shut down myself, and if there isn't "something - anything" to keep me busy, I will begin to fade. If I have work, I can get a lot done now as it helps the creativity flow for some reason. I have started way too many projects at this time of night.

It was about this time of night that my Gramma sat down on her bed, asked for a drink of water and died. That was her to a tee, very neat, no complications. Bathed, dressed for a long rest and took it.

10pm This is about the time I went into "serious" labour with all the kids. All of them, except #2 were at least two day labours and I mean 5 minutes apart- big fat mean labours. # 2 was almost 12 hours to the minute start to finish, but all BACK labour. ugh. All five "natural", but then again, there ain't nothin' natural about it when I look back on it! I have instructed all who will listen- to adopt.

11pm Lights out for S'mee whether or not I want usually. I am knocked out by then. Back in the day I was a night owl and did some of my best work in the still of the night. If Thor isn't home I can not sleep. In that case I will stay up for days and this time of day begins the "projects". Sometimes it was repainting or wall papering the house. Other times it was sewing all manner of clothing or making patterns for new clothes coming up. Lately if I can't sleep there is oil paint involved, and canvases.

12am 30 or so years ago this was the hour that S'mee and Thor decided to "date". The first date being a New Year's Eve dance at the church. After the dance, the youth in our ward went on a bus to see the Rose Parade. I remember being so scared that he wouldn't like me or that I would be stupid; or worse yet, that he wouldn't show up. The bus was freezing. We sat about a third of the way back on the passenger side and talked all the way to Pasadena, while everyone else on the bus slept. The bishop's remark upon arrival was that "Thor should try to get in a nap before the parade...He was bleeding to death... through his eyes." Sleep we did. Both of us and about five other people took separate benches and slept right through the parade. From then on there were those "funny" people who would remind us that we "had to get married now...hahaha... because, you know, you slept together on your first date! hahah!" Yeah real funny. ugh. A year later, on that first date anniversary, Thor asked me to get married. I was 17 and he was 18. We went to his brother's house and at 12:00 we told everyone we were engaged. On November 12, we will be celebrating our 29th anniversary.

1:00am Thinking about this is weird. A lot of things happened with the boys during this hour. #1 was brought home by the cops one night about this hour, "Because he looked suspicious." Yup, nothing says criminal intent like a short blonde haircut, button up shirt, and driving a '78 Monte Carlo. You know it's bad when one of the cops came back up to the porch and apologized for his partner's behavior. Dork. #3 went into surgery and finally came out of it about this time. When he was 16 he fell through a glass table and cut his arm to the bone. He severed all the systems in his dominant arm and lost use of his hand. Long story short: he's a miracle and has use of everything. This was also the hour that #3 finally decided that three weeks of false labour was enough and he'd get started on the real thing; almost being born in a hospital basement.

Another good thing about 1am: this is the proper time to teach one's kids about correct techniques in "tp"-ing. When each of my kids entered Mutual (or YM YW or whatever it is called now) I would gather some of their friends and we would go "tp-ing". In our area this is considered a grand gesture and compliment. The better the job, the more you are loved. So in order to compliment -normally a teacher- we would do a great job. One time during the tutorial we actually had someone drive by, then turn around and drive by again very slowly. They stopped in front of the house and then asked one of the kids to go over to the car. I thought for sure we were busted by a neighbor. Instead it was a neighbor saying what a great job we were doing and wanted to take pictures in the morning. cool.

2:00am Every year in August we have Meteor Showers. It is this time in the morning when we all got up and took blankets out to the driveway to lay down on the cement and watch the showers. Especially #5, who was a freak about it. There were always contests to see who could see the most stars fall in a given amount of time. Throughout the entire year, if you wake up at this time you can go outside and look to the heavens. Chances are, if you wait a while, you will see a falling star. We do have the greatest sky at night.

3:00am I think the only thing of significance here is the driving in the car we used to do to try and get a baby to go to sleep. Once we got a dryer, we saved on car rides. The laundry room was right off the master bedroom. We would pop the baby in a hamper basket with warm towels, place it on top of the dryer, and set the dryer on continual air fluff. The noise and rhythm of the dryer would be just enough to calm the baby down and we could get some sleep!

4am Time to get up for 'cemetery'. For the years I taught cemetery this was the torture hour. I would wake up and barf. Shower then barf again. Get dressed and barf. Every once and a while I would open the building up, set up my class and barf once more before the kids arrived. Cemetery began at 5:45 and it was just my body's way of saying, "What the heck?" Every morning for those years I would barf. It's weird; but if S'mee gets up before 7 am, s'mee barfs. I am truly allergic to mornings.

5am There are days when I really have a hard time believing there is a 5 in the morning, but there you go. This is the time we try to leave for vacations and trips that will be long. It rarely happens, but hey, you can always make a goal.

6am When the house normally gets up and running now-a-days. Cemetery always started at 5:45 and school-even grade school began at 7am, so when the offspring were in school things happened a lot earlier, but now? not so much. THANK YOU SWEET MERCY! #3 leaves around this time each day, and Thor leaves this time most days. I am up about 2.8 seconds after Thor leaves the bedroom. I cannot sleep alone and even when he sneaks out, I am outta bed by the time he gets on his computer. Weird.

7am ...and a hush fell over the room. This is when I get on the computer, The morning news is too harsh or too silly for S'mee, so I avoid it at all cost. (well, most of the time) When the kids were little this is the time they would rush the bedroom on a Saturday and we would all (7 of us) stay in bed and talk, play steam roller, and have good dad time until it was way too late for breakfast. I miss those times, although the thought of all those adults rushing the same bed now is nutso!

8am I check the mental schedule and figure out the day. Most days I am biding time for things to open or at least be useful to S'mee. It drives me crazy to wait, so this is an impatient hour for S'mee. Laundry gets started, house work and junk, or projects that need attention. Check the flower bed. Back in the day this was the 'scheduled' time for personal study.

9am Yeah! Life begins to feel good at this hour. I am SO slow to feel good in the morning, so about now I am gearin' up. This is the hour we went through for our endowment, cool. This is the preferred hour for beginning my Sunday schedule. I like it early in the day. This is the start of Saturdays at our house, before 9 most everyone is lazy and chatty. Nice.

10am This is the time of day when I began to miss my kids when they were in school and secretly hope they would call home sick. In high school this would be the hour when we would "plan" for them to be called home sick so we could ditch and go do things. I know I am a horrid parent for LYING to state officials about the physical conditions of MY kids, but sometimes it felt like the only way I could have them. The state got their money, I got my kids, and my kids got some stress release.

11am Hopefully, this is the time I am finished running around.... but it never is. If I have to go out - I want to be back home at 11. Why? Because after 11 the day gets real fast and wasted. A good time for VT routes. Back in high school this was the perfect time to be released from school to attend "funerals". I had a lot of "funerals" that I needed to go to in high school, um, because, um, well, um it was the first snow in the mountains, or I was going to me Thor's brother, or because someone said the storm caused really cool waves at Huntington, yeah those funerals.

Heather (dreams smile at me) because she is young and interesting and has a unique view on life... Mark (Mo'Boy) because he is wise and sweet and I am sure will be full of good stories to share... and Susan (Strange Pulse) because she is nothing if not honest...

Hah! You three - You're it! Your turn to explain the meme!

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Halloween PG-5/10

O.k. so I am still posting about Halloween. It's just that I really really like Halloween. I don't care much for the chopped off limb - bloody "Carrie" - chain saw massacre type of Halloween, I prefer the friendly scary stuff, like a good non threatening graveyard, with a few singing heads and ghosties that are little kid friendly (meaning they make they tiny ones nervous, but the 5-10 year olds very happy being "scared").

(cue Rod Serling) Imagine if you will and normal house in a normal neighborhood. The air is crisp and the full moon is shining over the styrofoam headstones with just enough for little witches to make out the names of the deceased. An ivy covered fence and a creaky gate welcomes down a path lit by paper luminaria and floating ghosts made of glow in the dark balloons. Music plays softly in the background, and just as you enter the porch a swoosh of fog covers tiny Frankenstein feet and jack-o-lanterns carved and scenting the air with the smell of melted wax.

Normally we only get about 5 or six little goblins and then come the too old boys, (about 4-5 groups of 4-5) with scary masks shoved up onto their foreheads, bloody baseball bats, and with costumes that are no more than "blood" covered school clothes. After they bang the door loudly and yell at the top of their lungs until you get to the door, they look disappointed that they only receive what we have to offer. Then come the mothers with no teeth and tiny infants too young to eat solid food. We usually get about three of them begging for candy "for the baby".

This year we prepared well enough, but the scene never made it out of the garage. #3 turned 23 in late October, but with schedule being what they are for a young student, her (family) party was postponed until the 31st - Halloween. She wanted to eat out with the other siblings and so we had a terrific time at her favorite place. By the time we got home, Halloween was over and the block was dark. On a good note, we didn't have to clean up any broken pumpkin, eggs or have our luminaria tossed in the street.

The bad part of this year? Having a ton of baby play-dough packs left over. Leftover candy has never been a problem!

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Buzz Lightyear!

Buzz Lightyear!
Originally uploaded by S'mee.
Unfortunately my grandson is in the witness protection program and so he constantly has that blue ball over his face. But he went to all the Halloween festivities as Buzz Lightyear and proclaimed "To Fin ty and Bond!", which if you are unfamiliar with Toy Story just sounds like a new line of designer clothes. But I digress. He was so cute! His PaPa J. (mommy's daddy) picked him up in this photo so he could fly (or at least fall with flare). A lousy photo shop took PaPa J. out of the picture and most of the background. Hopefully I will get a tutor in photoshop and make next years pictures really cool!

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Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.

I would like to be the first to welcome Cooper Chronicles! Chronicler got me started and has been blogging for quite sometime (Food Chronicles); but now has a more personal blog. She'll be blogging about her first love: Mini Coopers, her family life, crafting, food, and whatever else pops into her life ant any given moment. Stop over and take a look!

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Monday, October 31, 2005

trunk or treat

halloween 05
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

I had to write about the trunk or treat that our grandson went to last Friday night. Way Fun! Lots of "kid" food, and spooky drinks complete with foggy foamy goodness. Many games to test spooky skills, cake walk, and door to door trick or treating in the halls.

The costumes were very good this year. The main theme for the under 8 girls was "Faeries". Green ones, pink ones, blue, white, sparkly winged little faeries everywhere you looked. I kept a close watch on my teeth. Little boys were super heroes for the most part. One family came as a herd of cows...pretty funny actually. Most "unusual" costume went to the gentleman who came dressed in a pair of khaki pants and blue short sleeved t-shirt. Why? His wife explained he was a "nudist on his day off". 'Nuff said, danged clever if you ask me. I found this little bull rider hilarious! Turns out Ellen Degeneres had on a similar costume this afternoon.

Tamale I will post on Buzz Lightyear, who was my personal favorite... wonder why?

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Saturday Matinee

First a big shout out to french toast girl who introduced my world to this movie, which is pretty danged funny, mainly, I suppose, because I am freakishly tired, but hey, still funny.

Warning to those extremely sensitive, this pokes fun at the muppets, child safety, and optimism at best (there's a joke in there somewhere). If you go all the way back to the origins of the "film", to the actual website, there is "questionable" content there also (drugs, s*x, and rock and roll or rather: life outside of Utah type of stuff).

Still, a pretty funny movie about surviving to be nine, and exactly how I felt as the mother of grade school kids.

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Originally uploaded by Marvin (PA).
I finally got to see "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" last night. All I have got to say is: "I need to get me one of those guns!"

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Friday, October 28, 2005

as long as Chronicler brought it up...

san diego 10-05 088
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

The Arboretum! Such a great place to be! Wet, quiet like a temple, and full of the earthy aroma you can only get when surrounded by rich soil and hearty vegetation. It's relaxing and exhilarating all at the same time. Step inside and you are sent to a very small Eden. The air is thick and tasty and the floor is a puzzle of small puddles.

Entering the Arboretum is a sensual experience also. The large reflection pond sits between it and the Museum of Modern Photography. The shallow water not only reflects the buildings, sky and trees, but is home to turtles, koi and many varieties of lilies. The birds sing, the bell tower rings out "Westminster Chimes" every fifteen minutes, and the perfume of briny salt air mixed with the flowers in intoxicating. There is a smaller pond just at thebase of the building, also filled with exotic plants and fish, and a turtle or two!

san diego 10-05 083
Originally uploaded by S'mee.
As a child we would be curious and want to touch the creatures in the pond. The same held true on the day Thor and I visited; with many moms and dads cautioning their little ones to not touch and stay away from the edge so they didn't fall in. We got away with seeing the fish and turtles up close and sometimes even were able to touch them without harm of falling in. How? We were taught to lay on our little bellies and scoot up to the edge of the water. This way we couldn't accidentally do anything! We were at water level and could touch anything that swam by. After a few minutes we would hop up, walk a few feet, lay down again and try for a new fish. I wish I could have demonstrated this efficient technique, but some how dignity prevailed and I didn't scoot on the grass.

san diego 10-05 058
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

To the south of the reflection pond is a darling fountain that pretty much everyone just walks by and never really enjoys fully (in my opinion). Just about the happiest fountain I have ever seen. I LOVE this fountain! Look at that face! One on each side (North, South, East, West), the faces joyfully spew forth water all day long in hopes that someone will get a laugh from the show. I certainly did. It makes me giggle thinking about it. From this angle it almost reminds me of the "Seven Dwarfs", but actually the sculpting between the faces are purely ornamental and not any particular object. The pool is large and pretty, even on a cloudy overcast day like the one we spent there.

p.s. to you know who you are: Ms. Sullivan would thank you also!

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Balboa Park

san diego 10-05 103
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

Some of my best memories come from wandering around museums. I guess this all started when I was a 4 year old living in San Diego and having access to the wonderful museums in Balboa Park. I guess I have taken this opportunity I had for granted. While at B.P. with Thor, he was impressed and pointed out to me that the buildings that house these museums were built in 1915, "for the express purpose of housing places of learning, museums, and cultural centers" to add to the lives of the people that who visit them. I had never thought about that before.

So now I am; and yes, it is amazing that this entire park was built for that reason alone. This doesn't seem to happen as often in our current place in history. We get a building here and there, but never an entire portion of a city dedicated to museums of all kinds, with botanical gardens, theatres, opera houses, mini United Nations, and a zoo!

I look back on the photos I took of the grounds, the attention to details on the buildings, the flow of the park and the sheer beauty of the trees and flowers; and realize it was, and still is, intended to draw one in and give to them an "experience". The buildings were adorned on the outside- knowing treasures would lay inside. Some of the facades are human figures, primarily women, who hold up buttresses and eaves, faces that smile, grimace, and stand as sentinels at entry ways calling you inward to learn and enjoy.

The top photo shows the ship of Balboa sailing into the bay and dates the building at 1915. For me 2005 is a date that I will remember fondly as the year I sailed back into a time of renaissance; and the wonderful gift these museums continue to give all who enter this great park.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

trick or treat! (or when squash goes bad)

what happens when pumpkins "pee"
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

I took the grandbaby to the pumpkin patch. The GYNORMOUS pumpkin patch that was an hour away. The ones my own children always wanted to go to but we never did. And yes, all five of them, when they hear or have heard of this story will complain of favoritism.

We got there late, by about 9 days they tell us, and the patch was in rapid decay. Very appropriate for the holiday. Gruesome orbs of rotted squash pretty much everywhere in the field, some covered and being devoured by all manor of pestilence. Gnats added to the boggy-ness of the field and the smell in some areas was less than delightful.

But we kept pursuit in hopes of finding a pumpkin worthy of Cinderella, hidden and forgotten by the previous weekend masses. Far out in the last corner the remaining remnants of produce called to my daughter in law, "tiny babies left! save us! take us home!" She walked over to a small group of tiny bright orange vegetables the size of a large softball. Cute, darling, and still on the vine. No imperfections and with a twist and well placed stomp she was able to free two of them. She walked back to the wheel barrow and placed them inside just in time to hear her boy child yelp with a panicked and horrorifying scream. We looked over at him, about fifteen feet away, and he was frozen in utter terror. Mommy ran to her boy and picked him up. Gramma was thinking he had gotten himself tangled in vines and couldn't get loose, mommy thought he had been bitten by a snake. Neither was true. Once lifted to mommy's arms, high off the ground he screamed through his cries, "THAT PUN-KIN PEE'D ON ME!" and would not be calmed down for at least five minutes.

Indeed, the pumpkin literally exploded on impact. Seems baby boy accidentally stepped on the tiny pumpkin and it was very ripe (read ROTTEN!). Pumpkin goo, slimy, disgusting and with a stench beyond belief was all over his pant leg, shoe and even his tiny little foot! Mommy wiped off as much as she could before putting him in the wheel barrow, but he would not stop crying and protesting until Mommy made strong efforts at the wash basin to clean it all off.

Once the pumpkin goo was eliminated we were able to concentrate on picking out fresh pumpkins the patch keepers had placed on tables in front of the field. Still, when we got to the car, there was mention of mean pumpkins who pee on little boys.

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Monday, October 24, 2005

no small feat for small feet!

san diego 10-05 035
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

This is Paul Bunyun's Canyon! If you look closely- you can see two adult hikers, dressed in white, about half way down and two thirds across on the photo. Imagine 10 kids aged 4-12 hiking this canyon, crossing the highway, hiking back up to the busier highway, crossing it and surviving to do it every day for three months!

I took this photo from the car window, just prior to us getting to the intersection where there is now a signal. The intersection is the entrance to the zoo parking lot and carousel. The bright green area at the top left, under the high trees is a grass field at Morley Field. I checked with Chronicler who concurs that back in the day, the trails were not there, but probably close to the route we made. Too much fun, but I can't even think about letting my kids do that these days! Yeowzers!

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Evidently you can go home again...

childhood home
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

So here we go. When S'mee was five years old, one of the houses we lived in was on the corner of Upas and Texas in San Diego. According to the signs, the: "Historic North Park, with Distinctive Craftsman Style Neighborhoods"- which sounds pretty hoity toity, especially when I look back on our circumstances. At the time dear ol' ma was divorced, with four kids- 4,6,8,&10 or there-abouts. Dear ol'dad was no where to be seen and if he did show up it was a bad day. So what's a girl to do? Ask one of your buddies to help you out by moving in together and share expenses. The "Brady Bunch" scenario= said girl friend is also divorced - with 6 kids! 2 moms, 10 kids, and a beautiful house. Add one more "mom", a college gal who helped out with child wrangling (after the kids ganged up and killed the other baby sitters) and there you have it. We lived there the year I went to kindergarten. (a big shout out to Miss Whistler and "Chocolate Chip", my first boy friend)

We lived across the street (directly) from Morley Field. A community park that afforded those who could pay, a pool, tennis courts, and other hoity toity stuff. For us it didn't matter. There was free grass, trees galore, and plenty of people-watching to amuse 10 (probably annoying) kids, none of whom were over age 12. The zoo was down the street and across the highway; and in those days free for anyone under 16 - we all qualified for free "baby-sitting" during the summer. And we took full advantage.

Big brother, along with the oldest brother from the other family would lead the 10 of us across the street and through Morley Field a total of .6 miles one way to the zoo. Occasionally we would stop to watch the swimmers, but mostly we would just walk by and down into the gully we named, "Paul Bunyon's Canyon". He had walked through there with Babe and made the "canyon" with his big ol' feet. There was a small stream in the base caused by Paul as well, but I will let your imagination figure out just exactly how. After hiking down into that gully and we hiked up the hill across the highway. At the top was the highway where the San Diego Zoo sits today. We would run screaming at the top of our lungs across all the lanes in between the cars whizzing by...even way back then.

There was and still is a Naval Hospital, a Golf Course, and Balboa Park full of museums that were also free to any and all under 16. The Natural History Museum was one of my favorites (although you must never EVER look the mummy boy in the eye or you will die. This is true. My brother knew a kid in the sixth grade who did and he died!) We walked all over the park; day after day, every day all summer long.

Attending the zoo so often afforded us many "priveledges". Big brother taught the Myna Bird in the avery to say, "Kill the Keeper", and he also became adapt at getting "freebies".

Carosel at Balboa Park, S.D., CA
Originally uploaded by S'mee.
One of the freebies was the Carosel. Thor and I went to see if it was still true... yup, if you grab the brass ring while on the ride, you get a free ride. I can't remember the price of a ride back then, but it was way too much for us. (current price:$1.75) So we would search out pop bottles, take them in for the refund and save enough every day for Big Brother to get a ride. He was ten, considerably smaller than the fellow in this photo, plus the ride was full of competitors. Only one brass ring in the mix of nickle rings. Luck and skill was necessary to win a ride for your siblings. But ride we did. For free.

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

if everybody had an ocean...

Thor is headed out to San Diego and asked if I wanted to go with him. My answer? SHORE!

Tuesday Thor surprised(?) me and we spent probably one of the best days at Disneyland. The rain had let loose like no one's business, but as we arrived, it stopped. Clean, not too many folks, and a walk on every ride. So much so that for the first time EVER I went into the Tiki Room. That's a whole post of it's own!

Tuesday night my head filled up with all kinds of nasty goo and by 1:30 I had a screaming migraine the likes of which I have never experience heretofore. Wednesday was an overdose induced fog of way too many benedril (thank you sweet merciful pink pills). I was going to pass on SD, but as I woke up today, all was right with the world once again. Thor just called and asked if I wanted to still go. After I replied in the positive, he said "Good, for a minute there I thought I was going to have to stuff you into the trunk."

If for no other reason I would have gone just to breath in the salty air! Just thinkin' on it gets me feeling pretty good inside. So until Sunday, have a good one. I will take some photos of the usual haunts, eat some fresh fish, and walk off this desert haze in wet sand! Wahoo!

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Monday, October 17, 2005

poster girl

poster girl
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

I was having an e-mail conversation with a new friend that got me to thinkin’…

Growing up relatively on the move and this side of poverty we had plenty of opportunity for growth, and in many ways, some of the best "teachers". As a result, my siblings and I have all been labeled as “musical, resourceful, clever, creative, artful, good with crafts, articulate, humurous, intuitive, and inventive” and to which I would add “fearless” when it comes to trying something new.

Brother was terrific at turning a phrase, engaging you in conversation, making you cry with laughter, writing poetry and music, and quite the storyteller. He could mimic many voices and do an impromptu sketch while driving through for fast food. A talented actor, singer, public speaker, and a whiz at history; he had plenty of talents and a few gifts that put him in the top bracket.

Chronicler has a gift for seeing visions… and bringing those visions to fruition with success! She has a mind that never stops and hands that race along throughout the day. She has managed to be both critical thinker and a passionista when it comes to whatever new venture she is addressing. She can find the moneymaker in anyone and help you get started. A woman of unlimited resources and boundless energy! Oh, and she can sing, was known as “tiny dancer” at one time, and speaks several languages.

The next in the pecking order came the sister who just had gifts oozing from her fingertips. Music, art, craft and creativity are hers like breath is for most of us. Her eyes see things that are not there…yet. She has a way of knowing what is on the horizon for trends and what will always be a classic. Never satisfied to let things “just happen” around her, she wants to be involved and always adds those tiny little details that make her the “elegant” friend, innovator, inspiration.

As for S’mee, I am the baby of the family and hence, stole everything I could from them all! People have overly complimented me for my creativity, humour, friend loyality, and mom skills. (Those who truly know Thor have sent a nod at patience my way as well.) It’s true that I have good skills and certain attributes that set me above the norm in some areas, but gifts? There is a difference in talent, learned behaviours, adaptability, and (cue: angelic choir) God Given Gifts! I am the poster girl for the old adage: “Jack of all trades, master of none!” (not everyone can say they are a poster girl…) I have a gift up my sleeve somewhere, but let's move on!

In the scriptures we can find many passages that define and describe Spiritual gifts; and the Lord promises us that all have been given Spiritual Gifts. "For all have not every gift goven unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God." D&C 46:11 The remainder of this chapter lists some of God's gifts, explainations on how we are to use our gifts (to bless others and glorify God), and remind us to give thanks continually.

The gifts I related above for my siblings and myself are not the ones listed in the scriptures, but none the less, have indeed blessed the lives of others, and at times, glorified God. I also believe that "all good gifts come from God"; and that those gifts are necessary in life as well. I hesitate to point out the Spiritual Gifts I have seen in them because of the sacred nature, however I can acknowledge they are present.

Our talents are gifts from God. Sometimes I feel that God has placed a greater share on, let's say my un-named sister; who just sat down to a piano one day and played a concerto on it. While she has true talent and works to keep it honed, there is that something extra there. That gift. S'mee, after 6 months of lessons, was still working hard on "Indian War Dance", and losing the battle. But I do play a bit today in a pinch... a gift from God when I need it to be. Some of those talents begin as God placed interests, and through our determination and practice become gifts. The ability to speak in public, to add or take away that one thing that defines a display, or the ability to not think ill thoughts while the car has stalled in the middle of the intersection with 5 kids in 110 heat. (still working on that one.)

What is it that you are gifted in? Do you debate like Clarence Darrow, show benevolence like Mother Teresa, or dance like Fred Astaire? Are you like S’mee, good at many things after years of developing things that interested you? Tell us about the God given gifts you have received and the talents that you have worked hard for. Is it difficult for you to know which is which, and does it really matter?

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Saturday, October 15, 2005

This bud's for you!

Originally uploaded by S'mee.

S'mee the flowers. Look S'mee, look!

Every time I go shopping the last stop is the flower display. I can't help but indulge in a bunch (or three)! I used to feel bad about not having a husband who's natural inclination was to please me by showing up twice a month with a fresh bouquet, "just because". That wasn't fair then, and it isn't fair to him now. If S'mee wants flowers why can't S'mee get them herself? So now that's exactly what I do. It doesn't bother Thor and it thrills me, so were both happier now that I don't blame him for neglect.

The advantage here is that the flowers in the photos can be had for an amazing price. $14.99 for 24 roses with some form of floral fluff wrapped and ready to go. I take care to gently pinch the buds to feel they are firm, thus lasting well into 10 -14 days. I cut the stems under water at an angle and then pop them into a vase with the packet of floral food that comes in each bunch, and half 2-up with half water. I change the water every other day or so and make new cuts as needed. S'mee is a happy girl.

growers bunch
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

Along with the roses come even more choices in the "Growers Bunch" bouquets. For $8.99 you get a large (enough for two vases of average size, or one whammajamma vase) bundle of flowers (also with the extra little floral stuff, eucalyuptus, baby's breath, etc.). These come in varieties of daisies, mums, status, hydrangea, tulips, sunflowers, etc. depending on the time of year. GORGEOUS! For the same price one can pick up a dozen +1 (13) individual stems of orchids in there own individual little water vials. These orchids can be arranged, given out as individual stems or even used for making a lei. When is the last time you saw a fresh Hawaiian lei for $8.99? More exotic flowers can be had in large bunches for $14.99.

The point here is that if fresh flowers are your thing, go get some.

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Friday, October 14, 2005


Originally uploaded by S'mee.
I am LOVING these! These are seriously the prettiest bulbs out there for S'mee! Every year S'mee puts up between 17 & 24 trees around the house. Big ones, little one, all with their own special themes! These would just go on the tree named "Pretty!" Pretty amazing! 26 of the brightest, most vivid, absolutely stand out of the ordinary glass ornaments for only $14.99. (too bad I don't have a black tree, look how they contrast with the box! wow!)

classic updates
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

Now with the same colour scheme,but with a more classic shape come these wonderments! (cue Angels singing) These are beautiful glass with hue on hue flocking. Terrific. Now all I need to do is win the lotto so I can buy many many packages of them. At $16.99 and 9 per box, S'mee will need at least a dozen boxes for one gorgeous tree!

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less hassle gingerbread house

less hassle gingerbread house
Originally uploaded by S'mee.
O.k. I am related closely to a Foodist and this is somewhat of a blasphemy, but, for those of us who do not make our own crackers from scratch and need help in the kitchen from time to time: Viola! The premade Gingerbread House ready for assemblage! For a mere $12.99 you get the walls and roof and enough royal icing to glue the whole shebang together, plus "over one pound of candies" to decorate it with! It also comes with a gingerbread boy and girl, and a gingerbread tree for the front yard of your new home. Perfect for a last minute Family Night Project or if you have teenage to early 20 young people in your house, a great last minute date night for two under $13.00.

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to heck with safety! FUN is BACK!

tinker toys!
Originally uploaded by S'mee.
Ah, remember the good ol' days when you were a kid and got a big box of Tinkertoys from Santa? Yippi! Those days are back with a vengeance baby! Who cares if little Madison chokes on one of the small parts, she'll learn the hard way not to put toys in her mouth just like we did! The bucket-o-fun comes with like a gazillion tiny pieces of pure unadulterated JOY to assemble the good times! The "Classic Construction Set" comes in at $29.00, a bargain if you ask S'mee. (just remember to pick those little boogers up after you're done playing. Nothing hurts worse then when mommy and daddy step on one of those #@&*%%$#* little things in the middle of the night! On second thought, just buy a bag of legos, no, um jacks, egads forget that, um... ah heck, those kids weren't that good this year anyway.)

lincoln logs!
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

Here we go, a nice safe alternative and oldtimey favorite named after our 16th President: Lincoln Logs! Mmmdoggy these were cool! How many hours will little Aidan build the house of his dream with these? I am sure that the GameCube will be totally ignored in favor of this environmentally friendly General Store! Turn off the D.D.R. and grab a log kids! The entire store is just like mom and dad remember; and the trip down memory lane will only set them back $21.99!

Now if they would only bring back Vac-U-Form and the Creepy Crawler Machine!

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