During April 2017 I will be blogging about my Courtship Memories from A to Z . These challenge posts will also be found at Creation and Compassion http://marcyhowes.blogspot.com/

Friday, June 28, 2013

Concerts in the Park

Nearly twenty years ago when our children were still in elementary school and younger, our local community officially became a city.   Since that time, the city has annually held a several day celebration commemorating this event. Even though the population of the area is quite large, the celebration started out and in many ways still has a very small town feel.  On the last Saturday morning of June each year the day begins with a pancake breakfast, a 5K Race, and a parade.  Afterwards there are food and craft and community booths, a car show, and music and carnival rides etc at the park.

My favorite part of the celebration begins earlier in the week, and was actually a suggestion that my own dear mother-in-law made to one of the members of the city council:  Concerts in the Park.   Everyone brings their lawn chairs and blankets and spreads out all over the huge park, and listens, eats, plays games, or even reads (one of my own family's favorite activities) with family and friends.  This year three evenings of concerts have been scheduled in the park.  Last night was the local Symphony Orchestra Concert, which we missed because of the busy schedule of the week. This is usually my favorite concert, but it just couldn't be helped.  Tonight's presentation was a performance by the group Let's Hang On, a Frankie Valli Tribute group.  They did very well, and I greatly enjoyed  their renditions of the type of music that I grew up listening to:  "Big Girls Don't Cry", "My Eyes Adored You", "Working My Way Back to You", "These Boots Were Made for Walki'n"  etc. etc. 

And of course, after it gets dark, we always enjoy one of the greatest fireworks shows in the entire country, perhaps the world.  The only downer is that the kids are now scattered across the country, and it has been several years since they were all here together for this family tradition.  I'm definitely missing my out of state kids tonight!! 

But, there is another concert tomorrow night, and more fireworks afterwards.  All for free.  Very Family Friendly.  Concerts in the Park.  And Fireworks.  Summer doesn't get much better than that!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bedtime

It's just about bedtime, and I couldn't be happier! I have been very busy the last few days, and I am tired. Yesterday DD4 and I had a nice 10 hour day as we drove up north to attend her New Freshman Orientation at the University. It was good, but a long, busy, day.

I slept well last night, and then got up a bit earlier than usual for the summertime to bake some cupcakes for a dear co-worker's retirement party today. I used the Any Old Bottle of Fruit Cake recipe, which is one of her favorities, but I always use a cream cheese frosting instead of the caramel frosting called for in this recipe.  I'll have to try the caramel frosting sometime.   It was a long day at work with a workshop and several retirement receptions in different departments. Quite a number of good people are retiring at the end of this week, tomorrow, and it is sad to see so many wonderful co-workers leaving, but we are happy for them too.


After work I rested for an hour or so before putting together some pork chops for dinner and then making a funeral potato casserole  for a dear neighbor's funeral tomorrow.   (I used fresh potatoes and omitted the cornflake topping on mine this time)  So now, I'm very ready for bed.

Goodnite to ya'll.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Plumbers, Snakes, and Kids


Baby Garter Snake, photo courtesy of Bing 

Our kitchen sink has had some drainage issues for the past little while.  My dear DH pulled out his hand cranked plumbing snake to try and clean out the drain, but even though he cranked it down as far as it would go, it could not reach the problem.  So a couple of our kids made arrangements to have a plumber come and try his hand at cleaning out the drain.  This monring he came in with his huge electric snake and went to work, and within 30 minutes he had cleaned out the buildup on the pipes and removed some tree roots that were blocking the drain.  Hooray!  Our kitchen sink and dishwasher will now work properly.  This is a happy day!  Thank you kids!

**  Sorry if you were expecting some exciting story about the slithering kind of snakes and our kids.  But maybe I can share a story of that kind.  Depending on the kind of weather we are having, we sometimes find snakes living in various places in our back yard . . . amongst the berry bushes or under the sidewalk for example.  Not too long after we moved into this house,  some of the kids and a neighbor child or two were playing in the basement playroom.  The neighbor reached for what they thought was a play rubber or pastic snake, but I started slithering away!  It was a very real baby garter snake. Of course there were plenty of screams and excitement.  We don't know how it got in the house, and I don't remember how we got it out of the house, but I assure you it is no longer here.

Another day the children were hanging out upstairs in the living room when another larger snake slithered its way down the side of our brick fireplace from where it had been resting along the the top of the bricks right under the mantle piece.  Again, I don't remember how we got the snake back outside, but I assure you it is no longer here.  We do think that this snake found its way inside through an open living room window.  (We don't have screens on those windows unfortunately. 

Anyway,  I appreciate the wonderful invention of plumbing snakes.  I also appreciate God's creation of snakes, but I also appreciate not having them inside of my house.  Which reminds me of a story I read a few years ago about a home that had been built on top of a snake den.  Now that would not be a fun story at all.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Nice Hair

My hair was black and curly when I was born.  Now it is a fairly common brown color, with a few streaks of gray. It has a bit of a natural wave, especially underneath along my neckline.  When I was younger I wished that my hair had stayed black, since my Mother has had beautiful soft, black curls almost her whole life.  I have always loved her hair.  Even now that she is in her 80's, you can still see the black amongst the gray.  But I've learned to appreciate my own brown locks.

When I was a young teenager, long straight hair was popular, and I was pretty much able to achieve this look, even without ironing my hair as some people were known to do, (we did not have Chi's or other flat irons back then) so that's pretty much how I wore it.  Later on the Farrah Faucett  poofy and curly hair came into vogue, so I would often curl my longer hair with electric rollers.  I never did have my hair layered back then, so didn't ever quite achieve the popular look.    

After my children were born I started wearing my hair shorter, just for convenience.  I have never wanted to spend much time working with my hair on a daily basis.  As long as I have a reasonably good hair cut and have washed, conditioned, and have brushed out my hair, I believe that I have some nice looking hair.  I have recieved compliments on it in the past.  DH prefers it a bit longer than shorter, but not too long. If it starts getting too long, the natural curl and wave tends to be harder to control.  I am probably due for another hair cut soon, but overall I'm pretty happy with my hair, and I even  wear the few gray ones with pride. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Good Listener

I never have been a big talker.  (Well, except for maybe late at night when I happen to have a somewhat captive audience that is ready for bed and unable to escape my blabberings.  But that's a post for another day).  I was a very shy child, and would often rather sit quietly in the corner in a room full of adults listening to their conversations  than be out with the rag-tag tumble of busy and normal kids.  I have had to learn slowly over the years how to be a somewhat decent conversationalist, and one on one or in small groups I can usually hold my own.  But I would still rather be the one listening.  I have had several people tell me over the years that I am a good listener, and that fact has made me happy.

Most people will have plenty to say once they realize that you really do care to hear what they have to say.   Sometimes we need to know the right kinds of questions to ask to draw them out, but most people are actually quite happy to share at least some of their thoughts, and dreams and experiences.  I like getting to know people and hearing the stories they have to tell.  I like being a listener.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Righteous Desires

For as long as I can remember, I have always had the desire to be good, do good, and choose to do what is right.  I'm not saying that I am a perfect person, because that is far from the truth.  I am impatient, and often do and say unkind things without thinking.  I'm somewhat on the lazy side, and don't often think of or notice when those around me could use my help.  I'm often late and get distracted easily.  But deep down I always want to be good and do good.  I have been taught right from wrong, and there is very little of the ugliness of the world that appeals to me or tempts me.  I hope this doesn't sound boastful or prideful, because I don't mean it to be.  To me, these desires are a blessing.

"If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."

Thirteenth Article of Faith

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Banana Bread

So what do you do with Bananas that have spent 24 hours or more over the past 5 days in the back of the car?  Banana Nut Bread!  We don't often make it around here as it isn't my favorite, but it still tastes pretty darn good.   And, we don't have to feel guilty about throwing out bananas!

Monday, June 17, 2013

California Beaches

I still remember my very first visit to California Beaches.  Around 40 years ago when I was about 12 years old, my family took a week or so to drive to California and visit various relatives and points of interest as we traveled down the coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles.  One night we were able to secure rooms in a motel that was just off the beach somewhere between San Francisco and L.A.  It was a quick stop that night, and we were up and on our way again fairly early the next morning, but I remember being impressed with the vast Pacific Ocean and the beautiful beach.  We later stopped for an hour or so at a beach in the L.A. area and had time to walk barefoot through the sand and the surf.

DH and I have not traditionally been very big fans of spending the day on the beach.  A whole day in the sun is not exactly our idea of a day of fun, and we're not big swimmers or water people, but I do love to spend time at the beach in the earlier morning or later evening hours.  I love to walk barefoot through the warm sifting sand and along the cool hard packed sand with the waves lapping up my toes and my ankles.  I love watching the surf roar in from the horizon.  I enjoy watching the brave surfers out trying again and again to catch the perfect wave and ride it in to shore.  I enjoy California beaches.  Thank you DS1 for taking us to the beach again during our short visit to California!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Math


This morning we attended the UCLA Department of Mathematics Graduation Celebration.  DS1 was presented as one of the Ph.D. Degree Candidates in Applied Math, and so of course we were all bursting our buttons to be there with him and had to take a bunch of photos.  If you look very closely at the above photo, you can see DS1 approaching the podium to be congratulated by the professor, I believe it was Richard Elman. 

We also enjoyed the Graduation program.  The Guest Speaker was Dr. Peter Jones who received his own doctorate in 1978 from UCLA.   In his discourse, Dr. Jones mentioned the German mathematician David Hildbert (1862-1943).     A contemporary of Albert Einstein, Hildebert has been credited with possibly being the most recent individual who knew all the Math known to man.  Since his time, the vast amounts and variations of math and research have grown so large that no one person can learn it all during a lifetime.  That thought was quite interesting to me, not that I have ever been anywhere near to knowing much more math than I can use on a daily basis, but just the thought of how much study and research and knowledge is out there.   I did fairly well in Math when I was in school, but it was never a very compelling subject to me.  I studied what was required, and did my best.  And that was pretty much it.

DS1 has been fascinated with math since he was a very small child, and that fact has been fascinating to me.  As a mother it was exciting to see him grasp the concepts of numbers and addition and multiplication etc before he was old enough to begin school, and it has been exciting to see his progress and work throughout his school years. I have always been proud to be his mother!  Math is so much more than just numbers.  It is a way to solve problems in almost any area of work and study.  I understand very little of it all, but I'm grateful for those who have the abilities and interests that allow them to be the problem solvers.  I'm glad that Math has been a good journey for DS1 throughout the years, and I trust that the future will hold many more successful math solutions for him. 


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Getty Center Art



This afternoon we had the privilege of exploring some of the world's great art found at the Getty Center located in the Santa Monica Moutains above Los Angeles.  The buildings (and there are many of them) are works of art in and of themselves, perched high on the hill, as are the gardens.  Parking is $15 per car at the bottom of the hill, but there is no entrance fee, and a tram/train carries you to the museums at the top of the mountains.   So very much to see, and I don't take very good photos to do it justice.  We spent several hours there, and barely scratched the surface of what there is to see.  You can take your own picnic lunch and check it for free at the coat check while you wander (what we should have done), or you can buy your own food and snacks and souveneirs there on site.  We just ate our lunch/dinner back at DS1's place afterwards.  Visiting the Getty was a fine afternoon activity and I would recommend it to anyone in the LA area.

View of Los Angeles from the Getty




Friday, June 14, 2013

Traffic Infrastructure

Our family has just navigated our way across several states in order to visit DS1 for the weekend.  Except for dealing with a few somewhat crazy drivers, the trip went very smoothly.  We who live here in this country have been blessed with a wonderful system of roads and freeways that allow us to quickly and safely travel almost anywhere we would like to go.  I'm grateful for our roads!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Doctors

I know that I recently posted about doctors.  I am grateful for good doctors and medical care for me and for my loved ones.  I try not to repeat myself too much, but this afternoon I received a letter from my OBGYN informing me that she will be retiring from her practice next month.  Sigh.  I am not particularly young any more.  I have borne six children, with five different doctors assisting in the deliveries.  We moved several times when our family was young, and one practice had several doctors who took turns being on call for deliveries.  They have all been good doctors, assisted by good and kind nurses (usually!?!) and other attendants.  I have had good experiences with birth and motherhood . . . (and have forgotten a lot of the pain and difficulty I am sure.) 

One of the things that I do not like is trying to find a new doctor.  I must say that I have been blessed throughout my adult years with good health, and rarely have had occasion to visit the doctor (and hope to continue in this tradition), but childbirth is the one exception.  I have always tried to keep up with regular checkups with my OBGYN, and I have always felt the need to have a good doctor available to me; one that I know and trust.  One who is familiar with me, and hopefully remembers me from visit to visit!

 Family and friends and neighbors have been good to refer me to doctors throughout the years and after various moves.  After DD4 was born (the last of our six children) I was able to continue seeing the doctor who delivered her only a few years before he retired.  It was not an easy process to find a new doctor that I felt comfortable with.  It took me several years of doctor hopping to find my current Doctor, and I have been comfortable and happy with her.   I thought that she was young enough that I wouldn't need to find a new OBGYN, at least for a few years.  I guess that I was wrong.  Sigh.  There are several other doctors in her practice, so I guess that next year I will make my appointment with one of them.    I haven't met either of these doctors.  I'm sure that they are good doctors.  Maybe I won't need to go doctor hopping again?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cashews (and Macadamias)

A week or so ago when DH and I were doing some grocery shopping at good ole Costco, we happened to pick up a couple of big containers of mixed nuts.  We both love nuts, and we may be a little nuts, and they even have the unsalted variety, which is good since we're trying to cut way back on the sodium.  It's been nice to mix up a ziplock bag of my own trail mix (just added some craisins, m&m's and reeces pieces) to take to work.  

Tonight I decided to used up some leftover chicken and pork chops and make up a batch of fried rice (using lower sodium soy sauce of course).  I don't make fried rice very often, but we like it on occasion for a change of pace.   The nice thing tonight was that my recipe calls for cashews, and I usually don't have them on hand. Since we like our nuts so much, especially the decadent cashews, they're usually gone soon after they enter the house.  But, we still had mixed nuts, so I picked out a handful of the cashews and added them to the fried rice!  Yea for cashews!  I promise that I didn't use them all, cause cashews are so awesome all by themself, that it would be almost sinful to not leave any for snacking. 

What's your favorite kind of nuts?

(PS, we love macademias probably even more!)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Cooling Breezes

The longest days of the year are upon us, and the temperatures are rising.  Yesterday was possibly our hottest day so far this year, and I definitely felt it.  It was nice to go outside this morning and feel a gentle breeze riffling through my hair as I went about watering the gardens.  I'm not sure if it has actually been cooler today, but it has been nicer as the breezes have continued throughout the afternoon. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Graduations



Today DD4 received her High School Diploma, a Diploma of Merit.  This means that during her High School career, she has excelled academically, especially in the areas of Math, Social Sciences, Visual Art, and overall Academics.  It hasn't been easy, and we are proud of our youngest daughter for persevering and accomplishing what she has! 

The other day my next door neighbor congratulated me on "graduating" from High School.  She understands, since her own youngest graduated two years ago.  (And she has watched 8 children graduate to our 6!)  We have been neighbors for over 15 years.  Our children have played together, and occasionally fought with each other.  I admire, respect, and look up to this lovely lady, and her husband, and all of her children.  They are very good people and great neighbors.  Excellent neighbors.

I also love and admire and respect my own family.  We have wonderful children.  This evening I have been browsing through some old photos of graduations of our children.  There aren't many, and they are all of college graduations.  I gave up trying to take many pictures back when digital took over the world and everyone else seems to always be taking and sharing their photos with me.  Unfortunately, everyone else hasn't always been around to take pictures of my kids' graduations.   I can't find any photos of their High School graduations.  (Maybe some of them will find some and share with me??)  But it's a small thing, because even without the photos to browse through, I am very proud of each of my children.  Each of my children has different talents, interests, and challenges.  Each of my children has achieved many great things and overcome many things.   I am so blessed to be their mother!  And even though I may sometimes miss those good old days, we have some great memories, and I can sigh with relief that I have finally "graduated" from High School.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Chapter A Day . . .

A Chapter a Day Keeps the Blues Away.

A couple of days ago I came home from work not wanting to do anything, so I went to bed with a book.  DH works several hours later than I do, and DD4 is usually pretty laid back about dinner, so it was all ok.  I read and dozed for a couple of hours, and felt a bit better, but not a whole lot.  And I knew why.

For most of my life I have tried to read at least a chapter a day from The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ.   And on that particular day I hadn't read my chapter.  Nor had I read it the day before.  I've lived for a fairly long time, and this is one thing I absolutely and positively know from my own personal experience.  If Idon't ready my chapter a day, I am definitely less happy.   If I do read my chapter, even though life and the world don't change a whole lot, I am better able to deal happily and positively with the challenges of life.  This is a proven fact to me.  Over and over again I have learned this truth.  So, why do I ever fall short and neglect my chapter a day?
The next morning I pulled out my Book of Mormon and read my chapter before doing anything else, and sure enough, my attitude and happiness were much different.  I enjoyed my day and accomplished a lot more.  I was happier.  And I really enjoyed the uplifing messages I found:

 1 O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!
 7 Why should I desire that I were an angel, that I could speak unto all the ends of the earth?
 8 For behold, the Lord doth grant unto ball nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true.
 9 I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.
 10 And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me.

So I challenge you . . . read a chapter a day.  It will help keep the blues away.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Piano Lessons

My wonderful parents have always encouraged their children to develop their talents, and as such, they have supported each of us with years of piano lessons.  I first began learning to play the piano when I was in about the 3rd Grade.  My very first piano teacher would come to our home each week to teach me the basics and encourage me to practice just a little bit better and more often.  After a year or so, my mother began taking me to her home each week for the lesson.  She was a very kind and patient teacher, and I loved taking lessons from her.

 I don't remember exactly why, but after several years I switched over to the piano teacher who taught most of the children in my little town who took piano lessons.    This teacher was very popular with the parents, and possibly she had not had any openings before when I was ready to begin lessons.  She was the organist in our local congregation for many many years, and a talented and dedicated pianist and organist. She had the reputation among the other kids of being very strict, but over the years I found her to actually be quite kind and patient, even though it must have been somewhat exasperating for her that I dedicated so little time and effort to my practicing.  It wasn't that I didn't like playing the piano, because I did.  It's just that so many other things were always calling out for my attention . . .  Gilligan's Island, The Brady Bunch, and my latest library book to name a few. 

In spite of my lack of dedication to practicing, my mother and my teacher both encouraged me to continue with my piano lessons, so every week I would spend my half hour at her home going over different piano pieces and hymns, and try to remember to push myself to practice at least a little bit each week, right up until I left home for college.  I never did become an accomplished musician, but I did learn enough to be able to play some simple tunes for my enjoyment, and to accompany a congregation as they sing many of the hymns.

Several weeks ago I was approached by an acquaintance on a Sunday morning at church.  She mentioned that I had been volunteered to accompany the congregation at a meeting that evening, and had anyone asked me about it?  Actually, no one had mentioned that fact to me, but luckily, (especially since my name was already printed on the program) the hymns that had been chosen were both ones that I had practiced as a young woman, and with a few minutes of review that afternoon, I was able to satisfactorily play the hymns that evening.  They may not have been quite up to tempo, and they definitely weren't perfect, but I think I did ok.  I am grateful for the blessing of having taken piano lessons for so many of my growing up years, and for the patient encouragement and support of my teachers and my parents.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Library Books


(photo from amazon.com)

Some days I just need to veg with a book.  Today was one of those days, and after work I tucked myself in with one of my latest library books and proceeded to enjoy an evening of reading and dozing.  Last week I had started reding "My Loving Vigil Keeping" by Carla Kelly, but on Saturday we stopped by the local library and I picked up Gale Sears' latest book "Belonging to Heaven", a novel based on the true story of Elder George Q Cannon's work as a missionary to Hawaii starting in December of 1850.   So far it has been worth my time. 

I checked out my very first library books back when I was in 2nd Grade.  That year I was only allowed to check out 2 picture books each week, but my older brother would often  check out a chapter book for me like Misty of Chincoteague, or one of the Bobbsey Twins mysteries along with his own library book.  I have almost always had at least one library book near my bed ever since.  Right now my library allows me to check out 30 books at a time, and I often have that many checked out, sitting next to the bed, waiting for the whim.  Of course I don't get them all read, but I do have a nice variety to choose from.

So, excuse me, I think I'll head off back to bed and my library book.  G'nite!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

International Hug a Convert Day


Need some uplifting reading? In case you may have missed this . . . Middle-aged Mormon Man has  proclaimed June 2, 2013 to be International Hug a Convert Day. This past week he has been posting uplifting  stories shared by converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on his blog. There are about 25 stories in all and they're all wonderful!

Here is the link to the most recent/final story:  Hugs for Dawn Anderson

And here is the link to the first in the series:  Hugs for Laura Munson

Take some time to read them.  You won't be sorry!