Today is DS1's Birthday! ♪♫♪ Happy Birthday to you! ♪♫♪
I featured pictures of my dear daughters earlier this month, so now I will take the opportunity to share a photo of my DS1 from a few years back:
Isn't he just so handsome? I love this kind and intelligent young man! Several years ago he gifted my DH and I a trip to Disneyland for our anniversary, and all of our dear children chipped in to help. DS1 was actually the one who let us use his passes . . . and so I finally visited Disneyland in my older age.
Stay tuned, cause next month I'll share my DS2's photo!
Last night DD4 introduced me to Pandora Radio. Pandora is the free internet radio service that helps you find new music based on your current and old favorites. After setting up an account, you start by entering in a favorite song, artist, or composer to set up a personalized radio station. Different musical tracks are then automatically added to the station, and you can select either "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" on any selection to determine if it should continue to be included on your station.
I know that my kids have been using Pandora for a long time, but I never really bothered to find out what it is all about. I now have pandora on my Kindle Fire too, so I can take my Pandora music with me. So, am I the only person around who didn't know about Pandora?
Spring has been a little bit slow in coming this year, but finally, right now we are in the glorious days of spring tulips. I have red tulip borders in both the front and back yards and love seeing their bright happy faces each day. I love driving around the neighborhood and seeing all of the other wonderful yellows and reds and pinks and purples. Who can help but love and appreciate the tulips?
DD3 and I hostessed a bridal shower this afternoon along with another good friend and neighbor. As usual, in spite of cautions by DD3 otherwise, we had a lot of food left over. Of course, we were expecting and planning for twice the number of ladies who actually showed up, so it's all good and I don't feel bad about having extra food. Especially not when the extra food is wonderful fresh strawberries and blackberries. So we had strawberries and blackberries for dinner with our chicken last night, and we'll have them again tonight. I feel so blessed to be able to have fresh berries available almost year around, trucked in from areas where they will grow when we still have cold and even snow sometimes.
I really don't like going to doctors, but I am very grateful to have good doctors and other medical care closely available when it is necessary. In My Humble Oppinion, good doctors and nurses are a true treasure, and I'm very grateful for the many dedicated doctors and nurses who have cared for me and my family over the years.
My love of violin music undoubtedly came from my lovely mother, who is shown in this photo which was taken on Easter Sunday 1949, several months before her marriage to my Father. At one time I had a copy of photo of her playing her violin while in college, where she was concert mistress of the school orchestra, but that photo was lost in a computer crash several computers ago. I believe the original is still in my Mother's possession, and I need to re-scan it along with some others from her scrapbook so I can once again have them in my files.
I have mentioned previously that I don't listen to a lot of music during the typical day, but I do enjoy listening to piano and strings. I believe that my love of the violin was instilled in me while just a young babe, listening to my mother practice. Though she wasn't involved in an orchestra again after her college years that I am aware of, she was willing to play for special occasions such as weddings or parties or church meetings. She did attempt to teach me to play the violin when I was a child, but I did not have the patience for the required practice required to stick with it for more than one or two lessons.
When the children were young and I was a stay-at-home-mom of pre-schoolers and elementary schoolers, my DH bought us season tickets to the Symphony Orchestra, and several times a month I had the privilege of arranging for a babysitter and dressing up for an evening out with my honey. Occasionally when the venue and music were appropriate, the oldest children would take turns having the chance to come along with us to a concert.
We purchased the CD Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery by Classical Kids, which intertwines stories about the composer with excerpts of his music and portrays Vivaldi as a real person shown from a child's point of view. I think our kids enjoyed this CD along with the others in the series, and learned to appreciate classical music when they were young. I know that I enjoyed this CD myself. Three of my dear children have learned to play string instruments, and I have loved attending every single recital and concert that they have participated in, along with the band concerts and the choir concerts of the other children.
I couldn't find the actual music from that CD to share with you, but for your listening enjoyment, here is the complete 40 minute rendition of Vivaldi's Four Seasons from You Tube:
I didn't always appreciate bananas when I was growing up. I'm not sure why, because now I think that they are one of the best, most nutritious and economical foods available to most of the world. I really came to appreciate bananas during the year and a half that I spent in the country of Colombia. They were one of the foods that we were served almost every single day, usually more than once in one form or another. They were a familiar food, and I came to think of bananas as a comfort food. I still try to have bananas on hand for breakfast and snacks, and most of the time they are eaten and appreciated by my family long before we need to consider banana bread. (Which is fine with me, since I prefer pumpkin bread or even zucchini bread to banana bread.) Yes, I do appreciate bananas.
"Faith is knowing the sun will rise, lighting each new day."
-Faith (Words by Beatrice Goff Jackson and Music byMichael Finlinson Moody)
One of the things that I love most about spring is the timing of the sunrise. Once we get past those terrible days of winter and at the beginning of daylight savings time when we must get up and go to school and work in the dark, I love getting up just as the day is beginning and watching the sunrise. The sun is one constant that we can always rely on. Of course there are cloudy and stormy days, but we can always know that beyond the clouds the sun is still there, shining and sharing light, heat and energy with us all.
Sunday was a busy day. I was in meetings for about seven hours, and when I arrived home I was quite tired. But it was a good kind of tired. Sunday has been set aside as a day of rest; a day to rest from our everyday labors. That doesn't always mean a long Sunday nap. At least not for Sundays like this past Sunday. But it was a rest from the usual work and worries of the week. I was able to take the sacrament and renew my baptismal covenants twice. I was able to listen to good friends and neighbors share lessons and testimonies and thoughts and expriences that helped to build my faith. I was able to listen to a good bishop and stake presidency member give sound counsel and advice. I was able to practice my rusty spanish. I was able to sit with and get to know some very beautiful and cute latino children. I was able to listen to new primary leaders who are having some struggles with their callings, and hopefully give them some encouragement and maybe some new ideas. It was a rest from my usual worries and challenges.
Today has been another great day at the temple. DD1 attended the temple for the first time today to receive her own endowments. I was privileged to be her escort, and accompanied her throughout the day. We had some wonderful and kind temple workers there to assist and instruct every step of the way. It was a good day and many members of our extended family were able to be there the session with her. The session was very full, with four other sisters and at least 2 or 3 young men also going through for the first time, so it took a bit longer than usual, even for going through the live session. But it was a good day, and I look forward to similar days with my other dear daughters in the future as they take this important step in their earthly and eternal progression.
Today is my DD2's birthday! Isn't she the cutie? She's grown up a quite a bit since this picture was taken, but she is still very beautiful! (This is one of our favorites photos of her as a child, and yes, she always has loved using the computer. She's the one who really introduced me to blogging, I believe, but quite a few years after this photo was taken.)
Right now DD2 lives half way across the country where she's attending graduate school, so I can't give her a hug or bake her a cake. I did send a package with a few little gifts, and I do hope that she has received them. I can't sing the ♪♫♪ Happy Birthday ♪♫♪ song to her in person this year, but hopefully I can do it over the phone or skype, if we can catch one another when one of us is not sleeping or working or in class.
DD2 is a very beautiful, compassionate, dedicated, hard working, intelligent, faithful, dilligent and loving woman. She is one of my very best friends. I love her dearly and feel extremely blessed to have the privilege of being her mother!
One of my very favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon is the one that I read this morning: Mosiah chapter 4. This is the second part of King Benjamin's famous address to the people of Nephi who had gathered together to be taught, and it contains so many wonderful words of wisdom; words that are a comfort to me:
Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend. (verse 9)
And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due. (verse 13)
And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked, or neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil . . . (verse 14)
But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another and to serve one another. (verse 15)
. . . I would that ye should impart of your substance unto the poor, every man according to that which he hath need, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants. (verse 26)
And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order, for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength . . . (verse 27)
But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now O man, remember, and perish not. (verse 30)
King Benjamin was a very wise man, and I'm grateful that his words were preserved so that I can read them and ponder them today.
There are so many things that we can feel: hot and cold, smooth, rough, soft, and so much more. Not only can we feel and touch with our ever sensitive finger tips, but our entire bodies can enjoy the beautiful sensation of touch. I love the feel of a gentle breeze on my face, the downy softness of a newborn baby's hair against my cheek, the gentle touch of a kiss on the nose or the lips. I love the feel of a warm hug or a massage or foot rub. I love soaking in the warmth of the bath or feeling a hot shower pelt my tired skin. I love the luxurious feel of stretching out between crisp sheets or of curling up in a soft fleecy blanket. I love the many different textures of the food I have to eat; they add so much to the taste and aroma of good food and the entire eating experience. Take the time to savor and enjoy the sense of touch.
Sometimes a person just doesn't know what to fix for dinner. When that happens, it's waffle time! Tonight we whipped up a batch of waffles, boiled a few eggs, and cooked up some homemade raspberry syrup from a bag of raspberries that have been kicking around in the freezer since last fall. Voila . .Breakfast for dinner!
3 cups milk (you can use half milk/half water if you like)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
Beat together until well mixed. Stir in until blended:
1 cup white flour
1 cup wheat flour
1 cup oat flour
3 Tbs. baking powder
Cook in pre-heated, well seasoned or greased waffle iron until crisp and golden brown.
Homemade Raspberry Syrup
1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Mix all together in a small heavy saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes. Mash strawberries with a potato masher. Remove from heat and serve over hot waffles, pancakes or French Toast.
Last night DD4 and I attended a very nice "Transition Meeting" to celebrate all of the beautiful Young Women in our Stake who will be graduating from High School this year and moving on to college, jobs, and even missionary service. The main purpose of the evening was to celebrate these Young Women and their accomplishments and to introduce them to the Relief Society Organization that they all will soon be members of. I'm excited for DD4 to become a member of Relief Society when she leaves home this fall. I'm also very grateful for all of the wonderful Youth Leaders who have been there to teach, guide, love, plan activities, chaperone activities and just plain old be a supportive friend and example to my daughter throughout her teenage years. Many were there last night, and many others were not, since they have gone on to other responsibilities. I can't help but think of and be so very grateful to all of the wonderful men and women who have taught and advised all of my 6 children in the past 20 plus years. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I'm very grateful to everyone who has been a part of my family's village.
The sad news of the week is that for the past few days, Little Kong, or Bird Bird, or Little Bird (all of the names for DD4's Parakeet) has had a bad leg and has not been able to grip the perch with the one bad foot. She has still been eating and singing, and we were hopeful that she would soon mend, but yesterday morning when we uncovered her cage, we found that she had died sometime during the night. It was a sad day. Goodbye to our happy little birdie. It is sad to walk by the empty cage. We missed the chirping when we all gathered together for our nightly scriptures and prayers last night.
It has caused me to stop and think. Birds are one of the beautiful creations that we sometimes take for granted. When was the last time I really stopped and listened to the birds? Or thought about how empty the world would be without bird song? I'm grateful for birds.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps to regulate carbohydrate (especially sugars) and fat metabolism in the body. Insulin causes cells in the liver, muscles and fat tissues to absorb gluclose from the blood.
Insulin stops the use of fat as an energy source by inhibiting the release of glucagon. When functioning correctly the body provides in a constant proportion to remove excess glucose from the blood, which otherwise would be toxic. When blood glucose levels fall below a certain level, the body then begins to use stored sugar as needed energy source. In other words, Insulin helps our body to use the energy that we get from the food that we eat.
When the body is no longer able to produce insulin, or not enough insulin, diabetes mellitus results. Biosynthetic "human" insulin is now manufactured for widespread clinical use using recombinant DNA technology. More recently, researchers have succeeded in introducing the gene for human insulin into plants and in producing insulin in them, some of which have delayed reaction times. These different insulins make it much easier to regulate blood sugar levels on a consistent basis. Unfortunately, insulin cannot be taken orally because it would just be digested by the body, and would then no longer be useful in regulating the blood sugar. There are several companies that are working to develop ways of protecting insulin from the digestive tract, but in the meantime, patients with diabetes must rely on daily injections of insulin.
We have several family members who use Insulin on a daily basis. I am grateful that we have this medication to allow them to live normal, productive lives.
I grew up knowing that "Saturday is special day, it's the day we get ready for Sunday." (from the song written by Rita S. Robinson) Saturday was always the day my mother vacuumed and dusted and mopped and scrubbed, and all of us kids were to change the sheets on our beds, clean our rooms, and take our turns helping with the other chores. So, of course, when I married and began my family, Saturday was naturally the day that I chose to do most of the major cleaning. The problem was, DH usually had other ideas of how we should spend our Saturdays, and didn't want to be home all day cleaning or waiting for me to clean. I'm not a naturally clean and tidy housekeeper, so this has always been a struggle for me. As the years passed and I became a stay at home Mom, I read many books on cleaning and organizing, developed many different versions of job assignments and job charts, and tried to teach the kids to do their part and help out. Our kids were often involved in Saturday sports activities, there was the grocery shopping to be done, and we often only had one car. I did try to divide the tasks up all during the week, but what is a busy Mom of six kids supposed to do? Just the best that she can, which often ended up with Mom staying up until the wee hours of Sunday morning trying to get the kitchen floor mopped at last, especially when I started working part time again.
Several years ago a dear cousin introduced me to FlyLady. FlyLady has a whole website full of cleaning and organizing tips and routines. She encourages you to take baby steps, and to start with the simple task of shining your kitchen sink. Fly Lady's Weekly Home Blessing Hour is a list of several tasks that can quickly be done once a week in about an hour. Her suggested day for the home blessing hour is Monday, but you can choose any day that you would like to do the tasks, even breaking them up to do on different days of the week. (I still try to do most of my Home Blessing Hour on Saturday.) You can sign up to receive encouraging emails with Fly Lady's Daily Flight Plan that gives suggestions of simple tasks to do each day to keep your home a pleasant place to be. The tasks focus on a different area of the house each week, so no area is ever totally neglected. There are also fun ways to get the kids involved. Most of all, FlyLady is always encouraging, reminding you to not get down on yourself, to just take baby steps, and that you're not behind. Just jump right in and start where you are. Even just fifteen quick minutes of cleaning blesses your home and your family!
I almost never get everything done on the Daily Flight Plan and the Weekly Home Blessing list, but I love having the suggestions and encouragement, and they never make me feel guilty for what I haven't done. You may already have your home carefully organized and in tip top shape, but if you by some chance have been looking for a bit of help, you might just want to give FlyLady a try.
Sunday morning, the Lord's living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, presented his main address to the church and to the world with his usual love and humor. His main message was that life is simpler if we always obey. He illustrated his thoughts with a personal experience from his own childhood when he did not obey, and started a fire that could have had devistating consequences if not for the efforts of many adults who valiantly fought that fire. Obedience brings knowledge, happiness, peace, progress, prosperity and eternal salvation. Other speakers shared similar messages emphasized that obedience to all of the Lord's commandments is essential. We are not entitled to pick and choose which of God's commandments we should obey. Faith in God and personal prayer and study of the scriptures will bring us direction and peace in our lives in this troubled world. Obedience to God's laws brings us blessings and happiness. Sanctity in marriage, families and devotion to our children are of prime importance in enjoying peace and happiness in our lives and in the world as a whole.
I recently attended a workshop where a sensitive topic was being discussed. It was continually emphasized that the workshop was meant to be a place where everyone should feel comfortable, safe, and accepted. The presenter stated that she personally believed that no one was a sinner. I do feel that everyone should be entitled to their own personal beliefs and values. But I believe that God is real. I believe that life has a purpose. Part of this purpose is to learn and grow and be obedient. Obedience to laws and commandments brings blessings, and disobedience brings sorrow and consequences, no matter what the world teaches or believes. I am grateful for prophets and apostles who have accepted the calling and responsiblity to share the messages that God, our loving Heavenly Father wants us all to hear and know today.
This weekend I have taken copious notes of the things that were mentioned and marked specially those things that I feel I need to do or improve on, and I plan to review my notes often. I don't feel shamed or guilty or discouraged by the things that I have heard this weekend. Instead I feel loved, accepted and encouraged. Life can be good, it can be better, and I believe that I can become a better person too.
Ice Cream is one of my favorite treats. When I was growing up, we always seemed to have plenty of ice cream in the house. Sunday desserts, birthdays, family reunions, and after school snacks were always good reasons to pull out the ice cream. It doesn't have to be the expensive name brand, but if it has nuts or chocolate, or both, I'm especially enamored.
We've been trying to be good around here, and haven't had much ice cream lately. Last week was DH's birthday, so I did buy a couple of cartons . . . some nice vanilla bean and some chocolate brownie fudge. That didn't last too long, and so since this weekend we are "celebrating" General Conference, last night I sent DD3 to buy us some more. After consulting with her Dad she brought home some Butter Pecan Crunch. After a day of listening to General Conference, it was very nice to relax with the gang and watch "Wreck It Ralph" while eating butter pecan crunch ice cream with some sliced bananas and strawberry topping!
"When the saints meet, the Heavens weep." is an old saying that often applies to LDS General Conference time. We do often get rain this time of year, and this weekend has been no exception. Yesterday we woke to gloomy skies, and before the morning was over it was raining. However, it did clear up in the afternoon, the sun was shining, and it was very pleasant outside. After work I spent several hours working in the yard, mowing the lawn, and pulling dead weeds from last year. Granted there is still much to do, but I'm grateful that I was able to make some progress on the yard work. The lawn is green and growing well, my peas and spinach plants are above the ground, and there are many signs of spring. Even the lilac bush is leafing out!
The time is here. Within minutes the first session of General Conference is set to begin. I'm pulling out the yellow legal pad, and getting ready to make notes of what I need to do in the next six months!
Last night I was priviledged to attend the LDS Spring Auxiliary Training Meeting for Primary leaders. The Primary is the children's organization of the Church, and I am blessed to be called to serve in this organization. The meeting was wonderful, with many inspiring ideas and stories that were shared. I, as usual took many notes of things that I think will be helpful to me, not only in my calling, but in my personal and family life as well. There are so many resources available to us at www.lds.org, including many wonderful videos. I am hoping that the videos included in the training last night will soon be posted on the website. I did find this video about an Autistic boy named Hyrum that I thought was very touching and fitting as April is Autism Awareness month.
One of my greatest blessings is that of being a mother. I have two wonderful sons, but since today's letter is D, I will be sharing some of the cutest baby pictures ever . . . of my four Dear Daughters:
Aren't they the most beautiful baby girls ever? Can you tell that they are sisters? They all grew into equally beautiful little girls, and I'm not at all biased. I'm only their Mom!
Now my Dear Daughters are nearly all adults, and they are my very best friends. They keep me laughing. They bring home books for me to read and movies for me to watch, and gently chide me when I fall asleep before the movies are over. They have taught me how to text and how to blog and the finer points of Microsoft Office. They patiently explain how to switch from the TV to the DVD player. (over and over again.) They go shopping with me. They eat my cooking without complaining. (most of the time) The make me happy! I also have a wonderful Dear Daughter In Law who is the perfect match for DS2. Though we don't see her quite as often, I'm very grateful to claim her as a daughter too. Unfortunately, I don't have a baby picture of her to share . . .
DD2 and DD3 are away at school right now, and DD1 and DD4 both have plans to leave in the next few months. I definitely don't want to hold my dear daughters back from living their own lives and accomplishing great things, but I know that I will miss them, and hope that soon they will all end up living close by again. I love my dear daughters!
When I graduated from High School, my parents presented me with a sewing machine. I believe that it was a NewHome, manufactured by the White Sewing Machine company. I used it for many years to sew quilts, clothing, and lots of halloween costumes. About 15 years ago DH presented me with a Bernina that I have been using ever since. I don't sew as much as I used to, but this month I'm trying to spend more time at it. I really appreciate my wonderful sewing machines. They are both quality machines and have given me much satisfaction and an outlet for creativity. I don't claim to be a quality seamstress, but I do have lots of fun (and sometimes a bit of frustration) using my sewing machines.
I just finished a bowl full of my favorite granola. It's hard to find granola that is fairly affordable, so I resort to Costco for mine. Last month Nature's Path Organic Pumpkin Flax Granola was on sale at Costco, so I picked up several boxes. The first one is almost gone. Granted, granola does have it's fair share of sugar and fat (Omega-3!), but it tastes a lot better than shredded wheat, so I indulge myself on occassion. Hungry? Go and have a bowl of granola!
I am grateful for music, for hymns, and for writers who are able to put such powerful and sweet messages into words. Yesterday I was blessed to be able to sing with the choir in Sacrament Meeing. Our first number was I Know that My Reedemer Livesand the second was This is the Christ. What better way to commemorate the Easter season than by singing praises to our Savior? What better way to remember the Savior than to ponder "How many drops of blood were shed for me?"
"This is the Christ" Lyrics written by President James E. Faust.
They heard His voice, a voice so mild; It pierced them through and made their souls to quake; They saw Him come, a man in white, The Savior who had suffered for their sake.
They felt the wounds in hands and side, And each could testify; This is the Christ;
This is the Christ, the holy Son of God, Our Savior, Lord, Redeemer of mankind. This is the Christ, the healer of our souls Who ransomed us with love divine.
I read His words, the words He prayed While bearing sorrow in Gethsemane; I feel His love, the price He paid. How many drops of blood were spilled for me?
With saints of old in joyful cry I too can testify; This is the Christ;
This is the Christ, the holy Son of God, Our Savior, Lord, Redeemer of mankind. This is the Christ, the healer of our souls Who ransomed us with purest love divine!