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.
Saturday, December 31, 2005
as a side note...
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?
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
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...
"HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT."
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
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!
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."
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.
Friday, December 16, 2005
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.
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.)
Thursday, December 15, 2005
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.
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.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
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
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 GODIVA.com 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?
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 Cakes...it'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.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
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 there...it 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.